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December 14, 2007

Representatives Stark and Woolsey vote for Ramadan but against Christmas

Only weeks after voting for a resolution that “recognizes the Islamic faith as one of the great religions of the world,” seventeen Democrats in the U.S. House refused to vote for a Christmas resolution that condemns the worldwide persecution of Christians.

In an act of intolerance toward Christianity (and Christmas), Reps. Fortney Stark and Lynn Woolsey have decided that religious discrimination should be the rule of law. By their vote, Christmas is not worthy of recognition by the United States government and should be shunned at all costs.

Congress passed House Resolution 847 this week by a vote of 372 to 9 (Ten others voted “present” and 40 refused to vote at all.) to recognize the importance of Christmas and Christianity in America. The Christmas resolution acknowledged “the Christian faith as one of the great religions of the world,” expressed “continued support for Christians,” noted the historical importance of Christmas, the role “played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States,” and rejected “bigotry and persecution directed against Christians, both in the United States and worldwide.”

Amazingly, Reps. Stark and Woolsey voted FOR a resolution in support of the Muslim Ramadan holiday just weeks ago! But when it comes to Christianity and Christmas, they have clearly demonstrated disdain and division for American culture and traditions. They voted for H.R. 635 which acknowledged “the Islamic faith as one of the great religions of the world,” expressed “friendship and support for Muslims,” noted “the onset of Ramadan,” and rejected “hatred, bigotry, and violence directed against Muslims.” It also “commends Muslims… who have privately and publicly rejected interpretations and movements of Islam that justify and encourage hatred.” It recognized the “commencement of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal, and commended Muslims in the United States and throughout the world for their faith.”

Take Action!

Representatives Fortney Stark (D-California) and Lynn Woolsey (D-California) voted “no” on H.R. 847 (Christmas) and “yes” on H.R. 635 (Ramadan). Please e-mail and call to express your concerns over how they can possibly promote Islam in the same breath that they attack Christianity, the very faith that supported our nation at its founding. In addition to sending the email, I suggest that you call Reps. Stark (510) 494-1388 and Woolsey (707) 542-7182 and politely but firmly point out the embarrassment that the hypocrisy of their vote has brought upon your state.

Please forward this to your family and friends.

Sincerely,

Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman American Family Association

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December 11, 2007

Father says killed daughter in Canadian hijab case

TORONTO (Reuters) – A Canadian teenager who was said to have clashed with her father about whether she should wear a traditional Muslim head scarf died of injuries late on Monday, and her father told police he had killed her. ADVERTISEMENT

Aqsa Parvez, 16, was found without a pulse in her home in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga earlier on Monday. She was resuscitated by paramedics, treated at two hospitals, and later succumbed to her injuries, police said on Tuesday.

Her father, 57-year-old Muhammad Parvez, has been charged with murder and was remanded back into custody after his first court appearance early on Tuesday.

“There was a 911 call placed by a man who indicated that he had just killed his daughter,” Jodi Dawson, a constable with Peel Regional Police, told Reuters. “Everything else is evidentiary in nature and the investigation is in its preliminary stages at this point.”

The victim’s brother, Waqas Parvez, 26, was arrested and charged with obstructing police.

The story was on the front pages of Canadian newspapers on Tuesday. The newspapers quoted friends and schoolmates of the victim as saying she argued with her father over wearing a hijab, the traditional head scarf worn by Muslim females.

Photos of the teen retrieved from a social networking Web site show her in Western dress with her long dark hair loose.

“She was always scared of her dad, she was always scared of her brother,” the Toronto Star quoted a classmate as saying.

Others were quoted as saying the girl wore traditional Muslim dress when leaving the house in the morning, but would change into other clothes in school washrooms.

Dawson said investigators will likely speak to the victim’s schoolmates. The father will return for a bail hearing on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Peter Galloway)

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November 30, 2007

Ehsan Jami works on film on Islam

AMSTERDAM – Ehsan Jami, founder of the Committee for Former Muslims, has followed Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s example and made a short film about radical Islam, the Telegraaf reports.

The film entitled The life of Mohammed should be ready in February or March of next year and will cause more of a commotion than the Danish cartoons of Mohammed, the former Labour PvdA member says.

“I show how violent and tyrannical Mohammed was. This man murdered three Jewish tribes, killed people who left the faith, and married a 6-year-old girl, with whom he had sex when she was 9,” Jami says in comment on the contents of the 10-minute film.

The politician, who is still under heavy protection, says the film only shows the facts and does not aim to polarise the situation. “I will give EUR 50,000 to anyone who can refute these facts.”

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November 30, 2007

‘Mohammed’ teddy bear teacher held

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — A British teacher has been arrested in Sudan for allegedly insulting Islam by naming a teddy bear Mohammed, taken as a reference to Islam’s prophet and founder, the Sudan Media Center says.

An undated amateur photo of Gillian Gibbons.

The teacher, who wrote the name on the bear, was being interrogated Monday, the semiofficial center said. She was arrested Sunday after the Ministry of Education filed a complaint, acting on behalf of a parent of one of her students.

The British Foreign Office identified her as Gillian Gibbons, 54, and said her 7-year-old students named the bear when she asked them to. It was not clear whether Gibbons intended to name the bear after the prophet. Mohammed is a common name in the Muslim world.

The Sudan Media Center said legal procedures were under way against Gibbons, who taught at the Unity High School in Khartoum, which teaches students aged 4 to 18.

The school could not be reached for comment, and the British Embassy in Khartoum did not return calls.

A Sudanese government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said Gibbons was still being detained Monday pending the completion of the investigation.

Abdul Mageed Khogalli, a member of the government’s Commission for Non-Muslims, said he was aware of the case but could not comment.

Gibbons’ former colleagues in Liverpool, England, said they were dismayed by the news of her arrest.

Gillian Jones, head teacher at Dovecot Primary School, where Gibbons was a deputy head teacher from 2002 to July, when she left for Sudan, said she was “absolutely certain” that Gibbons would not have done anything to insult any religion.

“Gillian is a very talented and able teacher and she was extremely popular with the pupils at this school,” Jones said

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November 16, 2007

Rape Victim Gets Jail Time, 200 Lashes

Associated Press
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — A Saudi court sentenced a woman who had been gang raped to six months in jail and 200 lashes – more than doubling her initial penalty for being in the car of a man who was not a relative, a newspaper reported Thursday.

The decision by the Qatif General Court came in a case that had sparked rare debate about the kingdom’s justice system when it surfaced more than a year ago.

In its decision Wednesday, the court also roughly doubled prison sentences for the seven men convicted of raping the 19-year-old woman, the Arab News reported on its English-language Web site.

According to Arab News, the court said the woman’s punishment was increased because of “her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media.”

She had initially been sentenced to 90 lashes after being convicting of violating Saudi’s rigid laws on segregation of the sexes.

Under Saudi Arabia’s interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, women are not allowed in public in the company of men other than their male relatives.

The initial sentences for the men convicted of the gang rape ranged from 10 months to five years in prison. Their new sentences range from two to nine years, the paper said.

The attack took place in 2006. The woman has said that it occurred as she tried to retrieve her picture from a male high school student she used to know. While in the car with the student, two men got into the vehicle and drove them to a secluded area. She said she was raped there by seven men, three of whom also attacked her friend.

Reports of the story triggered debate about Saudi Arabia’s legal system, in which judges have wide discretion in punishing a criminal, rules of evidence are shaky and sometimes no defense lawyers are present. The result, critics say, are sentences left to the whim of judges.

The judges, appointed by the king, have a wide discretion in handing down sentences, often said to depend on their whim. A rapist, for instance, could receive anywhere from a light or no sentence, to death.

The woman was identified in the media only as the Girl from Qatif. The case was referred back to the General Court by an appeals court last summer, after the woman’s attorney argued the verdict was too lenient for the rapists and unjust for the victim.

The court also banned the lawyer from defending her, confiscated his license to practice law and summoned him to a disciplinary hearing later this month.

“I explained to them that it was my job to do everything legal in order to serve my client. But they did not listen,” the lawyer, Abdul Rahman al-Lahem, was quoted by the paper as saying.

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November 10, 2007

Iran must free woman activist

Seven human rights groups including Amnesty International have urged Iran to set aside a prison sentence for women’s rights activist Delaram Ali. She has been ordered to begin her sentence of two-and-a-half years in prison and a flogging on Saturday.

Ms Ali, 24, joined a protest last year calling for greater legal rights for Iranian women.

Dozens of journalists and activists have been detained or jailed recently, accused of acting against the state.

Police broke up the demonstration Ms Ali was part of last year which called for greater rights for women in Iran’s Islamic legal system.

Ms Ali says the security forces broke her left hand when they beat up the demonstrators.

Chilling warning

Delaram Ali has been free while awaiting the result of an appeal.

But she has now been told to give herself up by Saturday so the sentence can be implemented.

She says she has not been allowed to file a complaint against the police.

Instead an internal inquiry recently exonerated the police even though foreign journalists witnessed them beating the women who were singing feminist songs while sitting peacefully on the grass in a public square.

What is notable about Delaram Ali is that she is not a well-known leader of Iran’s feminist movement who has repeatedly challenged the government.

The BBC’s Frances Harrison says her punishment will be a chilling warning to anyone thinking of dabbling with politics.

It comes as the Iranian Writers Association has talked of the increasing suppression of the press – with writers, journalists, academics, labour and social activists being arrested and newspapers closed down one after another.

One of Iran’s most outspoken human rights activists, Emadeddin Baghi, was arrested last month and there has been no news of him since.

He was a man who tirelessly campaigned for the rights of political prisoners – only to become one himself, our correspondent says.

Courts have also recently upheld jail sentences for the leaders of Iran’s bus drivers’ union and teachers’ organisations after protests over low pay.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/7088310.stm

Published: 2007/11/10 07:47:35 GMT

© BBC MMVII

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October 18, 2007

Feds Recommend Closing Saudi School in Va.

By MATTHEW BARAKAT
The Associated Press
Thursday, October 18, 2007; 12:25 AM

McLEAN, Va. — A private Islamic school supported by the Saudi government should be shut down until the U.S. government can ensure the school is not fostering radical Islam, a federal panel recommends.

In a report released Thursday, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom broadly criticized what it calls a lack of religious freedom in Saudi society and promotion of religious extremism at Saudi schools.

Particular criticism is leveled at the Islamic Saudi Academy, a private school serving nearly 1,000 students in grades K-12 at two campuses in northern Virginia’s Fairfax County.

The commission’s report says the academy hews closely to the curriculum used at Saudi schools, which they criticize for promoting hatred of and intolerance against Jews, Christians and Shiite Muslims.

“Significant concerns remain about whether what is being taught at the ISA promotes religious intolerance and may adversely affect the interests of the United States,” the report states.

The commission, a creation of Congress, has no power to implement policy on its own. Instead, it makes recommendations to other agencies.

The commission does not offer specific criticism of the academy’s teachings beyond its concerns that it too closely mimics a typical Saudi education.

The report recommends that the State Department prevail on the Saudi government to shut the school down until the school’s textbooks can be reviewed and procedures are put in place to ensure the school’s independence form the Saudi Embassy.

Messages left Wednesday with the State Department and the Saudi Embassy were not immediately returned.

Several advocacy groups in recent years have cited examples of inflammatory statements in religious textbooks in Saudi Arabia, including claims that a ninth-grade textbook reads that the hour of judgment will not come “until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them.”

Saudi officials said they have worked in recent years to reform the textbooks and the curriculum, but critics say progress has been insufficient.

The school’s director-general, Abdalla I. Al-Shabnan, said Wednesday that he had not seen the report. But he said the academy has adjusted its curriculum in recent years and removed some of the inflammatory language that had been included in the Saudi text. The school’s curriculum may now serve as a model for the Saudi government to use in continuing its reform of Saudi schools, he said.

“There is nothing in our curriculum against any religion,” Al-Shabnan said.

He also said he is willing to show the school’s curriculum and textbooks to anybody who wants to see them, and he expressed disappointment that the commission did not request materials directly from the school.

“We have an open policy,” he said.

He also pointed out that many of the school’s teachers are Christian and Jewish.

The commission based its findings in part on a the work of a delegation that traveled to Saudi Arabia this year. The commission asked embassy officials to review the textbooks used in Saudi schools generally and at the Islamic Saudi Academy specifically but did not receive a response.

Commission spokeswoman Judith Ingram said the commission did not request to speak to academy officials because that went beyond the commission’s mandate.

The report also criticizes the school’s administrative structure, saying it is little more than an offshoot of the Saudi Embassy, with the Saudi ambassador to the United States serving as chairman of the school’s board of directors. The structure “raises serious concerns about whether it is in violation of a U.S. law restricting the activities of foreign embassies.”

After the Sept. 11 attacks, critics questioned the nature of the religious education at the Saudi academy. The school again found itself in the spotlight in 2005, when a former class valedictorian, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, was charged with joining al-Qaida while attending college in Saudi Arabia and plotting to assassinate President Bush.

Abu Ali was convicted in federal court and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He is appealing his conviction.

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October 12, 2007

One Year after Regensburg, 138 Muslims Write a New Letter to the Pope

They are proposing as common ground between Muslims and Christians the two “greatest commandments” of love for God and neighbor. These are in both the Qur’an and the Gospels. How will the Church of Rome react?

by Sandro Magister

ROMA, October 12, 2007 – One year ago, a month after Benedict XVI’s memorable lecture in Regensburg, 38 prominent Muslims wrote an open letter to the pope in which they expressed agreement with some of his positions, and disagreement with others.

The 38 came from different countries and belonged to different schools of thought. It was the first time in the Islamic world that such a diverse group of people was speaking with a single voice, and expounding the principles of Islam to the head of the most important Christian Church, with the intention of arriving at “mutual understanding.”

Over the following months, other signatures joined the original ones, and the 38 became 100. Now, one year later, the 100 have become 138, and they have made public a second letter.

In comparison with the first letter, the second has expanded the scope of its intended audience. In addition to pope Benedict XVI, it is addressed to the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, to the patriarch of Moscow, Alexei II, and to the heads of 18 other Eastern Churches; to the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams; to the leaders of the worldwide federation of Lutheran, Reformed, Methodist, and Baptist Churches; to the secretary general of the World Council of Churches, Samuel Kobia, and in general “to the leaders of the Christian Churches.”

As for content, the first letter supported positions clearly in favor of the freedom to profess one’s faith “without restrictions.”

It asserted the rational consistency of Islam, while maintaining the absolute transcendence of God.

It decisively restated the limitations placed by Islamic doctrine upon recourse to war and the use of violence, condemning the “utopian dreams in which the end justifies the means.”

And it concluded by expressing hope for a relationship between Islam and Christianity founded upon love of God and neighbor, the “two great commandments” recalled by Jesus in Mark 12:29-31.

The second letter picks up precisely where the first one left off, and builds upon its conclusion. The commandments of love of God and neighbor – found in both the Qur’an and the Bible – are the “common word” that offers to the encounter between Islam and Christianity “the most solid theological foundation possible.”

The text of the letter was discussed and refined last September, at a meeting held in Jordan at the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, sponsored by King Abdullah II.

It is the conviction of the promoters that, before this letter, “Muslims have never offered the Christian world such a strong consensus proposal.”

Aref Ali Nayed – a Libyan theologian who signed both the first and second letter, and is an author well known to readers of www.chiesa – emphasized the participation of Muslims of all tendencies, Sunni, Shiite, Ibadi, Ismaili, Ja’fari:

“Rather than engage in polemic, the signatories have adopted the traditional and mainstream Islamic position of respecting the Christian Scripture and calling christians to be more, not less, faithful to it.”

The 138 signatories come from 43 countries. Some of them live in Europe or the United States, but most live in Muslim countries: from Jordan to Saudi Arabia, from Egypt to Morocco, from the Emirates to Yemen, but also in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan, Palestine.

Some of the letter’s signatories – including Aref Ali Nayed, who was a docent, in Rome, at the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies – have on repeated occasions met with the heads of the Vatican curia.

The first contacts go back one year ago. But the Church of Rome gave no public sign of appreciation until after the publication of the second letter.

On October 12, cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the pontifical council for dialogue among the religions, said on Vatican Radio:

“This is a very interesting and novel document, because it comes from both Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims. It is not a polemical document, and includes many citations from the Old and New Testament. […] It represents a very encouraging sign, because it demonstrates that good will and dialogue can overcome prejudice. It is a spiritual approach to interreligious dialogue, something I would call a dialogue of spiritualities. Both Muslims and Christians must answer a single question: is God truly the only god in your life?”.

There is strong agreement between the positions on interreligious dialogue expressed in the letter and those of Benedict XVI.

The last time the pope touched upon this topic was last October 5.

Speaking to the members of the International Theological Commission, Benedict XVI pointed to the “natural law” and the ten commandments as “the foundation for a universal system of ethics” valid for “all the consciences of men of good will, whether secularists or members of the various religions.”

And the ten commandments are summed up in the two “greatest” commandments of love for God and neighbor: “submission to God, the source and judge of all goodness, and the sense of the other as one’s equal.”

These are the same two commandments that form the core of the letter to the pope from the 138 Muslims.

___________

You can find the complete text of the letter from the 138 on the official website dedicated to it, in English, French, Italian, and Arabic:

> A Common Word between Us and You

This is the list of the 138 signatories, each identified by role and nationality:

> Signatories

And the following is the official summary of the letter’s contents:

A Common Word between Us and You

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.

The basis for this peace and understanding already exists. It is part of the very foundational principles of both faiths: love of the One God, and love of the neighbour. These principles are found over and over again in the sacred texts of Islam and Christianity. The Unity of God, the necessity of love for Him, and the necessity of love of the neighbour is thus the common ground between Islam and Christianity. The following are only a few examples:

Of God’s Unity, God says in the Holy Qur’an: Say: He is God, the One! / God, the Self-Sufficient Besought of all! (Al-Ikhlas, 112:1-2). Of the necessity of love for God, God says in the Holy Qur’an: So invoke the Name of thy Lord and devote thyself to Him with a complete devotion (Al-Muzzammil, 73:8). Of the necessity of love for the neighbour, the Prophet Muhammad r said: “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbour what you love for yourself.”

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ u said: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. / And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. / And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

In the Holy Qur’an, God Most High enjoins Muslims to issue the following call to Christians (and Jews—the People of the Scripture):

Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to a common word between us and you: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside God. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him). (Aal ‘Imran 3:64)

The words: we shall ascribe no partner unto Him relate to the Unity of God, and the words: worship none but God, relate to being totally devoted to God. Hence they all relate to the First and Greatest Commandment. According to one of the oldest and most authoritative commentaries on the Holy Qur’an the words: that none of us shall take others for lords beside God, mean ‘that none of us should obey the other in disobedience to what God has commanded’. This relates to the Second Commandment because justice and freedom of religion are a crucial part of love of the neighbour.

Thus in obedience to the Holy Qur’an, we as Muslims invite Christians to come together with us on the basis of what is common to us, which is also what is most essential to our faith and practice: the Two Commandments of love.

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October 10, 2007

Bible Store Manager Martyred in Gaza

Rami Ayyad (30), the manager of the only Christian bookstore in Gaza, was killed by unknown assailants on October 6. At approximately 4:30 p.m. Ayyad was abducted as he closed up The Teacher’s Bookshop, which is owned by the Palestinian Bible Society. Shortly afterwards, his family received a telephone call from him saying that he had been kidnapped and that he would be returned home late that evening. The following day, Ayyad’s body was found near the bookstore at approximately 6:25 a.m. He had been shot in the head and stabbed multiple times.

According to Middle East Concern, the local media is reporting that the murder occurred during a robbery, which the Christian community believes is a deliberate attempt to cover up the religious motive behind the attack. Ayyad regularly received anonymous death threats from people angered by his work and Muslim militants have repeatedly threatened the Palestinian Bible Society. In mid-April, the Gaza office was bombed by suspected Muslim militants.

Ayyad is survived by a pregnant wife and two young sons. Ask God to fill his loved ones with a peace that surpasses understanding in the midst of their grief (Philippians 4:7). Pray that the Bible Society staff will continue to spread God’s Word in this troubled area. Pray that Christians in Gaza will exhibit the love and forgiveness of Christ.

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October 3, 2007

Ramadan Commemoration in US Congress

41 House Republicans Refuse To Vote For Ramadan Commemoration
ABC News | October 3, 2007 04:16 PM

——————————————————————————–

They are a dime a dozen in Congress: resolutions commemorating this or commending that. Be it a sports team or a holiday or just about anything, Congress can find comity and bipartisanship when it comes to commending things.
But no more.

Tuesday in the House of Representatives, it was Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal, that was commended. The resolution did not sit well with Rep. Tom Tancredo, the Republican from Colorado who is also running for President. The resolution, “in order to demonstrate solidarity with and support for members of the community of Islam in the United States and throughout the world, the House of Representatives recognizes the Islamic faith as one of the great religions of the world.” It also “acknowledges the onset of Ramadan and expresses its deepest respect to Muslims in the United States and throughout the world on this significant occasion.”

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October 2, 2007

Muslim footbaths spark another fight

Indianapolis pastor warns trend is first step in Islamic goal of imposing Sharia law in U.S.

WorldNetDaily.com,


Prayer rugs at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, where
officials boasted of having provided the customer
service feature of footwashing benches for Muslims

Indianapolis airport officials have announced plans to add footbaths for Muslims who wish to wash before their five-times-daily prayer rituals, and that’s just too much for one pastor, who has called for residents to organize and protest.

The issue has been appearing in more and more airports and other public facilities in recent weeks, where Muslim immigrants are a growing segment of cab drivers, who spend hours waiting on arriving passengers for their fares.

Several years ago, officials with Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix boasted of a new “customer service,” providing footwashing facilities for Muslims.

“The cab drivers were asking for more washroom facilities as a group, and a majority of them wanted some place to wash before they pray,” Deborah Ostreicher, public information officer, told the Arizona Republic. “This is a way we thought we could reach out as a customer service.”

Similar facilities have been built at Kansas City International, although airport officials repeatedly have insisted the washing facilities are for anyone aided by the presence of seating and low faucets.

One editorial writer called it “creeping dhimmitude,” where America is joining the “global community of nations dominated by Islam,” and now Rev. Jerry Hillenburg, pastor at Hope Baptist Church in Indianapolis, says he’s going to be working to halt such changes at the city’s airport.

He’s announced a rally Saturday at 11 a.m. to oppose the tax-funded footwashing sinks for Muslims at the airport.

“How do you eat an elephant?” Hillenburg asked during an interview with WND. “One bite at a time. And this is just the first bite of the elephant, a step towards Islam’s desired goal, which is to thrust the entire world under one single Islamic caliphate under sharia law.”

He told the Indianapolis newspaper that such actions reflect a “fraternization” with enemies during a time of war, and he’s calling on Mayor Bart Peterson to halt the installation of the facilities.

His sermon in response to the situation was titled “Stop Caving in to Islam,” and Hillenberg said it’s unreasonable to use such public facilities for the support of a single religion.

Airport officials, faced with the sudden publicity and demands from the public, admitted their plans to build facilities on airport property to accommodate the prayer needs of Muslims are not final. But they were planned as part of restrooms in a new airport terminal that is due for completion next year.

“We’re really a long way from having this set in stone,” said Airport Authority spokesman David Dawson.

He told the newspaper that comments from members of the public will have an effect on the final plans for the property, which is owned by the Airport Authority, a public entity.

Shariq A. Siddiqui, executive director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana, said the real issue is that American Muslims face intolerance every day.

“The problem I have with him is that he associates Muslims with the enemy,” Siddiqui said. “For him to demonize all of us is the problem.”

Hillenburg told the mayor that putting sinks on public property that would primarily serve Muslims could be unconstitutional. That move, Hillenburg said, simply is an “appeasement” of Muslims.

While the airport has an interfaith chapel, Hillenburg said he would be surprised if the authority would allow the installation of a baptistry or basins for holy water.

“I don’t hate Muslims. I don’t hate people who follow Islam,” he said. “But I am at odds with anyone who threatens America and its citizenry; and I am at odds with anyone, period, who wants to destroy Christianity.”

The ACLU has not opposed the installation of the religion-specific facilities in other locations. When the University of Michigan installed footbaths in campus restrooms, it concluded that the university’s reason was for “practical cleanliness and safety.”

“They won’t let us (Christians) have the Ten Commandments, Merry Christmas or children praying at a school convocation,” Hillenburg told WND. “We’ve had the Establishment Clause shoved down our throats for the last 40 years.”

“[This situation] boils down to the appeasement of Islam at the cost of oppression to Christianity,” he said. “We have lived with the Supreme Court’s separation of church and state for years. We’ve had Christmas trees banned, Nativity scenes taken down, in the state General Assembly in Indiana a federal judge ruled it is unconstitutional to have a Christian prayer.”

Russ Richards, who works in the transportation industry at Sky Harbor in Phoenix, said he’s documented similar facilities that have been on the airport property for several years already.

“In the airport’s cab lot (C-lot) they not only have footbaths but also a covered designated prayer area with ‘misters,’ benches, and prayer rugs,” he said. “If people other than Muslims go into the area, they are ‘swooped’ on by Islamic followers as to the intent of any non-Muslim.”

He told WND the facility essentially is a mosque on public property for the benefit of Muslims. “It’s their space. They mark it with their rugs.”

The earlier report in the Arizona Republic said it might be the first such facility in the nation.

Abdul Malik Omar, who owns Metro Transportation, a limousine company on Phoenix, said observers sometimes can see 30 or 40 people praying together in open space. He said even more accommodations should be added, including a permanent place to pray.

Robert Spencer, who founded Jidah Watch, compared installing a footbath for a Muslim to putting in a holy water font to accommodate Catholics.

“The only conceivable group that will use the footbath are Muslims for prayer,” he said. “It’s a religious installation for a religious use.”


Foot-washing benches at a taxicab facility at Kansas
City airport (photo: Phillip Morgan)

WND earlier reported on the situation at Kansas City International Airport, where officials completed the installation and then announced the washing areas could be used for any number of purposes.

“Many of us believe that had this request come from, say, a majority of Catholic cab drivers who requested holy water founts or to have a Ten Commandments plaque installed in airport public facilities, even at their own expense, there would have been a severe outcry from the PC (politically correct) bully pulpit about ‘separation of church and state’ and in the name of ‘religious tolerance,'” said Missy Holthoefer, a longtime KCI user.

“When will the PC bureaucrats get a real clue from history and religious studies that appeasement is the worst way to counter the growing threat from Islamic radicals? To the PC crowd: ‘Muslim appeasement’ [equals] ‘showing weakness and thus vulnerability,'” she said.

One official at KCI even apparently tried intimidation in an effort to eliminate discussion about the recently installed footbaths, after repeated denials that they are intended for Muslims to perform their ritual.

“That’s the way I perceived it,” Kevin Peterson told WND in a telephone interview.

Peterson said he shares his name with a union steward for the Air Traffic Controllers Union at Kansas City’s airport, but he is not the same individual. He was sent an e-mail from airport spokesman Joe McBride, who assumed he was writing to the union steward. about the issue.

“The Indianapolis Star reports that the Indianapolis Airport is installing Muslim foot-washing basins in an upcoming renovation,” Peterson wrote. “The paper says that Muslim footwashing basis are already installed at KCI.

“Are you planning to issue a denial as to the purpose of the KCI basins to the Indianapolis Star?” he asked.

“I assume you are the Kevin Peterson who is the union steward for the air traffic controllers union,” the e-mail, signed electronically with McBride’s name, said.

“Point number one on the first e-mail suggests that your [sic] are in the control tower near the cab facility. I read your previous e-mail on this topic. Your stance is not in the best interest of the airport and the federal government, your employer,” the e-mail said.

Peterson, however, said McBride had called later to apologize for the tone of his note.

“My opinion is that the decision makers at KCI were hiding behind Mr. McBride,” Peterson said.

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September 26, 2007

Knowledge lacking of Islam, Mormonism

Most Americans know little about the faiths but say their own beliefs have little in common with them, a poll shows.

By Theo Milonopoulos, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 26, 2007

WASHINGTON — Most Americans say they know little to nothing about the practices of Islam and Mormonism but say their own religious beliefs have little in common with either of these faiths, according to a national survey released Tuesday.

Forty-five percent of those polled said Islam was more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers. Nearly 1 in 3 respondents say Mormonism is not a Christian religion, the report said.

The survey of 3,002 Americans was conducted last month by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Although 58% of respondents said they knew little or nothing about Islamic practices, 70% of non-Muslims said Islam was very different from their own religious beliefs.

Pew Forum senior fellow John Green said that respondents’ knowledge of Islam might be even lower than the survey results suggested. Respondents “tend to overestimate their own knowledge, so these figures may well underestimate their lack of knowledge,” he said.

The survey found that public attitudes toward Muslims have grown more negative in recent years, with 35% of respondents expressing an unfavorable view. In 2002, the figure was 29%. Respondents who knew a Muslim or who were college graduates were more likely to express positive views about Islam.

But the belief that Islam encourages violence has increased even among groups that have relatively favorable views of Muslims. According to the survey, college graduates are just as likely as those with no college experience to associate violence with Islam.

“We’re not surprised,” said Safaa Ibrahim, executive director of the Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “It’s difficult to remove the tarnish of twisted interpretations of terrorists from what Islam means.”

The survey said Americans were similarly uninformed about Mormonism. Although 53% of those surveyed expressed a favorable view of Mormons, nearly the same amount, 51%, said they knew very little about the faith.

As in the case of Islam, respondents with higher educational backgrounds and those who knew a Mormon tended to view Mormonism more favorably. But even more important in respondents’ assessment of Mormons was whether they believe Mormonism to be a Christian religion, according to the survey.

“Every faithful follower of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tries to emulate Christ’s example in his or her own life,” said Michael Otterson, director of media relations for the church in Salt Lake City. “If that isn’t enough to satisfy people that need a particularly narrow definition of Christianity, then maybe there’s nothing we can do about that.”

Of the 31% of respondents who said Mormons are not Christians, 49% view Mormonism unfavorably, and 42% said they would be less likely to vote for a Mormon for president.

Green said the results suggested that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Mormon and GOP presidential hopeful, could face difficulty persuading white evangelical Protestants to vote for him because nearly 40% of those surveyed viewed Mormons unfavorably.

“It’s quite a big challenge because evangelicals are bulk large among voters in southern Republican primaries,” Green said.

The survey also reported that 73% of respondents familiar with Pope Benedict XVI have a favorable opinion of him; 75% reflected favorably on evangelist Billy Graham.

The survey, available at www.pewforum.org, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

theo.milonopoulos@
latimes.com

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September 21, 2007

Pope in ‘freedom’ blast at Islam

By SIMON CALDWELL
Daily Mail

Defending religious liberty: Pope Benedict XVI

The Pope has again risked provoking the wrath of the Islamic world, by criticising its treatment of Christians.

Benedict XVI attacked Muslim nations where Christians are either persecuted or given the status of second-class citizens under the Shariah Islamic law.

He also defended the rights of Muslims to convert to Christianity, an act which warrants the death penalty in many Islamic countries.

His comments came almost exactly a year after he provoked a wave of anger among Muslims by quoting a Byzantine emperor who linked Islam to violence.

Yesterday, near Rome, the 80-year-old pontiff made a speech in “defence of religious liberty”, which, he said “is a fundamental, irrepressible, inalienable and inviolable right”.

In a clear reference to Islam, he said: “The exercise of this freedom also includes the right to change religion, which should be guaranteed not only legally, but also in daily practice.”

Addressing the problem of Islamic extremism, he added: “Terrorism is a serious problem whose perpetrators often claim to act in God’s name and harbour an inexcusable contempt for human life.”

Last September, radical British Muslims said Pope Benedict should be executed for “insulting” the Prophet Mohammed.

Throughout the Middle East and Africa, Christians were subjected to violence in retribution for his remarks.

His latest comments, however, come just days after one of the Church of England’s-senior bishops warned that Muslim leaders here must speak out in defence of the right to change faith.

The Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, told Channel 4’s Dispatches programme of his fears for the safety of the estimated 3,000 Muslims who have converted to other faiths in this country.

A poll earlier this year of more than 1,000 young adult British Muslims found that 36 per cent believe those who convert to another faith should be punished by death.

Pope Benedict is particularly concerned about the persecution of Christians in Iraq since the invasion of 2003.

Before then, there were about 1.2million Christians in the country. But the number has dropped to below 600,000.

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September 6, 2007

Three accused of Islamist plot on German targets

German security officials lead one of three terrorist suspects from a helicopter to Karlsruhe’s federal court.
Photo: AFP

Juergen Oder in Karlsruhe, Germany
September 6, 2007

GERMAN authorities have arrested three men suspected of belonging to an Islamist terrorist group who were planning attacks on airports, as well as bars and discos used by Americans.

“They were planning massive attacks,” said a federal prosecutor, Monika Harms.

“As possible targets … the suspects named discotheques and pubs and airports frequented by Americans with a view to detonating explosives loaded in cars and killing or injuring many people.”

The men, two Germans and a Turk aged 22, 28 and 29, had amassed vast amounts of hydrogen peroxide, the same chemical used by suicide bombers in the 2005 attacks on London’s transport system that killed 56 people, she said. The chemicals had been stockpiled in a town in the Black Forest.

The men allegedly belonged to an organisation with ties to al-Qaeda called Islamic Jihad Union, which German authorities have suspected for several months of planning attacks.

One of the three suspects was arrested for spying on a US military base in December but was released soon afterwards, a federal police chief, Joerg Ziercke, said. All three of the men had attended a training camp in Pakistan last year.

There was no official confirmation of media reports that the men had been targeting Frankfurt airport and the giant US military base at Ramstein.

Heinrich Nolte, the mayor of Medebach-Oberschledorn, the town where the suspects were arrested, said one of them had been shot by police, although this was not confirmed by prosecutors.

The arrests on Tuesday came a day after police in Denmark arrested eight men who they said had links to al-Qaeda and were planning a terrorist attack. Germany, which has about 3000 soldiers serving in Afghanistan, has been on high alert for several months. The Interior Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, said in May that Islamist groups represented the “biggest threat to the stability and security of Germany”.

Rolf Tophoven, a leading expert on terrorism in Germany, told NTV television that the arrests showed “the country has been in the firing line of terrorists for some time”.

The Defence Minister, Franz Josef Jung, told German television the three had been planning to launch their attacks soon. “There was an imminent security threat,” Mr Jung said, adding it was “very concrete”.

The leading conservative politician Wolfgang Bosbach told German television station N24: “There are clear indications that at a minimum, Ramstein [US air base] and the Frankfurt airport were possible targets and that they would not have waited long to strike.”

The operation might have been timed to coincide with the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US and “would have had considerable consequences” Mr Bosbach said.

The Der Spiegel weekly said in its online edition that the group has been under observation by authorities for many months and all three were considered radical Islamists with contacts to terrorist cells abroad. Authorities decided to arrest the men after they were seen moving a stock of chemicals that could be used to make a bomb from one storehouse to another, the newspaper said.

Agence France-Presse, Reuters, Associated Press

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September 2, 2007

Muslims caught red-handed destroying Temple artifacts

Archaeologists kept out as WND obtains photo of pulverized antiquities at Judaism’s holiest site

By Aaron Klein
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

JERUSALEM – Islamic authorities using heavy machinery to dig on the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – have been caught red-handed destroying Temple-era antiquities and what’s believed to be a section of an outer wall of the Second Jewish Temple.

WND today obtained a photograph of a massive trench the Waqf, the Muslim custodians of the Temple Mount, have been blasting around the periphery of the holy site purportedly to replace 40-year-old electrical cables for mosques on the Mount. The Waqf has steadfastly denied they found or destroyed any Jewish antiquities during their dig.

Possible carved stone from Jewish Temple-era antiquity exposed by digging at Temple Mount in Jerusalem

In view in the picture, which was obtained in conjunction with Israel’s Temple Institute, are concrete slabs broken by Waqf bulldozers and what appears to be a chopped up carved stone from Jewish Temple-era antiquity.

Eilat Mazar, considered one of the most prominent Temple Mount archaeologists, analyzed the photo and told WND the damaged stone displays elements of the second Temple era and might be part of a Jewish Temple wall Israeli archeologists charge the Waqf found and has been attempting to destroy. If authenticated, the wall would be one of the most important Temple Mount archaeological discoveries in recent history. “It certainly looks like Second Temple antiquity and could very well be part of a Second Temple courtyard wall,” Mazer said.

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August 17, 2007

Jose Padilla was found guilty

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) — Former Chicago gang member Jose Padilla was found guilty Thursday of supporting Islamic terrorism overseas.

Jose Padilla was originally accused of planning a “dirty bomb” attack in the United States.

Co-defendants Adham Hassoun and Kifan Jayyousi were also found guilty of the three counts charged: conspiracy to murder, kidnap, and maim people in a foreign country; conspiracy to provide material support for terrorists; and providing material support for terrorists.

Padilla was originally arrested on accusations that he planned to set off radioactive “dirty bombs” in the United States. Thursday’s convictions are not related to those accusations, and prosecutors did not present the “dirty bomb” plot to the jury.

A federal court jury in Miami deliberated for just under two days before handing down the verdict. Jurors declined to speak to the media. “They’ve had enough,” said court clerk Ivan Marchena. All three defendants face life in prison when they are sentenced on December 5.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales — who is on vacation this week — issued a statement saying, “The conviction of Jose Padilla — an American who provided material support to terrorists and trained for violent jihad — is a significant victory in our efforts to fight the threat posed by terrorists and their supporters.”

Padilla received a “fair trial and a just verdict,” the White House said in a statement.

“We commend the jury for its work in this trial and thank it for upholding a core American principle of impartial justice for all,” the statement said.

Defense attorneys argued at trial that Padilla went overseas only to study Islam.

Padilla’s mother, Estela Lebron, told CNN her son will appeal the verdict.

“I’m not surprised by anything in this place anymore,” she said. “This is a Republican city.”

Lebron blamed President Bush for the outcome of the trial and said there was not enough evidence in the case to convict her son.

Attorneys for the other defendants also vowed to appeal, saying they were “stunned” by the decision.

“An innocent man was wrongly convicted today and we’re going to do what we can to clear his name,” said William Swor, the attorney for Jayyousi.

“We’re all stunned … because Dr. Jayyousi is innocent, because there was no evidence presented except pieces of conversations spun from another language that have so many different meanings.

“We’re going to fight to get him released,” he added.

Padilla attorney Anthony Natale declined to comment on the outcome.

The verdict is a “critical vindication” for the U.S. Department of Justice and its post-9/11 strategy for prosecuting terrorism cases, said Kendall Coffey, former U.S. attorney in Miami who comments on legal matters for CNN.

“I think this is huge for DOJ,” he said, “given the case’s background of controversy and the government’s mixed results in other (terror) trials.”

He said the verdict also raises questions about whether military tribunals are necessary.

“Critics of the post-9/11 war on terrorism can point to this and say you don’t need military tribunals, you can get the job done with civilian trials,” Coffey said.

During the trial, prosecutors played more than 70 intercepted phone calls among the defendants for jurors, including seven that featured Padilla, 36. He is a Brooklyn-born convert to Islam.

FBI agent John Kavanaugh testified that the calls were made in code, which Padilla used to discuss traveling overseas to fight with Islamic militants, along with side trips to Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

In closing arguments, Padilla’s lawyers argued he never spoke in code. His voice is heard on only seven of 300,000 taped conversations.

They also tried to rebut a key piece of prosecution evidence — an al Qaeda terrorist training camp application or “mujahedeen data form.”

A covert CIA officer — who testified in disguise at Padilla’s trial — said he was given the form in Afghanistan, and a fingerprint expert found Padilla’s prints on the form, prosecutors said.
“The al Qaeda application virtually sealed his fate,” said Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School. He compared the document’s value as evidence to “putting a duffle bag with severed heads on the table.”

But Michael Caruso, Padilla’s defense attorney, said the prints on the form were not consistent with someone who filled out the document.

“Jose at some point handled the document, but did not fill out the form,” Caruso said.

Just as prosecutors did not present the dirty bomb plot to the jury, neither were jurors told that Padilla was held in a Navy brig for 3½ years without charges before his indictment in the Miami case.

Turley said the case was troubling because it appears Padilla was kept in the brig in violation of his rights, for no legitimate reason.

“The evidence changed very little in the 3½ years Padilla was held without charges or access to a lawyer as an ‘enemy combatant,’ ” he said.

Before trial, his lawyers tried to argue that he was no longer mentally competent to stand trial after years of solitary confinement and abuse — allegations the government strongly denied.

Padilla was taken into custody in Chicago as he stepped off a flight from Pakistan in 2002, and Bush declared him an “enemy combatant” and had him transferred to military custody. He was never charged as an “enemy combatant” and was eventually transferred from military to civilian custody where he was finally charged.

The Supreme Court ducked the chance to rule on the legality of Padilla’s military detention in 2006, arguing that the issue was moot after his transfer to civilian custody for the Miami trial.

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August 9, 2007

Egypt Arrests Activists from Canadian-based NGO

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Christian Solidarity International (CSI)

WASHINGTON: On August 8, members of the Egypt’s State Security Investigations (SSI) arrested Christian activists Dr. Adel Fawzy Faltas, Peter Ezzat Mounir and Adeeb Ramses Kosman in Cairo, and took them to State Security Intelligence (SSI) headquarters at Lazoghly Square, where they remain incarcerated.

The Egyptian government routinely tortures prisoners within the first three days of arrest. Some of the atrocities and malicious practices of the Egyptian Police came to public notice when bloggers managed to publish videos of torture and abuse of citizens at the hands of the Police.

Although no formal charges have been levied, arresting officers have accused the activists of insulting Islam, preaching Christianity and having an unlawful association with an external organization. Attempts by their attorneys to contact the accused have been unsuccessful. Other administrators are now in hiding in fear of arrest and torture.

The Christian activists are all representatives of Middle East Christians Association (MECA), a Human Rights NGO, founded by immigrant Christians from the Middle East to act as a voice for their people in their homelands. MECA is based in Ontario, Canada. The organization’s mission statement calls for secularism, equality and full citizenship for Christians living in the Middle East.

Dr. Faltas, Chairman of the Egyptian branch of MECA was taken from his home and arrested on Wednesday, Aug. 8 at 2:45 PM. Security personnel confiscated two laptop computers and other documents, including the organization’s book, “The Prosecuted.” Police also confiscated computers and documents from the other two representatives when they were arrested at their homes.

The action of Egypt’s security services may be related to the suit MECA had filed against members of the Egyptian government (including the President, Prime Minister, Interior Minister and Minister of Social Solidarity), seeking compensation for the Coptic victims of the al-Kosheh Muslim riots in 2000. The ruling is expected on September 6.

MECA has also advocated the recent high profile case of a convert to Christianity who had petitioned to change his legal identity as a Christian.

Writing today to U.S. President George Bush, CSI-USA’s Chairman Dr. John Eibner said:

The arrests of Messrs. Fawzy, Munir and Rames take place against a background of increasing state-sponsored persecution of Christians in Egypt and growing intolerance of Christians and other religious minorities throughout the Middle East. If present trends of violence, intimidate and discrimination continue, the tragic fate of oriental Jewry could befall the Christians of the Islamic Middle East within a generation.

Dr. Eibner also urged President Bush to “Request from Egypt’s head of state, Hosni Mubarak, the immediate release of the three Christian prisoners, and to impress upon him the need for Egypt to respect the internationally confirmed rights of Christians and adherents of other minority religious or secular beliefs.”

The accused are represented by Mamdough Nakhla, Nageeb Gabriel, and Ramsis El-Nagar. The attorneys have not been given access to their clients, who remain in custody.

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August 9, 2007

Protesters attack author Nasreen

Muslim protesters have attacked controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen during a book launch in Andhra Pradesh state in southern India.

Lawmakers and members of a political party assaulted the exiled feminist author as she presented a translation of one of her novels in Hyderabad.

Ms Nasreen, who backed into a corner, said the attack was barbaric but pledged she would not be cowed.

Many Muslims have accused Ms Nasreen of ridiculing Islam.
Protected Ms Nasreen was launching a Telugu language version of a novel at the press club in Hyderabad.

About 100 protesters, including three lawmakers, from the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen party burst in, shouting that the author was “anti-Islam”.

Ms Nasreen backed into a corner as objects rained down and she was threatened with a chair, witnesses said. One witness said Ms Nasreen was slapped.

She was protected by others at the meeting and was later taken to safety by police.

Officers detained the three lawmakers and a number of other protesters.

Ahmad Pasha Quadri, one of the lawmakers, said: “Our protest is against Taslima Nasreen because of her writings ridiculing Islam. We want the Indian government to send her back to Bangladesh.”

The writer left Bangladesh for Sweden in 1994 after her controversial writing there led to calls for her execution.

She has lived in Calcutta for the past two years and has applied for Indian citizenship.

Critics say she called for the Koran to be changed to give women greater rights, but she vehemently denied making the comments.

Bangladesh banned one of her books in 2004 for what it called objectionable comments about Islam.

Ms Nasreen has spoken out against religion as an oppressive force and was awarded the Sakharov Prize for freedom of expression in 1994 in Europe.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/south_asia/6938887.stm
Published: 2007/08/09 14:15:16 GMT
© BBC MMVII

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August 08, 2007

EGYPT: CONVERT IN HIDING AFTER LAWYER BACKS OUT

ISTANBUL, August 8 (Compass Direct News) – An Egyptian convert to Christianity who filed suit for his conversion to be officially recognized is in hiding after his attorney announced he would withdraw from the case yesterday.

Though the lawyer has received death threats from Egypt’s security police, he claimed he had made his decision in the interest of “national unity.”

Mamdouh Nakhla, director of the Al Kalema Center for Human Rights, said yesterday that he would no longer represent convert Mohammed Ahmed Hegazy because he did not want to offend Muslims or “provoke public opinion.”

At a press conference at his downtown office, Nakhla rested some of the responsibility for his decision with his client. He said that Hegazy had failed to provide important documents showing that authorities had refused to issue him an identification card.

As the lawyer was giving his statement, however, a member of Nakhla’s organization shouted, “He is being threatened, he is doing this under pressure.”

A source close to Nakhla confirmed that Egypt’s security police had telephoned the lawyer to say he would be killed if he continued the case.

Several Muslim clerics and lawyers headed by Sheikh Youssef el-Badry have opened a case against the lawyer on charges of causing sectarian strife.

Nakhla requested that Muslims and Christians refrain from talking about the sensitive issue, referring to the uproar the case has created in national media.

Several newspapers have attacked Hegazy’s motives in front page coverage. Arabic daily Al-Masry al-Youm reported today that Hegazy had been in contact with a “Christianization network” that promised young Muslims money and Greek nationality if they converted.

The article inaccurately reported that the lawyer said at yesterday’s press conference that he was dropping the case because Hegazy was “seeking publicity and fame.”

Additionally, the newspaper reported that Hegazy’s father said yesterday that his son was being blackmailed by Christian missionaries to open the case.

In an interview on Dream satellite channel talk show al-Ashira Masaa’an on Sunday evening (August 5), Hegazy said that no Christians had pressured him to convert.

“They just told me to go read the Bible well and make up my mind,” said Hegazy.

Forced into Hiding

Ongoing threats and attacks in the national media have forced Hegazy underground while he continues the search for a new lawyer.

The conversion issue highlights the inequality between religions in Egypt. A Christian is free to convert to Islam, but Muslims have no legal means to change their identification papers to reflect a conversion to Christianity.

The disparity hinges on sharia (Islamic law), which many mainstream Muslim scholars believe prescribes death as the punishment for abandoning Islam.

Last month one of Egypt’s top religious advisors said that “apostasy,” though a grave sin, merited no “worldly punishment.” Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa later clarified his controversial statement by saying that only “apostates” who “actively engaged in the subversion of society” should be punished, Agence France-Presse reported on July 26.

But with sharia enshrined as the basis of Egypt’s legal code in Article 2 of the constitution, many Muslims see no distinction between “apostasy” and subversion.

“Is religion deemed any less than the state order?” Dr. Mohamed Mukhtar al-Mahdi wrote in the leftist daily al-Badeel last week.

Since 2004, dozens of Coptic converts to Islam have won the right to return to their original faith, but Hegazy is the first Muslim-by-birth to attempt the legal change.

Though conversion is not specifically outlawed in Egypt, Muslim converts to Christianity are often forced to live double lives, hiding their faith to avoid torture at the hands of family members and police.

END

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July 27, 2007

The John Doe bill passed

A huge victory for the American public. The John Doe provision in the Homeland Security bill passed. Thanks to Peter King and Joe Leiberman for all their work and persistence. Thanks also to you our members, the American public, for all your efforts. Your calls, your emails and faxes to your elected officials put the pressure on them and they heard you. It is your activism as citizens and voters that made the difference. This is the second time we were able to mobilize tens of thousands all across the country to call and make their voice heard on the same John Doe issue in less than then 24 hours.

Here is the final language in the bill:

“Any person who, in good faith and based on objectively reasonable suspicion, makes or causes to be made, a voluntary report of covered activity to an authorized official shall be immune from civil liability under federal, state and local law for such report.”

Here is Mr. King’s statement:

“In a post-9/11 reality, vigilance is essential to security. Despite the Democratic opposition to this important homeland security measure, I’m thrilled to announce that common sense has prevailed and heroic Americans who report suspicious activity will be protected from frivolous lawsuits. The American people were heard and our country is safer because of it.”

This is why I am asking you today to support American Congress for Truth (ACT) and our effort to mobilize our country, inspire our citizens to ACT, and inform you and millions of important bills being voted on in Washington DC so you can make your voices heard. I ask you today to stand with us financially and become a monthly supporter to help us continue doing our important work. We are only as strong as our supporters. Click here to donate.

Congratulations to all of us for this victory!

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the part you played in making this happen. I am so honored and proud to have you as a member of my organization. I urge you to forward our emails to your friends and family and encourage them to subscribe and join us. Together we will continue to fight this war on our freedom and our civilization and win.

Brigitte Gabriel

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July 18, 2007

Daniel Pearl’s widow sues terrorists, bank

NEW YORK (AP) — The widow of Daniel Pearl has sued al Qaeda, more than a dozen reputed terrorists and Pakistan’s largest bank, blaming them for the torture and murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter in 2002.

Mariane Pearl sued several terrorists and a Pakistani bank in connection with her husband’s torture and beheading.

A complaint filed Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court by Mariane Pearl and her husband’s estate alleges Habib Bank Ltd. of Karachi knowingly provided financial services for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
Backed by the bank, terrorists “carried out the kidnapping, ransom, torture, execution and dismemberment of Daniel Pearl and broadcast those images nationwide,” the lawsuit said.

The suit seeks unspecified damages for acts it alleges were meant to “emotionally destroy the Pearl family and terrorize, appall and frighten American citizens.”

“Plaintiffs seek to hold responsible those terrorists, terrorist organizations and the supporting charitable and banking organizations for the senseless kidnapping, torture and murder of Daniel Pearl,” the suit said. There was no immediate response to a message left with the bank’s Manhattan office.

“I am looking for the truth of what happened to Daniel, for our family, our friends, and the public record,” Mariane Pearl, a French citizen, said in a statement.

“This process allows us to delve deeper into the investigation, and to bring accountability and punishment to those involved with his kidnapping, torture and murder.”

Daniel Pearl, 38, was the Wall Street Journal’s South Asia bureau chief when he was lured to a meeting with a source, abducted and killed. His beheading was captured on a video-tape shown around the world.
The 49-page complaint alleges that material and financial support for Pearl’s abduction and beheading came in the form of training, shelter, weapons, transportation food, communications equipment, financing and financial services.

Among the defendants are Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, or Sheikh Omar, who was convicted and sentenced to death in a Pakistani court for his role in Pearl’s slaying, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a suspected high-ranking al Qaeda leader and September 11 mastermind.

Mohammed is in U.S. custody at Guatanamo Bay and has been identified by U.S. military officials as mastermind of the plot to kidnap and behead Pearl.

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July 16, 2007

In Meeting With Atheists, Rep. Ellison Compares President Bush to Hitler

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,289485,00.html

Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, is defending himself Monday after comparing President Bush to Adolf Hitler and leaving the impression the administration may have rigged the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Speaking to an atheist group on July 8, Ellison said that the president acted much the way Hitler did when the Reichstag, or German Parliament building, was burned in 1933 ahead of elections that pitted Hitler’s Nazi Party against others, including the Communists. Hitler, who was suspected of ordering the fire, declared emergency powers that helped him launch his dictatorial and murderous reign.

“It’s almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that,” Ellison told the group, according to The Minneapolis Star Tribune. “After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it and it put the leader of that country [Hitler] in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted.”

During his speech, Ellison went on to tell the 350-member Atheists for Human Rights: “I’m not saying [Sept. 11] was a [U.S.] plan, or anything like that, because, you know, that’s how they put you in the nut-ball box — dismiss you.”

Later in the week, Ellison told one of the newspaper’s columnists that he thinks Usama bin Laden — not the Bush administration — was responsible for the attacks. On Monday he suggested the administration’s response to Sept. 11 was one of “fear and rage.”

“Obviously, Usama bin Laden and the hijackers who carried out the murderous events are responsible for 9/11. The question is, however, how do we respond to this tragedy? With fear and rage? Or with courage and reason? I’m for courage and reason,” Ellison said in a statement.
“This means that in the aftermath of 9/11, instead of invading Iraq, President Bush should have responded militarily where necessary, but even more so, diplomatically, and with all of our intelligence resources,” he added.

In both his speech to the atheist group and his statement Monday, Ellison, who has co-signed a bill to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney, said that civil liberties and religious tolerance have eroded since Sept. 11, that the president has squandered international good will, and that the U.S. image abroad has been shattered by “the taint” of Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay detentions and Patriot Act violations, among other issues.

“If the president had embraced the good will of the post 9/11 world to marshal an international effort to eliminate the terrorist cells responsible for this heinous act, we wouldn’t be mired in a five-year war. We could have effectively eliminated Al Qaeda instead of creating a virtual recruiting station for them in Iraq,” he said.

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July 2, 2007

Egypt agrees to consider case of Christian converts

CAIRO — Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court Monday agreed to hear the appeal of Coptic converts to Islam seeking to legally revert back to Christianity, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said.

“The decision by the Supreme Administrative Court to consider the case of Egyptian converts to Islam wanting to return to their Church is very positive,” Ramsis Al Naggar said.

In April, a lower court ruled against 12 Copts who had converted to Islam and then wished to return to Christianity, saying that such a recognition would amount to apostasy under Sharia (Islamic law) and constitute a “manipulation of Islam and Muslims.”

The plaintiffs appealed the decision, but the government has been trying to get the appeal dismissed, the lawyer said.

Judge Essam Abdel Aziz, however, chose to consider the merits of the case and the appeal will be heard September 1.

“It proves there is still a window of freedom in Egypt,” said Naggar, who has filed 400 similar lawsuits, predicting a “positive outcome” in September’s hearing.

Christians in Egypt who convert to Islam often do so to circumvent the Coptic Church’s strict rules for divorce, or to marry a Muslim.

Rights groups welcomed Monday’s decision.

“It is a step in the right direction,” Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said. “We are hopeful and optimistic that the court will uphold the principles of non-discrimination and religious freedom,” he said.

Copts are estimated to form 6 to 10 percent of Egypt’s 76 million people and are the largest Christian community in the Middle East.

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June 29, 2007

British Police Defuse Terrorist Bomb in London

Police thwarted an apparent terror attack Friday, discovering a parked silver Mercedes that was packed with gas containers and a large number of nails. The attack would have caused “significant injury or loss of life,” police said. A British security official told The Associated Press that there were similarities between the device and vehicle bombs used by insurgents in Iraq. “Forensic staff are still examining the device, but once we know more about it, we’ll know more about what type of individuals are behind this,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the security details. Officers were called to The Haymarket shortly before 2 a.m., a police statement said. Sky News cited witnesses as saying doormen from a nearby nightclub had reported that someone had crashed a Mercedes sedan into garbage bins and ran away.

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June 19, 2007

Gaza’s Christians under the Islamic gun

By Stan Goodenough

There are not very many of them, but Gaza’s Christians are already being singled out for special treatment in the newly-created “Hamastan” in Gaza.

The attacks began before Hamas even completed its takeover of the Strip last week, targeting a Roman Catholic school and church.

Reports of the atrocities only surfaced later because of the chaos in Gaza, according to a witness.

Masked “brave” warriors of Allah wielding guns ransacked and set fire to the Rosary Sisters School and church, according to Father Manual Musalam, as reported in The Jerusalem Post Monday.

“The masked gunmen used rocket-propelled grenades to storm the main entrances of the school and church,” he was quoted as saying.

“Then they destroyed almost everything inside, including the Cross, the Holy Book, computers and other equipment.”

A World Net Daily report Tuesday quoted an Islamic leader in Gaza as saying that Christians can only continue living safely in the Strip if they accept Islamic law, including a ban on alcohol and on women roaming publicly without proper head coverings.

Sheikh Abu Saqer warned that any Christians engaging in missionary activity will be “dealt with harshly.”

Muslim Arabs have a long history of desecrating Jewish and Christian sites and of persecuting adherents of both biblical faiths.

Despite their intolerance and the fact that Muslims are behind the vast majority of wars and terrorism on the planet, leaders of Judeo-Christian and post-Christian countries insist on calling Islam a “religion of peace.”

Recent months have seen a number of Christian institutions in the PA-controlled areas come under attack, among them a Christian bookstore belonging to The Bible Society in the Gaza Strip.

In a statement released on June 14 Open Doors, which describes itself as “one of the few Christian ministries still committed to working inside Gaza” detailed how Muslims “are creating a situation that verges on anarchy.

“They are targeting everything that is against their view of Islam. The group ‘The Sword of Islam’ has sent death threat letters to female broadcasters on Palestine [sic] television.”

The ministry quoted the Muslims as threatening to “cut throats, and from vein to vein, if needed, to protect the spirit and morals of this nation.”

It went on to describe “the firm grip of fear created by Muslim militants over the society.

Several sources “say that especially believers from a Muslim background are afraid to be discovered and killed… Not many have the courage to have contact with other Christians.

“Fear is trying to creep in everywhere.”

Only about 2000 of Gaza’s 1.4 million “Palestinians” are Christian.

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June 12, 2007

Father orders daughter’s brutal death

A father who ordered his daughter’s brutal death for falling in love with the wrong man in a so-called honour killing has been found guilty of murder in the UK.

Banaz Mahmod, 20, was strangled with a boot lace, stuffed into a suitcase and buried in a back garden.

Her death is the latest in an increasing trend of such killings in Britain, home to some 1.8 million Muslims. More than 100 homicides are under investigation for being potential “honour killings”.

Mahmod Mahmod, 52, and his brother Ari Mahmod, 51, planned the killing during a family meeting, prosecutors told the court.

Two others have pleaded guilty in the case. Two more have fled the country. Sentencing is expected this month.

The men accused the young woman of shaming her family by ending an abusive arranged marriage, becoming too westernised and falling in love with a man who did not come from their Iraqi village. The Kurdish family came to Britain in 1998 when Banaz Mahmod was just 11.

“She was my present, my future, my hope,” said Rahmat Suleimani, 29, Banaz Mahmod’s boyfriend.

More than 25 women in Britain have been killed by their Muslim relatives in the past decade for offences they believe have brought shame on their family. More than 100 other homicides are under investigation for potential honour killings.

Some Muslim communities in Britain practice Sharia law, or strict Islamic law.

“We’re seeing an increase around the world, due in part to the rise in Islamic fundamentalism,” said Diana Nammi with the London-based Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation.

During the three-month trial over Banaz Mahmod’s murder, prosecutors said the girl’s father began beating her at an early age for using hairspray and becoming too westernised.

Her uncle once told her that she would already have been “turned to ashes” if she were his daughter and had shamed the family by becoming involved with the Iranian Kurd, her sister 22-year-old Bekhal Mahmod testified.

Banaz Mahmod ran away from home when she was a teenager, but was later sent an audio tape in which her father warned he would kill her sisters, her mother and himself if she did not come home, her sister said.

She returned home and was later hospitalised after her brother attacked her, her sister testified. The brother said he had been paid by their father to finish her off, but in the end was unable to do it, the sister said, testifying in a full black burqa. She said she still feared for her life.

The years of Banaz Mahmod’s abuse were compounded by officers who repeatedly dismissed her cries for help.

She first went to police in December 2005 when she suspected her uncle was trying to kill her and her boyfriend. She sent the police a letter naming the men who she thought would later kill her.

On New Year’s Eve, she was lured by her father to her grandmother’s home and believed she would be attacked after he forced her to gulp down brandy and approached her while wearing gloves. She escaped by breaking a window, and was treated at a hospital.

Police dismissed her claims. One officer, who is under investigation, considered charging her with damages for breaking her grandmother’s window.

Laying in her hospital bed after the escape, Banaz Mahmod recorded a dramatic video message saying she was “really scared”.

The videotape, taken by her boyfriend at the hospital, was shown to the jury during the trial. The boyfriend feared it could be the only chance she would have to detail her fears.

After she was released from the hospital, she returned home and tried to convince her family she stopped seeing her boyfriend, according to court documents.

But friends told the family they spotted the couple together on January 22, 2006.

Soon after, a group of men allegedly approached her boyfriend and tried to lure him into a car but he refused. It was that event that prompted Banaz Mahmod to go to police again. This time officers tried to persuade her to stay in a safe house. She refused, believing her mother would protect her, according to court documents.

But her mother and father left her alone in the house the next day. Her boyfriend – who noted the absence of text messages – quickly alerted police.

Her body was not discovered until three months later, after police tracked phone records.

One of the men who fled the country is allegedly the man who arranged for her burial in the northern city of Birmingham.

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June 10, 2007

German Cardinal wants to celebrate Mass in Saudi Arabia

Articles are cross posted from DW/JW

Cardinal Karl Lehmann, Bishop of Mainz, wants to exercise a bit of reciprocity. Since there are now so many mosques all over Europe, he wants to celebrate Mass in Saudi Arabia. And why not? Because, of course, tolerance and respect for other religions is a one-way-street.

German-language article here from Spiegel Online

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June 3, 2007

4 charged with terror plot at JFK airport

NEW YORK (CNN) — Four men have been charged with conspiring to blow up jet fuel supply tanks and pipelines at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Homeland Security sources said there is no current threat at the airport and the attack as planned was “not technically feasible.”

The alleged plot did not target airplane flights, officials said.

A wiretap transcript given to CNN by the FBI indicates the alleged plotters targeted the airport because of the popularity its namesake, John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963.

“Anytime you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States. To hit John F. Kennedy, wow … they love JFK — he’s like the man,” former JFK airport cargo worker Russell Defreitas allegedly said in a telephone conversation monitored by the FBI.

“If you hit that, this whole country will be in mourning. It’s like you can kill the man twice,” Defreitas allegedly added.

At a Justice Department news conference Saturday afternoon, the plotters were described as “a determined group” whose signature was persistence. (Watch how authorities foiled the plot )

A law enforcement source told CNN Saturday evening that the idea for the plot allegedly came from Defreitas, who also apparently recruited the other men. Those three supposedly directed the effort.

Defreitas, 63, a native of Guyana who has been a U.S. citizen since the 1960s, was arrested in Brooklyn, New York, according to the Justice Department. He was arraigned Saturday in federal court in New York. (Watch experts examine whether the plot could have worked )

Abdul Kadir of Guyana, a former member of the Guyana parliament, and Kareem Ibrahim of Trinidad, are in custody in Trinidad. The United States will seek their extradition.

The fourth suspect, Abdel Nur of Guyana, is being sought.

Defreitas was once a contractor for the aviation company Evergreen Eagle, a law enforcement official told CNN. James Nelson, a company spokesman, said the firm is cooperating with authorities, but declined to provide further information.

Defreitas identified targets and escape routes and assessed airport security, the complaint alleges. Officials said the “defendants obtained satellite photographs of JFK airport and its facilities from the Internet and traveled frequently among the United States, Guyana and Trinidad to discuss their plans and solicit the financial and technical assistance of others.”

Group tied to extremists in South America, Caribbean
The Justice statement said the men began planning the assault on January 6. A complaint alleges that the plot tapped into an international network of Muslim extremists from the United States, Guyana and Trinidad.

“The defendants had the connections to present their terrorist plot to radical groups in South America and the Caribbean, including senior leadership of Jamaat Al Muslimeen (‘JAM’), which was responsible for a deadly coup attempt in Trinidad in 1990,” said Mark J. Mershon, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI’s New York field office. “Had the plot been carried out, it could have resulted in unfathomable damage, deaths and destruction.”

“As the complaint alleges, defendants Kadir and Nur were longtime associates of JAM leaders. Defendant Kareem [Ibrahim] was also preparing to send an emissary overseas to present the plan to extremist networks there when law enforcement stepped in to disrupt it,” Mershon said.

An official described the suspects as “al Qaeda wannabes.”

In one conversation taped by the FBI, Defreitas allegedly discusses an incident he says motivated him to strike JFK. He claimed he saw military parts being shipped to Israel, including missiles, that he felt would be used to kill Muslims.

He allegedly says he “wanted to do something to get those bastards.”

In another recorded conversation with his alleged conspirators in May 2007, Defreitas compared the plot to attack JFK airport with the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, saying, “Even the Twin Towers can’t touch it. This can destroy the economy of America for some time,” according to Justice officials.

The alleged plot was revealed when the planners tried to recruit a person who was a law enforcement informant, sources said.

Fuel line covers large, populated area
The fuel supply for the airport is linked primarily to the Buckeye Pipeline, which distributes fuel and other petroleum products to sites in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.

“We were concerned, not only about an attack on the fuel tank farms at JFK but along the 40-mile aviation fuel pipeline that courses its way from Linden, New Jersey, through Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens,” said New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

“The fuel line is the feeding tube that nourishes national and international commerce through LaGuardia and JFK airports.”

Kelly said the NYPD’s counterterrorism unit conducted a mile-by-mile survey of the pipeline after hearing about the alleged plot.

Suspect’s wife denies his involvement
JFK handles on average more than 1,000 flights daily, about half of which are international flights. Each year, the airport processes about 45 million passengers and more than 1.5 million tons of cargo with an estimated value of $120 billion.

Kadir’s wife, Isha, told CNN by telephone from Linden, Guyana, that she is shocked by the allegations.

“You know, my husband — we are Muslims for 33 years,” she said. “And no way, at no time we were ever involved in anything of plots of bombing or any plots against America. We are not a part of that. We have family — both of us — in America.”

She said her husband was arrested Friday while flying to Caracas, Venezuela, to collect an Iranian visa in order to attend an Islamic conference there. In addition to being a former member of the Guyana parliament, she said, he is a former mayor of Linden.

“We are a mother and a father of nine children and 18 grandchildren,” she said. “No way will we get into anything like that.”

Asked why she thought her husband was arrested, Isha Kadir said it could be related to his connection to Iran. The family is Shiite, she said, and two of her children studied Islamic culture in Iran. But “we have no problem with the United States,” she said.

She said Defreitas, whom she knew as Mohammed, visited Guyana for a week at some point, and that she knew the other suspects but hadn’t seen Nur in years and did not know Ibrahim well.

She said she has not spoken to her husband since his arrest, but “the truth will stand out clearly. And I believe in God, and I know that God knows our intention, and he knows, and he will, you know, he will play a part in this.”

A written statement from the White House said, “The president has been briefed and updated regularly on the progress of the investigation, and this case is a good example of international counterterrorism cooperation.”

CNN’s Kathleen Koch, Kelli Arena and Jason Carroll contributed to this report.

Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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May 23, 2007

Muslims in U.S. 2.35 Millions – Study says

Mostly moderate, not monolithic

Poll finds an assimilated community, yet younger Muslims are more likely to see grounds for suicide bombings.

By Rebecca Trounson, Times Staff Writer
May 23, 2007

Simrah Ahmed, left, and her friend, Namra Farooq, join other women and girls as they watch from the loft of the Islamic Center of South Jersey as speakers address men attending a town hall meeting.
(Jackie Schear / AP)
May 18, 2007

Nearly 80% of all Muslim Americans say suicide bombings in defense of Islam are never justified, although one in four younger Muslims say such attacks are acceptable in some circumstances, according to a nationwide study released Tuesday.

The survey of 1,050 Muslim adults by the Pew Research Center paints a picture of a richly diverse, complex and still largely immigrant community that for the most part has blended comfortably into American life.

Most Muslim Americans are moderate, mainstream and middle class, the study shows. They are largely assimilated, happy with their lives and have adopted such core American values as a belief that hard work will lead to success. Their income and educational levels also are comparable with those of most Americans, the study found.

In a conference call with reporters from his Washington office, Pew Research Center President Andrew Kohut said the support, although limited, for suicide attacks among those surveyed was one of the few troubling aspects of the study.

“Overall, this is a very, very positive story for the vast majority of Muslims,” Kohut said. “This is a group living as most Americans live … a group that is assimilating or aspiring to assimilate.”

Nonetheless, he said, the study also found pockets of sympathy and support for extremism among Muslim Americans, especially among the young.

Overall, although 78% of respondents said suicide bombings of civilian targets to defend Islam could not be justified, 13% said they could be, under some circumstances. That view was strongest — 26% — among those younger than 30.

But for all Muslim Americans, support for such tactics appeared to be far lower than among Muslims in many other nations, including several Western European countries. In Pew surveys last year, about one in four adult Muslims in Britain and Spain said such attacks were justified in at least some cases. Support in Muslim countries often exceeded 50% in studies last year.

Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council, questioned the figures, saying he believed the number of U.S. Muslims approving of suicide attacks was much lower.

“If the question was, ‘Do you believe Islam justifies the killing of an innocent civilian?’ I think you’d find the number negligible,” he said.

Al-Marayati also said those who said they supported attacks likely assumed the context was a fight against occupation, either in the Palestinian territories or in Iraq. And he said many young American Muslims are increasingly influenced by extreme ideologies they find on the Internet or satellite television stations.

“We don’t believe there is a radical movement in the student population right now, but we need to intervene to make sure that doesn’t happen,” said Al-Marayati. His organization plans to release its own survey of Muslim American youth next month.

The poll question at issue briefly described possible rationales for suicide bombings and other violence against civilians, then asked, “Do you personally feel that this kind of violence is often justified to defend Islam, sometimes justified, rarely justified or never justified?”

The study was based on telephone interviews with 1,050 adult Muslims, some of whom were interviewed in Arabic, Urdu or Farsi, in addition to English. The margin of error for the poll, conducted between January and April, is plus or minus 5 percentage points.

The Pew researchers estimate that there are 2.35 million Muslims in the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau does not ask about religious beliefs or preferences, and the estimates of Muslims in this country have ranged from 1 million to 7 million or more.

In other findings, the poll showed that about two-thirds of American Muslims are immigrants, and nearly 40% are relative newcomers, having arrived since 1990. Of the rest, about a fifth are native-born African Americans, many of whom are converts to Islam.

The poll also found that those U.S.-born, African American Muslims are the most disillusioned segment of the community, tending to be more skeptical of the view that hard work pays off and less satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S.

In other findings:

• About 63% of U.S. Muslims say they are Democrats or lean that way. About 11% are Republican or lean Republican. Most hold liberal political views on the scope of government, but tend to be social conservatives.

• More than half say it has been more difficult to be Muslim in the U.S. since the attacks of Sept. 11, with 54% saying the government singles Muslims out for extra surveillance or screening.

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May 9, 2007

N.J. Store Clerk Foiled Attack on
Fort Dix, FBI Says

By Donna Leinwand

WASHINGTON — An alert store clerk suspicious of a videotape exposed the plan of six aspiring Islamic holy warriors who were plotting to attack Fort Dix in New Jersey with assault weapons, the FBI said Tuesday.

Investigators in court papers described the men as “Islamic militants” who purchased weapons, staked out targets, practiced tactical maneuvers and viewed inspirational jihadist videos.

The 15-month investigation began when the photo-store employee contacted police about a customer who had asked to have a video made into a DVD, court papers say.

The video, allegedly taped on Jan. 3, 2006, at a rented house in the Pocono Mountains, showed men in military fatigues shooting assault weapons while calling for jihad, or holy war, and shouting in Arabic, “God is great,” court papers say.

The clerk described the video as “disturbing,” court papers say.

The men, who were arrested Monday, had viewed Osama bin Laden videos, but investigators found no direct link to his al-Qaeda terrorist organization, White House spokesman Tony Snow said.

“There is no direct evidence of a foreign terrorist tie,” Snow said.

Recorded conversations show the men sought a large number of American casualties, FBI agent John Ryan wrote in a sworn statement.

“My intent is to hit a heavy concentration of soldiers,” Mohamad Shnewer, one of the men arrested, said in a telephone call recorded by investigators. “You hit four, five, or six Humvees and light the whole place (up) and then retreat completely without any losses.”

He rued a missed opportunity to strike at the Army-Navy football game held in Philadelphia, court papers say.

Shnewer and five other alleged plotters also considered Fort Monmouth Army Base and the Naval Air Station Lakehurst in New Jersey, Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and the U.S. Coast Guard building in Philadelphia, court papers show. They eliminated Dover after staking out the base and finding security too tight, court papers say.

They ultimately fixed on Fort Dix because one of the men, Serdar Tatar, allegedly had easy access to the base as a delivery man for his family’s pizza business in Cookstown, N.J., court papers say.

Five of the six men are charged with conspiring to kill soldiers at Fort Dix and illegally purchasing firearms: brothers Dritan “Tony” Duka, 28, Eljvir “Elvis” Duka, 23, and Shain Duka, 26, of Cherry Hill, N.J.; Shnewer, 22, of Cherry Hill; and Tatar, 23, of Philadelphia. The sixth man, Agron Abdullahu, 24, of Buena Vista Township, N.J., is charged with aiding the attempt to get weapons.

The Dukas, who work at a roofing business, were born in the former Yugoslavia and are living illegally in the USA, the Justice Department says. Shnewer, a cab driver in Philadelphia, is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Jordan. Tatar, who worked as a convenience store clerk, is a legal permanent resident from Turkey. Abdullahu, a supermarket clerk, is a legal permanent resident born in Yugoslavia.

As the investigation progressed, two FBI informants infiltrated the group and recorded conversations and training, court papers say.

The FBI also copied Shnewer’s computer hard drive, court papers say.

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May 8, 2007

6 arrested in plot to kill soldiers at Fort Dix

Posted by The Star-Ledger May 08, 2007 6:02PM
Categories: Fort Dix terror plot

The six men charged with plotting the slaughter of U.S. soldiers in an armed assault on Fort Dix were held without bail this afternoon during an initial appearance in federal court in Camden.

The men, identified by authorities as homegrown Islamic terrorists inspired by Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network, each spent about 10 minutes before a judge in U.S. District Court, saying they understood the charges against them.

In a press briefing afterward, U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie said that had the men managed to carry out their plan, “It could have been a disaster.”

“These people were ready for martyrdom,” Christie said. “Once they got on to that base and started to shoot, everyone was in danger.”

Added J.P. Weis, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia office, “Today we dodged a bullet.”

“These homegrown terrorists can prove to be as dangerous as any known group,” Weis said.

Federal agents, backed by state police, arrested the men last night after two of the suspects met a confidential informant in Cherry Hill to buy AK-47 and M16 automatic machine guns, authorities said. The men intended to “kill as many soldiers as possible,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The alleged plot included conducting surveillance of the Army base and purchasing multiple firearms, including assault weapons, hand guns, shotguns and semi-automatic weapons, according to a federal complaint.

Some of the would-be attackers have been living illegally in the United States, while others are legal immigrants, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Four are ethnic Albanians, one was born in Turkey, and a sixth was born in Jordan.

Officials identified the men as Dritan Duka, 28, Eljvir Duka, 23, Shain Duka, 26, Serdar Tatar, 23, Mohamad Shnewer, 22, and Agron Abdullahu, 24.

The six had been under FBI surveillance for 15 months and prepared for their alleged plot by shooting paintball guns and real weapons in Gouldsboro, Pa., 30 miles southeast of Scranton, officials said. One had experience as a sniper in Kosovo, Christie said.

“These folks knew how to use these weapons,” he said.

The men also allegedly watched jihadist videos in which Osama bin Laden urged them toward martyrdom.

While under federal surveillance, the men also watched a video in which a U.S. Marine lost his arm in an explosion.

“The room burst out into laughter,” Christie said. “These are the type of people we were dealing with.”

The men had scouted out Fort Monmouth, Dover Air Force Base, Lakehurst Naval Air Station and the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard before settling on Fort Dix, a base that is used to mobilize troops to Iraq, according to the complaint.

One of the suspects, Tatar, had regular access to secure areas of the facility through his job as a deliveryman for his father’s pizzeria in Cookstown, not far from the gates of McGuire Air Force Base, which adjoins Fort Dix. Tatar, the complaint said, knew Fort Dix like the palm of his hand.”

The men had videotaped their practice sessions in Pennsylvania, according to the complaint. That videotape, in which they fired assault weapons and railed against America, led to their arrests.

They made the mistake of bringing it to a video store, seeking to get a copy burned to a DVD, Christie said. A store clerk who later watched the tape called the FBI, which began immediately investigating.

Weis, the agent in charge of the Philadelphia office, praised the clerk yesterday for his “courage and heroism.” Authorities would not identify the employee, saying he will be a witness in the case.

As they allegedly prepared for the attack, the men watched videos depicting armed assaults of U.S. military personnel at an undisclosed location, according to the complaint, which cited a federal witness who infiltrated the group.

The witness noted that Shnewer “seemed to enjoy watching the videos and smiled during the viewing.”

Files in his computer contained what appear to be the last will and testament of two hijackers involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, officials said.

Last night in Cherry Hill, a SWAT team and dozens of federal agents descended at about 9:15 on a quiet suburban neighborhood to raid Schnewer’s split level home on East Tampa Avenue, according to neighbors.

The investigators’ jackets and vests identified them as agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Secret Service and the FBI. They remained until about midnight and carted away several boxes of evidence, neighbors said.

A high school friend of Eljir and Shain Duka recalled them as typical teenagers.

‘We hung out in study hall together,” said David Jonathon, who is 24 and attended Cherry Hill High School West with the suspects.” We did teenage stuff. Drinking. Girls. Stuff like that.”

The Duka brothers had been popular in school, said Jonathon, of Cherry Hill. Shain drove a Cadillac Escalade SUV.

But when Jonathon saw Shain Duka recently for the first time in three years, the once fun-loving teenager was now growing a beard and spoke of converting to Islam.

‘He was trying to get me to go to prayer services with them,” Jonathon said.

Five of the men are charged with conspiring to kill officers of the United States Government, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. The sixth, Abdullahu, is charged with aiding and abetting the others.

Officials at Fort Dix, meanwhile, are increasing security. The facility, which has been closed to the public since 2001, is one of the three main Army posts responsible for preparing reserve and National Guard troops for deployment.

Nearly 100,000 troops have been mobilized through Fort Dix in the past five years.

‘This is definitely a reminder that we are at war,” said Carolee Nisbet, a Fort Dix spokeswoman. “We’re trying to encourage everyone to be more aware of their surroundings.”

Contributed by Jeff Whelan, Deborah Howlett, Dunstan McNichol, Wayne Woolley, Susan K. Livio and Mark Mueller
Updated at 6 p.m.

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May 1, 2007

Christian Brings Case Against Radical Mosque and CAIR

This entry was posted on 5/1/2007 5:30 PM and is filed
under Ummah News Links.

POMPANO BEACH, May 1 – A brave African-American Christian has filed a lawsuit today against organizations that he alleges are attempting to bring a radical form of Islam to his neighborhood and are striving to spread this extremism throughout America. A press conference concerning the matter will be taking place today.

The organizations named in the lawsuit are the Islamic Center of South Florida (ICOSF), the Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Florida), and the national office of CAIR.

The lawsuit is in response to the Pompano Beach City Council’s dangerous decision to grant a permit to ICOSF for the creation of a 29,000 square foot radical suspect mosque within the northwest section of Pompano, an almost entirely Christian and African-American area. The imam of this Islamic center has a history of ties to terrorism, and anti-Semitic statements.

The plaintiff and many others in the community believe that the mosque will be a nuisance and will pose a threat to the neighborhood and its surrounding areas. As well, the plaintiff believes that this is part of a greater scheme to radicalize America.

The individual filing the lawsuit is a congregant of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. Reverend O’Neal Dozier, who is the Pastor of the World Wide Christian Center (Church), has been a vocal critic of the mosque. The ICOSF is located close to both churches.

CAIR, throughout the process, has acted in concert with ICOSF, working hard to oppose anyone that gets in the way of the mosque’s creation.

The Klayman Law Firm, headed by the founder of Judicial Watch, Larry Klayman, represents the plaintiff in the case.

The lawsuit provides a roadmap for other concerned citizens around the nation to legally prevent radical Islam from posing a security threat in their local communities.

Links in the original at PRNewswire-USNewswire

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April 29, 2007

NIGERIA: Christians Wary of New Muslim President

Christians fear that persecution especially in predominantly Islamic northern Nigeria will increase following the election on Saturday of Muslim Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as president.

As governor of Katsina state in northern Nigeria, Yar’Ardua imposed sharia (Islamic law) and presided over a system of deliberate denial of land for building churches, as well as government agencies that arbitrarily closed some churches, Christian leaders told Compass.

Major political parties in Nigeria nominated only Muslims from the north as part of an unwritten agreement among leaders that the presidency would alternate between north and south. The Rev. Bulus Polit of the Evangelical Church of West Africa in Jos told Compass that between the two Muslim presidential candidates, Yar’Adua’s opponent was the more hard-line Muslim who would have presented greater problems to Christians in the country.

Compass Direct

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April 28, 2007

Airport adds foot basins for Muslim cabbies

Police worry about Kansas City ‘catering’ to Islamic rituals

The Kansas City International Airport has added several foot-washing basins in restrooms to accommodate a growing number of Muslim taxicab drivers who requested the facilities to prepare for daily Islamic prayer, WND has learned.

The move concerns airport police who worry about Middle Eastern men loitering inside the building. After 9/11, the airport beefed up its police force to help prevent terrorist attacks.

“Why are we constructing places of worship for them inside our airports?” said an airport official who requested anonymity. “Why are we catering to their rituals? We don’t do it for any other religion.”

Other major airports also are dealing with increased demands from Muslim cabdrivers.

For instance, cabbies at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport recently caused a stir when they refused to carry passengers possessing alcoholic beverages or accompanied by seeing-eye dogs. Alcohol is forbidden in Islam, and dogs are considered unclean.

There are approximately 250 taxicab drivers operating at KCI Airport in Missouri, one of the largest airports in the U.S., linking some 10 million passengers between mid-America and other U.S. cities. Approximately 70 percent of the drivers are of Middle Eastern heritage and practice the Islamic faith, sources say.

KCI Airport Police are responsible for the cab drivers, including the holding areas of the building. The KCI Aviation Department, which oversees the police, recently expanded the taxicab facility restroom area to include the construction of four individual foot-washing benches.

The cost of the project is not immediately known. A spokeswoman for the engineering department said she could not break out the figures.

KCI Airport Police Capt. Jim Harmon declined comment, explaining, “This is a touchy subject.”

He referred questions to the KCI Aviation Department.

In a cleansing ritual known as ablution, Muslims are required to wash their feet before praying to Allah five times a day. They often complain that public restroom sinks do not accommodate their needs. Floor-level basins make it easier for them to perform their foot-washing ritual.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has pressed government agencies and businesses to install the foot basins in restrooms.

The controversial Muslim lobby group advises employers to allow Muslim workers time to perform both the washing ritual and prayer, which “is usually about 15 minutes,” according to a pamphlet CAIR publishes called, “An Employer’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices.”

The Islamic purification ritual, known in Arabic as “wudu,” involves a 10-step process, which includes:

  1. Praising Allah while washing both hands up to the wrist three times, making sure that the water reaches between fingers and under rings.
  2. Rinsing out the mouth thoroughly three times, using the right hand (the one not used for cleaning private parts) to bring the water to the mouth.
  3. Snorting water into the nostrils from the right hand, three times, to cleanse them of demons that Muslims believe reside there, clearing the passages of any mucous using the left hand.
  4. Washing off the tip of the nose with the left hand.
  5. Washing the entire face three times from right ear to left ear.
  6. Continuing to wash from forehead to throat.
  7. Washing the right arm and then the left arm, three times, from the wrist up to the elbow, removing watches.
  8. Moving wetted palms over the head from the top of the forehead to the back of the head.
  9. Passing the wetted tips of the fingers into the grooves and holes of both ears, and also passing the wetted thumbs behind the ears and ear lobes.
  10. Finally, washing both feet to the ankles starting with the right foot, including between the toes, then reciting: “Ash-hadu an la ilaha illal lahu wa ashhadu anna Muammadan ‘abduhu wa rasuluh” ? meaning there is no god but Allah and he has no partners, and Muhammad is his servant and messenger.

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April 26, 2007

EGYPT: CONVERTED BACK COPTS STAY MUSLIM

Cairo, 26 April (AKI) – The ten Egyptian Coptic Christians, who after having converted to Islam decided to return to their original faith, will remain Muslims at least on paper for the rest of their lives. A Cairo court has ruled that the ministry of the interior is not obliged to issue them new identity documents. The question of religious belief in Egypt often presents itself as an adminsitrative rather than a spiritual issue given that every Egyptian has an ID card which states his or her religion.

It is precisely for this reason that the ten Copt converts, after having rejected Islam and returned to Christianity, with a public ceremony, asked the ministry for new ID documents. But the ministry refused, on the grounds that according to Sharia law it was impossible to renounce the Islamic faith.

The law based on the Koran in fact forbids the faithful from passing from one religious creed to another and anyone who pronounces the “Shahada” or declaration of faith will be considered a Muslim forever.

The sentence handed down late Wednesday by a Cairo court explained that “the tribunal cannot uphold the request of the citizens” who were calling on the judiciary to force the government to issue new documents as “neither this nor other tribunals are able to see into the depths of the heart of a man, where only God can arrive.”

The Copt community in Egypt numbers some nine million people and makes up an estimated ten percent of the Egyptian population which is majority Muslim.

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March 31, 2007

Rallies planned against ‘Islamofascism’

The following are locations across the nation where rallies will take place on March 31st against Islamic extremism and against the radical home grown terror support organization CAIR. Check this list for new additions. Also, for those interested, beautiful 3ft X 5ft United American Committee flags are available as a gift to those who contribute $25 or more to the UAC. Contributions to the UAC, a 501c(3) organization are tax deductible. Flags will be shipped priority mail the following day.

West Coast:

Southern California:
See the press release for this rally
In front of CAIR’s Southern California Office
We will be hanging an effigy of bin Laden
Location: 2180 W. Crescent Ave. Anaheim, CA 92801
Time: 1:00 PM
Contact: losangeles@unitedamericancommittee.org
Washington State:
In front of CAIR’s Seattle Office
Location: 9594 1st Avenue NE, Seattle WA
Time: 1:00 PM
Contact: washington@unitedamericancommittee.org
East Coast:

New York – NYC: GROUND ZERO
MAIN RALLY AGAINST ISLAMOFASCISM DAY RALLY – BE THERE!
Location: Ground Zero – World Trade Center
Time: 12 Noon – 2 PM
Contact: newyork@unitedamericancommittee.org
Florida – Orlando:
Location: The corner of Hwy 50(Colonial Drive) and Bumby.
Time: 1:00 PM
Contact: florida@unitedamericancommittee.org
Massachusetts – Boston:
Location: Boston Common
Tremont St. in front of the Constitution memorial and across from Lowes movie theater.
Time: 1:00 – 3:00 PM
Contact: boston@unitedamericancommittee.org
Midwest:

Missouri – Columbia:
Location: Post Office on E 500 block of Walnut Street, across the street on the sidewalk.
Time: 9:45am to 11am.
Contact: ltw03y@hotmail.com

____

United American Committee
P.O. Box 80325
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688
http://www.UnitedAmericanCommittee.org
Stay in touch with the online UAC community at:
http://www.JihadChat.com

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March 21, 2007 04:00am

Two women to be stoned for adultery, says Amnesty From correspondents in Khartoum, Sudan

TWO Sudanese women were sentenced to death by stoning for adultery after a trial in which they had no lawyer and which used Arabic, not their first language, the rights group Amnesty International said.

Sadia Idriss Fadul was sentenced on February 13 and Amouna Abdallah Daldoum on March 6 and their sentences could be carried out at any time, the London-based group said.

North Sudan implements Islamic sharia law.

“The women had no lawyer during their trial and were not able to defend themselves, as their first languages are those of their ethnic groups,” Amnesty said.

Both women are from non-Arab tribes but the proceedings were in Arabic and no interpreter was provided, Amnesty said. Their trial took place in central AlGezira state.

“One of the women, Sadia Idriss Fadul, has one of her children with her in prison,” Amnesty said.

Faysal el-Bagir, a Sudanese human rights activist, said sentences of death by stoning were rare, “but we have heard that in this area there have been other such judgments”.

The male accused in ms Fadul’s case was let off because there was not enough evidence against him. Witnesses are usually required to gain a conviction and forensic tests are not normally used in such cases.

Under Sudan’s penal code, anyone who is married and has sex outside wedlock shall be punished by execution by stoning. If they are unmarried, they are lashed, Amnesty said.

El-Bagir said that in another case in Sudan’s western Darfur region about two years ago, a woman sentenced to death by stoning had her punishment reduced to lashing after a public campaign by rights activists.

Amnesty opposes all forms of capital punishment.
Sudan’s justice ministry was unavailable for comment.

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March 14, 2007

Scrutiny Increases for a Group Advocating for Muslims in U.S.

By NEIL MacFARQUHAR

With violence across the Middle East fixing Islam smack at the center of the American political debate, an organization partly financed by donors closely identified with wealthy Persian Gulf governments has emerged as the most vocal advocate for American Muslims — and an object of wide suspicion.

Jim Wilson/The New York Times
Chronology of a Souring Relationship

The group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, defines its mission as spreading the understanding of Islam and protecting civil liberties. Its officers appear frequently on television and are often quoted in newspapers, and its director has met with President Bush. Some 500,000 people receive the group’s daily e-mail newsletter.

Yet a debate rages behind the scenes in Washington about the group, commonly known as CAIR, its financing and its motives. A small band of critics have made a determined but unsuccessful effort to link it to Hamas and Hezbollah, which have been designated as terrorist organizations by the State Department, and have gone so far as calling the group an American front for the two.

In the latest confrontation yesterday, CAIR held a panel discussion on Islam and the West in a Capitol meeting room despite demands by House Republicans that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, not allow the event. The Republicans called its members “terrorist apologists.”

Caley Gray, a spokesman for Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., a New Jersey Democrat who helped book the room, rejected that label in a phone interview and said CAIR held similar meetings when Congress was controlled by Republicans. Still, Mr. Gray called back to specify that Mr. Pascrell did not endorse all of the group’s positions.

Last fall, Senator Barbara Boxer of California issued a routine Certificate of Appreciation to the organization representative in Sacramento, but she quickly revoked it when critics assailed her on the Web under headlines like “Senators for Terror.”

“There are things there I don’t want to be associated with,” Ms. Boxer said later of the revocation, explaining that her California office had not vetted the group sufficiently.

CAIR and its supporters say its accusers are a small band of people who hate Muslims and deal in half-truths. Ms. Boxer’s decision to revoke the Sacramento commendation provoked an outcry from organizations that vouch for the group’s advocacy, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the California Council of Churches.

“They have been a leading organization that has advocated for civil rights and civil liberties in the face of fear and intolerance, in the face of religious and ethnic profiling,” said Maya Harris, the executive director of the A.C.L.U. of Northern California.

Government officials in Washington said they were not aware of any criminal investigation of the group. More than one described the standards used by critics to link CAIR to terrorism as akin to McCarthyism, essentially guilt by association.

“Of all the groups, there is probably more suspicion about CAIR, but when you ask people for cold hard facts, you get blank stares,” said Michael Rolince, a retired F.B.I. official who directed counterterrorism in the Washington field office from 2002 to 2005.

Outreach to all Muslims via groups they support is an important aspect of ensuring that extremists cannot get a foothold here as they have in Europe, Mr. Rolince said.

The cloud kicked up by the constant scrutiny is such that spokesmen at several federal agencies refused to comment about the group and some spoke only on the condition of anonymity.

After a brief interview, Ms. Boxer declined to answer additional questions about the commendation to the Sacramento representative, Basim Elkarra. A spokeswoman, Natalie Ravitz, said in an e-mail message that the senator had decided “to put this entire incident behind her.”

Joe Kaufman, who Ms. Boxer’s office said first drew her attention to CAIR’s reputation, is the founder of a Web site that tracks what he calls the group’s extremism, cairwatch.com. Other critics include the Investigative Project, a conservative group that tries to identify terrorist organizations, and the Middle East Forum, a conservative research center that says its goal is to promote American interests in the region.

“You can’t fight a war on terrorism directly when you are acting with a terror front,” said Mr. Kaufman, who advocates shutting down the organization.

Founded in 1994, CAIR had eight chapters at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks, said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the group, but has grown to some 30 chapters as American Muslims have felt unjustly scrutinized ever since.

Broadly summarized, critics accuse CAIR of pursuing an extreme Islamist political agenda and say at least five figures with ties to the group or its leadership have either been convicted or deported for links to terrorist groups. They include Mousa Abu Marzook, a Hamas leader deported in 1997 after the United States failed to produce any evidence directly linking him to any attacks.

There were no charges linked to CAIR in any of the cases involved, and law enforcement officials said that in the current climate, any hint of suspicious behavior would have resulted in a racketeering charge.

David Johnston contributed reporting.

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March 6, 2007

Straw – Muslim women should learn English before they get a visa

By STEVE DOUGHTY

Mr Straw said he would be raising the issue with the Education Secretary Alan Johnson

Asian women should be forbidden to settle in England unless they speak English, Jack Straw has warned.

The Leader of the Commons said that an immigration rule requiring newly-arrived Asian women to learn English was “one of the things we should be looking at”.

More here:
• Anger as Straw tells Muslim women to take off their veils
• Brown reignites veil row by backing Straw
• Straw defiant despite growing veils row

The call plunged Mr Straw into a fresh controversy over his hardening views on the need for migrants – and especially Muslim migrants – to fit better into society.

Last autumn he provoked widespread indignation when he disclosed that he asks Muslim women to remove full-face veils in constituency meetings, and later said he would like the veil to be abandoned entirely.

Mr Straw’s call for firmer immigration rules is the second hint inside a fortnight from Government sources that some form of pressure for newcomers to take up English is under consideration.

Last month the Commission on Integration and Cohesion, the inquiry set up by Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly to investigate the effects of immigration and the spread of Islamic radicalism, said that men or women arriving in Britain as spouses of people already here should be asked to show they have a mastery of the language.

Mr Straw told a conference in his Blackburn constituency: “One of the things we should be looking at is the subject of Asian women speaking English and whether we need to engage them and require them to speak English before they are given a settlement visa.”

He also singled out Muslims as a group divided from the rest of society. “There is a big cultural divide between Muslims and the rest of us, more than say with the Afro-Caribbean community.”

A law demanding that new migrants learn English would fit with the Labour leadership’s new push for greater integration and its abandonment of the doctrine of multiculturalism, under which different groups were encouraged to pursue their own separate development.

But any laws which singled out women, Asians, or spouses would be certain to fall foul of other Labour laws, in particular the Human Rights Act which protects the right to family life and to marriage, and which forbids discrimination on grounds of sex, race, religion or language.

Mr Straw’s critics said the Government should do more to provide English teaching for those who speak other languages.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Greaves said: “You cannot discriminate against people who might speak English before they come to the country.

“What you have to do is make a good provision for free classes in English for anybody who may not have English as a first language and wants to learn.”

He added: “The Government are trying to be authoritarian while at the same time restricting the number of English classes. People who want to live in this country would be happy to learn English if they had the facilities to do so.”

Anjum Anwar of the Lancashire Council of Mosques said: “Of course Jack wants everyone to learn English but the government is about to demolish funding for English classes.

“It’s all very well demanding something from the public but not supporting them.”

Blackburn local councillor Yusuf Jan-Vermani said: “I support doing something about it because it is important that people can speak the language when they go to the doctor or go shopping.

“There is an issue with people coming from India and Pakistan, but we also have Poles not speaking English. They all should learn our language before they come.”

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March 6, 2007

Saudi Kidnap, Rape Victim Faces Lashing for ‘Crime’ of Being Alone With Man Not Related to Her

A 19-year-old Saudi woman who was kidnapped, beaten and gang raped by seven men who then took photos of their victim and threatened to kill her, was sentenced under the country’s Islamic-based law to 90 lashes for the “crime” of being alone with a man not related to her.
The woman is appealing to Saudi King Abdullah to intervene in the controversial case.

“I ask the king to consider me as one of his own daughters and have mercy on me and set me free from the 90 lashes,” the woman said in an emotional interview published Monday in the Saudi Gazette.

“I was shocked at the verdict. I couldn’t believe my ears. Ninety lashes! Ninety lashes!” the woman, identified only as “G,” told the English-language newspaper.

Five months after the harsh judgment, her sentence has yet to be carried out, “G” said she waits in fear every day for the phone call telling her to submit to authorities to carry out her punishment.

Lashes are usually spread over several days. About 50 lashes are given at a time.

The woman’s ordeal began a year ago when she was blackmailed into meeting a man who threatened to tell her family they were having a relationship outside wedlock, which is illegal in the desert kingdom, according to a report in The Scotsman newspaper.

She met the man at a shopping mall and, after driving off together, the blackmailer’s car was stopped by two other cars bearing men wielding knives and meat cleavers.

During the next three hours, the woman was raped 14 times by her seven captors.

One of the men took pictures of her naked with his mobile phone and threatened to blackmail her with them.

Back at home in a town near the eastern city of Qatif, the young woman did not tell her family of her ordeal. Nor did she inform the authorities, fearing the rapist would circulate the pictures of her naked. She also attempted suicide.

Five of the rapists were arrested and given jail terms ranging from 10 months to five years. The prosecutor had asked for the death penalty for the men.

The Saudi justice ministry, however, said rape could not be proved because there were no witnesses and the men had recanted confessions they made during interrogation.

The judges, basing their decision on Islamic law, also decided to sentence the woman and her original blackmailer to lashes for being alone together in his car.

The Saudi Gazette and The Scotsman contributed to this report.

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March 4, 2007

Arab Bank accused of funding terrorists

The influential Mideast firm denies having knowingly financed Palestinian militants, including suicide bombers.

By Josh Meyer, Times Staff Writer
March 4, 2007

WASHINGTON — A three-year investigation into the activities of one of the Middle East’s largest and most influential banks is producing extensive evidence of how tens of millions of dollars have flowed from wealthy Saudi Arabians to Palestinian groups that allegedly used some of the money to pay off suicide bombers and their survivors.

The information being turned up by government inquiries and lawyers suing Arab Bank “will give people a better understanding of the way money moves in that part of the world to support Hamas” and other militant groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, said Stephen Kroll, a terrorism finance specialist and until recently counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

“It’s important in focusing the public’s attention on the issue of what is and what is not acceptable for banks to be involved in,” Kroll said.

The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into the New York branch of Arab Bank, which is based in Jordan, and its financial links to organizations and individuals accused of terrorism, according to three former U.S. counter-terrorism officials.

In 2005, the bank agreed to pay the federal government $24 million in fines for violating U.S. laws aimed at preventing terrorist financing, including failing to report suspicious transactions.

The bank is also being sued in federal court in Brooklyn by Americans and Israelis injured in suicide bombings or other fighting in Israel and the occupied territories, and by the relatives of others who were killed. No trial date has been set, but assuming the cases go to trial, they could establish ground rules for what obligations banks have in handling money bound for militant groups. They could also provide an unusually detailed and public look at the flow of money from Saudi donors to Palestinian groups that the U.S. and Israel list as terrorist.

Lawyers suing Arab Bank accuse the firm of facilitating acts of terrorism by providing accounts and other financial services to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and similar groups. Arab Bank also acted as the administrator of a plan in which suicide bombers and others designated as “martyrs” by the Palestinian Authority and other organizations were compensated for their actions on a sliding scale, based on the extent of their injuries, according to documents filed in the cases. The lawsuits charge that the payments — and thus Arab Bank — provided an incentive for suicide bombings.

Arab Bank officials deny such charges and say they have never knowingly supported acts of terrorism. Bank officials say their agreement to pay the fine in 2005 was not an acknowledgment of any wrongdoing.

Bank officials say they provide an important financial service in the impoverished Palestinian territories and that they were merely acting as intermediaries between banks representing Saudi donors and Palestinian organizations and individuals who were being compensated for suffering at Israeli hands.

In one instance in which plaintiffs’ lawyers allege that Arab Bank maintained an account for Hamas in Beirut, bank officials said that once they learned of the suspicious account, they froze it and reported it to authorities.

Arab Bank also said that it was primarily transferring funds sent to it from other banks on behalf of legitimate Saudi donors that have not been linked to terrorist activities.

But the department said that after the government designated these groups as terrorist, the bank failed to go back and review its accounts to see what dealings it had had with them and report any suspicious activities.

Some of the initial allegations in the lawsuits, most of which were filed in 2004, were based on documents seized by the Israeli military during raids on charities, businesses and other locations in the West Bank and Gaza in 2002. Among the documents were records indicating that Arab Bank provided financial services for Hamas and at least 41 organizations and individuals allegedly related to it or to Islamic Jihad.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers Gary Osen and Michael Elsner used those records as a jumping-off point for a wider investigation in which they have gained access to tens of thousands of financial records from Arab Bank.

The records detail financial transactions that began in 2000 with the start of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising. Saudi government officials created two special fundraising committees to help Palestinians battle Israeli forces and otherwise resist the occupation, according to court documents.

One of them, the Saudi Committee for Aid to the Al Quds Intifada, decreed that the life of anyone who died as a “martyr” in the conflict with Israel was worth 20,000 Saudi riyals, about $5,300 at the time. The committee began wiring that sum into accounts that families were instructed to set up at Arab Bank branches, the lawsuits allege. The average Palestinian salary is about $3,000 a year.

In all, the Saudi Committee made about 200,000 wire transfers for the Palestinian cause, totaling more than $90 million, Shukry Bishara, Arab Bank’s chief banking officer, said in a court declaration. Much of that money went to pay for hospitals and social welfare programs, or to compensate people injured or imprisoned — or the families of those killed — in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But the money also included an undetermined amount paid to the families of suicide bombers, and those injured or imprisoned by Israel, according to the lawsuits.

The plaintiffs allege that bank officials knew that those listed as “martyrs” included suicide bombers because it was publicly advertised. They cited a Feb. 10, 2001, edition of the Saudi newspaper Al Jazirah in which the Saudi Committee listed the names of Palestinian martyrs, including those killed in suicide bombings, whose families received payments.

Several lawmakers and Bush administration officials involved in the investigation of Arab Bank have expressed concerns about its activities.

At one House Finance Committee hearing in May 2005, Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey said that during his visit to the West Bank city of Ramallah to discuss the issue, the Arab Bank manager for the Palestinian territories told him that he “had not filed a single suspicious activity report in the past two years across all the Arab Bank branches in the West Bank and in Gaza.”

“It appears that such controls were indeed sorely lacking at Arab Bank across all of their global operation,” Levey said.

To win their case, the plaintiffs’ lawyers would have to prove that Arab Bank knew that it was doing business with terrorist individuals or entities.

In 2005, the Treasury Department and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency found that Arab Bank’s New York branch had transferred funds between 2001 and 2004 for organizations that were later designated by the U.S. as terrorist groups. The Treasury Department said the bank had “largely complied” with the requirement to stop the transfers after the groups were identified.

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March 3, 2007

Muslims accused of blackmail to make student girls convert

Nicola Woolcock
Radical Muslims are being accused of blackmailing young Hindu and Sikh women into changing religion in “groomed conversions” on campuses.

The men aggressively target vulnerable university students by using the fear of being dishonoured to force them to convert, community leaders have told The Times. Many befriend their victims, then threaten to tell their families that they are in a sexual relationship with a Muslim. Some teenagers are said to have been drugged and photographed in compromising positions.

Many comply because they are so afraid of shaming their parents or being rejected by their communities.

Police are aware of the problem. Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, recently attended a Hindu conference where the issue was raised. But police are powerless to act unless incidents are reported. This rarely happens because the stigma of a child converting to Islam often silences Sikh and Hindu parents.

Community elders say that the practice is widespread but their estimates vary from 100 annual incidents nationwide to 120 in the past few months in the South East alone.

Ranjeet Singh, of the British Organisation of Sikh Students, said: “There are cases of aggressive techniques, of drugging and of rape, of the man taking photos and blackmailing the girls into converting.

“They know that by dishonouring the girls, they will make their families disown them. In the past few months there have been about 120 cases in Luton and the South East. It’s a problem that has been going on for a while, but a lot of people are reluctant to come forward and there’s not much being done.

“It’s not the whole Muslim community, it’s extremist individuals. Some girls are very innocent and vulnerable when they go to university. Then they are befriended by these men. We know of some whose lives have been ruined.”

Some of the young women have suffered physical violence. Others have said that the men claimed to have been paid to convert their victims.

Ramesh Kallidai, secretary-general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, said: “The main problem is these girls feel very vulnerable and intimidated by these men. They talk about it to their friends, who tell us what is happening, but don’t want to speak to the police. Some families are completely broken apart by it. It becomes difficult to admit in public.

“One girl was beaten up when she refused to convert. She is petrified. She only spoke to one other girl about it, who contacted us.”

One Sikh organisation sets up telephone helplines and arranges visits to temples to raise awareness of the problem. Its leader, who wishes his identity and the group’s to remain anonymous, said: “This is very much taboo. These issues have been going on for many years and come to the boil at university.

“I deal with many very serious cases. There are horrific examples of abuse and blackmail, with men saying they’re going to tell the girl’s parents. Then they’re pretty much trapped. We call it groomed conversions. Some of the girls go through with it because they feel they have no choice.

“The men start a relationship with them, with the agenda of conversion down the line. Sometimes they take a picture of her in a compromising position. It’s so easy with camera phones. An 18-year-old girl ends up in a situation that she can’t control.”

He said that the extremists were exploiting the Sikh community’s tendency to treat conversion as a grave dishonour, adding: “That’s a cultural mindset we need to tackle. It’s the worst thing you could face — worse than bankruptcy or losing your job.”

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman confirmed that officers had attended a Hindu security conference last month. She said: “We are aware of it as an issue that concerns the Hindu community but are not aware, without further research, of any specific incidents reported to police. We would encourage anyone who has been targeted in this way to seek help.”

Have your say

This problem with conversion is quite prolific in my city , birmingham , ive spoken to lots of hindu, sikh and christian families who have “lost” their daughters to this type of acitvity . I currently work in social services and ive dealt with numerous cases of muslim males , primarily pakistani who have targetted these girls at both colleges, universities and nightclubs , they often target girls at a very young age and form relationships with them while they are naive and misguided ? you only have to look at area’s like handsworth, smethwick and wolverhampton where so many of these situations occur ? the fact is the indian community do absolutley nothing to prevent this type of expolitation happening ? our males are weak and to tolerant to this ? imagine a muslim girl dating a sikh or hindu guy there would be severe trouble from members of her community ? the problem is many indian guys socialise with muslim guys who use there friendship to take advantage of these girls ? sad

kalpesh , birmingham, england

I agree with Aman Johal’s comment’s. The solution is education. We need to educate our brother’s, sisters, children about our own religion…this will make them stronger within. The only way these people are able to convert others into Islam is that these people have no idea about their own religion.

How can anybody convert to another religion when they do not know about the religion they were born into???

Harjit Singh, Birmingham, UK,

i dnt think radical muslims are the partial problem. I think its the lack of education (about religion) between the sikh and hindu population. I live with muslim girls and their conviction to there religion is awesome. it only made me want to read more and more about sikhism. If we make girls stronger from within, about their religion and about themselves – then we wouldnt have this ‘problem’. Its no good to disown our sisters or daughters because of these situations – most of them convert back!! Help them realise what they have done. Neither, Islam, sikhism, hinduism, and christianity are bad religions – they all teach the truth. I hope this news doesnt promote hatred among sikhs and hindus towards muslims. Kind Regards

Aman Johal, Leicester, England

Read all 7 comments

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February 27, 2007

Canadian Muslim girl ejected from soccer game for not taking off hijab

Tuesday February 27, 2007
MONTREAL (AP) An 11-year-old Muslim girl was ejected from a soccer game for refusing to take off her hijab, reigniting Quebec’s debate over reasonable accommodation for minorities and even prompting comments from Premier Jean Charest.

Quebec’s soccer federation said Asmahan Mansour of Ottawa was given the choice of taking off her hijab or not playing in a Sunday tournament in nearby Laval. It says the hijab an Islamic veil or head scarf violated a no-heargear rule set down by the sport’s governing body for safety reasons.

But others have slammed the referee’s decision, saying it’s just another example of how Quebec is trying to get immigrants to toe a cultural line.

Maria Mansour, the girl’s mother, told CBC Radio that she thought the incident was racially motivated.

“Strongly, I do think so, because soccer is soccer whether it’s in Ontario or Quebec or Europe and it’s not right at all to not allow a Muslim girl who’s proud of her religion to play soccer, a sport she loves so much,” Mansour said.

“It took a lot out of me to see my daughter in the middle being humiliated in front of a lot of people,” she said.

The Quebec Soccer Federation noted the referee was also a Muslim.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest, himself a one-time soccer player, weighed in on the issue Monday.

“My understanding is that the referee applied the rules of the soccer federation and that’s why that decision was made,” Charest said.

The Muslim Council of Montreal said the Ontario Soccer Association allows players to wear religious clothing on the field and urged the Quebec federation to respect the religious rights of its players.

“Asking minority groups to integrate cannot be equated with forcing them to assimilate and stripping them of their identity and rights,” said council spokesman Salam Elmenyawi.

The council also criticized Charest, saying he failed to address the issue properly.

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February 22, 2007

Egyptian blogger jailed for insulting Islam

Abdel Karim Suleiman, 22-year-old former law student who has been in custody since November, is first blogger to stand trial in Egypt for his Internet writings. Alexandria court sentenced him to four years in jail

Reuters Published: 02.22.07, 18:08 / Israel News

An Alexandria court convicted an Egyptian blogger on Thursday for insulting both Islam and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and sentenced him to four years in jail over his writings on the Internet.

Abdel Karim Suleiman, a 22-year-old former law student who has been in custody since November, was the first blogger to stand trial in Egypt for his Internet writings. He was convicted in connection with eight articles he wrote since 2004.

Rights groups and opposition bloggers have watched Suleiman’s case closely, and said they feared a conviction could set a legal precedent limiting Internet freedom in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country.

The London-based rights group Amnesty International said in a statement: “This is yet another slap in the face of freedom of expression in Egypt.” The group considers Suleiman to be a prisoner of conscience, jailed solely for peacefully expressing his opinion, the statement added.

The Paris-based press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders said the sentence was “a disgrace” and the United Nations should respond by disqualifying Egypt from hosting an Internet Governance Forum in 2009.

“It is time the international community took a stand on Egypt’s repeated violations of press freedom and the rights of Internet users,” a statement added.

Major forum

A fellow blogger who runs the “Rantings of a Sandmonkey” blog said: “It’s a dangerous precedent because it will impact the only free space available now, which is the Internet. The charges were undefined and vague.”

“Tell me. What does insulting the president mean? What is the difference between criticising religion and being in contempt of religion?” he added, asking to remain anonymous.

The Internet has emerged as a major forum for critics of the Egyptian government to express their views in a country where the states runs large newspapers and main television stations.

While Suleiman was the first blogger to go on trial for the content of his writings, other opposition bloggers have been arrested periodically during street protests and then held for weeks or months before being released.

Suleiman, a Muslim and a liberal, has not denied writing the articles but said they merely represented his own views. His lawyers said they planned to appeal the verdict, and one member of the defense team described the trial as unfair.

One of Suleiman’s articles said that al-Azhar in Cairo, one of the most prominent seats of Sunni Muslim learning, was promoting extreme ideas. Another article, headlined “The Naked Truth of Islam as I Saw it,” accused Muslims of savagery during clashes between Muslims and Christians in Alexandria in 2005.

He has also described some of the companions of the Muslim prophet Mohammad as “terrorists,” and has likened Mubarak to dictatorial pharaohs who ruled ancient Egypt.

“I was hoping that he would get a harsher sentence because he presented to the world a bad image of Egypt. There are things that one should not talk about, like religion and politics. He should have got a 10-year sentence,” said lawyer Nizar Habib, who attended the trial as a member of the public.

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February 11, 2007

Australian Leader: Al-Qaida Wants Obama

Prime Minister John Howard of Australia says al-Qaida is praying for an Obama victory

(AP) Australia’s conservative prime minister slammed Barack Obama on Sunday over his opposition to the Iraq war, a day after the first-term U.S. senator announced his intention to run for the White House in 2008.

Obama said Saturday at his campaign kickoff in Springfield, Ill., that one of the country’s first priorities should be ending the war in Iraq. He has also introduced a bill in the Senate to prevent President Bush from increasing American troop levels in Iraq and to remove U.S. combat forces from the country by March 31, 2008.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a staunch Bush ally who has sent troops to Iraq and faces his own re-election bid later this year, said Obama’s proposals would spell disaster for the Middle East.

“I think that will just encourage those who want to completely destabilize and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and a victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for an Obama victory,” Howard said on Nine Network television.

“If I were running al-Qaida in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying as many times as possible for a victory, not only for Obama but also for the Democrats.”

Howard has defied widespread domestic opposition to the war, keeping about 1,400 Australian troops in and around Iraq, mostly in non-combat roles. He is seeking a fifth term later this year, and recent polls suggest voters are increasingly unhappy about his refusal to set a deadline for withdrawing Australian troops from the Middle East.

“You either rat on the ally or you stay with the ally,” he said. “If it’s all right for us to go, it’s all right for the Americans and the British to go, and if everybody goes, Iraq will descend into total civil war and there’ll be a lot of bloodshed.”

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs, traveling with the senator in Iowa, said that Howard’s words were misguided.

“The United States has sacrificed more than 3,000 brave young men and women and $400 billion, only to find ourselves mired in the middle of a sectarian civil war,” he said. “Even Republicans … know that more of the same is only going to attract more terrorists to Iraq and make our country less safe.”

Gibbs went on to say that Howard wasn’t in a position to be overly critical.

“If Prime Minister Howard truly believes what he says, perhaps his country should find its way to contribute more than just 1,400 troops so some American troops can come home,” he said. “It’s easy to talk tough when it’s not your country or your troops making the sacrifices.”

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February 7, 2007

Egypt cracks down on illegal Muslim group

By Heba Saleh in Cairo

Published: February 7 2007 20:30 | Last updated: February 7 2007 20:30

Egypt has referred the cases of forty members of the illegal Muslim Brotherhood to a military tribunal in a move which signals another escalation of the government’s crackdown against the group – the largest opposition force in the country.

Decisions by the military courts cannot be appealed and the authorities have not referred any Brotherhood members to a military trial since 2001.

Khairat El Shater, a wealthy businessman and the number three in the movement is among those facing trial. The authorities say that he and several other businessmen among the defendants bankrolled the Brotherhood’s activities.

The charges against them include money laundering and creating a militia.

“We condemn this unjust decision which does not respect the minimum rights of citizens and which uses unconstitutional means to deal with political adversaries,” said Mohamed Mahdi Akef, the leader of the Brotherhood in a statement issued Wedenesday.

The charges arise from actions by Islamist students at Al Azhar university who in December staged a parade in which they wore black hoods and carried out martial arts exercises during a protest against the rigging of student union elections.

Although the Brotherhood said the students had acted wrongly, the group’s opponents now accuse them of preparing for violence.

The Muslim Brotherhood is barred from contesting elections but independent candidates standing for it had managed to win a fifth of the seats in parliament in elections in 2005. The government now appears determined to prevent them from achieving any further gains.

Hosni Mubarak the president has presented to parliament draft constitutional amendments which would make it illegal to establish parties based on religion. Mr Mubarak, who recently described the Brotherhood as a threat to national security, also wants to change the electoral law to favour political parties over movements.

Many believe this will result in reducing or doing away completely with chances for independent candidates.

In recent weeks the Brotherhood has been the target of a new campaign of arrests in which some 260 people have been detained. This has been accompanied by a sustained wave of attacks againt the movement in both the state media and private media.

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February 4, 2007

20 face lash, prison for dancing in Saudi Arabia

Judge sentences foreigners for partying, alcohol, unmarrieds mingling

Updated: 4:48 p.m. PT Feb 4, 2007
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – A Saudi Arabian judge sentenced 20 foreigners to receive lashes and spend several months in prison after convicting them of attending a party where alcohol was served and men and women danced, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The defendants were among 433 foreigners, including some 240 women, arrested by the kingdom’s religious police for attending the party in Jiddah, the state-guided newspaper Okaz said. It did not identify the foreigners, give their nationalities or say when the party took place.

Judge Saud al-Boushi sentenced the 20 to prison terms of three to four months and ordered them to receive an unspecified number of lashes, the newspaper said. They have the right to appeal, it added.

The prosecutor general charged the 20 with “drinking, arranging for impudent party, mixed dancing and shooting a video for the party,” Okaz said.

The paper said the rest of those arrested were awaiting trial.

Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam under which it bans alcohol and meetings between unrelated men and women.

The religious police, a force resented by many Saudis for interfering in personal lives, enjoys wide powers. Its officers roam malls, markets, universities and other public places looking for such infractions as unrelated men and women mingling, men skipping Islam’s five daily prayers and women with strands of hair showing from under their veil.

In May, the Interior Ministry restricted the powers of the religious police to just arresting suspects, because the police sometimes had held people incommunicado and insisted on taking part in ensuing investigations.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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February 4, 2007

Strain ripples to U.S. Muslims

Old and new tensions between Sunnis and Shiites are blamed for vandalism and conflict.
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/
news/nation/16617554.htm

The New York Times
DEARBORN, Mich. | Twice recently, vandals have shattered windows at three mosques and a dozen businesses popular among Shiite Muslims along Warren Avenue, the spine of the Arab community here.

Although police have arrested no one, most in Dearborn’s Iraqi Shiite community blame the Sunni Muslims.

“The Shiites were very happy that they killed Saddam, but the Sunnis were in tears,” said Aqeel al-Tamimi, 34, an immigrant Iraqi truck driver and a Shiite. “These people look at us like we sold our country to America.”

Escalating tensions between Sunnis and Shiites across the Middle East are rippling through some American Muslim communities and have been blamed for vandalism and student confrontations.

Political splits between those for and against the American invasion of Iraq fuel some of the animosity, but it is also a fight among Muslims about who represents Islam.

Long before the vandalism in Dearborn and Detroit, feuds had been simmering on some college campuses. Some Shiite students said they had faced repeated discrimination.

“A microcosm of what is happening in Iraq happened in New Jersey because people couldn’t put aside their differences,” said Sami Elmansoury, a Sunni Muslim and former vice president of the Islamic Society at Rutgers University.

Although the war in Iraq is one crucial cause, some students and experts on sectarianism also attribute the fissure to the significant growth in the Muslim-American population over the past few decades.

Some Muslim communities are so large that the majority Sunnis and minority Shiites now maintain their own mosques, schools and social clubs. Many Muslim students first meet someone from the other branch of their faith at college.
——————————————————————————–

The religious split in Islam

Shiites constitute about 15 percent of the more than 1.3 billion Muslims, and they are thought to be proportionally represented among America’s estimated 6 million Muslims.

Sectarian tensions mushroomed during the current Muslim month of Muharram, when Shiites commemorate the death of Hussein, a grandson of the prophet Muhammad.

Hussein was killed in seventh-century disputes over who would rule the faithful, a schism that gave birth to the Sunni and Shiite factions.

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Jan 21, 2007

British Airways worker can now wear her cross

A British Airways check-in worker who was banned from wearing a cross to work said last night she was “elated” that the airline was changing its uniform policy to allow staff to wear a “symbol of faith” openly.

Nadia Eweida, 55, from Twickenham, south west London, said the decision to allow people to wear a cross or other symbols of their faith was long overdue.

Miss Eweida had refused to return to work at Heathrow Airport after bosses told her she could not wear the necklace. She lost an appeal against the decision in November but was told she did have the right to a second appeal.

Speaking from her home she said she had not received any formal notification from BA about the change to its uniform policy but welcomed the announcement that the airline had now changed its position.
“I don’t think any other religion other than Christianity would have been treated so badly,” she added.

Miss Eweida said she wanted to thank the British public and Christian groups who had voiced their support for her stand and said if it had not been for the publicity she received her case would have been discarded.
When the row over Miss Eweida’s cross erupted in October last year BA said it had not banned religious jewellery, but that it had to be hidden from view.

The airline said it had offered Miss Eweida a non-uniformed job where she could wear the cross, but she had turned it down.

Miss Eweida claimed she had worn the small cross throughout her seven years with BA and accused the firm of religious discrimination.

The airline came under immense pressure to change its uniform policy after Miss Eweida lost her appeal.

Leading union and religious figures criticised the airline over its stance and called on it to reconsider its position.

The Archbishop of York welcomed the airline’s decision.
Dr John Sentamu said: “I am grateful that BA has finally shown grace and magnanimity in this change of policy so as to enable their Christian employees to display their commitment to their faith.”

He added: “Nadia Eweida’s courage and commitment to her Lord is a challenge to us all that love and loyalty to Christ conquers in the end.”

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Jan 20, 2007

WW III already begun says Israeli Spy Chief

Former head of Israel’s intelligence service tells Portuguese newspaper it would take at least 25 years before battle against fundamentalist terrorism is won; says nuclear strike by Muslim terrorists ‘very likely’

AFP http://www.ynetnews.com/Ext/Comp/ArticleLayout/
CdaArticlePrintPreview/1,2506,L-3357552,00.html

A third World War is already underway between Islamic militancy and the West but most people do not realize it, the former head of Israel’s intelligence service Mossad said in an interview published Saturday in Portugal.

‘We are in the midst of a third World War,’ former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy told weekly newspaper Expresso.

‘The world does not understand. A person walks through the streets of Tel Aviv, Barcelona or Buenos Aires and doesn’t get the sense that there is a war going on,’ said Halevy who headed Mossad between 1998 and 2003.

‘During World War I and II the entire world felt there was a war. Today no one is conscious of it. From time to time there is a terrorist attack in Madrid, London and New York and then everything stays the same.’

Violence by Islamic militants has already disrupted international travel and trade just as in the previous two world conflicts, he said.

Halevy, who was raised in war-time London, predicted it would take at least 25 years before the battle against Islamic fundamentalist terrorism is won and during this time a nuclear strike by Islamic militants was likely.

‘It doesn’t have to be something very sophisticated, It doesn’t have to be the latest nuclear technology, it can be something simple like a dirty bomb which instead of killing millions only kills tens of thousands,’ he said.

Halevy served as an envoy for former Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres and is a former Israeli ambassador to the European Union.

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Jan 12, 2007

Suspected Greek militants fire rocket at U.S. embassy

By Karolos Grohmann 1 hour, 49 minutes ago

ATHENS (Reuters) – Suspected leftist guerrillas fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the U.S. embassy in Athens on Friday, causing minor damage, in the boldest attack staged by left-wing militants in years.

The blast shattered windows and woke up nearby residents in the central Athens area at 5:58 AM (0358 GMT) but no one was hurt, police said.
The grenade was launched just across the street from the heavily guarded embassy building, which is surrounded by a 3-metre-high (9-feet-high) steel fence, and authorities were dealing with the attack as a serious act of violence.

Apparently aimed at the U.S. seal on the building’s facade, the attack was the worst assault on the mission, often the target of Greek protests and demonstrations, in a decade.

“There are one or two anonymous phone calls which claim that the Revolutionary Struggle was behind the attack,” Public Order Minister Byron Polydoras told reporters outside the embassy. “Most likely, it is an act by local perpetrators.”

The leftist guerrilla group has emerged as the most serious domestic threat since the dismantling of the deadly November 17 group in 2002, adopting its anti-U.S. polemics in proclamations usually sent to Greek media.

It emerged with a 2003 bomb attack on a court building and has since claimed an assassination attempt against Greece’s culture minister in May and a bomb at the Economy Ministry which wounded two people 13 months ago.

“I am treating this as a very serious attack,” U.S. ambassador to Athens, Charles Ries, told reporters. “The embassy was attacked in a senseless act of violence.”

Police said an east European-made RPG-18 rocket launcher was used to fire the grenade, which landed inside a toilet on the third floor, slightly damaging the glass facade and ceiling. The portable launcher has not been found.

“No other group in Greece has the expertise to launch such a an attack,” a police official said. He said Revolutionary Struggle usually claimed responsibility with calls to media but this time the two calls came to the embassy’s security firm.

ATTACK CONDEMNED

“It was a huge explosion, the ground shook. I woke up and rushed to the balcony to see what happened,” a local resident, who was not identified, told Greek television.

Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyanni, whose husband Pavlos Bakoyannis was gunned down by November 17 in 1989, went to the embassy to meet Ries and condemn the attack.

“The minister sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, unequivocally condemning the attack and declaring the government’s absolute will to root out terrorism,” Foreign Ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said.

Greek opposition parties denounced the attack, saying it only hurt Greece’s interests and its image abroad while a government spokesman said Greece would hunt down the attackers.

In February 1996, November 17 claimed responsibility for a rocket attack at the back of the embassy compound, which damaged three diplomatic cars and some surrounding buildings.

Once Greece’s biggest security threat, the group was dismantled two years before the Athens 2004 Olympics. It had staged hundreds of bombings, shootings and rocket attacks, and killed U.S. and other foreign diplomats in Greece.

In November last year, Greek riot police fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators marching to the embassy, chanting slogans including “Bush the butcher, out of Iraq” and “The USA is the real terrorist.”

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Jan 8, 2007

Shahawar Matin Siraj Sentenced To Thirty Years Of Imprisonment For Conspiring To Place Explosives At The 34th Street Subway Station In New York

NEW YORK, Jan. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Roslynn R. Mauskopf, U.S.attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced that Shahawar
Matin Siraj was sentenced today to 30 years in prison for his role in conspiring to plant explosive devices at the 34th Street subway station in
Manhattan in August 2004, just prior to the start of the Republican National Convention at nearby Madison Square Garden. The sentencing
proceeding was held before U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon at the U.S. Courthouse in Brooklyn. Siraj was convicted by a federal jury in Brooklyn
on May 24, 2006, following a five-week trial.

Siraj is the second individual convicted for participating in this plot. In Oct. 2004, James Elshafay pleaded guilty to conspiracy to damage
or destroy a subway station by means of an explosive, and testified against Siraj at his trial. Elshafay’s sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

At trial, the government proved that Siraj and Elshafay plotted to plant explosive devices at the Herald Square subway station in order to
disrupt commerce and transportation in New York City and damage the economy. The evidence included hours of secretly recorded conversations
between Siraj and Osama Eldawoody, an Egyptian nuclear engineer who became a paid informant for the New York City Police Department’s Intelligence Division, in which Siraj expressed his hatred for America and discussed his desire to place explosives on various bridges and in subway stations in New York City, including the subway station at 34th Street. In furtherance of their scheme, on Aug. 21, 2004, Siraj and Elshafay inspected the station, and later drew diagrams of the location in order to help them place a bomb. When arrested on Aug. 27, 2004, neither Siraj nor Elshafay possessed any explosive material.

“Thanks to the extraordinary work of law enforcement, the defendants’ plot did not advance beyond the planning stage, and the public was never at risk,” stated U.S. Attorney Mauskopf. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to stop would-be terrorists before they act, and will apply all available resources to secure the safety of our residents.” Ms. Mauskopf praised the outstanding work of the New York City Police Department, and thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York Joint Terrorist Task Force for their assistance.

The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Todd Harrison and Marshall L. Miller of the Eastern District’s Violent Crimes and Terrorism Section.

On January 9th, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested Siraj’s family of illegal aliens. They are all members of DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving), a radical “open borders” group whose slogan is “No immigrant is illegal.” DRUM is currently fighting the detention and possible deportation of this family of illegals with Islamist terrorist ties!