Monday, August 31, 2009


Express News Service : Ahmedabad, Wed Nov 13 2013, 04:58 hrs 
"RSS is financing members of Qadianis for terror blasts. It's a group who claim themselves to be Muslims, but according to mainstream Muslims, they don't belong to the community."  

Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly and former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela on Tuesday alleged that the BJP and RSS were involved in all the terror incidents right from Godhra to Patna BJP rally, including communal riots in Muzaffarnagar in western UP and blasts in Bodhgaya.
Addressing mediapersons on Tuesday, he said, "There was one common strategy running from Godhra to Patna, that is to engineer killing of Hindus and Muslims for political polarisation."
"BJP is conspiring to divide society for political gains," he alleged.
"It does not bother them whether those being killed are Hindus or Muslims if it helps them grabbing power," said Vaghela, who also has roots in the RSS.
Stating that the terrorists behind serial blasts at Patna BJP rally had now been found to be Hindus, not Muslims, Vaghela said, "RSS and BJP are financing Indian Mujahideen for carrying out terror acts."
He further said, "RSS is financing members of Qadianis for terror blasts. It's a group who claim themselves to be Muslims, but according to mainstream Muslims, they don't belong to the community."
Regarding Patna blasts, he alleged, "I feel Gujarat hand behind it, because the watch recovered from the blast site had evidence of having been manufactured in Morbi and the plastic bags found from there was also manufactured at Halol. It shows that it was all planned in Gujarat."
"I also suspect the involvement of RSS and BJP hand in serial bomb blasts in July 2008 in Ahmedabad, including the blasts at Civil Hospital and LG Hospital, leading to killing of scores of people," the Congress leader added.
Asked if he could substantiate the allegations, he said, "I have been with them and I know them and their strategies." He also criticised Modi for not visiting the families of the Gujarat policemen killed on their way to his programme in UP, because it would not have yielded political dividends. But Modi flew to Bihar to visit the family members of those killed in Patna blasts as it gave him political publicity.

Shanker Singh Vaghela seeks probe on QADIANI AHAMADDIYA  IM's funds

A political fight has broken out after Leader of Opposition in the Gujarat Assembly and former Chief Minister Shankersinh Vaghela made sensational charges. Vaghela has accused the RSS and BJP of funding the Indian Mujahidden (IM) QADIANI AHAMADDIYA - and has also alleged that BJP and RSS have been involved in all the terror attacks from Godhra to the Patna BJP rally.

Azim Premji gifts Rs 88,460,000,000

Image courtesy: Reuters
Billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffet will be proud of Wipro’s Azim Premji, who has donated Rs. 8846 crore for education in India. Premji’s philanthropic act is the largest ever by an Indian.

Just months ago, the two billionaires were asking other members of the Rich List to donate large chunks of their wealth to charity. And now, Premji, chairman of Wipro and India’s third richest man, has pledged $2 billion of his estimated $18 billion wealth to the Azim Premji Trust.

This money will finance the activities of the Azim Premji Foundation that works to promote education in rural India as well as the Azim Premji University in Bangalore.

Others Who Are Giving their Wealth Away

Earlier this year, Gates said he would donate half of his $53 billion wealth to charity. He recently made the largest charitable donation ever, of $10 billion for vaccines for children. Buffet too pledged $37 billion or 99% of his wealth to charity in 2006.

Recently, the Tata group and millionaire businessman Anand Mahindra pledged $50 million and $10 million to Harvard University.


World's top polluters

Copenhagen, Dec 6 : The world's top 15

polluters, ranked by their absolute and

per-capita greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,

according to the International Energy Agency:

Absolue emissions (carbon dioxide equivalent --

million tonnes per year, 2007 data)

1. China 6,027

2. United States 5,769

3. Russia

4. India 1,324

5. Japan 1,236

6. Germany 798

7. Canada 572

8. Britain 523

9. South Korea 488

10. Mexico 437

11. Indonesia 377

12. France 369

13. Brazil 347

14. South Africa 345

15. Argentina 162

Per-capita emissions (carbon dioxide

equivalent-tonnes per head, 2008 data)

1 United States 19.1

2 Canada 17.37

3 Russia 11.21

4 South Korea 10.09

5 Germany 9.71

6 Japan 9.68

7 Britain 8.6

8 South Africa 7.27

9 France 5.81

10 China 4.57

11 Mexico 4.14

12 Argentina 4.12

13 Brazil 1.81

14 Indonesia 1.67

15 India 1.18

World average 4.38 --IANS


Tony Blair's sister-in-law

Lauren Booth

converts to Islam after a

'holy experience' in Iran

By Mail On Sunday Reporter
Last updated at 2:02 PM on 24th October 2010

Conversion: Lauren Booth
Conversion: Lauren Booth
Tony Blair’s sister-in-law has converted to Islam after having a ‘holy experience’ in Iran.
Broadcaster and journalist Lauren Booth, 43 - Cherie Blair’s half-sister - said she now wears a hijab head covering whenever she leaves her home, prays five times a day and visits her local mosque ‘when I can’.
She decided to become a Muslim six weeks ago after visiting the shrine of Fatima al-Masumeh in the city of Qom.
‘It was a Tuesday evening and I sat down and felt this shot of spiritual morphine, just absolute bliss and joy,’ she told The Mail on Sunday.
When she returned to Britain, she decided to convert immediately.
‘Now I don’t eat pork and I read the Koran every day. I’m on page 60. I also haven’t had a drink in 45 days, the longest period in 25 years,' she said.
'The strange thing is that since I decided to convert I haven’t wanted to touch alcohol, and I was someone who craved a glass of wine or two at the end of a day.’
Refusing to discount the possibility that she might wear a burka, she said: ‘Who knows where my spiritual journey will take me?’
Before her awakening in Iran, she had been ‘sympathetic’ to Islam and has spent considerable time working in Palestine. ‘I was always impressed with the strength and comfort it gave,’ she said of the religion.
Miss Booth, who works for Press TV, the English-language Iranian news channel, has been a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq.
In August 2008 she travelled to Gaza by ship from Cyprus, along with 46 other activists, to highlight Israel’s blockade of the territory.
She was subsequently refused entry into both Israel and Egypt.
In 2006 she was a contestant on the ITV reality show I’m A Celebrity .  .  . Get Me Out Of Here!, donating her fee to the Palestinian relief charity Interpal.
She said she hoped her conversion would help Mr Blair change his presumptions about Islam.
Influential position: Lauren Booth hopes her conversion will have an influence on how her brother-in-law - Tony Blair - views Islam
During her visit to Iran last month, Booth wrote a public letter to Mr Blair asking him to mark Al-Quds (Jerusalem) day - a protest at Israel's occupation of Palestine.
The missive was a bitter attack on the former Prime Minister, who is now a Middle East envoy working for peace in the troubled region.
'The men, women and children around me withstood a day of no water and no food (it’s called Ramadan, Tony, it’s a fast),' Booth wrote.
'Coping with hunger and thirst in the hundred degrees heat, as if it were nothing. They can withstand deprivation in the Muslim world.
'Here in Iran they feel proud to suffer in order to express solidarity with the people of Palestine. It's kind of like the way you express solidarity with America only without illegal chemical weapons and a million civilian deaths.'
She adds: 'Your world view is that Muslims, are mad, bad, dangerous to know. A contagion to be contained.
'In the final chapter [of his autobiography] you say we need a "religious counter attack" against Islam. And by "Islam" you mean the Al Quds rallies, the Palestinian intifada (based on an anti Apartheid struggle Tony, NOT religious bigotry), against every Arab who fails to put their arms in the air as the F16 missiles rain on their homes and refugee camps and sing a rousing chorus of ‘Imagine all the people...’
Booth stands next to a damaged building in Gaza in 2008
Booth stands next to a damaged building in Gaza in 2008
Booth moved to France with her family - husband Craig Darby and two daughters Alexandra and Holly in 2004.
Her husband was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident in April 2009 when he was drunk and not wearing a helmet.
He suffered a severe brain injury, a fractured neck, damage to his spine and several broken ribs and was in a deep coma for two weeks.
The 42-year-old had to learn how to walk and talk again. He lost much of his memory, has sight problem and cannot work.
The couple decided to move back to Britain to help his recovery and reduce the amount of time Booth has to work away from home.
Booth with husband Craig and daughters Alex and Holly
Booth with husband Craig and daughters Alex and Holly at their home in France last year. They have now returned to Britain
Booth took part in I'm A Celebrity... Get Met Out of Here! in 2006 alongside Myleene Klass and Jason Donovan, finishing ninth.
Of her relationship with the Blairs, she said at the time: 'I'm happy to criticise them politically if they deserve it but that on a personal level we get on fine.'
Mr Blair was famously told not to 'do God' by his spin doctor Alistair Campbell while he was Prime Minister.
But on leaving office, he converted to Catholicism after starting to go to Mass - saying later that it was his wife who spurred his decision.
He said last year that it was like 'coming home' and is now 'where my heart is, where I know I belong'.

Read more:


Why ARE so Many Modern British Career Women Converting to Islam?

November 4, 2010
By Eve Ahmed
C LeylandC Leyland2
Changing values: Camilla Leyland, 32,
pictured in Western and Muslim dress,
converted to Islam in her mid-20s for
‘intellectual and feminist reasons’
Tony Blair’s sister-in-law announced her conversion to Islam last weekend. Journalist Lauren Booth embraced the faith after what she describes as a ‘holy experience’ in Iran.
She is just one of a growing number of modern British career women to do so. Here, writer EVE AHMED, who was raised as a Muslim before rejecting the faith, explores the reasons why.
Much of my childhood was spent trying to escape Islam.
Born in London to an English mother and a Pakistani Muslim father, I was brought up to follow my father’s faith without question.
But, privately, I hated it. The minute I left home for university at the age of 18, I abandoned it altogether.
As far as I was concerned, being a Muslim meant hearing the word ‘No’ over and over again.
Girls from my background were barred from so many of the things my English friends took for granted. Indeed, it seemed to me that almost anything fun was haram, or forbidden, to girls like me.
There were so many random, petty rules. No whistling. No chewing of gum. No riding bikes. No watching Top Of The Pops. No wearing make-up or clothes which revealed the shape of the body.
No eating in the street or putting my hands in my pockets. No cutting my hair or painting my nails. No asking questions or answering back. No keeping dogs as pets, (they were unclean).
And, of course, no sitting next to men, shaking their hands or even making eye contact with them.
These ground rules were imposed by my father and I, therefore, assumed they must be an integral part of being a good Muslim.
Small wonder, then, that as soon as I was old enough to exert my independence, I rejected the whole package and turned my back on Islam. After all, what modern, liberated British woman would choose to live such a life?
Well, quite a lot, it turns out, including Islam’s latest surprise convert, Tony Blair’s sister-in-law Lauren Booth. And after my own break with my past, I’ve followed with fascination the growing trend of Western women choosing to convert to Islam.
Broadcaster and journalist Booth, 43, says she now wears a hijab head covering whenever she leaves home, prays five times a day and visits her local mosque ‘when I can’.
She decided to become a Muslim six weeks ago after visiting the shrine of Fatima al-Masumeh in the city of Qom, and says: ‘It was a Tuesday evening, and I sat down and felt this shot of spiritual morphine, just absolute bliss and joy.’
Before her awakening in Iran, she had been ‘sympathetic’ to Islam and has spent considerable time working in Palestine. ‘I was always impressed with the strength and comfort it gave,’ she says.
How, I wondered, could women be drawn to a religion which I felt had kept me in such a lowly, submissive place? How could their experiences of Islam be so very different to mine?
According to Kevin Brice from Swansea University, who has specialised in studying white conversion to Islam, these women are part of an intriguing trend.
He explains: ‘They seek spirituality, a higher meaning, and tend to be deep thinkers. The other type of women who turn to Islam are what I call “converts of convenience”. They’ll assume the trappings of the religion to please their Muslim husband and his family, but won’t necessarily attend mosque, pray or fast.’
I spoke to a diverse selection of white Western converts in a bid to re-examine the faith I had rejected.
Women like Kristiane Backer, 43, a London-based former MTV presenter who had led the kind of liberal Western-style life that I yearned for as a teenager, yet who turned her back on it and embraced Islam instead. Her reason? The ‘anything goes’ permissive society that I coveted had proved to be a superficial void.
The turning point for Kristiane came when she met and briefly dated the former Pakistani cricketer and Muslim Imran Khan in 1992 during the height of her career. He took her to Pakistan where she says she was immediately touched by spirituality and the warmth of the people.
Kristiane says: ‘Though our relationship didn’t last, I began to study the Muslim faith and eventually converted. Because of the nature of my job, I’d been out interviewing rock stars, travelling all over the world and following every trend, yet I’d felt empty inside. Now, at last, I had contentment because Islam had given me a purpose in life.’
‘In the West, we are stressed for superficial reasons, like what clothes to wear. In Islam, everyone looks to a higher goal. Everything is done to please God. It was a completely different value system.
‘In the West, we are stressed for superficial reasons, like what clothes to wear. In Islam, everyone looks to a higher goal. Everything is done to please God’
‘Despite my lifestyle, I felt empty inside and realised how liberating it was to be a Muslim. To follow only one god makes life purer. You are not chasing every fad.
‘I grew up in Germany in a not very religious Protestant family. I drank and I partied, but I realised that we need to behave well now so we have a good after-life. We are responsible for our own actions.’
For a significant amount of women, their first contact with Islam comes from dating a Muslim boyfriend. Lynne Ali, 31, from Dagenham in Essex, freely admits to having been ‘a typical white hard-partying teenager’.
She says: ‘I would go out and get drunk with friends, wear tight and revealing clothing and date boys.
‘I also worked part-time as a DJ, so I was really into the club scene. I used to pray a bit as a Christian, but I used God as a sort of doctor, to fix things in my life. If anyone asked, I would’ve said that, generally, I was happy living life in the fast lane.’
But when she met her boyfriend, Zahid, at university, something dramatic happened.
She says: ‘His sister started talking to me about Islam, and it was as if everything in my life fitted into place. I think, underneath it all, I must have been searching for something, and I wasn’t feeling fulfilled by my hard-drinking party lifestyle.’
Lynne converted aged 19. ‘From that day, I started wearing the hijab,’ she explains, ‘and I now never show my hair in public. At home, I’ll dress in normal Western clothes in front of my husband, but never out of the house.’
With a recent YouGov survey concluding that more than half the British public believe Islam to be a negative influence that encourages extremism, the repression of women and inequality, one might ask why any of them would choose such a direction for themselves.
Yet statistics suggest Islamic conversion is not a mere flash in the pan but a significant development. Islam is, after all, the world’s fastest growing religion, and white adopters are an important part of that story.
‘Evidence suggests that the ratio of Western women converts to male could be as high as 2:1,’ says Kevin Brice.
Moreover, he says, often these female ¬converts are eager to display the visible signs of their faith — in particular the hijab — whereas many Muslim girls brought up in the faith choose not to.
‘Perhaps as a result of these actions, which tend to draw attention, white Muslims often report greater amounts of discrimination against them than do born Muslims,’ adds Brice, which is what happened to Kristiane Backer.
She says: ‘In Germany, there is Islamophobia. I lost my job when I converted. There was a Press campaign against me with insinuations about all Muslims supporting terrorists — I was vilified. Now, I am a presenter on NBC Europe.
Kristiane Backer2
Ex-MTV Presenter Kristiane Backer with Mick Jagger in the late Eighties.
‘I call myself a European Muslim, which is different to the ‘born’ Muslim. I was married to one, a Moroccan, but it didn’t work because he placed restrictions on me because of how he’d been brought up. As a European Muslim, I question everything — I don’t accept blindly.
‘But what I love is the hospitality and the warmth of the Muslim community. London is the best place in Europe for Muslims, there is wonderful Islamic culture here and I am very happy.’
For some converts, Islam represents a celebration of old-fashioned family values.
‘Some are drawn to the sense of belonging and of community — values which have eroded in the West,’ says Haifaa Jawad, a senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham, who has studied the white conversion phenomenon.
Lynne Ali
Escape route: Former DJ Lynne Ali is happy to pray five times a day.

Liberating: Kristiane Backer says being a Muslim makes her life purer.

Kristiane Backer
‘Many people, from all walks of life, mourn the loss in today’s society of traditional respect for the elderly and for women, for example. These are values which are enshrined in the Koran, which Muslims have to live by,’ adds Brice.
It is values like these which drew Camilla Leyland, 32, a yoga teacher who lives in Cornwall, to Islam. A single mother to daughter, Inaya, two, she converted in her mid-20s for ‘intellectual and feminist reasons’.
She explains: ‘I know people will be surprised to hear the words “feminism” and “Islam” in the same breath, but in fact, the teachings of the Koran give equality to women, and at the time the religion was born, the teachings went against the grain of a misogynistic society.
‘The big mistake people make is by confusing culture with religion. Yes, there are Muslim cultures which do not allow women individual freedom, yet when I was growing up, I felt more oppressed by Western society.’
She talks of the pressure on women to act like men by drinking and having casual sex. ‘There was no real meaning to it all. In Islam, if you begin a relationship, that is a commitment of intent.’
Growing up in Southampton — her father was the director of Southampton Institute of Education and her mother a home economics teacher — Camilla’s interest in Islam began at school.
She went to university and later took a Masters degree in Middle East Studies. But it was while living and working in Syria that she had a spiritual epiphany. Reflecting on what she’d read in the Koran, she realised she wanted to convert.
Her decision was met with bemusement by friends and family.
‘People found it so hard to believe that an educated, middle-class white woman would choose to become Muslim,’ she says.
While Camilla’s faith remains strong, she no longer wears the hijab in public. But several of the women I spoke to said strict Islamic dress was something they found empowering and liberating.
Lynne Ali remembers the night this hit home for her. ‘I went to an old friend’s 21st birthday party in a bar,’ she reveals. ‘I walked in, wearing my hijab and modest clothing, and saw how everyone else had so much flesh on display. They were drunk, slurring their words and dancing provocatively.
‘For the first time, I could see my former life with an outsider’s eyes, and I knew I could never go back to that.
‘I am so grateful I found my escape route. This is the real me — I am happy to pray five times a day and take classes at the mosque. I am no longer a slave to a broken society and its expectations.’
Kristiane Backer, who has written a book on her own spiritual journey, called From MTV To Mecca, believes the new breed of modern, independent Muslims can band together to show the world that Islam is not the faith I grew up in — one that stamps on the rights of women.
She says: ‘I know women born Muslims who became disillusioned and rebelled against it. When you dig deeper, it’s not the faith they turned against, but the culture.
‘Rules like marrying within the same sect or caste and education being less important for girls, as they should get married anyway —– where does it say that in the Koran? It doesn’t.
‘Many young Muslims have abandoned the “fire and brimstone” version they were born into have re-discovered a more spiritual and intellectual approach, that’s free from the cultural dogmas of the older generation. That’s how I intend to spend my life, showing the world the beauty of the true Islam.’
While I don’t agree with their sentiments, I admire and respect the women I interviewed for this piece.
They were all bright and educated, and have thought long and hard before choosing to convert to Islam — and now feel passionately about their adopted religion. Good luck to them. And good luck to Lauren Booth. But it’s that word that sums up the difference between their experience and mine — choice.
Perhaps if I’d felt in control rather than controlled, if I’d felt empowered rather than stifled, I would still be practising the religion I was born into, and would not carry the burden of guilt that I do about rejecting my father’s faith.
Daily Mail

Manmohan Singh says

RBI to study Malaysia’s Islamic banking model Ruchika M Khanna
Tribune News Service
Islamic Banking: A Snapshot
  • Islamic banking is an interest-free banking system
  • It’s consistent with the principles of Islamic law and its practical application through the development of Islamic economics
  • India has received several requests to allow the system
  • Close to $1 trillion is being managed by about 400-500 Islamic banks and the figure is expected to rise to $ 4 trillion by 2020
Kuala Lumpur, October 27
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said that he would ask the Reserve Bank of India to look into Islamic banking practices in Malaysia. The Indian government has received several requests from Islamic banks in West Asia to start this system on an experimental basis.
Singh added that that there have been demands for experimenting with Islamic banking. “I will certainly recommend it to the RBI to look at what is happening in Malaysia in this context. RBI is already looking into the question of whether India should allow Islamic banking,” he said.
Over the past few months, pressure has been mounting on the RBI to introduce Islamic banking, which is an interest-free banking system. It is a system of banking that is consistent with the principles of Islamic law (Sharia) and its practical application through the development of Islamic economics.
Sharia prohibits the payment or acceptance of interest fee for loans of money (Riba, usury), for specific terms, as well as investing in businesses that provide goods or services considered contrary to its principles (Haraam, forbidden). These principles were used as the basis for a flourishing economy in earlier times. However, it is only in the late 20th century that a number of Islamic banks were formed to apply these principles to private or semi-private commercial institutions within the Muslim community.
If introduced, this will rake in billions of dollars in investments from West Asian countries. Close to $1 trillion is being managed by about 400-500 Islamic banks and the figure is expected to rise to $ 4 trillion by 2020.
The investment surplus in the West Asian region is expected to be around $9 trillion by 2020, up from the current $1.5 trillion.
Malaysia is recognised as Asia’s Islamic financial hub by Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Recently, the firm concluded that by 2009-end, Malaysia’s Islamic banking assets equaled RM113.5 billion ($35.2 billion). According to a 2009 report by the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Center (MIFC), Malaysia had the largest “sukuk” — the Islamic equivalent to a bond — market in the world by 2007 — at $25 billion.


Military Secrets Exposed

WikiLeaks has released 400,000 classified war documents.


8000 pilots by 2010
Avialable for hire only 500.

Aviation Schools
The domestic Indian aviation industry witnessed a massive capacity expansion of 50% in the last financial year. As per the Airbus sales forecasts,India is the third largest market for new aircrafts in Asia,after China and Japan.India would require around 8,000 pilots and an equal number or more air cabin crew by 2010. Due to the acute shortage heavy pay packets are expected for pilots with a commercial pilot license (CPL). Along with flight deck and technical manpower, there is a huge demand for trained engineers,technicians,personnel for handling airlines in-flight,commercial and airport operations.
To cater to the need of aviation industry , several aviation schools are being set up across the country:

* Airbus has decided to set up an aviation school in Bangalore to train 1,000 pilots a year
* Rajeev Chandrasekhar's Jupiter Aviation is looking to set up a similar venture in Bangalore or Hyderabad
* Aviation consultant Praveen Paul has set up his own aviation school

o Deccan Aviation's venture with ATR, and Jet Airways and budget carrier UB Group planning to set up training centres.


Wanted: Pilots for empty cockpits

Cathay Pacific Airways, Qantas Airways and Emirates Airline are awaiting deliveries of about 400 planes to capitalise on Asia’s rising prosperity. Finding pilots is the next job. Boeing Co expects the region’s carriers to be the biggest buyers of twin-aisle planes as travel grows in China and India—home to a combined 1.1 billion middle-class people. Asia-Pacific airlines will buy about 8,000 planes worth $1.2 trillion over the next 20 years, Airbus SAS said.
Airlines worldwide need an average of 49,900 pilots a year from 2010 to 2030 as fleets expand, yet current training capacity is only 47,025, according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation in Montreal. That is sparking bidding wars as Emirates offers tax-free salaries and four-bedroom villas for captains, and AirAsia Bhd, the region’s biggest budget airline, gives tuition-free training.
“It’s a major issue and will be a big challenge to the industry’s growth,” said Binit Somaia, a Sydney-based analyst for the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation. “Even if you can find the pilots, you have to pay top dollar for them because they are so scarce.”
China, the world’s fastest-growing major aviation market, will account for a third of the region’s orders, Airbus, the world’s biggest aircraft maker, said in February. Its economy will grow 10.5% this year, compared with world growth of 4.6%, according to International Monetary Fund estimates. India, with estimated growth of 9.4% this year, may overtake China as the world’s fastest-growing major economy as early as 2013, according to Morgan Stanley. This year, the region’s carriers ordered 133 commercial jets with more than 100 seats, or 23% of the global total, according to Ascend Worldwide, a London-based aviation forecaster.


Obama Ramadan Ground Zero Mosque Supporting Speech

obama oval muslim greeting
Celebrations like iftar dinners “remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”
Here at the White House, we have a tradition of hosting iftars that goes back several years, just as we host Christmas parties and Seders and Diwali celebrations. And these events celebrate the role of faith in the lives of the American people. They remind us of the basic truth that we are all children of God, and we all draw strength and a sense of purpose from our beliefs.
These events are also an affirmation of who we are as Americans. Our founders understood that the best way to honor the place of faith in the lives of our people was to protect their freedom to practice religion. In the Virginia Act of Establishing Religion Freedom, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion.” The First Amendment of our Constitution established the freedom of religion as the law of the land. And that right has been upheld ever since.
Indeed, over the course of our history, religion has flourished within our borders precisely because Americans have had the right to worship as they choose — including the right to believe in no religion at all. And it is a testament to the wisdom of our founders that America remains deeply religious — a nation where the ability of peoples of different faiths to coexist peacefully and with mutual respect for one another stands in stark contrast to the religious conflict that persists elsewhere around the globe.
Now, that’s not to say that religion is without controversy. Recently, attention has been focused on the construction of mosques in certain communities — particularly New York. Now, we must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of lower Manhattan. The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. And the pain and the experience of suffering by those who lost loved ones is just unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. And ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.
But let me be clear. As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the founders must endure.
We must never forget those who we lost so tragically on 9/11, and we must always honor those who led the response to that attack – from the firefighters who charged up smoke-filled staircases, to our troops who are serving in Afghanistan today. And let us also remember who we’re fighting against, and what we’re fighting for. Our enemies respect no religious freedom. Al-Qaida’s cause is not Islam — it’s a gross distortion of Islam. These are not religious leaders — they’re terrorists who murder innocent men and women and children. In fact, Al-Qaida has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion — and that list of victims includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11.
So that’s who we’re fighting against. And the reason that we will win this fight is not simply the strength of our arms — it is the strength of our values. The democracy that we uphold. The freedoms that we cherish. The laws that we apply without regard to race, or religion, or wealth, or status. Our capacity to show not merely tolerance, but respect towards those who are different from us — and that way of life, that quintessentially American creed, stands in stark contrast to the nihilism of those who attacked us on that September morning, and who continue to plot against us today.
In my inaugural address I said that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and every culture, drawn from every end of this Earth. And that diversity can bring difficult debates. This is not unique to our time. Past eras have seen controversies about the construction of synagogues or Catholic churches. But time and again, the American people have demonstrated that we can work through these issues, and stay true to our core values, and emerge stronger for it. So it must be — and will be — today.
And tonight, we are reminded that Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity. And Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been a part of America. The first Muslim ambassador to the United States, from Tunisia, was was hosted by President Jefferson, who arranged a sunset dinner for his guest because it was Ramadan — making it the first known iftar at the White House, more than 200 years ago.
Like so many other immigrants, generations of Muslims came to forge their future here. They became farmers and merchants, worked in mills and factories. They helped lay the railroads. They helped to build America. They founded the first Islamic center in New York City in the 1890s. They built America’s first mosque on the prairie of North Dakota. And perhaps the oldest surviving mosque in America — still in use today — is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Today, our nation is strengthened by millions of Muslim Americans. They excel in every walk of life. Muslim American communities — including mosques in all 50 states — also serve their neighbors. Muslim Americans protect our communities as police officers and firefighters and first responders. Muslim American clerics have spoken out against terror and extremism, reaffirming that Islam teaches that one must save human life, not take it. And Muslim Americans serve with honor in our military. At next week’s iftar at the Pentagon, tribute will be paid to three soldiers who gave their lives in Iraq and now rest among the heroes of Arlington National Cemetery.
These Muslim Americans died for the security that we depend on, and the freedoms that we cherish. They are part of an unbroken line of Americans that stretches back to our founding; Americans of all faiths who have served and sacrificed to extend the promise of America to new generations, and to ensure that what is exceptional about America is protected — our commitment to stay true to our core values, and our ability slowly but surely to perfect our union.
For in the end, we remain “one nation, under God, indivisible.” And we can only achieve “liberty and justice for all” if we live by that one rule at the heart of every great religion, including Islam — that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
rennet-contaminated Mars Bar

A Mars a day?Not if

you're a vegetarian

VEGETARIANS with a sweet tooth may find many
chocolate treats are off-limits, because they are
now being made with animal products.

A recipe change to some of the UK's most popular
chocolate bars by giant confectionery
manufacturer Masterfoods will prevent strict
vegetarians being able to enjoy a range of the
UK's most popular chocolate brands.
Mars, Bounty, Snickers, Twix and Milky Way,
as well as Maltesers and Minstrels, are now
off the menu, because they will include whey
containing animal rennet, a by-product of the
slaughter process.
Trade magazine The Grocer said yesterday it had
seen a letter to a consumer from Masterfoods
which explained that, due to a change in the
ingredients used in their chocolate recipes
from 1 May, 2007, many of the products now
contain whey.
The company explained that this was a
by-product of the cheese-making process
and uses rennet from an animal source.
Masterfoods corporate affairs manager
Paul Goalby said: "Since changing the
sourcing of our ingredients, we are no
longer able to ensure our chocolate will be
animal rennet-free and so we made the
principled decision to admit it was not
guaranteed to be vegetarian.
"If the customer is an extremely strict vegetarian,
then we are sorry the products are no longer
suitable, but a less strict vegetarian should be
fine to enjoy our chocolate."
Products with a best-before date up to 1 October
are not affected by the change and remain
suitable for vegetarians. The company is offering
a refund on any bar that has a later best- before
date to those who cannot eat animal rennet.
The Vegetarian Society said in 2004, the last full
year for which figures are available, the meat-free
foods market was estimated at £626 million,
a 38 per cent rise on the 1999 level. Data from
the Office of National Statistics also shows that
confectionery sales in the UK continue to rise.
A Vegetarian Society spokesman said:
"There are about three million vegetarians
in the UK, which is a significant part of the
market. It is very disappointing that
Masterfoods products are no longer
vegetarian-friendly. We hope the company
will reconsider this move."
George Rodger, a representative of the
society in Aberdeen, said he deplored the
change, which he believes is being made
for economic reasons, to the detriment of
UK farmers.
"Ninety per cent of the cheese produced in this
country is produced with non-animal rennet.
One must suspect Mars is going overseas to get
whey products," he said.
He described the move as unnecessary, and
criticised the company for their avoidable use
of other animal products.


THIS is not the first time foodstuffs have been

"outed" for including animal products

somewhere in their manufacture.

In 2002, fast-food giant McDonald's agreed
to pay $10 million (£5 million) in an out-of-court
settlement after Hindus living in the US claimed
the company used beef extract in the oil with
which it cooked French fries. In Britain, a majority
of wines are "fined" using meat and fish products,
including bull's blood, to improve their clarity.
And supermarket apples are often given their
shine by a coat of shellac, a protective covering
derived from the shells of insects.


The hidden Islamic

sciences - Part 1

The hidden Islamic sciences - Part 2


Makkah extension proposal leaked

New Expansion Project on Masjid Al Haram

Mecca, the holiest city in Islam, is going
to be redesigned, and a proposed master
plan just leaked to YouTube.
Because of the extreme sensitivity of the
project, details about the redesign have
been sparse. Nonetheless, it seems
destined to become one of the most
high-profile architecture projects in
a generation. Commissioned by the
Saudi Royal Family, with an estimated
budget of $13 billion, it would address
massive overcrowding, which has led
to thousands of trampling deaths
during the yearly Hajj,
which draws 1.7 million pilgrims.

Fatwa against

modelling by

Muslim women

Muzaffarnagar: A fatwa has been issued
by Darul Uloom Deoband, the leading
Islamic seminary, against modelling by
Muslim women. The seminary has said
exhibiting bodies by Muslim women while
modelling is against the sharia.

The fatwa, which describes modelling as
un-Islamic, was issued by Mufti Habibur
Rehman, Mufti Mehmood Hasan, Mufti
Fakhrul Islam, Mufti Zanul Islam and
Mufti Waqar Ali of the seminary on Monday.


Cat owners are

cleverer than

dog owners

There has been a long-
held belief that cats are
cleverer than dogs. Now,
a new study claims this is
only true for the pets but
also for their owners.

According to a scientific
survey of pet ownership
conducted by University of
Bristol scientists, people
with cats are more likely
to have university degrees
than with dogs.

The study of 2,980 pet
owners in Britain, however,
said that cat owners' superior
intelligence level is nothing
to do with their exposure to
the famously cunning and
selfish pets.

But because more educated
people, who tend to work for
longer hours, chose cats
which don't need walking
and can manage with little
human company unlike dogs,
said the study published in
the Veterinary Record journal.

Dr Jane Murray, Cats
Protection Lecturer in
Feline Epidemiology, who
led the study, said: "We
don't think it is associated
with income because that was
one of the variables we
looked at, and there was
"Cats require less time per
day than a dog, so they are
more popular with
people who work late and
have long commutes."
According to the survey,
homes with degree-holders
are 1.36 times more likely
to have a cat than other
households.The same homes
were less likely to have a dog
than households where no-one
went to university, The
Telegraph reported.

The study also found that cat
owners were more likely to be
older and female. Both cat
and dog owners were more
likely than the general
to live in households with
gardens in rural areas.
The study also showed that
the combined cat and
dog population of Britain is
more than 20.8 million -
per cent higher than
previously thought. Of
them 10.3 million people
own cats while 10.5 million
have dogs.
Dr Jane Murray said: "
We are confident that our
figures are the most
yet. The other estimates
are produced by the pet
industry and have not
been published in peer
reviewed journals.
"We are not saying there
has been a huge spike in
the cat and dog populations
- we are just getting better
at counting them."


Muslims on

social are sinners

5 Feb, 2010, 1542 hrs IST,PTI

RANIA CAIRO: Terming the use of networking sites
such as 'Facebook' as anti-Islamic, a top Egyptian
cleric has issued a fatwa against it saying Mus
lims using such cyber platforms must be considered
"sinners".And the cleric went to extent of blaming
such sites for growing incidents of marital
discords in the country.

Noted Sunni scholar Sheikh Abdel Hamid al-Atras
, former head of the fatwa commission at prestigious
Al-Azhar University here, issued the fatwa saying
such sites have resulted in rise of the marital infidelity.

"It's an instrument that destroys the family
because it encourages spouses to have relations
with other people which break Islamic Sharia law,
" he said in the fatwa.

"While one or other of the spouses is at work,
the other is chatting online with someone else,
wasting their time and flouting the Sharia.
This endangers the Muslim family," said al-Atrash.

The fatwa came after a study earlier this week
claimed that one in every five cases of divorces
in Egypt had been caused after one of the partners
started using social networking sites such as Facebook.

Last month, Grand Mufti of Egypt Ali Jumah condemned
the practice of using Quranic verses as the
mobile ringtones terming it as "improper" as it
compromises the sacredness of the religious scriptures

School Enrolment of

Muslim Children Improves
New Delhi | Jan 22, 2010
Enrolment rate of Muslim children in
elementary education has witnessed a
considerable improvement in 2008-09
against the previous years, a government
report released today said.

According to the report on 'Elementary
Education in India: Progress towards
Universalisation of Elementary Education',
a total of 14.83 million Muslim children were
enrolled in primary schools in 2008-09.
They constitute 11.03 par cent of the total
134.38 million students.

Their percentage was 10.49 per cent in
2007-08 and 9.39 per cent in 2006-07, said
the report prepared by National University
of Educational Planning and Administration
(NUEPA). The report was released by
HRD Minister Kapil Sibal.

The enrolment of Muslim girls is 48.93 per cent
which is quite similar to overall enrolment
of girls in primary schools.

The rate of Muslim enrolment in upper primary
level has also increased to 9.13 per cent in
2008-09 against 8.54 per cent in the
previous year.It was 7.52 per cent in 2006-07.

About 53.35 million children enrolled into
upper primary classes in 2008-09. Among
them, the number of Muslim children is
4.87 million, the report said.

About 87,690 schools got more than
25 per cent Muslim enrolment in 2008-09.
Similarly, 62,553 schools had above
50 per cent Muslim enrolment, the report said.

NUEPA has developed school report cards
of more than 1.29 million primary and
upper primary schools across the country.

Basic facilities like drinking water, toilets
and infrastructure in elementary schools
have marked improvements in 2008-09
compared to the previous year.

The average number of classrooms in the
primary schools has improved to 3.1 in
2008-09 from three in 2007-08, it said.
The average number of classrooms in a
school is less than two in Assam while it
more than 13 in Chandigarh.

The students-classroom ratio, which was
35 in 2007-08, improved to 33 in 2008-09,
it said.

The percentage of elementary schools
having access to drinking water facility
increased from 86.75 per cent in 2007-08
to 88 per cent last year. All schools in
Delhi, Chandigarh, Daman Diu, Delhi,
Lakshadweep and Tamil Nadu have
been provided with drinking water facility.

The common toilet facility in schools ha
s also improved. While 62 per cent of schools
had this facility in 2007-08, the percentage
increased to 67 last year. The percentage
of schools with separate toilet facility for
girls increased from 50 to 53 during this period.

Haryana and Andaman and Nicobar are
ahead of other states with nearly 95 per cent
schools having toilet facilities. About 25 per cent
schools in Arunachal Pradesh have this facility
, the survey said. With regard to girls' toilets,
is ahead of others.

About 14 per cent of schools have computer
facility. The percentage of such schools is as
high as 85 in Chandigarh and as low as 0.68
in Bihar.

While 40 per cent of the schools have ramps,
43 per cent of the government and aided
schools have kitchen-sheds in their premises,
the survey found.

Under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA),
1.26 lakh primary and 48,000 upper primary
schools have been opened in the country till
September last year.

There were 5.79 million teachers engaged
in teaching in schools at elementary level
in 2008-09. On an average, there were 4.5
teachers in a school in 2008-09.

There were about 5.38 lakh para teachers,
constituting 9.39 per cent of total number
of teachers. About 54 per cent para teachers
are graduates and above, the report said.


Govt may allow

Islamic banking,

eyes $1tn funds


Chinese couples may

now have two children

Officials in Shanghai are urging parents to have a second child, the first time in decades the government has pushed for more babies.

Beijing, Jan 25 (IANS) In a major shift in policy, China, the world's most populous nation, may allow couples to have a second child.

This will be permitted even if the couples' parents have more than one child, softening its current norm of giving such permission to only those belonging to one-child generation.

'Couple should have the right to decide when to have their second child,' said Peng Yuhua, deputy head of the Beijing Population and Planning Commission.

Those entitled to conceive a second time will also no longer have to wait for four years after having the first child, China Daily reported Monday.

It quoted Beijing News as saying that couples who have remarried with no offspring or have lost their child or have one born with disabilities will also be allowed to have a second child.

About 60,000-70,000 babies are born in Beijing every year but the birth rate in the city has seen a negative growth tendency.

'According to natural law of stable human replacement, every woman should bear at least 2.1 children. The number now in China is levelled at 1.8, while in Beijing (it) comes down to 1 right now,' Peng said.
London: Science Museum to host

Muslim Heritage exhibition

By Junaid Bhatti
Friday, 08 January 2010 02:07

The Science Museum today announced that it will host a new exhibition, 1001 Inventions: Discover the Muslim Heritage in Our World, which traces the forgotten story of a thousand years of science from the Muslim world, from the 7th century onwards. The free exhibition, which runs from the 21 January to 25 April 2010, will look at the social, scientific and technical achievements that are credited to the Muslim world, whilst celebrating the shared scientific heritage of other cultures. The exhibition is a British based project, produced in association with the Jameel Foundation.

Featuring a diverse range of exhibits, interactive displays and dramatisation, the exhibition shows how many modern inventions, spanning fields such as engineering, medicine and design, can trace their roots back to Muslim civilisation.

Prof. Chris Rapley, Director of the Science Museum, commented: “The thousand year period from the 7th century onwards was a time of exceptional scientific and technological advancement in China, India, Persia, Africa and the Arab world. This is the period in history that gave us huge advances in engineering, the development of robotics and the foundations of modern mathematics, chemistry and physics. With over 15,000 objects in our collection spanning many different cultures, the Science Museum provides the perfect context for this exhibition, as a place which encourages innovation and learning amongst visitors of all ages.”

One of the focal points of the exhibition is a six-metre high replica of the ‘Elephant Clock’- a visually striking early 13th century clock whose design fuses together elements from many cultures and is featured alongside a short feature film starring Oscar-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley as Al-Jazari, inventor of the fabled clock.

Professor Salim T S Al-Hassani, Chairman of 1001 Inventions, explained: “The Elephant Clock is an early 13th century machine which gives physical form to the concept of multi-culturalism. This engineering marvel featured an Indian Elephant, Chinese Dragons, a Greek water mechanism, an Egyptian Phoenix, and wooden robots in traditional Arabian attire. It embodies cultural and scientific convergence of civilisations and is an appropriate centre-piece for an exhibition about the roots of science and technology.”

Other exhibits featured in this interactive exhibition include:

• Model of an energy efficient and environmentally-friendly Baghdad house.
• A large 3 metre reproduction Al-Idrisi’s 12th-century world map.
• Model of Zheng He’s Chinese junk ship – originally a 15th century wooden super structure over 100 metres long.
• Medical instruments from a thousand year ago, many of which are still used today.
• Model of a 9th-century dark room, later called Camera Obscura, which Ibn al-Haytham used to revolutionise our understanding of optics.

Visitors can also learn about parallel stories of invention from other cultures and civilisations, illustrated through a display of rare and beautiful objects from the Science Museum’s collections, many of which have never been on public display before. These include devices used for weighing and measuring, surgical instruments, astronomical devices, intricately crafted ceramic pots and textiles.

1001 Inventions was created by the Manchester-based Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSTC). The exhibition will run from 21st January until 25th April 2010 (with a short closure between 25th Feb and 12th March 2010 inclusive).

UAE company Gulf Marinas based in Sharjah’s
HamriyahFree Zone has won a contract to build India’s first marina in Kerala’s port city of Kochi. Chief minister, Kerala, V.S Achuthanandan laid the foundation for the marinato be built between Kochi’s Bolgatty Island and Marine Drive, with a capacity to house 50 luxury yachts at a time, and making it the world’s only marina with a golf course.“The first phase of the project will be completed in less than a year, with half of the cost to be provided by the federal government,” chairman, Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC), Cheriyan Phillip. There will be two-dozen state-of-the-art rooms and recreation facilities built along with the marina to accommodate seafarers who make Kochi a stopover between the Middle East and the Far East. Currently,at least 60 yachts call at the Kerala port city during the tourist season and remain Sharjah company wins marina contract berthed there for periods ranging from two weeks to six months despite limited berthing facilities. The marina will also accommodate fuel stations, restaurants,health clubs and a car-parking area as well as a boardwalk. Currently, there are no intermediate berthing facilities for the yachts leaving Dubai until they reach their destinations in the Far East.Situated just 11 nauticalmiles away from the international maritime route, Kochi has one of the best natural ports in Asia where Dubai Ports World is building an international container transhipments terminal. The Cochin Port Trust is also building a cruise terminal on nearby Willington Island.The construction of a two-lane road connecting the Bolghatty Palace and Goshree Island is already underway, and the KTDC plans to complete the first phase before the Volvo Ocean Race in December. “Once completed, Kochi will emerge as the gateway of India’s tourism. Since tourists who travel by the sea are on the rise, the Kochi marina will boost the tourism prospects of the state, and could well become what Florida is to the US,” Philip concluded.


Almulla launches world's

first international Sharia

compliant hotel chain

24 October 2007
Hospitality group launches three new brands to accommodate demand from Muslim and non Muslim travellersDubai-based hospitality group Almulla, today launched the world's first Sharia compliant hotel brand portfolio under three core brand names of Cliftonwood, Adham and Wings.

The hotel group strategic plan calls for 30 properties by the end of 2008.
"There are plenty of individual Sharia compliant hotels throughout the world. However their positioning is usually dictated by the owner, either as an independent hotel, one within a chain or due to the Sharia law of country where they are situated," commented Abdulla M Almulla, Chairman of Almulla Hospitality. "Our brand proposition is so distinct that guests will be confident that our brand values have universal consistency."
The business case for Almulla Hospitality is to capture the GCC travellers who contribute over US$ 12 billion annually on leisure travel alone. According to the World Tourism Organization, Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest outbound travel markets in terms of average spend with tourists from the Kingdom spending US$ 6.7 billion annually on overseas travel. The UAE travellers are close behind at more than US$ 4.9 million, an average of US$ 1,700 per trip, which is US$ 500 higher than the European average.
The Muslim traveller market is increasing around the world due to the increasing wealth in their communities combined with conscious lifestyle living which represent ten per cent of the world tourism market, and is one of the fastest growing segments. Their average spend is ten to fifty per cent higher than that of the average leisure or business traveller. The bottom line is that conscious lifestyle tourism is expected to grow at a rate of twenty per cent per annum, five times more than the average traditional market segment.
The specific destinations targeted are Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Malaysia and Thailand. Beyond this first wave, Almulla Hospitality is looking forward to set operation in Europe with 15 deluxe hotels to be followed by 25 business hotels in "the second European wave".
Overall strategy of the hotel group is to reach 150 hotels by 2013 with expected total investment of over $2 billion. Abdulla Almulla said that institutional investors and high net worth individuals (HNWI) will be the back bone for such growth drive.
All properties operating under these brands will respect and abide by the principles of Sharia and will not sell alcohol and only serve Halal prepared food, as interpreted by the Sharia law and the Sharia supervisory board. But, will go beyond that to create a socially responsible culture in all of its' hotels, which will create a unique environment to our guests resulting in a high repeat guests.
For media information, please contact:
Nathalie Visele
Shamal Marketing Communications (SMC)
PO Box 24459
Suite 712
The Fairmont Hotel
Sheikh Zayed Road
United Arab Emirates
Tel.: +971 50 4576525
Fax: +971 4 3124313
Web site:

The 500 most influential Muslims of the world?

NEW DELHI: In a first of its kind survey of the world’s most influential Muslims, Georgetown University has come
whom are prominent Indians like former President A P J Abdul Kalam, Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan and music maestro A R Rahman.

What, however, has come as a surprise is the choice of an Urdu professor at Aligarh Muslim University for his propagation of moderate Sufi views in a region being blighted by jihadi terror.

Professor Sayid Ameen Mian Qaudri, ranked 44 on the list, is a “leader of a South Asian Sufi movement based in a volatile region where religion has been used as a platform for violence”, the editors said in their comment.

Another interesting selection is that of Maulana Mahmood Madani, leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and MP, who has campaigned against Islamic terror. “Madani has been outspoken in his opposition to the misuse of the term ‘jihad’ as a tool of terrorism in India,” the university said justifying the highest rank — 36 — given to him among his compatriots on the list.

Noted Islamic scholar Asghar Ali Engineer, leader of the progressive Dawoodi Bohra movement, finds space for his “take on Islam and contemporary issues”.

Another choice for the ‘scholarly’ category is spiritual
leader Wahiduddin Khan, hailed by the volume as “Islam’s spiritual ambassador to the world”. His approach, it is pointed out, is “popular among Indians, both Muslim and non-Muslim”.

Interestingly, the list, which features Osama bin Laden, Maulana Masood Azhar and Hafiz Mohammad Saeed among the ‘radicals’, has focused on the moderate faces of Islam from India. Zakir Abdul-Karim Naik is another such Islamic teacher included for promoting understanding about Islam.

Recalling Kalam’s role in India’s weaponisation programme as scientific adviser to the government, the editors said, “This moved India from being a state with nuclear technology to a state with nuclear weapons.”

An Indian who figures among influential media personalities is Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria. Selected from the US, Zakaria is acknowledged as one of America’s “foremost public intellectuals”.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Muslims taking root in Niigata, Toyama ports

Used-car exports supporting minority enclaves, especially Pakistani, on Sea of Japan coast


NIIGATA (Kyodo) Hundreds of mostly Pakistani Muslims are forming communities in the Sea of Japan prefectures of Niigata and Toyama, thriving in businesses linked to exports of secondhand cars to Russia and the Middle East.
News photo
About 100 Muslim men come to Islamic Center Niigata each week for Friday prayers. The facility in the prefectural capital is near Higashi port. KYODO PHOTO

"Here is Little Pakistan," joked one Niigata resident. "Japanese people need a visa (to come here). I don't have a chance to talk to any Japanese."
The man said he lives, works and eats in a restaurant in the environs of Higashi port, about 20 km from the heart of the city of Niigata.
About 200 Pakistanis work in the port area, where used-car dealers display signboards painted green -- the color of the Pakistani flag. The language spoken is Urdu, but Russians can also be seen bicycling around the district.
Standing silently and inconspicuously behind a factory, a prefabricated mosque without a dome attracts about 100 Muslim men each week for Friday prayers. Chanting words from the Quran, they stand up and bow toward Mecca. They listen to a sermon delivered by Amjad Hassan, 43, an assistant professor at Niigata University who serves as their imam.
In neighboring Toyama Prefecture, more than 300 Pakistanis live in a neighborhood in the city of Imizu, part a region along a national highway where used car outlets stand side by side.
Some Pakistanis are married to Japanese, and there has been a problem with the meat served in school lunches. Some parents have complained about being told to go home when telling the school they were concerned the meat has not been prepared in accordance with Islamic teachings, or halal.
"I like Japan very much, but I feel insecure about dying here," said Imtiaz Mohammad, a 44-year-old used car dealer, adding that cremation is "out of the question."
The Pakistani community's chief concern, he said, is whether to scrounge for space in Japan for proper burials or to send the bodies of fellow Pakistanis home by air at huge cost.
Hassan, a biotechnology specialist, served as a bridge between Pakistanis and Japanese before returning to Pakistan recently.
Pakistani residents would ask him a variety of questions after holding prayers at the mosque. These included whether it was all right for Muslims to eat "gyudon," a dish of steamed rice topped with shaved beef, and requests to explain new customs clearance procedure.
He used to tell them that he would go to his university colleagues when asked a question he couldn't answer.
The Niigata Municipal Government put a lot of confidence in Hassan, saying it was certain that something could be done if the Pakistanis sought his assistance.
For its part, the Toyama Prefectural Government is planning to hire an Urdu-speaker on a part-time basis in fiscal 2007.
Keiko Sakai, a professor of Islamic political science at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, said Japanese and Pakistanis must first establish an environment for mutual reliance if they are to avoid forming prejudiced images of each other.

4-nation pipeline inaugurated
to bring natural gas to
China from Central Asia

Saibal Dasgupta, TNN 14 December 2009, 08:00pm IST
BEIJING: China’s relentless efforts to woo Central Asian countries and build bridges with Muslim nations paid off in a big way as Chinese

president Hu Jintao on Monday inaugurated a 1,833 km long four-nation gas pipeline that will bring natural gas to China from Turkmenistan.

The pipeline will enable Turkmenistan gas to flow through central Uzbekistan and southern Kazakhstan to the Chinese border region of Xinjiang before it is moved further to major user cities of Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

Speaking at a function attended by heads of four nations, Hu said the pipeline will also carry goodwill and friendship among the four nations and bring benefits to all of them.

Three of these four countries- Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and China-are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. China has played a key role in building SCO as a regional political club and has offered massive financial support to some of its members. (India and Pakistan have observer status in SCO).

At the ceremony, Hu said China wants to develop further coordination with Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in order to build the second line of the project besides ensuring safety and efficiency in the operation of the existing one. He called for a long-term, stable, secured and reliable partnership in the field of energy.

The pipeline is also a result of hard work by engineers from the four countries who have set a high standard of safety, efficiency and quality in construction, he said.

"The project has truly realized the balance of interests among energy exporters, transporters and consumers," Turkmen President Berdymukhamedov said in an interview with the Chinese media.


China pays web surfers to find porn
BEIJING: Chinese authorities have offered rewards of up to 10,000 yuan ($1,465) to internet users who report websites that feature pornography,state media reported on Sunday.
However, the censors' latest campaign against content that harms public morality appears to have encouraged internet users to look for porn online.
Within the first 24 hours, a hotline set up on Friday by Internet Illegal Information Reporting Centre was flooded with more than 500 phone calls and 13,000 online tips, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The centre is looking for websites and mobile phone-accessible sites that contain obscene material or advertise sex products, the report said. Rewards ranging from 1,000 yuan to 10,000 yuan will go to the first person to report each website, the centre said in a notice, adding a committee would review the tipoffs to determine what award was appropriate, Xinhua said.
China has launched several internet crackdowns on pornography, con artists and political activists in the past. Earlier this year China threatened to sanction major websites, including search engine giants Google and Baidu, alleging that pornography and other material that could corrupt young people was turning up in search results.

Dubai - ‘Halal Expo 2009’

Edited by Hannan Taha
Tuesday, 10 November 2009 13:58

The third annual 'Halal Expo', the definitive event for Halal industry in the region, opened today (November 10, 2009), at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. Endorsed by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the event is hosting more than 80 global companies and international exhibitors representing 200 brands from 22 countries, and is expected to attract around 4,000 visitors within its three-day run. This year, the exhibition aims to serve as a platform to strengthen the presence of 'Halal' products within the global catering, hospitality, food and beverage, health and pharmaceuticals industries.

With recent studies revealing the number of Halal consumers worldwide to have reached 1.8 billion and annual sales hitting USD 580 billion, Halal-product exporters and manufacturers from across the globe have identified the extensive opportunity in participating in this year's 'Halal Expo'. Among the top global companies present are Halal food manufacturers Amadeh Laziz (Iran) and Khazan (UAE), and beef producers Real Food Company Sdn Bhd (Malaysia) and JES (Japan), which is highlighting its top quality 'Wagyu' products. Other participating companies are from Argentina, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Netherlands, Pakistan, The Philippines, Turkey, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, KSA, USA and the UK.

"Through the years, 'Halal Expo' has played an important role of bringing together leading manufacturers and buyers to encourage 'Halal' trade. However, this year's event hold a significant importance given the current economic situation and the outstanding potential of this market to grow further as a major income-generating industry for Halal goods-producing countries," said Raees Ahmed, Director, Orange Fairs & Events. "With the wide array of world-class products and services on display, it is clear that the market continues to mature, and I am confident that 'Halal Expo 2009' will catalyse a number of important partnerships and deals, which will boost this year's Halal trade across the continents."

'Halal Expo 2009' features Shari'ah compliant products, with the launch of Halal logistics by MISC, one of the top five shipping companies in the world and is among the participating Malaysian exhibitors, deemed as one of the key highlights of the exhibition. In addition to expanding their global network, participating companies are also focusing on leveraging the Middle East as a leading market for Halal products and exploring more effective means to establish a strong presence within the region. Aside from manufacturers and service providers, regional and international Halal Certification Authorities, Chambers of Commerce, and International Halal Associations such as Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA), Dubai Municipality, Islamic Services of America, Islamic Food Council of Europe, and Halal Food Authority - UK are also participating at the event.

"We are thrilled by the level of activity we are seeing in the exhibition hall, which exemplifies the stability of the Middle East Halal market. We would like to thank our exhibitors for their presence and the trade visitors for their continuing support. The third staging of this event proved to be the biggest so far, and we remain committed to the growth of this event to sustainably address the needs of both the regional and global Halal markets," concluded Ahmed.

In addition to providing a suitable platform for networking among key industry players, Dubai's growing role in promoting the Halal industry is also driven by the emirate's strong strides in addressing the need for credible and professional Halal certification and formation of Halal certification bodies. In line with the Dubai's commitment to the growth of the global Halal industry, the event will also host on its second day, two interactive seminars on 'Halal Brand Equity', which will be conducted by Jalal Aossey from Midamar Corporation USA and 'Import and Re-export requirements for foodstuff' which will be conducted by Safwan Saifudeen - Food Safety Specialist from Dubai Municipality.


Habibies - Saudi Arabia: Obama’s grandmother in Makkah for ‘Hajj’ ceremony

Makkah, 25 Nov. (AKI) – The grandmother of US president Barack Obama has arrived in Saudi Arabia for the ‘Hajj’ or Islamic pilgrimage to the holy cities of Makkah & Madina, a Saudi daily said on Wednesday. Sarah Obama, 87, is being accompanied by a nephew and Obama’s cousin, Omran.

On Wednesday Sarah Obama was in the valley of Mina with an African delegation, according to the Saudi daily Okaz.

Obama, the mother of the American president’s father, lives in a village in Kenya and is one of the many guests of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud.

About two million Muslims converge on Makkah each year for the Hajj pilgrimage but Saudi officials were expecting fewer pilgrims this year due to the threat of the H1N1 virus known as swine flu.

Crowds of pilgrims have been converging on the holy city of Makkah in recent days, and started the Hajj rites on Wednesday.

At the weekend, Saudi health authorities said that four people attending the Hajj had died from the H1N1 virus but sought to play down the risk.

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is an obligation for all able-bodied Muslims to attend at least once during their lives, provided they can afford it. __________________
"I fear God and next to God I mostly fear them that fear Him not." - Sa'di of Shiraz

Makkah, 25 Nov. (AKI) – The grandmother of US president Barack Obama has arrived in Saudi Arabia for the ‘Hajj’ or Islamic pilgrimage to the holy cities of Makkah & Madina, a Saudi daily said on Wednesday. Sarah Obama, 87, is being accompanied by a nephew and Obama’s cousin, Omran.
On Wednesday Sarah Obama was in the valley of Mina with an African delegation, according to the Saudi daily Okaz.
Obama Grandmother
Obama, the mother of the American president’s father, lives in a village in Kenya and is one of the many guests of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud.
About two million Muslims converge on Makkah each year for the Hajj pilgrimage but Saudi officials were expecting fewer pilgrims this year due to the threat of the H1N1 virus known as swine flu.
obama Grandmother
Crowds of pilgrims have been converging on the holy city of Makkah in recent days, and started the Hajj rites on Wednesday.
At the weekend, Saudi health authorities said that four people attending the Hajj had died from the H1N1 virus but sought to play down the risk.
The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is an obligation for all able-bodied Muslims to attend at least once during their lives, provided they can afford it.
Obama Grandmother Kenya
Obama Grandmother Kenya

Obama: "My Muslim Faith"


Will Switzerland

ban minarets?

Zurich: A Swiss vote to ban the construction of new minarets puts the spotlight on the Alpine country's social and political divisions and could herald a new surge in populist, anti-immigrant sentiment.
The moon shines over the Mevlana Mosque in Rotterdam.
The moon shines over the Mevlana Mosque in Rotterdam.
The unexpected vote and high turnout in Sunday's referendum gives a boost to the right-wing populist Swiss People's Party (SVP), a relatively new political force that has shaken up the country's traditionally cozy power-sharing system.
"It could well be the beginnings of a new right-wing surge," said Clive Church, a Swiss politics expert from Kent University.
The Essalaam Mosque in Rotterdam is the biggest mosque being built in Western Europe.
The Essalaam Mosque in Rotterdam is the biggest mosque being built in Western Europe.
The SVP, which has grown rapidly since the 1980s to become Switzerland's largest party, has been accused of racism for its strident anti-immigration campaigns, including a poster showing a white sheep kicking black sheep off a Swiss flag.
It campaigned against extending the right of European Union citizens to live and work in non-EU member Switzerland, which voters approved in February despite SVP posters of three long-beaked sinister-looking ravens picking at a small map of Switzerland.
The SVP won the largest share of the vote in a 2007 general election but its fortunes have since faded: a faction split off to form another party, at one point it lost all its cabinet seats and it has had little success in referenda. Until now.
The Essalaam Mosque
The Essalaam Mosque
The SVP poster for Sunday's vote featured a Swiss flag covered in missile-like minarets and the portrait of a woman covered with a black chador and veil, associated with strict Islam, continuing the line of provocative election literature.
While Switzerland's Muslim community of some 300,000 is relatively small there is wider concern about immigration in a country where foreigners make up more than a fifth of the total 7.7 million population.
Nationwide voter turnout was about 53 percent, higher than a more usual 35 to 45 percent, and 22 of 26 cantons, or provinces, voted in favor of the initiative. The decision went against recent polls, which had indicated a slim majority opposed a ban.
Protesters hold a banner reading "hermetic confederation = democracist vote" to protest against the results of the vote in Lausanne, Switzerland
There was marked division between urban areas like Zurich and French-speaking areas -- which are traditionally more liberal -- and rural, German speaking cantons like Schaffhausen, where some 70 percent of voters supported the initiative.
"It represents a two finger gesture against the towns, foreigners, the powerful, the better educated and the like. The pattern of voting confirms that," said Swiss culture and politics expert Jonathan Steinberg of the University of Pennsylvania.
Protesters hold a symbolic minaret during a demonstration in Geneva
Switzerland has suffered an identity crisis since the end of the Cold War robbed its neutrality of much meaning, helping fuel the rise of the SVP.
Switzerland's relations with the Muslim world are already strained over the detention of two Swiss businessmen in Libya following the 2008 arrest in Geneva of Muammar Gaddafi's son on charges, later dropped, of mistreating two domestic staff.
In a front page editorial, Algeria's Le Soir newspaper said Switzerland should be tackling religious intolerance, not Muslims who want to practise their faith in peace.
Two symbolic minarets stand in the crowd during the demonstration
Two symbolic minarets stand in the crowd during the demonstration
"This vote is shocking because it took place in a state which advocates secularism and which prides itself on treating all religions on an equal basis," Le Soir said.
It is also likely to complicate relations beyond the Arab world and France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told French radio RTL the vote was "oppressing a religion."
Protests against the vote in Zurich and Berne attracted few attendees, however, while supporters were jubilant.
"We'll definitely celebrate," Nadja Pieren, who attended a rally supporting the ban, told Reuters. "It's to show that we don't want political Islam in Switzerland. We don't have a problem with people who pray in mosques."
Source: Reuters

Call for calm on minaret issue
Abdul Hamid al-Ansari
By Anwar Elshamy

A leading Muslim scholar yesterday called for a “calm response” over the recent Swiss ban on new minarets, saying that overreaction to similar incidents had backfired on Muslims.
The former dean of Shariah College at Qatar University, Prof Abdul Hamid al-Ansari said that Muslims around the world, including those in the West, should not be dragged into a battle with Europe’s rising Far-Right.
“I hope we can get the right message from the referendum that banned minarets. It is evident that there was a failure on Muslims’ part to convey the true image of Islam to the West. It also means that Muslims need to review their religious discourse and look into the reasons why a majority of the Swiss voted for the ban,” al-Ansari told Gulf Times.
Professor al-Ansari, who is also a columnist with several newspapers in the region, urged the media outlets in the Muslim world not to depict the ban on minarets as a “sign of hostility toward Islam”, saying that instigating the public against the West by calling for a boycott or attacking Swiss interests would only play into the hands of the extremists in Europe.
“What we should understand from the public vote against new minarets, which are nothing but a sign of a place where Muslims can pray, that the West has fears about Islam and it is our responsibility to tackle such fears,” he added.
“In earlier offences against Islam in Europe, we tried violent reactions. But they did not produce the desired effect and even backfired on Muslims by strengthening the far-right in Europe,” he explained.
The scholar also blamed the rising popularity of the Far-Right in Europe on the 9/11 attacks against the US, which he said gave them a “louder voice” in any public vote.
“It was due to mistakes made by some Muslims that the rightist in the West are winning seats in their parliaments,” he added.
“I hope we can adopt a reasonable and calm response and take it as an opportunity to examine our faults,” he added.
The chairman of the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue (DICID), professor Ibrahim Saleh al-Naimi rejected the ban, saying that it was against the freedom of conscience for Muslim minorities in Europe.
“We deplore this decision especially from a country that claims to abide by democracy and freedom of speech and faith. I hope the bodies concerned in the Western world will intervene in this matter in order to safeguard the freedom of faith in thought,” he said.
“Such an issue should not have been put to vote through a referendum. It should have been discussed in different forums and the views of all the parties concerned should have been taken into consideration.”
The head of Minorities Committee at the International Union for Muslim Scholars, Dr Ali Mohieedin al-Quradaghi, called on the European Union as well as the Swiss constitutional court to revoke the vote, saying that it would not help Muslims in Europe to integrate into their respective communities.
Ahmed al-Bainain, a Muslim scholar with the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, slammed the Swiss decision as “discriminating against the Muslim community in Switzerland”, who he said, would feel more isolated.
“This decision is against the soul of annual meetings held in Doha to promote interfaith dialogue in the world,” al-Bainain added.

Swiss move to ban minarets

By Imogen Foulkes
BBC News, Berne

Swiss Muslims
Swiss Muslims pray in disused factories and warehouses
A row is brewing over religious symbolism in Switzerland.

Members of the right-wing Swiss People's Party, currently the largest party in the Swiss parliament, have launched a campaign to have the building of minarets banned.
They claim the minaret is not necessary for worship, but is rather a symbol of Islamic law, and as such incompatible with Switzerland's legal system.
Signatures are now being collected to force a nationwide referendum on the issue which, under Switzerland's system of direct democracy, would be binding.
The move has shocked Switzerland's 350,000 Muslims, many of whom have been campaigning for decades for more recognition for their faith.
In theory Switzerland is a secular state, whose constitution guarantees freedom of religious expression to all. In practice however mosques in Switzerland tend to be confined to disused warehouses and factories.
Across the country, there are only two small minarets, one in Zurich and one in Geneva, neither of which are permitted to make the call to prayer. In Switzerland's capital Berne, the largest mosque is in a former underground car park.
Plans rejected
In the small town of Langenthal, just outside Berne, plans to build a very modest minaret have been put on ice following thousands of objections.
View of Berne
Many Swiss think minarets have no place on their urban skylines
Langenthal's mosque is housed in a former paint factory on the outskirts of town.
Mutalip Karaademi, an ethnic Albanian who has lived in Switzerland for 26 years, was at first pleased when his proposal for a 5m-high (16.5ft) minaret was approved by the local authority.
But following a vociferous campaign against the plans, including a petition with thousands of signatures, the cantonal government in Berne delayed the project indefinitely.
"We are very disappointed," said Mr Karaademi. "We just wanted to do our mosque up a bit, with this small minaret and a tea room. We actually thought it might promote dialogue."
Mr Karaademi is also bitter at what he sees as unfair discrimination against his faith. "I even gave them a written undertaking that we would never make the call to prayer," he said. "They seem to think we are all criminals or terrorists - that's like saying all Italians are in the mafia."
Islamic law
But supporters of a ban on minarets say they have no intention of preventing anyone from practising their faith.
"We don't have anything against Muslims," said Oskar Freysinger, member of parliament for the Swiss People's Party.
"But we don't want minarets. The minaret is a symbol of a political and aggressive Islam, it's a symbol of Islamic law. The minute you have minarets in Europe it means Islam will have taken over."
Mr Freysinger's words may sound extreme, even paranoid, but this is a general election year in Switzerland, and the campaign against minarets is playing well with voters.
A recent opinion poll for one Swiss newspaper found that 43% of those surveyed were in favour of a ban on minarets.
"We have our civil laws here," insisted Mr Freysinger. "Banning minarets would send a clear signal that our European laws, our Swiss laws, have to be accepted. And if you want to live here, you must accept them. If you don't, then go back."
Growing resentment
It's a harsh message for Swiss Muslims, many of whom were born in Switzerland. There are fears that the campaign against minarets will provoke growing resentment against Swiss society.
"I think Swiss Muslims will be angry and bitter over this," said Reinhard Schulze, professor of Islamic Studies at Berne University. "And we know that anger and bitterness among a community can lead to radicalisation, even to militancy."
The Swiss government is extremely nervous about the prospect of militancy among Swiss Muslims; three cabinet ministers have already spoken out against the campaign to ban minarets.
There is also a growing fear that the debate will damage Switzerland's traditionally good relations with the Arab world.
But the Swiss People's Party is powerful. If the minaret campaign is, as some suspect, a vote-grabbing ploy ahead of October's general election, then it is a successful one; the party is riding high in the opinion polls.
A constitutional amendment forbidding minarets will have to be approved in a nationwide referendum. In the meantime, no minarets are being built anywhere in Switzerland; the controversy has created a situation in which no local planning officer wants to be the first to approve one.
In that respect, the People's Party may have got what it secretly wanted all along, an unofficial ban on minarets.
So for now, Switzerland's Muslims will continue to pray in abandoned buildings, many with the growing feeling that they are tolerated only as long as they remain invisible.


Malegaon imam,

a product of

Deoband, is MLA


Change in Beijing’s Muslim Population

Over Time (1959-2000)

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I would be posting quantiative data about Muslims in Beijing. (This of it as a Razib style post.) The table below shows changes in Hui Muslim population over time. The source of information is the same as before (Beijing’s Hui Muslim Community). One can definitely see some general trends e.g., while the Muslim population has increased by 75,000 in terms of absolute numbers but its percentage of the overall population has declined. Many districts show a decline in Muslim population, Chaoyang, Haidian and Fengtai are exceptions though. Another interesting thing is that if we compare the absolute numbers of many districts in 1959 nad 2000 then the numbers are more or less the same. Since these numbers should increase by natural birthrate then this actually means a relative decline because of migration.
District 1959 1964 1977 1982 1990 2000
Dongcheng 15,141 17,468 16,059 19,488 17,845 15,035
Xicheng 16,884 19,089 18,344 21,470 20,510 18,202
Chongwen 9,535 11,525 10,582 12,789 11,720 8,350
Xuanwu 28,024 31,442 28,014 32,102 31,090 27,668
Chaoyang 15,915 18,754 22,175 27,037 36,108 50,185
Haidian 8,467 10,567 10,228 14,037 20,702 28,981
Fengtai 5,720 5,082 5,424 6,880 11,200 21,563
1,462 1,736 2,247 3,322 5,145
Mentougou 716 1,165 1,009 1,089 891 767


Hui Population 100,402 116,554 113,571 138,032 153,388 175,896
% of Beijing’s 2.35 2.49 2.40 2.47 2.33 2.04
Given below is the same data but in a graphical form to make comparison between different districts and eras more comprehensible.


.Record 1Billion go hungry, says UN
AP 15 Oct 09 ST

NAIROBI: Parents in some of Africa's poorest countries are cutting back on school, clothes and basic medical care just to give their children a
meal once a day, experts say. Still, it is not enough.

A record 1 billion people worldwide are hungry and a new report says the number will increase if governments do not spend more on agriculture. According to the UN food agency, which issued the report, 30 countries now require emergency aid, including 20 in Africa.

The trend continues despite a goal set by world leaders nine years ago to cut the number of hungry people in half by 2015.

``It's actually a world emergency that calls for action from both developing and developed countries,'' said Otive Igbuzor, the head of international campaigns for ActionAid International.

``We know a child dies every six seconds of malnutrition,'' he said.

Spiraling food prices have added to hardships, especially in the world's most desperate countries where the poor could barely afford a single daily meal to begin with. The inflated prices -- which caused riots across the globe last year -- have stabilized but remain comparatively high, especially in the developing world, Jacques Diouf, director general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, told AP Television News.

In Somalia, ravaged by violence and anarchy for almost two decades, the monthly expenditure for food and other basic needs for a family of six has risen 85 percent in the past two years, said Grainne Moloney of the Somalia Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit.

On average, such a family spent $171 in September this year, compared with $92 for the same amount of food and other needs in March 2007, said Moloney, a nutrition expert for the Horn of Africa nation.

``Families are cutting out the school, cutting out the clothes. A lot of them are going for cheaper cereals,'' said Moloney, adding that despite those desperate measures, one in five children in Somalia is acutely malnourished.

Igbuzor said the trend can be seen in impoverished countries across Africa.

In Kenya, herders have seen scores of their animals die and crops have withered because of drought. Today, 3.8 million people in Kenya need food aid, up from 2.5 million earlier in the year.

After worldwide gains in the fight against hunger in the 1980s and early 1990s, the number of undernourished people started climbing in 1995, reaching 1.02 billion this year amid escalating food prices and the global financial meltdown, the FAO said in its Wednesday report.

The long-term trend is due largely to reduced aid and private investments earmarked for agriculture since the mid 1980s, the Rome-based agency said in its State of Food Insecurity report for 2009.

In 1980, 17 percent of aid contributed by donor countries went to agriculture. That share was down to 3.8 percent in 2006 and only slightly improved in the last three years, Diouf said.

``In the fight against hunger the focus should be on increasing food production,'' Diouf said. ``It's common sense ... that agriculture would be given the priority, but the opposite has happened.''

The decline may have been caused by low food prices that discouraged private investment in agriculture and competition for public funds from other aid fields, including emergency relief, said FAO economist David Dawe.

Governments and investors may also have chosen to put their money into other economic sectors because agriculture's share of the economy in some developing countries dropped as people moved to cities and found work in industry.

But agriculture still needs sustained investment to feed people in developing countries, Dawe said.

The world's most populous region, Asia and the Pacific, has the largest number of hungry people -- 642 million -- followed by Sub-Saharan Africa with 265 million.

Diouf said world leaders are starting to understand that investment in agriculture must be increased. He cited the goal set by the Group of Eight summit in L'Aquila, Italy, in July to raise $20 billion to help farmers in poor countries produce more -- a shift from previous emphasis on delivering food aid.

However, more investments will be needed to fulfill pledges like the UN Millennium Development Goals, which aim to halve the number of those living in hunger and poverty by 2015, the report said.

The FAO says global food output will have to increase by 70 percent to feed a projected population of 9.1 billion in 2050.

To achieve that, poor countries will need $44 billion in annual agricultural aid, compared with the current $7.9 billion, to increase access to irrigation systems and modern machinery as well as build roads and train farmers.


Ban on slicing fins from live sharks

BRITAIN is to ban shark-finning, the fishermen’s practice of slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding the body at sea. The move is aimed at preserving the UK’s remaining sharks from destruction by fishermen exploiting Asia’s booming market for shark-fin soup.
British-licensed boats kill thousands of the animals each year, targeting species such as hammerheads, mako, threshers and blue sharks, prized for their long tails.
Typically, the fishermen cut the fins off the shark and discard the rest of it into the sea. Conservationists say many are still alive and die later in agony.
Huw Irranca-Davies, the fisheries minister, said Britain could no longer tolerate the trade and would revoke permits for fin removal.

He said: “I want the UK to lead the way in helping protect these vulnerable species. By stopping these permits we will ensure that the wasteful practice that sees fins cut from sharks and the bodies left at sea does not happen.”
Fishermen would be required to bring the sharks intact to land before removing their fins, drastically reducing the number they could catch on each trip.
Conservationists have long questioned Britain’s support for a practice widely viewed as abhorrent and cruel, especially since the European Union introduced legislation to ban it in 2003.
Those rules reduced the trade a little but industry lobbying left it full of loopholes. One clause allowed EU members to grant their vessels special permits to slash fins from the majority of sharks caught, provided a few were landed intact.
Irranca-Davies’s predecessors then issued 15 boats with permits to fin sharks. Since then, those vessels have killed tens of thousands of sharks, a destruction that has coincided with sharp population declines in most species.
One mystery, however, is which vessels and fishermen are involved. The trade is regarded as so sensitive that Irranca-Davies’s department, Defra, refuses to name the vessels or even the ports they operate from. One is understood to be Newlyn in Cornwall while the others are in Scotland and Wales.
A Defra spokesman said: “These fishermen would be threatened and harassed if they were identified.”
The trade is driven by the high price of shark fins compared with other fish products. The fins can sell for more than £100 for 1lb. Ali Hood of the Shark Trust, which has led the fight to ban finning, said the British move was welcome but long overdue.


Beyond Minority Reports
The Sachar committee report, when it came out in 2006, created a stir among advocates of social justice and minority rights. The report and the surveys conducted in its wake revealed continuing disparities between the Muslims and the rest of Indian society, particularly upper caste Hindus. In a country where social prejudice is widespread, not to say endemic, advocates of minority rights have found it natural to attribute the plight of Muslims to the practice of discrimination against them. It is, of course, difficult to demonstrate that those Muslims who have fallen behind in the competition for education and employment have been individually the victims of discrimination, or that prejudice was the sole reason why they fell behind. Presumption of prejudice and injustice against Muslims has created a demand for special provisions in recognition of their separate status as a minority. They did enjoy such a status under colonial rule. That underwent a major change with India's partition and attainment of independence. The Constituent Assembly sought to create a new consensus on the basis of equal citizenship for all without consideration of race, caste, creed or gender, and protection of minority interests in cultural and educational matters. The constitutional consensus was against provisions for the representation of minorities in politics and administration of the kind adopted for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. There would be quotas for the latter, but not for the former. On quotas, Nehru and Ambedkar thought alike. Ambedkar gave pointed expression to the view then shared by most: "It is wrong for the majority to deny the existence of minorities. It is equally wrong for minorities to perpetuate themselves." He did not want the special interests of the minorities to be ignored, but he also did not want a return to the status quo ante. The new Constitution was designed to establish a new political order based on the rights of the individual as citizen. Some concessions could be made to groups that had suffered the consequences of centuries of geographical isolation and social segregation, but religious minorities did not fall within their scope. India had been since time immemorial a society of castes and communities. What counted in its traditional social order were village community, caste and joint family rather than the individual. The new Constitution sought to make a break from the old order by enlarging the role of the individual citizen and restricting the role of castes and communities. Ambedkar and his associates in the Constituent Assembly were not unaware of the challenges in making a break with the past. Ambedkar's anxiety about the minorities seeking to perpetuate themselves must be seen in the light of the primacy he assigned to citizenship in the new constitutional order. Communities were important, but it would be wrong to allow their claims to supersede the claims of the individual. Some wished to give the village community primacy. He opposed them, saying, "I am glad that the draft Constitution has discarded the village and adopted the individual as its unit." The positive response to the Sachar committee report was an endorsement of Ambedkar's view that it would be wrong to ignore the existence of minorities. But what about his view that it would also be wrong for the minorities to perpetuate themselves? It is doubtful such a view will be received kindly by those who were enthused by the report and the committee's recommendations. India's political climate has changed substantially in the last 60 years. In December 1946, when the Constituent Assembly first met, only the Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha espoused identity politics. Today, it has become the staple of all political parties. Prejudice against other communities is a common feature of large societies that contain a plurality of communities. It does not take an equally virulent form in all societies, nor is its expression equally pernicious in all historical conditions. Realistically speaking, one cannot eliminate social prejudice but only try to moderate its influence and to insulate certain spheres of life from its exercise. Constitutional morality requires bringing discriminatory practices to light, and allowing grievances to be articulated. It will be difficult to argue that the combative assertion of one community's rights as against those of another is the best way of coping with social prejudice. Minority right is a powerful sword but it would do well to remember that, in our present political circumstances, it is a double-edged sword. A reasonable approach to the problem will lie in recognising that social prejudice infects all communities. Minorities undoubtedly have grievances against the majority that cannot be brushed under the carpet. The majority also has grievances against the minorities, and not all of those may be without foundation. Grievances on the one side tend to reinforce those on the other. Identity politics, which brings different communities into confrontation with each other, may have made people more conscious of their rights, but it has also made social prejudice more difficult to control. The writer is professor emeritus of sociology, University of Delhi.


One in four is Muslim, study says

Prayers at London's Central Mosque
Muslims offer prayers at London's Central Mosque

A report from an American think-tank has estimated 1.57 billion Muslims populate the world - with 60% in Asia.
The report, by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, took three years to compile, with census data from 232 countries and territories.
It showed that 20% of Muslims lived in the Middle East and North Africa.
The data also showed that there were more Muslims in Germany than in Lebanon, and more in Russia than in Jordan and Libya together.

Researchers analysed approximately 1,500 sources including census reports, demographic studies and general population surveys.
Senior researcher Brian Grim told CNN that the overall figure was a surprise and said: "Overall, the number is higher than I expected."

Asia and the Pacific: 61.9%
Middle East - North Africa: 20.1%
Sub-Saharan Africa: 15.3%
Europe: 2.4%
Americas: 0.3%

The report, published on Wednesday, also found that Ethiopia has nearly as many Muslims as Afghanistan.
Amaney Jamal, an assistant professor of politics at Princeton University, told the AP news agency: "This whole idea that Muslims are Arabs and Arabs are Muslims is really just obliterated by this report."
Instead the report found that more than 300 million Muslims live in countries where Islam was not the majority religion.
Of the total Muslim population, 10-13% are Shia Muslims and 87-90% are Sunni Muslims.
Most Shias live in Iran, Pakistan, India and Iraq.


Europe is home to 38 million Muslims - around 5% of its population with European Muslims making up slightly more than 2% of the world's Muslim population.
More than half of the 4.6 million Muslims in the Americas live in the US - however they make up just 0.8% of the population there.
The Pew Forum has said the findings will lay the foundation for a forthcoming study that will look at how Muslim populations worldwide have grown and what they may look like in the future.
It also plans to compile figures for the other major world religions.
According to internet-based group, Adherents, there are currently 2.1 billion Christians, 900 million Hindus and 14 million Jews worldwide.



India's Jurassic nest dug up in Tamil Nadu

COIMBATORE: Geologists in Tamil Nadu have stumbled upon a Jurassic treasure trove buried in the sands of a river bed. Sheer luck led them to
Dinosaur eggs
Geologists in Tamil Nadu discover Dinosaur eggs. (TOI Photo)
hundreds of fossilized dinosaur eggs,

perhaps 65 million years old, underneath a stream in a tiny village in Ariyalur district.

Researchers from the Salem-based Periyar University found clusters of eggs of what they believe to be the most aggressive Carnosaur and the docile, leaf-eating Sauropod at Sendurai village.

While Carnosaurs were large predatory dinasaurs, Sauropods were long-necked, herbivores which grew to enormous heights and sizes.

That dinosaurs once roamed the area was known from the fossils found there on earlier expeditions. But this is the first time that hundreds of nests embedded with hundreds of clusters of dinosaur eggs have been unearthed in the district.

Located on the highway between Chennai and Tiruchi, the Ariyalur and the neighbouring Perambalur geological sites nestle in the northern plains of the Cauvery river. The place is a veritable museum of ancient organisms, dating back to 140 million years. Ever since a British couple -- the Wines -- collected 32 boxes of "strange stone objects" in 1843, the Ariyalur region has drawn geologists from across the world for its rich fossil presence and diversity.

Scientists have found the tiniest marine algae or the nano fossils besides the rare shell-like bivalve, gastropoda, telecypoda and brachiopoda in the geological sites spread across 950sqkm in Ariyalur and Perambalur districts.

"We found clusters and clusters of spherical eggs of dinosaurs. And each cluster contained eight eggs," says Dr M U Ramkumar, geology lecturer of the Periyar University. Each egg was about 13 to 20 cm in diameter and they were lying in sandy nests which were of the size of 1.25 metres.

In the 1860s, a British geologist first recorded the presence of bone remains of dinosaurs in Ariyalur. Over a century and a half later, the egg of a dinosaur was found in a cement factory of the state-owned Tamil Nadu Cements Ltd in 1990s. But officials realized that it was a dinosaur egg only 10 years later.

On a sultry afternoon on September 12 this year, Ramkumar and his research students went to Ariyalur to scour the rocks and sediments as part of a study funded by Indian and German scientific institutions. As they paused by a stream on a grazing land at Sendurai, they found spherical-shaped fossils peeping out of the sand beds. "We got really excited. As I have seen a dinosaur egg, I was sure these were dinosaur eggs," said Ramkumar.

A quick digging revealed clusters of eggs beneath seven layers of sand spread over two sqkm. The eggs may not have hatched due to the Deccan volcanic eruptions or seasonal flooding, surmise the team. "We suspect the extinction of dinosaurs was triggered by the Deccan volcano. Volcanic ashes cap the eggs," said one researcher.

"This is a very significant finding as never before have we found so many dinosaur eggs in the country. Besides the spherical size of the eggs covered with sand and volcanic ash provide significant insight into the possible reasons for extinction of the species," says Dr Jyotsana Rai, senior scientist, Birbal Sahni Institute of Paleobotany in Lucknow. Her team will collect samples of these eggs to determine its exact age.

Because a similar discovery in Jabalpur led to a plunder of the fossilized treasure, the researchers have requested the Ariyalur district administration to cordon off the site. Samples of the eggs will travel to Germany for further research. The vicinity of Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh is considered the richest dinosaur field in the country.

Al-Haramain express train project


Undersecretary of the Ministry of Transport on road to «Okaz»:
Beginning of the implementation of the Two Holy train from North Jeddah
and the south of Al-Madinah

26 billion rials for the implementation of 30 thousand km of new roads throughout the Kingdom

AlRajhi alliance the winners of Al-Haramain express train project ,have started the work on the project,starting from north Jeddah and south of Madinah,in total length of 450 km. the Under-Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport Engineer Abdullah Almogbel said:about the land bridge, which links the Jeddah Islamic Port with King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam, in order to transport containers between the two ports is under consideration at the moment, but the next stage will be to transport passengers between the two cities themselves.

AlRajhi alliance the winners of Al-Haramain express train project ,have started the work on the project,starting from north Jeddah and south of Madinah,in total length of 450 km. the Under-Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport Engineer Abdullah Almogbel said:about the land bridge, which links the Jeddah Islamic Port with King Abdul Aziz Port in Dammam, in order to transport containers between the two ports is under consideration at the moment, but the next stage will be to transport passengers between the two cities themselves.


Water found on the moon - and it's India's first lunar mission that detects it

By Ryan Kisiel
Last updated at 6:53 AM on 24th September 2009
Large quantities of water has been found on the Moon's surface, it has been revealed.
The scientific discovery that is due to be announced by NASA today (Thurs) makes the science fiction fantasy of man colonising the rock a possibility.
The evidence suggests that the presence of water on the surface of the Moon means that it is still being naturally formed.
Evidence of water has been found on the moon, prompting scientists at NASA to hold a news conference
Evidence of water has been found on the moon, prompting scientists at NASA to hold a news conference
The Indian lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 found detected the water as it was carrying out the country's first lunar mission.
It was fitted with a Moon Mineralogy Mapper, designed specifically to search for water by picking up the electromagnetic radiation emitted by minerals.
The machine was designed by NASA, to detect water on and just below the surface of the Moon. Unlike previous lunar water searching equipment, it was more sensitive and could detect much smaller amounts of water.
The un-manned Indian Space Research Organisation shuttle launched into orbit around the Moon in October last year.
ISRO lost control of Chandrayaan-1 last month, and aborted the mission ahead of schedule, but not before M3 and the other instruments had beamed back the vital data suggesting water is on the moon.
Experts believe the water is trapped in the Moon's surface dirt and in theory can be extracted in large quantities to support life.
India's maiden lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 takes off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India in October 2008
India's maiden lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 takes off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India in October 2008
Scientists have long dreamed that astronauts could be based on the Moon and use water found on the rock to drink, extract oxygen to breathe and use its hydrogen as a fuel.
Several previous studies have suggested that there could be ice in the craters around the Moon’s poles, but scientists have yet been unable to confirm the suspicions.
'It’s very satisfying,' said Dr Mylswamy Annadurai, the project director of Chandrayaan-1 at IRSO in Bangalore.
He added: 'This was one of the main objectives of Chandrayaan-1, to find evidence of water on the Moon.'
Another lunar scientist familiar with the findings said: 'This is the most exciting breakthrough in at least a decade. And it will probably change the face of lunar exploration for the next decade.'
Dr Annadurai is due to reveal more about the discovery at a NASA press conference later today.
The announcement comes two weeks before a NASA probe will be smashed near the moon's south pole to see whether it can kick up buried ice.
Over the last decade, astronomers have found some signs of underground ice on the moon's poles. This latest discovery is quite different. It finds unexpected and pervasive water clinging to the surface of soil, not absorbed into it.


Mohammed second most common boys' name in UK

How many people
have you slept with?
2.8 million?

LONDON — The average British man or woman has slept with 2.8 million people -- albeit indirectly, according to figures released on Wednesday to promote awareness of sexual health.
A British pharmacy chain has launched an online calculator which helps you work out how many partners you have had, in the sense of exposure to risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STIs).
The "Sex Degrees of Separation" ready reckoner tots up the numbers based on your number of partners, then their previous partners, and their former lovers, and so on for six "generations" of partners.
The average British man claims to have actually slept with nine people, while women put the figure at 6.3, giving an average of 7.65.
"When we sleep with someone, we are, in effect, not only sleeping with them, but also their previous partners and their partners' previous partners, and so on," said Clare Kerr, head of sexual health at Lloydspharmacy.
"It's important that people understand how exposed they are to STIs and take appropriate precautions including using condoms and getting themselves checked out where appropriate."

In shock: Pillai, father of Pranesh alias Javed Sheikh

Gujarat: encounter
A Bullet With Someone’s Name
In a quiet village in Kerala, Javed’s father mourns a

son who converted to marry his love

Nooranad is a sleepy village in Kerala’s Alappuzha district. But it has come in for media attention after magistrate S.P. Tamang’s recent report concluded that the Gujarat police had killed Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh, a native of this village, in a fake encounter in June 2004. Shot dead with him in that “encounter” were Jishan Johar, Amjadali Rana and Ishrat Jahan. The police alleged they were Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists plotting to assassinate Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.
Pranesh’s 69-year-old father M.R. Gopinath Pillai, a former employee of BHEL, still lives here. He has been recounting to the media the trauma he’s undergone since the cops killed his son, branding him a terrorist. “The past five years and two months have been traumatic. My son could never be a terrorist,” he says. “Pranesh converted not out of love for Islam but because he thought there was no option if he wanted to marry the girl of his choice.”
Pranesh met Sajida in Pune, where his father was posted. His father says the two grew up together and were perhaps destined to marry. Pranesh converted to Islam in 1996, before marrying Sajida. Later, he found a job with the Dubai Electricity & Water Authority. After a few years there, he used his savings to start, first, a perfume business, and then a travel agency in Pune. Ishrat used to work part-time for the travel agency.
Pillai last saw his son on May 31, 2004, before Pranesh and Sajida left for Pune with their children in a new blue Indica. Pranesh, who liked driving, had come to fetch his son, who was spending his vacation with his grandfather in Kerala. Pillai has only kind words for his daughter-in-law. “Sajida nursed my ailing wife in a way no other girl would,” he says. “She isn’t a Hindu, but there’s no fault I can find in her.”
After Pranesh’s killing, Pillai had gone to Ahmedabad. He says he was shocked by what people told him. “Locals told me of this police officer (D.G. Vanzara) and his uncanny knack for cooking up stories and plots to please his political bosses,” he says. “The magistrate’s report has only confirmed this.”
The other day someone identifying himself as a BJP leader called Pillai to ask if he would accept ex-gratia payment from Modi. “I told him it’s a cruel joke,” he says. “Because tomorrow you could kill one more of my children and try to settle the matter with compensation.”

Apoorva Guptay
All fall down: Ishrat Jahan, Grieving family members
Gujarat: encounter
Cold Tangled Trail
An out-of-town trip, four corpses.

Will we know the real Ishrat story?

No Answers
  • Why two probes—one by a magistrate and one on HC orders?
  • Did some law officers, backed by IB, file the affidavit that Ishrat and others were LeT operatives?
  • If Ishrat, Javed were going from Mumbra to Nashik, where and how did the Gujarat cops catch them?
  • Why were Ishrat and Javed with Jishan Johar and Amjadali?
  • Was Ishrat a cover for the others?
  • Why did the Mumbra-Thane cops first give Ishrat a clean chit, then say she’d been “under watch”?
  • Why should Ishrat have kept a diary of a plot to kill Modi?
For the Reza family, this has been a difficult week, even by what it has been through ever since June 2004, when Ishrat Jahan was killed by the Gujarat police in Ahmedabad and branded a terrorist. On September 7, as Shamima Kausar prepared to break her roza with her three daughters and two sons, a phone call brought news of the magisterial inquiry that “cleared the blot” on her daughter Ishrat.
“We felt our honour had been returned, but there’s an undercurrent of sadness about Ishrat’s absence,” said Mussarat, the slain girl’s younger sister. They had their lawyer read out the relevant portions from the magistrate’s findings to anyone who cared to listen. For the family, magistrate S.P. Tamang’s report was nothing less than an official character certificate for Ishrat.
Ishrat Jahan body with that of the 3 others killed
Two days later, as Justice K.P. Jhaveri of the Gujarat High Court stayed the Tamang report, called for action against the magistrate and preferred to wait for the report by a three-member committee of ips officers set up last month under additional director-general Pramod Kumar, the Reza family found itself in familiar territory. Once again, as in the last five years, it was face-to-face with questions—old ones, which they thought had been answered, and new ones they had not even imagined. “What exactly does the high court order mean?” asks the unlettered Kausar. As lawyers and social activists who have guided the family in the last five years explained the nuances and told her to wait till November 30 for the HC-appointed panel’s report, Kausar fell silent. “Some more waiting, but I’m sure my daughter’s name will be cleared,” she says, as if to reassure herself.

It’s bizzare. The same day the probe that indicts the cops began, the HC had ordered another probe.

Incidentally, the HC-appointed panel came after Kausar’s application last year to expedite proceedings in her petition of August 2004. As it turned out, Justice Jhaveri appointed the panel on August 12 this year, the same day the chief metropolitan magistrate directed Tamang to undertake the statutory inquiry. For almost a month, no one in the Gujarat government or the BJP questioned the validity of two parallel probes, one conducted at a lower judicial level than the other. “Only after the Tamang report became public did the government start rubbishing it,” pointed out Ahmed Rauf Lala, a social activist who has been the Rezas’ sounding board. The Gujarat government has challenged the Tamang report in the high court and got it stayed.

Shaikh Anwar Reza shrugs. The youngest of six siblings, he is now 19 years old and employed in a software firm. “I have my own memories of Ishrataapa. She too was 19 when this happened,” he says. “I was just entering my teens, but I can recall every bit of suffering we went through.” They had to move to another residence from their home in Rashid Compound, Mumbra, about 50 km from Mumbai. Their former landlady did not want “a terrorist’s family”. Ishrat, while still a second-year undergraduate, solicited accounting work, taught at a local coaching class and gave tuitions to support her family after her father’s death in 2002. Kausar took orders for embroidery to supplement the income. Their dream, Kausar recalls, was to put all the younger children through college and place them in “good jobs”. That dream, Mussarat says, lies shattered because the siblings could not get admission into local colleges or were turned away from petty jobs. “We were Ishrat’s family, fit to be suspected and cast away,” she says. They moved, with help from activists, to a one-bedroom apartment in Kausa, a neighbourhood known for its plethora of police informers and the like. “We somehow made do; we knew Ishrat was innocent but our intention was to clear the blot on her name,” says Kausar. “It was like dying every day.”

Tamang’s 243-page report, handwritten in Gujarati, confirmed that the June 15, 2004, encounter was fake. The Congress was quick to call it yet another indictment of Modi. To get back at the Congress, the BJP’s Jay Narayan Vyas, a minister in the Modi cabinet, dubbed the Tamang report “bad in law” and pulled out an affidavit first prepared by the Union home ministry in 2006 and filed in August 2009 in the Supreme Court, stating that Ishrat and the three men in that blue Indica car were, indeed, Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives.

Ishrat’s sister says she received a call from her that June 11, saying she was being trailed by strange men.

The guilty never accept their guilt, remarked P.A. Sebastian of the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights. Tamang, irrespective of whether he overstepped his brief or completed work before deadline as alleged by Vyas, has laid bare the fact that the so-called encounter was a “cold-blooded” killing “planned and executed mercilessly” by officers who wanted “to get promotion” and “impress the chief minister and receive his praise”. The report alleged that Ahmedabad police commissioner K.R. Kaushik, then joint commissioner (crime branch) P.P. Pande, suspended DIG D.G. Vanzara, then ACP G.L. Singhal and ACP N.K. Amin had planned the “encounter” for selfish motives. The report relied on contradictions between the forensic evidence and what was written in the panchnama to rubbish the encounter theory. It pointed out that not a single cop was hurt although they claimed the alleged terrorists fired multiple rounds at them. Also, not a single tree or vehicle in the vicinity was bullet-hit. And the alleged terrorists’ pistol was rusted and seemed as if it hadn’t been used for quite some time.
As for the Reza family, all it knows is that Ishrat had gone with Javed Shaikh, a family acquaintance for whom she worked part-time, to Nashik on June 11 that year. For fear of being pulled up by her mother, she said she was going to an aunt’s house. Her sister received a call from her late that night. “She was very scared,” recalled Mussarat. “She said she was being followed by some strange men, but that Javed was with her and they would be OK.”
The Dubai-returned Javed, said to be holding two passports, was a local dada in Mumbra, where he lived before moving to Pune. Immediately after the so-called encounter, the Pune police stated he had no links with any terror organisations. But within a week, it sent a report to the Gujarat police on his alleged links with the Lashkar-e-Toiba. The Gujarat police, on information from Mumbra police, spoke of recovering a diary from Ishrat that contained incriminating notes on a plot to kill Modi and details of Rs 4.8 lakh they had received. But cops from both places were unable to say why a possible assassin would maintain such a diary.
The Tamang report ascertained that the encounter was a staged and pre-planned killing. But the jury is still out why Ishrat and Pillai were with Jishan Johar and Amjadali Rana—who the Gujarat police allege were Pakistani operatives, but the magisterial report says are Indian—on June 11-12, 2004, and what their motives might have been. The Rezas, meanwhile, are awaiting the “final character certificate”
Nanavati Commission seeks phone details from Narendra Modi's office

The Nanavati Commission probing the 2002 riots in Gujarat on Saturday asked the staff of Chief Minister Narendra Modi to provide details of their phone conversations with ministers during the riots that killed over 1,000 people, most of them Muslims.

Mukul Sinha, advocate for the NGO Janshangharsh Manch, said: "The commission has sought details of telephone conversations between the chief minister's staff and other ministers, and Jaideep Patel," then a leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, affiliated to the state's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

The role of the Narendra Modi-led government has been under the scanner, with many victims and rights groups alleging complicity of its ministers in the riots. But despite the plea of the Manch, the commission had still not issued any summons to Modi or his staff to appear before it, Sinha told TV news channel NDTV 24x7.

WAKF SCAM : 4.00,000 Acres, 3,00,000 Properties, India's Biggest Land Scandal

By ugesh sarkar, Section Real Estate
Posted on Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 03:22:04 AM EST

Wakf scam Allah’s Left The Building

Meant for Muslim welfare, Wakf lands are being sold for a song by its trustees
Saba Naqvi

Wakf Deconstructed
  • ‘To tie down’ is the literal meaning of the Arabic word Wakf. It's used across the Muslim world to denote property donated by individuals and institutions in the name of Allah for the benefit of the poor in the community.
  • 800 years is how old the institution of Wakf is in India. It began when Muslim rulers donated huge lands for charity.
  • 3,00,000 is the approximate number of registered Wakf properties in India
  • 4 lakh acres is the land Wakf properties account for. According to the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha, K. Rahman Khan, this makes the board the third-largest landholder after the railways and defence.
  • 35 is the number of Wakf boards in India, many of them non-functional
  • 5 is the minimum number of members a board must have. The number, however, varies according to the Muslim population of a state. Members are nominated by ruling parties in each state.
  • Wakf Acts The 1954 and 1995 central laws endow huge powers with the state governments that set up and run Wakf boards in their states
Modus Operandi
Outright sale
  • Builder or businessman identifies a Wakf property
  • They approach members of the board
  • The land is sold for a pittance
  • Board members get their cut
Cheap rent
  • Happens in states where outright sale is not encouraged
  • Builder/ businessman approaches board members
  • The land is given on a ridiculously low lease
  • Land use is changed to facilitate commercial exploitation
  • Members pocket their cuts
Allegations against the board
  • Although Wakf is a national resource to be used to develop institutions and earn income for Muslims, it is so terribly managed that it is the only system where virtually no accountability is demanded
  • Cases of blatant corruption abound. Land is sold off for buildings, hotels, malls or factories for a pittance or given out for shockingly low rents to commercial interests.
  • The boards have become an avenue for political patronage. Muslims who cannot be accommodated in ministries are sent off here. They mostly never do anything for the community. In most cases, they are hand-in-glove with the land mafia and encroachers.
  • The "Islam in danger" sentiment is crudely raised to hoodwink the Muslim public and stop any real scrutiny of the functioning of boards, whose members are out to make a fast buck
  • Ironically, Wakf boards keep claiming properties protected by the ASI as "living" religious shrines. In many cases, there is a clear monetary incentive under the guise of religion.
  • The mess in the boards is also a reflection of the apathy of state governments. Many have not constituted boards; none have carried out a survey of Wakf properties as required by the 1995 Act.
  • As a result of this mess, 70 per cent of Wakf properties are encroached upon, often in connivance with board members or government department overseeing.
Allow encroachments
  • The board covertly encourages Muslims to encroach on a monument. Friday prayers begin to be held on a regular basis. Wakf board then attempts to make it a ‘living’ place of worship. Very often, the encroachers are board members or persons acting on their behalf.
  • Later surrounding land is sold/ leased as private property for commercial purposes.
It is collectively the biggest land scam in India’s history. Wakf can be described as a religious endowment made in the name of Allah for the benefit of the poor and needy in the Muslim community. There are approximately 3,00,000 registered Wakf properties in India on about four lakh acres of land. It is a national resource that should have been developed for the welfare of the community, as it is meant to.
Instead, this resource has been mortgaged, sold and encroached upon with the connivance of the very institutions and individuals responsible for safeguarding it. This is an investigation into a systemic rot. The Wakf boards in most states of India are repositories of corruption, in league with land sharks and builders. They continue to get away with the daylight robbery of their own community because, whenever there is any demand for scrutiny, they crudely take cover behind the “Islam in danger” sentiment.

Earlier, a sale or exchange of land had to have the approval of the district judge. Now the board pretty much does what it wants.

Rahman Khan, deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha, was chairman of the joint parliamentary committee on Wakf that submitted its report a year ago. Having examined the issue in depth, he says: “If the Wakf properties were managed properly, many problems of Muslims such as joblessness, lack of education and resultant poverty would have been resolved. Today, even if we presume that 70 per cent of these properties have been encroached upon or sold off, even the remaining 30 per cent is a huge resource that can be developed.” He has already recommended to the Manmohan Singh government that there be a “total change” in the constitution of the boards and a national Wakf development corporation be set up with professionals at the helm. “Imagine what great institutions can be built as the land cost is zero,” he says.
Wakf property now encroached upon: Fatehpuri Mosque, Delhi
In one instance, the board got a property with Punjab National Bank vacated and then leased it to a society headed by one of its own members. Shops too have been given out on lease.
But that is some distance away and will happen only if public awareness about the scale of the problem is created. Currently, those who purport to be leaders of the community are complicit in the conspiracy to rob resources while perpetuating a siege mentality. They want to capture existing institutions and sell them off piece by piece. They are adept at fanning fears and feeding into the victimhood syndrome but quite incapable of building institutions or shepherding the community towards modernity. Atyab Siddiqui, advocate and standing counsel of the Jamia Millia Islamia university, says that “anytime we talk of reforming Wakf, they bring religion into it”. According to him, the 1995 Wakf Act actually increased corruption within the boards. Earlier, any sale or exchange of land had to be cleared by a district judge. “But now,” he says, “the board can pretty much do what it likes, and shocking decisions are taken all the time.”
Some examples of suspect land deals from across the land:
  • Chennai: In 1997, the Tamil Nadu Wakf Board took the decision to outright sell 1,710 square feet of land in the commercialised Triplicane High street in Madras for a paltry Rs 3 lakh. A sale like this would have required the sanction of two-thirds of the board members.
  • Mumbai: The Maharashtra Wakf Board got a measly Rs 16 lakh for 4,532 square metres in the upscale Altamount Road on which none other than Mukesh Ambani is building his plush 27-storey home.
  • Bangalore: Developed on about five acres of land, the Windsor Manor hotel here was till recently giving the board a rent of Rs 12,000 a month for a property worth Rs 500 crore.
  • Faridabad: The Wakf board has been giving out about five acres of land on 11-month leases for several years at a ridiculously low rent between Rs 500 and Rs 1,500 per month. A factory was built and land use altered.
When Outlook approached Salman Khursheed, the Union minister for minority affairs, he admitted that “Wakf is one of those areas in which accountability has not been demanded. The community itself has not demanded accountability possibly due to a level of ignorance”. Can things change? Khursheed says he has proposed changes in the existing laws. “Once there was no accountability in the management of Haj. Now questions are asked all the time,” he points out. “Although the Wakf situation looks impossible, things do and can change once awareness builds up.”
Wakf land now a hotel: Windsor Manor, Bangalore
The hotel was paying a lease of just Rs 12,000 a month for this five-acre plot till the courts recently ordered a rent of Rs 6 lakh a month for a property worth Rs 500 crore
The heart of the problem lies in the constitution of the boards. A senior bureaucrat familiar with the issue says bluntly: “The boards are ill-constituted, not constituted or politically constituted. Often, they’re nothing more than a gang of thieves.” Mostly, political hangers-on and operators from the minority community are sent off to man the boards. The policies of successive governments have created a class of “sarkari Musalmans” adept at capturing institutions and bagging positions through which they can patronise others down the pecking order. The incentive they have, besides authority, is to pilfer as much as they can get away with.

The policies of successive governments have created a class of ‘sarkari Musalmans’ who are adept at capturing institutions.

There are enough examples of how a small group of “insiders” at Muslim institutions benefit from the overall laxity in the boards. For instance, there is the case of a member of the Delhi minorities commission running a private school on a large tract of Wakf land in the expensive Nizamuddin area and paying the board a pittance of Rs 1,000 rent per month. Mohammad Arif, section officer in charge of properties in the Delhi Wakf office, admits reluctantly that there are “some schools running on Wakf land but they are not for the poor and charge fees”. Further digging reveals that, two decades ago, Delhi Wakf ran a charitable dispensary but it was shut down. Now the main service they provide is paying salaries of imams attached to masjids (see On a Wink and a Prayer).
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Wakf land now Ambani Home: Altamount Rd, Mumbai
The market value of this 4,532 sq m plot on which Mukesh Ambani is building a 27-storey skyscraper is Rs 21 crore but the board ratified its sale for a "contribution" of Rs 16 lakh
There are two revealing cases linked to the huge Fatehpuri mosque in Delhi. According to some documents accessed by Outlook, what was listed as “Wakf estate number 6540 in masjid Fatehpuri” was occupied by a branch of the Punjab National Bank. The board fought a case and got the property vacated. Subsequently, however, it leased the property to a society headed by one of its own members, a Maulana Moazzam Ahmad. A blatant case of insider trading? Three years ago, a lawyer representing a school running inside the Fatehpuri mosque tried to get a shop at the entrance removed. The Wakf board claimed that the documents relevant for that plot of land were missing—it was widely suspected that the shopkeeper was paying off members. Salman Khursheed also pleads helplessness. “What do we do when the boards let their own properties be encroached upon and then say the documents are missing and they have lost the title deeds?”
That is, in fact, the most common tactic used when the boards are in league with encroachers. RS deputy chairman Rahman Khan says that there is no doubt that almost 70 to 80 per cent of Wakf land is encroached upon. Often, it is the government that simply takes over the land. But all too often Muslims themselves are the encroachers who pay off board members to live inside mosques and shrines or run shops and businesses on the premises. “Corruption in the boards is rampant,” says Rahman Khan, “and this is made worse by the attitude of state governments to Muslim institutions. They don’t want to interfere in case there is a reaction and they also don’t care because Muslims are involved.”
Wakf land sold cheap: Lal Bagh, Bangalore
This 90,000 sq ft of prime property in the city’s posh area was sold for just Rs 1 crore when it could have fetched over Rs 90 crore in the market
Standing counsel for Jamia Millia Islamia Atyab Siddiqui says that whenever there is an initiative from educated Muslims to preserve a legacy, build an institution or perhaps even introduce modern education, there is a run-in with the Wakf board. “We believe the Wakf does not have the instruments to preserve old mosques and we have been arguing that the ASI is better positioned to manage properties. But the problem that enlightened sections of society face is that they run up against monetary interests of a few who hide behind the guise of religion.” K.K. Mohammad is a veteran ASI archaeologist who has worked across India. Now the superintending archaeologist for the Delhi circle, he says, “My experience shows me that whenever people claim protected monuments as living shrines, there is a commercial incentive of occupying the monument or developing the land around it. All communities have people who do this.”
Most old Wakf properties have caretakers who treat it like a personal fiefdom, building houses and businesses and destroying the character of the shrine. Siddiqui has been part of the initiative to preserve the historic Anglo-Arabic school in Delhi’s Ajmeri gate area. He says, “The high court ordered the removal of encroachers (about 50 families) from the heritage property. But the same lot of property dealers, local toughs, interlopers are again trying to move in under the Wakf umbrella.”

Andhra has the largest number of Wakf properties registered in the country. Here the government has simply taken over land.

Across the country, there are examples of the huge Wakf mess. West Bengal has many cases of properties being encroached upon and made into little slums. Some examples: 4,000 illegal occupants are in possession of a property in Calcutta known as the Mysore Family Fateha Fund Wakf Estate. Over a hundred mosques in Calcutta and Howrah have been encroached upon. Sixty-four other mosques in the state have been illegally occupied. The story is somewhat different in Andhra Pradesh, which has the largest number of Wakf properties registered in the country. Here the government has simply taken over huge tracts of Wakf lands. For instance, Hyderabad’s hi-tech city stands on Wakf land. There is the interesting case of the government taking over 6,000 acres of land worth Rs 500 crore in Visakhapatnam and allotting 900 acres out of this to NTPC and 800 acres to the Hindujas at the rate of Rs 2.25 lakh per acre. When the Wakf board contested this, the Supreme Court ruled in its favour saying that the land was theirs and transferred it back to them. The government had to then transfer the money to the Wakf board.
Wakf land now sold to developer: Aurangabad
Notified as Wakf property in 1973, 14 acres of this Rs 60-crore property was allegedly sold for Rs 8 crore to Nirman Bharti Developers, owned by Vilasrao Deshmukh’s brother Dilip
Clearly, Wakf is a remarkable resource that can be tapped for the community. In a state like Kerala where people are literate and demand accountability, the board is manned by professionals and headed by two advocates, not by racketeers. Bureaucrats in the ministry of minority affairs in New Delhi cite the work done in Kerala as an example of what is possible. But that is an exception. The norm is rampant corruption, in the firm belief that no one will demand accountability.
More than anything else, the terrible state of Wakf properties in India reflects on the Muslim community’s failure to build institutions. Compare this with the manner in which the tiny Christian minority has preserved and built schools, colleges and hospitals. There is a complex set of reasons for this state of affairs in institutions that purport to work for the welfare of the country’s largest minority and the world’s second-largest Muslim population. In the case of Wakf, many illiterate Muslims just see their placards and presume the land belongs to them. They are encouraged to believe there is some higher religious purpose to Wakf, little knowing that it has become a synonym for daylight robbery. The greatest hypocrisy perhaps is that the men who violate the spirit of charity behind the concept of Wakf then pretend to be devout and pious believers.
Delhi wakf board chairman’s view
On A Wink And A Prayer
He cannot do much, says the Delhi Wakf board chairman

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Muslims can only be helped if they help themselves,” I am told by Chaudhary Mateen Ahmed, the chairman of the Delhi Wakf Board. He is a typical appointee to the Wakf. A four-term MLA from Seelampur, a huge Muslim-dominated slum, he could not be accommodated in the Sheila Dixit ministry as other members of his community got their foot in. So, he has been cooling his heels in the Wakf board since 2004.
There is merit in his suggestion that only those who help themselves can be helped by others. But Chaudhary Mateen is saying so to justify the fact that the Delhi Wakf Board has done nothing for the community. Ask if he has developed any resource for Muslims as is the purpose of Wakf—indeed as a believing man, his religious duty—and Mateen stares back. “Madam, you live in south Delhi. I live in a little lane in Seelampur with the qaum (community). I can tell you that individuals who want to move on and do things with their life will. But no institution can solve their problems,” he says.
Namazis want this ASI-protected monument as a functioning site for prayer, Jamali Kamali, Delhi: The Delhi Wakf Board is not doing anything to stop members of its community from forcibly entering the area. “They have the right to pray in those places,” says its chairman.
So has he even tried to do anything? He racks his brain, turns to the staff and says with some pride: “I’ve raised the salaries of imams to Rs 5,000 and of muezzins (who call the community to prayer) to Rs 4,000.” Is prayer the only advice he has for Muslims? “If there is nothing else, madam, there is prayer,” he replies. Chaudhary Mateen now delivers a gem: “It is because the Wakf board has increased the salaries of imams in Delhi that everyone wants to find a mosque so that they can be appointed imams. So people are wandering around looking for properties they can call mosques to get a livelihood.”
That, he reveals, is why for the past two months every Friday there has been a standoff between security forces and namazis trying to force their way into protected monuments of the Delhi Sultanate period in the Mehrauli area near the Qutub Minar. He then states that he has no intention of stepping in or persuading the namazis to stop their agitation although they are a public nuisance and the road linking Delhi to Gurgaon is now shut every Friday afternoon. “They have a right to say that monuments under ASI should be mosques. They have the right to pray in those places or get jobs there as imams if they can. Why should I stop them?”
The chairman’s ramblings give a fascinating insight into the economic incentive to an apparently religious mobilisation. There are more astounding declarations from the man. What about the huge encroachments in Delhi in mosques and graveyards under the Wakf board that he is supposed to prevent? The reply is quite priceless: “Muslims themselves are encroaching, so the community is benefiting, is it not?”
Maybe it’s best to engage with Mateen at his level. Question: Is the community benefiting or only a few individuals who pay bribes to make you people look the other way? “Those individuals who run shops or live in shrines are also Muslims, madam. And no one pays us any bribes.”
With so much land at its disposal, why has the Wakf board not developed any institution for the community? “You tell me what to do for them, madam please,” he says dramatically. He then reveals that his constituency Seelampur was the only part of Delhi that was selected as specially backward after the Sachar Commission report and given special funds for spending on assisting the Muslim community. “Do you know that money has been returned? No one had any idea how to spend it. Not the bureaucrats, nor even me. I feel it is pointless to give loans to Muslims as they never return it. So what do we do?”
Obviously, he intends to do nothing at all but look the other way while community resources are pilfered and wasted. As he said in the beginning of the conversation, it’s pointless....


Indian American nominated as US' chief agriculture negotiator Islam A Siddiqui
PITTSBURGH: US President Barack Obama has nominated an eminent Indian American agricultural scientist for the post of chief agriculture
negotiator, a position which has assumed a critical role in the days of tough global negotiations on the concerned issues.

Islam A Siddiqui, who earned his Bachelor of Science from the Uttar Pradesh Agriculture University, has been yesterday nominated by Obama as the chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the US Trade Representative, a White House communication said.
Siddiqui's nomination came along with seven other key administrative posts.

"I am grateful for the willingness of these fine individuals to serve my administration and I am confident that they will represent our nation well. I look forward to working with them in the coming months and years," Obama said.

Siddiqui is currently Vice President for Science and Regulatory Affairs at CropLife America, where he is responsible for regulatory and international trade issues related to crop protection chemicals.

He has also served as CropLife America's Vice President for agricultural biotechnology and trade, and has earlier worked in the Clinton Administration.

From 1997 to 2001, Siddiqui served in various capacities in the Clinton administration at US department of Agriculture as Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Senior Trade Advisor to Secretary Dan Glickman and Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs.

"As a result, he worked closely with the USTR and represented USDA in bilateral, regional and multi-lateral agricultural trade negotiations," the White House said.

Since 2004, Siddiqui has also served on the US department of Commerce's Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, and Health/Science Products & Services, which advises the US Secretary of Commerce and USTR on international trade issues related to these sectors.

Between 2001 and 2003, he was appointed as Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where he focused on agricultural biotechnology and food security issues.

Before joining USDA, he spent 28 years with the California department of food and agriculture. He earned his MS and PhD degrees in plant pathology, both from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.


The world's first Islamic search engine
Last updated on: September 8, 2009

Across the world, Muslims can now safely surf the Internet without having to face the embarrassment of bumping into explicit or sexual content.

AZS Media Group, a Dutch company on September 1 launched the world's first Islamic search engine -- -- that differentiates what material is 'halal' (allowed) and what is 'haram' (forbidden) in Islam.

"We got the idea to develop about nine months ago," says Reza Abdolali Zadeh Sardeha, who is the chief executive officer of and founder of the Amsterdam-based AZS Media Group, in an email interaction with

"In a group of four, we were talking about search engines like Google and that once in a while we accidentally bumped into explicit material. We then brainstormed and about seven months ago, we began the actual development of the search engine. Seven months later the search engine was done," adds 20-year-old Sardeha, an Iranian-Kuwaiti student who was five when his family settled down in The Netherlands.

The advice of Islamic scholars too was taken into account while building the search engine.

This is how the search on works: The search engine only fetches results that are flagged as to be halal.

The search engine uses various techniques to determine which results fetched are supposed to be halal or haram. Once a user comes in contact with content of explicit nature, the search engine will return a negative search advice.

When you look for something through the search engine, you get results like on any other search site. But if your key words are a part of the 'danger list' specified by the developers of , then your search gets a rating of one or two on the 'haram scale'. The message that you see is: 'Oops! Your search inquiry has a Haram level of 2 out of 3. This means that the results fetched by could be haram!'

As a user you can still decide to go through with the risk and click to see the results. Read on. . .


BJP leader quits over call girl racket allegation

Shimla: A senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday resigned from party post after the opposition Congress raked up his alleged involvement in a call girl racket.

The Congress had been demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the alleged call girl scandal after chairman of the BJP media advisory committee Rajendra Rana and a senior government functionary were reportedly found with some women in a posh hotel here last week.

"Rana's resignation was accepted this (Wednesday) evening. We are inquiring into the allegations of the Congress. If these are true, nobody would be spared," Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal told IANS.

No first information report (FIR) has been registered so far in the incident.


4 teenagers charged for murder of elderly Indian in the UK

LONDON: Four British teenagers have been charged with the brutal murder of 67-year-old India-born careworker Ekram ul Haque and assault of two
other elderly persons in racial attacks here.

While, three boys, aged 12, 14 and 15 appeared before the Croydon Youth Court on September 5, another 14-year-old boy appeared before the court last evening, the Metropolitan Police said.

Kolkata-born Haque was brutally attacked by the group outside the Idara-e-Jafferiya mosque in church lane Tooting on August 31, two pensioners, a man and a woman, were attacked in Tooting on August 26.

Haque succumbed to his injuries on Monday evening. Police have launched a murder investigation following the racial attack.

All the four have been remanded in custody to reappear at Sutton Youth court on October 6.


Mohammed second most common boys' name in UK


US largest supplier of arms in 2008: Report


US couple gets married at 7-year-old son's funeral


Yale nixes Prophet toons, triggers row

NEW HAVEN (Connecticut): Yale University has removed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad from an upcoming book about how they caused outrage across
the Muslim world, drawing criticism from prominent alumni and a national group of university professors. Yale cited fears of violence.

Yale University Press, which the university owns, removed the 12 caricatures from the book 'The Cartoons That Shook the World' by Brandeis University professor Jytte Klausen. The book is scheduled to be released next week.

A Danish newspaper originally published the cartoons — including one depicting Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban — in 2005. Other western publications reprinted them. The following year, the cartoons triggered massive protests from Morocco to Indonesia. Rioters torched Danish and other western diplomatic missions. Some Muslim countries boycotted Danish products.

Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favorable, for fear it could lead to idolatry.

"I think it's horrifying that the campus of Nathan Hale has become the first place where America surrenders to this kind of fear because of what extremists might possibly do," said Michael Steinberg, an attorney and Yale graduate.


McDonald loses 'Mc' battle in Malaysia


S.African Indian Muslim women come out in support of 'Hijab'


Tigers funded attack on Sri Lankan cricketers: Pak
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September 6th, 2009

Islamabad: Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Sunday there were indications that the Tamil Tigers were involved in the March 3 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan.

Gilani told reporters that investigators have got indications to suggest that the Tamil Tigers had financed the attack in which a bus carrying Sri Lankan cricketers was fired at by gunmen near the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

Gilani said that he had met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Libya last week and discussed the possibility of the involvement of the Tamil Tigers.

He said Pakistan will soon send a team to Sri Lanka to share intelligence with Sri Lankan officials.

Tehrik-e-Taliban Punjab had claimed the responsibility for the attack.
Six members of the Sri Lankan cricket team were injured in the attack, in which six Pakistani policemen and two civilians were killed.

Several cricket teams, including that of Australia, cancelled their tour to Pakistan over security concerns after the attack.


Israel to build hundreds of houses in West Bank: Reports

JERUSALEM: Israel's hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will soon approve the construction of hundreds of new housing units in West Bank
before he declares a moratorium, in an apparent snub to Washington's call for total settlement freeze to push forward the fragile peace talks with Palestinians.

Aides in the Prime Minister's office were quoted by local media that Netanyahu has informed US officials of his decision to authorise the construction of houses a few weeks ago.

The immediate future of construction in West Bank settlements will be reportedly determined in talks between Israeli officials and US Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, who will visit Israel next week.

"The issue could be decided in Mitchell's two-day visit, which will begin on Thursday", the PMO source was quoted as saying. However US officials in Israel denied knowledge of any such approval by the US administration.

A spokesman for the US embassy in Tel Aviv, Kurt Hoyer, told Ynetnews that it is unlikely that Washington would accept anything "contrary to the spirit of negotiations they've been undertaking" and added it was "doubtful" the US had signed off on the Israeli decision.

The hundreds of units whose construction the Israeli premier, heading an overwhelmingly right-wing coalition, is expected to approve will join some 2,500 housing units currently being built there.(

PMO officials have revealed that Netanyahu "will agree to consider a temporary freeze on construction in the West Bank for a few months after he approves the additional building permits".

"The Americans do not agree with the approval of (new housing units) and are not happy about it, but we put it on the table a long time ago," a source told Haaretz.

The precise length of the moratorium is still under debate and US and Israel are negotiating on this issue. Netanyahu does not agree to a freeze exceeding a period of six months, while the Americans are insisting on a nine-month period, the reports said. Israel is demanding that the Palestinian Authority and Arab states make concessions in exchange for a freeze.

An US administration official told Ha'aretz yesterday that Jerusalem and Washington are close to achieving an understanding on these issues.

"Netanyahu's actions will determine the future of his relationship with President Obama, so this is a crucial trial," an PMO aide said. The Palestinian Authority (PA) reacted angrily to the move, saying it would derail any progress in resuming peace negotiations.

"I think the only thing that will be suspended by this announcement is the peace process," said senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.


Renewed unrest

in Xinjiang


Ananth Krishnan

TENSE STANDOFF: People gather on a street in Urumqi on Friday.
BEIJING: Protests by thousands of Han Chinese in the last two days have led to renewed unrest in China’s Muslim-majority region of Xinjiang, exactly two months after mass ethnic riots broke out in the region.
Tens of thousands took to the streets of Urumqi, region’s capital, on Thursday and Friday demanding greater safety following a spate of syringe stabbing attacks in the city. State-run Xinhua news agency said the police fired tear gas at protesters when thousands confronted the police near the city headquarters of China’s ruling Communist Party. The unrest comes at a sensitive time for Beijing, which is preparing to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1.
Officials said more than 500 people in Urumqi have in the last two weeks been attacked with syringes. Rumours in the city suggesting the needles were infected with HIV led to mass panic, but authorities said on Friday none of those admitted for treatment was found to be infected. Of the 531 people who had received treatment, most were Han Chinese, China’s majority ethnic group, indicating the attacks may have been racially motivated.
Xinjiang has seen intermittent tension between native Uighurs and Han Chinese which flared into mass riots on July 5, killing at least 197 people and injuring more than 1,600.
The Uighurs, an ethnic Turkic-speaking Muslim group, is the largest ethnic group in Xinjiang but one of the 55 minority groups in China.
Massive deployment
Tens of thousands of Han Chinese began protesting on Thursday calling for better public safety. Hundreds of armed police were deployed in the city’s public squares over Thursday night as authorities moved to prevent a repeat of July’s riots.
The heavy police presence, however, did not keep protesters away on Friday, with thousands reportedly marching on government offices demanding action.
The protesters have called for resignation of Xinjiang’s controversial Communist Party leader Wang Lequan. Mr. Wang, who is known for his hard-line policies and is a close ally of President Hu Jintao, has been serving as the regional secretary of the Communist Party in Xinjiang since 1994.
He has been criticised by Uighur groups for policies that they say have led to increasing migration by Han Chinese into Xinjiang and rising disparities between the two groups. Following the July 5 riots, his administration has also come under severe criticism from Han Chinese, who say the government was too slow to protect residents from the violence unleashed by mobs.
Officials said relative calm was restored to Urumqi by Friday evening, though restrictions on traffic and bans on public gatherings remained in place.
The Associated Press reported that shops and offices remained closed, while police patrols roamed the city’s streets and public squares, playing a recorded message. It said, “Disperse. Don’t stay here. Think of the nation.”


Google China chief leaves company

Lee Kai-Fu
Lee Kai-Fu became the face of Google China

The man who led Google's expansion into China is leaving the company to start his own business.
Lee Kai-Fu, who joined from Microsoft in 2004, will step down as president of Google in greater China in September, the company said.
When he joined, Microsoft sued Google and Mr Lee, claiming he had violated an agreement that prohibited him from working for a rival for one year.
The two sides later settled out of court, without releasing details.

Mr Lee went on to become the face of Google China.
But during his reign Google China had a difficult relationship with Beijing censors.
In June, access to Google in some parts of China was disrupted, amid a row over what Chinese citizens should be allowed to view over the internet.
A Chinese official also accused Google of spreading pornography and breaking Chinese law.
"Kai-Fu has made an enormous contribution to Google over the last four years, helping dramatically to improve the quality and range of services that we offer in China," said Alan Eustace, Google's senior vice president for engineering.
Mr Lee will be replaced by John Liu, who currently leads its greater China sales team.


Historic first: White House says will name Obama visitors

WASHINGTON: In a shift in policy, President Barack Obama said on Friday that White House will release the names of most visitors to satisfy

watchdog groups who demanded to know which lobbyists might be attempting to influence policy.

Obama’s White House until now had followed the same practice of past presidents of generally keeping the names of White House visitors secret.

This practice over the years has prompted lawsuits by organizations who wanted to know who was meeting with the president and White House officials to determine whether lobbyists were influencing the development of policy on such issues as healthcare and energy.

“For the first time in history, records of White House visitors will be made available to the public on an ongoing basis,” Obama said in a written statement. He added, “Americans have a right to know whose voices are being heard in the policymaking process.”


2 months after death, MJ to be finally buried

LOS ANGELES: Family and friends of Michael Jackson will bid a final farewell to the tragic King of Pop on Thursday as the singer is laid to rest in a private ceremony at a star-studded Los Angeles cemetery.
More than two months after Jackson's sudden death from a drug overdose on June 25, mourners will gather for a sunset service in a mausoleum at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park - a cemetery that is home to a galaxy of celebrity graves.
Jackson will be interred inside Forest Lawn's Great Mausoleum, an elaborate neo-classical building inspired by Genoa's famous Campo Santo.
Jackson's gold-plated casket will be placed in a private section of the crypt.
The service will be in stark contrast to the lavish public memorial held at Los Angeles's Staples Center in July, which was attended by 20,000 fans and beamed live around the world to an estimated audience of 1 billion.
Police in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale on Wednesday urged Jackson devotees to stay away from the funeral, warning that the neighbourhood surrounding the cemetery's entrance would be on lockdown.
Although open to the public, the funeral home is renowned for its strict privacy, and unlike many other Hollywood cemeteries does not provide maps.


Indonesia quake death toll rises to 44

Jakarta: At least 44 people were killed in a powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake that devastated the western part of Indonesia's Java island, state media reported early Thursday.
The quake was felt strongly in the capital Jakarta Wednesday, shaking buildings and sending residents running out of their homes and high-rise office towers screaming in panic. A tsunami alert was issued but cancelled about less than an hour later.
"Based on the information I have received, the death toll stands at 44," West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan was quoted as saying by the state Antara news agency.
There were fears that the death toll could rise as communication was restored to remote areas where electricity and telephone lines had been cut.
Heryawan said rescue teams including the military and police had been dispatched to affected areas to provide emergency relief and save lives.
Officials said more than 1,000 homes were damaged and more than 5,000 people were displaced in the hardest-hit areas.

The quake triggered a landslide that buried at least 57 people in Cianjur district, where 12 people were found dead, rescue officials said late Wednesday.
Officials said at least one person was killed and 27 injured in Jakarta, where the tremor cracked some buildings and shattered windows.
The quake struck at 2:55 p.m. Wednesday with its epicentre 142 km southwest of Bandung, the capital of West Java. It was felt in areas as far as the resort island of Bali.
The US Geological Survey put the quake's magnitude at 7.0.
Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago nation, sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, which is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity because continental plates meet there.
A 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck the southern coast of west Java in July 2006, killing more than 600 people and leaving tens of thousands of others homeless.
A major earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck in December 2004, leaving more than 170,000 people dead or missing in Indonesia's Aceh province and half a million people homeless.


Obama hosts Iftaar party at White House

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama praised Islam and American Muslims during an Iftaar party hosted by him at the White House and said he was

Obama hosts dinner during Ramadan
US President Barack Obama hosts a dinner celebrating Ramadan in the state dining room at the White House in Washington. (Reuters Photo)
committed to build a better relationship between the US and Muslim world. ( Watch Video )

"Together, we have a responsibility to foster engagement grounded in mutual interest and mutual respect. And that's one of my fundamental commitments as President, both at home and abroad," Obama said at the Iftaar, the meal that breaks the daily fast during Ramadan, on Tuesday evening -- his first at the White House.

"That is central to the new beginning that I've sought between the United States and Muslims around the world. And that is a commitment that we can renew once again during this holy season," Obama said before a host of diplomats including Indian ambassador to the US Meera Shankar, lawmakers, his cabinet colleagues and eminent American Muslim leaders.

"Tonight, we celebrate a great religion, and its commitment to justice and progress. We honour the contributions of America's Muslims, and the positive example that so many of them set through their own lives. And we rededicate ourselves to the work of building a better and more hopeful world," he said.

Ramadan, a month-long period of prayer, reflection and sunrise-to-sunset fasts, began on August 22 in most of the Islamic world.

Nearly two dozen Ambassadors were invited to attend the White House Iftaar wherein the menu included dates, kitchen garden green salad, spiced marcona almonds, Charlie's honey vinaigrette, organic chicken, potato and leek puree, late summer peas, kataifi wafers, oranges and lemon sorbet.

Quoting from one of the statements of the legendary American boxer Muhammad Ali, the US oresident said: "Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams -- they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do -- they all contain truths."

They all contain truths, Obama said. Among those truths are the pursuit of peace and the dignity of all human beings. That must always form the basis upon which we find common ground, he said.

"And that is why I am so pleased that we are joined tonight not only by so many outstanding Muslim Americans and representatives of the diplomatic corps, but people of many faiths -- Christians, Jews, and Hindus -- along with so many prominent Muslims," Obama said.

Former President George W Bush also held Iftaars during his eight years in office.


German court lets boy be named 'Djehad'

BERLIN: A Berlin court has upheld rulings in favour of parents who sought to name their son Djehad, a variation on the Arabic "jihad," or holy

The superior court upheld two lower court rulings allowing the name on grounds that it is recognized for males in Arabic-speaking countries.

Authorities had objected to the name, saying it could be harmful for the child given the associations with Islamic terrorism. But the court said in a ruling the name's meaning is rooted in requirement to spread the Muslim faith, although it has recently become linked - especially since the September 11, 2001 attacks - with radical Islam


Princess Diana's death 'not an accident'

LONDON: Nearly 12 years after Princess Diana and her boyfriend Dodi were killed in a Paris car crash, a British lawyer, who represented the
al-Fayeds at the inquest into the mishap, has claimed her death was not an accident.

In his book, 'Memoirs of a Radical Lawyer', Michael Mansfield has said that the 1997 car crash in the Alma Tunnel in Paris still poses some unanswered questions despite lengthy inquest at the High Court.

The 67-year-old Queen's Counsel, who has represented clients in many high profile cases, has insisted the inquest had not been a waste of time and that Fayed was entitled to the procedure as "a grieving father".

In the book, which is being serialised in 'The Times', he wrote: "I found it difficult simply to accept that what happened in the Alma Tunnel in Paris was 'just one of those tragic things'. Of course it might have been, but then that's what 'they' always hope we will think.

"Judging whether a hidden hand is at work is always difficult, but I prefer a healthy and inquisitive assessment of the authorised version, and for me it was mere serendipity to be approached a year after the crash and asked to represent Mohamed Al Fayed for the purposes of an inquest."


US man on trial for 7 deaths at restaurant

August 31st, 2009

Chicago, Aug. 31: Sixteen years after seven employees were killed inside a suburban Chicago fast food restaurant, their families are bracing to hear details of the deaths — for the second time in only two years — as the last suspect goes on trial.


Is England Becoming a Muslim Nation?

The London News announced today that a UK study indicated that the most popular name for baby boys born there (currently Jack) will be replace by Mohammed next year.

The average birth rate for native Englishwomen is 1.1 children per, while the Muslim women’s birth rate is 3.4, or more than triple. By all measures and accounts England will become Muslim in the not to distant future.

The implications for this transition are staggering – and the same trend is apparent all across Europe as Muslims pour into these countries in record numbers, clustering in bustling communities and making their presence known socially, politically, and terrorist acts abound while radical Muslim Imams preach Jihad against the Western world.


20 years jail for close Arafat associate | Deccan Chronicle

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Israeli jets bomb 'Gaza tunnel'

Map of Gaza

Israeli jets have bombed a building in the Gaza Strip which the military says hid a tunnel that Palestinian militants could use to infiltrate Israel.
No-one was hurt in the air strike, to the east of Gaza City.
Israel said the attack was retaliation for a rocket fired from Gaza into its territory on Saturday. The rocket caused no casualties or damage.
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, described the target of the Israeli air strike as "open ground".

However, witnesses said it was a building with two rooms and a courtyard.
An Israeli security source said the tunnel had been dug by Palestinian factions other than Hamas, Reuters reported.
Earlier, Hamas said unidentified Palestinians had detonated explosives at two of its security compounds in Gaza City. No-one was hurt.
Hamas has recently cracked down on possible internal threats from rival Palestinian factions inside Gaza.

Muslim woman told to

remove scarf sues US judge>>>>>

SOUTHFIELD: A Muslim woman on Wednesday sued a Michigan judge for telling her to remove her headscarf in his courtroom, claiming he violated her constitutional right to practice her religion.
Let turban wearing Sikhs

join US military: Lawmakers>>>>>>>

NEW YORK: Forty-one members of the US House of Representatives have written to defense secretary Robert Gates to permit Sikhs wearing theirreligious symbols to join the military.

Chinese president visits

Xinjiang region>>>

BEIJING: President Hu Jintao made his first trip to China's restive western region of Xinjiang since last month's deadly ethnic riots, urging government officials and security forces to focus on maintaining stability and warning separatists that they are "doomed to fail."

To share videos, Saudis turn to

'religiously safe' NaqaTube>>>>>

DUBAI: Sick and tired of profanities and explicit nature of some video clips on YouTube, a group of Saudis have developed a “clean”
alternative called NaqaTube (Naqa being the Arabic word for ‘pure’).

Strict limits for Muslim

worshippers in Jerusalem>>>>>

JERUSALEM: Israel plans to deploy thousands of police in Jerusalem and restrict access to Islam's holiest site in the city on Friday in a move
that authorities said was meant to prevent violence during the holy month of Ramadan.

Myanmar police arrest six after drugs

haul: Official>>>>>>>

YANGON: Myanmar police have arrested six people after a drugs haul earlier this week that an official confirmed Thursday was much smaller than state media originally announced.

Strong 6.9-magnitude quake rocks

Indonesia: Seismologists>>>>.

JAKARTA:28Aug/09 A strong 6.9-magnitude quake struck off Indonesia's Sulawesi island Friday, the country's geophysics agency said.

British women

giving birth in lifts,

toilets: Report>>>>>>>>

LONDON: A shortage of midwives and hospital beds is forcing thousands of British women to give birth outside maternity wards, putting the lives
of babies and mothers at risk, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
(Michael Jackson)


Burial Delayed Until

September 3>>>>>>>>

Michael Jackson will be buried on September 3 -- instead of August 29 as originally planned. According to a statement released by the family, the burial will be at Holly Terrace in The Great Mausoleum at Glendale Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, Calif. -- and will be limited to family and close friends. Joe Jackson , Michael's dad, had said the burial would be delayed -- but the August 31 date they had planned on became problematic because of schools re-opening on that day. So Joe was...


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