Filed under: Front Page News, March Volume 2009, National | Tags: Afghanistan, Clinton, Sharia
Since the beginning of the new administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has met with fourteen prominent Afghan women judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. The women came to Washington to participate in a training program arranged by the State Department’s Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan.
In Washington, the Afghan women participated in intensive legal seminars and consultations with senior officials, and explored current topics in Afghan and American legal systems: legal decision-making and mediation, domestic violence, family and mental health, and narcotics law.
President Obama, in his first foreign policy announcement, made clear to Afghan citizens, “We are committed to supporting your efforts to bring security and stability to your country.” Most agree the Afghan justice system needs improvement through education in jurisprudence and professional development. As it stands now, the State Department alleges Afghan judges and lawyers to base their work mainly on tribal codes.
Since the inception of Islam, women have been encouraged to pursue legal careers, a highly respected field. One of the first jurists in Islam was Syeda Aisha, the wife of the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad, may the peace of Allah be upon him and his family. People came regularly to seek her legal advice. Today’s Muslims owe one third of Islamic law, known as Sharia, to this most intelligent and blessed lady. Sharia is a highly developed legal system in which modern democracy found much of its roots. During the Islamic caliphate, the main centers of secular learning and debate were in Muslim countries where people of the three major religions lived cohesively prior to the Crusades.
Islamic Post Senior Correspondent Returns from Southeast Asia
Senior Correspondent Khadijah Smith has completed her 30 day tour overseas. Mrs Smith has done extensive and valuable coverage for the Islamic Post during the last month and staff members will be welcoming her arrival at John F. Kennedy Airport on March 25th. The IP senior correspondent will be returning home to the US in time to report on the upcoming United Muslim Christian Forum’s Eid Milad un Nabi Parade and Festival, which is to be held on the 29th of March, 2009 in Binghamton, NY.
Second Annual Eid Miladun Nabi Parade and Festival
The International Qur’anic Open University and United Muslim Christian Forum will be sponsoring The 2nd Annual Eid Milad un Nabi Parade and Festival in scenic upstate New York in the City of Binghamton. This years’ Eid Milad un Nabi festival follows on the heels of a very successful parade and festival last year which highlighted the peaceful co-existence of Muslims and the People of the Book who follow previously revealed Divine scriptures: the Torah and the Gospel. Eid Milad un Nabi is a traditional Muslim holiday in honor of the birth of the Holy Last Messenger, may the peace of God be upon him, upon the Second to Last Messenger, Jesus, and all of those sent by God.
“Muslims and Christians Will Unite.”
Unlike those who portray Armageddon scenarios between Muslims and Christians, the above words are what the religion of Islam has to say about the destined Muslim/Christian relationship. Islam is not a religion enimical to the West. Reviver of Islam, El Sheikh Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani Hashmi has been saying for decades that the time is upon true believers in God to unite upon the platform of ‘There is Only One God,’ and leave aside all differences for the benefit of mankind as a whole. Barack Obama, a Christian president with a Muslim name quoting a hadith, or tradition, of the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) during his historic National Prayer Breakfast last month was, therefore, not surprising. Muslims and Christians have been coming together in brotherhood in this great country for years. This is part of “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” and as the Holy Last Messenger related to us “None of you is a believer until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself.” El Sheikh Gilani advised on the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims extensively in his 1998 publication of the 40 Hadith Jami. In hadith 7 of the same, it states: “Whosoever does not show mercy to mankind, Allah will not be merciful to him.” The commentary elaborates: “Here it means mercy to all, whether Muslims or non-Muslims, because mercy is a specialty of the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him.)”
By Jameelah Kareem
Islamic Post Staff Writer
News agencies are reporting U.S. lawmakers will continue sending some Guantanamo Bay detainees to a rehabilitation program in Saudi Arabia. General Mansoor al Turki, interior ministry spokesman for the Saudi government, told CNN, “Such a re-education program will help the police to make sure these people get rid of the ideology that penetrated their brains [and to] make sure, when they leave prison, [they] can lead [a] normal life.”
There are approximately 240-250 detainees left at Guantanamo, most with little to no evidence of terrorist involvement. Nevertheless, a reform program is still seen as appropriate and the Care Rehabilitation Center in Riyadh, which focuses solely on ‘religious education,’ claims a 95% success rate. While the two Saudis who were said to have gone back to Al Qaeda, Said Al-Shihri and another man, bring that rate down by only about one percent (218 processed with 9 rearrests), there are more pressing questions regarding whether ‘religious education’ of the Saudi Arabian government is rehabilitating, or debilitating, for their Islamic morality.
The first thing which weakens Islamic principles of men is the common teaching of Wahhabism, which originates in Saudi Arabia, that it is not necessary to follow the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him. Although there is a general outward appearance of flowing robes, the code which is largely followed is tribal custom. There is no harm in local customs as long as they do not transcend the laws of decency and human brotherhood. When these laws are bypassed, as is happening in many so-called Islamic countries, the result is an extremist stance that results in violent acts and the oppression of women justified with false interpretations of Islamic texts.
One of the publishing houses which caters to the raising of an intolerant mindset is Darussalam Publications which uphold distortions of Islam, even mistranslating the traditions of the Holy Last Messenger, peace be upon him, to suit their ends (See Darussalam Publications: Enjoining Wrong, Forbidding Right, Islamic Post January Volume I.)
Another primary source of misinformation is the translation and commentary of the Holy Qur’an by Yusuf Ali, which is the main Qur’anic text available in the West, in particular, as millions of copies are donated freely to mosques, Islamic centers, campuses and libraries. Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom cites no less than $75 billion dollars leaving the Saudi monarchy in donations to locations abroad. These monies are used for mosque-building assistance and salaries for those who agree to preach Wahhabism in their locales. For those who accept this assistance, the Yusuf Ali translation, Wahhabi books and literature are all mandatory to be placed therein and the teachers are given them as textbooks.
Majlis Ulema of South Africa published a book in the 1980s titled Errors of Yusuf Ali in which was listed 16 major mistakes in translation and commentary. Majlis Ulema asserts that in his erroneous commentary, Yusuf Ali promoted that following the Holy Messengers of Islam is unneccessary. If following the broad minded tolerance of the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his interpretation of Qur’an (which is, in fact, his lifestyle) is not mandatory, but optional, it surely leaves room for a different, fallacious interpretation. This is the interpretation which originates from the Saudi Arabian government and religious bodies. Sending people who have already been accused of extremism to Saudi Arabia for reformation may not be the correct route to take.
A reformer is a scholar, not one who rejects the scholars for his own vain interpretation of Islam. It is also imperative that scholars know the entire text of Holy Qur’an, and above all, possess thorough understanding of the occasions for which various sections and lines of Holy Qur’an were revealed, including the abrogated verses, and those that replaced them. This can only be done by someone who has spent his life studying the science of the traditions of the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him) and knows them by memory, as well as the Holy Qur’an itself. Also he should be well versed in the historical events that precipitated revelations.
He must also be well acquainted with the character of the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him) and his Holy Companions and also the enemies and allies of the believers. Foes and friends existed outside the Islamic community and also within. As is today, there were many hypocrites who had apparently followed the religion, but only with a view to riding on the power of Islam. Needless to say, being fluent in classical Arabic and the shades of meaning used by Hijazi Arabs of the time is absolutely essential. Finally, the scholar to be must be infused with knowledge of God, awareness of Him, and a profound dislike to commit errors or do what the Almighty dislikes. To embrace all these qualities and profound knowledge can prove very challenging. Because of their love of and spiritual connection to the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him), his descendants have, throughout history, become the finest and most prolific scholars of Islam.
Therefore, not every Tom or Abdullah can pick up Holy Qur’an offhand, and begin to explain the text therein according to his own opinion. Muslims and non-Muslims alike are impressed upon to seek knowledge of Islam, its Messenger (peace be upon him), history, language and culture to enhance his or her understanding of Islam’s Divine text, which was sent for the entire human race. This can be done by sitting for lessons with a scholar of Islam or, failing this, reading his books and discourses. In Islam, it is only the deviates and arrogant people who say they will only follow Holy Qur’an or Hadith (authenticated, recorded traditions of the Holy Last Messenger, peace be upon him) while dismissing the work of scholars who spent their lifetimes studying and writing on the same in detail.
All this being said, there are very specific circumstances which occasion jihad, or defensive warfare, in the Holy Qur’an and Islam, just as there are injunctions for the same in the Bible. It is not befitting for those who are not scholars of the Word of God, whether they be Muslim or non-Muslim, to misinterpret such injunctions for any reason, least of all to advocate wanton bloodshed. On numerous occasions Wahhabi teachings have been found to be lacking in this regard.
However, for some, extremism provides opportunities. According to Newsweek: “There have also been concerns that Bush administration holdovers were deliberately playing up the [recidivism] cases in recent weeks in an effort to undercut Obama. One former senior U. S. counter-terrorism official noted to Newsweek that the Pentagon waited until the day after Obama signed his executive order mandating the closure of Guantanamo to confirm Mr Al-Shihri’s renewed Al Qaeda ties.”
Last month Russia announced new military initiatives. One involves the U.S. air base near Bishkek that American forces have used to supply military operations in Afghanistan. The Kremlin stated its $2 billion loan for the Bishkek base, as well as a $150 million aid grant, at the same time that Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said his country will be asking American forces to leave the base. The U.S. military was given six months to vacate Bishkek in late February.
All of the initiatives strengthen military ties with states that were once part of the former Soviet Union.
In another initiative, Russian President Medvedev and his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, agreed to create a new joint air-defense system involving five air force and 10 missile units. Russia’s Kommersant business newspaper reports Mr. Lukashenko’s agreement was conditioned by demands for Russian weapon subsidies and Russian orders from Belarusian defense industries.
In a third move Mr Medvedev secured the agreement of neighboring Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to create a rapid reaction force as part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, or CSTO. The agreement confronts what the Russian president termed a wide range of challenges and threats: crime, terrorism and drug trafficking.
Victor Ivanov, head of the Russian Federal Narcotics Control Service did, however, express an openness to participate with the United States in eradicating the spreading illicit drug economy in the region. In an interview with the government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Mr Ivanov stated, “To reduce this danger, we are vitally interested in working with the new American Administration.”
Cooperation with the US is seen as a necessity, as LPAC News reported, due to the spread of drug crops and trafficking from southern Afghanistan to the whole area along the border with the Central Asian countries. Mr Ivanov called for convening a conference under UN auspices on Peace and Prosperity in Afghanistan, as a “first step.” All tribes, areas, and political forces “prepared for a constructive dialogue” should be invited, Ivanov said, proposing a special role for Russia, as a country “whose forces have not participated in this seven-years long war.”
The United States has reciprocated interest in cooperating with the Kremlin to deal with the crisis in Afghanistan. The U.S. State Department said that Washington is “looking forward” to working with Russia on Afghanistan. “It’s in both of our countries’ interest to try to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan and bring about more economic development and security in the country,” said State Department Spokesman Robert Wood.
Mr Wood was responding to a statement given to reporters by Mr. Medvedev in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Medvedev was quoted as saying: “We hope the new U.S. administration will have greater success than the previous one in resolving the Afghanistan issue. …We are ready to work on the most complicated issues.” The Russian president also commented that the “number of radicals is not declining” there.
President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, in turn, commented that he supports U.S. President Barack Obama’s plans to solve the Afghanistan crisis, and emphasized the importance of regional cooperation. “We offer to solve the problem through the involvement of regional states,” he said.
Russian envoy to NATO, Dmitry Ragozin, said on Echo Moskvy radio station, that cooperation is being re-established with NATO, and warned that were NATO to be defeated in Afghanistan, this would threaten Russia. –Sources: VOA, LPAC, U.S. State Dept.
Filed under: Front Page News, March Volume 2009, National, World | Tags: Geert Wilders
By Bashirah A. Malik
Islamic Post Staff Writer
“I am a strong an advocate of First Amendment free speech. However, this is not about free speech, but rather an issue of propriety, timing and venue,” Common Dreams quoted Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) as saying regarding the viewing of the film Fitna on Capitol Hill.
Fitna is a controversial film about the Holy Qur’an by Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders. The film made headlines and prompted angry protest across the Muslim World last March. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said at the time that the film wrongly equated Islam with violence and served “no purpose other than to offend.”
Mr Wilders’ visit to Washington to host the screening of the film came just after a Dutch court ordered prosecutors to put the right-wing politician on trial for making anti-Islamic statements. Common Dreams reports Mr. Wilders was denied entry by the British government in his attempts to promote the film there. Only 40 members of Congress came to the viewing on Capitol Hill. The Dutch government disavowed Mr. Wilders visit to the US and believes the release of the film “serves no purpose other than to cause offense.”
In 2007, Wilders apparently sought to incite Muslims by ranting against Holy Quran as a “fascist book,” calling for the sacred Islamic text to be banned, and comparing the Holy Quran to Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf.
In a statement, the Amsterdam appeals court “ordered the prosecution of member of parliament Geert Wilders for inciting hatred and discrimination, based on comments by him in various media on Muslims and their beliefs.” The three judges in the case stated that they had weighed Wilders’ anti-Islamic rhetoric against his right to free speech, and ruled he had even gone beyond normal leeway given to politicians.
After the ruling, Wilder stated, ‘I had not expected it [this ruling].’ Gerard Spong, a prominent lawyer who joined Islamic groups in pushing for Wilders’ prosecution told reporters, “This is a happy day for all followers of Islam who do not want to be tossed on the garbage dump of Nazism.”
The court’s ruling reverses a decision made last year by the public prosecutor’s office, which said Mr. Wilder’s comments had been made outside parliament as a contribution to the debate on Islam in Dutch society and that no criminal offense had been committed. Because Wilders has not yet been charged, it is not clear what maximum penalty he could face if convicted.
Filed under: Front Page News, March Volume 2009, World | Tags: israel, Palestine
N. Begum Ahmad
Islamic Post Staff Writer
It doesn’t appear as if Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu will back down from the expansionist Likud party stance, despite opposing views from the US State Department. Just before visiting Israel on her tour of the Middle East early this month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emphasized to Egyptian Television her commitment to “a two-state solution, a comprehensive peace,” for Israel and the occupied territories.
However, upon arrival, Secretary Clinton and accompanying US delegates found themselves seated across from Mr Netanyahu and his choice of advisors for the meeting which included Uzi Arad, the former director of intelligence for the Mossad, who was banned from visiting the US due to suspicion of espionage activities inside the country. Mr Arad’s presence at the meeting has been interpreted by political analysts as mildly antagonistic.
The Israeli Ambassador to the US, Sallai Meridor, resigned the following day after being asked by Netanyahu to leave the meeting while Arad remained.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardliner Likud party won the right to form the next Israeli government after a close battle with Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party. One vote shy of beating Ms Livni, Netanyahu was nevertheless appointed to rule Israel. However, the main differentiating factor between the two parties, that regarding the Palestinian question, had been abandoned before the race was over.
In the latter part of January, Foreign Minister Livni told 60 Minutes she agreed with the proposal of a two-state solution that would contain Israel and give Palestine borders: “[CBS reporter Bob] Simon: Can you really imagine evacuating the tens of thousands of settlers who say they will not leave? Livni: It’s not going to be easy, but this is the only solution. Simon: But you know that there are settlers who say, ‘We will fight. We will not leave. We will fight.’ Livni: So this is the responsibility of the government, of the police to stop them, as simple as that. Israel is a state of law and order.” However, Think Progress noted from a Haaretz report that after Mr Netanyahu made it clear that he would not be bound by the current government’s “commitments to withdraw” from the West Bank, Livni’s stance changed abrubtly: “I will advance only an agreement that represents our interests. Maintaining maximum settlers and places that we hold dear such as Jerusalem — not a single refugee will enter.”
Indeed, the occupied territories carried a great deal of weight in this year’s elections. As the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) reported, the outgoing Israeli government was “getting high marks from the Israeli public for its pounding offensive in Gaza.” But, apparently the pounding was insufficient. “Polls show that the conservative opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party have opened up a bigger lead, based on a public concern that the offensive left the Hamas regime intact while failing to free an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit,” continued CSM.
But Prime Minister- designate Netanyahu did not close that big of a gap in the end, as the final vote tallied Likud (Netanyahu) at 27 and Kadima (Livni) a point higher at 28. Despite claims of being the only Middle East democracy, votes do not always make the final decision in Israel’s parliamentary system. President Shimon Peres made the final decision that the winner would be Mr Netanyahu, who must now be able to form a coalition government. Parliamentary democracies have been widely debated over time. Some schools attest that the system is used by third world countries and former British colonies making the transition to a full democracy.
The fledgling Zionist democracy is another matter entirely. Having been founded on the pretense of expansion, it seemed relatively important that a party win this year which would not waver on that stance. Given the current climate, and no end in sight to the continued shelling of the Gaza Strip, Likud gaining the upper hand was nothing short of predictable. The party platform of Likud states: “The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state.”
It remains to be seen how President Barack Obama’s support of a two-state solution will gain ground, especially when negotiations will be held with one who openly stated the American tragedy of 9/11 was of great benefit. “We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq,” the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv quoted Mr Netanyahu as telling a Bar Ilan university audience last April. The prime minister designate reportedly added that these events “swung American public opinion in our favor.”
Uzi Arad, who served as a foreign policy advisor during Netanyahu’s previous term (1996-1999), is expected to be named head of the Israeli National Security Council once the government is formed. Uzi Arad was linked in 2005 to Lawrence Franklin, a former U.S. Air Force Reserve colonel who pled guilty to passing information about U.S. policy towards Iran to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the foremost pro-Israel lobbying organization in the U.S, while he was working for the Defense Department. Israel denies allegations of the link.
By Abdul Wali Johnson
Islamic Post Staff Writer
“Myanmar must immediately stop the systematic persecution of the Rohingya [Muslim] minority,” said Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director, Sam Zarifi, in a recent open letter to the Myanmar government. The letter was also sent to surrounding governments with a request to assist Rohinyas. The flight of Muslims from Myanmar reached a “critical stage over the last two months,” according to Mr Zafiri, after the Thai military “forcibly expelled approximately 1,000 Rohingyas arriving in southwest Thailand by boat.”
The Rohingyah, a mostly Muslim ethnic group, are descendants of dark skinned Arab sailors, from Southern Arabia and Iran, who visited the South East Asian coastal cities of Burma (now Myanmar) from as early as the 8th century and the local inhabitants. Their offspring were called Cula, which literally translates as “black”. They migrated to Arakan (now called Rakhine State), in the north, around 957AD when Burma was invaded by the Mongoloids.
Through their history, they were persecuted by the leaders of Burma because they were considered to be “untouchables” and they are still, to this day, forced to perform free labor at the behest of the governing junta.
The slavish history of the Rohingya began with the annexation of Arkan with Burma in 1784. Since 1937, when Burma was separated from British India, they have been victims of bloody genocidal operations in 1942, 1978, and 1991/92, causing large migrations to Bangladesh.
In the pogrom of 1942, two hundred thousand Rohingya men, women and children were massacred. All the Rohingyas of 36 villages were slaughtered.
However, the atrocities are still continuing; the suffering enduring from generation to generation. While the Indian and Indonesian authorities have rescued hundreds of Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar by sea, nobody knows when the stories of their blood and tears will come to an end. Amnesty International also called on Bangladesh and Malaysia, as well as the other governments of nations surrounding Myanmar, to help provide search and rescue for the hundreds missing and feared drowned and to prevent more loss of life.
Filed under: March Volume 2009, World | Tags: African Union, Libya, Qaddafi, Qadhafi
By Abu Rashid Qadri
Islamic Post Staff Writer
(IP)- “Our parties are tribal parties – that is what has led to bloodshed,” Colonel Muammar Qaddafi was quoted as stating at the final press conference of the African Union Summit. In a session closed to the public, the Libyan leader was voted in as the new head of the 53-nation African Union. The colonel was immediately confronted by the unstable conditions in Madagascar and with growing cries to prosecute Sudan’s president for war crimes. Not to be deterred, Mr Qaddafi made it known that his main intent is to forge ahead and establish a “United States of Africa,” transforming the continent into a single, borderless, nation-state ruled by a single government.
Extensive financial help has been given by the oil-rich nation to help lift neighboring countries, and Muammar Qaddafi’s political influence is growing on the continent. Nevertheless, speculation tends to cling to Mr Qaddafi from many quarters due to his ties, as a socialist country, with the former Soviet Union, and alleged terrorist acts of its nationals in the past.
A number of African leaders certainly do not agree with Qaddafi’s ambitions for Africa, nor are they in favor of him holding this high profile position. Yet, the rules for the intergovernmental organization dictate that the post rotates among Africa’s regions. This year was set to go to a North African leader and Mr Qaddafi was the only one present.
Some leaders criticized his human rights record and view of democracy and to the AFP. “He has a deplorable idea of democracy. He thinks it’s necessary to crush the opposition. In his country, there is no opposition, human rights are not respected,” Hermann Yameogo of Burkina Faso, whose father Maurice Yameogo was the country’s leader, then known as Upper Volta, in the early 1960s. A rights group in the Republic of Congo is also worried about the choice of Qaddafi to lead the Pan-African body. “For us, this selection sends a bad message,” said Christian Mounzeo, head of the Meeting for Peace and Human Rights, “[Given] the state of human rights and the exercise of authoritarian power in his country.”
Amongst Africans, opinions differ. Wongani Makhala, an IT worker in Malawi had this to say to the BBC: “I think he is a compassionate man; after all he did eventually release those Bulgarian nurses accused of infecting Libyan children with HIV.” Amos Marube, a journalism student in Nairobi, Kenya told the BBC: “He [Qaddafi] wants to unite the continent – but here in Kenya we are already so divided by tribalism. Regionally East Africa isn’t really unified either. If African countries are unable to unite nationally and regionally, I can’t see how Qaddafi would be able to unite us as a continent. “I’m an admirer of Qaddafi as a leader though. I would describe his leadership ‘positive dictatorship’ and he has done some great things for Libya.”
Although not in agreement with any form of dictatorship, Libya seems to have redeemed itself abroad to a great degree. Libya formally denounced terrorism in August 2003 in a letter to the UN Security Council, and began paying damages amounting to tens of millions of dollars to the victims of violent political crimes allegedly committed by its nationals. UN sanctions against Libya were lifted the following month, to the joy of the agricultural sector, which mostly consists of desert and must import food to avoid the starvation of ordinary Libyans. Three years later former U.S. President George W. Bush rescinded Libya’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism and reestablished diplomatic efforts in the country.
Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, was in attendance at the Summit and cautioned those present to use diplomacy and to stay within constitutional guidelines when searching for solutions to problems confronting them. However, most heads of state had departed by the time the compromise was struck that allowed Mr. Qaddafi to declare a victory.
Mr. Qaddafi admitted there are deep divisions in the African Union about his idea, the United States of Africa, but in a speech to the closing Summit session, he outlined a long-term vision of a fully united Africa, under one flag. “It is a government of the union. It is an authority, a government. There will be secretaries,… coordinators for various policies, like defense and foreign affairs and defense policies and foreign policies that are divergent and we will coordinate everything and our defense policies for Africa,” the Libyan president said.
While meetings of African leaders usually run two days, the Summit in Addis Ababa dragged into a fourth day with members deadlocked over AU chairman Qaddafi’s proposal for a central administration with sweeping powers. Only a handful of heads of state were in the room to hear the Libyan leader’s closing remarks. But most of Africa’s big powers, such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, are sticking to the position that it will not be a government with sovereign powers for the foreseeable future.
African Union Commission Chairman Jean Ping says even the small step of changing the name of the permanent secretariat from a commission to an authority, as agreed at the Summit, could take years, because it requires a charter amendment that must be ratified by two-thirds of the member states. African diplomats and observers say that the name change gives opponents of the plan the time they need to delay it indefinitely.
Researcher Noora Ahmad contributed to this report. Sources: VOA, State Dept.
New Islamic Museum Seeks to Unite People of Faith
IMA Press Release
Al-Farooq Masjid of Atlanta and the Barakat Foundation are proud to announce the Grand Opening of Atlanta’s first Islamic museum, The International Islamic Museum of America (IIMA). IIMA is dedicated to educating the public about Islam, as we believe it is simpler to embrace differences when you better understand them. By making interreligious and intercultural dialogue front and center, we are hopeful that IIMA will generate an atmosphere conducive to learning and a greater appreciation of the world’s diverse cultural and religious traditions. Through educating the public, we can better understand our differences, build on our similarities, and bridge the gaps that divide us.
With these goals in mind, IIMA selected the “Families of Abraham” exhibit for its debut. “Families of Abraham” is a photographic narrative exhibit of 180 photos. It features 11 families, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim who were selected to participate in one year of photography of their day-to-day life and faith traditions. Voted top exhibit of the year in 2006, the exhibit began at the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte, NC and drew in 31,000 visitors from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds during its time there. The curator, Eleanor Brawley, a photographer and poet of Charlotte, NC said that “what triggered her idea for this project was the knowledge that nearly half of humanity are Jews, Christians, or Muslims and claim the same ancestor—Abraham.” Brawley said, “Through the eyes of these families we explore what we have in common in today’s world.” IIMA will be the sixth venue to host the exhibit. Recently, the University of Wisconsin and Edgewood College at Madison hosted the exhibit, followed by Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC.
Mr. Muataz Malik, the President and founder of The International Islamic Museum of America said, “When we heard about the exhibit, Families of Abraham, opening at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, we traveled up to see it. It was there that we knew it was the exhibit we wanted for our opening because the aims and intent of the exhibit are similar to those of our museum- to provide greater understanding and opportunities for dialogue between people of faith.”
The photographers captured faith events—wedding celebrations, worship, and also the rhythms of day-to-day life, major holy days such as Yom Kippur in the Jewish tradition, the Christian Easter observance, and the month long Muslim Ramadan fast from sunrise to sunset. Photographers also captured the Bar mitzvah of a young Jewish boy and the greeting of a newborn Muslim baby as the father whispers the Call to Prayer in the infant’s ear.
There are 180 photographs in the exhibit by some of Charlotte, NC’s best-known documentary photographers: Byron Baldwin, Donna Bise, Eleanor Brawley, John Daughtry, Donna Foster, Chris Keane, Tina Manley, and Nancy Pierce. Interviewers conducted extensive sessions with each family—these words appear below their photographs and form a narrative of a year in these families’ lives. Interviewers were Judy Simpson Cook, Linda de Castrique, and Linda Newcom.
The content advisors to the exhibit were Imam Khalil Akbar of Masjid Ash-Shaheed, Dr. Jonathan Berkey of Davidson College History Department, Rabbi Murray Ezring, Rabbi Judy Schindler, Dr. Greg Synder of the Davidson College Religion Department, Reverend Kathleen Crowe, Dr. P.D. Miller, Professor Emeritus of the Princeton Theological Seminary, and Shaun Ahmad of the Council of American Muslim Professionals.
The soft opening of the International Islamic Museum of America will be on March 27, 2009 from 3-7PM. The Grand Opening of The International Islamic Museum of America and showing of the “Families of Abraham” exhibit will be March 28, 2009, from 12-7PM. The exhibit will be on display through June 30, 2009. The public is invited.
Regular museum hours: open seven days a week, 10:00AM-7:00PM, limited hours on Monday, 2-7PM. The museum is located at 410 14th Street NW, Atlanta, GA, 30318.
Groups wanting tours and workshops should contact Karla Evans, Public Relations Officer at 404.254.0042 or e-mail at email@example.com
For more information please contact the Islamic Museum of America
Mr. Muataz Malik, President and Founder
Karla Evans, Public Relations Officer
410 14th Street, Atlanta, Georgia 30318
Fax: 404.254.0048 or 877.678.1560
By Bashirah A. Malik
Islamic Post Staff Writer
A farmer from China’s impoverished northwestern Xinjiang region was turned away by authorities in Beijing after he went there demanding compensation for a failed compulsory crop plan.
Hakim Siyit, a farmer from Yengisar County in Xinjiang’s western Kashgar area, claims that a compulsory “long bean” production plan was put into effect in 2007 for Yengisar county in Xinjiang’s western Kashgar region, resulting in heavy financial losses for farmers when harvest supply grossly overshot demand. Later that year the plan was repeated with similar results. In all, Siyit says, the farmers of Yengisar County suffered nearly $50 million Yuan (U.S. $7.3 million) in lost profit, loans that they could not repay, and equipment they could no longer use.
In China the majority of her impoverished citizens make a living farming. China has in place a “compulsory production plan”. The plan is for the Communist government to control what crop a farmer plants on their farm. Conversely, China’s compulsory crops plan is nothing new. It is very similar to the Soviet Union’s communist leader Josef Stalin’s collectivization plan introduced in the late 1920s. When his idea of collective farming failed to attract farmers, mostly poor peasants; Stalin resorted to forcefully implementing his plan, by murder and wholesale deportation of farmers to Siberia. The immediate effect of forced collectivization was reduced grain output and almost halved livestock, thus producing major famines in 1932 and 1933. Millions died of starvation in one of the most fertile regions in the world of farming.
However, according to China’s law on the Popularization of Agricultural Technology, any entity causing loss to farmers through the forced adoption of technology is required to repay total damages. Siyit, a member of the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic group made his way to China’s State Council in Beijing last September to lobby on behalf of his fellow farmers. His effort got him taken to the Public Affairs Office of Xinjiang in Beijing where he was detained against his will and forced to return home with empty promises.
For over two years, Siyit and several other farmers have unsuccessfully attempted to file a complaint against the planning policies of Yin Xiaoliang, secretary of the communist party’s Yengisar County Branch. “Being the secretary, he should have known that the supply would be much higher than the demand, and there would be a lot of waste,” stated Siyit. The Yengisar regions 12 villages have a combined population of 240,000. “If only the secretary had organized it so that one village would grow long beans, another would grow tomatoes, another peppers, and another eggplants…” stated Siyit.
A government official with the Disciplinary Inspection Committee of Kashgar County, who did not provide his name, said he was aware of the farmers’ petition. “Originally we considered going to Yengisar country together with an agricultural business management group were to investigate the case. But when they asked permission [from deputy secretary of the prefecture’s party committee Zhang Jian], he stopped us. We were told ‘You shouldn’t go, let the county leader investigate first,’” the official said. Basically the matter still remains in doubt.
Siyit plans to continue his fight, despite the hardships he has faced, so that he can bring justice to the farmers of Yengisar County. “I just wanted to go [to Beijing] for the benefit of people, hoping to get a good answer. The fact that I did not know Chinese cost me a lot…It was as if I could not speak and I could only weep for my complaints,” he stated.
Early this month, Russia released the first of three volumes documenting the Soviet Union’s catastrophic famine of the early 1930s due to misguided Communist policies.
By Umm Murtaza
Islamic Post Staff Writer
The Israeli navy recently seized a ship intent on gaining access to the heavily guarded Gaza Strip. After capture, the ship was towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod.
The humanitarian vessel, which sailed from the Lebanese port, Tripoli, was dubbed the “brotherhood ship” and carried aid from mainly Arab and Lebanese charities for Gaza. There were approximately 60 tons of supplies aboard, including medicine, food, toys and books. Among the twenty some-odd passengers was a Syrian catholic priest, a Greek catholic priest Hillarion Cappuccion, a Muslim cleric and several Arab journalists.
Israeli authorities stated the vessel was not authorized, however, to enter Gaza and that the ship tried to “sneak” into the guarded waters of the Gaza Strip, Al Jazeera reported Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak as saying. Israel states the blockade of Gaza is a response to repeated Hamas attacks on southern Israel, also that they were led to believe the ship was a “threat to security” possibly smuggling weapons “into and out of the Gaza Strip,” the New York Times reported. Lebanon’s Prime Minister Fouad Siniora stated that the boat had nothing to do with smuggling weapons and condemned the Israeli actions as a “blatant attack”.
Free Gaza organizers helped in Cyprus to get the boat inspected by local authorities before sailing for Gaza.
It is said that the Israeli Navy opened fire prior to boarding and, after gaining access, beat some of the passengers. The Israelis deny charges stating that “no guns were fired.” However, before the phone connections were cut, gunfire could be heard in the background via telephone and the subsequent reports were aired by the stations of the journalists on board.
Israel maintains strict control of Gaza’s access to the outside world. They insist that they will not permit cash, steel or any other substance that could be used to make weapons for use against Israelis by Hamas. Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora stated: “The same Israel that commits massacres against innocent civilians in Lebanon and Gaza is not ashamed to assault a ship carrying humanitarian supplies.
Maan Bashour, a pro-Palestinian Lebanese involved with the organization of the trip told Associated Press “There will be more boats”, “We will keep sending them”.
On March 9, the convoy Viva Palestina of the Free Gaza Movement crossed without incident into Gaza at 3.30 p.m. “We have broken the barriers, we have opened closed borders, we have defied the odds, we have overcome the challenges across thousands of miles and three continents. We are here to be with you, to embrace you, to share your tragedy with you,” read the statement.
(IP)- One of the most controversial and violent components of the war in Iraq, is going the way of the dinosaur.
The U.S Government contract with Blackwater Worldwide –regarding security services in Iraq– is expired. There are no specific plans to renew. The decision comes from Iraqi government officials, on the heels of a new security agreement that sharply curbs American power in Iraq. The agreement took effect on January 1 2009, after the expiration of the U.N Security Council resolution (in 2008).
When asked about the details of the contract and its expiration, State Department spokesman Robert Wood was vague.
“We’re in touch with the Iraqis to try and work out… the modalities of this. But you know, as we noted, we informed Blackwater… that we did not plan to renew the company’s existing task force orders for protective security details in Iraq.”
Iraqi officials were more to the point. “The contract is finished and will not be renewed by order of the Minister of the Interior”, says an interior ministry spokesman.
Blackwater’s history in Iraq is permeated with violent confrontations and loss of civilian life. Between 2005 and 2007, Blackwater security staff was involved in 195 known shooting incidents. In 163 of those cases, Blackwater personnel fired first; 25 staff members have been fired for violations of Blackwater’s drug and alcohol policy, and 28 more for weapons-related incidents.
The company’s most noted offenses include an incident in 2007, when Blackwater employees shot and killed 17 Iraqis. According to an FBI report, 14 of the victims were killed without cause. Adding insult to injury, the Pentagon issued a statement that same year, declaring that Blackwater contractors in Iraq are not subject to civilian criminal laws.
In November 2008, The State Department prepared to issue a multimillion-dollar fine to Blackwater Worldwide, for shipping hundreds of automatic firearms to Iraq without the necessary permits. Some of the weapons were believed to have ended up on the country’s black market.
In the fallout, Blackwater recently changed its name to Xe, and founder Erik Prince dropped out of day to day operations to sit as chairman of the company.
Despite Xe/Blackwater’s contract expiration, there are no plans to completely do away with private military contracts. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed this fact during a recent interview. “How we provide security and safety for those performing civilian functions is a very difficult question”, Clinton says. “I certainly am of the mind that we should, insofar as possible, diminish our reliance on private security contractors. Whether we can go all the way to banning, under current circumstances, seems unlikely, but we ought to be engaged in a very careful review of where they should and shouldn’t be used, and under what circumstances. And that’s what we’re doing right now.”
The Washington Independent questioned whether private contractors DynCorp and Triple Canopy would want Iraqi contracts now that the Iraqi government put a provision in the Status of Forces Agreement stipulating that all contractors fall under its legal jurisdiction.
By Noora Ahmad
Islamic Post Staff Writer
(IP)– Economist Michael Kirsch declared last month the “false market” of globalization, the “corrupt” existing “speculation-based” international financial system to be “bankrupt,” and “the entire world system of globalization [to be] dead.”
If this is the case, as the Executive Intelligence Review (EIR) contributor believes, there are monetary entities clinging on to the coffin.
The World Bank released the World Development Report (WDR) 2009 earlier this year and called it: “Reshaping Economic Geography,” in which WDR Director Indermit S. Gill proposed that, by uncontrollable forces, “Markets favor some places over others.” However, such theories tend to lend more to “the delusion of globalization, and the superstition that the ‘magic of the marketplace’ determines value,” at least according to Mr Kirsch. He also laments the economic summits held late last year which gave more power to the International Monetary Fund, a global lending institution similar to the World Bank. This move helped pile on more of the same types of policies, causing economies to dip further, and quite drastically, while again lining the pockets of speculators.
Mr Gill stated, “The world’s most geographically disadvantaged people know all too well that [market] growth does not come to every place in the world,” as reported by the World Bank. But, Kirsch insists “there is no sane reasoning behind it.” “How could the market know the right price?” he said. “The market only knows the names of the speculators who have been using it to destroy the economies of nations over the last 40 years.”
Using the example of the recent conflict with Russia and the Ukraine over natural gas prices, Mr Kirsch quoted Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as having stated that oil prices are “determined by the market and not by administrative decisions.” Kirsch calls that a fallacy. “This way of speaking reflects the belief that there is an inherent value, which the market knows and bestows upon a commodity; if you want to change the price, bad things will happen to your country. With what other belief would such barbaric behavior [of withholding heating fuel from the Ukraine in the dead of winter] be justified?”
But superstitions and food prices are an even more dangerous mix. In the face of the persistent international food crisis, WDR 2009 encourages mass migration into urban areas and away from agricultural centers because, as previously stated, “Markets favor some places over others.” Where the lending institution would profit from urbanization is an abundance of infrastructure lending to help facilitate migrations. The lending packages also include ‘conditionalities,’ which average 111 per nation and “undermine democracy,” according to a statement given to the London Observer by former Chief Economist of the World Bank Joseph Stiglitz. The World Bank’s rationale for mass migration from the food-producing countryside are: “No country has attained high income status without urbanizing,” and, “Growth seldom comes without the need to move closer to densely populated areas.” However, urban areas were also afflicted with the most food riots over the past six months.
Bypassing these issues, the World Bank warns that “Rural poverty rates are almost everywhere higher than in cities,” and, “Prosperity demands mobile people and products.” However, abandoning food security and flocking to urban areas, or even other countries, to work for international companies for a pittance is slavery to some, but continuing prosperity for others.
During the time period when hunger protests were still making headlines, the Financial Times suggested a more logical approach to bring income to rural-dwellers: Governments should dedicate more land to production and better the access to financing for growers who are taking their food to market, especially those selling gourmet and organic foodstuffs to a larger market. More recently, U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama emphasized the importance of agriculture by promoting the building of gardens at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) facilities all over the world last month, in order to set an example for global communities.
“There must be a return to the American system’s concept of the role of government in guiding the implementation of needed scientific principles,” said Mr Kirsch. “Anything less, any mental pollution, such as a mystical belief in the magic of [Karl] Marx’s stages of capitalism, or the inclination to respect and protect ‘market forces’ as if they were part of nature, means sure death for the world economy.” which is now struggling to overcome the symptoms of globalism, which has already destroyed itself.
By Maryam Yahya
Islamic Post Staff Writer
In a surprising turn of events in a saga that has lasted over a decade, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned a lower court ruling that alleges that Pfizer Pharmaceuticals administered an experimental drug, Trovan, to Nigerian children without prior authorization in 1996. Previously, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed claims made by the Nigerian Government stating that there was not enough basis for the suit.
The Nigerian Government contends that in 1996, during an outbreak of meningitis when thousands of people were either being paralyzed or mortally succumbing to the disease, Pfizer administered an experimental antibiotic called Trovan at an infectious disease hospital in Kano. According to the government, Pfizer did not receive prior authorization to administer the drug and about 50 children either developed deformities or died from taking the controversial antibiotic. The government is seeking $7 billion in damages.
Pfizer, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies vehemently denies any wrongdoing. “The 1996 Trovan clinical study in Kano was conducted with the approval of the Nigerian government, and the consent of the participants’ parents or guardians, and was consistent with both international and Nigerian laws” a recent press release from Pfizer states. “Pfizer remains confident that it will prevail in these cases, and is weighing its options on how to best respond to this decision.” There is no doubt that this is bad timing for the US Court of Appeals to hand down this decision as Pfizer recently announced it’s merger with Wyeth, another world renowned company. If the lawsuit continues its path through the courts, it will certainly reflect negatively on both companies by its stockholders and the public at large.
The effects of the Trovan experiments have reverberated through time and are still being felt over a decade later. Two years ago, a polio vaccination campaign in Nigeria that was organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) was met with a weak response as Nigerian residents feared for their lives. As a result, the polio spread from northern Nigeria to neighboring countries. Many Nigerians have become distrusting of foreign drug companies even making claims that “there was a western plot to sterilize Muslim women,” (BBC News). This suspicion could be disastrous as many preventative drugs and medications could prove useful in some of Nigeria’s impoverished areas.
Trovan has since been licensed for use in the United States.
Nigeria and Pfizer representatives have been negotiating an out-of-court settlement since last year. The case against Pfizer in Kano has been adjourned until early April to allow for a deal.
By Asma Abdul Adl
Islamic Post Staff Writer
Iraq recently held its provincial elections; to some, it offers a spark of hope. With over 6,000 polling stations, 14,000 candidates competed for 440 seats in 14 of Iraq’s 18 provinces. The seats are for provincial councils that control municipal budgets and determine employment rates. The 2009 elections were the greatest electoral exercise to commence since violence escalated under the occupation. In some provinces the turnout was unusually high compared to the previous last elections in 2005 when voting was boycotted by some; others felt that the insurgency inhibited them from placing their votes.
Election Day participation definitely fluctuated from the past. The turnout in some provinces was around 60 percent. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s Dawa Party emerged on top in at least two of Iraq’s largest cities: Baghdad and Basra.
The Shiite party Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) suffered heavy losses in provinces they previously dominated. The former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who was not very popular in 2005, seems to have done well in both Sunni and Shiite provinces in all areas of the country. In the Anbar province, most seem to have voted for the Awakening Movement.
The elections themselves marked a definite change in Iraqi politics. Most feel this is the beginning of a new day for Iraq as a whole. Not long after the elections, US President Barack Obama announced all troops would be recalled from Iraq by the end of August 2010
Filed under: Front Page News, International, March Volume 2009, National | Tags: Lincoln
The bicentennial celebration of Abraham Lincoln last month saw a change in the White House. The bronze bust of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, which had stood in George Bush’s Oval Office for eight years, was replaced by that of Lincoln. The Times Online reports: “Recent photographs show that a bust of Abraham Lincoln, one of the new President’s heroes, has been moved to take the position once occupied by Churchill.”
The bronze figure of the famous British statesman was lent to the former president by Tony Blair, as a “symbol of the enduring special relationship with America.” Yet, “Mr Obama shows little evidence of the Anglophilia that led his predecessors to pepper speeches with quotations from Churchill,” the London Times observes. President Obama’s grandfather was reportedly one of the many Kenyans detained without a trial when Churchill ordered a state of emergency in that country.
During current British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s first visit to the White House this month, the press in England noted he was treated with a good deal less pomp than prime ministers had been given by previous administration. Commenting on the visit, Washington Post columnist Dana Milibank mentioned the gift that was meant to replace the Churchill bust in the Oval Office as being “a pen holder carved from the timbers of the [anti-slave] HMS Gannet, sister ship of the HMS Resolute, the wood of which was used to make the Oval Office desk.” Milibank further noted the video made by reporters of the session which she said was “plagued by audio gaps.” British historian Tristram Hunt has suggested that perhaps Britain should have honored the President with a work to commemorate another bicentennial, the 200th anniversary of Thomas Paine’s death, since he was British born, and one of the “fathers of the American Revolution.” Paine was quoted in President Obama’s inaugural address and is the author of the time honored classic, Age of Reason.
President Obama has also mentioned Abraham Lincoln’s command in his struggles with a bipartisan Congress. In commenting on Abraham Lincoln’s standard after the Civil War was won, President Obama was quoted as saying before Congress during the Bicentennial commemoration for Lincoln’s birth: “In the war’s final weeks… President Lincoln was asked what was to be done with the rebel armies once General Lee surrendered. With victory at hand, Lincoln could have sought revenge. He could have forced the South to pay a steep price for their rebellion. But despite all the bloodshed and all the misery that each side had exacted upon the other, and despite his absolute certainty in the rightness of the cause of ending slavery, no Confederate soldier was to be punished, Lincoln ordered. They were to be treated, as he put it, ‘liberally all round.’ [...] That was the only way, Lincoln knew, to repair the rifts that had torn this country apart.”
Source: LPAC, Whitehouse.gov
(IP)– The Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for the arrest of Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir, President of Sudan, for war crimes and crimes against humanity earlier this month, according to an ICC press release. The Sudanese head of state is “suspected of being criminally responsible, as an indirect (co-)perpetrator, for intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan, murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians, and pillaging their property.” This is the first warrant of arrest ever issued for a sitting Head of State by the ICC.
The warrant was issued shortly after the head of one Darfur’s rebel groups, Abdel Wahid Al Nur of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), visited Israel last month to request an increase in support in its fight against the Sudanese government, as reported by Haaretz. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), an SLA rival, was also reported last month by Sudan’s state media as receiving considerable military equipment from Israel.
Although the ICC can only prosecute crimes committed during or after July 2002, other heads of state (former) are also eligible to be prosecuted. The New Zealand Herald reports David Crane, an international law professor at Syracuse University and former prosecutor in the special tribunal that indicted Liberian President Charles Taylor, commented: “The principle of law used to issue an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir could extend to former US President Bush over claims officials from his Administration may have engaged in torture by using coercive interrogation techniques on terror suspects… which mostly amounted to torture.” Global Research reported United Nations General Assembly chief Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann to have likewise stated: “All pretended justifications notwithstanding, the aggressions against Iraq and Afghanistan and their occupations constitute atrocities that must be condemned and repudiated by all who believe in the rule of law in international relations,” Brockmann told the Human Rights Council. The general tally of deaths in Iraq exceed one million. “The illegality of the use of force against Iraq cannot be doubted as it runs contrary to the prohibition of the use of force in Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter,” continued Mr Brockmann. “It sets a number of precedents that we cannot allow to stand.”
Yet, it is more likely that the ICC will allow such atrocities to stand without prosecution and, in the case of the ongoing genocide of Palestinians, to continue. Genocide is defined in the Rome Statute as the following acts committed “with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group:” (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
However, the UN Security Council (which referred the Darfur situation to the ICC) in its 2004 report on the subject conceded that there is no genocide in Darfur as “the various tribes that have been the object of attacks and killings do not appear to make up ethnic groups distinct from the ethnic group to which persons or militias that attack them belong. They speak the same language (Arabic) and embrace the same religion (Islam). In addition, also due to the high measure of intermarriage, they can hardly be distinguished in their outward physical appearance from the members of tribes that allegedly attacked them. Furthermore, inter-marriage and coexistence in both social and economic terms, have over the years tended to blur the distinction between the groups.” Therefore, while groups like “Save Darfur” and “Genocide in Darfur” accuse President Bashir of genocide, the ICC warrant stops short, accusing him of war crimes, a more general charge.
As Arab News notes, the ICC “has held only Africans to account. Currently, the court is holding investigations into ‘the situations’ in Uganda, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.” Therefore, it would seem, that whether war crimes/genocide are punishable or not is subject to interpretation of an international body. Certainly, the opinions of Americans have not been taken into consideration. A February poll in the US revealed that 62 percent of Americans favor a criminal investigation or an independent panel to look into the use of torture, illegal wiretapping, and other alleged abuses of power by the Bush administration. The warrant against Mr Bashir, a sitting head of state, opens new doors that could not only infringe upon national sovereignty, but apparently would be done so by a body which, having only prosecuted war crimes in Africa, currently seems to lack impartiality.
The Associated Press reported March 12 that UN Chief Ban Ki Moon announced President Omar al-Bashir could still “order his country’s courts to prosecute war crimes in Darfur and possibly avert his own war crimes trial by the International Criminal Court.” Egypt and the African Union had been calling on the ICC to delay the proceedings in the interests of promoting peace talks that could put an end to the Darfur War and to keep the continuing peace with southern Sudan, instead of completely destabilizing the region.
A record three-year drought that has decimated the agriculture sector –which accounts for 23 percent of Syria’s gross domestic product (GDP)– is compounding the country’s economic woes this month. There have been thousands of job losses.
“If the Syrian economy slows down while the drought of the past few years continues, then the situation will be difficult,” said Finance Minister Mohammed al-Hussein in January.
Nabil Sukkar, managing director of the Syrian Consulting Bureau for Development and Investment, said the drought could pose a bigger threat than the global financial crisis. “The drought adds to the misery of less income and less spending, and this affects economic growth.”
Hani Tarabishi, a business consultant and professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at Kalamoun University just outside Damascus, said he expected the price of meat to “sky-rocket” this year as a consequence of the drought.
The recent opening up to international markets of Syria’s centrally planned economy has left it badly exposed to the global economic downturn.
“It is very bad”, said Mahmoud Ashi, a wholesale textile producer in Damascus’s ancient Souq al-Hamadiya. “People are afraid to buy goods. It’s the worst economic time in the 15 years I have had this shop. Trade is down 50 percent on last year .”
Many of the country’s leading industries are hemorrhaging jobs as orders from key marketplaces in Europe dry up, leaving families struggling to meet the rising cost of living. Syria last experienced severe economic turbulence in the 1980s when inflation led to bread queues.
The textile industry, one of the country’s leading exports, has been particularly hard hit. Jamal al-Omar, director of the Public Institute for Textiles, recently told a closed meeting of industrialists that exports for the last quarter of 2008 had seen a year on year decrease of 75 percent. Industry accounts for some 28 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
Reports in some Arab newspapers said 80 textile factories had closed down in recent months, though this was not reported locally.
For textile workers the effect is twofold: “The number of shifts are down for the workers, and there is no overtime,” said Kinan Bahnassi, head of the Labour Market Database Project at the UN Development Project (UNDP) in Damascus.
The electronic and electrical goods industry is also suffering. Representatives have reported exports decreasing by 55 percent since the start of 2009 and expect a further decrease of 25 percent in the coming months as orders from Europe are cancelled.
Cham Holdings, an investment company; Syriatel, the mobile phone telecommunications company; and Katakit, a food and beverages company, are all downsizing.
Inflation tripled from 5 to 15 percent between 2007 and 2008 according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). (Source: Irin News)
February saw a decrease in Afghanistan’s illegal production of opium.
(IP)– At a time when President Barack Obama intends to pour more troops into Afghanistan, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Kai Eide, called on religious leaders and the community to support the fight against poppy production while senior Defense Department spokesman, Bryan Whitman said the drug business in Afghanistan “is related to the overall security situation, and is one aspect that needs to be addressed.”
The Afghan drug economy is dependent on its poppy trade that yields enough opium from its 37 provinces to support the world financial market. Much of the heroin coming from the poppy plant is sold in Europe illegally. A problem is that the illegal drug business “does have a relationship to terrorist activities”, according to spokesman Bryan Whitman for the senior Defence Department. The Taliban disrupts the market by imposing a 10 percent charge on economic activity.
Mr Obama’s policy of more troops has opened a flood of debate on how to proceed in that country. Lyndon LaRouche accuses the President of “militarizing a hopeless war, rather than crushing the trafficking of narcotics …” The House remains divided on troop escalation and even the President’s democrats are already calling for a change in the policy.
With the decrease of drug production in February, Mr. Eide later warned that “we could face a backlash instead of further progress”, however in order to break the dependency on the opium industry, Afghanistan would need a strong agricultural program to replace the poppy fields.
British drug legalizer and alleged money launderer George Soros, is said not only to prop up the industry financially, but also runs a mass campaign against the attack on the illicit drug market. He sees the market as necessary in keeping the financial system afloat. It was George Soros’ millions that helped pass a Californian referendum to legalize marijuana, in 1996, making California the producer for one half of marijuana sold in the United States today (LPAC). Another example of his support, according to LPAC is that he gave a $50 million personal loan to Colombian financiers back in 1990. LPAC also quotes David Borden, executive director of the Soros-funded Stop The Drug War (drcnet.org), as saying last month, “Suppose the drug war magically started to work and the trade were wiped out, or people suddenly stopped using drugs. What would happen to the economy? What would happen to countries like Afghanistan or Colombia or Mexico where a lot of the money being made is in drugs and a lot of people are dependent on that money? Or in some sectors of U.S. society.”
What the public is allowed to see of this fiasco is only a scratch on the surface of what could be an international crisis no matter which way you take it. The ordinary man cannot make a connection when United States members of Congress throw their support behind legalizing drugs, but members are all too familiar with the far reaching consequences of the industry. Many US legislators have agreed that Afghanistan’s finances are tied to drug production which is tied to Al-Qaida and the Taliban. Mr Eide of the UN took a somewhat more decisive stance: “Since this industry is so intimately linked to crime, corruption, and food insecurity, the effects [of a decrease in drug production] could be wide-ranging, and very positive,” he said.
Approach To Lists Remains Fundamentally Flawed, Says ACLU
WASHINGTON – The US House of Representatives passed a bill last month establishing a process for innocent Americans to challenge their erroneous placement on government watch lists. The inaccurate and over-inclusive lists ensnare innocent travelers and waste resources that could be spent on effective counterterrorism efforts.
[House Resolution] H.R. 559, sponsored by Representative Yvette Clarke (D-NY), requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to create an Office of Appeals and Redress. The American Civil Liberties Union welcomes this development, but reiterates its call on Congress and the Obama administration to reexamine our nation’s approach to watch lists.
Timothy Sparapani, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel: “When the terror watch lists hit one million records last summer, it became painfully clear that this system is fatally flawed. Representative Clarke’s bill is significant in that it provides the individual with a means of seeking redress through appeal, and those erroneously caught up in the web of watch lists will be well-served. But the burden of correcting the error still remains on the victim and not those responsible for allowing the lists to grow exponentially.
“In order to make the current watch lists more effective in keeping our nation safe, they need to be scrubbed, retaining only individuals for whom there is credible evidence of terrorist ties or activities. But it remains critical that Congress and the Obama administration reexamine and reform our whole approach to the watch list system.”
Filed under: Business/Economy, Front Page News, March Volume 2009, National, Politics
(IP)– Many Republicans are ready for war over President Barack Obama’s proposed federal budget, interpreting it as a plan to interject the government into corporate affairs. Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin says enactment of the Obama budget plan would lead to the largest expansion of government since Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. At the same time Republican statesmen are expressing their concern over the projected record-high deficit of $1.75 trillion for the next fiscal year, more than 12 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. “It is terrifying in the policy implications as well as mind-boggling in the numbers,” Senate Finance Committee member Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) told Fox News.
But political analysts have found ways to explain away both of the main arguments regarding an escalated deficit and government intervention. Lyndon LaRouche, chief economist of Executive Intelligence Review says the deficit argument is overplayed. A “diversion,” Mr LaRouche said, adding that the deficit before the new budget already has “no solution.” Matt Dallek, political historian at the University of California’s Washington Center takes a milder stance on government intervention: “Now on some level, we accept that the federal government for the most part, not everyone does, obviously, but we accept that the federal government has a role to play in a time of economic crisis.”
Mr Dallek’s logic is not acceptable to everyone, however. Many Republicans resent the scope of the new budget, even after a weeks long struggle of the Obama administration to pass the stimulus bill, the other part of the package to deal with the economic crisis.
However, White House officials point out that President Obama inherited the crisis, along with the federal deficit, from the previous administration. Director Office of Management and Budget, Peter Orszag, reiterated: “The economic crisis we’ve inherited raises the deficit by roughly $2 trillion (for this year and next year combined).” According to Mr Orszag, the crisis has raised the deficit, and the Obama administration has been left to deal with that in a way which is “fiscally responsible and not ‘big spending.’” “Irresponsible budgets and inexcusable practices are now in the past,” President Obama said during his weekly address March 7. The President also emphasized that, while the deficit will increase in the short run, reduction of the same amount is calculated for the next years.
In Peter Orszag’s notes to the public, he states the deficit reduction will partially come from “responsibly redeploying our military forces engaged in overseas contingency operations, as well as reforms that would allow us to get more for the money spent on defending the nation.” “The President is committed to responsibly winding the war,” wrote Orszag, “I don’t do foreign policy, but I can tell you this: ending wars saves money – and so the Administration’s budget includes savings from ramping down overseas military operations over time.” President Obama also signed a presidential memorandum earlier this month “to end unnecessary no-bid contracts and dramatically reform the way contracts are awarded — reforms that will save the American people up to $40 billion each year.” While defending massive short-term deficits as necessary during a severe economic recession, President Obama says his budget will shrink the revenue gap in subsequent years by eliminating unnecessary spending and raising income taxes on the wealthy.
Other methods of deficit reduction, according to Mr Orszag, include “returning fairness to the tax system by closing tax loopholes, eliminating subsidies for special interests, and returning to the pre-2001 tax rates for high-income families making more than $250,000 per year (over the next ten years, these revenue enhancements would reduce deficits by roughly $1 trillion).” The budget includes a tax cut for all but the wealthiest of workers and as White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, told CBS’ Face the Nation program: “Ninety-five percent of Americans will have a tax cut. Nobody will see a tax increase for two years.”
Orszag also states the budget will make government “more efficient – for example, by eliminating unwarranted subsidies to middlemen on educational loans and reducing erroneous payments (these two steps would reduce deficits by almost $100 billion over the next ten years).” On ABC’s This Week program, the budget director enjoined: “Let us also count the benefits that families get through Pell [education] grants, the benefits that they will receive through constraining health care costs, the benefits they get from weatherizing their homes, and so on. This budget makes the vast majority of American families much better off.”
But still, “a weak economy reduces revenue and increases spending on automatic stabilizers like unemployment insurance,” Orszag stated. This also requires billions to stabilize financial markets, including the need for the $787 billion Recovery Act to “jumpstart” the economy.
But not everyone agrees that the economy can be jumpstarted. Mr LaRouche contends that what is needed is a restart: “What’s running the world today [is] a usury-ridden financier system, which is now breaking down. Putting the entire world system through bankruptcy reorganization will, in effect, eliminate the present Anglo-Dutch-Saudi empire, that is, the banker, the financier empire.”
“The fact of the matter is, that the United States is [already] bankrupt. The U.S. system is bankrupt. The U.S. government is bankrupt. And every part of the world is also bankrupt,” LaRouche writes. The solution to what he calls an impending New Dark Age is “to create [a] system of cooperation among nation-states, of the type envisaged by Franklin Roosevelt in 1944, end all traces of imperialism, end all globalization, and go back to the sovereign nation-state and its people.” Locally, LaRouche proposes that, after declaring bankruptcy and cancelling claims against the economy, “A new flow of credit [be created], under our Constitution, to ensure that the local chartered and local national banks are able to perform their traditional function, in cooperation with government, for creating a system of long-term credit, to generate the rebuilding of our economy: agriculture, industry, infrastructure.”
LaRouche emphasizes that, like the President’s high speed rail program, infrastructure is of the greatest importance to reviving jobs and the economy. The economist also points out: “We need to go back to more distribution of production away from a few large centers of mass industry, into regional development; smaller industries, more emphasis on closely-held corporations. We need to rebuild the idea of a community, where you can walk to work in a quarter-hour or half an hour each way, at most.”
While, the ideas of the EIR director suggest a restructuring of society, the President’s budget, as it stands, is a definite far leap for those who prefer the status quo of the last eight years. Because the US dollar is linked to, and financially supported by, so many of the world’s economies, “Whether this president succeeds or fails, he’s going to do it in historic proportions.” says Larry Sabato, who directs the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. “It seems to me that in a sense, it is another New Deal or Great Society. You may support it. You may oppose it. But it is big.” -Sources: Treasury Dept. VOA, Whitehouse.gov, EIR
By Umm Abdul Malik
Islamic Post Staff Writer
President Obama had blistering remarks for insurance giant AIG , after hearing news of the financially troubled corporation’s intent to bestow $165 million dollars in bonuses to top executives – despite AIG’s receipt of billions in government bailout funds. “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?” Obama asked, attributing its problems “to recklessness and greed.”
In January, the President blasted executive corporate spenders who, just months ago, were executive corporate beggars after reports surfaced that high-level executives of some of the very institutions heard pleading before Congress for financial aid, had lined their pockets with bonuses in excess of $18 billion dollars last year. “It is shameful…There will be time for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses – now is not that time.” He said he had directed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to “pursue every legal avenue to block these bonuses,” with hints on Capital Hill that in the best case scenario, the execs would simply refuse the money.
Mr Obama affirmed the fact that the corporate behavior contributing to the financial crash will take time to modify, but reformed it must be. “The American people understand that we have a big hole that we have to dig ourselves out of,” he said. “But they do not like the idea that people [financial firm executives] are digging a bigger hole, even as they are being asked to fill it up.” Change in the mode in which American businesses operate –and Wall Street executives in particular– is a major component of the economic reform strategy the Obama administration, along with Congress, have industriously crafted. “We expect that even as the reinvestment and recovery package moves forward — as I said, that’s only one leg of the stool, and that these other legs of the stool will be rolled out systematically in the coming weeks so that the American people will have a clear sense of a comprehensive strategy designed to put people back to work, reopen businesses and credit flowing again.”
“Part of what we’re going to need is for folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint, and show some discipline, and show some sense of responsibility,” the President has been quoted as saying. “I know the American people are eager to get moving again — they want to work. They are serious about their responsibilities; I am, too, in this White House, and I hope that the folks on Wall Street are going to be thinking in the same way.”
By Raheemah Atif
Islamic Post Staff Writer
History was made last month in Denver Colorado, at an economic summit sponsored by the Obama administration, where President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Originating with the President’s vision and call for sweeping legislation, the bill is the political offspring of intense bi-partisan negotiations, and provides a hefty $787 billion dollar infusion into the sagging U.S. economy.
“What I am signing is a balanced plan with a mix of tax cuts and investments. It is a plan that’s been put together without earmarks or the usual pork barrel spending. And it is a plan that will be implemented with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability,” President Obama said before signing the bill into law. “And we expect you, the American people, to hold us accountable for the results. That is why we have created Recovery.gov –so every American can go online and see how their money is being spent.”
The general purpose of the bill is to stimulate the nation’s economic lifeline by providing funds for federal, state, and local/regional governments, with some funds eventually also reaching small businesses, and private citizens to help them weather the financial tidal wave whose ripples began when the subprime mortgage industry exploded. Vice President Biden, who accompanied the President to the energy summit, elaborated on just a few of the goals of the ARRA, “Starting today, our administration will be working day and night to provide more aid for the unemployed, create immediate jobs, building our roads and our bridges, make long-term investments in a smarter energy grid, and so much more.”
The conference report submitted to the House of Representatives in February is quoted in the Congressional Record as stating the general aim of the bill as “making supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and state and local fiscal (monetary) stabilization.” Many states, including California and Tennessee, face serious budget deficits requiring major cuts in programs across the board, including social services, education, and lost jobs across an array of state and regional governmental sectors; the ARRA will funnel monies directly to states to distribute as earmarked by the bill. President Obama also confirmed the intention of the federal government to remain fully open regarding the disposal and use of the recovery bill funds.
“With a recovery package of this size comes a responsibility to assure every taxpayer that we are being careful with the money they work so hard to earn. And that’s why I’m assigning a team of managers to ensure that the precious dollars we’ve invested are being spent wisely and well; and …we’re going to hold governors and local officials who receive the money to the same high standard.”
Highlights of the Bill
Assistance for low-income citizens, unemployed – The bill will provide funds to states for unemployment benefits extensions, to help provide medical coverage for the unemployed through Cobra healthcare plans, and job training programs; funds are also earmarked to help states with their Medicaid and food stamps programs, temporary welfare payments to needy citizens, as well as funds for weatherization programs, home heating subsidies, and community action agencies (these provide emergency assistance for utility/rent payments and other services), payment increases will also be scheduled for recipients of SSI, veterans on pensions and disability payments, retired state employees and railroad workers.
Education –the bill provides funds to assist states in meeting budget and to head-off cuts in education; funds are earmarked for Head Start programs, special education, to increase teachers’ salaries, as well as for increase in the Pell Grants by $400, for the continuation of the No child Left Behind program, and for school modernization.
Security –funds are delegated for state governments for overall security, hiring of police officers and the purchase of equipment, security equipment at airports and U. S. seaports.
Department of Defense –allocated funds are for use in building and repair of Defense Department buildings, maintenance of National Guard facilities, increase of claims processing staff, medical care for military and family members, and housing for service members.
Taxes – the bill provides for numerous areas of tax reform, including a $500 per person/$1000 per couple tax credit for 2009 and 2010, with about $20 less in withholding deducted from workers’ paychecks towards the end of 2009. Included is provision to prevent very wealthy citizens from avoiding payment of taxes due to deductions and other superfluous tax breaks. The Earned Income Credit will be increased for 2009; another reform will give more low-income citizens expanded access to the Child Tax Credit. Significant changes were made in the areas of college tuition refunds, home-buying credits, home energy credits, and credits for small businesses that lost money during 2009.
President Obama closed his post-signing address by reiterating the challenge before government and the American people as well. “None of this will be easy. The road to recovery will not be straight. We will make progress and there may be some slippage along the way. It will demand courage and discipline. It will demand a new sense of responsibility that’s been missing from Wall Street all the way to Washington. There will be hazards and reverses. But I have every confidence that if we are willing to continue doing the critical work that must be done –by each of us, by all of us– then we will leave this struggling economy behind us, and come out on the other side, more prosperous as a people.”
In 2003, after being ostensibly cleared of terrorism allegations by the Commissioner of the Inquiry, Justice Dennis O’Connor, Maher Arar is once again on the receiving end of scrutiny as the Omar Khadr terrorist hearings get underway.
By Subhana A. Rahim
Islamic Post Staff Writer
Arar, Canadian wireless technology consultant, 34 years of age at the time, was at the center of a controversial “extraordinary rendition” case in 2002. Although Syrian by birth, Arar became a Canadian citizen back in 1991. His connection to his homeland apparently sparked the events that followed. While on his way home from a vacation in Tunisia, Arar arrived at New York’s JFK Airport during a stopover. While there he was apprehended and detained by US officials. He was subsequently interrogated about alleged reports that he was somehow linked to a terrorist installation of Al-Qaeda. Almost two weeks later he was deported to Syria and was eventually brutally tortured by Syrian government officials. After a long ordeal of trying to prove his innocence, Arar was extradited back to Canada. The pressure that was spurred on by various human rights advocacy groups and the relentless work of his wife, ultimately allowed his case to be heard by the Canadian Government. After an intense probe, Arar was cleared of all terrorism allegations by the Commissioner of Inquiry. “I have heard evidence concerning all of the information gathered by Canadian investigators in relation to Mr. Arar,” said Justice O’Connor. “… I am able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offense or that his activities constitute a threat to the security to Canada.” Arar has also received apologies from US lawmakers, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Prime Minister.
Concurrently with these events, in 2002 a 15 year old Canadian teenager named Omar Khadr was detained at Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility in Cuba for allegedly killing a US soldier with a hand grenade in Afghanistan. Although there was weak physical evidence to substantiate this allegation, Khadr eventually allegedly confessed to this offense after being interrogated by US special agents. He was charged with murder, attempted murder and spying amongst other offenses. The Khadr case has attracted huge amounts of attention worldwide as questions about his age at the time of his incarceration and interrogation emerged.
When the Khadr trial began late last month the alleged connection between Arar and Khadr emerged. US Special Agent, Robert Fuller testified that Khadr not only admitted to killing an American soldier but that after he was shown a photograph, he recognized Maher Arar as a fellow conspirator from an Al-Qaeda installation in Kabul. Although speculation remains about whether or not Khadr actually implicated Arar (notes taken from the interrogation do not explicitly verify Khadr’s familiarity with Arar) suspicion has resurfaced regarding Arar’s innocence. Arar himself has expressed his shock and dismay at the alleged linkage to the Khadr case. While Arar still struggles to call the responsible parties to account for his own false imprisonment and torture, he now bears the burden of defending himself in yet again.
Meanwhile, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism Martin Scheinin cited the case Mr Maher Arar this month in presenting a report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. According to Jurist, the report is “critical of international counterterrorism practices.”
By Jameelah Kareem
Islamic Post Staff Writer
The 2005 case of convicted September 11th conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui was returned to federal courts earlier this month when Moussaouis’ lawyers said his guilty plead was invalid. Moussaoui pleaded guilty to six terrorism-conspiracy counts in April 2005.
According to the Associated Press, Moussaouis’ lawyers are claiming that secrecy in court was the reason why Moussaoui didn’t have the ability to present adequate defense, that the government failed to turn over evidence that could have helped his defense, and in return the guilty plea should be thrown out, life sentence be withdrawn, and a new trial granted. The lawyers argued that Moussaouis’ 5th and 6th amendment rights were in violation making his guilty plea invalid.
U.S. Justice Department attorney Kevin Gingras said that U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, “bent over backward” to ensure that Mr. Moussaoui understood what he was doing and the consequences. The Associated Press also stated that prosecutor Mr. Antonipillai said the jury spared him the death penalty leaving his eligibility for life in prison the only alternative.
Muslims Brought as Slaves to America
By Umm Abdul Malik
Islamic Post Staff Writer
The month of February has been designated as that time during which the national cultural focus turns toward the commemoration of the lives and works of those Americans whose ancestors arrived on North American shores from the African continent. History reveals, through the exhaustive research and documentation of an array of historians, that great numbers, (if not the majority) of the Africans who were brought to the western hemisphere as stolen, traded, and subsequently, purchased human property were Muslims who practiced Al-Islam as their way of life.
Moreover, historians have verified the fact that even before Christopher Columbus ventured into the oceans of the western hemisphere, Muslims from Africa and Spain set their feet on North American and Caribbean soil. In 1996, Muslim historian and scientist, Dr. Youssef Mroueh, published an article to commemorate a millennium of Muslim presence in the Americas. Dr. Mroueh’s research asserts that African Muslims lived in the western hemisphere centuries before Columbus, and contains citations from a work written by Dr. Barry Fell, of Harvard University, entitled Saga America (1980), which documents extensive archeological evidences of the Muslim presence in pre-Columbian North America. Dr. Fell, in his book, also “… draws parallels between West African peoples and Native Americans in the southwest, including cultural and linguistic similarities, and the existence of Islamic petro glyphs in the southwestern region. In particular, Fell mentioned a carving that he believed was done centuries before Columbus that states in Arabic: “Yasus bin Maria” (Jesus son of Mary), a phrase commonly found in the Koran.”
Dr. Mroueh states that, “anthropologists have proven that the Mandinkas (people of West Africa) during the 13th century AD, under the instruction of Emperor Mansa Musa of Timbuktu, explored many parts of North America via the Mississippi, and other river systems. At Four Corners, Arizona; writings show that they even brought elephants from Africa to the area,” and that “…ruins of mosques and minarets with inscriptions of Qur’anic verses have been discovered in Cuba, Mexico, Texas, and Nevada. In addition, Dr. Fell published conclusive evidence in his book of the existence of Muslim schools at five sites in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and Tipper Canoe, Indiana, that date back to 700-800 CE. Engraved on the rocks in the old western U.S., he found texts, diagrams, and charts’ representing the last surviving fragments of what was once a system of schools– at both the elementary and higher levels. The language of instruction was North African Arabic written with old Kufic Arabic script. The subjects… included writing, reading, religion, history, geography, mathematics, astronomy, and sea navigation.”
As for the West African Muslims who arrived in North America and the Caribbean as slaves, detailed records kept in private and government archives afforded written documentation of the sale and movements of many. Author Alex Haley was able to utilize these historical records, and other sources, to trace his ancestors back four generations finding the origin of his family in Senegambia, and that his forebears were in fact, Muslims. Professor Terry Alford conducted extensive historical research over many years, which culminated in his book Prince Among Slaves, an engaging and highly descriptive account of an young African Muslim who became a prisoner of war in his homeland, and was subsequently sold by the victors to slavers bound for the Americas – Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahima, son of an African Muslim monarch of Futa Jallon (near modern-day Guinea), Africa. So not only did slavery mark a bittersweet return of African people to North America; so too – the return of Islam.
By Jameelah Kareem
Islamic Post Staff Writer
(IP)- President Obama mentioned on March 13, in an offhand way, the accumulation of natural disasters in the country while discussing his budget proposal. “We could have painted a sunnier fiscal picture in this budget,” the President informed the Business Roundtable at the Regis Hotel in Washington, D.C. “We could have relied on some of the same gimmicks that our government has used for the last eight years: gimmicks that would hide spending on things like Iraq and Afghanistan, gimmicks like assuming that there’s never a natural disaster anywhere in the country over the course of a year,” he said. “Our deficit would appear $2.7 trillion better had we used those gimmicks over the next decade.”
It would seem from this that icy weather has been as much on Mr Obama’s agenda as have been the overseas wars and the economy. The President signed no less than six major disaster declarations in the past month or so. Unlike his predecessor and the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, President Obama seems to be wasting no time to look after the safety of the people struggling to survive natural emergencies.
The most comprehensive emergency declaration was the first to be signed, and authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to alleviate hardships caused by the recent severe winter weather storm that affected 8 states: Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Tennessee. Kentucky and Arkansas were hit the hardest with a total of 93 counties. Snow, sleet, and freezing rain has been blamed or suspected in at least 57 deaths nationwide; some of which include death from hypothermia, traffic accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning caused mainly by improperly ventilated propane and kerosene heaters, and people huddled in their dark and cold homes. Two elderly people and their special needs adult child died because of an improperly vented generator, another person died after using a charcoal grill as a heater for the house. The Associated Press reported guard troops arrived at the home of a 92 year old woman in Arkansas without food who was so relieved she broke down and cried.
Some have compared the ice storm of 2009 to be one of the worst storms they’ve ever seen and even tops the storm that hit in 2000. The Governor of Arkansas, Mike Beebe requested President Obama to upgrade the federal response in the state by declaring a major disaster, which would open the door for immediate financial assistance and aid to supplement State and local response efforts. The Governor of Kentucky had done likewise. FEMA’s response to this disaster is noted to have been a tremendous step up from the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. “We’re not just suffering from a deficit of dollars in this government, we’re suffering from a deficit of trust,” President Obama told the Business Roundtable. It appears he is working to rebuild that confidence in more ways than one.
Hazrat Imam Ali once said to his son Hazrat Imam Hasan, My son, learn four things from me and through them you will learn four more. If you keep them in mind your actions will not bring any harm to you: The greatest wealth is wisdom; the greatest poverty is stupidity; the worst unsociableness is that of vanity and self-glorification; and the best nobility of descent exhibits itself in politeness and in refinement of manner. The next four things, my son, are: “Do not make friendship with a fool because when he will try to do you good he will do you harm; do not make a miser your friend because he will run away from you at the time of your dire need; do not be friendly with a vicious and wicked person because he will sell you and your friendship at the cheapest price; and do not make friend of a liar because like a mirage he will make you visualize very near the things which lie at a great distance and will make you see at the great distance the things which are near to you”.
We ask that Allah, the Most High, bestow countless blessings upon the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family members of that time and today, who continue to grace us with their presence, and allow young and old to benefit from the leaders of the Ummah who come from this most blessed family.
The Muslims of the Americas (MOA) are proud to announce the birth of the newest light of the most honored family, the Ahli Bait, Syed Abdul Qadir Shah Gilani (also shown in the Eid collage above), son of our beloved Imam, El Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani.
“The moment rose water was sprinkled on me [at the ceremony], I felt better,” said Muneerah Abdul Adl of Holy Islamberg. “All my worries at that moment went away. Khalifah Hussein Abu Bakr’s discourse made me more knowledgeable about the whole experience as well as the importance of motherhood. I was so happy to be there and I didn’t want to leave.”
Although of immense glad tidings, it was not surprising to hear quotes from the discourse given on this special occasion that there will be a time when the rulers of nations will be Syed, from the family of the Holy Last Messenger, may the peace of Allah be upon him and his noble family. One sign of this has been the President of the United States Syed Barack Hussein Obama. It was also cheering but, again, not shocking to now be told during the discourse that many Syeds have come from MOA families, although we are unaware of who they are.
In fact, due to the high numbers of Muslims who were brought to the Americas as slaves, and even the numbers of Cherokee and other Native American tribes who had converted to Islam before the arrival of the well-known colonial settler, Christopher Columbus, it is not a mystery why Islam is the fastest growing religion in America, as many Americans are simply returning to their roots and embracing the religion and culture of their forebears. Also, because the vast majority of African Americans were systematically cut off from their African roots and heritage, it is unknown to most which are blessed with the distinction of Syed forebears.
“Blessed we are and we pray to remain so! I witnessed the Aqiqa [ceremony of blessing] in all its happiness and noor!
In Holy Islamberg. “Generation after generation, we steadily build our nation!”
May Allah, the Most High, bless the Holy Family, their Syed sons and daughters and may our families serve them now and forever more…
For to serve them is to be like the siddiqs [truthful and loyal] who stood by Imam Shah Hussein, Noori son of Muhammad (peace be upon him)- May Allah bless his name!”
-Poetry: Umm Shafi
By Aisha A. Muqit
Islamic Post Staff Writer
Bismillahir Rahman nir Rahim, As Salaatu was Salaamu alayka Ya RasoolAllah.
This poem is dedicated to the King, may Allah’s peace be upon him eternally, his Ahli Bait, Holy Companions, and Awliya. He is Here (peace be upon him)!
The King is arriving.
He will be here soon…
The King is Arriving, Is Everyone Aware?
The King is Arriving, We must Prepare!
Listen, the time grows near.
The Approach of the King,
He will soon be Here…
The King is Arriving, Is Everyone Aware?
The King is Arriving, We must be prepared!
Quiet the children. Are they tidy and clean?
The child in ourselves, is it fully trained
to serve the King?
Just to be sure, let me check everything.
Just to be sure all is ready for the Arrival of the King…
Do I have on my finest dress?
Does Dhikr Hoo, pound in my chest?
Did I apply my kohl, and ittar?
Have I performed all my Salat,
Is the castle clean, are all the cobwebs gone?
Have I banished unruly thoughts, that ruin the calm?
Have I swept all the rooms and the halls?
Washed away any dark spots on the walls?
Do the windows shine with that special glow?
Have they been scrubbed with Dhikr of the Qadri Rose?
Has Incense been lit to perfume the air,
Na’ats and poems written with care?
Is the Red Carpet, all rolled out,
Flowers of every color, strewn about?
Are hearts, welcoming the Coming Strides,
Decorated with D’roods sung with pride?
The reds of D’rood Taj, the green of ‘Ya Sayyiddi;’ and, of course, the whites of ‘Ya Nabi!’
Ya Rabb! is that steps I hear?
Has that much time disappeared?
The King is Arriving …
I feel the intensity increase.
Here comes our King, Ya Mureeds!
Look… There… Bursting upon the Horizon,
More brilliant than a high-noon sun,
The Noble Entourage enters sight.
Oh Lovers! What a Blessed Time!
The King is Coming, “Rejoice!” fills the air.
All of Creation stand prepared
To greet the King of Both Worlds,
The Glory of the Kingdom lies Unfurled!
Surrounding the King like a Perfect Bouquet:
His Sahabah Akram and Ahli Bait,
Seven Noori Beings Glowing in their Wake.
The Ambiya and Awliya also fill the ranks.
Their arrival brings cries of Welcome
Behold the Star of the Blessed Five,
The King, with His Princes By His side!
Majestically Flanking our King Today,
Are the Royal Shahidain,
Imamain, Hasan wa Hussain.
Both Sacrificed their lives for the Deen,
Betrayed by so called ‘Muslimeen’
Leaders of the Youth of Jannah
Pure Examples for the Ummah.
Oh My Rabb! Next I see,
The Queen of All Jennatis
Draped in a chaddar, Brilliant White,
All Must Lower their gaze at her sight.
Her Majesty, Syeda Fatimah tuz Zahra
First Sultana of Awliya!
Her mantle, I have many times seen;
Yet I never imagined the Grace of this Queen!
My Qalb is pounding, deafening now…
For next to this Perfect Queen,
Is the Door to the King!
Oh Beloved Hazrat Ali,
Master of Hikma and Ma’arfa,
Master of Every Sufi and the Awliya.
Fierce Lion, carrying Zulfiqar,
Guards the King, with Skill and Valor.
…Softly, a spring breeze touches my cheek,
And I know it is my King that Next I’ll see!
Our wait is over! We Wait No More!
Resplendently, Our Noble King
enters His Court!
Our King has Arrived! Our King has Arrived!
Ya Mustafa! Ya Mujtaba!
Shukr wal Hamdulillah! Shukr wal Hamdulillah!
Ya Rahmatulil Alameen, Sall Allahoo alayka wa sallam!
Reason for the Creation of Everything
My Heart, My Love, Most Honorable King!
Oh Embodiement of Allah’s,
Uncreated Noori Jamal!
We Your Humble Subjects, gathered Here…
Glistening in our Endless Tears…
Have eagerly awaited this day
When we can personally say:
We Stand Ready For Your Command!
Labbayk! Labbayk! Ya RasulAllah (Sall Allahoo alayka wa sallam!)
Please! Come Take Our Hands!
If not for You, we would not exist!
There is NO life without you in our Midst!
We, Your Lovers, Loyal and True,
Desire only to Stand Behind You!
We’ve Been Carefully Prepared
For this Day;
Our Murshid Has Guided us Every Step of the Way;
Will You Accept Us Under Your Sway?
Ya Hareesun Alaykum!
Please Forgive the wrong we do!
Though we are Faulty,
We are in Love You!
Lead us to the Ultimate Victory.
Reveal to us the Great Mystery:
Immersion in our Rabb and Eternal Life,
Beyond all Hardship, Miseries and Strife!
…Suddenly, I Feel A Glance.
…I sense His (Sall Allahoo alayhi wa sallam) Gaze.
…Everything in me stands Amazed…
The Most Beloved
Of all whom are Loved,
He Glances, at this Humble Dove.
Exultingly, I feel wings in my chest beat…
I feel “Hoo, Hoo, Hoo!”
I no longer have any Feet…
Flying High Upon the Smile,
That stayed upon me
for just a short while.
My King Arrived,
And I recognized…
My King Had Always Been Here,
And He is Never Going Anywhere.
Within my Qalb is Where He Stays,
Within my Being, Now and Always…
Huwa Hunaa… He is Here!
Huwa Hunaa… Ever Near . .
Huwaa Hunaa… Never Fear!
He is Here and He Loves,
More than Love Itself.
For HE IS Love,
(Sall Allahoo Alayhi wa sallam).
Undoubtedly Alive, an explanation.
There are many misinformed and misled people who say that the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), is dead and mixed with the sand, Astaghfirullah! God willing, below you will find proof from the Glorious Qur’an, Ahadith, as well as from eminent scholars of Islam that shows that all the Prophets of Allah including Rasoolullah (peace be upon him) are undoubtedly alive.
The Prophets of Almighty Allah are alive like they were alive on earth. They eat, drink and come and go [to this Earth] as they wish. To fulfill the promise of Allah Almighty, “Every soul is to taste death [Holy Qur’an 21:35], they tasted death for a moment and were given life again. Thereafter they were given the same life in their graves as they had on earth. The same laws of this world apply to them in their graves. Therefore their estate or belongings are not distributed as inheritance. It is haraam for their pious wives to remarry and there is no ‘iddah period for their pious wives. Prophets of God eat, drink, and perform salaah in their graves as they normally did during their lives on earth. [Bahaare Shariat; Malfooz Shareef]
Allah the Most High states in the Holy Qur’an: “Surely you shall die, and surely they shall also die. [39:30] In truth, [for them] this death is just for a moment and not for eternity otherwise the Holy Qur’an also states regarding the shuhadah (Martyrs), “And they are alive, but you are unaware.”
Furthermore, the Ascension which Rasoolullah (peace be upon him) went also shows that the Prophets are alive. Rasoolullah (peace be upon him) met Hazrat Moosa (Moses, peace be upon him) on that night and even spoke to him. In fact, it was due to the help of Hazrat Moosa (peace be upon him) that the salaah was reduced from 50 to five times a day for us. This shows that the pious servants of Allah Almighty are alive and can also provide help even after their demise. [Tafseer Noorul Irfaan]
Allah the Most High states in the Glorious Qur’an, “And ask those of Our Messengers whom We sent before you: “Did We appoint some other gods besides the Most Affectionate to be worshipped?” [43:45] This again refers to the night of Me’raj, or Ascension and, after the salaah in Masjidul Aqsa, Rasoolullah (peace be upon him) was told to ask the Prophets before him. One can only ask that person who is able to hear and to give a reply. Furthermore, this shows that the Blessed Prophets after their demise travel in the world and meet one another. They are therefore neither dead nor are they detained in their graves. [Tafseer Noorul Irfaan, Tafseer Roohul Ma’aani]
In another verse Allah Almighty states, “And do not say about those who are slain in the path of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive, but you are unaware of it.” [2:154] If Allah the Most High tells us not to call the shuhadah dead, how then can anyone say that Rasoolullah (peace be upon him) is dead (Astaghfirullah!), when even the shuhadah have received their martyrdom through the blessing of Rasoolullah (peace be upon him)? [Editor’s note: This refers to the mercy of Allah being bestowed upon the shuhada. The Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him) once prayed for mercy upon one of his companions and the man gained shahada. Rasoolullah is also the Mercy to All the Worlds.] Furthermore, the Prophets are much more exalted than the shuhadah, therefore if the shuhadah are alive then undoubtedly the Prophets are alive. [Fathul Baari Sharah Bukhari ]
Allah, Exalted is He, further states: “And those that have been slain in the path of Allah, never think of them as dead; but they are alive with their Lord, from Whom they get their subsistence.” [3:169] From this we learn that the bodies and spirits of the martyrs are both alive. They are both physically and spiritually alive. It is for this reason that their bodies do not decay in the grave. [Note: This phenomena has been proven true regarding all people killed unjustly. The text does not at all refer to those misguided people who commit suicide.]
Furthermore, the souls of martyrs journey through paradise in the form of green birds and they eat and drink whatever they desire. [Tafseer Noorul Irfaan] If the martyrs are alive and eat and drink whatever they desire, what then is the status of Rasoolullah (peace be upon him) who is the most exalted of all creation?
Rasoolullah (peace be upon him) once said, “Recite salawaat (durood, or blessings and peace) upon me in abundance on a Friday since it is a respected day. On that day the angels are present and whosoever sends salawaat upon me, then his salawaat is placed before me till the time when they have completed sending the salawaat.” Hazrat Abu Dardah (may Allah be pleased with him) said that he asked Rasoolullah (peace be upon him), “Oh Rasoolullah, will you even hear the salawaat after your demise?” Our Beloved Master (peace be upon him) said, “Verily Almighty Allah has made it forbidden for the earth to devour the bodies of the Ambiya (Messengers, or some say Prophets, of God, peace be upon them). Thus, all the Messengers of Allah are alive and they are given sustenance.” [Ibn Majah; Jaame Sagheer; Mishkaat Shareef]
We learn from this that the Ambiya (peace be upon them all) are alive and they have only been hidden from us. We cannot understand their position: similar to that of the angels that are alive and present but we cannot see them. Those whom Allah Almighty has blessed, they can see them. Thus it has been confirmed that the Ambiya (peace be upon them) are alive. [Umdatul Qaari Sharah Bukhari] Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (peace be upon him) once saw a Prophet performing Hajj, calling out “Labbaik” and even performing salaah. All the Prophets were present at Masjidul Aqsa on the night of Me’raj and they all performed salaah in jama’at with Rasoolullah (peace be upon him). [Zarqaani Alal Mawaahib]
We can therefore see that there is no doubt that Rasoolullah (peace be upon him) and all the Ambiya are alive, both spiritually and physically. Anyone who says otherwise is denying what the Holy Qur’an and Hadith teaches us. Source: Raza-e-Khushtar Team /IQOU-MOA.org