Books and Documents

Islamic World News (02 Dec 2009 NewAgeIslam.Com)

New strategy for Afghanistan: US going for troop surge; withdrawal in three years

Afghan surge is new challenge for US forces exiting Iraq

Obama, Karzai discuss new US Afghan policy

Obama's Ominous Speech on Afghanistan

Houthi fighters Dealt Heavy Blow To Saudi Army

Muslim Women's Shelter Provides Refuge, Support

Indonesia Bans "War Crimes" Film Balibo

Uganda People News: Muslims in Mpigi cross to breakaway faction

Education Is Key to Ending Bias Against Muslims

50 suspected men held in Swat search operation

Pakistan holding retired officer in US terror case

Headley had visited Mumbai with Moroccan woman

Jihad draws young men across globe back to Somalia

Egg-throwing extremists shame ‘proper’ Muslims

Berlin Muslim Community Leader Rips Swiss Ban On Minarets

Tamim Ansary's Destiny Disrupted exposes western blind sides in relation to Islam

The Left's Love Affair With Islam

Philippine Muslim leader acquitted of rebellion

Manila: Muslim rebels to resume peace talks next week

Bosnian Muslim leader: Europe sending bad messages to Muslims

Plan Calls for Teen Christian Convert, Muslim Parents to Talk About Religion

Iran delays executing Sunni rebel to get more info

Babylon Ruins Translate Into Tourist Dollars for Hopeful Iraqis

Lucknow: Row over cleric daughter’s wedding on Dec 6, the day Babri mosque was demolished

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL of this Page: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-strategy-for-afghanistan--us-going-for-troop-surge;-withdrawal-in-three-years/d/2179


New strategy for Afghanistan: US going for troop surge; withdrawal in three years

By Anwar Iqbal

Wednesday, 02 Dec, 2009

WASHINGTON, Dec 1: US President Barack Obama is sending 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan but plans to conclude the war and withdraw most American troops within three years, White House officials said on Tuesday.

“We came to that determination through a series of deliberations and getting a strategy for how we go forward in Afghanistan,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told CNN when asked why President Obama was sending 10,000 less troops than Gen Stanley McChrystal, his commander in Afghanistan, wanted.

As a candidate, Mr Obama had described Afghanistan as the war the United States could not afford to lose. As president, he has repeatedly stated his intention to “finish the job” in Afghanistan.

After months of deliberations, Mr Obama is set to unveil his strategy on Tuesday night (1am GMT) in a nationally-televised address at the US Military Academy at West Point.

“What the president will announce tonight, though, is getting an accelerated timeline into Afghanistan so that we can talk about transitioning our forces out of there quickly,” said Mr Gibbs.

On Monday, Mr Obama consulted key US allies, including President Asif Ali Zardari. He also held an hour-long video conference call with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The expected troop surge already caused a rift within Mr Obama’s Democratic Party on Tuesday when a senior lawmaker Jan Schakowsky announced that she was not going to support the new strategy. Congresswoman Schakowsky was one of President Obama’s earliest and most ardent supporters.

“I think he’s made up his mind that at this point there ought to be a troop increase, and I have to say I’m very sceptical about that as a solution,” she said.

The Republicans, on the other hand, attacked his withdrawal plan.

In an interview with Politico.com, former vice-president Dick Cheney described the administration’s focus on an eventual withdrawal from Afghanistan projects as “weakness” which emboldened militant extremists in the country.

Mr Obama is also expected to focus on accelerated training of Afghan forces to assume responsibility for their country’s security and allow an eventual withdrawal of international troops.

Key to the strategy is a crackdown on rampant corruption in Afghanistan. Mr Obama is expected to set goals for good governance by the Karzai administration.

Meanwhile, White House officials told journalists that President Obama would order his generals to get the reinforcements to Afghanistan within six months.

A Pentagon official told CNN that Mr Obama’s six-month timeline for sending the new troops was “very aggressive” and would be challenging for the military to fulfil.

The official noted that the expected deployment would be faster than the 12-month timeline initially requested by Gen McChrystal.

Mr Gibbs said the president would also seek further troop commitments from Nato allies, reminding them that the war in Afghanistan was an international effort.

The expected new troop deployment would increase the total US commitment to roughly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, bolstered by about 45,000 Nato forces.

The deployment is expected to cost $30 billion a year and comes amid high unemployment as the US economy emerges from a recession.

Mr Gibbs acknowledged that the cost of the war was a major concern.

“This (Afghan mission) is a very expensive endeavour,” he said. “The president will address that (costs) a little bit tonight. But the president is not going to make a national security decision simply based on money alone.”



Afghan surge is new challenge for US forces exiting Iraq

December 2, 2009

Joint Base Balad (Iraq): The US military in Iraq faces a logistical challenge in maintaining its combat effectiveness while giving the maximum possible support to soldiers fighting "Obama's war" in Afghanistan

There are currently 115,000 American soldiers in Iraq -- a force that dwarfs the 71,000 in Afghanistan -- but the security situation remains volatile.

US commanders in Iraq are also grappling with a political stalemate that has thrown a general election originally planned for mid-January into chaos, further complicating the military's plans for a smooth exit of around 65,000 troops by late August and a total withdrawal by the end of 2011.

President Barack Obama's decision to send 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan comes amid the early stages of a colossal operation to catalogue and ship out millions of items of kit amassed by US forces in more than six years of war.

The equipment ranges from Humvee and MRAP fighting vehicles and ammunition to more mundane items such as furniture and office supplies.

Hardware, along with troops, have already made their way to Afghanistan to help the US war effort, but logistics officers in Iraq say Obama's "surge" cannot be viewed in isolation.



Obama, Karzai discuss new US Afghan policy

Wednesday, 02 Dec, 2009

KABUL, Dec 1: Afghan President Hamid Karzai and President Barack Obama discussed the new US policy for Afghanistan during an hour-long videoconference call on Tuesday morning, a spokesman for the presidential palace said.

The videoconference came ahead of Obama’s planned speech on Tuesday night at the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he will outline a new US war plan and dispatch between 30,000 and 35,000 more US troops to Afghanistan. Karzai’s office said the two leaders discussed in detail the security, political, military and economic aspects of the strategy.

The call was one of several Obama was making to world leaders, including Asif Ali Zardari, the president of Pakistan.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said he spoke with Obama over the phone on Monday and Obama informed him about his Afghanistan decisions. Loekke Rasmussen would not go into details, but said that the Obama plan should make it easier for international forces to pull out at some point.

“It will be offensive and it will send a strong signal that the international community’s commitment to take care of Afghanistan in such a way that we forward the probability that we will not have a lifelong physical presence in Afghanistan,” he said at his weekly news conference.

Obama’s war escalation includes sending more US forces into Afghanistan in a graduated deployment over the next year. They would join the 71,000 US troops already on the ground. Obama’s new war strategy also includes renewed focus on training Afghan forces to take over the fight and allow the Americans to leave.

Obama also is expected to explain why he believes the US must continue to fight more than eight years after the war was started following the Sept 11 attacks on the United States by Al Qaeda terrorists based in Afghanistan.

This has been the deadliest year of the conflict for US forces, with nearly 300 killed. Casualties started climbing soon after Obama decided to deploy an additional 21,000 US troops as part of his plan to refocus on the Afghan war.—AP



Obama's Ominous Speech on Afghanistan

By Ruth Conniff

December 1, 2009

About half way into his speech at West Point on his plan to deploy 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, President Obama appeared to be repressing a brief bout of indigestion.

No wonder.

The President alluded in his speech to his early, principled opposition to the Iraq War. Yet the parallels between that misbegotten U.S. military adventure and this Administration's troop escalation in Afghanistan are striking. It must give Obama a queasy feeling to be laying out essentially the same arguments the Bush Administration made, with all their evident pitfalls, when it launched us on the endless "war on terror."

Right from the beginning of his speech, Obama was in Bush territory. He opened by rehashing the 9-11 attacks. Sounding like Bush and Dick Cheney, he dwelled on the loss of innocent American lives at the World Trade Center. And while Bush and Cheney were making a greater leap by connecting 9-11 to Iraq, Obama proceeded to make his own degrees-of-separation argument by casting the current escalation as a response to the attacks of 2001.

The 9-11 hijackers were members of Al Qaeda, he reminded us, and "Al Qaeda’s base of operations was in Afghanistan, where they were harbored by the Taliban." The current military operation, aimed at the Taliban, is not exactly the hunting down of Osama bin Laden (who is still at large) we used to hear about during the Presidential campaign. It is a step or two removed from that--a war with those who harbored the Al Qaeda plotters. Throughout the speech Obama referred to the enemy by turns as "Al Qaeda," "the Taliban," and, more generally, "extremists." This vagueness, reminiscent of the Bush argument for the Iraq war, is particularly troubling given the history of futile armed struggle in Afghanistan.

We are in Afghanistan, the President said, sounding like Lyndon Johnson during Vietnam, "to prevent a cancer from spreading."

The Vietnam argument was on Obama's mind. He took it on directly, calling any Afghanistan/Vietnam parallel a "false reading of history." Unlike Vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition in Afghanistan. We are not facing a broad based popular insurgency (yet). And, of course--the trump card--9/11--"we were viciously attacked from Afghanistan."

In explaining what is bound to be an extremely unpopular decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan at a time when the military and the public are fatigued by multiple tours and shifting justifications for the long, depressing Iraq conflict, --now the longest war we've fought in our country's history-and during the worst economic downturn we've seen since the 1930s, Obama laid out the options and made clear that he is trying to pick the least of a number of possible evils.

Full report at: http://www.progressive.org/rc120109.html


Houthi fighters Dealt Heavy Blow To Saudi Army

02 Aralık 2009

Houthi fighters say they have dismantled a Saudi army regiment, killed several soldiers destroyed an army tank as the regiment attempted to cross the border into northern Yemen

The Saudi military's push towards Mount Mamdouh failed, the Houthis said on Tuesday, adding that the Saudi army received the heavy blow after a string of hour-long clashes.

The conflict in northern Yemen began in 2004 between Sana'a and Houthi fighters. Relative peace had returned to the region until August 11, when the Yemeni army launched a major offensive, dubbed Operation Scorched Earth, against Sa'ada.

The government claims that the fighters, who are named after their leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi, seek to restore the Shia imamate system, which was overthrown in a 1962 military coup.

The Houthis, however, say they are defending their people's civil rights, which the government has undermined under pressure from Saudi-backed Wahhabi extremists.

The Saudi Arabian government has added to the problem by launching its own offensive against northern Yemen.

While Riyadh insists that it is targeting Houthi positions on 'Saudi territory', the fighters say Saudi Arabia is bombing Yemeni villages with chemical weapons and causing the death of Shia civilians.

As Sana'a does not allow independent media into the conflict zone, there are no clear estimates available as to how many people have been killed in the Shia province of Sa'ada since 2004 or in the recent wave of violence.

According to UN estimates, however, during the past five years, up to 175,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in Sa'ada to take refuge in overcrowded camps set up by the international body



Muslim Women's Shelter Provides Refuge, Support

By Jamie Tarabay

December 1, 2009

As families come together over the holidays, the victims of domestic abuse are often sequestered in shelters — a situation that's especially difficult for Muslim women, because few facilities meet their cultural and religious needs.

At one home for Muslim women in Baltimore, women from different backgrounds recently gathered in the kitchen to prepare dinner together. Oil splattered on the stove, and Asma Hanif, the woman who runs the center, joked that the night's dinner would be the end of her.

"In Iraq they don't have high cholesterol?" she asks a Kurdish woman standing beside her. "This is going to kill us."

The Kurdish woman — whose name is being withheld to protect her safety — laughed. "No, no, it's OK," she said. Wearing makeup and fitted jeans, the woman said the center is now her home and she would "never" go back.

"Right now, I'm really happy. Really happy," she told the group.

The woman said her marriage was so bad — the beatings from her husband were so severe — that she had no choice but to get out, even if it meant leaving her three children behind.

She left without knowing where to go. She slept in her car for a month. Eventually she bought a plane ticket and somehow, ended up at the shelter, Muslima Anisah.

"It's very good," she said, referring to the shelter. "It's helping me ... because it's food, it's house, it's everything."

In this cozy kitchen, she joked with the other women about how differently meatballs are cooked around the world. Another Muslim woman, from Chad, fried potatoes as her version of meatballs cooked on the stove. It was a cheery scene that quickly unraveled. Suddenly, the Kurdish woman broke down.

Hanif adjusted her lavender headscarf and took a deep breath. She hugged the Kurdish woman and they both cried.

"It's OK, you never have to go," Hanif said to her. "I'm here, we're here together. It's OK."

Full report at: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120752667


Indonesia Bans "War Crimes" Film Balibo

December 2, 2009

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia's censors have banned "Balibo," an Australian-made film about five foreign journalists who were killed by Indonesian troops during the 1975 invasion of East Timor.

The killing of the so-called Balibo Five -- two Australians, a New Zealand national, and two Britons -- has been a point of friction between Jakarta and Canberra for years.

The men's families campaigned for the Indonesian officers alleged to be responsible to face justice, with no success, even after East Timor eventually won independence and Indonesia pulled out its troops a decade ago.

Relations between the two countries soured in September when the Australian Federal Police decided to launch a war crimes investigation into the case, and Jakarta had already warned that it would not welcome a showing of the film, directed by Robert Connolly and starring Emmy-winner Anthony LaPaglia.

Indonesia's foreign minister, Marty Natalegawa, sought to play down tensions between the two neighbors. He told parliament on Wednesday that the ministry would ensure the ban of "Balibo" did not create further problems in relations with Australia.

The head of the censorship board could not be reached for comment, but his staff said a letter banning the film had been prepared. No reason for the ban has been given yet.

Predominantly Muslim Indonesia has banned films in the past for various reasons.

DVD piracy is also common in the country, however, and bootleg copies of "Balibo" were already available in Jakarta.

Full report at: http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory?id=9224641


Uganda People News: Muslims in Mpigi cross to breakaway faction

2009 12 02

The Muslim leaders in Butambala and Gomba counties in Mpigi district have shifted their allegiance from Mufti Shaban Mubajje to Sheikh Zubair Kayongo, the leader of the breakaway Muslim faction.

Mpigi is a Muslim dominated district and most of the former Uganda's Muftis apart from Sheikh Buwemba and the current Mufti Mubajje, the rest came from there.

The Muslim leaders in Mpigi accuse Mubajje of illegally selling the Muslim property found on William Street and Port Bell road in Kampala andbeing a liar.

Buganda Road magistrate judge Magret Tibulya recently declared Mufti Mubajje as a liar.

Sheikh Abdul Kalimu, the head of Butambala division says that they have resolved today to shift their allegiance from Mubajje to Kayongo because Mubajje lied in court and has failed to reconcile with the leaders of the breakaway faction.

Sheikh Abdul Kalimu says under Sharia law, any Muslim leader who lies, steals or illegally sells Muslim property is beaten up 100 times before he is forgiven and Mubajje was not beaten.



Education Is Key to Ending Bias Against Muslims

By Sam Ali

Dec 1, 2009

Eight years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, nearly six out of 10 Americans believe Muslims still face more discrimination inside the United States than any other religious group.

The only group experiencing more discrimination was gays and lesbians, according to results from the latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Nearly 64 percent of respondents said they believe gays and lesbians face more discrimination than Muslims do.

For the full survey, which you can use to address religious-discrimination issues at your organization, click here. To attend DiversityInc's December webinar on Religion in the Workplace, click here.

Do you know how to develop religious cultural competency in the workplace? Find out more at DiversityIncBestPractices.com.

For Muslims, the good news is that the more people know about Islam, the less Islamophobic they tend to be, the survey found. Additionally, Americans who personally know someone who happens to be Muslim are more likely to express a better view of Muslims in general and see more similarities between Islam and their own faith.

Almost half of Americans said they personally know someone who is Muslim, according to the survey, which was conducted between Aug.11 and 17 and polled 2,010 adults on both landlines and cell phones.

The survey also found that Americans who are more educated or have more liberal political views tend to know more Muslims than less educated Americans or those who are more conservative politically.

For example, 66 percent of college graduates said they know a person who is Muslim. That number drops to 29 percent among those who have not attended college. Also, men are more likely than women to say they know a Muslim—51 percent versus 40 percent. And Blacks are more likely to know a Muslim—57 percent, compared with whites, 44 percent.

Full report at: http://diversityinc.com/content/1757/article/6960/


50 suspected men held in Swat search operation

December 02, 2009

MINGORA: More than 50 suspected militants have been arrested amid search operation all across Swat valley following suicide attack, Geo news reported on Tuesday.

According to sources, suicide attacker blew himself up in the camp of member NWFP assembly Shamsheer Ali Khan, leaving him critically injured who later died of his wounds on way to hospital.

Later, the security across valley was beefed up meanwhile, as many as 50 suspected militants were nabbed during security forces search operation who were moved to unidentified place for interrogation, sources said.



Pakistan holding retired officer in US terror case

By Zarar Khan

December 2, 2009

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan's army has confirmed security agencies are questioning a retired major in connection with a U.S. terror investigation.

Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas did not say when the arrest was made or reveal the identity of the man. Intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, first revealed the arrest last week.

Abbas said Wednesday that the major is being questioned over alleged links with two men arrested in Chicago in October.

David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana are accused of plotting an armed attack on Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten after it published cartoons in 2005 depicting the Prophet Muhammad, igniting outrage in much of the Muslim world.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Headley had visited Mumbai with Moroccan woman

TNN 2 December 2009

NEW DELHI: Investigators trailing David Coleman Headley's footprints in India are now also looking for a Moroccan woman who moved with the US-based Lashkar jihadi in Mumbai last year.

Though the exact connection of the woman with Headley's terror projects is not known, the ongoing probe seems to suggest that Headley liked female company, unlike his image of being a devout Muslim when he had come to US with his mother during the 1970s.

The agencies here are also trying to ascertain the identity of this woman who twice visited Mumbai. Apart from her, Headley's links with a Parsi woman in Mumbai have also come under scrutiny. The woman runs a pastry shop in the city.

Meanwhile, home minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday spoke about Pakistan's non-cooperation over the Headley-Rana case. "No information was received from Pakistan related to Headley-Rana case. Pakistan has not shared any information with us so far," Chidambaram said, his remarks underlining the cruciality of the information that the FBI team may provide when it comes here next week.

Besides the Moroccan and Parsi women, Headley — originally Daood Gilani — also had an American girlfriend, a makeup artist in New York. While the FBI has been looking into all such details on US soil, Indian leg of the probe is being conducted by National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has, however, so far not been able to pinpoint the exact work done by Headley and his accomplice Tahawwur Hussain Rana except for identifying the cities visited by them during their multiple trips to India.

Investigators who have been following inputs provided by US agencies wonder whether the colourful side of Headley was just a mask for him to hide his traditional past or the extremist side of his personality. His friends and relatives gave tonnes of account on him stating how Headley, being a devout Muslim, was not comfortable with his mother Sherill Headley's way of life when he came to US at the age of 17. Due to his upbringing in a traditional Muslim family, he was not only away from girls but also protested to his mother's business venture of running a pub, known as Khyber Pass.

Full report at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Headley-had-visited-Mumbai-with-Moroccan-woman/articleshow/5289070.cms


Jihad draws young men across globe back to Somalia

By James Walsh And Richard Meryhew,

December 2, 2009

They slipped away quietly, not telling family or friends where they were going or why.

Days later, the young Somali men turned up in their homeland to bear arms with Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group linked to Al-Qaida. Counterterrorism officials worried that they might return to carry out an attack on U.S. soil.

A year ago, that was the disturbing scenario unfolding in Minneapolis. It spurred the largest federal anti-terrorism investigation since Sept. 11, and investigators spent months connecting the dots to determine who recruited about 20 local Somalis to jihad.

Now it's clear that the Twin Cities disappearances were far from an isolated case.

From Sweden to Australia, officials are beginning to grapple with the reality that young Somalis in their countries have been doing the same thing.

Dozens of Somali men from Great Britain reportedly received terrorist training in Somalia during the past year, with some returning recently to London. Twenty more left Stockholm in the past six months to join the Islamist insurgency in Somalia. A handful have been killed.

Last spring, four Australian citizens were arrested and charged with plotting to attack an army barracks after at least some were trained in Somalia. In the past few weeks, six young Somali men slipped away from their homes in Toronto, flagging officials worldwide that efforts to feed jihad in Somalia with Somalis living abroad have not stopped, and were not limited to the United States.

"The fact that it's overseas, I think, just says it's bigger than anybody imagined," said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism specialist at Georgetown University. "Every dimension of it seems to be larger and more complex than we originally assumed. More youths went than we originally thought. It's more clear that there is an Al-Qaida link with Al-Shabaab than initially assumed. And it's not just Somali youths from America who are going there. It's every dimension."

Fear in Toronto

Full report at: http://www.startribune.com/local/77817097.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aULPQL7PQLanchO7DiUss


Egg-throwing extremists shame ‘proper’ Muslims

By Baroness Warsi

ISLAMIST fanatics pelted Baroness Warsi with eggs in Luton this week. David Cameron's spokesman for community cohesion was attacked by extremists who accused her of supporting the deaths of Muslims in Afghanistan. They derided her as "not a proper Muslim". Here she explains why it is they who aren't "proper" Muslims.

TO me, Britain's strength is the freedom it offers, its steadfast commitment to tolerance, respect for the individual and democracy.

Free speech underpins those values and even though we may not agree with what is being said, we support an individual's right to debate.

But extremists like the ones who pelted me with eggs and screamed abuse at me on Monday fundamentally abuse these freedoms.

They taunted me on my party's support for the war in Afghanistan. Yet, when challenged to debate the issue, they shied away.

Among the rabble were members of al-Muhajiroun, a group which is closely linked to Islam4UK.

They want nothing more than to separate British Muslims from the rest of society and as a nation we must never let that happen. They are beyond the pale.

As a nation, throughout our history, we have had to deal with extremism in all its guises, especially groups that promote hatred and violence.

We can't let extremists roam the streets of Luton and other towns propagating their vile views.

Full report at: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/2754249/Egg-throwing-extremists-shame-proper-Muslims-says-Tory-Baroness.html


Berlin Muslim Community Leader Rips Swiss Ban On Minarets

December 02, 2009

A prominent Berlin Muslim community leader here Tuesday lambasted the latest referendum in Switzerland where voters approved a controversial ban on the construction of mosque minarets, Iranian national news agency (Irna) reported.

Talking at a news conference, the chairman of the Inter-Cultural Center for Dialog and Education(IZDB), Faical Salhi said the ban contradicted the Western world's claims of freedom of religion.

"Why do you want to take away my (religious) freedom in the name of freedom," he asked rhetorically.

Salhi warned that the controversial Swiss referendum would not lead to bringing Muslims and non-Muslims closer together in Europe.

"This (Swiss) action will throw the us back for decades," he said, alluding to the religious rapprochement process.

"This is not the Europe of 2010 but the Europe of the 1920s and 30s," the Muslim activist added.

Salhi expressed hope that Muslims in Europe would not one day experience same fate that Jews did during the Nazi era.

"We have to get away from this bogey man image of Muslims (in Europe)," he stressed.

Salhi voiced strong concern over mounting Islamophobia in Germany.

"The mood in the German Muslim community is filled with fear because Islamophobia has reached the middle of German society," he said.

Full report at: http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsworld.php?id=459433


Tamim Ansary's Destiny Disrupted exposes western blind sides in relation to Islam

By Ben Terrall

December 2, 2009

Tamim Ansary is a gifted writer whose 2002 memoir West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Story is a must-read for anyone wanting to know more about Afghanistan. In this funny, touching book, Ansary, son of an Afghan father and American mother, recalls growing up in a traditional village and later traveling to the United States, where he wound up at Reed College in Portland, Ore., then moved on to San Francisco.

In his new book Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (PublicAffairs, 416 pages, $26.95), Ansary sets out to fill the noticeable Islamic gap in English-language world histories. Ansary concedes Edward Said's point that the West's view of Islam has been highly "Orientalist" — prone to emphasize sinister "otherness." But, Ansary writes, "more intriguing ... is the relative absence of any depictions at all." While working as an editor on a world history textbook for U.S. high schools, Ansary fought for inclusion of more Islamic history. His colleagues on the project were less than receptive. In the end, Islam was the focus of just one of 30 chapters. Ansary writes: "In short, less than a year before September 11, 2001, the consensus of expert opinion was telling me that Islam was a relatively minor phenomenon whose impact had ended long before the Renaissance.

If you went strictly by our table of contents, you would never guess Islam still existed."

Destiny Disrupted is a one-stop antidote to that problem. The prose is fun to read, often graceful and never dull, and steers clear of academic jargon. If school textbooks aspired to this level of writing, there would be fewer bored, uninspired kids in the world.

Full report at: http://www.sfbg.com/entry.php?entry_id=9493&catid=85&volume_id=452&issue_id=461&volume_num=44&issue_num=09


The Left's Love Affair With Islam

By Chuck Hustmyre

Tuesday, 01 December 2009

The union between the American Left and fundamentalist Islam seems like a marriage made in hell.

The Left hates religion, particularly Christianity, and has succeeded in ripping nearly all vestiges of it from American public life. Through the legal machinations of its lapdog, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Left has banned Christmas from public schools, nativity scenes from City Hall, and the Ten Commandments from courthouses.

In liberal newspeak, "Happy holidays" has replaced "Merry Christmas." Holiday trees have replaced Christmas trees, and Christmas break has become "fall break."

Yet a few years ago, seventh-grade students in California were required to participate in a religious studies program during which they were told to wear Muslim clothing, memorize passages from the Quran, and choose an Islamic name for themselves.

Interestingly enough, the ACLU did not file a lawsuit.

The American Left champions causes such as gay rights (including gay marriage), equality for women (suffrage, the right to work, etc.), and religious freedom (usually in the form of freedom from religion). Yet, fundamentalist Islam opposes nearly everything the American Left stands for.

In many Islamic countries, homosexuality is punishable by death. In Iran, a top government official recently said that torture followed by death is the appropriate punishment for being gay.

In Saudi Arabia, women can't vote, run for public office, or drive cars. Women are routinely jailed and beaten for merely being in the presence of a man not related to them. The Saudi version of Dr. Phil provides televised lessons to men on how to properly beat their wives.

In many Islamic countries, women are forced into arranged marriages and held as property by their husbands, something not exactly in line with progressive Western thinking. In some Muslim countries, women aren't even allowed to decide what clothes to wear. To reveal even the smallest patch of skin is a crime.

Religious freedom is often nonexistent under Islamic rule. In countries like Afghanistan and Iran, people who convert from Islam to another religion face public execution.

Full report at: http://www.rightsidenews.com/200912027571/culture-wars/the-lefts-love-affair-with-islam.html


MANILA — Philippine Muslim leader acquitted of rebellion

December 2, 2009

MANILA — Former Muslim separatist leader Nur Misuari was acquitted by a lower court on Wednesday of leading a brief 2001 rebellion that claimed about 100 lives in the southern Philippines, officials said.

The court ruled there was insufficient evidence that Misuari and seven other defendants were behind the attacks on military targets on the island of Jolo. The other defendants were also acquitted, court officials said.

"The prosecution has failed to discharge its burden of showing proof beyond reasonable doubt that the crime of rebellion was committed by the accused and that they are guilty thereof," the Manila regional trial court judge, Winlove Dumayas, wrote in his ruling.

Misuari, founder of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that launched a decades-long separatist rebellion in 1971, could not be reached for comment.

After his arrest in Malaysia, where he fled following the Jolo revolt, he was detained at a police camp south of Manila before being granted house arrest.

He had been free on bail since last year and on Tuesday he registered as a candidate for governor in Sulu province, which includes Jolo, in the May 2010 elections.

The MNLF signed a peace treaty with the government in 1996 in exchange for limited Muslim self-rule in the south of the mainly Roman Catholic nation.

Misuari was later elected governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which includes Sulu, but he lost that post when the government backed a rival candidate in subsequent elections.

Prosecutors had alleged he launched the Jolo uprising in 2001 to prevent the national government removing him from his post.

After the Jolo attack, Misuari escaped by boat to Sabah, in Malaysia, but was eventually arrested and deported to the Philippines.

Despite his fall from power, Misuari is still considered a leader of the Muslim minority and retains influence in groups like the Organisation of Islamic Conference, which had fostered the peace talks with the government.

Manila is seeking to resume peace talks with another rebel faction, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, that were suspended last year.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.


Manila: Muslim rebels to resume peace talks next week

December 2, 2009

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippine government and the country's largest Muslim rebel group agreed on Wednesday to return to formal peace negotiations, hoping to end over four decades of armed conflict on the resource-rich southern island.

In a joint statement, the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) announced the setting up of an International Contact Group (ICG) to help both sides strike a political deal to end a Muslim insurgency that has turned off investors in the mineral-rich region.

Japan, Turkey and the United Kingdom have agreed to sit with the two panels in stop-start talks brokered by Malaysia since 2001. Three non-government organizations, including the U.S.-based Asia Foundation, will also join the ICG.

"The formation of the ICG finally clears the way for the formal resumption of the peace talks," said the joint statement signed by the chief negotiators of the two sides, adding formal negotiations will begin on December 8-9 in Kuala Lumpur.

Mohagher Iqbal, the rebels' chief negotiator, told Reuters by phone from his base on the southern island of Mindanao that he was confident a final solution to the conflict can be reached before President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo steps down in June.

"In three days, we can reach a final peace deal if the government is really sincere in ending the violence in the south and bring economic development," he said.

Iqbal said the two sides would negotiate to reconstitute an International Monitoring Team (IMT) and reactivate an ad hoc joint action group to be tasked to isolate Muslim militants and criminal groups in rebel-controlled areas.

Full report at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/02/AR2009120200647.html


Bosnian Muslim leader: Europe sending bad messages to Muslims

By Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Dec 2, 2009

The Bosnian Muslim religious leader said Wednesday he hopes Europe will restore its values, which he said were violated by the Swiss decision to ban minarets and the EU's visa requirement only for the continent's predominantly Muslim countries.

Mustafa Ceric, the head of the Islamic Community in Bosnia, said it was interesting that both decisions were made on the most important holiday of the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha.

Sunday's referendum to outlaw the construction of minarets in Switzerland sent a bad message to Europe's Muslims, Ceric said.



Plan Calls for Teen Christian Convert, Muslim Parents to Talk About Religion

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The runaway teen Muslim convert to Christianity who made national headlines when she ran away should talk to her parents about religion when they are reunited, according to a proposal filed in Ohio.

A government caseworker outlined a plan calling for Rifqa Bary, 17, and her parents to listen to each other's views on religion.

Bary needs to hear out her parents' explanation of their beliefs when she goes home, according to the proposal filed in Franklin County Juvenile Court. In turn, her parents must listen to Bary explain her newfound Christianity.

The goal is for both sides to better understand why the teenager ran away to Florida over the summer and stayed with a Christian family she met online.

SLIDESHOW: Christian Convert Fears Family

Bary has said she feared her father would harm or kill her for converting from Islam. Her father has denied the claim. A Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation found no credible threats to the girl.

The plan leaves open the possibility that the girl may never return home.

Bary was sent back to Ohio last month, where she is in the care of the county children's services agency. Her phone and Internet usage is being closely monitored to comply with a judge's ruling.

Bary, of suburban New Albany, disappeared July 19. Police used phone and computer records to track her to the Rev. Blake Lorenz, pastor of Orlando, Fla.-based Global Revolution Church.

Authorities said the teen had met him through a prayer group on Facebook.

The Associated Press contributed to this report



Iran delays executing Sunni rebel to get more info

Wed Dec 2, 2009

TEHRAN, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Shi'ite Muslim Iran has delayed for a second time the execution of a convicted member of a Sunni Muslim rebel group in order to extract information from him, semi-official news agency ISNA reported on Wednesday.

Iran has hanged several members of the Jundollah (God's soldiers) group, but the execution of Abdolhamid Rigi, a brother of the group's leader Abdolmalek Rigi, was first delayed in July to get more information from him.

"Based on his confessions on having cooperation with Pakistani intelligence and America's agents, his death sentence has been postponed to gather more facts," provincial judiciary chief Ebrahim Hamidi was quoted by ISNA as saying.

"The country's and the system's interests need him to be alive ... to find out more information on their activities," said the Sistan-Baluchestan top judge.

Many minority Sunnis live in the impoverished area in southeast Iran, which has seen an increase in bombings and clashes between security forces, ethnic Baluch Sunni insurgents and drug traffickers.

Jundollah, which accuses the government of discrimination against Sunnis, said it was behind an Oct. 18 attack -- the deadliest in Iran since the 1980s -- that killed more than 40 Iranians, including 15 from the elite Revolutionary Guards.

Iran has accused Pakistan, Britain and the United States of backing Sunni militants. London, Washington and Islamabad all denied involvement in the attack last month.

Iran, a major oil producer locked in dispute with the United States and its allies over its nuclear programme, rejects allegations by Western rights groups that it discriminates against ethnic and religious minorities. (Reporting by Reza Derakhshi; Writing by Andrew Hammond; Editing by Louise Ireland) ((Tehran newsroom, +98 21 8820 8770))



Babylon Ruins Translate Into Tourist Dollars for Hopeful Iraqis

by Michael Luongo

Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) -- The tunnel stank, yet I could scarcely keep from leaping into it after my guide said, “You are now standing on the ruins of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.”

We were in ancient Mesopotamia’s greatest city, on the grounds of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The gardens are long gone, and I was looking at a reconstruction of their foundation. Animals, and possibly their caretakers, had moved in, one example of the chaos visited upon Iraq’s archaeological treasures since the U.S.-led invasion.

Ancient Babylon, dating back to 2,300 B.C., lies about 50 miles south of Baghdad, near the town of Al-Hillah. It was one of many civilizations of Mesopotamia, which is Greek for “between the rivers,” the Tigris and Euphrates.

Babylon is best known for the Tower of Babel and King Nebuchadnezzar II, who destroyed Jerusalem. Reigning from about 605 to 562 B.C., he created the gardens for his wife, Amytis of Media, a mountainous region of modern-day Iran, to remind her of home. Shortly after his death, the empire fell to invading Persians.

Like most ruins, Babylon isn’t much more than piles of mud bricks. Imagination and a desire to connect with history make the site. Unless, of course, you’re a demented dictator who believed himself Nebuchadnezzar’s reincarnation.

Dictator’s Damage

Saddam Hussein, to the horror of archaeologists, rebuilt many of the ancient ruins, damaging the site in the process. My guide, Ghanum Duleme, took me through the most impressive reconstruction, Nebuchadnezzar’s palace. Modern brick walls soared overhead, but Duleme pointed to the ground, where the line of ancient bricks still visible two to three feet above the ground sagged under the weight of the modern walls built over them. The rebuilt palace was a barren, monochromatic fantasy, devoid of detail and spirit.

Full report at: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601088&sid=atLz9wGyzdvE


Lucknow: Row over cleric daughter’s wedding on Dec 6, the day Babri mosque was demolished

December 2, 2009

Raj Bahadur Singh

Sounding its disapproval of the wedding of a prominent cleric’s daughter on December 6, the Muslim clergy finds itself in a dilemma over the issue, as the minority community has been mourning the demolition of Babri Masjid on this day since 1992.

Ever since the demolition of the disputed structure, such a situation did not arise at least in Lucknow, where a prominent cleric organised a wedding ceremony on December 6 observed as Yaum-e-Siyah (Black Day).

However, this year, All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) member and prominent Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawwad’s daughter will get married in Asafi Masjid inside Bara Imambara.

While a few members of the community were shocked when they came to know about the event, others found themselves in a fix and wished it could have been on any other day of the year.

Nayab Imam of Eidgah and AIMPLB member Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangimahali, when asked about the issue, said Babri mosque was demolished on December 6 and one should always keep that fact in mind. “We mourn the day, hence it is advisable to keep away from any celebration,” he argued.

Firangimahali said that though it was someone’s personal affair, he failed to understand why that particular date was chosen for the wedding. He said he would have never gone for any such event on December 6.

He, however, made it clear that according to Sharia’h, there was nothing wrong in holding such an event on that day as mourning lasted for three days.

Another AIMPLB member and convenor of Babri Masjid Action Committee Jafaryab Jilani also echoed similar views.

Full report at: http://www.dailypioneer.com/219869/Muslim-clergy-in-a-fix-over-cleric-daughter%E2%80%99s-wedding-on-Dec-6.html

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