June Vol. 1, 2009
By Jannah A. Malik
North Korea recently announced that it had successfully carried out it’s second underground nuclear test. This test followed the rocket launching less than two months ago which was believed to be a test of the country’s long-range missile technology.
The country’s official Korean Central News Agency reported that its regime had “successfully conducted one more underground nuclear test on May 25 as part of measures to bolster it’s nuclear deterrent for self defense.” Seismological measurements support North Korea ’s claim that this test was much stronger than the previous one in 2006. Seismologists from South Korea, Japan and also the Unites States reported activity around the same area where North Korea conducted its first nuclear tests.
After the United Nations Security Council condemned North Korea’s April rocket launch, the nation warned last month that it would hold a second atomic test to follow up the first in 2006. The Associated Press reports Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura as saying, “If North Korea carried out a nuclear test, it would clearly violate U.N. Security Council resolutions. We will definitely not tolerate it.”
Mr Kawamura is urging the U.N. Security Council to address the issue as all of its islands are within close missile range of North Korea. Furthermore, according to Kyodo news agency, Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka said that Japan will request an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss North Korea .
The Security Council has, however, commanded countries to prevent Pyongyang from exporting and importing materials from ballistic missiles or weapons of mass destruction.
President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea convened an emergency security session.
June Vol. 1, 2009
By Asma Stewart
The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), has become the latest front in the war against academic freedom. Professor William Robinson, who teaches classes in Jewish Sociology and also Global studies, was brought up on charges of anti-Semitism after two Jewish students reported the professor to school authorities and the Anti Defamation League (ADL) for an email message that included 25 photos of war-battered Palestinians, equating their plight to that of Jews under Nazi rule. The email also contained an editorial by a Jewish journalist condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza as well as juxtaposed images of Nazi atrocities with congruent images of Israeli aggression against Palestinians.
The email was an optional read for students, intended to spark conversation by relating contemporary events to conceptual ideas discussed in class. However, the offended students stated the email in question contained the personal views of the professor and that he overstepped his bounds as a professional educator by the intrusion of material unrelated to the course.
A week after the email was sent, the ADL wrote Robinson a letter charging him with anti-Semitism and sundry violations of the Faculty Code of Conduct. Another week passed, and the professor heard from an Academic Senate Charges Officer, who notified him that two of the students in the class to which he circulated the email had filed complaints against him. In addition to leveling charges of anti-Semitism, the complaints insist the Israeli-Palestinian issue should not be discussed in a class on Globalization.
Professor Robinson has explained that he feels the issue is being pushed by pro-Israel lobby groups who he feels have long been exploiting the term anti-Semitism to push the goals of political Zionism. Mr Robinson has defended himself by saying he himself is Jewish and that the suggestion that he is anti-Semitic is “like saying if I condemn the U.S. government for the invasion of Iraq, I’m anti-American… It’s the most absurd, baseless argument.”
Upon hearing the news of Mr. Robinson’s academic accusations, many colleagues and students (graduate and under-graduate) as well as various on lookers banded together to show support to the professor.
Officer acts as co-complainant
In compliance with campus Procedures of the Faculty Code of Ethics, the charges officer is to simply notify the accused faculty member. However, the case took a twist when it was found that the Charges Officer who notified Robinson of the complaints reportedly violated several elements of the charges procedure, thereby acting as a co-complainant by fabricating charges that were not raised by the students.
At this point the charges have reached the Committee on Committees, which is now in the process of convening an ad hoc Charges Committee to assess the complaints against Professor Robinson. Critics of the complaints say that further consideration of the charges by the Academic Senate serves only to sanction politically-motivated attacks on academic freedom. The longer this case is pursued, the wider its effect may become. Many fear that this type of academic censoring may spread fear among those who wish to present critical subjects, though they may be controversial. Even though the original complaint is regarding the Israeli- Palestian conflict, the concern for academic freedom and historic objectivity extends beyond this specific topic and into the realm of rights and constitutionality. Robinson supporters have also expressed their views that academic freedom is a right that enables scholars to express diverse perspectives over contentious topics, free from the intimidation of politically repressive campaigns.
If the case against Professor Robinson leads to ADL censorship, it could easily lead down a slippery slope that would expose academics to repressive tactics toward an endless variety of controversial issues.
June Vol. 1, 2009
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks at the Barnard College Commencement Ceremony encouraged the late May graduates to use social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter to “unite your friends,” in order to bring attention to social injustices like human trafficking and political detention of journalists. Secretary Clinton also highlighted recent demonstrations organized for democratic causes by youth and students who frequent social networks “like the undergraduates at Northwestern who launched a global fast to bring attention to Iran’s imprisonment of an American journalist,” noted Mrs Clinton, and “like the two recent college graduates in Colombia – the country – who organized 14 million people into the largest anti-terrorism demonstration in history, doing as much damage to the FARC terrorist network in a few weeks than had been done in years of military action.”
In popular culture, the use of social networking –via mediums like Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, private blogs, public forums, personal websites, text messaging, and email– to gather large crowds of people united in a common purpose is referred to as the organization of “flash mobs.” The first notable flash mob was designed in Manhattan, in May 2003, by Bill Wasik, senior editor of Harper’s Magazine, as a social experiment to highlight the cultural atmosphere of conformity and of wanting to be an insider or part of “the next big thing.” The experiment was an apolitical joke carried out by a few hundred participants at a local Macy’s department store. In 2008, word spread via social technology for more amusement, this time the Worldwide Pillow Fight Day, in which over 25 cities around the world participated, making the event the largest flash mob to date.
After the success of such benign experiments, flash mobs made the rapid switch to being political in nature.
Last month, Moldovan activist, Natalia Morar, was officially charged by the Moldovan government with “calls for organizing and staging mass disturbances.” However, the peaceful flash mob of 300 she and other activists organized to take place in front of the Parliament of Moldova, became known as a “Twitter Revolution” when it turned into a gathering of 10,000 protesters, including the leaders of major opposition parties and the explosive scene quickly became violent.
The US State Department, however, is determined to harness the power of social networking for positive use. Secretary Clinton announced during the speech at Barnard College, the creation of Virtual Student Foreign Service Internships, which will use social networking “to partner American students with our embassies abroad, to conduct digital diplomacy.”
Sources: State Dept., RFE/RL
June Vol. 1, 2009
(IP) –Some pressing issues in America today are healthcare, agriculture, and climate change. The recent outbreak of swine flu has brought to the forefront, the idea that food is the catalyst for these fundamental concerns. Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, sat down with Democracy Now! host, Amy Goodman, to discuss the need for reform in the food system, as it plays a major role in understanding not only swine flu, but solving the massive healthcare crisis and global climate change.
In the interview, Pollan stressed that more research was needed to determine if swine flu resulted from the industrialized agriculture of pigs. He pointed to the outbreak in Mexico, where tens of thousands of pigs “live in filth and close contact.” The Pew Commission on animal agriculture had already called attention to public health risks creating an environment that would generate new flu pandemics, he said.
The website for the Center for Disease Control asserts, “Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food.” However, the CDC continues, “Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160°F kills the swine flu virus as it does other bacteria and viruses.” Does this mean improperly cooked pork could transmit the disease? The CDC does not elaborate.
The following is an excerpt from the interview conducted Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! with author Michael Pollan concerning difficulties with other food systems outside the swine industry:
Amy Goodman: Can you talk about corporations in other ways, like Monsanto, talking about the sustainability of genetically modified foods?
Michael Pollan: Monsanto is […] making the case that the most sustainable agriculture will be intensive production on the land base we have. The argument is that there’s only so much arable land in the world, we have ten billion people on the way, and that the only way to feed them is to get more productivity over the land we have, to further intensify agriculture, using their genetically modified seeds. […]They [the seeds] have never succeeded in raising productivity. […] the Union of Concerned Scientists just issued a report looking at the twenty-year history of these crops, and what they have found is that basically the real gains in yield for American crops, for world crops, has been through conventional breeding. […]
AG: Is understanding and resolving food manufacturing issues a key to the healthcare crisis?
MP: Well, I think that we are soon to recognize that we are not going to be able to reform healthcare, which depends on getting the cost of healthcare down, without addressing the [catastrophe of] American diet.
The CDC estimates that of the $2 trillion we’re spending on healthcare $1.5 trillion is for the treatment of preventable chronic disease. Food is implicated in heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, 40 percent of cancers, stroke, all sorts of cardiovascular problems. Treating a case of Type 2 diabetes costs the City of New York, every new case, $500,000. It is bankrupting the system, and it’s preventable.
When asked about a lengthy letter Mr Pollan addressed to US President Barack Obama on the subject of food systems, Pollan describes his most significant point: “The most salient point is simply, you are not going to be able to tackle either the healthcare crisis or climate change unless you look at our food system. In the case of climate change, food is responsible for about a third of greenhouse gases, the way we’re growing food, the way we’re processing it and the way we’re eating. And the healthcare crisis, as I’ve talked about. So we need to address it. It’s really the shadow issue over these other two issues.”
June Vol. 1, 2009
By Laila A. Rahman
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under two years old be restricted from watching television, and that children who are older than two be restricted to watching one to two hours of quality programming per day.
Experts have assessed in two separate studies done by the American Psychological Association that some television programming is leading children into unhealthy habits and aggressive behavior as adults.
The first study –which was performed by several psychologists including L. Rowell Huesmann, Ph.D., Jessica Moise-Titus, Ph.D., and Leonard D. Eron, Ph.D of the University of Michigan– concluded that children identify personally with the characters they see on television and perceive the situations they see to be real. Researchers believe “violent situations that children are most likely to model their behavior after are [the] ones in which they identify with the perpetrator of violence, the perpetrator is rewarded for the violence and in which children perceive the scene as telling about life like it really is.”
The APA also believes that viewing such violence as adolescents makes children more prone to grow up as aggressive adults. The participants in one of the studies were interviewed again afterwards, and rated by their family members and friends, as to how often they would engage in aggressive behavior. It was found that men who viewed TV violence frequently showed to have pushed, grabbed, or shoved a person when they became angry at someone, and the women viewing similar material were found to punch, beat, or choke in situations where they were angry, both at a rate of approximately 4 times more than people who were not frequent viewers of violent programming. These same men and women were also found to have an increased rate of criminal convictions and moving traffic violations.
Researchers argue that the correlation between viewing violent material and the incidence of violent behavior is profound and underestimated. Dr. Huesmann’s research concerning this correlation concluded that, “It is more plausible that exposure to TV violence increases aggression than that aggression increases TV-violence viewing,” as well as: “For both boys and girls, habitual early exposure to TV violence is predictive of more aggression by them later in life, independent of their own initial childhood aggression.”
The American Psychological Association has also recommended that all advertising to children under the age of eight be restricted due to research that showed children under eight are not able to comprehend advertising messages like older children and adults do. Children under eight also accept advertising messages as truthful, unbiased, and accurate. Advertisers spend more than 12 billion dollars a year advertising such products as sugared cereals, candies, sweets, and sodas, an astounding proportion of which is focused towards this age group. Dr. Brian Wilcox, Director of the Center on Children, a key psychologist conducting the research, concluded: “Such advertising of unhealthy food products to young children contributes to poor nutritional habits that may last a lifetime and be a variable in the current epidemic among kids.” Foods high in sugar and lacking nutrition have increased the amount of children in recent years who are obese and also those who have developed diabetes.
There are, however, actions that can be taken, as parents, to stop these negative influences from impinging upon children. While many in society remain reliant upon television programming to occupy their children, persistent research conclusively shows that the most effective engagements for positive child development are intellectually stimulating activities away from the television.
June Vol. 1, 2009
Habeebah A. Samad
Beginning July 1, the award-winning Al Jazeera English (AJE) network, a 24-hour global news and current affairs channel, broadcasting in more than 100 countries, will be broadcasting seven days per week in Washington, D.C after having teamed up with MHz Networks’ prominent international channel line-up. AJE will be joining nine other international networks that MHz broadcasts and cablecasts in the region.
Like MHz’s other international networks, AJE was added in two forms. AJE programming began April 29, in the D.C. metro area. Viewers are able to watch an evening newscast anchored from AJE’s Washington, D.C. news bureau at 10 p.m. on the primary local channel known as “MHz Networks 1/MHz Worldview D.C.”
Chief Executive, Frederick Thomas, of MHz Networks says, “It was important for us to broaden the range of world news that we bring to Washington, D.C. …AJE also fits perfectly inside of our mission and I think viewers are going to find it a reliable and top-quality source for news.”
Al Jazeera English launched internationally in November 2006 as the world’s first English language news channel to be headquartered in the Middle East. After only two years on the air, the channel is available in more that 140 million households worldwide and in more than 100 countries.
“We are extremely pleased to be launching on MHz and joining their impressive line-up of channels,” said Phil Lawrie, Director of Global Distribution for Al Jazeera. “For over two years, Al Jazeera English has been …providing a platform for the under-represented corners of the world. Our website receives 22 million visits every month with over 50% coming from America, and our branded YouTube page is by far the most popular news site on YouTube. We applaud MHz for being among the first US providers to air the channel.”
The thirty-minute AJE newscast will be available in the D.C. market via MHz Networks 1, on broadcast (over the air) channel 30.1. Viewers with cable may tune into Comcast channel 30 and Verizon FIOS channel 451.
In addition to Al Jazeera English, MHz Worldview (MHz Networks 1) programming in DC originates from: Asian News International (ANI), Deutsche Welle, Euronews, FCI, France 24, Israeli Broadcast Authority (IBA), MAC TV, NHK World TV, RT, and SABC as well as MBC, Bolivision, and TV Polonia. Programming also stems from local producers and international film distributors.
June Vol. 1 2009
(IP) –New data from the US Treasury Department shows that Chinese investors cut back on their purchases of bonds during the months of January and February. Representative Mark Kirk was the first member of Congress to tour the Bureau of Public Debt, which trades bonds, and was distressed to find out how much debt was being bought by the US Federal Reserve, a private, non-governmental institution. This buying was due to absence of foreign investors.
China holds more US Treasury bonds than any other country, around $800 billion dollars. “It would appear, quietly and with deference and politeness, that China has canceled America’s credit card,” Kirk said to the Committee of 100, a Chinese-American group. The Chinese economy has also been affected by the worldwide financial disaster and Premier Wen Jiabao has openly expressed concern about the condition of his country’s US investments.
Last year, China lent America $400 billion—a sum equivalent to more than 10 percent of China’s gross domestic product. Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor of the People’s Bank of China, wants to lead China away from buying more American debt. Brad Setser of the Council on Foreign Relations wrote in a recent report: “Day after day, China is the single biggest buyer of treasury bonds in the market,” he also added that, “Never before has the U.S. relied so heavily on another country’s government for financing.”
In reality China cannot completely ignore the US currency without affecting its own US holdings, but as America continues to incur even more debt. China is encouraged to quicken its pace towards investing its money elsewhere.
June Vol. 1 2009
By Subhana B. Yahya Abdur Rahim
Islamic Post Staff Writer
United Muslim Christian Forum Attends Peace Conference at the United Nations
NEW YORK— (IP) Several members of the United Muslim Christian Forum —an auxiliary of the Muslims of the Americas, whose goal is to promote world peace and the end of human suffering through interfaith and interreligious efforts— attended a symposium at the United Nations earlier this month. The conference, cosponsored by the Universal Peace Federation, was entitled Creating a World of Peace: One Family at a Time and focused primarily on the traditional family unit being used as a springboard for dialogue between various religions and cultures. The UN conference also focused on the reestablishment of respect for women and their roles as mother, caregiver and, in many cases, breadwinner. Guest speakers included world renowned physician and author Dr. Deepak Chopra; Secretary General of the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, Mr. Taj Hamad; ambassadors representing the Missions of Iraq, Qatar, Nigeria, Non-Governmental Organizations, Mr. Taj Hamad; ambassadors representing the Missions of Iraq, Qatar, Nigeria,
The United Nations established the International Day of Families over a decade ago with the intention of focusing on familial relationships in the quest for resolution of conflict and the abolition of war. This year’s theme highlighted the need for improved maternal health care —especially in underdeveloped countries, the prevention of violence against women and an increased need for secular education for women worldwide. A recent statement issued by UPF Secretary General, Dr. Thomas Walsh, laid the groundwork for the conference: “Mothers play a critical role in the family, which is a powerful force for social cohesion and integration.”
The orators of the event sent an emphatic call to action to the audience of over 400 to bring the purity of the family unit back to the international focal point. Chairperson H.E. Mrs. U. Joy Ogwu, Nigeria’s ambassador to the United Nations, eloquently stated that “the family is the fulcrum” for worldwide peace and that the family unit makes the community stronger by strengthening bonds. H.E. Ogwu’s overall message was that once we heal our families we can begin to heal the world.
The radical departure in the past half century from traditional values and a two parent family structure was also touted as a major reason for the collapse of so many family units. Chairwoman of Women for Peace, Mrs. Lynn Walsh of UPF, made the point that children who hail from two parent families are emotionally, physically and spiritually “better off” than children who come from broken homes. She also stated that cohabiting couples are twice as likely to dissolve their union than those families in which the couple share a marital bond.
At the conclusion of the conference, many of the attendees expressed their appreciation for having been part of such an eye opening event. All were encouraged to put all their efforts towards peace under the banner of Almighty God and support of the family unit. When asked, Universal Peace Federation Representative, Gale Alves, expressed her gratitude by saying: “I was inspired to see such a diverse group of people at a high-level symposium, all expressing the theme of unity and oneness centered on God in common, and for uplifting the importance of the family unit, especially giving women the respect they deserve for the vital role they play in taking care of the family, as well as working outside the home.” United Muslim Christian Forum Board Member, Maryam Rahim, shared Ms. Alves’ sentiments: “This forum put a face on the issues of world peace and humanitarianism and gave an overall better understanding that the beginning of the resolution to the problems of the world is right at home. The way that we raise our families can surely have positive reverberating effects that can spread world wide, I agree, ‘one family at a time.’”
Members of the United Muslim Christian Forum found it vital to have attended the symposium, as the goals stated by the UN representatives reflect many of the same principles and ideals regarding world peace and the eradication of war that UMCF is striving for. Many of the programs that UMCF has sponsored in the past bring people from various faiths and cultures together with a common goal of peace. The most recent program was the Milad-un-Nabi Parade and Festival in Binghamton, NY, which took place in March of this year. This second annual event celebrated the glory and majesty of the Holy Messenger, Jesus, son of the Blessed and Chaste Mary, and the Divine Miracle of the Holy Messenger, Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of the Almighty Creator be upon them). Please visit http://www.UnitedMuslimChristianForum.org for more details regarding events in which UMCF is actively participating, and/or sponsoring.
June Vol. 1 2009
By Abu Rashid Qadri
Islamic Post Staff Writer
On May 19, Mr. Atiq Shahid, Senior Southeast Asia Correspondent for the Islamic Post, visited the Pakistan Consulate on East 65th Street, in New York City, to apply for a Pakistan visa. Mr. Shahid was traveling on the May 28 PIA flight to Islamabad. What should have been an easy accomplishment became a complex affair when Mr. Shahid was faced with one obstacle after another.
Mr. Shahid is no stranger to Pakistan as over the last quarter century he has traveled there numerous times as a correspondent, on assignment and as a Good Will Ambassador, coordinating and participating in a number of humanitarian relief efforts, including assisting Kashmiri refugees. Most recently, Mr. Shahid managed and led the American Muslim Medical Relief Team (AMMRT), a contingent of medical professionals, to the quake-ravished region of Pakistan where they were stationed at the Ayyub Medical Center in Abbottabad.
When AMMRT arrived at the medical facility, they witnessed the substandard treatment of patients, dirty linen, drugs and medical supplies being stored in the basement, and other deplorable conditions. Patients did not even have clean bed sheets on which to be treated. The team worked 24/7 to improve conditions and extended their stay at great cost to themselves. AMMRT also sent for additional personnel, as well as medical and relief supplies. All these efforts were coordinated by Mr. Shahid, who greatly encouraged the team’s efforts.
“One thing for sure, we virtually killed ourselves working with only 2 or 3 hours rest a day for the months we were there,” recalled Mr. Shahid. “Even at the Kashmiri refugee camps, our ladies stayed there distributing food, clothes, medicines and other items that were needed. We suffered a lot and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars; no appreciation or thanks was ever extended by the Pakistan government.”
This team, without hesitation or fanfare, had answered the request of the Honorable President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, when he called for immediate assistance and help from all quarters. At great sacrifice to themselves and their families and without outside assistance they financed their own flights, raised monies for medical and relief supplies, and received absolutely no assistance or even a word of appreciation or encouragement from Pakistan government officials here or abroad.
Perhaps it was too much to believe that Mr. Shahid would be treated in some way other than the cold, callous and belligerent manner that American Muslims had grown accustomed to receiving in the past. Mr. Shahid was simply requesting a three month stay, multiple entrance, one year visa that would facilitate his reporting on current events, as well as revisiting the region stricken by the earthquake to re-evaluate the needs of those still suffering, and possibly interviewing the Honorable Secretary Minister of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Mian Iftikar Hussain.
Mr. Tanweer Khalique, the expressionless Consular Attaché in the New York Office, examined the application and a copy of the letter addressed to the Secretary Minister which was to be carried and delivered. These items detailed Mr. Shahid’s itinerary and request. Mr. Shahid briefed Mr. Khalique of his and his colleagues’ past efforts in helping the government and people of Pakistan; but without even a sigh or sign of gratitude, he denied Mr. Shahid his request for a visa to continue his medical and relief work by arranging another tour for AMMRT. Mr. Khalique remained adamant and would not budge from his frigid stance.
The Honorable Khalifa, M. Hussein Abu Bakr, reflected, “The repetitive ill treatment meted out to American Muslims by Pakistan’s government representatives here in America, makes us sure that Pakistan does not like American Muslims and intentionally treats us with disdain by making the most simplest of tasks difficult.”
“We have always helped in humanitarian efforts whether or not the victims were Muslim, Christian or any other group. We were there for the victims of 9/11, Katrina, Rita and the tsunami; we will never stop helping victims of tragedy,” he concluded.
June Vol. 1 2009
The United Muslim Christian Forum (UMCF), including its board members: Ambassador For Peace, Mr. Hussein Adams and Dr. Diane O’Heron, Board Advisor, urgently call upon the government of Pakistan to immediately lift the curfew in all areas of the northwest of the country, not just the town of Mingora. The lifting of the imposed curfew would alleviate the critical humanitarian emergency that threatens the millions of internal refugees forced to flee for their lives, due to the violence there, in recent weeks. The “shoot to kill” curfew has only served to further victimize civilian refugees who risk breaking it, in order to obtain any food and medical attention that they can find.
This is in keeping with the recent symposium at the United Nations — Creating a World of Peace: One Family at a Time. Several board members of the UMCF had just returned from that symposium at which crimes against humanity and human rights violations were specifically condemned, only to be informed of the recent developments, of the ongoing crisis, in Pakistan.
The United Muslim Christian Forum strongly condemns terrorism in all its forms, and particularly that form which cloaks itself in religion, to justify oppression and the harming of innocents.
However, the Pakistan Army must re-evaluate its role in the war torn region of the Northwest Frontier Province and make the immediate determination that the disastrous consequences of their actions to pursue 4,000 Taliban is at the risk of displacing over 4 million innocent civilians- a severe human rights violation. It should be emphasized that while military action is necessary in fulfilling the protective duties of the state, such an extreme operation resulting in the displacement of millions of civilians is well beyond the bounds of necessity. The operation is also unprecedented in Pakistan’s history.
The Taliban have their own agenda and only use Islam as a shield, while remaining firmly under the Wahhabi influence, which was vehemently rejected at its origin, by the authentic Muslim scholars and remains condemned by the scholars of Islam to this day. However, if left unchecked to continue its reckless extremist influence and actions, this movement could well lead to major global disorder.
The Ambassador For Peace further appeals to all people of faith and goodwill to come forward and lend whatever assistance they can, for the suffering people, in the Pakistan refugee camps. A relief fund has been established by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, for the above purpose, and the UMCF encourages all to give generously – any donations are welcome, however small. All help is appreciated and desperately needed to relieve the close to four million internally displaced men, women, and children who are facing starvation and disease.
It is in times like these that we must all be reminded that the road to true and lasting peace in the world closely lies in the mutual understanding that can be cemented between Muslims and Christians everywhere. Security and prosperity lie in the Unity of Muslims and Christians, in the U.S. and around the world. This is the key to success. The concerted efforts of this alliance are now needed most in this latest humanitarian crisis in Swat Valley, Pakistan.
Once again, the innocent victims of this latest humanitarian crisis await the urgent response of the world community.
June Vol. 1, 2009
By Lorna Swaine-Abdallah
& Muhammad Hasib A. Haqq
Islamic Post Staff Writers
The government of Pakistan should continue lifting the curfews imposed in the northwest of the country, in order to diminish the overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe there. The military offensive has created millions of internal refugees who now face famine and disease. While the curfew was lifted in Mingora after recapturing the town held by the Taliban since May, the military curfew in general, far from its intended aim of ferreting out the Taliban insurgents in the area, has only served to target the civilian refugees and force them into dangerous situations in which they break the curfew to obtain food and medical assistance.
The beautiful Swat Valley lies in utter ruin. After being subject to arbitrary beheadings and suicide bombing at the hands of the local Taliban, the region is now thoroughly desolate. Close to four million have been internally displaced with a good majority being sent to Peshawar, to already overburdened refugee camps there. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, has set up a fund to assist the refugees. However, outside of this undertaking, Mr. Gilani has not been able to exercise any real control of the situation, despite his sincere efforts.
In the meantime, the local Taliban leader, Mullah Fazlullah, has called upon his followers to stop fighting so that the displaced residents can be encouraged to return to their homes. The Pakistani army is reported to view this move as a mere ruse to elude capture. In fact, the Taliban have not said that they are leaving the area, but rather that they will continue to fight to establish “sharia law” to the last drop of their blood, and with their last breath.
What the world media is failing to report is that this so-called effort to establish “sharia law” is rather a fraudulent doctrine masquerading as religion, for the purposes of grabbing power. The Taliban organization is actually the latest cover used by this unscrupulous gang of Wahhabi thugs in their most recent efforts to destabilize Pakistan, along with the rest of the region. The public is now becoming fully aware that the Taliban was originally founded by the CIA, and presently has the full support of India. They have their own agenda. Unfortunately, the ripple effect of their insidious beliefs is not confined to Pakistan, but is affecting the whole world.
One impostor, Sufi Muhammad, the main culprit instigating the bloodbath in Swat, uses this traditional name and claims to favor enforcing Shariah Law when in fact, he himself has little understanding of Islam. This is one of many men causing destruction due to their ignorance. Islam is a religion of peace, and we condemn suicide bombers. This is against our teachings as Islam forbids suicide and the innocent killing of men, women, and children.
This menace to humanity, Sufi Muhammad, is a member of the deviate Wahhabi sect. For those still uninformed about Wahhabism, a reading of Confessions of a British Spy by Hempher will provide ample background information on this subject, to place the matter into the proper perspective. I.Q.O.U. is striving to expose these deviants, as well as to assist America on focusing its actions on locating and exposing Wahhabi influence in our midst before their inhumane, completely unislamic agenda reaches this soil in the form of horrific acts against us, our neighbors and brethren, thereby confusing such actions as admissible in Islam.
These despicable conspirators need no particular target. They are the enemies of all humanity and peoples of true faith throughout the world; they must be stopped at all cost.
One can go far as to say that Sufi Muhammad is not a Muslim but rather a pagan; although his beard (hence outward appearance) is widely recognised as a symbol of one practising Islam, any Muslim who rejects the tenets of Islam for any reason, is no longer within the fold of Islam.
He does not just pose a threat to Pakistan, but with monies collected from numerous sources, has accumulated enough capital to have developed into a real threat to America and England as well.
On May 28, Mr. Atiq Shahid, Senior Foreign Correspondent for the Islamic Post embarked on assignment via a Pakistan International Airline flight to Islamabad. His assignment calls for him to report from the frontline of Pakistan’s Swat Valley, where reports estimate that somewhere around 4,000 Taliban have infiltrated the valley and the bloody unrest has claimed the lives of numerous innocent men, women, and children, and caused over 4 million to flee their homes. These numbers should be enough for the Pakistan Army to re-evaluate its role in the war torn region, and determine if their pursuit of the Taliban has been worth the consequences. While Islam openly forbids acts of injustice against innocent people, both the Taliban and the Pakistani Army are guilty of either suicide attacks or the slaughter of innocent people.
The residents of Swat should now be encouraged to return to their homes and take a stand against the Taliban, in defense of their patrimony. It is precisely at this juncture that the world community should lend its assistance to the displaced residents of the valley.
Muslims, Christians and Jews, indeed all people of good conscience should join hands, and put forth a concerted effort to end the misery caused by these ruthless gangsters.
Filed under: Magazine/ Culture, May Volume I - 2009, World | Tags: Gillani, Jilani
Showing great respect to the renowned Sufi Master, Ghausul Azam, Abdul Qadir Jilani, participants joined in the recitation of Holy Quran, Naat, the completion of Qasidah Ghausia and dhikr.
Everyone was elated that the descendent of Ghaus Azam of Baghdad had been elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan.
All are expecting him to follow in the way of his blessed ancestor with firmness and steadfastness.
The Food and Drug Administration issued a final rule late last month that requires manufacturers of over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers and fever reducers to revise their labeling to include warnings about potential safety risks, such as internal bleeding and liver damage, associated with the use of these popular drugs.
Products covered by the FDA action include acetaminophen, and a class of drugs known as the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and ketoprofen. Acetaminophen is in a class by itself. The revised labeling applies to all OTC pain relievers and fever reducers, including those that contain one of these ingredients in combination with other ingredients, such as in cold medicines containing pain relievers or fever reducers.
“Acetaminophen and NSAIDs are commonly used drugs for both children and adults because they are effective in reducing fevers and relieving minor aches and pain, such as headaches and muscle aches, “ said Charles Ganley, M.D., director, FDA’s Office of Nonprescription Drugs in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “However, the risks associated with their use, need to be clearly identified on the label so that consumers taking these drugs are fully aware of the potential harm they can cause. It is important that they know how to take these medications safely to reduce their risk.”
Under the final rule, manufacturers must ensure that the active ingredients of these drugs are prominently displayed on the drug labels on both the packages and bottles. The labeling also must warn of the risks of stomach bleeding for NSAIDs and severe liver damage for acetaminophen.
Since 2006, some manufacturers have voluntarily revised their product labeling to identify these potential safety concerns. However, the voluntary changes to labeling do not address all of the labeling requirements in the new rule. For example, the new rule includes a warning on products containing acetaminophen that instructs consumers to ask a doctor before they are taking the blood thinning drug warfarin. The new rule requires all manufacturers to relabel their products within one year of April 29.
Safety data reported in medical literature indicate that people sometimes take more acetaminophen than the labeling recommends. Others unknowingly take multiple products containing acetaminophen at the same time. Exceeding the recommended dosage of acetaminophen may increase the risks for severe liver damage. Alcohol use can also increase the risk of liver damage with acetaminophen.
The risk for stomach bleeding may increase in people who use NSAIDs and who are taking blood-thinning drugs (anticoagulants) or steroids. Stomach bleeding risks also increase for people who take multiple NSAIDs at the same time, or in people who take them longer than directed. Alcohol use can increase the risk for stomach bleeding with NSAIDs use.
An FDA Advisory Committee meeting will be convened on June 29 & 30, 2009, to discuss further steps the FDA could take to reduce the risk of liver damage associated with acetaminophen overdoses.
By Raheemah Atif
Islamic Post Staff Writer
(IP) –Islamic financial institutions are weathering the economic storms by most accounts, according Professor Ibrahim Warde of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, who compared the increase in Islamic economic institutions and their unique financial products with the dramatic resurgence of Muslim women wearing their traditional head scarves.
Although much of the Middle Eastern financial structure is part and parcel of the western conventional finance, which includes involvement with interest-related dealings, 2007 saw growth in the Islamic financial sector worldwide in an upwards spike of $900 billion dollars, Professor Warde explained. Accompanying this rapid growth, Islamic scholars who are knowledgeable in the detailed science of Islamic economics are in sharp demand as banking companies on both sides of the Atlantic, and beyond, seek more precise definitions and explanations of the demands of the Islamic law system upon financial transactions.
Islamic bonds, or sukuk, have been among the most prolific of financial products over the last two years. A bond is a loan to an investment group or company, who then rents the money to a business that may need capital for various reasons. The price of the bond is repaid in a specified time period, with the additional profit of the “rental fee” paid to the person who originally purchased the bond. The critical feature of Islamic investment is that it is illegal to “sell” debt. Sukuk is now being re-examined by Shari’a financial scholars to assure its current form is fully in compliance with the dictates of the Islamic law.
Throughout the Muslim world, homes are being sold by means of Islamic financial transactions, i.e., in accordance with the Shari’a legal requirements. Dr. Muzzammil H. Siddiqi, stated, by way of advertising his services, that Muslims should, wherever possible, opt to utilize Islamic banks for home financing since it is now readily available. The murabahah transaction (as it is called) is the Islamic transaction for home buying or other types of large purchases, where the bank would actually purchase the property for the buyer, and attach its fees onto the purchase price. The buyer will then pay, in installments, the price agreed upon by the bank and the buyer for the purchase – without riba, or interest on the installments.
The University Bank of Ann Arbor, Michigan, which has done nearly $80 million dollars in Islamically approved residential and business mortgages for Muslims in 15 states, was recently recognized by the American Bankers Association for its service to its Muslim clients. The bank was also rated “Outstanding” by the FDIC (Federal Depositors Insurance Corporation) for community service and for its commendable reinvestment in the community. It features Shari’ah compliant ‘Deposits of University Bank and Mortgage Alternative’ (MALT) products, and also has an investment division that offers SC (Shari’a compliant) Mutual Funds, or investing groups, to its Muslim and non-Muslim customers. While the stock market recorded one of its worst weeks, and General Motors slid towards bankruptcy, the University Bank recorded one of its best periods ever, completing 11 home sales to Muslim clients, with four more closings expected the following week. The New York Times reported that Steven Ranzini, president of University Bank, recognizes a fringe benefit of serving the Muslim community, in that clients who navigate through the process to acquire a home via a Shari’a compliant mortgage, has done so based upon his own religious convictions that the client is not very likely to default as it would be considered almost a sin to do so. In the words of Mr. Fariz Huzair, who recently purchased a home in Michigan, “In my heart, I’m doing this because it’s the command of my Creator …you have a standard you’re supposed to live up to.”
Afghan lawmakers agreed to withdraw draft legislation for new family laws that had been initiated by minority Afghan Shiites.
(IP) –After an ensuing clamor from the United Nations, governments and media worldwide called a new family law bill discriminatory towards women, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon told the Canadian Broadcasting Centre (CBC) that he was informed by his counterpart in Afghanistan that the draft “has been halted and will be revised.”
Canada has invested some $3 billion dollars in the Afghan War, and while some Canadians decried the added attempt to reshape local Afghan customs, the majority of Canadians joined the wider international community in condemning the laws which they say could lead to abusive practices amongst Shiites who form roughly 15% of the population.
The Shiite minority in Afghanistan had reportedly called for a version of family law distinct from that of the Muslim majority.
Critics claim the bill left room for forced marital relations. But the version signed by Karzai says a wife can refuse marital relations on the basis of “lawful or logical excuses or with permission of her husband,” influential Shiite parliamentarian Sayed Hussein Alimi Balkhi told Agence France Press (AFP). Another change, according to AFP, allows the woman to leave home without permission “for any lawful purpose within the boundaries accepted by custom,” said Balkhi, who was involved in drawing up the law. Also according to AFP, other demands –such as a separate family court and short-term marriages– had already been rejected.
The controversial legislation encouraged a woman to stay at home with the primary occupation of raising a family. Canadian psychologist, Dr Henry Makow took offense at the extent of the outcry over the bill asserting in his article “NATO Spooked by Afghan Laws Upholding Patriarchy:” “We don’t have the right to force our values on other cultures… How would we like if they [Afghans] forced our women to give up their careers, raise their children and keep house?”
(IP)– “Al Qaeda has not taught us religion and they have nothing for us. Now, we have an all-inclusive government and hope for lasting peace,” Reuters reported Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed to have stated.
The press conference in the president’s home addressed an alleged call by Osama bin Laden for local extremists to continue opposing the government and peace process and to depose the elected president.
This and similar calls are contrary to Islamic tenets which command adherence to peace treaties and shun violent rebellion against an elected government.
The 12-minute audio recording purporting to be the voice of bin Laden entitled “Fight on, champions of Somalia,” was claimed by Voice of America news to have been released to the media by Al Qaeda accompanied by a photograph of Osama bin Laden and a map of Somalia in the background.
But the Qaeda affiliated Al Shabab group in Somalia are not widely considered champions. Local officials report Shabab recruitment of youth to have fallen and the majority of Somali people “sick” of Al Qaeda-type antics.
More clashes were reported in the town of Wabho involving fighters from the al-Shabab group and its rival the, Ahlus Sunna Wal Jamaat, who reportedly attacked the Shabab-held village.
Clashes sparked by extremists seeking to impose their interpretation of Islam on the population are not unusual.
The Somali government also recently attacked a base belonging to the militant group.
Sources: Reuters, VOA
Filed under: Business/Economy, International, May Volume I - 2009, World | Tags: G20, IMF
By Noora Ahmad
Islamic Post Staff Writer(IP) –A major goal of boosting the power and influence of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other global lending institutions was accomplished at the G20 financial summit last month by doubling, and in some cases quadrupling lending capacity to assist nations weighed down by financial woes. A total of $850 billion was allocated by G20 nations in support of increased lending, along with an additional $250 billion culled from special drawing rights (SDRs) –a currency belonging to the IMF and not overseen by any regulating agency.
The Wall Street Journal printed an article entitled The G20’s Funny Money which lambastes SDRs as “bits of paper printed by IMF officials in the basement,” which nonetheless could commit the U.S. taxpayer to come to their support. In explaining how the SDRs work, the Journal notes that so far Congress has had to be consulted and that the last decision to increase the issuance of the pseudo-currency, taken by the Clinton Administration in 1997, had been blocked by the Congress. The Journal then quotes Ted Truman, a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, who he believes an actual allocation could be made by the US Treasury Secretary with only consultation with Congressional leaders, not a vote.
While SDRs are backed by the yen and the euro in addition to the dollar, management of the IMF’s currency will not be at the discretion of the countries in ownership of those currencies. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, the international business editor of the Daily Telegraph, cites the clause calling for the issuance of $250 billion in SDRs as “a revolution in the global financial order.” He writes: “In effect, the G20 leaders have activated the IMF’s power to create money and begin global ‘quantitative easing.’ In so doing, they are putting a de facto world currency into play. It is outside the control of any sovereign body.” The BBC reports IMF managing director Dominique Strauss Kahn as having noted “that this was the first step to the IMF becoming a lender of last resort or, in effect, the world’s central bank.”
While no specific targets (besides Mexico) were mentioned in the G20 declaration on Delivering Resources Through The International Financial Institutions for the $850 billion in increased loans via development banks, roughly half of the $250 billion is set to “go directly to emerging market and developing countries.” In conclusion, the declaration on increased lending stated: “Emerging and developing economies, including the poorest, should have greater voice and representation.” This refers primarily to the emerging economies of Brazil and India, according to the BBC.
Other new administrative policies include the US potentially losing its veto power in the World Bank and IMF. More Western countries could find their voting rights “severely reduced,” again, as reported by the BBC. Even “the convention that an American heads the World Bank and a European heads the IMF will also now be abandoned, the G20 leaders say,” the BBC also stated.
An IMF statement after the summit listed other assumed duties:
“Economic forecaster. IMF economic forecasts were now the central reference point for countries planning how to respond to the cris
“Policy advisor. The IMF had become a partner for governments to discuss policies and help them analyze what policy responses to the crisis would work.
“Economic surveillance. The IMF will monitor policy implementation by governments around the world.”
Sources: BBC, LPAC, IMF, G20, Wall Street Journal
Filed under: International, May Volume I - 2009, World | Tags: Balkans, Bosnia, Serbia
(IP) –Serbia recently marked the 10th anniversary of NATO’s bombing campaign over Kosovo with commemorations honoring the victims and a nationalist gathering denouncing the West with accusations of war crimes.
In Serbia, Milosevic’s party is back in power and familiar nationalistic rhetoric still predominates, Nenad Pejic reports for Radio Free Europe. “The government line on the NATO air strikes has not changed over the last decade: the attacks were illegal; the deaths of Serbian civilians were not justified; the country’s sovereignty was violated; and so on. You never hear mention of the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians who had been chased out of the region by Serbian forces. As the editor of a Belgrade online newspaper put it recently, the official speeches spend all their time remembering that Serbia was bombed but never mention why Serbia was bombed,” Mr. Pejic states.
The article “Serbia’s Decade of Denial” continues mentioning Belgrade’s announcement of plans to indict those it says are responsible for the deaths of soldiers during the withdrawal from Sarajevo in May 1992. Predictably, this announcement provides no explanations for the previous month’s shelling done by Serbian forces of the city. When the ICJ ruled in 2007 that Bosnia had not proven that Serbia was guilty of genocide during the war, Serbian media widely reported the story. But media failed to report that the court said Serbia had failed to do everything it could to prevent the genocide.
“Mladic remains at large and Serbia remains in denial about the massacre of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica. Schoolchildren are taught about crimes committed against Serbs, but not about crimes committed by Serbs,” Pejic writes.
Reporting for Reuters in the eastern Bosnian town of Foca –which is best known for wartime atrocities and harboring war crimes fugitives– Daria Sito-Sucic notes that the local Serb Mayor Zdravko Krsmanovic is trying to turn the town into a center for sports and tourism. “Serving his second term as mayor, Krsmanovic said [the] 12 indicted war crimes suspects from Foca, once dubbed Bosnia’s ‘black hole’ by Western officials, had surrendered or been arrested in recent years. [Therefore] he has built a sports center and is trying to attract rafters to the spectacular river that runs nearby to help bring in badly needed money and jobs.”
Recently, Russia Today reported Serbia is preparing indictments against Bosnian officials, including Haris Silajdzic, who represents the Bosnian Muslims in the office of the presidency in Bosnia-Herzegovina because of an ambush by the Bosnian army of Serb soldiers that allegedly took place after a ceasefire had been signed. Serbian political analyst Gostimur Popvic says two incidents of this nature “happened in front of representatives of the United Nations and that the United Nations had given their word that the attacks wouldn’t happen, [so] there is also the question of the responsibility of the United Nations.”
Bosnia & Herzegovina is “again retracing the same battle against stereotypes, bias and revisionist history,” writes the former Bosnian Ambassador to the United Nations, Muhamed Sacirbey, in his book A Convenient Genocide, in a Fishbowl. “We are definitely on the defensive, but this time we do not have the same visible platform and urgency that the destruction of flesh and concrete arouses. This time the ethnic cleansing is being completed by the cleansing of history of that which would define accountability, if not culpability, of the West for the current state of events in Bosnia & Herzegovina.”
As tensions simmer, some fault the Dayton Accord which while creating an armistice to stop the bloodshed, maintained in power the same people who had created the ethnic-religious hatred that fomented the war. Thus, as Russia Today notes, while Muslims and Croats aspire to a more centralized state, Bosnian Serbs still seek autonomy –a return to what was known as the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a self-proclaimed state led by former president Radovan Karadzic within the internationally recognized territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. “The impasse has delayed the closure of the office of the international peace overseer since 2006,” RT claims.
Sources: RFE/RL, VOA News
(IP) –At the Strasbourg-Kehl Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), heads of state members of the military organization “agreed to a number of new initiatives for Afghanistan, including a significant expansion of the training and support effort for Afghan National Security Forces, enhanced engagement with neighbouring countries and a more integrated approach to working with the International Community and the Afghan Government to implement the Afghan National Development Strategy (ANDS),” according to a NATO statement.
“Enhancing Afghan Government leadership, including at the provincial and district levels, is needed to speed the delivery of justice, basic services and employment opportunities, especially in the agricultural sector,” continued the statement. “The NATO leaders recognized that to do this work will require a greater civilian component to the forces being sent to Afghanistan.”
In attendance at the summit were 26 nations.
NATO confirmed that Heads of State and Government agree that, as a member of the broader International Community, NATO will “support Afghan-led efforts to reconcile with those who renounce violence, accept the Constitution, and have no links to Al-Qaeda.” This stance was elaborated upon by US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton during a press conference. Secretary Clinton was asked by the Dutch Telegraaf to clarify the difference between reconciliation with more moderate elements and “negotiating with terrorists” –a stance which was firmly negated by the previous US administration. Mrs Clinton replied as follows: “It is our best estimate that the vast majority of Taliban fighters and members are people who are not committed to a cause so much as acting out of desperation. And therefore, an offer of not only reconciliation, but a chance for them to be reintegrated into Afghan society, to perhaps have employment, to get help with their property in terms of preparing it for agricultural production, we think that there are a number of people who are currently in the Taliban who would accept such an offer.”
However “It has to be proven that they are willing to walk away from the Taliban. We did see quite a bit of this in Iraq, where people who had taken up arms against the United States and against the coalition and against the elected Iraqi Government decided to walk away from their involvement in return for the position in society and a job that was offered to them. And I think that this is very likely the course that we can take with respect to members of the Taliban, too,” concluded Secretary Clinton.
Her statement came shortly after US President Barack Obama announced the adjusted US policy for Afghanistan, noting his concern for “the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan who have suffered the most at the hands of violent extremists.”
President Obama accurately predicted that NATO would be in agreement with more public diplomacy being added to the Afghan effort, along with more troops.
Sources: NATO, State Dept., WhiteHouse.gov
(IQOU PRESS RELEASE) –American Muslims are filing a $50 million lawsuit against the Fox Broadcasting Corporation for slander and defamation of character. Fox News has committed media terrorism: increasing the spread of hate crimes against American Muslims. This hate campaign of Fox News has been unending, its most recent attack, once again, accusing the Muslims of the Americas (MOA) of crimes and association with criminals about which they have no knowledge or connection. Fox News, subsidiaries, and associated news agencies, continue to attempt to link MOA members with the likes of “Shoe-Bomber” Richard Reid, “DC Sniper” John Allen Muhammad, and even with such infamous events as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Their news reporting amounts to nothing more, or less, than a deliberate smear campaign. With consistency, the Fox network keeps repeating the same misinformation and slander in order to leave a lingering impression of misgiving in the minds of uninformed citizens whom may be dependent on Fox for honest reporting.
“This is an act of media terrorism and generates hate and lies against US citizens,” says MOA Spokesman Muhammad Hasib A. Haqq. “It’s a real shame to know that these people [Fox News] consider Muslims their enemies and aim to bring about a clash between Muslims and Christians, by any means necessary, even lies. It’s cruel instigation.”
Hasib A. Haqq elaborated that the most recent slander brought about by Fox News has already resulted in attacks on the persons and property of Muslims in the United States. “But this lawsuit is not just for us,” Mr A. Haqq says. “It is being initiated for all peace-loving Americans. Stop the hate campaigns. Stop inciting people to override the authorities. Stop pushing people to violence against their Muslim neighbors.”
MOA has insisted that if the so-called “links” alleged are credible, then the broadcasting corporation should submit the proof of their claims to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for review. In particular, Fox News should provide the authorities with the backing for their statement made regarding Vice Chancellor of the International Quranic University and Imam of the Muslims of the Americas, His Eminence, El Sheikh Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, in which they wrongfully asserted: “Gilani is the man American reporter Daniel Pearl was trying to interview in Pakistan when he was kidnapped and beheaded. The Sheikh was taken into custody and later released by Pakistani authorities; he denies any involvement in Pearl’s murder.” This one statement contains cleverly threaded misinformation that boldly omits assertions of the Vice Chancellor’s innocence which have been made publicly available through the US State Department and the FBI. Instead of presenting accurate information, Fox News leaves the reader to wrongfully presume links between the IQOU Vice Chancellor and Chief Editor of the Islamic Post, El Sheikh Mubarik Gilani, and the heinous kidnapping of a fellow journalist.
MOA is grateful to the two above mentioned federal agencies who, on multiple occasions, have confirmed the innocence of the Vice Chancellor in the face of these baseless accusations. It has been well-documented by the State Department that El Sheikh Gilani’s name was being used in a setup by an individual named Omar Sheikh to lure Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl into a trap. US State Department Regional Security Officer Randall Bennett, in a June 2007 statement, said that when Daniel Pearl made him aware of his assignment, “The fact that his [the IQOU Vice Chancellor’s] name had not come up, and his organization had not come across my desk in any reporting, led me to be concerned that he [Daniel Pearl] was being drawn into something that was inappropriate.” Mr Bennett continued: “[Omar Sheikh] had very carefully plotted and planned this kidnapping of Danny [Daniel Pearl]. He had set it up where he had given Danny information and promised this interview with Sheikh Gilani, which Sheikh Gilani, as it turned out, had no idea his name was even being used.” FBI Special Agent Kathy Diskin, who was also assigned to the 2002 Pearl kidnapping case, stated: “I had the opportunity to sit down and interview with Sheikh Gilani. And when 15 minutes went into the interview, our feelings were that Sheikh Gilani was not involved in this.”
If Fox News cared about accuracy and non-biased reporting, their story would have at least been supplemented with the relevant information from the above US officials involved in the case. Instead, bringing shame to the name of honorable journalism, Fox News disregarded the innocence of El Sheikh Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, who had never seen Daniel Pearl or been involved with the likes of terrorists. The news network chose instead to lead its audience toward flawed conclusions based upon their empty inflammatory accusations and fabricated evidence.
Since 2002, Fox News has even tried repeatedly to link the Vice Chancellor of International Quranic Open University with crimes in the US, despite the fact that the Imam of the Muslims of the Americas has focused his efforts on coordinating relief teams to lead the response to natural disasters over the last few decades, and founded a number of organizations for MOA members to assist their fellow American citizens. El Sheikh Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani is the leading voice in the Islamic world against extremist and fanatic ideologies which cause violence and dissention between people, and he has never had any connections with terrorist organizations.
“Their [Fox’s] campaigns defeat the vitriol of Lord Haw-Haw, who broadcast propaganda in English for Nazi Germany during World War II,” says MOA Spokesman Muhammad Hasib A. Haqq, referring to the broadcasts of William Joyce (nicknamed Lord Haw-Haw) which were well known for their jeering, sarcastic and menacing tone. “The Fox News Broadcasting network is becoming the most notorious for generating and spreading hate. There seems to be no end to it,” Mr A. Haqq says.
Day and night, Fox News is fast losing its journalistic credibility. This network went opposite to the industry standard to accelerate its adoption by cable companies, paying up to $11 per subscriber to increase their availability; whereas, most networks are paid by cable companies to sign on. Before the second Iraq war, their campaign of accusing Iraq of having weapons of mass destruction –which assertion the whole world now knows was false- did not come to an end until they pushed American forces against Iraq.
The Muslims of the Americas has proved to be of the most peace loving communities in the United States. In order to lead lives free from drug and crime infested cities, members of the MOA established their own serene villages in suburban areas of the US. Many of the senior members of their community are Vietnam veterans who have been recognized as heroes, a number of whom have received the Purple Heart Medal and medals of valor along with other awards in the defense of their country. Yet, these same individuals and charitable community members are being constantly maligned.
A notice of litigation to Fox News has been served.
(IP) –It is doubtful that when former US President George W. Bush went forward with the roadmap to peace in the Middle East –the center focus of which is a two-state solution and the re-creation of a Palestinian state– that Mr Bush anticipated opposition from fellow Christians.
The Institute for the Study of Christian Zionism, however, is not surprised. The group, consisting “of pastors, academics, students, interested laypersons and a Rabbi” say they are “disturbed by the growing influence of Christian Zionism on the political scene in America,” and say the “ideology” of Christian Zionism is a “major factor in the stalled peace process in Israel / Palestine.”
As Israeli politicians from the right expressed their opposition over current President Barack Obama’s support for a two-state solution, members of the aspiring American lobby group, Unity Coalition for Israel (UCI) were sending emails to President Obama and other members of his staff, questioning “the wisdom” of the new US administration, according to Press TV reports.
Michael Freund of the Jerusalem Post defines UCI as “an umbrella group representing over 200 Christian and Jewish organizations across the US,” and claims the lobby group has “the ability to bring together millions of American Christians on Israel’s behalf.”
Mr Freund also wrote in another piece for the Jerusalem Post that “the sudden burst of Christian pro-Israel activity did not emerge out of thin air, of course. It is the result of a lot of vision and hard work.” He continues: “Working through constituent groups such as Bridges for Peace and Christian Friends of Israel, the [UCI] coalition has… become a leading voice for Israel in the halls of power in Washington.”
Yet and still, the struggle for global support in the occupation of Palestine and subsequent war against Hamas continues, and not all Israelis are in agreement with the stalled peace process. Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions –based in Jerusalem with its own chapters in the United States writes unabashedly: “It is our role as proponents of human rights, international law, decolonization, the integrity of cultures and a just peace in Israel/Palestine and elsewhere to highlight the injustice and unsustainability of Israel’s Occupation both on the ground and globally, the quicker to bring it to an end.”
By Samia Abdul-Haqq
Islamic Post Senior Correspondent
For Pakistan & Afghanistan
(IP)– May 6, 2009– Once again, the United States Army is being pushed into a war as a result of false propaganda. The last example of this was the war in Iraq where false enemies were created. Again and again the US government claimed that there were weapons of mass destruction. Despite the fact that Iraq did not pose any threat to the security of the United States, and there were no weapons of mass destruction to be found, this false propaganda resulted in bloody war between the United States and Iraq, in which the United States came out a loser and thousands of soldiers left Iraq suffering from mysterious diseases.
The same perpetrators of world terrorism are weaving the thread of discord, in order to interfere once again, into Pak/Afghan politics. They now allege that a handful of Taliban are about to take over Pakistan’s nuclear assets and Islamabad’s as well.
The correspondents of the Islamic Post and writers of this article are making a documentary proving that the Taliban are a creation of the CIA. The writers will be visiting the Northern Areas of Pakistan, with camera crews, once clearance is obtained.
It is a matter of fact that the services of three Pakistanis were used by the CIA in the creation of the Taliban. Those three Pakistanis were sent loaded with millions of dollars to Kandahar, Afghanistan. These individuals were Asif Ahmad Ali (former Foreign Minister in Bhutto’s government), Mullah Fazl Rehman and Retired General Nasirallah Babar. They founded the Taliban on behalf of the CIA. The purpose of creating the Taliban was to divide Afghanistan between Pashto and Persian speaking people: The old rule of divide and conquer.
Many in Pakistan say the Taliban only want Islamic law in their respective areas. They have no desire to take over Islamabad or nuclear devices. They are not even capable of doing so, for they are only a few thousand people who don’t want colonialism in their area.
On interviewing El Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, the leading sufi of the Qadri Order and founder of Abdul Qadir Gilani Institute of Sufic Sciences, he commented, “Of course they’re creating a lot of problems in their tribal regions but they’re not so organized and armed to take over Pakistan, or its nuclear facilities or Islamabad. It seems ridiculous on the part of anybody to say that Pakistan’s nuclear assets are in danger. This is only raised by those afraid of Pakistan having nuclear assets.”
The Pakistani Government is hopeful that through dialogue they will achieve peace.
El Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, further commented about the tribal leader Sufi Muhammad and his followers, in Swat, North Pakistan:
“They neither represent Islam nor the Sufi Ideology. Though they want Islamic Shariah in their tribal region, they forget that the Holy Last Messenger (sas) took 23 years to enforce Islamic Law. As a Sufi should know, the first lesson is that Mankind is the Family of God. Sufi Muhammad should answer – under what law does he allow suicide bombings, and against whom – against his own Muslim brethren? He denounces Pakistan and its constitution. In addition to suicide bombings, they are destroying shrines of Holy Sufic Saints – a favorite activity of Wahhabis- followers of Muhammad Bin Abdul Wahhab.” As documented in his book, The Two Faces of Islam, author Stephen Shwartz recounts the regularized attack of the Wahhabis, on the holy city of Karbala and the tomb of Hussain, grandson of the prophet (sas) and the destruction of holy tombs and burial grounds.
One must be aware that the elements in Swat, North Pakistan appear to be fighting for Wahhabism on a global level. Unfortunately they are very well established with safe havens in the United States and England under the guise of Salafis. They are associated with Darus Salaam Publishers who are distributors of Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s doctrine. The Salafis command a large number of Students belonging to the extreme form of Wahhabism, and if their activities are not checked, they will cause a lot of problems for the American Muslims.
Sheikh Gilani stated that it is his directive that “American Muslims defend their homeland against the extremist Wahhabi onslaught which may not come from outside. I thank Almighty Allah that at least USA is a country in which Muslims can freely practice their religion and organize rallies and processions to celebrate the birthday of the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him) along with their Christian brethren and live freely; these would not be allowed in either Saudi Arabia or in Pakistan.
The American People have come to realize that the key to world peace lies in Christian/Muslim unity, and the process has started under the auspices of the United Muslim Christian Forum. Some of the events, news and pictures can be seen in this issue of the Islamic Post.
This correspondent worries about the government and the threat of going to war. Both governments should be warned not to repeatedly fall prey to false propaganda. The world is fully aware that such propaganda is only meant to push the United States into a full-scale war against Pakistan, of which the only loser will be the United States, in loss of life, finances and integrity.
Filed under: International, May Volume I - 2009, National, World | Tags: Opinion
By Noora Ahmad
Islamic Post Staff Writer
(IP) –US President Barack Obama stood before the Turkish Parliament recently conveying the mission of his administration to “bridge misunderstandings” between the West and the Muslim world. “We seek broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect. We will listen carefully, we will bridge misunderstandings, and we will seek common ground. We will be respectful, even when we do not agree. We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world –including in my own country. The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans.”
“This is not where East and West divide; this is where they come together,” the President pointed out about Turkey, a secular nation whose citizens are majority Muslims. This statement also describes the millions of Muslims who reside in the United States, the majority of whom were born Muslim American. East and West have met, and thrived, in many Western countries as well, despite those who feel threatened at the prospect.
While comments like those from President Obama, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams –who recently applauded “a number of fairly senior people” in British society for drifting towards an understanding of sharia, or Islamic law– others like Netherlands MP Geert Wilders, chairman for Party for Freedom in that country, are simultaneously trying to stop the flow towards common ground. Wilders, on his most recent tour of Britain and the United States voiced his fears regarding Muslim converts and the spread of Islam with numerous comments that were not well researched, including his assertion: “There might be moderate Muslims, but there is no moderate Islam.”
Noah Feldman, an adjunct senior fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), writes in his article, “Why Sharia?” that the mere mention of Islamic law is “radioactive,” especially in the case of Rowan Williams who drew no end of criticism for suggesting that certain rules in sharia be placed on equal footing with various laws of Judaism that have been allowed in domestic affairs of Jews living in the United Kingdom.
Fueling the controversy, another CFR writer, Laura Vriens, in her recent article, “Islam: Governing Under Sharia,” offered misinformation for those already concerned about the rights of women in an Islamic society. “Despite official reluctance to use hadd punishments [sic], vigilante justice still takes place. Honor killings, murders committed in retaliation for bringing dishonor on one’s family, are a worldwide problem,” writes Vriens, discarding the fact that vigilantism is not a part of the Islamic legal and judicial system. Hadd is a verb signifying punishment issued via a judge in an Islamic court of law; it is not vigilantism. Adultery has spawned both Muslims and non-Muslims to wrongfully take the law into their own hands and illegally murder the alleged culprits. Yet, in Islam four eyewitnesses to the act of adultery or an unforced confession are necessary before any punishment is meted out. Nevertheless, these arguments are largely moot under a non-Islamic government as the lesser punishments remain voluntary on the culprit and heavier punishments do not apply in a non-Islamic society.
To clarify this, while most Muslims adhere to the moral and religious code found in sharia while residing in non-Islamic countries, the status of a Muslim living in a non-Islamic country is different from one who lives in an Islamic state, and the sharia does not enforce certain punishments in that case. Nevertheless, using orientalist texts, ignorance and fear, a good many continue to promote false information about Islam and its governing system, which they derive out of context at best and blatantly distort at worst. Situations in history which applied to those living under the rule of the Islamic empire –which became known as the Ottoman Empire in the latter years before its demise– are being used for such distortions.
One legal term which was applied during the Islamic empire is dhimmi. A dhimmi is a non-Muslim who chooses to remain under an Islamic government. The term indicates a person who has agreed to pay a tax that will afford them protection from foreign threats along with the Muslim citizens of the state, while relieving them of military duty from which others are not exempt. These days, the word dhimmi is widely misconstrued and is being used in unscholarly circles as a sort of insult or slur to apply to any non-Muslim who is sympathetic to Muslims on the whole, or who advocates for Muslims to be treated with respect. Such detractors loudly proclaim that common ground between Muslims and their non-Muslim neighbors and government will lead to an eventual sharia takeover wherein all others will be deprived of their rights. On the contrary, some would say history proves modern democracy to have derived from Islam, because when the Islamic system was flourishing, Europe was suffering under feudal oppression.
In the Middle Ages, when Islam was at its peak, the laws of Islam were never forced upon the non-Muslims living in Islamic territories. For example, in one of the classic texts of Islamic jurisprudence by Abul Hasan Ahmad Al-Qudoori (362 AH- 428 AH), Mukhtasar, it is stated clearly that non-Muslims are even allowed to continue the trade of alcohol amongst themselves. While Islam contains strong injunctions against intoxicants and Muslims who adhere to sharia do not indulge in alcoholic beverages whether they reside in Muslim or non-Muslim countries, non-Muslims are not made to adhere to these rules under Sharia. Imam Qudoori relates this legal judgment by stating: “Wine is to the non-Muslim what juice is to a Muslim.” Just as juice is lawful to a Muslim, alcohol is lawful to a non-Muslim.
Any peace-minded person will recognize the merit of these statements. The element of cohesiveness among religions was reiterated by President Barack Obama at the conclusion of his visit to Turkey: “One of the great strengths of the United States is –although as I mentioned, we have a very large Christian population– we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”
The Imam of the Muslims of the Americas (MOA), El Sheikh Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani is a great teacher of patriotism and love of one’s country and reminds the Muslims living in the West not to be incited by those who encourage hate, whoever they may be, and whatever words or actions such people take to invoke intolerance. This universal advice is sufficient.
(IP)– The Administrative Tribunal of Paris recently suspended the French Ministry of Defense decision to fire Aymeric Chauprade, the author of Chronology of the Clash of Civilizations. The book reportedly questions the official version of events surrounding the 9/11 attacks.
The introduction to Mr Chaupraude’s book discussed an orchestrated conspiracy that involved Israel and the Bush Administration.
Chauprade explained his initial termination of employment from his job at the French Military College in Paris, where he was teaching geopolitics, to have been the result of him speaking about a subject that was considered off limits. “I touched upon a taboo – the theory of a conspiracy plot. Apparently there is only one possibility in an accidental world. And all the wars have sprung from this.”
The book’s introduction highlights a theory that the twin towers were blown up and did not collapse after the plane collision. Chauprade’s lawyer Antoine Beauquier notes the theories included in the book contest the official theory of Muslim responsibility. “He did scientific work,” said Mr Beauquier.
Mr Chauprade said to have been planning a lawsuit against the Ministry of Defense. The Ministry reportedly refused to comment on the affair.
Source: Russia Today
Filed under: Business/Economy, Interfaith, International, May Volume I - 2009, National, Religion, World
(IP)– This month, regulatory bodies are reviewing the excessive interest, or usury, being charged by credit card companies. After being pursued in an antitrust case for “non-compliance” to European Commission rules regarding cross border fees, MasterCard settled out of court. While, according to European Union regulators, the credit card company agreed to reduce fees that raise costs for retailers, the New York Times reports MasterCard said the reduction was simply provisional and that it would continue a broader battle over the level of the fees in court. Here at home, United States lawmakers moved, in turn, to provide people with credit card debt relief from abusive rate and billing practices, as reported by Market Watch. A new Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights would restrict retroactive rate increases on existing balances, double-cycle billing, and “due-date gimmicks,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, who has spearheaded the legislation. Market Watch further noted, “The proposals approved by a House subcommittee are similar to final rules passed late last year by the Federal Reserve and other regulators… [In addition] a Senate committee approved its own set of credit card restrictions.”
This issue at stake for the European Commission and American lawmakers and regulators is the age-old question of controlling the flow of usury –the excessive rate of return charged by banks and lending institutions on interest-based loans. Financial experts recently criticized the wildfire spread of usury as being one of the major factors that led to the current economic crisis.
Usury had been strictly regulated in most countries until the late 1600s when usurious practices were first officially sanctioned by a head of state, William of Orange in Britain, who supported the establishment of the Bank of England –a private institution at the time. The practice of high rates of return gradually spread, but the institution was nevertheless widely viewed with distaste. Because it is easy for anyone –but particularly poor people and those in desperate circumstances– to find themselves in a reciprocating pattern of debt due to compound interest and the like, usury has been taken as a form of oppression. In this sense, secular and religious norms are in agreement. The major religions have been against such banking practices since their inception.
The First Council of Nicaea in 325, forbade clergy from engaging in usury which, at the time, meant interest of any kind. Pope Clement V made the belief in the right to usury a heresy in 1311. Islam has always forbidden interest, whether by modern definitions of usury or not, and continues to uphold the same prohibition. The Torah also carries prohibition of usury.
But in 2009, after many centuries, usurious practices seem to have overwhelmed religious awareness, as creditors consistently offer credit cards, mortgages and loans at extremely high rates of interest to people who are known to be unable to repay the principle, let alone the interest. The global economy has been headed toward its present state for many years, with few preventive measures having been taken against such forms of predatory business. Beginning in the 1960s deregulation of usury began to occur in the United States, and individual states initiated their own individual practices and laws regarding what were deemed usurious and illegal and what was not. In some states, debtors have been known to be charged in excess of 300% interest in extreme cases.
Author Thomas Geoghegan, was interviewed recently on DemocracyNow! regarding his work which recently appeared in Harper’s Magazine entitled “Infinite Debt: How Unlimited Interest Rates Destroyed the Economy.” In this excerpt from the interview, Mr Geoghegan explains in a simplified form how the “real economy,” or manufacturing, was in essence destroyed over time by the financial sector.
“If you’re able to charge 30 percent or, in a payday lender case, 200 or 300 percent, you don’t care so much if the loan —in fact, you actually want the loan not to be repaid. You want people to go into debt. You want to accumulate this interest. And this addicted the financial sector to very, very, very high rates of return compared to what investors were used to getting in the real economy, the manufacturing sector, General Motors, which would give piddling five, six, seven percent returns.
“So the capital in this country began to shift in the financial sector. That’s why the financial sector began to bloat up. That’s why we ended up, by 2006, having a third of all profits going into the banks and the financial firms and not into the real economy.”
If Mr Geoghegan’s “real economy” is based in the manufacturing and sale of physical goods, the financial sector would then be a virtual economy –one whose primary method of trade and profit are loans that, having scant basis in monetary gold or silver, are based upon the trustworthiness (credit) of the financial institution granting the virtual money.
But the hardship endured by honest people struggling to make a variety of monthly payments is not make-believe. The interest (sometimes called late fees) on car payments, business loans, credit cards, mortgages, student loans, and even hospital bills and cell phones is generally billed first and compounded with each failed due date until the full debt could become impossible to repay. The creditor is often able to recover the original debt, even with a decent profit, but the debtor doesn’t always get out of the clear. If not, before the creditor writes off the remaining debt on company taxes, the institution may then sell the remaining balance to a third party collection agency. At this point, the debtor must pay the transferred balance plus any additional collection fees (more interest).
While some loan practices are being reviewed by US lawmakers in favor of the consumer, a range of consumer, community and civil rights groups recently objected to the leading bill in Congress set to deal with the issue of payday loans. Consumers Union, Americans for Fairness in Lending and six other groups say the Payday Loan Reform Act of 2009, would actually protect the “predatory payday loan business model and will stall or stop the significant progress that has been made at the state level to curb usurious lending.” In a letter to members of Congress, the groups state “Although this bill shares the same title as H.R. 2871 in the last Congress, it will have the exact opposite impact on consumers.” The Washington Independent alleges the new bill to be “loophole-ridden” and faults lobbyist influence.
The Center for Responsible Lending says interest rate caps are the only solution to a worsening predatory situation, and will cost taxpayers nothing. “Payday loans carry annual interest rates of around 400 percent. They trap people in debt to the extent that the average borrower has nine payday transactions a year,” the Center reported. “[While] Barack Obama has… proposed a combination of cutting taxes and encouraging spending to aid in economic recovery… predatory lenders are stripping cash from the earnings of working people who fall into this same demographic –at astounding rates.”
This may not bode well for an already struggling US economy.
Filed under: Interfaith, International, May Volume I - 2009, Politics, World | Tags: christian zionism, zionism
(IP) –The Independent’s reporter, Donald MacIntyre, states in his article, “Israeli’s Told to Fight ‘Holy War’ in Gaza,” “Many Israeli troops had the sense of fighting a “religious war” against Gentiles during the 22-day offensive in Gaza, according to an Israeli soldier. The soldier testified that the “clear” message of literature distributed to troops by the rabbinate was: “We are the Jewish people, we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the Gentiles who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land.” Reuters, the Jerusalem Post, the UK Times, Haaretz, and the BBC noted similar reports about the espousing of a holy war against the Muslim and Christian Arabs of Palestine.
Even with the new Benjamin Netanyahu administration, elected after the strikes against Gaza began, a historian of Israeli expansionism, Rev Dr Stephen R Sizer, wrote that Israel is being steered “very definitely to the Right and away from an integrated society and peace with the Palestinians.” He further noted, “Barack Obama is going to have his work cut out to keep the Two State solution alive.”
Far from moving towards a peaceful solution, Israeli authorities are planning to “evacuate and demolish 1,700 homes in East Jerusalem during the current year,” the head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah told Arab News. Arab News also reported the head of the Islamic Higher Committee in Jerusalem, Sheikh Ikremah Sabri’s, elaboration on the new demolition project: “More than 5,500 Israeli housing units were under construction in occupied Jerusalem and 73,000 in the West Bank in order to accommodate more than one million” settlers.
The debate on the legality of such projects spilled into the global arena after millions worldwide protested the bombing of Gaza earlier this year. Reporting on the suppression of the local media giving voice to such protests, Ma’an News stated that a woman and journalist were among those beaten by Israeli troops during a press conference held by the parents of critically wounded American peace activist Tristan Anderson. “Mr. Anderson had an Israeli tear-gas canister shot at his head in Ni’lin … his skull shattered and several surgeries have left him semi-conscious in a Tel Aviv hospital. His parents arrived shortly after Tristan was hospitalized,” wrote Ma’an News. The raid, allegedly ordered by Israeli Minister of Internal Security Avi Ditchter, came early in the media event and prevented Anderson’s parents from addressing the crowd. This is the second case of an American peace activist suffering at the hands of the colonists to have been widely publicized. The first was Rachel Corrie who was bulldozed in 2003 while using a bulwark in front of a Palestinian home in an attempt to stop its destruction.
In February, Israeli media shocked millions of Muslims and Christians by satirizing the miracles of Jesus (the Second to Last Messenger of Islam), the chastity of his Virgin mother Mary and also trying to belittle the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him). According to the BBC, a Vatican statement said “the show had ridiculed Mary and Jesus ‘with blasphemous words and images’ that amounted to a ‘vulgar and offensive act of intolerance.’” The comedy hour came “to teach a lesson” to a Christian religious figure who had made the mistake of denying the Holocaust. Jerusalem Christians were also prevented by Israeli authorities this year from commemorating their traditional Easter rites.
This begs the question whether there is room in a ‘holy war’ against Christians and Muslims for Christ? Christians who support Zionism say, ‘Yes.’ Christian Zionists adhere to the belief that Jesus (peace be upon him) will not return to the Earth until Armageddon takes place, which in turn occurs after the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel, which includes a new Temple in Jerusalem at the site of the Holy Sanctuary (Haram Sharif) right under the golden Dome of the Rock, which is one of the three most holy sites in Islam.
However, the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel has more to do with awaiting a Messiah foretold in the Torah. According to Christianity and Islam, that Messiah appeared in the form of Jesus Christ, who was widely rejected at that time and even now, which is why Christians who do not support Zionism adamantly say, ‘No,’ to a war between any of the major religions.
Rev Sizer writes in his book Zion’s Christian Soldiers: “The problem with all this speculation about a future Temple in Jerusalem is simply this – from a Christian perspective – it is heresy. There is absolutely nothing in the New Testament about the need for another Temple in Jerusalem – just the reverse…” Sizer concludes: “How tragic that, while the good news of Jesus is intended to bring peace and reconciliation with God and healing between nations, some Christians are fueling religious hatred, and are bent on inciting an apocalyptic war.”
Such a war would pit Christians and Muslims –who share their common values upon the doctrine of Jesus– against each other.
Sources: Stephen Sizer.org, Ma’an News, Arab News, BBC.
Filed under: Front Page News, International, May Volume I - 2009, World | Tags: Human Rights Council
(IP) –“The US is seeking election to the [United Nations Human Rights] Council because we believe that, working from within, we can make the council a more effective forum to promote and protect human rights,” said US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, in a recent statement. “We hope to work in partnership with many countries to achieve a more effective Council,” Ms Rice concluded.
The Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was created in 2006, but Bush Administration officials chose to steer wide of involvement with the body. In another break from past legacies, prior to Ambassador Rice’s announcement, the Obama Administration sent a message to Pentagon senior staff to cease using the terms “Long War or Global War On Terror” in keeping with the more diplomatic overtures coming out of Washington since the January inauguration. The Defense Department email was obtained by the Washington Post.
Furthermore, in a formal filing with the federal District Court for the District of Columbia, the Department of Justice (DOJ) withdrew the term “enemy combatant” and submitted a new standard for holding detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. The DOJ insisted the current definition does not rely on the President’s authority as Commander-in-Chief independent of Congress’s specific authorization but “draws on the international laws of war.”
Furthermore, the filing submits that “individuals who supported al Qaeda or the Taliban are detainable only if the support was substantial.”
The brief was filed in habeas litigation brought by numerous detainees at Guantanamo who are challenging their detention under the Supreme Court’s decision last summer in Boumediene v. Bush.
The Department of Justice also submitted a declaration by Attorney General, Eric Holder stating that, under executive orders issued by President Obama, the government is undertaking an interagency review of detention policy for individuals captured in armed conflicts or counterterrorism operations as well as a review of the status of each detainee held at Guantanamo. The outcome of those reviews may lead to further refinements of the government’s position as it develops a comprehensive policy.
“As we work towards developing a new policy to govern detainees, it is essential that we operate in a manner that strengthens our national security, is consistent with our values, and is governed by law,” said Attorney General Holder. “The change we’ve made today meets each of those standards and will make our nation stronger.”
Shortly after the DOJ filing, UN human rights investigators announced the launching of a year-long global investigation into secret places of detention. They note the use of such facilities has increased since the Global War on Terror was declared after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States. The investigators say their probe will look at so-called rendition flights used by the Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA, in the United States to secretly transfer suspects to third world countries for interrogation. The UN probe also will examine the policies of secret detention as practiced by other nations around the world.
The probe comes on the heels of a February report on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism by UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counterterrorism, Martin Scheinin, whose investigation was perceived as broadly critical of rendition activities. Speaking to reporters after presenting the report, Mr Scheinin said that UN human rights investigators will be looking into possible human rights violations committed by the US during the “War on Terror” and that the investigation will not be relaxed because of a change in administrations, as reported by Reuters.
Mr Scheinin said regarding the investigation: “The increased powers of intelligence services to conduct measures that seriously interfere with individuals’ rights, as well as the increasing relevance of intelligence for legal and administrative actions, make it essential that adequate accountability mechanisms are put in place to prevent human rights abuses. Under international human rights law, states are under a positive legal obligation to conduct independent investigations into alleged violations of the right to life, freedom from torture or other inhumane treatment, enforced disappearances or arbitrary detention, to bring to justice those responsible for such acts, and to provide reparations where they have participated in such violations. States retain this positive obligation to protect human rights where they grant privileges within their national territory to another State, including to intelligence services.”
Last year, the Jurist news agency reported Mr Scheinin to have urged the UN to restructure or eliminate the existing terrorist “blacklisting” system. The United States House of Representatives recently passed a bill to address these issues as well.
“With others, we will engage in the work of improving the UN human rights system to advance the vision of the UN Declaration on Human Rights,” Secretary Hillary Rodham-Clinton related in a statement regarding the upcoming vote for the UNHRC seat. The Declaration states that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security and that all –regardless of race, gender, colour, sex, language, religion or political opinion –are equal before the law. Renewed commitment of the United States to the Declaration and the UNHRC has been welcomed worldwide. Members are currently elected to a three-year term, but the Council is scheduled to undergo a formal review of its structure and procedures in 2011 “which will offer a significant opportunity for Council reform” noted the State Department in a press release.
On September 10, 2001, precisely one day before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told senior staff that the Pentagon was wasting $3 billion a year by not outsourcing many non-combat duties to the private sector. “At bases around the world, why do we pick up our own garbage and mop our own floors?” he asked. Soon after, this fortuitously-timed shift in the way the military wages war would bring immense profits to Texas-based military contractor Halliburton, an oil industry service company whose former CEO was former Vice President Dick Cheney. Armed with lucrative no-bid contracts, Halliburton/KBR, its affiliates, and sub-contractors would soon provide most of the infrastructure that supports the war in Iraq. But, ultimately, the company would face allegations of corruption, negligence, fraud, and corporate crime.
In the new book entitled, Halliburton’s Army: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War (Nation Books; February 9, 2009; $26.95), journalist Pratap Chatterjee conducts a highly detailed investigation into Halliburton and its former subsidiary KBR’s activities in Kuwait and Iraq, uncovering much new information about its questionable practices and extraordinary profits.
“The rewards and punishments of Cheney and Rumsfeld’s revolution in military affairs have been profound,” Chatterjee writes, “not least for the soldiers who are now supplied with hot food and showers around the clock. For the Pentagon generals, it has meant that they can do far more with far fewer soldiers….Accompanying this new industry is the potential for bribery, corruption, and fraud. Dozens of Halliburton/KBR workers and their subcontractors have already been arrested and charged, and several are already serving jail terms for stealing millions of dollars….The bulk of workers, however, will not see anything close to that, as the pay for Asian workers probably averages $1000 a month…. These men and women make up Halliburton’s Army, which employs enough people to staff one hundred battalions, a total of more than fifty thousand personnel who work for KBR under a contract that is now projected to reach $150 billion. Together with the workers who are rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure and the private security divisions of companies like Blackwater, Halliburton’s Army now outnumbers the uniformed soldiers on the ground in Iraq.”
An extensive interview with the books author, Pratap Chatterjee, was quite revealing. The following are exerpts from the original interview conducted by Mike Shea that appeared in Texas Monthly.
What first attracted you to Halliburton as a book-worthy topic? […]I realized Halliburton is about transforming the way the U.S. goes to war in the twenty-first century. Halliburton’s job is to make soldiers as comfortable as possible by doing all the dirty work—erecting tents, cooking food, cleaning toilets—so that they go to war without the hardship that previous soldiers faced. Today a soldier is more likely to put on weight than to return looking gaunt and famished.
Is this Halliburton-serviced military an improvement on the traditional model? In many ways, yes. In the book, I quote Major Tim Horton [at Camp Anaconda, in Iraq]. He points out that if the average soldier gets $100,000 worth of training, then the military has to spend another $100,000 to train every replacement soldier. “What if we spend an extra $6,000 to get them to stay and save the loss of talent?” he says. “There are some creature comforts in this Wal-Mart and McDonald’s society we live in that soldiers have come to expect. They expect to play an XBox, to keep in touch by e-mail. They expect to eat a variety of foods . . . Our soldiers need to feel and believe that we care about them, or they will leave.
How important was Dick Cheney’s tenure as CEO to Halliburton’s monopolization of the government services industry during the Bush administration? Everything and nothing. The correct short answer is that he had really very little to do with hiring the company, in my opinion, but the longer answer is that his job at Halliburton can be seen in the context of the revolving door between high-level government officials and the military oligopolies whose sole client is the Pentagon.
Your publisher calls the book “a devastating bestiary of corporate malfeasance and political cronyism.” Is that PR hyperbole or is Halliburton’s history truly that odious? Every one of Halliburton’s senior managers is ex-government, often from the very department that they are now providing outside contractor services to.
What does the future hold for Halliburton: growth or scandalous Enron-like collapse? Halliburton and KBR are now separate companies, after KBR was spun off completely in 2007. Halliburton, which became a pure energy services company, was doing phenomenally well —notably well for a company that went through bankruptcy.
Filed under: Interfaith, May Volume I - 2009, National, Religion, Science, World | Tags: H1N1
US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has announced the United States federal government declaration of a public health emergency due to the swine flu outbreak. Secretary Napolitano asserts the declaration is part of a standard operating procedure, which was also done for the 2009 presidential inauguration and for flooding. The influenza strain “is obviously a cause for concern … but it is not a cause for alarm,” President Obama has noted.
Health and Religion.
Knowledge is coming to the forefront that people who work with swine, especially those with intense exposures, are at increased risk of infection with the influenza virus if the animals carry the strain that is also able to infect humans. It is believed to be spread between humans through coughing or sneezing of infected people and touching something with the virus on it and then touching their own nose or mouth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also declared that swine flu cannot be spread by pork products, since the virus is not transmitted if it has been cooked “to an internal temperature of 160°F” as this process “kills the swine flu virus as it does other bacteria and viruses.”
Nevertheless, Muslim, Christian and Jewish holy books all prohibit the consumption of pork, which is a staple in the Southern Unites States and south of the border as well, although the majority of residents in these areas are widely known to be religious:
Old Testament: “ As for any beast that is a splitter of the hoof but is not a former of the cleft and not a chewer of the cud, they are unclean for you. Everyone touching them will be unclean.” –Leviticus 11:26
Holy Qur’an: “Forbidden to you for (food) are: dead meat, blood and the flesh of the swine and that which hath been invoked the name other than Allah.” –Holy Qur’an 5:4
It is also worthy of note that Jesus (peace be upon him) has been recorded as stating in the New Testament: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill them.” –Matthew 5:17. However, this is disputed by followers of Paul, who exclude themselves from the law based upon his teachings.