Monday, August 31, 2009

Supporting church building haraam for Muslims

A controversial Fatwa (Islamic edict) prohibiting the construction of new churches in Egypt has provoked considerable discussion and spiraled into a crisis, involving the Fatwa Council, Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh, Christian and Muslim religious personalities, and the media. It was also reported on 8/26/2009 that the jurists who issued the Fatwa are under investigation on orders of the Grand Mufti and the Justice Minister.
The Fatwa (Arabic) in question was issued by the Al-Azhar affiliated "Dar el-Eftta" -- Fatwa Council for Islamic interpretations of laws in Islam. It stated "the will of a Muslim towards building a Church is a sin against God, just as if he left his inheritance towards building a nightclub, a gambling casino, or building a barn for rearing pigs, cats or dogs."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

something rotten in Islam

A Muslim proverb says that a child's first university is her or his mother's lap. Young children at this age are like soft clay and can be moulded into more or less a permanent shape that will prove difficult to change in later years. It's a process that might be called education by osmosis. I graduated from the university of my Indian mother's lap with a fear of the prayers of others, especially those I have wronged. The word for oppression in both Arabic and Urdu (my mother's North Indian dialect) is zulm. An oppressor is zaalim and the oppressed is muzloom. Mum's Urdu formula was fairly straight forward. MORE HERE

Friday, August 28, 2009

Western Sahara: The Thirst of the Dunes - Lost Years of the Saharawi

Dakhla refugee camp emerges from the dust, a sprawling single-storey town built of the desert sand. Our Landcruiser is approaching at speed along a network of dirt tracks after a bone-shaking journey through the fierce heat of the Sahara.
Home to nearly 30,000 people, Dakhla is the most remote of four refugee camps housing around two-thirds of the native Saharawi population of Western Sahara forced to flee over the border to Algeria after the Moroccan invasion more than three decades ago. The camp is entirely dependent on outside supplies of food and water. Summer temperatures on the hammada desert plain regularly top 120 degrees (48°C) and with sandstorms and scarce vegetation, it is little wonder that the area is known locally as “The Devil’s Garden.”
The conflict in Western Sahara is one of the longest running and most forgotten in the world. Known as Africa’s last colony, Western Sahara was sold to Morocco and Mauritania by the Spainish when they withdrew in 1976. The Mauritanians pulled out soon after and the Moroccans annexed much of the remaining territory in defiance of a ruling from the International Court of Justice. A sixteen-year war ensued between the Moroccans and the Saharawi independence movement, the Polisario Front. Under the terms of a 1991 UN ceasefire agreement, a referendum for self determination was promised, but has been repeatedly blocked by Morocco. In the meantime an estimated 165,000 refugees continue to live in camps in the inhospitable Algerian desert. MORE HERE

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Al-Qaeda members in Algeria surrender

Algerian security sources have said that 10 gunmen belonging to the Al-Qaeda Organization in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb [AQLIM] have surrendered to the authorities in two batches and that some of them mentioned recent armed clashes between gunmen that refuse to give up terrorism and some comrades of theirs that have expressed the wish to surrender. All of them had been convicted in absentia and sentenced to terms ranging from 20 years in prison to execution. The sources said that it is likely that these gunmen will benefit from new anticipated calming measures that were paved for by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika when he called them "a conditional general amnesty". MORE  in AL-SHARQ AL-AWSAT

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pakistian police accuses bishop of involvement in Christian massacre

From persecuted victims to under suspects. That is the fate of a group of Christians from Gojra, Punjab, attacked on August 3 by a mob of thousands of angry Muslims. Fundamentalists burned houses and burnt alive eight people and now police officers accused of failing to assist, have denounced the victims of the violence.
In the aftermath of the massacre, the Christians accused the police of not intervening to stop the assailants. In the days that preceded the attack, the police had received reports of possible violence by Islamic extremists, but did not take any action to avert the tragedy.  
In response, officers in Gojra have in turn reported 29 Christians and 100 unidentified persons, for alleged "involvement" in the violence.MORE ON ASIANEWS

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rebellious Arab Girl: Why are Muslims turning atheist?

I had a pretty interesting afternoon trying to figure out why so many Muslims have turned Atheists. They seem to come out more now, and don’t care. You would think, that out of all the religions, a conservative one such as Islam, you would not have such a lack of faith.
A few weeks ago, when I learned that my cousins turned Christian, I was a bit dumbfounded. It is disappointing; however, it would have been worse if they completely lacked the faith of a higher power. At least they still believe in God, right?
In general, this lack of faith has a lot to do with where they are currently living, or what they are exposed to. Also, more and more Muslims are reading too much into their religion, and see how others are slowly destroying the image of it. Western media is trying to destroy it slowly. Muslims are lacking faith and don’t want to live this life, and are turning into a complete and opposite direction. I feel like we are back over 1400 years ago at the time of Jahiliyyah. I thought we ended this era. However, it doesn’t seem to be the case at all in such an exposed technology driven world. MORE HERE

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Arab world is source of its own problems

Mostapha al-Mouloudi writes in The National of the UAE that the Arabs must stop blaming Israel for their problems. They have to look at themselves:

To ease the international pressure upon them, Israelis may exploit such scenes as massacres staged by Hamas in Gaza, killings on sectarian grounds in Iraq, the civil wars in Yemen, Somalia and Sudan, as well as the uncertain politics of Lebanon, wrote Saleh al Qalab in an opinion piece featured in the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida. “So how would Arabs attending the UN General Assembly next September react if Israelis refer to this series of conflicts across the Arab world? The Israelis may say, ‘Do you want us to acquiesce to the demands of Arabs, who are slaughtering each other?’

“The bloody events around the Arab world are unjustifiable. The argument that ‘world Zionism’ stands behind the miseries of Arab countries does not hold much weight any more. Even laymen have grown sceptical about the validity of such a claim. A fact that cannot be denied is that the problem resides in our attitude, or in other words, the badness is within us. MORE HERE

Azhar launches new 'moderate' satellite TV channel

A renowned Sunni institution launches a new satellite channel aimed at eliminating extremism and hatred in the Muslim world. A new satellite channel that aims to promote the face of what it calls moderate Islam has been launched in Egypt. Azhari TV began broadcasting on Saturday, the first day of Ramadan, in what its founders say is an attempt to counter the “distortion of Islam into a violent, intolerant force.”

Azhari, a 24-hour entertainment and education channel, is the brainchild of clerics associated with Al-Azhar University, considered the highest authority of religious teachings in Sunni Islam.

“The objective of launching Azhari is to teach about the real Islam, which is void of terrorism,” Khalid Al-Guindy, chairman of the board of directors of Al-Azhari TV told The Media Line.

“We want to clarify to the world that Islam doesn’t encourage violence, Islam respects the other, lives in peace and allows others to live in peace. Islam allows pluralism of views,” he said.

The channel aims to provide an alternative platform to satellite stations that “propagate extremism and call for violence,” Guindy said.

“We want to tell people there’s an Islamic discourse that doesn’t discriminate against people on grounds of their color, gender or religion. That’s why Azhari was established,” he said.

However, Coptic Christians in Egypt say the channel is divisive because the government has not allowed Copts to launch their own channel.

On the run for following Jesus Christ

Reporting from Alexandria, Egypt - It is a clear day along the coast, but in a bungalow off the beach, Maher El Gohary sits behind a locked door with an open Bible and a crystal cross, suspicious of every voice and sandal scraping past outside.

He and his daughter, Dina, live like refugees, switching apartments every few months, not wanting to get close to neighbors. Gohary's life has been threatened, his dogs have been killed, and it's been suggested that he's insane or possessed by spirits.

He is a man this Muslim nation cannot fathom: a convert to Christianity.MORE HERE

Friday, August 21, 2009

TV race during Ramadan in Arab World

Ramadan just wouldn't be Ramadan in the Arab world without the region's television channels each offering an attractive line-up of shows every evening after iftar. It is during these 30 days when competition for viewers is at its highest – more viewers mean more advertisers, and resultantly, more money for the station.

Frankly, the holy month couldn't have come sooner for channel executives who are looking to make up for lost time due to the global economic crisis. Thanks to overall ad spend in the Arab world decreasing this year, it is anticipated that Ramadan programming will give a much-needed boost to the region's 300-odd channels and consequently, ad revenue growth.

"Ramadan is a very important time for TV channels, which is why there is competition to put out the best programmes for viewers," says Darwish Mohammed, General Manager of Dubai Racing – part of Dubai Media Incorporated, which also represents channels such as Dubai TV, Dubai One and Sama Dubai. MORE HERE

Debate about role of women in Arab media

Arab journalists, media experts and government officials debated the role of women in the Arab media on Sunday (August 16th) at the 31st International Cultural Festival of Asilah.Siham Ali reports for Magharebia.

"Women's presence in the media is growing," said the director of Syrian Television, Diana Jabbour. "This does not mean that they [women] have ceased to be marginalised." Jabbour emphasised that it is time to change the situation and correct the mistaken perception that women have made significant inroads in the media. MORE HERE

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Why do muslims fast?

Most of us who are fighting the battle of the bulge have experimented with some form of fasting, like an all fruit fast, a water fast or an sugar-free fast, you name it. But what many may find rather strange and intriguing is a whole nation of people; be it man or woman, old or young, rich or poor; going completely without food and drink from dawn to dusk for a whole month - Ramadan.

What is the significance of Ramadan beyond shortened work hours? Is it not a very harsh practice? Is it merely a time when Muslims sleep and fast and hardly work all day; and eat, drink, enjoy and stay awake all night? What really is the spirit of Ramadan? MORE HERE

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Free book of stories of the Islamic Prophets

Hey guys, here 228 pages: a free book that can be downloaded, on the lives of the Islamic prophets. This helps you understand how Islam views its prophets, and how it views history in general. PBUY. DOWNLOAD HERE.
More info on this book HERE.

Find a job in Saudi Arabia

Here some helpful instructions of how to find yourself a tentmaking job in Saudi Arabia, on the website of American Bedu.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Algeria moves weekend to Friday and Saturday

Algeria has moved its weekend from Thursday and Friday to Friday and Saturday.

This means that many banks and shops may open on Friday mornings and Saturdays in an attempt to counter a loss of trade. Most already closed on Fridays and Saturdays because people did their banking and shopping on a Thursday.

The change has come as a result of complaints from the country’s business community. They found it difficult to do business with other Arabic countries whose weekend fell on a Friday and Saturday.

The Thursday-Friday weekend was established in Algeria in 1976. Many commentators say it was a deliberate attempt to assert the country’s independence following the end of colonialism

Egyptian press discusses Abuna Zakaria's broadcasts

In chaos lies opportunity. Or does it? Religious controversies have hit the headlines and airwaves yet again with the launch of another Christian television channel broadcasting from outside Egypt on secondary satellite networks. The Coptic Church vehemently denies any direct link with the fundamentalist Christian broadcasts.

The honeymoon of the Coptic Christian satellite television station Al-Hayat, launched this week on NileSat, Egypt's premier satellite television company, ended almost before it started. The station is closely affiliated to defrocked Coptic priest Father Zakaria Boutros, the author of God is One in a Trinity.

Boutros has long antagonised Muslims for casting doubt on the authenticity of the Quran and denigrating the person and moral standing of Prophet Mohamed. Moreover, he claims that hundreds of Muslims have converted to Christianity after experiencing physical healings and deliverance from what he terms demonic fears and depression through his ministry. His claims have been widely publicised and stirred much controversy in Egypt and the Arab world.MORE of this artcile in al-Ahram HERE

Yemen close to full war against Shi'ites

Yemen declared a state of emergency in a northern province bordering Saudi Arabia late Wednesday, where the Yemeni army is waging a comprehensive offensive against Shi'ite Islamists, bringing the country to the brink of all-out civil war.

A serious humanitarian crisis has developed in the fighting zone, with more than 130,000 people fleeing over two weeks of fighting.

Government officials say that the rebels, who are part of the Zaydi branch of Shi'ite Islam, oppose Yemen's alliance with the United States and want to restore clerical rule that existed until the 1960s.

Warplanes and artillery bombed the Saada province for a second straight day on Thursday, according to the rebels and local officials.MORE HERE

Monday, August 10, 2009

1000s arrested in Saudi Arabia without trial

Saudi Arabia has detained thousands of people as part of its anti-terrorism drive without charging them and sometimes even ignoring court rulings ordering their release, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

New York-based HRW is the second international rights body to criticize the U.S. ally and the world's biggest oil exporter for violating human rights on security grounds. Amnesty International issued a similar report in July. MORE HERE

Spengler on the ups and downs of Christians in the Arab World

You do not have to agree with this view of Spengler about the position of Christians among the Arabs in order to enjoy his article:

A century ago, Christians dominated the intellectual and commercial life of the Levant, comprising more than one-fifth of the 13 million people of Turkey, the region's ruling power, and most of the population of Lebanon. Ancient communities flourished in what is now Iraq and Syria. But starting with the Armenian genocide in 1914 and continuing through the massacre and expulsion of Anatolian Greeks in 1922-1923, the Turks killed three to four million Christians in Turkey and the Ottoman provinces. Thus began a century of Muslim violence that nearly has eradicated Christian communities in the cradle of their religion. MORE of this article by Spengler HERE

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Child marriages in Yemen

Child marriages are still widespread in Yemen, despite new legislation limiting the age of marriage.

Six months ago the Yemeni government passed a law that limited the minimum age of marriage for both boys and girls to 17.

Under the law, parents who married off their children would face a year in jail or be fined the equivalent of about $500.

But Yemeni children’s rights campaigners say the law has never been applied and child marriages remain just as common as they were six months ago. MORE HERE

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hamas accepts end of conflict with Israel based on 1967 borders

Hamas says it is ready to cooperate with any US or international effort to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to accept a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Friday, Hamas political leader Khalid Meshaal (picture) said: "We along with other Palestinian factions in consensus agreed upon accepting a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines,” adding "this is the national program. This is our program. This is a position we stand by and respect."

Meshaal is quoted as saying that Hamas would accept international peace initiatives.

"Hamas and other Palestinian groups are ready to cooperate with any American, international or regional effort to find a just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, to end the Israeli occupation and to grant the Palestinian people their right of self-determination,” he told the US conservative daily.MORE HERE