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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Urdu Section
19 Jan 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com
Blasphemy laws of Pakistan: Indian clerics are no less extremist and obscurantist - Part 1

As the following series of articles by a Deobandi cleric Maulana Nadeemul Wajidi published in several Urdu newspapers show, so-called Ulema in India are no less obscurantist and extremist in their views. They justify killing in the same way as do the Pakistanis. They are as happy at the killing of Salman Taseer, Governor of Pakistani Punjab, as are their Pakistani counterparts. These articles reveal the way this assassination is being justified in India’s Muslim Press. The minds of common Indian Muslims are being poisoned in the same way as has been done in Pakistan. The couplets by Zafar Ali Khan Zafar the Maulana quotes with approval are enough to reveal his mind. A loose translation is being presented below:

(A blasphemer of the Prophet deserves death every which way,

This is the principle Muslim self-respect has been following since the beginning of Time;

If even one blasphemer of the Prophet remains alive,

God will not accept a single prayer of yours.)

And of course, there is no need for any evidence against a blasphemer. The courts or even media cannot perpetrate the ignominy of asking an accuser to repeat the act of blasphemy. So just if some so-called Muslim accuses any one of blasphemy, he or she should be condemned to death and since the modern courts may not do that in the absence of any evidence (except in Pakistan), so-called Muslims should take the law into their own hands and carry out the act of execution sanctioned by their “faith” or, to be more precise, the interpretation of their faith given by these obscurantist Mullahs.

This is the view being widely propagated. And this at the same time as Maulanas also proclaim that Islam is a religion of peace and amity, fit to be allowed to prosper in the 21st century, even in multi-religious, multi-cultural societies.

Let us hope India’s moderate Muslim intelligentsia is aware of the growing radicalisation of the Indian Muslim society and is ready to face what is coming. As many do not read these articles in the Urdu Press, we are providing an English translation. –- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam


Blasphemy laws of Pakistan: Indian clerics are no less extremist and obscurantist - Part 1

As the following series of articles by a Deobandi cleric Maulana Nadeemul Wajidi published in several Urdu newspapers show, so-called Ulema in India are no less obscurantist and extremist in their views. They justify killing in the same way as do the Pakistanis. They are as happy at the killing of Salman Taseer, Governor of Pakistani Punjab, as are their Pakistani counterparts.

These articles reveal the way this assassination is being justified in India’s Muslim Press. The minds of common Indian Muslims are being poisoned in the same way as has been done in Pakistan. The couplets by Zafar Ali Khan Zafar the Maulana quotes with approval are enough to reveal his mind. A loose translation is being presented below:

(A blasphemer of the Prophet deserves death every which way,

This is the principle Muslim self-respect has been following since the beginning of Time;

If even one blasphemer of the Prophet remains alive,

God will not accept a single prayer of yours.)

And of course, there is no need for any evidence against a blasphemer. The courts or even media cannot perpetrate the ignominy of asking an accuser to repeat the act of blasphemy. So just if some so-called Muslim accuses any one of blasphemy, he or she should be condemned to death and since the modern courts may not do that in the absence of any evidence (except in Pakistan), so-called Muslims should take the law into their own hands and carry out the act of execution sanctioned by their “faith” or, to be more precise, the interpretation of their faith given by these obscurantist Mullahs.

This is the view being widely propagated. And this at the same time as Maulanas also proclaim that Islam is a religion of peace and amity, fit to be allowed to prosper in the 21st century, even in multi-religious, multi-cultural societies.

Let us hope India’s moderate Muslim intelligentsia is aware of the growing radicalisation of the Indian Muslim society and is ready to face what is coming. As many do not read these articles in the Urdu Press, we are providing an English translation. –- Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamUrduSection_1.aspx?ArticleID=3963

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Punishment for Blasphemy and Laws of Pakistan - 1

By Maulana Nadeemul Wajidi

Even a non-practising Muslim cannot tolerate a word against Hadhrat Muhammad (PBUH). This fact was once again proved to the world when a guard of the security squad of the Punjab governor Salman Taseer shot him dead. Selman Taseer was a leader of the ruling People’s Party and had come from Lahore to Islamabad to play his role in the current developments in the political circles of Pakistan. After finishing his assignments he reached the restaurant Table Talk in Kohsar Market of Islamabad to have his lunch. As he moved towards his car after finishing his lunch, Malik Mumtaz Qadri directed his gun towards him and before Salman Taseer could perceive the danger, the bullets did their work. The news of his assassination evoked mixed reactions. The media and the ruling party condemned the killing and called it an unfortunate event. On the other hand, the people all over the country expressed joy over the incident and Mumtaz Qadri became a national hero. When he was produced before the anti-terrorism court, thousands of people present there showered him with flowers and wished him a long life.

Salman Taseer was an influential leader and had a prominent place in the party. As a governor he had been provided comprehensive security. Nevertheless he was killed in broad daylight. The assassination was carried out by none other than his own bodyguard who was appointed to guard his life. Pakistani people were well aware of the motives behind the murder but the world outside was shocked by the news. It did not know that Salman Taseer had himself created situations for his murder. Pakistani people had anticipated this eventuality. The governor had been continuously issuing provocative statements and the Muslims had been losing patience because he was a governor and was above the law and the government but he forgot that there was such a court and law which was above the both of them and that his case had been decided in that court. To understand why it happened we need to look into the past.

The mischief (fitna) of Qadianiyat emerged in the undivided India and the ulema put their efforts to fight it on both educational and practical levels. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani was a self-appointed prophet and claimed to be the last prophet. His claim negated the basic beliefs of Islam. So ulema came to the forefront, cases were fought in the courts and the truth prevailed. This fitna had the support of the British so the Qadianis continued to flourish and spread their influence all over the country till the country was divided. This fitna spread its tentacles in Pakistan too. Unfortunately, the rulers of Pakistan were weak with regards to both beliefs and practice. Taking advantage of their weakness, many Qadianis also remained on important posts in the government. But the struggle of the ulema continued in the mamlikat-e-khudadad (God’s own country). Many ulema attained martyrdom and many went through incarcerations but they did not accept defeat. They demanded that the Qadianis should be declared non-Muslims and their activities against the Muslims and Islam should be banned. If there was any nationwide, effective and passionate movement in Pakistan, it was on this issue. The movement was run first in 1953 and then in 1974. The Pakistani rulers realised the fact rather belatedly that the issue of blasphemy was not too ordinary to be ignored. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto reached the seat of power on the promise of accepting the demand and fulfilled his promise. The Qadianis were declared non-Muslim minority. Notwithstanding, their activities continued that are going on even today.

On the other hand, in the undivided India, some other sects also continued to play with the sentiments of the Muslims. Sometimes they would make defamatory remarks against Hadhrat Aisha (R.A.), sometimes they would make unsavoury remarks against the Quran and sometimes they used blasphemous remarks against the holy Prophet (PBUH). Muslims confronted this section as well, went through legal proceedings too and even brought them to book. But this section could not be done away with completely. The members of this section are still present in the form of Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen. There is no dearth of people in Pakistan too who time and again hurt the sentiments of the Muslims. Such provocations were not illegal during the British rule. In later years too, the law failed to reign in these foul mouths. This way the rebellious elements continued with their task. The government of Pakistani parliament had passed the Anti Blasphemy Law (295-C) in 1980 on the demand of the ulema and the common people. Under the Bill, claim to prophethood was declared punishable with death and the death sentence was prescribed for the person who commits blasphemy against the Prophet (PBUH) with his words or acts. The so-called intellectuals of Pakistan had opposed the law. The so-called flagbearer of human rights Asma Jahangir had issued the unfortunate statement after the promulgation of the law that “Muslims take pride in being the ummat (followers) of an ummi”(One who has not received formal education in schools). The so-called broadmindedness of the ruling class of Pakistan did not take action against Asma Jahangir though she should be the first victim of the anti-blasphemy laws. The woman had committed blasphemy by regarding the word ‘ummi’ synonymous with ‘illiterate’. Although she was well aware of the truth that the word ‘ummi’ was used for the Prophet (PBUH) in the sense that he (PBUH) was never a pupil of any teacher. Otherwise the verse of the Quran ‘wa almaka maalam takun taalam’ shows that his (PBIH) real teacher is Allah who gave him( PBUH) all knowledge of the universe and the hereafter. Who can then be a greater scholar and educated person than him? The tradition carried forward by her reached to Salman Taseer and the government could not punish him as well. But the Almighty did not like a blasphemer to go scot free.

The incident that culminated in the assassination of Salman Taseer occurred on June 2, 2009. The incident revolves round a Christian lady Asia Bibi who drank water from the bowl meant for two Muslim women Afia and Asima during their work in a Falsa orchard in Itan Wali in Nankana Saheb. They did not say anything but drank from another bowl. This act of Afia and Asima offended Asia Masihi. If she had said something to them as a reaction, it would not have meant much. In fact she said something blasphemous about the Prophet (PBUH), Hadhrat Khadija (R.A.) and the Holy Quran. The owner of the orchard also reached the spot. She said the same thing before him as well. Even when an FIR was registered against her and the investigations were initiated against her she admitted her guilt before the SP in the presence of the villagers. On the basis of her confession, the statements of the witnesses and the inquiry report, the court had no option but to pronounce death sentence for her under the Anti blasphemy Laws. The court did the same. The Additional Sessions Judge’s court pronounced death sentence and a fine of Rs One hundred thousand against her on the basis of circumstantial evidence and testimonies of the witnesses.

Now, the flag bearers of human rights started their work. It was said that the court’s decision was barbaric. The governments of America and England protested against it. The religious heads of the Christians appealed that Asia should be released and deported to a western country. Punjab governor Salman Taseer was one of those who criticised the court order. Infuriated at the incident, he called the anti-blasphemy law a black law although the law is the voice of millions of Muslims. He did not stop at that. He went to the jail with his wife and daughter to see Asia. He put his hand on her head, wrote a letter asking for pardon on her behalf and promised that he will take rest only after getting her pardoned. He called a press conference outside the jail and reiterated his resolve and said that he will get the ‘black law’ repealed.

It can be said that Salman Taseer was no less guilty; rather he was a greater criminal. He committed contempt of court by calling the judgment wrong though the judgment was pronounced by his own court under his own laws. He did not rest at that but to express his indignation at the judgment of the court set up by his own government he went to the doors of the jail. No other person of his stature had gone to that extent ever before. Not only that, by calling the Anti-Blasphemy Law ‘black law’ he also proved that he did not have respect for the Prophet (PBUH). His statements were not only hurtful but also against the law of the land. Favouring someone convicted of blasphemy is also a blasphemy. The punishment will be the same for everyone for this crime, whether it is committed by a common man, a governor or a President. Salman Taseer committed the crime but he was not punished because he was a associate of the President of the country and an influential personality. Action should have been taken against him but it was not. So in these circumstances if people get infuriated, lose control of their emotions, take some action in a fit of anger or under religious passion, how can they be held responsible? It was bound to happen. If Mumtaz Qadri had not done it, someone else would have done it. The people of Pakistan have demonstrated their unity by observing a strike on December 31, 2010 against the statements of Salman Taseer and in favour of the punishment to Asia and conveyed the message to the world that the Muslims might differ in their sectarian interests and political views but on the issue of their love of the Prophet (PBUH), their views are unanimous. (To be concluded)

Source: Hamara Samaj

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamUrduSection_1.aspx?ArticleID=3963












Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam
19 Jan 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com
Critiquing Communalism: Re-Thinking Religion

There is no single universally-approved definition of 'communalism', the term having been defined in many diverse, indeed often contradictory, ways. But, as a working definition, one could define it as an ideology and politics that are based on the wholly untenable notion that human communities are defined on the basis of an extremely reified notion of religion, and that the interests of each community so defined are wholly or to a large extent opposed to those of other communities defined in the same way. Inevitably, therefore, communities defined in this way are seen as antagonistic to each other, and it is believed that they can never harmoniously and peacefully co-exist. If they at all do live in peace with each other, the assumption is that this peace is only temporary, that it is out of compulsion of circumstance or due to the fear of the law or the wrath of the state, and that, in the absence of these compelling circumstances, the different communities would otherwise have been engaged in never-ceasing conflict, whether symbolic or physical. It is crucial, however, that such fairly dominant understandings of community and religion be forcefully challenged, not only because of the very real potential for violence that they contain, but also because more often than not such definitions of community and religion do not at all correspond to empirical reality. Textbook definitions of each religion that such notions of community are predicated on assume that each religion is a homogenous, well-defined entity, which is completely separate from and has no overlaps with other religions, defined in this reified way.--Yoginder Sikand, NewAgeIslam.com

Critiquing Communalism: Re-Thinking Religion

By Yoginder Sikand, NewAgeIslam.com

There is no single universally-approved definition of 'communalism', the term having been defined in many diverse, indeed often contradictory, ways. But, as a working definition, one could define it as an ideology and politics that are based on the wholly untenable notion that human communities are defined on the basis of an extremely reified notion of religion, and that the interests of each community so defined are wholly or to a large extent opposed to those of other communities defined in the same way. Inevitably, therefore, communities defined in this way are seen as antagonistic to each other, and it is believed that they can never harmoniously and peacefully co-exist. If they at all do live in peace with each other, the assumption is that this peace is only temporary, that it is out of compulsion of circumstance or due to the fear of the law or the wrath of the state, and that, in the absence of these compelling circumstances, the different communities would otherwise have been engaged in never-ceasing conflict, whether symbolic or physical.

It is crucial, however, that such fairly dominant understandings of community and religion be forcefully challenged, not only because of the very real potential for violence that they contain, but also because more often than not such definitions of community and religion do not at all correspond to empirical reality. Textbook definitions of each religion that such notions of community are predicated on assume that each religion is a homogenous, well-defined entity, which is completely separate from and has no overlaps with other religions, defined in this reified way. This assumption is wholly erroneous. It overlooks the fact that every religion is diversely understood, often in very contradictory ways, by those who claim to be its adherents. Often, intra-religious sectarian rivalry is much more acute than inter-religious rivalry, a fact that is cleverly concealed when we talk of each religion as a monolithic entity and of each community constructed on the basis of this notion of religion as a single whole containing no internal divisions. This fact very clearly challenges the monolithic notion of religion that forms the basis of the ideology of religious communalism. Furthermore, at the empirical level, communities and people who might claim to follow a certain religion might well share practices, beliefs and even what they regard as sacred spaces with what are regarded as followers of other religions. This is what is sometimes mistakenly called “religious syncretism”, where borders between what are thought of as distinct religious communities are blurred and somewhat unambiguous. The notion of communalism based on religion, which is routinely exploited by those who claim to represent such communities and religions, also conceals other internal divisions and contradictions, such as of caste and class, within each of these communities. This, of course, is often deliberate, a tactic deployed by self-styled leaders to clamp down on internal dissent that might challenge them by diverting this dissent onto what is projected as the menacing religious ‘other’. The self-appointed representatives of this religious ‘other’, too, act likewise. Thus, while various forms of communalism might appear to be viscerally opposed to each other, in fact they need each other to define and justify themselves, to shore up their self-appointed spokesmen’s claims to leadership and the various interests linked to such claims. In other words, while appearing to be furiously battling each other, they desperately need each other simply in order to survive.

I do not wish to elaborate all these points further, as these would all be familiar to most readers. But what I would rather focus on is some practical suggestions as to what we could do to tackle the menace of communalism, that has now assumed terribly violent and extremist forms across the world, including in India as well. There are different things what the state can do, or what civil society actors can do. There is the law-and-order approach, the carrot-and-stick approach, the economic development and equity approach. All these and more are all very necessary. But one approach that has been woefully neglected is what I would like to turn to, which is the religious, or, to be more precise, the spiritual, approach. But before I go on to discuss this let me clarify that I am not a religious person at all. I don’t even think I am very spiritual, either.

It is fashionable to say that religion has nothing to do with communalism, and that communalism is just politics being played in the name of religion. In this way, the blame for communalism is put entirely on politics and religion is said to be innocent of all the hatred that is being spread in its name. I think this approach is entirely naïve and, moreover, represents a quite untenable apologetic approach to religion, reflecting a refusal (for various reasons that I won’t go into here) to accept the harsh reality that religion, as conventionally understood, has much to answer for its direct and central role in communalism. Religion, I believe, should not be regarded as a holy cow that is completely above criticism.

Without discounting the many people who might be religious (in the conventional sense of the term), without being communal (as we understand it), I think we need to recognize that the manner in which many more people understand the religions they claim to adhere to is such as to promote a distinctly communalist way of thinking. Certain beliefs, personages, rituals and what are regarded as sacred spaces associated with a particular religious tradition come to be seen as the defining bases of a particular religion, and the assumption is that these alone represent the divine will or the way to approach the divine or whatever. The corollary, therefore, is that other ways to understand and approach the divine are inferior or even, in some cases, completely satanic and sure paths to hell. These beliefs, personages, practices and spaces thus come to serve as boundary markers, setting apart a group that claims, on the basis of these attributes, to be superior to others who do not share these attributes. The latter are regarded as polluted or as infidels, who are to be grudgingly tolerated, at best. Distressingly, even if all these mutually opposed religions, as they are conventionally understood, acknowledge the One Ultimate force that pervades the universe, called God or by other names, the force is conveniently forgotten as communities perpetually squabble over whose prophet or founding hero is superior, and over their different ways of worship and performing rituals, each claiming theirs to be the sole ‘correct’ one that leads to heaven. This problem of understandings of religion being indelibly shaped by communalism takes different forms in different religious traditions as conventionally understood, but it is a fairly extensive and deep-rooted problem, and reflects, one can confidently state, a very dominant understanding of what religion is all about that transcends community divisions. In this regard, the typically Indian definition of secularism as ‘equal respect for all religions’ is deeply problematic, for it does not encourage critical examination of the claims of various religions from both a rational as well as humanist point of view. Nor does it in any way sanction the muc-necessary critique of communal supremacism that religious, as commonly interpreted, are a thinly-veiled guise for. Often, it turns out to be used as an argument for equal respect for competing, equally obscurantist and communal supremacist understandings of religion, and so does precious little to critique such understandings. Indeed, any such rational or humanist critiques can easily be branded as a violation of the ‘sacred’ principle of ‘equal respect for all religions.’

As I have just mentioned, dominant understandings of religion are often another name for communalism and are deeply shaped by feelings of communal superiority over other communities. Naturally, then, given this, it is untenable to argue, as many defenders of dominant understandings of religion often do, that religion is not problematic at all and that it has nothing whatsoever to do with communalism, and that the cause of communalism is politics pure and simple, and that religion is perfectly innocent of the crimes that communalists play in its name. The fact of the matter is that religion, as it is often defined and understood by large numbers of those who claim to be religious, is simply another name for communalism and a guise for claiming communal supremacy in the name of being the sole or the best way to approach or worship what is regarded as the divine.

This being the case, the ideology and politics of communalism cannot be critiqued and countered effectively without a critique of religion as it is conventionally understood in a markedly communal supremacist way by vast numbers of people. Simply raising slogans of ‘Hindu-Muslim Bhai Bhai’ and so on, or invoking the compassion and love that some Sufi and Bhakti saints preached that transcended communal boundaries, can serve no purpose at all without critiquing and challenging supremacist notions of Islam, Hinduism and other religions that many of those who claim to follow these religions deeply cling to. In other words, dominant exclusivist and supremacist understandings and interpretations of religion need to be liberated from the narrow communalism that underpins them.

In order to be justified, religion or a secular substitute for it, ought to serve human beings (irrespective of ascriptive labels such as community, caste and so on) rather than the other way round. Unfortunately, however, that is precisely the opposite of how many people who claim to follow religion understand it. And, as far as I am concerned, religion is true only insofar as it enables those who claim to follow it to become better human beings, rather than better ‘believers’, as that term is understood in an extremely irritatingly ritualistic, narrow and communal supremacist way. It must inspire them to be more compassionate and loving to all human beings, irrespective of religion and community, and even to all living and inanimate beings. It must lead them to understand that association with certain key figures, called prophets or avatars or whatever, as well as distinct rituals and beliefs (all of which set communities apart from each other) should enable them to be better, more kind and compassionate and socially-engaged human beings, and if these do not, then such rituals and beliefs and claims of association with religious personages are completely useless. Unfortunately, however, that is not how religion is often understood by those who claim to be religious. Indeed, people who do not regard themselves as religious are often much better human beings, and, therefore, closer to the One, whom they may not confess faith in, than religious folk who understand religion in a ritualistic and communal fashion and who see themselves as God’s chosen people, believing that others who worship in a different fashion or claim to follow a different prophet or religious hero from theirs are doomed to perdition forever in hell—in jahanam or narak or call it what you will.

From what I have said so far, the urgency of developing new understandings of what religion is, or, rather should be, and, in particular, developing inclusive understandings of the religious ‘other’ in each religious tradition should be readily apparent. Without such reformulation, the communal supremacist interpretations of religion and of the status of the religious ‘other’, which underpin the ideology and politics of communalism, cannot be challenged.

Who should take on this task? Obviously, it would be naïve to expect the so-called and self-styled religious ‘leaders’ in each community to do this. Of course, there may be some notable exceptions. This is because it goes quite against how they understand their own religions, as well as because it directly challenges their own interests. Their authority as self-appointed interpreters of their religions rests on their ability to maintain and continuously reinforce and promote communal supremacist understandings of their own religion.

This task, therefore, falls among others, on the shoulders of secular intellectuals and groups in India who have played a central role in the struggle against communalism. At present, however, few of them are well-equipped for this task. This is because they have, by and large, shunned the realm of religious discourse, seeing it as simply too sensitive to handle or else regarding religion as false consciousness, a primitive vestige that is best left to wither away on its own. This stance has had the lamentable result of leaving the realm of religious discourse to be virtually monopolized by obscurantist forces that thrive on propagating and reinforcing communal supremacist understandings of religion. Therefore, I think it is imperative for secular intellectuals and activists (who may or not be religious personally) to engage creatively with religion and to think of means in which new, inclusive and positive attitudes to the religious ‘other’ in each religion can be promoted and exclusivist, communal supremacist understandings of each religion countered. This would require far greater engagement with the realm of religious discourse than the standard ‘Hindu-Muslim Bhai Bhai’ sloganeering approach, which is, as I have indicated, totally inadequate. For this purpose, secular forces also need to identify and work closely with progressive-minded religious people, including what I suspect are the not small number of religious ‘specialists’—priests, mullahs and so on, who may be committed to genuine inter-community solidarity and harmony, and who forcefully challenge the right of communal chauvinists to speak in the name of their religion.

A regular columnist for NewAgeIslam.com, Yoginder Sikand works with the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion at the National Law School, Bangalore.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamIjtihadRethinkingIslam_1.aspx?ArticleID=3961

Urdu Section
19 Jan 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com
Clerics on the march in Pakistan- Not about blasphemy, all about politics

This is not about blasphemy or the honour of the Holy Prophet. This is now all about politics, about the forces of the clergy, routed in the last elections, discovering a cause on whose bandwagon they have mounted with a vengeance.The blasphemy issue ignited by Aasia Bibi’s conviction was virtually over in November, the government making it plain that it had not the slightest intention of amending the blasphemy law, and no government figure of any consequence stepping forward to support Salmaan Taseer on the stand he had taken.There the matter should have rested if Pakistan’s clerical armies were not masters of manipulation and cold-blooded calculation. They whipped up a storm in December, when the issue was no longer an issue, and fanned such an atmosphere of intolerance and hatred that it would have been strange if nothing terrible had happened.There’s a danger of moaning too much. But what with the lionising of Salmaan Taseer’s killer and hailing him as a ghazi and defender of the faith, the impression is hard to shake off that what we are witnessing are the last burial rites of what remains of sanity in a Republic not particularly famous for any striking monuments to reason. --Ayaz Amir


Clerics on the march in Pakistan- Not about blasphemy, all about politics

By Ayaz Amir

This is not about blasphemy or the honour of the Holy Prophet. This is now all about politics, about the forces of the clergy, routed in the last elections, discovering a cause on whose bandwagon they have mounted with a vengeance.

The blasphemy issue ignited by Aasia Bibi’s conviction was virtually over in November, the government making it plain that it had not the slightest intention of amending the blasphemy law, and no government figure of any consequence stepping forward to support Salmaan Taseer on the stand he had taken.

There the matter should have rested if Pakistan’s clerical armies were not masters of manipulation and cold-blooded calculation. They whipped up a storm in December, when the issue was no longer an issue, and fanned such an atmosphere of intolerance and hatred that it would have been strange if nothing terrible had happened.

There’s a danger of moaning too much. But what with the lionising of Salmaan Taseer’s killer and hailing him as a ghazi and defender of the faith, the impression is hard to shake off that what we are witnessing are the last burial rites of what remains of sanity in a Republic not particularly famous for any striking monuments to reason.

No cleric worth the name has refrained from adding fuel to the fires thus lit across the country. But if a prize has to be given to anyone, the honours will go to Pakistan’s path-breaking contributor to political gymnastics, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and the Amir of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Professor Munawar Hasan (professor of what?...one is tempted to ask).

The Professor is a study in contrasts: soft-spoken, even beguilingly so, and possessing a keen sense of humour but, at the same time, a master of virulence and of confusion spread in the name of the faith. The 2008 elections had laid the Jamaat low. It had made the mistake of boycotting those elections and its performance in bye-elections since then has furnished further proof of its dwindling political relevance. The Jamaat’s exploitation of the blasphemy issue is an attempt to engineer a political comeback, although there’s no altering the fact that its vote-getting ability comes nowhere near its high nuisance value.

But the issue has to be faced squarely. The clerics are on the march not because they are strong but because those on the other side of the divide – the non-clerical forces – are weak, directionless and devoid of vision...without any strategy and plan of battle.

Zardari’s vision is to stay in power and further enrich his person and his family. End of story. The common belief is he has enough but, by all accounts, we are dealing with insatiable appetites. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s vision is to enrich his family. If a tenth of the stories doing the rounds are to be even tentatively believed, they are doing pretty well for themselves. Names close to the army high command are also the subject of lurid rumours.

But the problem is greater than a few names. Pakistan’s governing class as a whole has earned the distinction of being rotten and corrupt. Everyone rightly-placed is on the take. Those not so fortunate are less emblems of virtue than martyrs to opportunities absent or lost.

A leadership thus tainted, compromised by ineptitude and greed, can neither initiate reform nor reverse the tide of obscurantism now washing against the walls of the Republic.

Lest we forget, the armies of the faithful – with their fearsome beards and shaven moustaches, shalwars pulled up over ankles – have never been in power in Pakistan (the MMA’s stint as Musharraf’s co-travellers in the Frontier not really counting in this equation). What Pakistan is today, the depths it has plumbed, the failures courted, the follies assiduously pursued, have been the handiwork of its English-speaking elite classes – who wouldn’t be caught dead calling themselves secular but who, for all practical purposes, represent a secularist point of view.

The mullahs have not been responsible for our various alliances with the United States; our entry into Cento and Seato; our militarist adventures vis-à-vis India; and the honing of ‘jihad’ as an instrument of strategic fallacies. This last piece of brilliance came from the army as commanded by Gen Ziaul Haq. Religious elements became willing accessories in this game but were not its inventors.

If the first Constituent Assembly lavished attention on a piece of rhetoric of no practical benefit to anyone, the Objectives Resolution, instead of writing a constitution which was its chief duty, the fault lay not so much with the clerical fathers as with the Muslim League leadership. The phrase ‘ideology of Pakistan’ was an invention of Gen Yahya Khan’s information minister, Maj Gen Nawabzada Sher Ali Khan. The central tenet of our security doctrine which sees India as an implacable foe out to undo Pakistan was woven in no madrassah or mosque but in General Headquarters, and a mindset which has been a distinguishing feature of the Punjabi elite.

Our fractured education system is a gift, paradoxically, of our English-speaking classes which have never felt the slightest need for framing a common education policy – the same books and curriculum, the same medium of education – for the entire country.

The army, a secular institution to begin with, has ruled Pakistan. The mainstream parties have been in power. Pakistan’s failures are their failures. The religious parties have been the hyenas and jackals of the hunt, yelping from the sides and helping themselves to the morsels that came their way. Lords of the hunt, lions of the pack, have been Pakistan’s generals and politicians, assisted ably at all times by a powerful and equally short-sighted mandarin class.

If the misuse of religion, the exploitation of religion for less-than-holy ends, the yoking of religion to unworthy causes – such as our never-ending adventures in Afghanistan – has poisoned the national atmosphere and narrowed the space for reasoned debate, the principal responsibility for that too lies with those who have held the reins of power in their hands. Why could they not have reversed the course of events, especially when it lay in their power to do so?

True, Gen Zia’s rule amounted to a visitation from the outer reaches of purgatory. We say he distorted Pakistan, which of course he did. But it is 22 years since his departure, time enough to have healed the wounds he caused and dismantle his legacy. But if the many temples to hypocrisy he erected survive, who is to blame? The Pakistan of today is Zia’s Pakistan not Jinnah’s. But if we have been unable to go back to our founding principles the fault lies not with the zealous armies of the bearded but Pakistan’s secular rulers, in mufti and khaki.

It is not the mullahs who frighten the ruling classes. These classes are afraid of their own shadows. And they have lost the ability, if they ever had it in the first place, to think for themselves. They live on imported ideas and the power of their own fantasies.

It is not a question of the English-speaking classes – our so-called civil society with its small candle-light vigils, usually in some upscale market – standing up to the clerical armies. This is to get the whole picture wrong. It is a question of the Pakistani state – its various institutions, its defence establishment and the creeds and fallacies held dear as articles of faith by this establishment – getting its direction right and then creating a new consensus enabling it to retreat from the paths of folly.

If the Pakistani establishment continues to see India as the enemy, keeps pouring money into an arms race it cannot afford, is afflicted by delusions of grandeur relative to Afghanistan, and remains unmindful of the economic disaster into which the country is fast slipping, we will never get a grip on the challenges we face.

The raging cleric, frothing at the mouth, is thus not the problem. He is merely a symptom of something larger. Pakistan’s problem is the delusional general and the incompetent politician and as long as this is not fixed, the holy armies of bigotry will remain on the march.

Source: Jang, Pakistan

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamUrduSection_1.aspx?ArticleID=3958






Current affairs
19 Jan 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com
Look at Pakistan: Secularism is the only option

Those who snigger at India’s secularism should perhaps take a step back from the fence that separates us from Pakistan. Only then will they realise how fortunate we actually are. All the forces of primeval passion, let loose by the Partition, were baying for a Hindu state mirroring that of Pakistan; blood for blood, and so on. Pakistan has not made matters easier either. Every time it gets too hot and crowded in their kitchen, they open the window and throw junk in our backyard. There have been more times than we would like to remember when we have given in to ethnic passions. That we did not go all the way is because secular values are still with us, courtesy, the founders of our Constitution. If we want to believe like our forefathers did, if we want to tremble at the sound of thunder, if we want to be helpless in the face of avoidable diseases, we should go back to religious passions. If, on the other hand, we want to enjoy the comforts of today, the sciences of today, then we better get secular. There is much more to secularism than mere religious tolerance, religious equidistance, or even religious goodwill. Without secularism there is no development, and that is the hard truth. The choice is clear. We can either think like our grandparents and go ethnic, or think of our grandchildren, as Keynes did, and become secular. There is no other option! -- Dipankar Gupta

Look at Pakistan: Secularism is the only option

By Dipankar Gupta

19 Jan 2011

Our grief at Salman Taseer’s assassination has a schadenfreude aspect to it. We are sad that a brave man died unjustly, but we are happy this happened to our neighbour next door. True, Taseer was part of the establishment, but he had a change of heart when it came to the blasphemy law.

It takes a lot to leave your barber halfway through a haircut, but he did that, and paid for it.

The broad band endorsement of Taseer’s death is clearly more horrifying than the act itself. While rejoicing that we are lucky to be born here and not there, let us remember that Khap Panchayats in Haryana and UP are against women wearing jeans, Ram Sene does not want couples to date in coffee shops, and honour killings take lives of young women. We are that close to being like Pakistan; but we could have been closer.

Secularism

Secularism, with all its faults, has helped to distance us from Pakistan in more ways than we imagine. It is not just that we are secular and Pakistan is not, but that we are thinking development and they are not.

Secularism takes our minds off whether our wives and sisters are behaving, or whether our gods are being upstaged by other gods.

In place of such ungovernable passions, it positions issues of economic growth and development instead.

Pakistan’s near total obsession with identity politics has disabled it on a number of fronts. Its theocratic character has kept it from bringing about land reforms, curbing the military, setting up institutions of higher learning, and establishing steel mills. That we have been able to do all that— from engineering units to IT giants— is because secularism gave us the space to grow. We had energy in stock to think of poverty removal, economic sovereignty, export promotion, and so on.

In politics a kind of zero sum game is at work. Either we exhaust our reserves asserting identity politics or get ahead with developmental programmes. The two cannot be combined. Is it surprising then that theocratic states are nearly always the least developed? Once we open the door to ethnicity, out goes progress and economic well being.

Those who snigger at India’s secularism should perhaps take a step back from the fence that separates us from Pakistan. Only then will they realise how fortunate we actually are. All the forces of primeval passion, let loose by the Partition, were baying for a Hindu state mirroring that of Pakistan; blood for blood, and so on. Pakistan has not made matters easier either.

Every time it gets too hot and crowded in their kitchen, they open the window and throw junk in our backyard. There have been more times than we would like to remember when we have given in to ethnic passions.

That we did not go all the way is because secular values are still with us, courtesy, the founders of our Constitution.

When the UPA came to power in 2004, we were more relieved than elated. We could now switch off the ethnic engines (they were over heated anyway) and think development instead. Today, that promise the UPA held out is without real legs. It is not because this government has yielded to Muslim and minority baiters, but because it has done little to improve the everyday life of everyday people— majority and minorities included. This is why ethnic parties are getting their tails up once again. There is no point in condemning Narendra Modi for being communal if Congress- run states elsewhere cannot out- perform Gujarat on the economic front. Secularism has a double burden: it must not only be good, it has to be better than the rest.

Growth

This is a lesson that is often hard to drive home. Secularism is not just about minority protection, it is about majority promotion too. Secularism draws our attention away from medieval concerns so that we can think about economic progress. History is a testament to this. When the western world came out of the religious trap, they experienced economic growth like never before. By not emphasising this aspect, the promoters of secularism have under served their cause.

In the period 1820 till today, the per capita income in Europe and America grew anywhere between fifteen fold to twenty fold. Till that time, for centuries, nobody knew about anything called growth. It never rang anybody’s door bell. John Maynard Keynes made this point emphatically in his 1930 essay, “ Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren.” He argued there that from the beginning of the Christian era right up to the 18th century “ there was no real change in the standard of living of the average man….” Life expectancy till then was extremely low; people died of natural causes that are easily controllable now; epidemics swept the world— even in today’s developed countries.

How did it all change? There are many reasons for this, but the most important one is that politics changed. It now espoused industrialisation, freedom of movement, rights of children and workers as free citizens. Religion was put in its place.

Round the corner we have the example of Singapore where once ethnic tensions were dominant and the economy stagnant.

After Lee Kuan Yew banished religious politics Singapore became a poster- state and a model worth emulating. There are negative examples too.

Hitler’s promise of full employment was backed by his unrepentant anti- Semitism. It took him some distance, but where is fascism now in Germany? On the other hand, there are continuous success stories that read like fairy tales. Quebec, in Canada, and the Basque province of Spain, made huge strides after they shook off the hold of the Catholic Church.

France realised the importance of this very early when in 1906 it clipped the wings of the Catholic clergy and forced them to behave. It is only after that that the vision of the Third Republic got a fighting chance of realising itself.

Choice

David Brooks, one of America’s renowned Conservative journalists, made a similar point recently. He argued that when secular ideologies come to the fore, ethnic passions must recede. This is an interesting insight, made more remarkable by the fact that it comes from Conservative quarters. Yet, because he is a Conservative he termed political ideologies the new ethnicity, and spoilt it all.

If we want to believe like our forefathers did, if we want to tremble at the sound of thunder, if we want to be helpless in the face of avoidable diseases, we should go back to religious passions.

If, on the other hand, we want to enjoy the comforts of today, the sciences of today, then we better get secular.

There is much more to secularism than mere religious tolerance, religious equidistance, or even religious goodwill. Without secularism there is no development, and that is the hard truth.

The choice is clear. We can either think like our grandparents and go ethnic, or think of our grandchildren, as Keynes did, and become secular. There is no other option!

The writer is a senior fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum & Library

Source: Mail Today

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamCurrentAffairs_1.aspx?ArticleID=3960




Spiritual Meditations
19 Jan 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com
Sufi’s light on divinity

The mystic and philosopher Shaykh Muhyiddin Ibn al Arabi is amongst my favourite early Sufis. Born in Murcia, Moorish Spain in 1165, he came to be called Shaykh ul Akbar, the great master. One of the most prolific writers in Islamic history, Ibn al Arabi’s writings immensely impacted Muslim communities throughout the world. He remains a refreshing voice that throws light on the human condition in any time and any place. Rooted in Islamic sciences, his work is universal, accepting that each person has a unique path to the Truth.The 19-year-old Ibn al Arabi met the renowned philosopher Ibn Rushd (d. 1198) whom the West knows as Averroes. The philosopher asked the young mystic, “Do the fruits of mystic illumination agree with philosophical speculation?” Ibn al Arabi replied, “Yes and no. Between the yes and no, the spirits take their flight beyond the matter”. --Sadia Dehlvi

Sufi’s light on divinity

By Sadia Dehlvi

January 17th, 2011

The mystic and philosopher Shaykh Muhyiddin Ibn al Arabi is amongst my favourite early Sufis. Born in Murcia, Moorish Spain in 1165, he came to be called Shaykh ul Akbar, the great master. One of the most prolific writers in Islamic history, Ibn al Arabi’s writings immensely impacted Muslim communities throughout the world. He remains a refreshing voice that throws light on the human condition in any time and any place. Rooted in Islamic sciences, his work is universal, accepting that each person has a unique path to the Truth.

The 19-year-old Ibn al Arabi met the renowned philosopher Ibn Rushd (d. 1198) whom the West knows as Averroes. The philosopher asked the young mystic, “Do the fruits of mystic illumination agree with philosophical speculation?” Ibn al Arabi replied, “Yes and no. Between the yes and no, the spirits take their flight beyond the matter”.

Impressed with the answer Ibn Rushd exclaimed, “Glory to Allah. I have lived at a time when there exists a master of this experience, one of those who opens the locks of His doors”. Fourteen years later when Ibn Rushd died, Ibn al Arabi attended the funeral and referred to him as a great leader.

Born in the town of Muricia in Spain, Ibn al Arabi moved to Seville where he studied religious sciences. Since his father was a devotee of the renowned Sufi scholar Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani of Baghdad, Ibn al Arabi grew up in Sufi circles. The Master attributed his education to two women, one of them being the mystic Fatima of Cordova.

The Shaykh spent many years in Andalusia and North Africa. Ibn al Arabi finally settled in Damascus where he taught and wrote till his death. A prolific writer, he authored numerous books on Sufi philosophy asserting that perfect knowledge of God needed both the eye of reason and the eye of imagination.

Ibn al Arabi’s philosophy and articulation of wahdat ul wujood, Oneness of Being, remains the most celebrated and controversial idea throughout the Muslim world influencing Sufi philosophy forever. Ibn al Arabi explained, “It is He who is revealed in every face, sought in every sign, gazed upon by every eye, worshipped in every object of worship, and pursued in the unseen and the visible. Ibn al Arabi died in 1240, remembered for his contribution in understanding Divine Love in prose and verse:

Wonder, A garden among flames!

My heart has become capable of every form:

A pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks,

And a temple for idols, and the pilgrim’s Kaaba,

The tables of the Torah and the book of the Koran.

I believe in the religion of Love

Whatever direction its caravans may take,

For love is my religion and my faith.

Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer and author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam. She can be contacted at sadiafeedback@gmail.com

Source: Asian Age

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamIslamSpiritualMeditations_1.aspx?ArticleID=3959




Islamic World News
19 Jan 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com
Suicide is against Islam: Al-Azhar

Fifteen dead in another Iraqi suicide attacks

Saudi Arabia bans blogging without permit

Tunisia blaze triggers suicides in Arab Africa

Two torch themselves in Egypt, taking cases to 10

Egyptian dies of burns after self-immolation

Pak pursuing terror as instrument of state policy: Indian Foreign Secretary

New Deoband chief lauds Modi's Gujarat

American security guards for Zardari's security

Al-Qaeda suffered major setbacks, says ex-militant

Why can’t a girl contest university elections

Open all the locked mosques in Delhi

Reforms in the Hajj Committee need of the hour

J&K police constable arrested for links with Hizbul Mujahideen

Britain all set to ban jihadi outfit under terror law

500 detained in Karachi to check political violence

Nizam-e-Adl Regulation: Top sharia court set up in Swat

Malegaon Muslim accused finally hope for freedom

No role of SIMI men in Samjhauta?

Police’s twist to blast botch-up

SWAMI Asimanand wants to donate his vital organs

Modi steps in for Asimanand and holds a mega tribal fair

US seeks end to discriminatory applications for blasphemy

Pak-American TV executive stabbed wife 40 times: US court told

Ulema should interpret true meaning of Islam: Gilani

Palestinians hoist flag in Washington for first time

Zardari seeks UN role in promoting religious harmony

BJP should reconsider its Ekta Yatra programme: Interlocutors

Bell's criticism of mosque opponents shows ignorance

The Pope Is The Enemy Of Muslim Law And Order

Yemen: Reporter sentenced to 5 years in prison

Man arrested for murdering wife, daughter for honour

2,802 incidents of violence against women reported in Punjab

Four people killed in explosions in Quetta

4 girls assaulted with acid in Egypt’s delta region

Pakistani teenager gang-raped, paraded naked in streets

Nobel winner Yunus in court for defamation suit, gets bail

Ex-prez wife's 'greed' drove revolution in Tunisia

`Taseer`s murder exposed fault line in society`

Afghan journalist attacked with acid: officials

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani rules out talks with militants

Tricolour hoisting: Hope BJP won't precipitate situation in J&K, says Omar

Blast kills 2 in northwest Pakistan

Bangkok Sikhs Help Taliban Victim’s Kin

India to pay the US twice more than Pak for Harpoons

Butterfly effect lights up white launch party

Iran: Sanctions won’t stop nuclear drive

Dhaka lodges protest against killing of girl

Afghan students leave `unsafe' Cuttack varsity

J-K scandal: Another witness turns hostile

4-yr-old Indian raped by Dubai school driver, conductor

Tunisia PM quits party after protests

More Latin American countries to recognize Palestinian state

Teen detained in Kuwait sues US over no-fly list

One dead, 17 injured in Peshawar blast

Arab leaders meet on economy, poverty

Taliban chief Mullah Omar treated in Pakistan: report

Three soldiers killed in NW rocket attack

US strike kills 5 in NW: officials

Attacker of Danish Mohammed cartoonist goes on trial

Pakistan to provide qualified nurses to Portugal

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Al Azhar University Mosque, Cairo

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Suicide is against Islam: Al-Azhar

Jan 19, 2011

CAIRO — Egypt's Al-Azhar, the most prestigious centre of religious learning in the Sunni Muslim world, said on Tuesday that Islam bans suicide for any reason.

"Sharia law states that Islam categorically forbids suicide for any reason and does not accept the separation of souls from bodies as an expression of stress, anger or protest," said Al-Azhar's spokesman Mohammed Rifa al-Tahtawi in a statement on state news agency MENA.

"Al-Azhar cannot comment on the cases of people who had burned themselves, as these may be suffering from a mental or psychological condition that forced them to do so," he said.

"We cannot judge them. We commend them to God and pray for them."

He added that "Islam forbids suicide as a general rule."

The self-immolation of a young Tunisian merchant in early January, the symbolic trigger of popular revolts that toppled Tunisia's government, has already inspired nine copy cat acts across the region.

A lawyer in his forties tried to end his days by setting himself on fire in front of Cairo's government headquarters on Tuesday. In Alexandria a 25-year-old, pronounced mentally unstable by the authorities, died in a hospital from self-inflicted burns.

Five men in Algeria and one in Mauritania set themselves on fire on Tuesday but failed to end their lives.

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Fifteen dead in another Iraqi suicide attacks

Jan 19, 2011

BAQUBA: A suicide bomber rammed an ambulance packed with explosives into a security headquarters on Wednesday, killing 13 people in the second major attack against Iraqi forces in as many days.

A second suicide attack in a nearby town killed two others and wounded a top provincial official, shattering a relative calm in Iraq following the formation of a new government by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki last month.

“We have so far received 13 bodies, and are treating 64 wounded,” said Firaz al-Dulaimi, a doctor at Baquba hospital, referring to the first attack on Wednesday morning in the Diyala provincial capital.

The 10:00 am (0700 GMT) bomb in the middle of Baquba, a restive ethnically mixed city north of Baghdad, targeted an office of the Force Protection Service (FPS), the agency responsible for securing government buildings.

The explosion also damaged nearby buildings, including the al-Batool women and children’s hospital, and AFP journalist said.

Three young children and their teacher were wounded at a nursery school, an official at Diyala Operations Command said.

Local officials imposed a vehicle curfew on Baquba, not allowing any cars in or out, and security forces cordoned off the scene of the blast.

The operations command official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the FPS office had received a call from an individual purporting to work for the provincial health department, notifying them that an ambulance would be arriving, helping the attacker get close to his target.

About 90 minutes later in the nearby town of Ghalbiyah, a suicide bomber blew up his explosives-filled car in the midst of a crowd of Shia pilgrims, killing two and wounding 16 other people, an official in the provincial security command said.

Among the wounded were Diyala deputy governor Sadiq al-Husseini and three of his bodyguards, and two media employees of local satellite channel Diyala TV.

Husseini was visiting with worshippers as they gathered ahead of commemorations for Arbaeen, which marks 40 days since the anniversary of the death of the revered seventh century Shiite Imam Hussein.

The attack also triggered a fire at a nearby petrol station.

Diyala was an Al-Qaeda stronghold as recently as 2008. While violence has dropped off dramatically both in Diyala and nationwide since then, the province remains one of Iraq’s least secure.

The attacks came a day after a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-packed vest in the middle of a crowd of police recruits in the central city of Tikrit, killing 50 people and wounding up to 150.

It was the deadliest attack to hit Iraq in more than two months, and the first major strike since Maliki named a new cabinet on December 21, ending nine months of stalemate after March elections.

Tikrit’s police chief Colonel Ibrahim al-Juburi and the head of the city’s emergency response squad Brigadier General Mohammed Majeed were fired in the aftermath of the blast.

Maliki condemned the Tikrit attack, saying “terrorists” had once again targeted the innocent.

“Once again the terrorists returned to their usual tactics of killing the innocent and targeting the brave young people who wanted to serve their country and defend it,” he said in a statement Tuesday evening.

“We will follow the case closely until we find who is responsible, and the reasons that let this tragic catastrophe happen.” Violence across Iraq has declined substantially since its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common.

http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/19/thirteen-killed-in-central-iraq-suicide-car-bomb.html

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Saudi Arabia bans blogging without permit

By Manar Ammar

Jan 19, 2011

Saudi Arabia has banned blogging and online news websites without a government license. All bloggers must be Saudi nationals, over 20-years-old with a high school degree and are required to “include the call to the religion of Islam” and to strictly abide by Islamic Sharia law, the Saudi ministry of culture and information (MOCI) announced.

The new decree puts blogs under the rule of the Saudi Press and Publications Law.

MOCI will consider giving blogging and e-news licenses to “those who deserve it,” according to the new regulation.

The decision came into effect on January 1, 2011, and has been met with national and regional criticism.

“Obviously, MOCI wants to extend its control over everything. No surprise here; government bodies in general are well known for their obsession with control,” wrote blogger Ahmed Al Omran on his blog Saudi Jeans.

The decree also bans non Saudi nationals from writing about news, but are allowed to blog about non-news issues.

Chatroom users are also advised to register with the government prior to using the social services.

Among the goals that the new law serves is “protecting society from malpractices in electronic publishing,” the ministry said.

The new law gives the government the right to shut down any website or media outlet that violates any of the articles mentioned in the decree. Violators will also be fined.

News blogs, e-news websites, websites displaying audio and visual materials, electronic advertisements and broadcasting via mobile phones inside the Kingdom, will fall under the electronic newspapers. All license holders will now have to display their license information on their websites to prove legitimacy.

The new regulations require all news websites and blogs to provide detailed information on their web hosting company, which raises fears of forcing the hosting company to shut down the website all together.

Freedom of speech in Saudi Arabia is already facing major issues and bloggers and human rights activists are unhappy about the increase of government monitoring and control.

http://bikyamasr.com/wordpress/?p=24402

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Tunisia blaze triggers suicides in Arab Africa

Jan 19, 2011

PROTESTERS have set themselves afire in Egypt, Mauritania and Algeria in apparent copycat self- immolation attempts inspired by the act that helped trigger a popular uprising in Tunisia.

The incidents on Monday, while isolated, reflect the growing despair among the public of many Arab regimes resisting reform. They are deeply symbolic means of protest in a region that has little or no tolerance for dissent.

It was the self- immolation of a 26- year- old man in Tunisia last month that sparked the wave of protests that toppled President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali last week.

Ben Ali ruled with an iron fist for 23 years, time spent in the company of similarly authoritarian rulers across much of the Arab world such as Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh The stunning collapse of the Tunisian leader drew a litany of calls for change elsewhere in the Arab world, but activists faced the reality of vast security forces heavily vested in the status quo and hardline regimes that crack down on dissent.

The men who have set themselves alight in recent days appeared to be inspired by the self- immolation of Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi, whose fruits and vegetables market stand was confiscated by the police.

“ It is clear that Tunisia and its events had an impact on Egypt as well as Algeria,” said Egyptian columnist Salama Ahmed Salama. The attempted self- Mohamed Bouazizi in a hospital, after he set himself on fire — triggering protests that brought down the Prez.

immolation in Cairo on Monday, he added, will be a “ worrying element to the government”. The 48- year- old owner of a small restaurant who set himself on fire in central Cairo was angry about a government policy preventing restaurant owners from buying cheap subsidised bread to resell to their patrons, security officials at the scene said. He escaped with only light burns after policemen and motorists put out the blaze.

Also on Monday, a Mauritanian man reportedly unhappy with the government, torched himself in Nouakchott. The 43- year- old man was rushed to the hospital.

In Algeria, officials said one man suffering from a chronic illness set himself on fire on Monday in Ghardaia in a dispute over medical costs and was hospitalised.

Passers- by in Mascara, meanwhile, stopped a fishmonger who tried to set himself alight. That raised to seven the number of reported cases in Algerian towns since Saturday.

Analysts said it was difficult to predict whether the practice could spread among the overwhelming Muslim majority inhabiting the Arab world.

Mail Today

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Two torch themselves in Egypt, taking cases to 10

Jan 19, 2011

CAIRO: Two men set themselves ablaze in Egypt on Tuesday, security officials said, bringing to 10 the number of such cases in the Arab world, including a Tunisian whose action sparked a revolution.

An Egyptian security official said a 25-year-old unemployed man suffering mental problems set himself ablaze in the northern city of Alexandria on Tuesday, suffering third degree burns.

Another man set himself alight outside Egypt's government headquarters in Cairo, an official reported earlier on Tuesday. He was only slightly injured and taken to hospital.

The incidents follow a similar one in Cairo on Monday in which a man poured fuel on himself and set himself on fire on a busy street in front of the People's Assembly.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Two-torch-themselves-in-Egypt-

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Egyptian dies of burns after self-immolation

Jan 19, 2011

CAIRO: 25-year-old Ahmed Hisham el-Sayed died at 3pm on Tuesday from burns he sustained after setting himself on fire in Alexandria on Tuesday morning, said a spokesman from Egypt’s Ministry of Health.

Sayed was the third Egyptian in two days to set himself on fire. According to his family, the unemployed man set himself on fire on his building’s rooftop. His family said he is suffering from psychological problems.

Sayed was taken to a hospital in Ras el-Teen where he died from his injuries.

Earlier Tuesday morning, 63-year-old lawyer Mohamed Farouk set himself ablaze outside the Egyptian parliament. Farouk was moved to the burn unit at Mounira General Hospital, according to a tweet by opposition figure Ayman Nour, who was barred from entering the hospital by security.

No statements have been made regarding Farouk’s condition.

Tuesday’s acts of self-immolation follow another instance on Monday, in which 49-year-old Abdou Abdel Moneim Gaafa set himself ablaze outside Egypt’s Parliament because he could not afford to buy bread. He was also taken to Mounira hospital, and no reports have been made regarding his condition.

http://bikyamasr.com/wordpress/?p=24395

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Pak pursuing terror as instrument of state policy: Nirupama Rao

Jan 19, 2011

NEW DELHI: India has hit out at Pakistan for pursuing terrorism as an "instrument of state policy", saying such a strategy was "flawed and self-defeating".

Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao, who is likely to meet her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir in Thimphu on the margins of a SAARC committee meeting, said "Some countries presume that they can pursue terrorism as an instrument of state policy without risks to themselves or to their standing in the international community.

"This is a flawed and self-defeating presumption as the war on terrorism cannot be selective. We have always maintained that a stable and prosperous Pakistan is in India's interest. Pakistan must turn away from using terror-induced coercion as an instrument of policy against India."

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Pak-pursuing-terror-as-instrument-of-state-

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New Deoband chief lauds Modi's Gujarat

Yagnesh Mehta

Jan 19, 2011

SURAT: The new Darul Uloom vice-chancellor, Maulana Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi, said "all communities" are prospering in Narendra Modi's Gujarat and there was "no discrimination against the minorities in the state as far as development was concerned." He was talking to TOI here on Tuesday.

This is arguably the most significant endorsement of Modi. Darul Uloom, based in Deoband in Uttar Pradesh, is a leading Islamic seminary in India and the fount of the Deobandi thought, which has adherants well beyond the country's borders, especially in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Vastanvi, himself a Gujarati from Surat, is an MBA graduate and has been instrumental in introducing modern subjects in institutions run by Darul Uloom in Gujarat and Maharashtra, including medicine, engineering and allied subjects. His recent election as the Darul Uloom chief is seen as a possible change catalyst in this conservative seminary.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/New-Deoband-chief-lauds-Modis-

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American security guards for Zardari's security

Jan 19, 2011

ISLAMABAD: In the wake of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer's assassination by his police guard, the Pakistan government is considering a proposal to bring in special security guards from the US for President Asif Ali Zardari, according to a media report today.

While Zardari's security has always been cause of "serious concern" for authorities, the government is also mulling a proposal to hire foreign security guards for several VVIPs, including the Prime Minister, provincial Governors and Chief Ministers and a few federal ministers, The Express Tribune newspaper quoted highly-placed sources as saying.

The proposal for the president's security envisages deploying US guards in Zardari's "inner-most security cordon", the report said.

The proposals are part of the government's decision to review security arrangements of key personalities following the January 4 assassination of Taseer, which validated "fears that religious extremism had penetrated the ranks of security forces in Pakistan", the report said.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/American-security-guards-for-Zardaris-

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Al-Qaeda suffered major setbacks, says ex-militant

Jan 19, 2011

JEDDAH: Al-Qaeda is at a loss because of a series of blows the group has received at the hands of Saudi security forces, said an ex-militant on Tuesday.

Speaking on Tuesday on the Homomna (Our Concerns) program on Saudi TV's Channel 1, former militant Hani Al-Mulla said Al-Qaeda has suffered major setbacks and that the militants are now resorting to desperate measures.

“The terrorists now wear women’s clothes to avoid security checks and also resort to illegal means to obtain money,” he said.

Al-Mulla said the organization is also "intellectually distorted" and that it has deviated from Jihad to liberate countries or spread the word of God to undermining renowned scholars and considering anyone who is not with them as kafirs (or disbelievers).

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article237677.ece

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Why can’t a girl contest university elections

New Age Islam News Bureau

Jan 19, 2011

If Hadhrat Aisha (R.A.) can head a Muslim army, why can’t I be the president of the students’ union of the Aligarh Muslim University. This is Asma Jawed’s reply to those who disapprove of her contesting elections for the students’ union of the Aligarh Muslim University as she is a girl. Though the students of the AMU and the Old Boys are surprised that a girl has got the courage to contest elections for the post of the president of the students’ union in the University, this confident girl is not surprised that at the fact that she is breaking a convention in a very conventional institution. Asma is the first girl in the history of the university who is contesting an election for the post of the president of the students’ union.

Asma has challenged the conventions of the Aligarh Muslim University. No girl before her could muster courage to contest university elections. The reason was that previously the girls’ college of the AMU was separate. So, it’s union was also separate. But according to the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations, the girls’ college was merged with the university. Therefore, the boys and the girls both got the opportunity to fight elections.

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Open all the locked mosques in Delhi

New Age Islam News Bureau

Jan 19, 2011

New Delhi: Various political and social personalities have condemned the highhandedness of the government officials on the Jangpura and Qanati mosques and have demanded that the government that all the locked mosques in the capital that are in possession of the Archaelogical Survey of India should be opened. The national secretary of the Lok Jan Shakti Party, Md Sabir Khan said that it was unfortunate that the government only finds mosques to take possession of. He further said that whether it be Qanati Masjid or Masjid Noor, if the government officials have bad intentions about them then it was not a good omen because the mosques were the abodes of God. He demanded that the Archaeological Survey of India should open the mosques locked by it so that the Muslims could offer prayers there. The Block Congress President Jawed Barqis said that they respected the court judgment but the court should also consider if the evidences on which it is giving its judgment are genuine or false. The Mustafabad Block Congress President Mahmood Hasan said that we should maintain peace and harmony and should not do anything that harms peace.

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Reforms in the Hajj Committee need of the hour

New Age Islam News Bureau

Jan 19, 2011

New Delhi: The system of the Hajj Committee of India should be computerised an transparent. Corruption is on the rise due to the lack of transparency in the Hajj Committee. Therefore there is a need to reform the Hajj Committee, said the member of the All India Congress Committee, Dr Meraj Ahmad. He said that the representative delegation of India that accompanied the Indian pilgrims have observed the inconveniences faced by them during the pilgrimage. He said, for example many people whose name did not come out in the lottery went to Hajj by paying money and those whose name were on the draw of lots could not perform Hajj as they could not pay extra money. Therefore in these circumstances, there was a need to reform the system, he said. He said that after his return from the pilgrimage, he wrote a detailed letter to the PM on the issue.

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J&K police constable arrested for links with Hizbul Mujahideen

New Age Islam News Bureau

Jan 19, 2011

Jammu: A jawan of the J&K police was suspended and arrested on the charges of having links with the divisional commander of Hizbul Mujahideen Jawed Qureshi who is active in the hilly district of Doda. A police spokesman said that Devendra Kumar alias DK s/o Swami Raj was arrested from Bhalla last evening. According to police sources, the jawan known as DK was absconding. He had been supplying arms and ammunition and other material to Qureshi. He was wanted in 9 criminal cases. Qureshi was arrested from Dehra Doon last month.

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Britain all set to ban jihadi outfit under terror law

Jan 19, 2011

LONDON: Britain has moved to ban the Pakistani Taliban as a terrorist group, making it illegal to belong to or raise funds for the organisation in Britain, the government said on Tuesday. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan is the group most influenced by al-Qaida and is the main militant alliance based in northwestern Pakistan, focusing on attacking the Pakistani state, which it considers illegitimate.

Home secretary Theresa May introduced the order, which needs legislative approval, in parliament on Monday and it will be debated later this week. The order would ban Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan under the British Terrorism Act. "Proscription is a tough but necessary power to tackle terrorism and is not a course of action we take lightly," said a statement from May.

"Proscription means that membership of Tehrik-e-Taliban will become a criminal offence, and the organisation will not be able to lawfully operate in the UK, including by raising funds." Last year, the group threatened attacks on the US and Europe.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Britain-all-set-to-ban-jihadi-outfit-under-

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500 detained in Karachi to check political violence

Jan 19, 2011

KARACHI: Pakistani paramilitary troops today detained over 500 people for questioning in the wake of a surge in ethnic and political violence in the city that claimed nearly 30 lives as it carried out house-to-house search in densely populated areas of the city.

Karachi which is home to millions of immigrants from other parts of Pakistan and refugees and illegal aliens from Afghanistan and Bangladesh witnessed a fresh bout of target killings last week in which some 31 persons were killed.

As violence continued in the city, four people were reported killed and three others were injured in firing incidents in different parts of the city in the past 24 hours.

Officials said that the rangers had entered the Faqir colony in Orangi town early morning and conducted a door to door search operation which continued for five hours.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/500-detained-in-Karachi-to-check-

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Nizam-e-Adl Regulation: Top sharia court set up in Swat

Jan 19, 2011

SWAT: Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti on Tuesday inaugurated Darul Qaza (an appellate or revision court) in Swat as a step towards full implementation of the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation (Order of Justice System).

The Nizam-e-Adl Regulation, a controversial act approved by President Asif Ali Zardari after parliamentary approval on April 13, 2009, formally introduced sharia law in Malakand division.

It was the result of negotiations between the ANP-led government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Maulana Sufi Muhammad, the chief of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM). And critics saw it as a move towards ceding ground to the hardline Taliban.

Speaking at the inauguration, Hoti called it a day of rejoicing for the people of Malakand division who have long been calling for sharia law in the region for speedy dispensation of justice.

Full report at:

http://tribune.com.pk/story/105998/nizam-e-adl-regulation-top-sharia-court-set-up-in-

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Malegaon Muslim accused finally hope for freedom

By Krishna Kumar

Jan 19, 2011

FOR the nine Muslims accused in the 2006 Malegaon blasts case, Asimanand’s confession has come as a blessing.

In jail since that year, they can finally dream of freedom. Their lawyers have already moved a bail application in Mumbai’s MCOCA court, which will be heard on January 28. “We are hopeful they will get bail because we don’t think the CBI will oppose the plea in the wake of Asimanand's confession,” lawyer Jaleel Ahmed said.

For Ahmed, it will also be a personal victory because his brother Abrar is one of the accused. “I cannot describe what the accused have suffered in these last few years. The pain and suffering, arrest and torture for a crime that was not committed by them has hurt us a lot,” Ahmed added.

He wants the Maharashtra ATS officials who hounded his brother and the others arrested.

“We will file a PIL in the Bombay High Court once the accused are let off. Besides seeking compensation, we will ask for departmental and criminal proceedings against officers such as former ATS chief K.P. Raghuvanshi and some others. They framed the nine men when all evidence pointed to the contrary,” Ahmed said.

Full report at: Mail Today

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No role of SIMI men in Samjhauta?

By Vikas Kahol

Jan 19, 2011

PROBE agencies had initially suspected that the general secretary of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), Safdar Nagori, had a hand in the 2007 Samjhauta Express blasts.

The Madhya Pradesh Police had arrested top SIMI commanders, including Nagori and Aamil Parvez, in March 2008. The police stated that Nagori — who underwent interrogation and narco-analysis — had revealed how the Samjhauta blasts and Mumbai train bombings were carried out.

Suitcase bombs had been planted on Samjhauta. It was claimed that Nagori had told a team of doctors at the Bangalore forensic lab that some persons from Pakistan had purchased suitcase covers at Kataria market in Indore. A SIMI affiliate had allegedly helped get the covers stitched.

Full report at: Mail Today

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Police’s twist to blast botch-up

By A. Srinivasa Rao

Jan 19, 2011

Muslims held in blast cases want apology & damages in the light of Asimanand confession

RED-FACED over the arrest of dozens of innocent Muslims youths for the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast after Swami Asimanand’s ‘confession’, the Andhra Pradesh Police have come out with a strange theory to cover up their faulty investigation into the case.

The director general of police, K. Aravind Rao, who was heading the state intelligence department at the time of Mecca Masjid blast, now argues that the police had picked up the Muslim youth for interrogation and they were subsequently chargesheeted in connection with various other cases and not for the mosque blast.

“I can say with full authority that they were arrested and prosecuted not for Mecca Masjid blast, but on other charges such as possessing jihadi literature and having links with terrorist organisations across the country. It was wrongly communicated to the media that they were implicated in the mosque blast case, though the police might have also questioned them about their possible role in it. It was a false propaganda launched by some self-styled organisations like the Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee,” Rao said.

Full report at: Mail Today

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SWAMI Asimanand wants to donate his vital organs

Jan 19, 2011

SWAMI Asimanand wants to donate his vital organs, if he is allowed to do so, and distribute the money among the families of Muslims who were killed in the blast and also to those who were falsely implicated in the case.

“He was feeling so guilty of being involved in the blast that he wanted to donate his body parts to support Muslim families. He told me that he would dedicate his life to promoting harmony in the society,” Shaik Abdul Kaleem, whose story reportedly moved Asimanand to confess, said.

Kaleem said he had spent nearly 10-12 hours with “uncle”, as he calls Asimananda, in the Chanchalguda jail in November. “Initially, I did not know who he was. We were in different barracks, but in the same block.

Full report at: Mail Today

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Modi steps in for Asimanand and holds a mega tribal fair

Jan 19, 2011

SWAMI Asimanand’s arrest has left the Shabri Mahakumbh, scheduled for February 2012, hanging in the balance.

The Gujarat government, under chief minister Narendra Modi’s guidance, is going for the next- best thing: organise a mega tribal event itself this February.

About 25 lakh tribals from various states are expected to participate in the event.

The event, which is to be attended by the RSS as well as the VHP, will be held in Dang near Asimanand’s Ashram.

Asimanand had organised the previous Shabri Mahakumbh, in 2006, in Dang.

The RSS, the VHP and other Hindu organisations helped him to organise the event aimed at stopping the religious conversion of tribals.

Asimanand had maintained good relation with Modi and it was on his inspiration and support the swami organised the Kumbh.

Full report at: Mail Today

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US seeks end to discriminatory applications for blasphemy

Jan 19, 2011

WASHINGTON: The United States is not asking Pakistan to change or repeal the blasphemy law but is encouraging the government to prevent possible discriminations and potentials for abuse, says Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy and Human Rights Michael H. Posner.

“We are reluctant to prescribe changes and alternatives,” said Mr Posner when asked what changes he believed Pakistan needed to make to prevent discriminatory applications of this law. “But we do believe that people should be free to practice their religion.”

In an interview to Dawn, the US official said the blasphemy law would be one of the subjects he would discuss with Pakistani officials, opposition leaders and civil society activists during his visit to Pakistan this week.

“We are very mindful of playing a constructive role in eliminating applications that are discriminatory,” said Mr Posner when asked if he would urge Pakistani leaders to repeal the blasphemy law.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/19/us-seeks-end-to-discriminatory-applications-for-

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Pak-American TV executive stabbed wife 40 times: US court told

Jan 19, 2011

NEW YORK: A Pakistani-American TV executive stabbed his wife 40 times and then sawed off her head because she "dared to file for divorce", prosecutors told a New York jury in opening arguments.

Muzzammil Hassan (46), founder of a television network in US to counter negative perceptions about Muslims post 9/11 attacks, has been charged with second-degree murder for killing his estranged wife Aasiya Hassan on February 12, 2009.

Hassan used two hunting knives to kill Aasiya, whose body was found in a hallway of the TV office with severed head several feet away, Erie County District Attorney Paul Bonanno told jurors as reported by the Post Chronicle.

Aasiya was stabbed 40 times and her head was sawed off, Bonanno said, asserting that the 37-year-old woman was killed because she "had dared to file for divorce, dared to seek a better life for herself and her children."

The Pakistan-born victim was killed a week after she filed for divorce after being married for nine years.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Pak-American-TV-executive-stabbed-wife-40-

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Ulema should interpret true meaning of Islam: Gilani

Jan 19, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Tuesday urged ulema and clerics to interpret Islam in the true sense and to propagate its teachings of tolerance and mutual respect for each other’s religions.

Addressing religious scholars at the “Ulema and Mashaikh Conference 2011” at the National Library, Gilani reiterated that the government had no plans to amend the blasphemy law, but stressed that no law should be misused.

“We are not amending the blasphemy law,” the PM said in response to points raised by clerics during the conference.

Gilani said a committee was set up by the Pakistan People’s Party at a party level to see whether any legislation that was moved by its members had its endorsement, adding that the government was not going to do anything against the spirit and teachings of Islam.

On the sanctity of the constitution and rule of law, the PM said the law of the land must be abided to.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\01\19\story_19-1-2011_pg7_1

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Palestinians hoist flag in Washington for first time

Jan 19, 2011

WASHINGTON: In a symbolic gesture, the Palestinians on Tuesday raised their flag for the first time over the PLO diplomatic mission in Washington, as they continue a push for international recognition that is complicating the Obama administration’s efforts to restart stalled Middle East peace talks.

At a brief ceremony, the Palestinian’s chief envoy to the United States, Maen Areikat, hoisted the red, green, white and black banner outside the PLO General Delegation office.

He expressed hope it would help in the Palestinian quest to win support for independence with or without a peace deal with Israel.

Full report at:

http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article237653.ece

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Zardari seeks UN role in promoting religious harmony

Jan 19, 2011

ABU DHABI: President Asif Ali Zardari made an impassioned plea on Tuesday to the United Nations to work out special plans for promoting cultural and religious harmony.

In a meeting with UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, on the sidelines of the fourth Energy Summit in UAE, Zardari warned that religious harmony was fast eroding across the globe, saying these tendencies also “crossed national boundaries and religious divides”.

Calling upon the UN to give special attention for promoting religious and cultural harmony in the world, Zardari said, “Extremism is being manifested in various forms including violence, intolerance.” “Not only there is disharmony between different cultures, but it is on the increase.”

Zardari said it was disturbing that in the wake of the war on terrorism “people were generally receding from the universal values of tolerance and harmony advocated by the UN.” “We are concerned over this trend which seems to corroborate the ominous theory of a clash of civilisations,” he added.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\01\19\story_19-1-2011_pg7_2

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BJP should reconsider its Ekta Yatra programme: Interlocutors

Jan 19, 2011

JAMMU: In the backdrop of the Bhartiya Janata Party's 'Ekta Rally' followed by a flag hosting at Lal Chowk on Republic Day, a team of interlocutors on Wednesday said that we are living in a democratic setup and every citizen of India had the right to hoist a national flag anywhere across the country but one should keep in mind the peace and tranquility of the nation.

Dilip Padgaonkar, chief interlocutor, flanked by Ms Radha Kumar and M M Ansari told reporters at a press conference here that the exercise of flag hoisting must take place keeping in view the ongoing dialogue process, which should not be disturbed.

"This is what we have conveyed to BJP", Padgaonkar said, adding, "We don't dispute anyones right, but at the same time we hope that the exercise will facilitate the return of normalcy".

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/BJP-should-reconsider-its-Ekta-Yatra-programme-

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Bell's criticism of mosque opponents shows ignorance

Jan 19, 2011

Freedom is not free for Eric Allen Bell, the Muslims or Rutherford County citizens.

Bell's constant criticism and harassment of citizens that express our disapproval of the 52,900-square-foot mosque hasn't helped either.

He should educate himself to the fact that Rutherford County citizens, as well as other Tennesseans, have always fought hard for their freedom and will never live under the Sharia law.

Eric Bell seems to be a friend and supporter of the Muslims in our community rather than doing a documentary. He could probably be of help in defusing local controversy by asking the imams of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro to honestly answer the following four questions with a simple yes or no: 1. Should Christians in Muslim Countries have the same rights as Muslims expect in the U.S? 2. Will Muslims publicly renounce any desire to live under Sharia law? 3. Will the imams publicly renounce terrorism by any Muslim or Muslim group? 4. Does Israel have a right to exist and live in peace?

Full report at:

http://www.dnj.com/article/20110118/OPINION03/101180309

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The Pope Is The Enemy Of Muslim Law And Order

Jan 19, 2011

Once again, that intolerant and officious guy in Rome has severely offended those billions of moderate Muslims who very reasonably think that killing people who give "offense" to Islam is their right and obligation. When will this monster learn to keep his nose out of the affairs of the religion of peace?

Most recently, the liberal Pakistani governor of a Pakistani province was murdered for agreeing with Pope Benedict that the blasphemy laws that order the death of those "insulting" Islam should be rescinded. Muslim groups throughout the Middle East and Asia have demonstrated violently against the Pope's words which came largely as the result of the sentencing to death of a Christian woman for blasphemy. Gov. Salman Taseeri was gunned down by one of his own guards for saying the Pope was right.

Full report at:

http://commentarama.blogspot.com/2011/01/pope-is-enemy-of-muslim-law-and-

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Yemen: Reporter sentenced to 5 years in prison

Jan 19, 2011

Reporters Without Borders roundly condemns the sentence of five years in prison followed by two years of house arrest that a Sanaa court specializing in terrorism cases passed today on Ilah Haydar Shae, a reporter employed by the Saba news agency, for allegedly collaborating with Al-Qaeda.

“The Yemeni authorities have used the pretext of combating terrorism to convict a journalist who is an expert on issues related to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and whose reporting tended to question the government’s security policies,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“We condemn the mistreatment to which he has been subjected since arrest, which can be regarded as a case of forced disappearance, and we demand his immediate release,” the press freedom organisation added.

Full report at:

http://bikyamasr.com/wordpress/?p=24409

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Man arrested for murdering wife, daughter for honour

Jan 19, 2011

LAHORE: Ghaziabad police arrested a person who was accused of murdering his wife and daughter in the name of honour on Tuesday.

According to the police, after killing his wife, a mother of seven, the accused had hid her body in a cattle shed. Police recovered the body, and arrested him. The murder weapons, a hammer and a meat cleaver were also recovered. The accused confessed that he had killed his wife on suspicion of having illicit relations with some other man. He also confessed that he had killed his daughter three months back.

Ghaziabad police SHO, Atif Zulfiqar said that after receiving information of a murder of a woman, he deputed three policemen to probe the matter and to arrest the accused. During the initial investigation, he said, the accused confessed that he had killed his daughter Surayya, 17, three months back because of the same suspicion. Zulfiqar said Surayya’s body was also recovered from the cattle shed. On the complaint of Khushi Muhammad, the father-in-law of the accused, the police registered an FIR of a double murder against the accused.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\01\19\story_19-1-2011_pg7_23

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2,802 incidents of violence against women reported in Punjab

Jan 19, 2011

LAHORE: Some 2,802 incidents of violence against women were reported in Punjab alone during July-December 2010, reveals a bi-annual report released by the Aurat Foundation, a women’s rights organisation.

The foundation’s Lahore Resident Director, Nasreen Zahra, Regional Coordinator Nabeela Shaheen and programme officer Abid Ali at a press conference held Tuesday said that the ratio of incidents involving abduction of women, killing for honour, murder, sexual assault and domestic violence had witnessed an upward pattern in the province, especially in urban areas.

According to the report, 2,802 incidents of violence were reported in the province during the last six months of the year 2010. In these incidents, a total of 3,227 individuals were victimised, of which 3,037 were women and 190 men. Amongst them, the report states, about 1,704 victims were unmarried, 1,156 married, 38 divorced, 60 widows while 269 victims’ marital status could not be ascertained.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\01\19\story_19-1-2011_pg7_24

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Four people killed in explosions in Quetta

Jan 19, 2011

QUETTA: Four people were killed in two separate incidents of explosions near Chamalang coalfield area of Loralai district and Mand, an area bordering Iran on Tuesday, official sources said.

According to officials, a truck loaded with sand was on its way near Kacha Road Chamalang when it hit a landmine planted on the roadside. As a result, a labourer Sheen Gul, died while the driver, Ziauddin, and the helper received multiple splinter wounds.

Police and rescue workers rushed to the spot soon after the blast and took the body and the injured to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Loralai, where one of the injured, Jalaludin, succumbed to his injuries.

Ziauddin was stated to be in a critical condition. The truck was completely destroyed in the attack. Chamalang police are investigating the blast.

The Baloch Liberation Army spokesman, Sarbaz Baloch, made a telephone call at the Quetta Press Club from an undisclosed area and claimed the responsibility for the attack.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\01\19\story_19-1-2011_pg7_25

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4 girls assaulted with acid in Egypt’s delta region