Monday, May 29, 2006

Germany Seeks "Social Contract" for Muslims
Schaeuble said the new contract helps restore mutual confidence.
By Ahmed Al-Matboli,
IOL Correspondent

"The Muslim groups have long suffered because of government marginalization of Muslims," said Kizilkaya.

VIENNA, May 29, 2006 ( – The central German city of Bonn plays host in September to a conference bringing together German officials and Muslim leaders at an initiative from the Interior Ministry to draw up a "social contract" that helps boost Muslim integration into society.
"The proposed social contract seeks to promote mutual understanding between the German Muslims and the state as we all live in one country," Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told the weekly Welt am Sonntag, which hit newsstands on Sunday, May 28.
He said the contract enhances cooperation between the Muslim minority and the government, and helps restore mutual confidence.
"The new contract stresses the importance of respecting German constitution and the western democratic values," added Schaeuble.
The minister noted that the document addresses some problems facing Muslims vis-à-vis practice of religion.
Schaeuble said the leaders of five leading Muslim organizations in Germany and 10 prominent Muslim figures will be invited to attend the conference along with 15 German officials.
Islam comes third in Germany after Protestant and Catholic Christianity.
There are some 3.4 million Muslims in Germany, two thirds of whom are of Turkish origin.
"The Muslim groups have long suffered because of government marginalization of Muslims," said Kizilkaya.
A host of issues will be tackled during the conference, chiefly the teaching of Islam in German in Muslim schools under the state supervision.
Imam training as well as the role that can be played by the Muslim minority in fighting extremist ideologies will also top the meeting's agenda.
But Schaeuble hopes most that the conference would name a spokesperson for the Muslim minority.
"I hope that the conference would name a spokesman for the Muslim minority to become a partner in dialogue with German authorities," the minister noted.
Three working groups are expected to be formed at the end of the conference.
The Interior Ministry has sponsored a mobile exhibition touring the country to draw the line between Islam as a faith and the practices of some Muslims.
It aimed to distinguish between Islam as a religion that preaches peace and tolerance and parties condoning violence in the name of Islam.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said late April she planned to meet Muslim leaders in the country in July as part of her efforts to foster and facilitate integration of minorities into German society.
Muslim minority leaders have hailed the new German initiative.
"It is a positive gesture from the government I have to say," Ayman Mazik, Secretary General of the Higher Muslim Council, told IOL.
He said the German government has not moved to translate its pledges to the Muslim minority into action.
Ali Kizilkaya, chairman of the German Muslim Council, said the German government at last started talking "to not on" the Muslim minority.
"The government initiative encourages us to support integration plans," he said in recent press statements.
Kizilkaya said the move will further facilitate the work of Muslim groups in Germany.
"The Muslim groups have long suffered because of government marginalization of Muslims."
Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries said on May 7 that the Muslim minority in Germany was suffering from a growing religious discrimination with many Germans wrongly associating Islam with terrorism.
A German intelligence report has revealed that only one percent of Germany’s Muslim population are members of organizations that pose serious threats to the country’s national security.

A Muslim son wonders if overseas calls will raise red flags with NSA

"May Allah guide you in whatever you do. May Allah protect you from evil. May Allah destroy your enemies."
These were the words I heard from my eightysomething father one recent morning as his frail voice came over the phone from a Sudanese village about 6,000 miles away. To each sentence I replied "Amen," and as I hung up, I felt the soothing effect of his prayer come over me at the start of another day.

But at the same time, as I readied myself for work here in Washington, D.C., the tension-filled capital of the United States, I couldn't help but wonder: What if the National Security Agency were listening to my phone calls to Sudan?
My father, who is barely able to read a newspaper and never went to a modern school, learned about Islam and basic Arabic in his village khalwa (an Islamic school, or madrassa). He grew up to be the village's Sharia expert and its shaman,
Sharia expert and its shaman, healing patients with religious rituals and native medicine.
His conversation has always been peppered with Islamic words and phrases such as "Allahu akbar" ("God is great"), "jihad" and "infidels." Thirty years ago, when I married an American Christian, my father objected, saying she was an infidel.
But he has mellowed and now, when we talk on the phone, he sends his best wishes to her and our three children (he also prays for them). But he still expects one day I will leave "Dar al-Harb" ("the land of war," i.e., the West) and return to "Dar al-Salam" ("the land of peace," i.e., Muslim countries).
My father is not an extremist, just a product of his environment, education and age. And although some say that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States "changed everything," they did not change my father. They did not change the way he talks.
But they did lead the NSA to begin spying on overseas phone calls and e-mails. The agency is reportedly using computers to search for key words to pick up and track certain phone calls. Words such as bomb, explosives, jihad and infidels. My father uses some of those words.
I need my father's prayers (all prayers, really) to calm me down while the United States, the greatest nation in history, is caught up in fear. My feelings about this fear have evolved from amazement to sadness and recently to anger. Not anger at Americans so much as at President Bush, whose strategy of endless war against an unidentified enemy has frightened everyone.
But sadly, my father's words can now raise red flags in the United States. The last time I spoke to him, he said he was going to send me a long written prayer in a letter. I said that regular mail would take too long and suggested that he give it to one of his computer-literate grandchildren to e-mail to me. But now I worry: Can NSA computers tell the difference between a prayer and a terrorist plot?
Smith is Washington correspondent for the London-based Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat and other Arabic publications. He can be e-mailed at

A look at a Muslim televangelist
Scripps Howard News Service

"The blood of the Prophet runs in me, and I am the instrument of his will."
Can you imagine who said that as he prepared to lead his people into bloody battle?
Following September 11th we'd be inclined to guess it was an Islamic terrorist, justifying his jihad. In fact, the speaker was Sean Connery, playing a dashing Arab chieftain in the 1975 film, "The Wind and the Lion."
At the time, most American filmgoers simply found it quaint that former Secret Agent 007 could utter such a line in his inimitable Scottish accent.
Today, in fact, the vast majority of faithful Muslims are no more inclined to violence than are Christians. They look to their faith much as Christians do: for guidance, hope and reassurance _ not for righteous indignation.
Contemporary Muslims even have televangelists. Samantha M. Shapiro of The New York Times recently followed one of them, Amr Khalid, around Egypt, England and Germany, and profiled him.
Khalid, 38, born and raised in Egypt, is not an imam. Like many American televangelists, he lacks theological credentials and, on TV, prefers to dress in sweaters, polo shirts and business suits rather than in robes. Before he became a preacher he was an accountant.
His popular sermons are broadcast throughout the Middle East by Iqraa, a Saudi-owned satellite channel that also attracts millions of European viewers from Dublin to Romania. In his sermons, Khalid skirts commentary on Islamic law and politics in favor of offering tips on success, happiness and the avoidance of sin. He is inclined to shed tears as he speaks of Allah's love and mercy. Part of his popularity stems from treating Muslim women as the equals of men.
Early in his career he was harassed by the Egyptian police, who slashed his tires while he was preaching and forced him out of Cairo to a mosque 20 miles from the city. The tactic failed. Thousands from all over the country took buses to hear him, often filling the streets and rooftops near the mosque. Khalid and his family finally left Egypt for England, where he focuses his ministry on second-generation Muslims living in Europe.
Unlike American televangelists, Khalid declines donations from his viewers and live audiences, living instead on a comfortable but modest income from the Iqrra satellite network. He is a revivalist, not a revolutionary. Although he preaches that Islam "empowers" women, he urges them to wear hijabs, or head scarves, explaining that their bodies are as precious as pearls, requiring a shell.
Throughout the Middle East, he urges Muslims to help one another rise above ignorance and poverty. In Europe, he urges his coreligionists to integrate, adopt the native language, volunteer for community betterment and live upstanding lives. He challenges Muslims everywhere: "If God had wanted it, he could have created all mankind as one religion. He created many different ways so we will cooperate."

Muslim meals a must for Khan
By JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

As most football fans are aware, players in training camps are provided meals at buffets offered at their hotel HQ.
And most Winnipeg Blue Bomber hopefuls dig in like pigs at the trough.
But there is one noteable exception this year.
"Being Muslim, I have certain dietary restrictions," non-import offensive lineman Ibrahim (Obby) Khan was saying the other day.
"I can't eat any sort of pig products so bacon, ham, sausage -- which we have every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner -- I can't have that. As far as other meats go, chicken and beef which is mainly on the menu, I can eat that but the meat has to go through a proper process, which Jewish people refer to as kosher. Muslims call it halal.
"I can eat beef and chicken. However, the meat is not properly prepared here. You have to go through a little prayer to thank the Lord for the food before you kill the animal and the slaughter has to be done in a certain way. So, the meat here, unfortunately, is not done that way so, I can't eat the chicken and beef at the (hotel) restaurant.
"Now, there are restaurants and butchers out there (in Winnipeg) who sell meat like that so I hope to get some steak that I can eat at a Muslim restaurant."
So, how then, does a 6-foot-3, 304-pound human keep his strength up during the rigours of two-a-day training camp? Surely, he cannot subsist on a daily diet of fruit and salad.
Khan laughed.
"The coaches here have been great and the hotel staff has been great," said the former Ottawa Renegade. "The chef whips me up a different dish every day -- a certain seafood because I can have seafood every day. It doesn't have to go through any process and the guys are actually really jealous because I get halibut, cod, swordfish, pickerel, salmon, tuna. I get everything with all the fixings.
"It's working out well for me. I think some of the guys are thinking of switching religions just for the sake of diet. Same thing in Ottawa, a bunch of guys started say, 'Coach, I can't eat that, either, but Coach P (Joe Paopao) didn't bite on it."
Drinking alcohol is also strictly forbidden, so Khan is often invited to tag along on teammates' outings.
"I still go out and have a good time with the guys, I just don't drink," said Khan, 25. "I usually end up being the DD (designated driver) anyway so the guys love me. Even if they don't like me, they'll invite me out so, I can drive."
Because he is not Sikh, Khan does not wear a turban.
"I keep the beard for religious significance but it's not mandatory," Khan said. "And I think I look better in a beard."
Khan has been moved to centre and if he can handle the position in pre-season game action, head coach Doug Berry indicated the job will likely be his.
"It's been two years since I played centre but I think I'm doing all right out there and we'll leave that decision up to the coaches," said Khan, who has played all five O-line spots.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Is Muslim a Dirty Word in Hollywood?
Albert Brooks Says Studio Refused to Release New Film Because of Its Title
By JOHN STOSSEL and Frank Mastropolo

Sony Pictures decided not to release Albert Brooks' new film, "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World," because it objected to the word "Muslim" in the title. (Warner Independent)

Nov. 4, 2005 — - This week's "Give Me a Break" goes to Sony Pictures, the movie company, for getting so upset about a "bad" word in the title of one of their movies.
The movie is titled "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World." And apparently that word "Muslim" is a problem.
In the film, the U.S. State Department, which wants the Muslim world to like us, is determined to find out what makes Muslims laugh.
The movie was written by and stars comedian Albert Brooks, playing himself. Summoned to Washington, Brooks is given the assignment: Go to India and Pakistan, write a 500-page report and find out what makes Muslims laugh.
What's controversial about that? The movie is a comedy about humor and cultural differences.
Brooks says he wanted to make this movie because after September 11th, he felt, Americans hated even the word "Muslim."
"A part of me always thought that, you know, what are there, a billion-and-a-half Muslim people on this planet and I never thought that all of them wanted us dead," says Brooks. "So I thought, what could I do to make a movie in, you know, my style, to sort of soften this subject?"
Sony Pictures, the film's distributor, planned to premiere the movie in October. Brooks described screening the movie for Sony executives.
"It went very well," Brooks says. "Posters were made, trailers were made. And then about three months later, on a Monday morning, I get this phone call: 'We can't release the movie with the title.'"
The call came shortly after a Newsweek story in May 2005 claimed that soldiers at Guantanamo Bay had flushed a Koran down the toilet and rioting broke out in the Middle East.
It turned out that the story was wrong; Newsweek retracted it. And the rioting may have been a previously planned anti-American demonstration that had nothing to do with Newsweek. But Sony Picture's president, Michael Lynton, still said he'd refuse to release a film called "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World."
Brooks says that Sony representatives told him that "the world has changed and we don't really think we should put the word 'Muslim' in the title."
Please! How cowardly. Hollywood used to make lots of big-star, big-budget movies about Arab terrorists, like "Executive Decision," "Rules of Engagement" and "True Lies," but since September 11th, they're rare.
Tom Clancy's best-selling novel, "The Sum of All Fears" is about Palestinian terrorists. But when the movie, starring Ben Affleck, came out, the bad guys became European neo-Nazis.
Studios now routinely meet with Arab-American groups for sensitivity input to avoid demonstrations in front of theaters showing their films.
Sensitivity is good, but now Sony won't even use "Muslim" in a title? Los Angeles Times columnist Patrick Goldstein points out that Sony is the same company that glorifies sex and crass materialism by pushing sleazy movies like "Deuce Bigelow, European Gigolo."
Movies like "Deuce Bigalow" give far more offense to Muslims than "Looking for Comedy ..." would. "Fifty thousand times more than my movie ever could," Brooks says.
I wanted to ask Sony why "European Gigolo" is good to release, but Brooks' film wasn't, but they wouldn't agree to an interview. They did say they wish Mr. Brooks well.
Brooks, meanwhile, says he hasn't gotten any pressure from Muslim groups. In fact, Brooks has been invited to have the world premiere of the film at the Dubai Film Festival in the United Arab Emirates. "And we're going," Brooks says.
Good for him. And good for Warner Independent Pictures for releasing the movie -- with the title intact.
But to Sony … Give me a break!
Copyright © 2006 ABC News Internet Ventures

Keith Ellison may become Congress’s first Muslim
By Aaron Blake

With a fast-growing U.S. population estimated around 5 million, Muslims are increasing their voice in local and national politics every year. But thus far they haven’t had one of their own in a national position of power in Congress, the Cabinet or the Supreme Court.
He didn’t know it at the time, but Keith Ellison took a large step toward changing that earlier this month when he won the Democratic endorsement for the seat of retiring Rep. Martin Sabo (D-Minn.) in one of the safest Democratic districts in the country.
Ellison, a black Muslim, still faces a September primary challenge that could feature Sabo’s chief of staff, a former state Democratic party chairman. But he has already gotten closer than any other Muslim candidate in recent years and would be the first Muslim in Congress, according to several national Muslim groups.
He said that he’s not running on his religion and hasn’t thought much about what it would mean to be the first but that he sees the positives that could come from it. He would also be the first black congressman from Minnesota.
Ellison, who supports abortion rights, is calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops in Iraq because, he said, Iraqis and Americans both want them out and the war has cost too much. He disagrees with the route the House has taken on illegal immigration — turning “hardworking immigrants into felons” — and added that he supports a path to citizenship.
“I think it’s time for the United States to see a moderate Muslim voice, to see a face of Islam that is just like everybody else’s face,” Ellison said. “Perhaps it would be good for somebody who is Muslim to be in Congress, so that Muslims would feel like they are part of the body politic and that other Americans would know that we’re here to make a contribution to this country.”
Ellison is a 42-year-old two-term state representative who took the endorsement from a crowded field in surprisingly swift fashion at the 5th District’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party convention May 6. The district covers Minneapolis and some nearby suburbs.
Two other primary candidates skipped the convention, and Sabo Chief of Staff Mike Erlandson, whom the congressman endorsed, withdrew from the convention after being heckled and hasn’t yet said whether he’ll run in the primary. His campaign did not return phone calls.
David Schultz, a Minnesota politics expert at Hamline University in St. Paul, said Erlandson is Ellison’s top competition but will have a tough time making up lost ground.
“His strength has always been among the party leadership, if he had any strength whatsoever,” Schultz said. “And if you couldn’t get the endorsement with the party leadership, I don’t think he’s going to get it among the rank and file.”
According to the American Muslim Alliance, which supports Muslim candidates and educates Muslims about politics, four Muslims ran for Congress in 2004 — two for the Senate and two for the House. One was a Libertarian, and the other three lost in the primaries.
Overall, about 100 Muslims ran for public office in 2004, with close to half winning. One of them, a black Muslim Democratic state senator in North Carolina, is the highest-ranking Muslim elected official.
At least two others Muslims have run for the House this year, both in Texas. Republican Ahmad Hassan is a long shot running against Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) in her Houston district, and Republican Amir Omar lost a primary in the Dallas district.
Agha Saeed, chairman of the American Muslim Alliance, said getting a Muslim in Congress would be a step forward, but he emphasized that it must not be tokenism and should be part of a larger shift toward inclusion of Muslims in American politics and life.
“One person is not going to make any change, unless that victory for the individual marks the beginning of a new attitude and a new approach,” Saeed said.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is at the forefront of Muslim get-out-the-vote efforts nationwide. Spokesman Corey Saylor said CAIR put together substantial efforts in Ohio and Florida in 2004 and will broaden its scope in the upcoming midterms.
He said most of the progress in getting candidates elected has been on the local level but an Ellison victory would be a breakthrough.
“I think it would be huge, no questions asked — particularly for a community that feels very much like its presence in the United States is being questioned,” Saylor said. “This would be a tremendous assertion of the fact that we’re Americans and we’re just as interested in public service as anyone else, and here’s the proof — we have somebody in Congress.”
Saylor attributed the fact that there have been no Muslims in Congress to two things: The Muslim political movement in America is in its infancy, with the first groups having started less than two decades ago, and the lasting effects of Sept. 11 and the negative perceptions about Muslims that have resulted.
Ellison, who converted to Islam when he was 19 years old at Wayne State University in Detroit, said he doesn’t think district voters are afraid to vote for a Muslim, as long as they know he’s concerned about their welfare.
“My faith informs me. My faith helps me to remember to be gentle, kind, considerate, fair, respectful,” he said. “But I don’t make my faith something that other people have to deal with.”

Islam in the Land of the Rising Sun
Asharq Al-Awsat

Dammam , Saudi Arabia, Asharq Al-Awsat- Dr. Satoro Nakamura spoke to an audience of intellectuals last week about Islam in Japan as part of the 6th annual al Qatif cultural forum. He said that the first accounts of Arabs and Islam in Japanese were written by Arai Hakuseki and that the first Japanese Muslim who converted whilst on a visit Turkey was Torajiro Yamada. Bumpachiro Ariga also converted to Islam under the influence of local Muslims when he went to Bombay for trading purposes.
The first mosque in Japan was buil in 1931 in the city of Nagoya and, with the help of Muslim refugees from Asia, another mosque was built in Kobe in 1935. It remains standing today. The lecturer also said that Islamic associations were formed prior to WWII and a Japanese Muslim Association was established after the conflict ended. It sent a number of student to al Azhar in Egypt, between 1957 and 1965, and to the Persian Gulf in the 1970s, as well as Malaysia and Indonesia.
With the 1970s dominated by a global oil crisis, Arabic began to be taught across Japan and a number of Japanese women married foreign Muslim businessmen who were attracted by the country’s boomign economy in the 1980s.
Nakamura indicated that Muslims in Japan faced two main problems, a lack of education and burial grounds. He also pointed out that the Saudi government had founded the Institute for Arab and Islamic studies in 1983, which is affiliated with the Imam Mohammed Ibn Saudi University.
Muslims in Japan also suffer from a lack of adequate burial grounds and Nakamora indicated that the Japanese Muslim Association owned an Islamic cemetery in Yamanachi, 300 km from the capital.
Islam is taught in Japanese schools from a historical perspective, but students needed to understand contemporary political issues better, Nakamura said. An estimated 70 thousand Muslims lived in Japan, according to statistics compiled in 2005, and worshiped in more than 15 mosques and 16 prayer rooms. The largest community of Muslims resides in Kobe.
Dr. Satoro Nakamura received a B.A in Arabic from Tokyo University in 1993. He obtained an A in Islamic Studies from the same university in 1998 and a PhD in 2002. His dissertation was entitled “The Formation of the Modern Saudi State and its Impact on Bedouins and City Dwellers.” Between 1994 and 1997, he worked as a special attache in the Japanese embassy in Riyadh. He has written about political and economic reform in Saudi Arabia and US-Saudi relations

Muslims should boycott goods of their enemies
Published on: Tuesday, 23rd May, 2006

It is a duty of every Muslim to stop using the products of those people who are using their money to oppress innocent people. Almost all the people around the world utilise those products which are made by the enemies of Islam i.e the US and Israel.
There are many products and a huge number of companies we use in our day-to-day life. The real thing is that those people who utilise the enemies’ products are themselves responsible for the ongoing oppression and terrorism. If we stop using their products then it will be a great loss for them, because half of the money the enemies’ are earning are because of us, because we are their customers.
Hani RazaDubai

19 Responses to “Muslims should boycott goods of their enemies”

by S S on May 23rd, 2006 at 9:28 am
Ask your governtments to give back all the military arsenal and also stop giving oil to US, then educate your fellow Muslims. It is suprising how so many point to hypocracy of the US over Israel but keep their mouths shut about their own governments. You want to stop daily products and I am reading news about Dubai investing in the US! Firstly, speak up against your own people then talk about the US.

by richard allenby on May 23rd, 2006 at 9:29 am
Hi HaniIf you don’t mind me asking, what do you do for a living?Incidentally, is the computer you write your letters on made in a Muslim country?Richard

by Brendan Coote on May 23rd, 2006 at 10:32 am
Hello Hani,
Question - Why is this a Muslim issue and why are you bringing religion into politics. I disagree with the American foreign policy, I disagree with the Israeli occupation. But I am not Muslim. Why are you isolating me and consequently your religion.
Were do you stop? How about requisite life saving drugs from American pharmaceuticals? How about American expertise to reduce suffering. How about support from American Muslims - do you turn that away?
If America is an enemy to the Muslims how come all your leaders have good relationships. What about American Muslims living in America - are they your enemies?
This “war” diatribe of Muslim v’s America or Western is getting annoying. Why - because its sensationalist nonsense with very little factual basis. Its inciteful mumbo jumbo to use terms like “the enemy of Islam”. Im a Christian, Im a Westerner. Im not your enemy and I respect and rever your religion. YOu make religion a smoke screen for some very other important factors. The biggest one being oil. Your real enemy is yourself and your ignorance
Stop inciting and start reading.

by Malz R on May 23rd, 2006 at 10:37 am
Mr. Hani,Why do you try to incite violence and hatred through your letters when the exact reverse could be achieved through an open forum such as this? I have come across a few of your letters on this website. You live in a diverse market where a multitude of cultures, religions and nationalities live and work. Remember, if these people didn’t work in harmony and support each other’s trade, even this economy might not be as strong! Even people from my race, religion, nation have been discriminated against on a number of occasions - I’m glad to see I haven’t taken the course of action you are suggesting - perhaps its because as a citizen of the world I realize the need to move on peacefully? The leaders of this nation and the world are trying to achieve unity, religious tolerance and peace. Mr. Hani - its people like you that make sure we will never have peace and tolerance!

by Paul Harvey on May 23rd, 2006 at 10:43 am
A fair and reasonable argument but there is a flaw. Have you heard of a little company called Microsoft? If the Muslim world was to stop using US products what would happen to industry and the economy? I cannot think of any large business which does not use computers for it’s day to day running and most of these machines will be using Windows OS! Please take a minute to think about how many US products are in your home or office, Hewlett Packard printer, AT&T phone, Packard Bell computer using…yep Windows XP. Also, how many Arab people do you see on the road every day driving US cars? The Ford Mustang GT and Chevvy Corvette being current prime examples. How many young locals can be seen wearing the latest Nike baseball cap? The products of the west are here and here to stay! Think more of the economic power of the Muslim world, the stronger the nation is globally the more influence it will have over the wests foreign policy.

by Devils Workshop on May 23rd, 2006 at 2:53 pm
Good Lord! Another call for a BAN !!Friend, next time think of “global warming” as an appropriate topic to discuss. You can give your valuable comments, if any to help solve the problem (tough one, huh?).The fight against terrorism by both the countries i.e. US & Israel has got nothing to do with Islam. Banning products is not the solution to the problem. Instead why don’t you as an alternative, call for all your Muslim brothers and sisters to stay united in Islam and help to get rid of those fanatics who in the name of the religion create problems & contribute towards terrorism?Keep your eyes open and you will find who the real enemy to Islam is! Don’t blame the other countries for what they are doing, perhaps they are doing what is right from their perspective. So goes the saying…. Believe in half of what you see & nothing what you hear. So please educate yourself and don’t preach hatred to your fellow men!REMEMBER that charity always begins at home! So think positive, do good, wish for good and always love your enemies as you love yourself. No worries! I am practising what I preach … though I have not completely achieved in my task, I don’t blame my enemies, for I have learned how to tolerate them. I hope you will someday………..

by Hani Raza on May 23rd, 2006 at 4:14 pm
a reply 2 Paul Harvey…about MICROSOFT, it’s unfortunate for me that i dont have a choice, but 2 use MICROSOFT, and even if im using MICROSOFT, tht’s 4 a ’cause’ . and about other companies of the U.S and Israel, like McDonalds, KFC, Mark&Spencer, Ford, cadillac, Pizza Hut ,Pepsi, Coca-cola and others, I DONT USE THESE PRODUCTS….and u say that the ARAB PEOPLE use these products, then i also ACCUSE the Arab people of supporting their own enemy blindly, this the problem with the ARAB PEOPLE…they are so much crazy in ‘money and luxurious lifes’ that they dont know what they are doing, atleast they can support the Palestinians and other poor countries by donating them, rather than sitting and having a nice KFC meal…

by Hani Raza on May 23rd, 2006 at 4:23 pm
to BRENDAN COOTE, if u do not know about ISLAM , then y do u say about it that ‘ why are you bringing religion into politics’….
If politics had nothing to do with Islam, then why did Allah ordered Prophet Moses to invite the oppressor Pharoah to believe that there is only one God, Allah. Why did Prophet Moses wanted to awaken the people of his time against the Phaorah. Read history.
When Imam Khomeini(founder of the Islamic Revolution of Iran) was asked that ‘y r u into this politics, it’s a bad thing, dont enter in this world of politics’, then Imam Khomeini replied ‘Politics is not a bad thing, if it’s bad then it is the enemies of Islam who have made this politics a bad politics, Islam is religion of Politics’….not just praying 5 times a day is Islam……well…its a very long topic…..
and u asked tht ‘r American Muslims ur enemies too?’they r not my enemies, my enemies r the U.S politicians, who r trying 2 destroy Islam and those people who support these politicians are my enemies. Oh yes, how can i forget 2 mention Israel, Israel is also my enemy for ur info.

by Yancy Mant on May 23rd, 2006 at 5:54 pm
Its so strange why a lot of citizens from the islamic countries apply for US Visas then settle down and enjoy in the atmosphere of freedom. When the US stopped sending aid to Palestine, Hamas complained. What are the rich Arab nations doing?

by Jaq Hirsh on May 23rd, 2006 at 7:24 pm
I really do not understand Hani. The English language is a non-Muslim language, and one used by the “enemy”. Why then is he using this as his medium of communication?
If Hani decides not to support the “enemy’s” product, then that is his God-given right.
If he wants to stop supporting KFC, Coke, Pepsi, then he should also realise he is hurting the Arab (Muslim) owners of the Arab-world franchises.
The world is a shambles, and we really do not need people like Hani to incite more hatred. Too much hatred has been created in the name of religion. Now I understand why?

by Hani Raza on May 24th, 2006 at 12:55 am
To Yancy Mant, many Arab nations are donating money to Palestine, recently Qatar paid a huge amount of money, even the U.A.E govt has paid and also Saudi Arabia. But the main problem is the ‘people’ . I do not understand why the people are not donating, why are the people depending on their governments? Islam does not teach just to remain sad for the poor people but Islam also teaches to help the oppressed, help the poor. But the Arab Muslim people are simply enjoying themselves in big big restaurants, trying 2 show off that they have a lot money..oh common man we know u have lot of money, but having money does not mean to spend luxuriously..being rich means to help the poor and oppressed first, fill their stomach first and then yours.Also im not talking about only Muslims, I’m jus trying 2 say that if a human being feels the pain of the poor and the oppressed, then it is his/her responsibility 2 help them.

by Gary Day on May 24th, 2006 at 2:48 am
Unfortunately, you have no idea, no clue and no understanding of the modern world. The US is NOT your enemy, YOU are your own worst enemy, as for boycotting US or foreign goods don’t even start, you obviously don’t really know what you are talking about.
Cars, planes, PC Chips, food stuffs, clothes, power plant parts (GE), (the list goes on) none of which you could do without, or at least i would like to see you try.
The only enemy of Islam is people who believe that voilence and incitement will solve their problems, sure the west may not understand Islamic religion, sure you might not appreciate western cultures and freedoms - but don’t always mix lack of one for lack of understanding of the other.
So i think rather than blindly hating America tell us WHY you do, don’t state because they support Israel because thats a cop out, many other western governments also support Israel, i don’t hate them and want to destroy them….
There is so much bitterness, rather why not just enjoy the life you have and experience as much as you can ?

by karim kareem on May 24th, 2006 at 8:28 am
There should be a clear distinction between the West and the United States.
Europe has committed crimes against our people in the past during colonial times but now there is some kind of mutual respect. There might be tensions every now and then but generally relations are friendly and more or else respectful even among the common folk.
The US, represented by its government, is the new foreign threat to our people in the Middle East and also elsewhere in the world (South America).
This new western power is as violent and as forceful as any other western colonial powers that existed in the past. It is unapologetic about its power, and its will to make nations submit to its demands, by force, if necessary. How is this different than the liberal free democratic France of 1900s that occupied Algeria, colonized it and killed almost 1 million of its people in an attempt to deny them independence.
Some posters tried to label the original post as “hatred” when they forget that the US government has been killing people in Iraq and destroying things in Iraq in the last 3 years with impunity.
Did you know that the US government forbids its citizens by law to spend more than 1 dollar in Cuba? Even Arab states do not enforce such draconian measures against Israel.
Did you know that the US government has been enforcing a total embargo against Cuba since 1962? Total embargo. This policy has been voted in congress and most Americans really do not care.
Other western nations do not impose any sanctions on Cuba.
SO, there is a huge difference between the West (including Canada) and the US. Always make that distinction. Do not generalize about the West. While some European governments helped Bush in the war, ALWAYS remember that they all went against the wish of their citizens. 2 European nations reversed that: Spain and now Italy. That is not the case in America: Bush enjoyed huge majority support for the war in both congress and among citizens. Majority wanted to see some bombs and some dead Arabs.
America has many good people who are opposed to the use of force and to the on-going killings, bombings and misery but not enough to make their violent government stop killing foreign people. Remember and memorize the fact that over 2 million people were killed in Vietnam. 2 million human beings: More victims than all victims of Arab governments combined since the 70s.
It is only in America where the army is almost a sacred institution and where to be in the army is cool. It is cool to be trained to kill other human beings.
The issue of boycott is a complicated one.
The easy one is oil. Oil should be cut off until the US government stops killing people in our lands.
Not only it is immoral to not condemn it, it is much more immoral to finance the murders committed by the US government with our own oil.
Wake up people. It is better to live with little money and peace of mind than to live wealthy watching people die on your TV screen every single day.
Some child, some woman, some poor eldery is dying in Iraq as we speak, for no reason, just like that, just because some reckless official in the US government decided that’s how things going to be.
Where is your conscience, wake her up.

by Shah Ahmed on May 24th, 2006 at 11:23 am
Remember as long as the Muslim leaders shiver and appease the US , NO AMOUNT OF HUE AND CRY BY MUSLIM CITIZENS WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
There were so many protests worldwide..did it stop the US from killing millions ?

by Chegvera Chegvera on May 24th, 2006 at 12:55 pm
My dear friend Hani, try and practise what you preach. Bring in equality in your daily life first. Treat every human being as equal irrespetive of colour, creed, race, religion, rich or poor alike and then try and preach equality and justice. The east has no right to condem the west for anything as long as they oppress their own people. I dont want to specify, but if you want me to I’d gladly oblige.

by mohammed moaz on May 24th, 2006 at 5:52 pm
i dont know but this sounds pretty hrash to me…we cant kick globalization or free trade process from devloping countries do we…..

by Hani Raza on May 24th, 2006 at 11:59 pm
U r rite Mr.Shah Ahmed….only protesting does not stop the U.S and Israelis from killing millions….there must be another method…..wht do u think…

by Phillie Hall on May 25th, 2006 at 12:46 pm
Hani, sweetie, firstly let me tell you why many ‘people’ don’t donate to the ‘Palestinian Cause’ - it is because the ‘Cause’ is purely a bunch of guys getting stinking rich in the name of Palestinian suffering. If you can illustrate a proven way to donate money that will be distributed to the people who need it, 7 Days readers might sit up and take you for more than the uptight, raging bloke bashing away at his Microsoft than you appear to be. The ‘people’ will donate only based on sympathy, nothing else. People like you who rant and rave about enemies aren’t doing Islam any favours and your MO of representing the people is perhaps one they could do without.
How sad to go through life with so many enemies. Hatred is such a debilitating emotion and you sound crippled by it - you must be a joy to live with! What are you doing in a practical sense that encourages the spread of Islam? What contribution are you making towards bringing those of us who are deeply against our Governments’ behaviour closer to Islam? I have a stronger allegiance to Islam than any other religion but when fanatics like you come to the fore I turn my head away.
How do you reach a stage where you lose sight of the peaceful, loving and practical tenets of Islam and become focused on hate and tirade? If your battle is so vital to you are you fighting it? Have you been to war to fight for your beliefs or are you simply sitting in your air conditioned home in Dubai spouting your ire into your computer keyboard?
I feel sad for you. I know many Muslims who feel desperately for what has happened to Iraq, to the Palestinians and to Muslims who are persecuted around the world. But these people present their anger coupled with logic and sense. Who are we to take seriously? You on your soapbox of hatred or somebody who speaks with determination, understanding, logic and serenity?
Yelling at a child and taking away his toys doesn’t get the message over Hani.

by Brendan Coote on May 25th, 2006 at 4:45 pm
What an excellent peice of writting. Agree with you whole heartedly - but I doubt it will sink in.

Amex mulls Islamic credit card in Middle East
By Arif Sharif, Staff Reporter

Dubai: American Express, the world's biggest charge card issuer, is evaluating the possibility of launching an Islamic credit card and sees cash as its biggest competitor in the Middle East, a top company official said yesterday.
Trevor Stokes, Chief Executive of American Express' Travel Related Services for the Middle East and North Africa, told Gulf News the Islamic card was one of several products the bank was evaluating to better serve local consumers.
"Our charge card is virtually a Sharia-compliant credit card and we could easily adapt that to fit the needs of a Sharia-compliant card," said Stokes, in Dubai to attend a credit card industry event.
Stokes said the biggest challenge for the credit card industry was to lure an increasing number of consumers to use credit cards instead of cash although a low user base meant there was potential for rapid growth in the future.
"The future of the credit card industry is indeed rosy because cash is really historic. If you look a the US now, some 40 per cent of consumer transactions are settled by credit cards and it won't be long when there would be a charge on cash payments. In the Middle East though there is a discount on cash payments and that is not a great help for the card industry."
American Express' credit card business in the Middle East, which spans some 18 countries, is expected to treble at the end of 2006 from three years ago while the number of its card users is poised to double.
Growth prospects
Growth will be helped by the fact that average spends on American Express cards is nearly three or four times that on a Visa or a Master Card. Besides, some 20,000 new merchant establishments have signed up in the past three years to accept American Express cards.
Stokes said there were some 71 million American Express cards in circulation globally but declined to say how many it had issued in the Middle East. Overall, the number of card users in the Middle East was growing at about 30 per cent a year, although from a small base, he said.

Trevor Stokes
Chief Executive of American Express Travel Related Services for the Middle East and North Africa.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Religion, politics mix awkwardly for China's Muslims
By Ben Blanchard May 22, 2006

XINING, China (Reuters) - Ishmael is a big fan of Osama bin Laden.
"He is a hero," he said, stroking his beard. "He is a good Muslim."
Maybe not such a strange comment to hear from a Muslim in Iraq or Saudi Arabia, but Ishmael is a Chinese citizen who lives in the remote, northwestern province of Qinghai, in a country which is officially atheist and strictly controls religion.
With just over 20 million adherents, according to the government, there are as many Muslims in China as live in Syria, or Yemen, two predominantly Islamic countries.
And Islam is alive and well in western China.
Ishmael -- who, like many other Muslims in Qinghai, prefers using his Arabic name to the Chinese one stamped on his identity card -- is a student at an Islamic school attached to a mosque in Xining, the provincial capital.
There he learns Arabic and Persian, as well as studying the Koran and other Islamic teachings.
But politics is technically banned by law from being mentioned either in Ishmael's school or mosque.
A large blackboard near the entrance to the mosque, on the dusty outskirts of Xining, reminds worshippers of their duty to love the motherland and love the Communist Party as part of being a good Muslim, an admonition that riles some.
"The communists -- who are the Chinese -- are a godless people," said Ahmed, from eastern Qinghai, who like Ishmael belongs to the Hui minority, Chinese Muslims who trace their heritage back to the Middle East and central Asia.
That's a sentiment shared by Ishmael's hero, bin Laden, who in April slammed the Chinese as "pagan Buddhists" in an audiotape accusing the United Nations of being an "infidel" body.
Yet despite the official controls on religion and politics, the government allows the Hui a great deal of autonomy and freedom in sparsely populated Qinghai and neighboring Gansu.
Although there may be occasional tensions, there is little parallel with the far-western region of Xinjiang, where there have been riots and bomb attacks by pro-independence groups.
"In places like Qinghai and Gansu, where Islam is less politicized, the government is more open and more relaxed," said Dru Gladney, professor of Asian Studies and Anthropology at the University of Hawaii.
"Particularly in very poor areas, there is a lot more flexibility," he said.
In many parts of China the Hui have blended in almost seamlessly into the predominant Han culture, all but abandoning Islam except for some traditions such as circumcising male children and avoiding pork.
In Qinghai, where around a fifth of the 5 million population follow Islam, Muslim women cover their heads, many restaurants refuse to let alcohol be consumed, and the men wear white skull caps and greet each other in Arabic.
A government ban on children under 18 attending Islamic schools in mosques is, in reality, usually ignored, local Muslims say.
And they are well aware of what's going on in the wider Muslim world, even if they dare not risk the wrath of the Chinese security forces by protesting in the streets, and limit their political discussions to the home.
"We all listen to Voice of America and watch Al Jazeera here," said Noureddin, 23, recently returned from religious school in Saudi Arabia.
During the storm over the publishing of cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Mohammad, originally published by the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten last September, China's Muslims made barely a peep of protest.
"We knew about the cartoons and felt furious," said Mohammad, 26. "But how could we go and demonstrate?"
Other times, though, tensions do bubble over.
At least seven people were killed and 42 injured in the central province of Henan in 2004 after a car accident involving an ethnic Han Chinese and a Hui sparked rioting.
In 1993, a cartoon ridiculing Muslims led to paramilitary police storming a mosque taken over by Hui in northwest China.
Some Han in Qinghai say they resent the province's Muslims for their wealth, but in the same breath will accuse them of petty theft. The Muslims say they resent the Han for their ethnic chauvinism and political domination.
Even within the Muslim community, there is unease between different sects and different ethnic groups who also follow the same religion, such as Qinghai's Salar minority and the Uighurs of restive Xinjiang.
"The Uighurs dance too much," said Ali, who belongs to the more conservative Ihwani sect which often looks to Saudi Arabia for guidance. "We are different from them."
© Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Iran dismisses report on dress code for non-Muslims
Posted: 20-05-2006 , 09:07 GMT

Iran has strongly denied a report in a Canadian daily which claims Tehran may force non-Muslims to adopt a particular dress code in public. In a letter to the Canadian daily National Post, the press attache of the Iranian embassy in Ottawa, Hormoz Qahramani, dismissed the article.

The daily, in an article published in its Friday edition, said that "a new dress-code reportedly passed in Iran this past week mandates the government to make sure that religious minorities --
Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians -- will have to adopt distinct colour schemes to make them identifiable in public." The article further stated that "the Iranian government has envisioned that all Iranaians wear standard Islamic garments designed to remove ethnic and class distinctions."
According to the article, under the proposed dress code law, which is still awaiting final approval by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, "
Jews will have to wear a yellow band on their exterior in public, (Zoroastrians blue), while Christains will be required to don red ones."
Qahramani's letter noted that such accusations against the Islamic Republic of Iran are part of a vast pre-planned move against Iran by certain states or individuals.

In related developments, the representative of the
Jewish minority in the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis), Maurice Motamed, also dismissed the article as a "complete fabrication." Interviewed by a western news agency, he stated the alleged dress requirement was a lie and people who concocted it intended to achieve certain political ends. The publication of such reports outside Iran is an insult to the religious minorities living in Iran, Motamed added.
© 2006 Al Bawaba (

Assyrian International News Agency
Iran May Force Non-Muslims to Wear Colored Badges in Public
Posted GMT 5-19-2006 21:9:28

(AFP) -- The Canadian and Australian prime ministers expressed concern at unconfirmed reports that said Iran may force non-Muslims to wear colored badges in public so they can be identified.
The National Post newspaper reported Friday, citing human rights groups, that Iran's parliament passed a law this week that sets a public dress code and requires non-Muslims to wear a special insignia.
Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear a yellow, red or blue strip of cloth, respectively, on the front of their clothes, according to the newspaper.
"Anything of that kind would be totally repugnant to civilized countries, if it's the case, and something that would just further indicate to me the nature of this regime," Australia's Prime Minister John Howard told reporters during an official visit to Ottawa.
"It would be appalling," he added.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he had "only seen reports" about the law but commented he would not be surprised by them.
"Unfortunately, we have seen enough already from the Iranian regime to suggest that it is very capable of this kind of action," he said.
"It think it boggles the mind that any regime on the face of the earth would want to do anything that could remind people of Nazi Germany," he added.
"The fact that such a measure could even be contemplated, I think, is absolutely abhorent."
Earlier, Harper's parliamentary secretary, Jason Kenney, told the House of Commons that Canadian officials were trying to verify the claims and said Ottawa is "deeply concerned".
"Should these reports turn out to be true, this government will condemn in the strongest terms possible this kind of revisiting of the darkest period of the last century. It is something that the entire civilized world should condemn," Kenney said.

After Muslim arrest debacle, FBI seeks harmony, recruits Meeting planned with Egyptian-Americans

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 05/19/06

In September, a group of Muslim men praying near the main air intake duct at Giants Stadium was detained by suspicious FBI agents.
On Saturday, the federal agency and an Egyptian-American group plan to meet at the stadium in the latest FBI push to recruit Arab-Americans and repair relations strained in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.
"It's an effort to build bridges with this community," said Les Wiser Jr., special agent in charge of the FBI's Newark bureau, who has made improving ties with New Jersey's Muslim community a priority.
The FBI accepted an invitation from the Egyptian American Group, an interdenominational organization that was formed after Sept. 11 when hundreds of New Jersey Muslims, Arab-Americans and south Asians were taken into custody as part of the investigation.
"It was thought by many people that the FBI is the enemy," said Suzanne Loutfy, a member of Egyptian American Group. "That's the perception we're fighting against."
Part of the event is aimed at interesting young Arab-Americans in law enforcement careers, particularly with the FBI, which needs their help as investigators and translators.
Loutfy's 18-year-old son will be at the event with six or seven of his friends. Kareem Loutfy, a senior at Carteret High School, says he's considering a career with the agency.
"Because of my background, I can easily approach people" in Arab-American communities, he said. "They would feel much more comfortable dealing with me because of who I am, and that would be great for both sides."
Other law enforcement agencies also are trying to better understand and connect with Muslims.
Through a new training film, officers in Union County will learn why the Arab-American driver might act a certain way. The film was seen for the first time Thursday by local police chiefs.
Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow said the 12-minute film will be shown to 1,950 police officers in the county.
Gannett New Jersey reporter Chad Hemenway contributed to this story.

NYPD officer testifies about going undercover in Muslim community
By TOM HAYS Associated Press Writer
May 18, 2006, 4:18 PM EDT

NEW YORK -- A New York Police Department officer born in Bangladesh testified Thursday that commanders assigned him straight out of the police academy to go undercover in a Muslim neighborhood as part of their response to the Sept. 11 attacks. The undercover investigator, who is Muslim, said at a Manhattan subway bomb plot trial in federal court that he was "told to be a member of the community, hang out and get information." One place he hung out was an Islamic bookstore near a Brooklyn mosque, where he said he heard a Pakistani immigrant charged in the plot openly praise Osama bin Laden while damning the United States. During a conversation on the second anniversary of the 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center, Shahawar Matin Siraj "complimented bin Laden," the undercover officer told jurors. "He said he was a talented brother and a great planner and that he hoped bin Laden planned something big for America," the officer said. Siraj, 23, was arrested on the eve of the 2004 Republican National Convention on charges he plotted to blow up a subway station in Herald Square, a dense shopping district that includes Macy's flagship department store. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison. Defense attorneys have characterized Siraj as a harmless dupe who was entrapped by a crafty older informant in a phony plot that never got off the ground. The trial, in its fourth week, has opened a window to how the nation's largest police department responded to the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, by identifying officers of Middle Eastern or central Asian origin within its ranks and reassigning some to intelligence duty. It also hired paid civilian informants, including an Egyptian man who adopted the role of Siraj's co-conspirator after infiltrating the mosque where the defendant worshipped. The undercover officer first appeared on Wednesday as the trial's last witness using his alias, Kamil Pasha, and prosecutors sought to limit testimony about his background and police methods. But on cross-examination on Thursday, he was forced to reveal parts of his story. The witness testified that he came to the United States at age 7. He joined the police department in 2002 at 23 and quickly found himself on the fast track to becoming a detective. Two weeks after he graduated from the academy, he was assigned to gather intelligence in and around the Brooklyn mosque, the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge. He claimed he was "surprised and shocked" by the anti-American tirades and other radical rhetoric about suicide bombings and terrorist training camps he overheard at the bookstore where the defendant worked as a clerk. "I grew up with a peaceful religion," he said. "Where in Islam does it say you can blow up a train station?" He soon began sending regular e-mail reports to his NYPD handler about Siraj. He said the defendant advocated a holy war against the United States as revenge for its support of Israel and predicted, "If the United States went to war in Iraq, there was going to be terrorist attacks here." The undercover testified that he won the trust of Siraj by not challenging his views. "I would pretty much agree," he said. "I would say, 'Yes, you're right."'
Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

Yusuf Islam explains musical comeback
18/05/2006 - 08:39:38

Yusuf Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, insists the increasingly volatile political climate has inspired his comeback.The star converted to Islam in 1977 and quit the music industry two years later, but now says he can't sit back and watch life from the sidelines and has recorded a new album chronicling how he feels about the world.He says: "There were 100 reasons for leaving the music industry back in 1979, not least because I had found what I was looking for spiritually. "Today there are perhaps 101 good reasons why I feel right making music and singing about life in this fragile world again."Much has changed but today I am in a unique position as a looking-glass through which Muslims can see the West and the West can see Islam."It is important for me to be able to help bridge the cultural gaps others are sometimes frightened to cross."The as-yet-untitled album, due for release this autumn, was produced by Rick Nowels, who has also worked with Madonna and Dido.Islam made headlines in 2004 when he was denied entry into the US and his flight was diverted after his name turned up on a US government "watch list".

Stanford Islamic studies grow too slowly for critics
By Lisa M. Krieger
Mercury News

Four years after Stanford University announced plans to expand its Islamic Studies program, students complain that its curriculum still lags far behind that of other elite universities.
Dismayed by the departure of three key professors since 2002 and the slow pace of replacing them, some Muslim students say the university isn't moving fast enough on its promise to build a world-class program focused on the Middle East. They also seek the creation of a Muslim Community Cultural Center, where students could socialize.
Although Muslims make up only 2 percent of Stanford's 13,000-member student body, the group lobbying the university includes non-Muslims, and is well-organized and eager to learn more about the Middle East -- an area increasingly relevant to global stability.
Stanford officials agree there have been setbacks and disappointments, but say the program is beginning to build momentum. The school offered 24 to 30 courses this year, a significant jump over last year, said Islamic Studies program director Robert Gregg.
Striving to hire the nation's top Islamic scholars in a highly competitive field, the university has lost promising faculty because of the Bay Area's high cost of living, Gregg said.
Additionally, the university's goal is not to focus solely on the Middle East region. Instead, Stanford has a more ambitious interdisciplinary plan to teach about all aspects of a faith that encompasses one-fifth of the world's population in 52 nations and 60 languages.
``For very real but mixed reasons, students feel a sense of malaise,'' Gregg said. ``This always takes more time than the students, or the administration, wishes.
``But Stanford is not a large university -- and it has be very selective about where it puts its resources,'' he added.
Stanford's deliberate pace is helping it steer clear of controversies faced by other top universities. Harvard, for example, returned a $2.5 million gift after revelations about the Arab donor's anti-Semitic, anti-American leanings.
Gregg said it's been 15 years since he began lobbying Stanford deans to build a program. During that time, peer institutions such as the University of California-Berkeley, Princeton and Duke have built strong Islamic or Middle Eastern studies programs.
Demand for classes skyrocketed in the wake of Sept. 11, the invasion of Afghanistan and the Iraq war. In 2003, the school received a gift of $2.5 million from former Oracle executive Sohaib Abbasi and his wife, Sara, to establish a program in Islamic studies.
With an additional $2 million from Stanford alumna Lysbeth Warren and matching funds from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the program's core endowment now totals $9 million.
``Strengthening the study of Islam is one of the highest priorities for the school,'' said Sharon Long, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, in announcing the Abbasi gift.
But students say there still aren't enough classes -- and those offered are oversubscribed.
``I love Stanford and never would have gone anywhere else, but one of my big frustrations is the lack of courses about the Middle East and Islamic studies. There is no way I'll be able to stay there for graduate school,'' said Omar Shakir, a senior from San Jose.
Shakir created his own summer-abroad programs in Morocco, Egypt and Palestine and is now studying at Oxford University in England to do course work not offered at Stanford.
Student Max Weiss agreed. ``How can a world-class institution like Stanford continue to be taken seriously when it is so far behind in such an important field as Islamic studies?''
Visiting assistant professor Ellen McLarney, on leave from Duke University to teach classes on the Koran, said Stanford is aware of its shortcomings but is trying to tread carefully.
``Schools often don't want to be dragged into the controversies surrounding issues in the Middle East,'' she noted. ``But in this political climate, it happens all the time.''
Stanford's Gregg says two new professors have been hired and will arrive in time for fall classes. Administrators this week approved the hiring of three more.
While sensitive to student perceptions, ``the faculty believe that they have a better perspective on what is needed in the curriculum than do students,'' he said.
The number of courses in Islam are equal to, or surpass, classes in Judaism or Christianity, he said, even though 50 percent of incoming freshman are Christian, according to university statistics. Eric Brown, a representative for the Hewlett Foundation, said it ``is not worried or concerned'' about Stanford's pace. ``It often takes time and is difficult to find the right people.''
Gregg echoed those points:
``Stanford has an opportunity to become a major player in the field by offering something unique. We are building on what we've already started. It takes time. The prospects are very good for the future.''
Contact Lisa Krieger at or (408) 920-5565.

FBI asked to share any proof of spying on Muslims
Kelly Rush, Staff Writer

Muslims across Southern California who say they've been questioned by the FBI and some who suspect they've been spied on are asking the federal agency to reveal whether it is monitoring worshippers and mosques.
The American Civil Liberties Union on Monday filed a Freedom of Information Act request in FBI offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., on behalf of 12 groups, including mosques in San Gabriel, Corona, Los Angeles, Hawthorne and Anaheim.

The 19-point information request seeks any documents on the Muslims or groups and any proof they've been infiltrated, questioned or surveilled.

Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Anaheim-based Islamic Shura Council, and one of the requesters, said Monday he has reason to believe he's been spied on.

Syed, whose organization represents mosques across Southern California, said Muslims have reported being questioned about imams and sermons, and Muslim students have reported being questioned about what associations they belong to.

He said Muslims for years now have reported being interviewed by government officials about their faith, how they worship and why they're in the United States.

"There is every reason for us to suspect; in this instance, I hope and pray my suspicions are wrong," Syed said.

Stephen Tidwell, assistant director of the FBI Los Angeles office, released a statement in which he denied FBI agents have ever improperly monitored Muslims.

"As we have said in the past, the FBI does not investigate anyone based on their lawful activities, religious or political beliefs," Tidwell said. "There are instances where specific information is received about an individual where investigative steps may be taken, or interviews conducted. In each case, these steps are taken within existing Department of Justice guidelines and the law."

The Freedom of Information request comes at a time when President Bush is under increased scrutiny over the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program.

Bush insisted Tuesday the government does not eavesdrop on domestic phone calls without proper court approval but declined to discuss the government's alleged compiling of phone records or whether it amounts to an invasion of privacy.

White House officials later said Bush's comments were not confirmation of news reports that the NSA's surveillance is broader than originally thought and that it included secretly collecting millions of phone records.

Renjana Natarajan, an ACLU attorney, said the information request was filed both to get answers from the FBI and to calm the fears of worshippers.

"The FBI generally has said they're conducting investigations to protect the country and national security, but there really haven't been specific answers," she said. "People have been asked what mosque they attend or what the imam says, where they went on religious pilgrimages and how many stops they made. They're really questions that are at the heart of our religious constitutional freedoms."

Tidwell said the FBI is increasing outreach programs particularly for religious and civic groups from Muslims and Sikhs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Somalia: Islamic Courts Accept Ceasefire

Shabelle Times (Mogadishu)
May 15, 2006Posted to the web May 15, 2006
The union of Islamic courts said they accepted on their side the ceasefire offered by the elders, religious men, businessmen and politicians of Mudulod clans of Hawiye ethnic in Mogadishu.
The chairperson of the Islamic courts' union Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed who was speaking with radio Shabelle said overnight they were welcoming the ceasefire declared by the intellectuals.
Sharif said they were not initially on assault to any one but they were invaded by the militia of warlords and now ready to stop the fight and comply with the truce.
He stated most of the casualties resulted from the latest clashes of second round violence in the capital had happened to the courts and the civilians.
Earlier the spokesman of the alliance for restoration of peace and counter terrorism (ARPCT) Hussein Gutale Rage who also has been interviewed by Shabelle Media Network paid no attention to announce ceasefire on their part, describing the truce by Islamic courts as 'the bullets they were fighting run out short.'

ACLU seeks FBI records on monitoring of Islamic groups
The Orange County Register

Six groups, including the Anaheim-based Council on American Islamic Relations in Southern California, filed a Freedom of Information Act request Monday asking about suspected law enforcement monitoring of Islamic religious institutions.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California filed the request on behalf of CAIR, the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, area mosques and six leaders in the Muslim community. Four from Orange County include:
Muzammil Siddiqi, imam of the Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove.
Hussam Ayloush, executive director at CAIR.
Sabiha Khan, CAIR spokeswoman.
Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California.
The federal government has 20 days to respond to the public-records request, which seeks to learn whether area mosques and community leaders are being monitored and, if so, why, said Ranjana Natarajan, the attorney handling the matter.
The Freedom of Information Act, which outlines request procedures, was enacted by Congress in 1966 to give the public greater access to the federal government's records. Natarajan said the ACLU decided to request FBI records after working with the Muslim community and conducting "know your rights" presentations at mosques.
Natarajan said worshippers at mosques have been asked what their imam is preaching, where they go and what they do on pilgrimages to Mecca, and for details about religious practices.
"People are asking me if it is safe to worship. People began to worry that maybe there is something wrong with going to the mosque," Natarajan said. "So they need to know, is there monitoring going on and, if so, why? If there is monitoring, can we assure people it is not just their religion that is being targeted, that there are other reasons?"
CAIR wanted the records request filed on the belief that no person or organization should be monitored because of peaceful religious practice, Khan said. There must be a legitimate probable suspicion of illegal activity, she said.
"Also, based on the history of innocent people who have gotten into trouble due to incompetence, human error or even untruthful informants, it is necessary to insist on transparency from our government," Khan said. "This is our right as Americans."
She pointed to American lawyer Brandon Mayfield, 37, a convert to Islam who was mistakenly arrested in 2004 in connection with terrorist train bombings in Spain. The case was dismissed, and the FBI later apologized.

A Critic of Muslim Intolerance Faces Loss of Dutch Citizenship

PARIS, May 15 — The Dutch government on Monday abruptly threatened to revoke the citizenship of one of the country's most prominent members of Parliament, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born woman who arrived as a refugee 14 years ago.
The minister of
immigration, Rita Verdonk, said Ms. Hirsi Ali had provided inaccurate information when applying for political asylum in 1992 and seeking Dutch citizenship in 1997. As a result, the minister said, both applications were invalid. Ms. Hirsi Ali has been given six weeks to respond.
The move is likely to provoke a widespread reaction because Ms. Hirsi Ali, 36, has faced repeated death threats since 2002, when she became well known because of her outspoken criticism of conservative Islam and of the mistreatment of Muslim women, even in The
She was the writer of a short television documentary on violence against Muslim women made by the filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who was murdered in an Amsterdam street in 2004 by a Dutch-Moroccan who said his victim had insulted Islam. The killer pinned a note to the body of Mr. van Gogh saying that Ms. Hirsi Ali would be next.
Long before Mr. van Gogh's death, Ms. Hirsi Ali had been provided with full-time bodyguards by the Dutch government and had been living in a series of safe houses. Despite that, she continued speaking and writing on abuse of women in Islam and her view that the religion promotes intolerance.
"I'm speechless," Ms. Hirsi Ali said in a telephone interview from The Hague after she had received a call from Ms. Verdonk on Monday night. . Ms. Hirsi Ali said she considered the move to take away her citizenship, leaving her stateless, as an attempt to silence her. "I have been fully committed to my work in Parliament, and I have taken many risks," she said. "This will make others think harder before they speak out."
She said she was baffled by the unexpected uproar over her asylum procedure because she had told the story numerous times in interviews and in her own essays about how she changed her last name from Magan to Ali and changed her date of birth when she arrived in the Netherlands at age 22, escaping from an arranged marriage.
She tried to hide at first "in case my father or my brother or my husband looked for me with bad intentions," she said. "I'm now being picked on for lying, but I have admitted this for years." She said she discussed the matter with the leaders of the conservative political party VVD when they invited her to run for Parliament.
Her difficulty began over the weekend after a television documentary retraced her steps and she once more said on camera that she had changed some facts on arriving in The Netherlands.
As elections approach, the debate about immigration in The Netherlands has become increasingly tense, with Ms. Verdonk taking an ever harder line and recently expelling would-be immigrants who failed to meet the criteria for political asylum. Ms. Hirsi Ali has also come under criticism. Opponents say she has polarized the immigration debate, and some have called for her to be deported.
She said she would resign from Parliament on Tuesday and speed up her intended departure for the United States, where she has applied for a job at the American Enterprise Institute. She had intended to serve out her mandate, she said. But in April she was notified that she would have to vacate her secure government apartment because her neighbors won a lawsuit complaining that her presence exposed them to risk.

Muslim Jeans by Italian Designer Raise Ire in the Middle East

May 15 (Bloomberg) -- Luca Corradi learned his trade designing $300 skirts for MaxMara in Milan. Now he wants to make a fortune selling $35 jeans for Muslims in Cairo.
Corradi's denim pants have features such as added stretch for kneeling during prayer. Al Quds Srl, the company based in northeast Italy that makes the jeans, plans to put half a million pairs on sale in eight Middle Eastern countries by September.
``These are simple jeans for everyday life, designed with the idea of prayer in mind, but not just that,'' Corradi, 47, said in a telephone interview from Karachi, Pakistan, where Al Quds started producing the trousers for Europe in November.
Al Quds, named after the Arabic term for Jerusalem, is joining western companies such as Nike Inc. in selling clothing to the world's 1.2 billion Muslims. The combined economy of the Gulf States alone is worth $3 trillion, about two-thirds more than Italy. Some Muslims say the companies are seeking to profit from their faith, rather than cater to their needs.
``Let's be honest, people only market to Muslims when they want the dollars,'' Imam Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, said in a telephone interview from Washington D.C. ``Many of the deeply observant may have a problem with this concept.''
The Italian company markets the trousers as ``the jeans of choice for Islam,'' according to the Al Quds Web site. Nike has also tried to tap the Muslim market with a line of sports hijabs, or head-coverings, that don't hamper movement.
Al Quds has sold 10,000 pairs since they went on sale in Europe in March at retailers such as France's Carrefour SA, the continent's largest supermarket operator.
The pants were inspired by Al Quds President Giorgio Lotta, who saw a photograph of a mosque during prayer crowded with worshippers in jeans. He then contacted Corradi.
The jeans have a high waist and wider legs to make kneeling more comfortable and boast larger pockets that can hold watches, rings and other accessories that are removed during ablutions. The logo is in Arabic characters, and the seams are in green, the holy color of Islam, which requires prayer five times a day.
``This is a type of exploitation of religion, of a place and a belief that is sacred for Muslims,'' SMT Wasti, a spokesman for the U.K. Islamic Mission, said in an interview. ``It's a way to prey on the sympathy of Muslims,'' he said.
Not so, according to Ahmed Ogaiz, 29, a manager at Exxon Mobil Corp. He plans to buy a pair as soon as they are available in his native Egypt.
Moving Quickly
The idea ``is genius,'' Ogaiz said in a telephone interview from Cairo. ``An item of clothing with such an emphasis on cultural awareness would sell like crazy here.''
Al Quds is based in the city of Udine, northeast of Venice, and plans to add a second manufacturing plant in Kuwait to supply the Middle East, Susanna Cavalli, product manager director for the company, said in a telephone interview.
``We knew the idea was good, but we didn't think things would move so quickly,'' she said while returning from Kuwait.
Al Quds enlisted the help of Seattle-based consultants ITCGulf, which markets to Gulf States, the U.S. and Canada. The two companies agreed in April to produce and distribute the jeans in eight Middle Eastern countries. The next target is North America and its 7.5 million-strong Muslim community.
``In the Gulf region people are very big fans of fashion,'' Rizwan Samad, 45, president of ITCGulf, said in an interview. ``And in particular of Italian products.''
To contact the reporter on this story:
Alessandra Migliaccio in Rome at
Sheyam Ghieth in Rome at
Last Updated: May 14, 2006 19:18 EDT

Brown's Islamic conversion

Former Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown told prison authorities that he was Muslim so he could get better food in jail.The rocker, who in 1999 served two months in a Manchester, England, jail for threatening an air stewardess, didn't fully convert to Islam - he just wanted to eat the food on the Muslim menu.Brown says: "My sister bought me the Koran in 1990. I always thought the stories in it were magical.

"So I'd already had a love affair with it, but when I got in jail the first day, I saw what everyone else was eating. I didn't know what was in the pies, but the lads said if you were Muslim you got chickpeas, lentils, rice, chicken curry on a Friday."So I said my religion was Muslim."

Chinese Muslims to Get First Hajj Service
There are some 20 million Muslims in China.

BEIJING, May 13, 2006 ( & News Agencies) - The Islamic Association of China (IAC) will set up a special office to assist Chinese Muslims making pilgrimages to Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
"This is the first time China has set up a special pilgrimage service for the country's 20 million Muslims," IAC Vice-Chairman Yang Zhibo told Chinese news agency Xinhua Saturday, May 13.
Yang estimated that more than 8,000 Chinese would make a pilgrimage in 2007.
The number of Chinese making the spiritual journey has been rising steadily.
This year it was 7,000. Since 1985, nearly 100,000 Chinese Muslims have completed the pilgrimage.
One of the five pillars of Islam, hajj consists of several ceremonies, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.
Every able-bodied adult Muslim -- who can financially afford the trip -- must perform hajj once in their lifetime.
According to official data, China has 20 million Muslims, most of them are concentrated in Xinjiang, Ningxia, Gansu, and Qinghai regions and provinces. Smaller Muslim communities can also be found throughout interior China.
Islam came to China via Muslim businessman during the era of the Tang Dynasty. There have also been reports of companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) coming to China.
Service Improved
Yang said that the IAC will introduce more facilities to the faithful to make the journey much easier.
"Our service has also improved," Yang said.
He noted that pilgrims could leave the country now through four cities: Beijing, Lanzhou, Urumqi and Kunming.
A fifth exit port was planned in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, home of most of the Hui ethnic minority, China's second largest Muslim minority group.
Local branches of the IAC offered training programs for first-time pilgrims, Yang said.
"To better serve Muslims, we will add English, international travel tips and emergency treatment to our programs," he noted.
He also said the IAC would help pilgrims outside peak times, starting in August and September this year.
Sources with Air China told Xinhua that chartered flights would now carry pilgrims direct to Makkah.
Chinese Muslims have been complaining about government marginalization and heavy-handed police treatment.
International human rights organizations have chided the Chinese government in several reports for its poor human rights record in predominantly Muslim regions, particularly Xinjiang.
Human Rights Watch has said in a recent report that Chinese policy in Xinjiang "denies Uighurs religious freedom, and by extension freedom of association, assembly, and expression."
The Uighurs are a Turkish-speaking minority of eight million whose traditional homeland lies in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in north-west China.
Chinese Muslim leaders have charged that China was using the US-championed "war on terror" to justify its crushing campaign of religious oppression and rights abuses.

RJ Eskow: America's Message to Muslims – Jesus Hits Like An Atom Bomb
RJ Eskow Wed May 10, 4:06 PM ET

The "Divine Strake" bomb test scheduled for the US nuclear test site in Nevada has been delayed, at least temporarily, due to a lawsuit filed by nearby residents who feared it would send radioactive material their way. It's already sent something else: a message to the Islamic world. We're telling them that our God is greater than theirs, because he's given us the Bomb. And we're warning them that we're planning to use it.
"Divine Strake" will use non-nuclear explosives to simulate a nuclear 'bunker-buster' attack, creating a mushroom cloud that may rise 10,000 feet (nearly two miles) into the air. Its stated purpose is to enhance our ability to use nuclear bombs to destroy underground facilities. And where have we claimed it will be necessary to do that? The Islamic Republic of
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News News Photos Images Web' name=c3> Iran, of course.
This explosion is very possibly a violation of nuclear test-ban treaty provisions, despite the use of non-nuclear explosives, because it is being used to design nuclear weaponry. But testing is not its only purpose. The test is intended to send a threat - not just to Ahmadinejad, but to the entire Muslim world. In all likelihood, the name is part of the communication.So far, the only people who have responded in fear are residents of nearby areas. They have sued to stop the test because they're afraid it will scatter radioactive materials from old nuclear tests into the air and onto their communities.
Why the name? "Strake" is an obscure term from nautical construction, which the American Heritage Dictionary defines as "a single continuous line of planking or metal plating extending on a vessel's hull from stem to stern." It's meaningless in this context, and serves as a place-marker for the adjective: "divine."
Is the name part of a psychological operation against Iran, and Muslims in general? It's very likely. The widely-publicized burning of an insurgent's body by American soldiers was a classic psy-ops move, carefully planned by military intelligence (Hayden's people). So are the Quran desecrations and other anti-Islamic gestures used by the torture artists in the American Gulag.
The flap over Bush's use of the word "crusade" to describe the
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News News Photos Images Web' name=c3> Afghanistan invasion, and the Islamic objection to the term "Operation Enduring Freedom" (only God is ever-enduring for Muslims) made the impact of language crystal-clear to US leaders. It's impossible to imagine that
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News News Photos Images Web' name=c3> Pentagon leaders wouldn't realize the message they're sending by using a word like "divine" to describe a gigantic bomb.
So what's the message? It's simple: Beware of the Christian Nuclear Jihad.
Is threatening Iran with nuclear weaponry a bad response to the current situation? I think it is, but whether you agree or not, this psy-op messaging is a terrible idea. It's an insult to the entire Muslim world, include those we are trying to promote as leaders in
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News News Photos Images Web' name=c3> Iraq - and the one billion Muslims who aren't Arabs and don't live in the Middle East.
We've already had Gen. Boynkin telling the world that the US will defeat its Muslim enemies because "my God is bigger than theirs." And while that was not a psy-ops move (he's just an idiot running his mouth off), Boynkin was never reprimanded. In fact, he was select by Undersecretary of Defense Cambone to investigate torture operations in the so-called "
Black Room." (Guess what? He didn't find any problems.)
And it's not going to work. All people of deep faith believe their God is more powerful than any human weapon. The Pilgrim Travelers complained about the atom scare in their 1950's gospel song, Jesus Hits Like An Atom Bomb: "everybody's talking about the atom bomb/nobody's talking about the day my Lord will come."
Bob Marley said the same thing in Redemption Song: "Fear not atomic energy/none of them can stop time." And country artists the Louvin Brothers said in The Great Atomic Power, "when the mushroom of destruction comes in all its fury great/God will surely save His children from an awful, awful fate."
What this "message" does accomplish is to further undermine our standing among the planet's Muslims, and further polarize the Islamic and Western worlds - at a time when they should be unified.
Could this all be ineptitude, rather than calculation? It's possible, if unlikely. Our civilian leadership at the Pentagon may be lousy at their jobs, but there are lot of smart people in the career military. If it is simple stupidity, it's another reason why Bush and Rumsfeld need to go - just a different one.
It's natural to conflate the divine and the terrible, especially when confronted with the awesome power of the atom bomb. Robert Oppenheimer looked at the first mushroom cloud and thought of these lines from the Bhagavad-Gita:
I am become Deathdestroyer of worlds.
Those are the words of God, revealing Himself in the incarnation of Vishnu. Oppenheimer was reflecting on humanity's assumption of near-divine power, with all the risks that entails.
As for Divine Strake, it would be a good idea not to hold the test at all. But if we do, let's use the word "divine" to describe something else. There's always Bette Midler.
We don't need another holy war, for God's sake - or anyone else's.