New Turkish Pres. Abdullah Gul Approves Pro-EU, Reform Cabinet

By Hidir Goktas, Reuters

ANKARA–New Turkish President Abdullah Gul approved a pro-EU reformist cabinet on Wednesday which reflected Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s aim to push ahead with stalled political and economic reforms needed to join the bloc.

Gul, who as foreign minister helped Turkey win EU accession talks status in 2005, is the first politician with a background in political Islam to become president in mainly Muslim but constitutionally secular Turkey, over the army’s opposition.

After meeting Gul at the presidential palace, Erdogan named Ali Babacan as Gul’s successor as foreign minister. Babacan will remain in his role as chief negotiator in the membership talks.

Kemal Unakitan remains in the post of finance minister, while former banker Nazim Ekren was named minister in charge of coordinating economic issues, an important position as the government pushes for further economic reforms.

“I prepared the new cabinet as a team who have the skills to realize our goals for the coming period … I believe we formed a strong team,” Erdogan told reporters.

The lira End of Crisis?

Buyukanit rattled markets on Monday when he warned that he saw “centers of evil” seeking to undermine the secular republic, a statement suggesting the army would not stand on the sidelines if it saw the separation of religion and state threatened.

I want to say on this meaningful day that we need to unite around the values of our nation, qualities of our republic and common goals more than ever and put aside our differences,” Erdogan said earlier to mark August 30 Victory Day celebrations.

Many Turks hope months of political turmoil sparked by the standoff between the AK Party and the secular elite, including army generals, judges and politicians, has come to an end.

Gul pledged to uphold the secular system and Ataturk’s principles in an inaugural speech seen as conciliatory.

“Turkey has taken a step towards normalization. If we are to judge what sort of president Abdullah Gul is during his term in office, we can only measure it in terms of how faithful he is to this pledge,” said Radikal newspaper editor Ismet Berkan.

The controversy about Gul is symbolized by his wife’s Muslim headscarf, a garment banned in public offices and universities. Secularists see it undermining separation of state and religion.

“Gul is above all a compromiser,” said Mehmet Ali Birand, a leading Turkish commentator.

(Additional reporting by Daren Butler in Istanbul and Selcuk Gokoluk in Ankara)

9-36

Interview with Yvonne Ridley

Six years after September 11, 2001 the majority of Muslims living in the West still dread this date. They feel a mixture of sadness and frustration. What about you?

It is a terrible day in history and I think it affected everyone and continues to do so today. But I don’t think Muslims should feel — or more importantly, be made to feel — guilty or responsible in anyway, about what happened that day. It is like demanding every Jewish person feels guilt for the continuing injustices against Palestinians, or holding every man to account for every single rape against a woman.

After you converted to Islam, the BBC News Online wrote; “it has been suggested [she] is a victim of Stockholm syndrome, in which hostages take the side of the hostage-takers.” Is this a valid assessment?

The Stockholm Syndrome thing always makes me laugh. I was the prisoner from hell. I spat, swore, threw things at my captors and even went on hunger strike. To suffer from SS you have to bond with your jailers in the first place. The only people I bonded with, and still keep in touch with to this day, were the other western prisoners. The syndrome thing is used by detractors and those who cannot explain why a professional western woman would embrace Islam.

Some converts (or reverts) to Islam or other faiths do it privately, quietly. You chose to be very public; why?

I actually did do it quietly. Check the newspapers around the time of July 2003 when I converted. This is yet another urban myth.

You are quoted as saying, “my faith is my nationality and when you attack it you are being racist.” Can you explain further?

What I am saying is nothing different to the views held by committed Christians and Jews. If you attack a nationality, you are being racist. You cannot attack someone for being an Indian, or Pakistani, or Chinese, Jamaican etc.

At a time when some Muslim women choose not to wear a hijab to avoid hostility and/or compromise their careers — an option endorsed by some Islamic scholars — you now thoroughly cover your hair with a very opaque headdress. Why? Is this preferable to wearing a hat, for example? Do you thrive on the challenge of being visually identified as a Muslim?

Wearing the hijab is an obligation under Islam. It is a requirement and is stated quite clearly in references in our Holy Qur’an. This is something I’ve looked into exhaustively and spoken at length with real scholars and sheikhs whose background, lineage and education cannot be disputed. I did not wear the hijab immediately; it took some time and I believe every committed Muslimah will get there in the end. These Islamic scholars you talk about cannot justify the hijab as an option. There are those who I call “scholars for dollars” who do push certain government lines. They know who they are and they know what they are saying is wrong. Having said that, I think a sister’s decision to wear the hijab is personal — she knows her responsibilities to God and will personally have to answer for her actions one day.

During your campaign as a candidate for the Respect Party, you presented a six-point plan for your constituency, which included the advancement of women. What did you intend to do for women?

I just want women, all women regardless of faith, culture or background, to know their rights and demand them. The only way they can do this is through education and, as Islam states quite clearly, education is vitally important. There are even Islamic references that if you can’t get knowledge at home then go out and seek it.

Did anyone tell you that the issue of women’s advancement conflicted with the perception they have of women in Islam (i.e. being submissive, etc.)

They only tell me once. I put them right and they don’t come back!

You have been very outspoken about the treatment of Muslims in Britain. Let’s compare notes. What is it that you deplore and denounce?

There are many characteristics I deplore and it is not just in Muslims. I deplore cowardice, I deplore men who bully women, I deplore men who use and abuse women. I deplore those who use and manipulate their faith. I get outraged at men who tell me I cannot go and pray in a mosque because it is men-only. And it still kills me inside when I think of the mosque committee in Blackburn UK, which forbids Muslim women from praying inside its mosque, yet were prepared to roll out the red carpet for Condoleezza Rice.

On June 7, 2006, The Daily Telegraph, reported: “Yvonne Ridley, the former journalist who was kidnapped by the Taliban, has said that Muslims in east London should stop co-operating with the police after last week’s terror raid in which a man was shot.” Please explain your position.

Interesting how I was called a “former journalist.” It was as though they were trying to isolate me. What I said was taken out of context. I knew those two young men who were arrested – one shot – were totally innocent of any wrongdoing. What I said was that the community should stop co-operating with the police until they were released. Interestingly enough, I was vindicated some months ago when the Metropolitan Police was forced to apologize to the two brothers, including the one who was shot in his own home by armed anti-terror officers. I am not an anarchist and the police do have a role to play, but this does not give them the right to tear into Muslim communities, tooled up and armed with misinformation. This particular force is still suffering from institutionalized racism and is deeply homophobic. Senior officers publicly invited me to contact them during a Radio 4 broadcast and when I did they failed to return my calls. It was weasel words for the benefit of spin and public image.

You said that the UK is the third most-hated country. Your sharp criticism of your government has lead some to suggest, “If you hate your country so much, why don’t you leave?” How do you respond to them?

Again this is being taken out of context. But, at the end of the day, I enjoy free speech in Britain so why shouldn’t I say what I want? Why am I suddenly being denied the right to exercise my right to freedom of speech? I love my country and I would not get so upset about its reputation abroad if I didn’t.

Britain’s new PM Gordon Brown prepares to depart from Iraq but to move even more heavily into Afghanistan. Your comments? How are Islamic organizations in the UK reacting to that announcement?

Gordon Brown is the man who signed the cheques for the war in Iraq — let’s wait and see on that score. On Afghanistan, we need to throw financial aid and help to the Afghan people, not arm soldiers and send them in to their deaths, which is what is happening. The British Army has never yet had a successful campaign in Afghanistan over the years.

9-36

Held Accountable

By Sumayyah Meehan, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS) Middle East Correspondent

Ever since the creation of the ‘blog’ back in 1997, more and more people from all over the Globe have eagerly jumped onto the blogging bandwagon. Almost everyone has a blog these days covering topics that range from the silly to the mundane to the horrifically serious. These ‘citizen’ journalists compete with both local and international news media to deliver news and views that are up to the minute as they are happening. So it came as no surprise to me when I learned about the arrest and beating of a local blogger on another Kuwaiti blog (www.q8sws.blogspot.com) long before the local newspaper even had a chance to report it. The Emir’s granddaughter Bibi Nasser Al-Sabah in fact runs the blog.

The arrested blogger, Basher Al-Sayegh, was detained by the secret police this past week. The reason for his arrest was because an anonymous reader of his personal blog (www.alommah.org) left a comment that insulted the Emir of Kuwait, HH Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. Al-Sayegh was able to delete the comment approximately 15 minutes after it was made. But it was too late. The secret police approached him at his place of work, Al-Jareeda Newspaper. They were in plain clothes so Al-Sayegh had no idea that they were even the police. A colleague of his, Jassim Al-Qames, began taking photos of the arrest on behalf of the newspaper and was also hauled off to jail. They were both beaten severely and Al-Qamas was released after one full day behind bars although not before he was forced to use his fingerprint to sign a document while blindfolded. While in custody, Al-Qamas also reported that he was slapped and insulted.

Al-Sayegh was held for three full days before he was eventually released. He now claims he was not harmed but was only forced to supply the IP Address of the anonymous poster to his blog. The poster was tracked down and is currently behind bars.

The State of Kuwait prides itself on being one of the freest presses in the Middle East. Writers and journalists continually push the envelope whether they write about taboo subjects like secret vice dens in the country or complain about the ways in which the Kuwaiti elite exploit foreign expatriate workers. This is one of the first, if not only, cases where journalists have been jailed without cause. And it has definitely left a sense of foreboding in the air. A lot of journalists in Kuwait are asking themselves these days how far is to far? And can they continue to report the news as they see it or will they face censorship and imprisonment for doing so?

An official inquiry into this incident has recently been launched by MP Mohammed Al-Sager which is aimed squarely at the First Deputy Premier, Minister of Defense and Interior Sheikh Jaber Al Sabah. Al-Sager has said that the arrests of Al-Sayegh & Al-Qames were ‘unconstitutional’. He further cited Article 31 of the Kuwaiti Constitution in his inquiry, which states:

‘No person shall be arrested, detained, searched or compelled to reside in a specified place, nor shall the residence of any person or his liberty to choose his place of residence or his liberty of movement be restricted, except in accordance with the provisions of law.’

Articles 34-37 also clearly state that accused persons are innocent until proven guilty and that freedom of speech is an inalienable right in the State of Kuwait:

Article 34

‘An accused person is presumed innocent until proved guilty in a legal trial at which the necessary guarantees for the exercise of the right of defense are secured. The infliction of physical or moral injury on an accused person is prohibited.’

Article 36

‘Freedom of opinion and of scientific research shall be guaranteed. Every person shall have the right to express and propagate his opinion verbally, in writing or otherwise, in accordance with the conditions and procedures specified by law.’

Article 37

‘Freedom of the press, printing and publishing shall be guaranteed in accordance with the conditions and manner specified by law.’

Someone clearly dropped the ball over at the Ministry of Interior and I am sure that over the course of the coming weeks several heads are going to ‘roll’. The Emir of Kuwait is a beloved figure to both Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis. So, no one is going to simply stand by and watch his good name be insulted. There are, however, other ways to deal with anonymous hecklers like the one that caused Al-Sayegh and Al-Qames to be arrested. It’s not necessary to turn Kuwait into a police state and lock anyone up that even bats an eye at the ruling family.

9-36

Re: Christian Hospitality

Upon my recent visit to the United States I have come across a unique observation which is beyond my imagination. We all talk about unity, tolerance, understanding, patience, and many other things. These are very easy phrases to talk about but very hard to translate into reality.

The Christian community of this great country has translated this into reality and I, as a Muslim, take my hat off to them. I would like to extend my sincere gratefulness and I salute the Christian community on behalf of the Muslims of Warrington City, UK for the wonderful gesture of religious tolerance and understanding.

This unique and wonderful gesture is allowing Muslims to perform their Friday afternoon prayers in some Churches where Mosques are unavailable is what I speak of and appreciate from the Christian community of America.

I wanted to express this profound gratitude to the Christian community of this great country through your paper.

Hasan Kazi
Chairman, Council of Faiths
Warrington, UK

9-36

Re: A Farewell to Arms (V9-I35)

Ms. Fatima Bhutto in her article “A Farewell to Arms” published in The Muslim Observer, Aug. 24-30, 2007, makes an excellent case against providing billions of dollars of military aid to several Middle Eastern countries, including Israel. This military aid is designed to offset perceived growing military power of Iran in the region by President Bush. It is highly questionable whether Iran presents any meaningful threat to countries in the Middle east such as Israel or Saudi Arabia etc at the present time or in the foreseeable future.

There is yet another question related to foreign aid that we might consider. It was Akbar the Great, a Muslim Emperor of Hindustan (India), in the sixteenth century, who realized that sending money to Hijaz (now part of S. Arabia) in the form of gold and silver coins was a drain on the nations economy. Therefore, he came up with an idea to produce prayer rugs in India and sell these rugs in Hijaz. The income generated from the sale of these rugs was then donated to Hijaz. Hijaz benefited from it as well as employment increased in India. After WW II, the United States adopted a policy of providing assistance not only to friendly nations in Europe but also to newly independent nations or developing countries as well. The aid was financed by the trade surplus. The aid receiving countries were obligated to buy most of the stuff from this aid from the U.S.A.

Thus it helped the aid receiving countries as well as the United States.

However, for more than a quarter of a century we have had no surplus in trade and our national debt is approaching $10 trillion. Providing military hardware to several countries in the Middle East may help “the military industrial complex” to reap higher profits at the tax payers expense, but may in the end impoverish the nation. Let us therefore, write to our Congressman and Senators to block this arms aid to “our friends” in the long term interest of our nation.

In my judgment, regardless of what your religious faith is, join hands in defense of peace and impress upon the administration to seek diplomatic solutions to political issues and not military solution. We know one catches more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Habib A. Zuberi, Ph.D
9420 Hillcrest Dr.
Plymouth, MI. 48170

9-36

Decoupling

By Bob Wood, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Many of you may have noticed that, while our domestic stock markets have been getting hammered after widespread discovery of the deplorable state of our housing and mortgage market, international and emerging markets stocks have fared even worse. I may be one of the few who sees this parallel as a short-term trend.

Students of stock market history and of failed investment theories — such as asset allocation and diversification — already know that a certain correlation exists between different types of investments or asset classes. Some asset classes are highly correlated; others are not.

The asset allocation and diversification theory suggests that one should build an investment portfolio using several different asset classes. While economic trends or investor sentiment will always favor one asset class or another, this investor ignores how different asset classes tend to move up or down simultaneously. Diversifying by including small cap growth and small cap value, for instance, will show similar returns in rising markets.

We saw in the bear market cycle of 2000 – 2002 that virtually all stock funds fell. Of course, some fell faster and deeper than others. Technology stocks suffered most, due mainly to the warning bell that finally rang, alerting those shareholders to the idea that valuations really do matter after.

At that time, international and emerging markets shares fell harder than domestic value shares. But this situation can be predicted rather successfully by using other tools of modern portfolio theory. A fund’s beta rating can help predict how that fund will probably perform in up- or down-market cycles.

Beta ratings, of course, have nothing much to do with the fundamentals of one asset class or another. However, they may have much more to do with the number of advisors and brokers who check such values and react to them accordingly. If one asset class is expected to be more volatile, thus having a higher beta than another asset class, investors expect it to rise more in an up market and fall faster in down cycles. So investors who understand modern portfolio theory and its aspects, like beta, reinforce the theory.

The stock market, as measured by the S&P 500, shows a beta rating of 7.35, using the Vanguard S&P 500 Index Fund as a proxy. Vanguard’s small cap growth fund sports a beta of 13.4, while its emerging markets index fund has a beta rating of 16.64. During the bull cycle of the past four years, the rating indicated just about what has happened, thus predicting what was coming.

So now, with domestic bond markets under pressure from enormous amounts of corruption in the mortgage markets, the stock market finds itself under a cloud of uncertainty about the depth of troubles in housing and sub-prime mortgage debt. What now becomes obvious — even to stock market promoters, who always see the sunny side of the street, even at midnight – is that troubles in housing and sub-prime debt are just beginning. The depth of these problems is yet to be divulged as central banks around the world try helping lenders and other holders of bad debts to buy time in an effort to minimize damage to their balance sheets, not to mention their credibility with investors.

With the announcement of each bit of bad news, domestic stocks can be expected to sell off. Investors relying on beta ratings will be quick to sell the riskier stuff, stocks with the highest beta ratings, and look for shelter in what are considered to be the safest asset classes, short-term bonds and cash.

But why should international and emerging markets shares fall in sympathy with our domestic stock markets when their economies are, for the most part, not at all involved in the sub-prime mortgage mess? Sure, I know the story, and there are elements of truth to it.

Many investors enjoy opportunities to invest globally, and troubles in a big economy like ours are bound to affect other economies. And investors who loaded up on holdings with bad mortgage debts may have also bought international shares as part of their equity allocations. Therefore, they may need to sell the good stuff to offset losses in their debt holdings. The idea also exists that lending in the U.S. will become subject to tougher scrutiny, therefore possibly making borrowing in other places more difficult or expensive.

Another aspect to this perception is that what matters here should matter there, too. An old saying predicts that ‘’When America sneezes, the rest of the world catches cold, too.’’ And, to a small degree, I guess that’s true. But to a larger degree, it’s not as true as it used to be. And that’s where I think many investors will be surprised by the “decoupling” of our home stock markets from those around the world.

Even in normal times, or during typical economic cycles, international shares are not perfectly correlated to our home market. In simpler terms, other markets do not always move in the same direction as ours. Review the table on page 115 of the book, Triumph of the Optimists, which shows the correlation coefficients for different markets. An investor who adds shares in the Canadian stock market can expect that those shares will rise and fall in tandem with our markets about 80% of the time. But investors in Japanese shares would see that market rise along with ours about 45% of the time. Think back to Japan in the decade of the 1990s to see what I mean. The difference in performance of emerging markets vs. our home markets in the 1970s provides another example.

In the past five years, the international markets ran together in up and down cycles about 85% of the time. In the five years that ended on June 30th of 1997, the international markets rose in step with ours only about 28% of the time.

So in normal times, or when no apparent reasons appear for concern about our domestic stock market, a certain degree of such decoupling can be expected. After all, economies around the world are always subject to forces of different types.

And I think the current time will prove to be one when markets go their own ways. Troubles bode ill for our economy, yet stock valuations are higher than those in many international markets. Why, for instance, would the stock market in The Netherlands, selling at about 10 times earnings and with no sign of a housing bubble, sell off in sympathy with our markets?

Sure, doubtless numbers of hedge funds and other portfolio managers who rely on those beta numbers shown above will dump international shares first in an effort to minimize losses. But over the longer term, why would our misfortunes affect economies that do little business with us?

Of course, I’m not talking about economies that do a lot of business with us! Surely China and other Asian exporting countries will feel the heat from our economic slump, right?

Hey, not so fast! I don’t see our troubles having nearly the effect on China and other Asian exporting economies as many others do. First, assuming that our economy falls into recession, and I think it might already be there, how much effect would that have on China?

A recession means negative economic growth rates. It does not mean that our economy comes to a screeching halt and that no one buys any imported goods from China. It does means that we will buy less, of course. But what we buy from China is, for the most part, unavailable from domestic producers.

But China also enjoys huge exports to other places like the European Union, which is about 50% larger than the U.S., and decidedly more conservative with finances. But then, whose isn’t?

China also benefits from the fact that it has not set up a safety net in the form of retirement savings plans like Social Security. So Chinese people have become huge savers, knowing they will need to rely on their own savings in retirement. And we all know that China is getting richer by the year and that internal demand for consumer goods is rising fast.

The potential also exists that China will allow the Yuan to rise against the dollar, maybe even, at some point, allowing it to float freely as our government leaders continue to demand. And don’t we have some nerve, telling our bankers what they should and should not do?

But with a rising Yuan comes stronger purchasing power of their earnings and savings for Chinese consumers. Surely that combination of positives will allow the Chinese economy to avoid catching the cold that will send our economy into recession!

Also, I believe strongly that other economies exporting food and other commodities to Chinese consumers will fare very well, too. For example, Brazil and Argentina export food, iron ore and other industrial metals to China. Nor does it hurt that countries like Brazil, Canada and Russia enjoy trade and budget surpluses and are paying down their external debt, providing another strong contrast to the economic idiocy affecting our situation.

Look for this “decoupling” to become apparent soon. In the short run, your foreign equity holdings will, no doubt, be affected by our falling stock market. But over the longer term, I find much less to worry about than most others do.

Have a great week.
Bob

Bob Wood ChFC, CLU Yusuf Kadiwala. Registered Investment Advisors, KMA, Inc., invest@muslimobserver.com.

9-36

Life for Relief and Development: Why Investigated?

By Adil James, MMNS

A review of the publicly available Forms 990 filed by Life indicates that the not-for-profit may have attracted attention in part by virtue of its own success.

According to its 2005 IRS Form 990, available on the internet, the non-profit collected $22,034,321 “Total Revenue” (reported on line 12 of its 990) in 2005, about 98% of which was from “direct public support” and the remainder from government grants and contributions. Dr. Jassem, the CEO, received a salary that year of $80,000 (representing an 8% raise over the previous year–perhaps due to the increased success of the NFP) for his services in running the multimillion dollar non-profit; Muthana Alhanooti, the Public Relations director, earned $64,000; other key employees earned less.

2004 numbers were dramatically less. The “Total Revenue” from line 12 of Form 990 for 2004 was listed as $10,632,093.

2003 numbers were comparable to ‘04, with “Total Revenue” from line 12 being $11,083,635.

Previous 990’s were unavailable to TMO.

Life makes financial and annual reports available on its website, but TMO was unable to locate any 990’s on the site.

A review of Islamic Relief’s 990 forms indicates that in fact its receipts are almost exactly comparable to Life’s. In 2005, Islamic Relief (based in Buena Park California) claimed Total Revenue of $20,574,771 on line 12 of its Form 990.

Islamic Relief has seen a similar spike in total revenue. In ‘04 and ‘03, respectively, its total revenue claimed on line 12 were only $9,320,264 and $6,290,488.

The possible lessons of this analysis are that, one, it seems that other Muslim charities are reaping a reward from the closing by the government of some behemoth Muslim charities (including among others Benevolence International, Holy Land, Global Relief, and Kindhearts).

Second, the spike in donations to the remaining charities may make them more prone to government interference–which indicates that possibly troubled times may be ahead for Islamic Relief, which has somehow escaped censure until now despite the calamities that have befallen its fellow charities.

9-36

LIFE to Get Files Back

Adapted from a Digital Journal report by Adil James, MMNS

Dearborn–August 29–Life is difficult for LIFE, these days.

In the wake of the Mabarrat and GCO raids earlier this month, it would be easy to forget about another Islamic charity that went through an investigation very similar to that of Mabarrat–almost exactly one year ago.

Life for Relief and Development, during a September 18 morning meeting in 2006, was swarmed by FBI and IRS agents who combed their offices, taking computers and servers, and taking company documents that until today remain in the possession of the government. The FBI, in concert with the IRS, initiated synchronized raids against the home of Dr. Khalil Jassemm (President and CEO of Life), the Life offices, and two Life board members’ homes (one in Ann Arbor and the other in Minneapolis).

Ironically, FBI officials were at pains to mention that Life was not under investigation for terrorism-related charges, and yet they asked many questions of Life officials regarding their relations with Iraq.

After searching the offices, the FBI team seized computers and paperwork. The computers were returned shortly thereafter, but the papers, until today, are in the possession of the federal government.

The IRS presence and some statements of the investigators indicated it was a tax-related issue, but “Digital Journal,” an online media outlet, is inferring an investigational link to Life’s activities in Iraq.

TMO attempted to contact Life before filing this report but their press relations department did not return our calls.

A federal judge ruled August 23rd that the U.S. government must split the cost of photocopying records that were seized last September from the Muslim charity, Life for Relief and Development.

So far, the FBI had refused to copy and return the paper records, unless the charity can pay for the cost of the copying.

The FBI told Life for Relief if they wanted to get the paper records back they would have a copying bill for between $21,000 to $115,000, in regards to how many of the seized records they wanted back. The copy fees were quite high because the FBI demanded that a copying company with security clearance must be used.

Life for Relief needs the financial and personnel records back so they can file their tax return, complete audits, manage personnel matters, and perform other functions.

U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds ruled,

“This doesn’t take legal genius to work through. The charity “is entitled to get certainly their financial and employee records back and they should not have to bear the cost, at least not the entire cost.”

Edmunds is making the charity and FBI negotiate which records need copying and then they will have to split the cost. The Kinko’s in the non-classified section of the FBI headquarters will be used, which will now greatly lower the cost from what the FBI was insisting on before.

“Copying only the financial records should cost about $7,200, said Michael Taxay of the U.S. Department of Justice National Security Division in Washington, D.C. Copying the personnel records should cost less than that, he said.”

The lawyer for the Muslim charity said the compromise was satisfactory to his client.

Although no one has been arrested or charged with committing a crime as of yet, the FBI is still investigating and will need to keep the records they seized. Taxay from the Justice Department said eleven months was not a big amount of time for the “size and scope of the investigation.”

Life for Relief describes itself on its site as the largest US Muslim relief organization, founded in ‘92 in response to the crisis in Iraq following the 1991 Gulf War.

9-36

Muslims Attend Political Convention in Boston

By Karima Friedemann for Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

The Green Rainbow Party of Massachusetts, which is affiliated with the national Green Party, held its annual State Convention at the Community Church of Boston on August 25, 2007. Area Muslims were invited to the GRP convention to learn how an American grassroots political party is organized. The convention drew about thirty active GRP members and fifteen observers.
After opening remarks, the groups split into three workshops: 2008 Elections Strategy, Using Technology to Promote the Party, and Sudan: What’s Going On and What Can We Do About It? Most of the Muslim observers attended the Sudan workshop, which was led by Dr. Abdul Rahman Mohamed, a retired BU professor, Loay Abdel Karim, who heads Jamaica Plain Residents for Human Rights, journalist Keith Harmon Snow, and Yousef Abdallah from Islamic Relief. The popular workshop received reviews of “phenomenal” and “illuminating” by those who attended.

During lunch, a keynote speaker spoke about predatory mortgages and the many Americans that are losing their homes due to rising interest rates. Another speaker spoke about peak oil.

Elections for the administrative positions of the party were held, including a male and female co-chair. Unfortunately, only 5 of the 8 available slots for delegates to the National Committee were filled, and other administrative positions were also left unfilled because no one volunteered to run. The GRP is desperate for political leadership. Of the five delegates who were nominated, there was no one running against them.

After a long debate over whether or not the Green Rainbow Party would endorse non-Green Party-registered candidates on the primary ballot, a vote was called and those in favor of allowing GRP to endorse non-Green candidates won by a margin of 21-7.

Towards the end, Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney walked in wearing a T-shirt that read, “First Aid for Democracy: Impeachment.” She made a pro-Africa statement during her brief speech and called Keith Harmon Snow “the best investigative reporter in the world.” She also expressed her disapproval of the Patriot Act and America’s many wars. McKinney was the victim of the first campaign in history, which was organized by the Zionist community, where Republicans as a group switched to Democrat in order to support her opponent in the Congressional primaries. Charismatic McKinney told the group she is considering running for President under the Green Party ticket. She received a standing ovation.

9-36

Houstonian Corner (V9-I36) AFMI Houston Gala

By Ilyas Choudry

“Human-Beings Should Remove Ignorance – God Will Remove Hunger & Poverty”: Kader Khan At AFMI 17th North American Convention

The American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) organized their 17th Annual USA Convention at Marriott West-Chase Hotel. As you may be aware, AFMI is a philanthropic charity organization founded by American Muslims from India in the year 1989. AFMI strives to improve the socio-economic status of the underprivileged Indian Minorities through education. Since it was founded, AFMI has remained steadfast in its mission to achieve 100% literacy amongst the Indian Muslims. To learn more about AFMI, please visit www.afmi.org

On this occasion, special guests and dignitaries from India included the Chief Justice (Retired) Dr. Rajinder Sachar, Chairperson for Prime Minister’s High Level Committee For Preparation of Report on the Social Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community in India & Kader Khan, a noted philanthropist / social worker / veteran cine artist. Various local dignitaries including Mayor of Houston Bill White, two Congresspersons AL-Green and Nick Lampson, the City of Houston Councilperson M. J. Khan, the City of Houston Councilperson Hopeful Zaf Tahir and Mr. Lutfi Hassan of Apex representing Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (who is on foreign visits) came to grace this convention.

Mayor and the two Congresspersons gave special proclamations certificates to Dr. Sachar, Kader Khan and Dr. A. S. Nakadar (Senior Founding Member and Trustee of AFMI), Dr. Shakir Mukhi (President of AFMI) and Dr. Aslam Abdullah (AFMI Trustee). These dignitaries saluted AFMI for their mission of eradicating illiteracy and bring the light of education in the lives of millions. They said rather than dividing the world population on the basis of sects and ethnic background and leaving the masses uninformed, the decision makers of the worlds should take heed from AFMI’s efforts of enlightening masses.

Incentives For Students

Dr. A. S. Nakadar gave the overview of AFMI and said their model is based on the fact that rather than depending on the Governments, people need to resolve their own issues, while the Governments provide better environment for this philanthropic work. AFMI gives incentives to students to vie for Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals in 28 States and get scholarships. Governmental figures and media are invited to propagate and encourage the students and affluent masses to contribute. Then establishment of schools are grassroots levels have been done to assist orphan children and those from less affluent background to go places in life. People can sponsor school buildings and students. Also there is need of mentors in India, who can change the mindset of the downtrodden public towards education through mass communication.

Limelight

The occasion was stolen by Kader Khan with his most powerful speech. He started off by saying that although he has been given honorary citizenship of Houston, he will speak in English, when he officially becomes resident of this country and as such would prefer to talk in Urdu. He said that after looking at AFMI and the passion of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), he has concluded that NRIs have more concern with the issues facing India than the Indians living in that great progressing country. He informed that his father Maulvi Abdur Rahman (an Islamic Scholar) and mother moved from Kabul Afghanistan to Bombay India after his birth, as his three other elder brothers died at early ages due to mysterious diseases. He lived in the worst ghetto of Asia in his childhood and when due to poverty and hunger, his parents got divorced, he was devastated, as he dearly loves both his father and mother.

Mothers’ Call To Education

Kader Khan decided to join several other kids in child labor market and as he was going out of the home the first day, he was stopped by his mother from his shoulder and said by becoming a child labor, their poverty will not get removed: How it can be eradicated will be if Kader Khan will learn and read. Mr. Khan said since his early days, his father had always told about the blessed incident of Arch Angel Gabriel saying to Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon him) to Read: He said when his mother grabbed him and said to get educated, he felt the same encouragement and that moment transformed his whole life, as after that he intensely studied, while his mother toiled hard so that he got educated.

Mothers’ Of Future With Remote Controls

Kader Khan showed much remorse on mothers’ of today, who spend most of the time in front of TV with remote control in hands than to think and work towards bringing up the future generation of the world. He said he has started a campaign against televisions at homes and many TV Companies are after him for doing this, but his intension is to make the mothers’ realize that upbringing of their children is much more important than mere few moments of entertainment. He emphasized on the role of mothers’ to come forward and build strong nation(s). That is why education of girls is crucial and must: Plus to encourage those girls to study, one thing is necessary and that is boys should also be well educated. He related the story of a top girl student with 97% marks not allowed by father to go for further studies because most of the boys in the family were not educated and where would she get married: Plus who will look after her safety going to college from home. Kader Khan eventually has got that girl to study at a college, but said there is much needed to be changed as far as attitudes and outlook towards studies is concerned.

Sectarianism To Terrorism

Kader Khan emphasized upon Muslims that they Believe in One Allah, Follow One Book Quran and Follow the Ways of One Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon him), then why should we divide into sects and weaken ourselves. People, who do not like world to have peace, said that Muslims you want to remain be divided: So keep dividing yourself based on sects and we would make the world call you terrorists.

Solution Of World Poverty Lies In Education

Kader Khan said that God will remove the poverty and hunger-ness in the world, if we the people eradicate ignorance from the world and make our people educated. He said usually we are working on the leaves and branches, but what we really need is to reach to the roots of ignorance and remove them. That is why he intends to start an Arabic Institute, so as to bring the true message of Quran to the people of the world.

Kader Khan said he knows the places in India, where these roots are and he would help AFMI in identification of those slumps, where we need to reach and educate people. He said he has seen people taking money to do acts of terrorism and reason for that is the menace of starvation and destitution: World Peace Without Education is not possible.

India Can Never Be A Hindu Country

In his keynote address, the Chief Justice (Retired) Dr. Rajinder Sachar, Chairperson for Prime Minister’s High Level Committee For Preparation of Report on the Social Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community in India, said that Muslims should not feel any inferiority complex in India: This great country belongs to all Indians and Muslims should voice their legitimate concerns with complete confidence to achieve their most justified rights. Education is for all and access to education should be provided for all.

Day-Time Seminars

The day long convention attended by more than 500 people had many short seminars and then the gala dinner. Themes of the day-time four seminars were: “What attitude / approach problems Muslim face in education?” – “Prospects of NRI contribution in overcoming these hurdles” – “Where do we want to be by 2020?” – “Promoting Education & Sustaining development for Global Affluence.” During these sessions, people got appraised as to why the world population needs to be well-educated, so as to have international richness.

Abizer Taybji, an IT Field Entrepreneur from Bohra Jamat, said it is important to scale the progress of organizations like AFMI, as then we can come up with affiliation and collaboration strategies. He and others like Fayyaz Merchant, Shaukat Khan and Dr. Azeem-ud-Din emphasized on the utilization of services of Youth and Women to bring about positive change in the education of Indian Muslims.

For further information about this convention and future plans of AFMI projects, please contact: Gaffar Vadgama; Vice-President; AFMI Houston Chapter; Phone: 832.964.4223; E-Mail: gaffar-vadgama@msn.com – Sharique Khan; Secretary; AFMI Houston Chapter; Phone: 832.477.1863; E-Mail: qaasid7@yahoo.com – & – Naseer Alam; Event Chair; Phone: 713.417.1556; E-Mail: naseeralam@msn.com

9-36

Muslimah (V9-I36)

By Aneerah Ali, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

WAITING

As the days have been soaring by
and life has been going on
one night i feel the shift in the air
summer is nearing the homestretch
i reflect on the coming morrow
and i feel the prickle of the hairs on my neck
as i further dwell on the realization
excitement and emotions flutter in my heart
that the days of the revelation are drawing close
if so granted by our Lord
we will rise way before the first light
to seal the path of nourishment
with desire to come close to our first love
to bow in praise and kneel for mercy
we dwell and ponder and marvel at the wonders
and heartily surrender the hours to supplication
Mercy will be within our reach
Fervently we will plead for it
and as the crimson heavens appear
we will pray and dine
And absorb the blissful air
while we give our full devotion
then will come the most divine of all moments
sometime after the twilight
when the faithful will weep, beseech and draw near
giving into utter surrender
in ardent apprehension
coming back to the present
I smile and make a quick prayer
oh Great Lord please give me the chance
to live the glorious Ramadan

9-36

Christian Zionism

The Theology of Empire

By Geoffrey Cook, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Berkeley–Some time ago I heard an enlightening sermon by a priest at the local Episcopal Seminary. Basically, his words shed light on the errors of the Christian Fundamentalists, who make up about 20% of the American “Christian” population, and, unfortunately, they vote regularly to the Far Right (i.e., anti-Muslim). Besides their misinterpretation of the Prophet Issa’s comment on the necessity to be “Born Again” to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Gospel of Saint John), they base their argument on Revelations, the biblical chapter which describes the apocalyptic ending of the world.

The misunderstandings of these apostates have caused much suffering for Muslims and Palestinians in particular. Besides the learned priest above, I would like to base my thesis to you on the comments of Don Wagner, who is the leading expert on this Movement, and the response of Rrosemary Radford Reuther at the Sabeel Conference here in Northern California last weekend – both academics from the Chicago area who are expert on the Middle East.

The Priest/Professor from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in the city of Berkeley argued that the Fundamentalists believe that the reemergence of the State of Israel is a sign of the Second Coming of Christ. The Second Coming is a basic doctrine within all Christianity, but has nothing to do with a new Israel – besides the ability to read DNA patterns has presented confusion over the ancestry of the Ashkenazim a.k.a, Ashkenazi), the European Jews who founded their modern Levant State. As the Wikipedia Encyclopedia puts it:

“Both the extent and location of the maternal ancestral deme from which the Ashkenazi Jewry arose remain obscure. Here, using complete sequences of the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), we show that close to one-half of Ashkenazi Jews, estimated at 8,000,000 people, can be traced back to only four women carrying distinct mtDNAs that are virtually absent in other populations, with the important exception of low frequencies among non-Ashkenazi Jews. We conclude that four founding mtDNAs, likely of Near Eastern ancestry, underwent major expansion(s) in Europe within the past millennium:

Note this quotes shows that the ethnic group that dominated the founding of contemporary Tel Aviv arose in the proto-historic-Near East – not the Middle East which demonstrates that the Palestines are the probable ancient mothers of the land.

Zionism has to be seen within the purview of contemporary Empire, and the centrality of the Jewish State is the material manifestation of the right to Empire by the Imperial powers – especially the United States where Zionism has willingly become its lackey. The States are a hegemony, and Israel is a big part of Washington’s “success.”

Theologically, a Zionist (Christian or Jewish) makes literal scriptural interpretations that split the world between good and evil. (Much of it comes out of a fanatic version of ancient Jewish tribal history that is attached to the land they violently snatched from the primordial residents after their [mythic?] Exodus from Egypt.) Since the Jews themselves were driven off their nation during the Babylonian Exile — and later during the late Roman period, there has been a Romantic longing for a return to that land — especially Jerusalem. This symbolism has resonated powerfully within the Orthodox and Nationalistoc Jews and Fundamentalist Christians (who are fullly conspirators). After the Roman purge of the Jews from the Holy Land in the late Roman period, some were able to remain, and curiously, their DNA is closer to their contemporary contesting Palestinians.

Unfortunately, this Zionism has slowly but steadily been seeping into fringe elements of American Christianity demonizing the rationality of the mainstream Churches – several of which are in active dialogue with Islam.

In the U.S. the theological doctrine of Rapture (which came from England, and is the basis of Christian Zionism) snuck into the U.S. religious vocabulary about a hundred years ago. The infamous Neo-Conservatives (Neo-Cons) are mainly Jewish Zionists trained at the University of Chicago, but their non-Jewish fellow travellers are often Cristian Zionists. The Christian Zionists become mighty tools for the pro-Israeli Lobby (AIPAC). The Arms Industry is very sympathetic to their cause, too, for they help promote their business interests. The Military are, further, linked to their ideology.

Christian Zionism cooperates closely with (the) Likud (Party). Further, most of American Christian Zionism advocates War on Iran! They also support the expansion of Settlements on the West Bank. They emphatically do not hold onto a two State solution. They believe Israel must fully occupy Palestine eternally. Ramallah must be wiped off the map as the ancient States that the Judaic clans overran in the First Millenium B.C. Empire must have a global reach! The ideology of Empire is based on perpetual War! This will lead to a loss of our democracies and bankruptcy of the (Metropole; i.e, the Imperial Homeland) itself!

The American non-Jewish Zionists are mainly Evangelicals, but, although they claim they are the entire Evangelical branch of the Protestant Church, they only represent a small minority of those – 20%. Yet they use the State of Israel as sort of a theology. Their average age is thirty-nine. Disturbingly, they are “mole-ing” their ideology into the mainline Churches. Now, the movement is emmigrating throughout the world alienating the indigenous within those nations, for “They feel they have to ‘rescue’ those there – both Christian and non-Christian [including Muslims].” This leads to the destructions of societies and religious structures. These missionaries believe this will lead to a Christian society abroad, and destroy native traditions.

Although he was an anti-Semite, Lord Balfour (the author of the agreement that permitted the Jews to make a State out of Palestinian territory) was an Imperialist Zionist himself. Former President Jimmy Carter, who probably has done more out than in office, has clearly stated that “The Palestinians have a right to a homeland!” This has turned the down-home Chiristian (Zionists) against him. Surprisingly, the amoral Ronald Reagan believed in the Rapture and Armageddon. Christian Fundamentalists hold to what is described very dramatically in Revelations will happen in the future wheras learned mainline Western religious theologians maintain what is described and prophesied in the book concerns the then contemporary Roman persecutions of the Second Century. In it, a massive final battle (between good and evil?) unfolds. This battle and the horrid yet poetic end is known as Armageddon, in which two thirds of the population of the earth are expected to perish. After this, according to Christian teachings, Jesus (as) will appear again, and God’s Kingdom on Earth will be established. Christians want to support Israel only in order to expedite these events. Politically, in the United States, the Christian Right is eating away at our First Amendment rights. The American Rightist Movement is definitely Islamaphobic and even anti-Semitic.

The respondent Rosemary Reuther stated that the treatment of the Palestinians is criminal. The spectre of the Holocaust makes it hard for the West to critize Israel, but we cannot repent of former generations anti-Semiticism. Therefore, we have been hijacked to not “Critize the State of Israel.” Thus, we are sacrificing Palestine for the sins of our “fathers.” Therefore, we have legitimized those Walls of Silence (a lyric reference to Tel Aviv’ towering fences through Ramallah’s land). We assume that Zionism and Judaism are one and the same: Not to accept this is to accept the Holocaust! The truth is there is a disconnection between Zionism and Judaism. (Most Jews do not endorse the policies of their religion’s State!) Regarding the relation between the Palestine crisis and the Holocaust, “You shouldn’t pay for one crime with another!”

9-36

A False Peace in Fallujah

Courtesy Ali al-Fadhily, Inter Press Service

Fallujah – Fallujah is quiet these days. After all the fighting and destruction of 2004, U.S. and Iraqi forces call this success. Many residents are not so sure.

Fallujah, 60km west of Baghdad, produced some of the strongest resistance yet to U.S. forces and their Iraqi collaborators. These forces led two severe assaults on the city, in April and November of 2004. Three-quarters of the city was destroyed, massive numbers of people were killed.

There has been little by way of reconstruction.

The city sees no more of the kind of resistance attacks of old, and no more of the 2004 kind of crackdown. “We are so happy that our city is peaceful and quiet after all the battling that killed thousands of our citizens,” a captain in the local police force of Fallujah, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS. “We can patrol the streets without fear now, and arrest any person that we suspect to be a terrorist.”

There has been a good deal of this, residents say. Hundreds of suspected resistance fighters are now held at the Fallujah police station. Many have been killed on the streets; the police speak of finding “unidentified bodies”.

Several of those found dead had been arrested earlier, eyewitnesses and families of several of the men killed have said.

“This is fascist behaviour that shows the brutality of the Americans and the so-called Iraqi government,” a former member of the Fallujah city council who asked to be referred to as Mahmood told IPS. “Those young guys were executed without any trial. This brutality was not known in our city before this occupation began.”

Journalists inside the city are also quiet after a few of them were arrested and held for several days.

One of the detained journalists spoke with IPS on condition of anonymity. Visibly shaken, he said that a major in the Fallujah police force had told him that freedom of the media had been misused and that the police would not allow it any more. He said the major told him that “the news you transmit to the world will be what we tell you, not what you pick up from the street”.

Residents speak of other reasons why the city is relatively quiet.

“But of course the city is quiet,” Rahemm Othman, a high school teacher, told IPS. “They are banning car movement, and that would make it as quiet as the dead. We are being subjected to slow death here, and the world is so happy about it.” The local police and the U.S. military banned car movement in May.

Everything is costlier as a result. “A jar of propane gas costs over 20 dollars, and the groceries are too much for us to afford,” Um Muhammad, a mother of four whose husband was detained four months ago told IPS. “I have no income, and people who used to help me are not able to do so any more. Everybody is getting poor because people cannot go to work.”

Medical services also continue to suffer under the vehicle ban. Doctors at Fallujah General Hospital told IPS that the government in Baghdad is not supplying them with medicines and medical equipment.

“The officials of the Ministry of Health tell us we are terrorists, and so we do not deserve their support,” a doctor said. “As if they own Iraqi money and it is up to them whether to give it or not.”

The Ministry of Health was headed by Ali al-Shemari from the group of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr until Sadr withdrew from the government Apr. 16.

“To say Fallujah is quiet is true, and you can see it in the city streets,” said Shiek Salim from the Fallujah Scholars’ Council. “The city is practically dead, and the dead are quiet.”

One after another, residents spoke of Fallujah finding the quiet of the dead. The streets are empty except for the occasional person walking to clinic, or at some of the few markets still open. Most shops remain closed, others open only a few hours.

Residents say unemployment is above 80 percent. Most of the rest who have some work are government employees. The huge industrial area has been closed by U.S. and Iraqi Army units.

“After sacrificing thousands of our beloved, Americans and their tails want to kill the rest of us,” said a 50-year-old woman at the football field that was turned into a graveyard following the April 2004 U.S. siege of the city, in which residents say at least 700 were killed.

Intent on demonstrating progress in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is expected to recommend removing U.S. troops soon from several areas where commanders claim security has improved, including Fallujah.

But resistance has not died altogether. Five U.S. soldiers were killed when their helicopter was shot down Aug. 14 near al-Taqaddum airbase on the outskirts of Fallujah.

At least 20 U.S. soldiers were killed in al-Anbar province to the west of Baghdad in July, several of them in Fallujah area. According to the U.S. Department of Defence, 1,257 U.S. soldiers have died in al-Anbar province, more than in any other Iraqi province.

——–

Ali works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, US-based specialist writer on Iraq who travels extensively in the region.

Vietnam: Bush’s False Excuse to Justify the Continued Occupation of Iraq

London, UK, August 23, 2007 -President Bush’s invoking of Vietnam – one of the biggest military disasters in US history – in support of keeping troops in Iraq, betrays desperation in attempting to justify a continued military presence in occupied Iraq.

In the speech to army veterans in Kansas City yesterday, President Bush said “One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like ‘boat people’, ‘re-education camps’ and ‘killing fields’.” He went on to hail the US military machine as the “The greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known”.

Dr Imran Waheed, media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, said, “Invoking Vietnam is not merely an act of desperation but overlooks the facts of what his ‘force for human liberation’ has already achieved. “

“Bush recalls the millions of innocent Vietnamese who became ‘boat people’, and those who died in the ‘killing fields’ of Vietnam and Cambodia following the withdrawal of US forces, but seems to have forgotten the 2.2 million Iraqi ‘boat people’ forced into exile in Syria and Jordan. The invasion and occupation led by the US and British governments have produced their own ‘killing fields’ in Iraq, where over 650,000 civilians have lost their lives.”

“His description of the US military machine as ‘the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known’ is only accurate in the sense that they have liberated the innocent civilians of Fallujah, Haditha, Abu Ghraib, Bagram and elsewhere in Iraq and Afghanistan of their security, dignity, property and their lives. In reality it is the presence of occupying forces that produce the violence, given that even the Pentagon’s report revealed that more than 60 per cent of the current attacks target these forces.”

“The initial neo-con reasoning of bringing ‘freedom and democracy’ to the Muslim world was no more than a supremacist argument for forcibly changing people’s values. Now, remaining in Iraq – under pretext of the ‘war on terror’ – is simply about salvaging age-old colonial interests and resources.”

9-36

An Important Marker Has Been Passed

Courtesy John Pilger

Published 23 August 2007
a.. 86 comments
b.. Print version
c.. Listen
d.. RSS

Those calling for a boycott of Israel were once distant voices. Now the discussion has gone global. It is growing inexorably and will not be silenced.

From a limestone hill rising above Qalandia refugee camp you can see Jerusalem. I watched a lone figure standing there in the rain, his son holding the tail of his long tattered coat. He extended his hand and did not let go. “I am Ahmed Hamzeh, street entertainer,” he said in measured English. “Over there, I played many musical instruments; I sang in Arabic, English and Hebrew, and because I was rather poor, my very small son would chew gum while the monkey did its tricks. When we lost our country, we lost respect. One day a rich Kuwaiti stopped his car in front of us. He shouted at my son, “Show me how a Palestinian picks up his food rations!” So I made the monkey appear to scavenge on the ground, in the gutter. And my son scavenged with him. The Kuwaiti threw coins and my son crawled on his knees to pick them up. This was not right; I was an artist, not a beggar . . . I am not even a peasant now.”

“How do you feel about all that?” I asked him.

“Do you expect me to feel hatred? What is that to a Palestinian? I never hated the Jews and their Israel . . . yes, I suppose I hate them now, or maybe I pity them for their stupidity. They can’t win. Because we Palestinians are the Jews now and, like the Jews, we will never allow them or the Arabs or you to forget. The youth will guarantee us that, and the youth after them . . .”.

That was 40 years ago. On my last trip back to the West Bank, I recognised little of Qalandia, now announced by a vast Israeli checkpoint, a zigzag of sandbags, oil drums and breeze blocks, with conga lines of people, waiting, swatting flies with precious papers. Inside the camp, the tents had been replaced by sturdy hovels, although the queues at single taps were as long, I was assured, and the dust still ran to caramel in the rain. At the United Nations office I asked about Ahmed Hamzeh, the street entertainer. Records were consulted, heads shaken. Someone thought he had been “taken away . . . very ill”. No one knew about his son, whose trachoma was surely blindness now. Outside, another generation kicked a punctured football in the dust.

And yet, what Nelson Mandela has called “the greatest moral issue of the age” refuses to be buried in the dust. For every BBC voice that strains to equate occupier with occupied, thief with victim, for every swarm of emails from the fanatics of Zion to those who invert the lies and describe the Israeli state’s commitment to the destruction of Palestine, the truth is more powerful now than ever. Documentation of the violent expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 is voluminous. Re-examination of the historical record has put paid to the fable of heroic David in the Six Day War, when Ahmed Hamzeh and his family were driven from their home. The alleged threat of Arab leaders to “throw the Jews into the sea”, used to justify the 1967 Israeli onslaught and since repeated relentlessly, is highly questionable. In 2005, the spectacle of wailing Old Testament zealots leaving Gaza was a fraud. The building of their “settlements” has accelerated on the West Bank, along with the illegal Berlin-style wall dividing farmers from their crops, children from their schools, families from each other. We now know that Israel’s destruction of much of Lebanon last year was pre-planned. As the former CIA analyst Kathleen Christison has written, the recent “civil war” in Gaza was actually a coup against the elected Hamas-led government, engineered by Elliott Abrams, the Zionist who runs US policy on Israel and a convicted felon from the Iran-Contra era.

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine is as much America’s crusade as Israel’s. On 16 August, the Bush administration announced an unprecedented $30bn military “aid package” for Israel, the world’s fourth biggest military power, an air power greater than Britain, a nuclear power greater than France. No other country on earth enjoys such immunity, allowing it to act without sanction, as Israel. No other country has such a record of lawlessness: not one of the world’s tyrannies comes close. International treaties, such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ratified by Iran, are ignored by Israel. There is nothing like it in UN history.

But something is changing. Perhaps last summer’s panoramic horror beamed from Lebanon on to the world’s TV screens provided the catalyst. Or perhaps cynicism of Bush and Blair and the incessant use of the inanity, “terror”, together with the day-by-day dissemination of a fabricated insecurity in all our lives, has finally brought the attention of the international community outside the rogue states, Britain and the US, back to one of its principal sources, Israel.

I got a sense of this recently in the United States. A full-page advertisement in the New York Times had the distinct odour of panic. There have been many “friends of Israel” advertisements in the Times, demanding the usual favours, rationalising the usual outrages. This one was different. “Boycott a cure for cancer?” was its main headline, followed by “Stop drip irrigation in Africa? Prevent scientific co-operation between nations?” Who would want to do such things? “Some British academics want to boycott Israelis,” was the self-serving answer. It referred to the University and College Union’s (UCU) inaugural conference motion in May, calling for discussion within its branches for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. As John Chalcraft of the London School of Economics pointed out, “the Israeli academy has long provided intellectual, linguistic, logistical, technical, scientific and human support for an occupation in direct violation of international law [against which] no Israeli academic institution has ever taken a public stand”.

The swell of a boycott is growing inexorably, as if an important marker has been passed, reminiscent of the boycotts that led to sanctions against apartheid South Africa. Both Mandela and Desmond Tutu have drawn this parallel; so has South African cabinet minister Ronnie Kasrils and other illustrious Jewish members of the liberation struggle. In Britain, an often Jewish-led academic campaign against Israel’s “methodical destruction of [the Palestinian] education system” can be translated by those of us who have reported from the occupied territories into the arbitrary closure of Palestinian universities, the harassment and humiliation of students at checkpoints and the shooting and killing of Palestinian children on their way to school.

British initiatives

These initiatives have been backed by a British group, Independent Jewish Voices, whose 528 signatories include Stephen Fry, Harold Pinter, Mike Leigh and Eric Hobsbawm. The country’s biggest union, Unison, has called for an “economic, cultural, academic and sporting boycott” and the right of return for Palestinian families expelled in 1948. Remarkably, the Commons’ international development committee has made a similar stand. In April, the membership of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) voted for a boycott only to see it hastily overturned by the national executive council. In the Republic of Ireland, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has called for divestment from Israeli companies: a campaign aimed at the European Union, which accounts for two-thirds of Israel’s exports under an EU-Israel Association Agreement. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, has said that human rights conditions in the agreement should be invoked and Israel’s trading preferences suspended.

This is unusual, for these were once distant voices. And that such grave discussion of a boycott has “gone global” was unforeseen in official Israel, long comforted by its seemingly untouchable myths and great power sponsorship, and confident that the mere threat of anti-Semitism would ensure silence. When the British lecturers’ decision was announced, the US Congress passed an absurd resolution describing the UCU as “anti-Semitic”. (Eighty congressmen have gone on junkets to Israel this summer.)

This intimidation has worked in the past. The smearing of American academics has denied them promotion, even tenure. The late Edward Said kept an emergency button in his New York apartment connected to the local police station; his offices at Columbia University were once burned down. Following my 2002 film, Palestine is Still the Issue, I received death threats and slanderous abuse, most of it coming from the US where the film was never shown. When the BBC’s Independent Panel recently examined the corporation’s coverage of the Middle East, it was inundated with emails, “many from abroad, mostly from North America”, said its report. Some individuals “sent multiple missives, some were duplicates and there was clear evidence of pressure group mobilisation”. The panel’s conclusion was that BBC reporting of the Palestinian struggle was not “full and fair” and “in important respects, presents an incomplete and in that sense misleading picture”. This was neutralised in BBC press releases.

The courageous Israeli historian, Ilan Pappé, believes a single democratic state, to which the Palestinian refugees are given the right of return, is the only feasible and just solution, and that a sanctions and boycott campaign is critical in achieving this. Would the Israeli population be moved by a worldwide boycott? Although they would rarely admit it, South Africa’s whites were moved enough to support an historic change. A boycott of Israeli institutions, goods and services, says Pappé, “will not change the [Israeli] position in a day, but it will send a clear message that [the premises of Zionism] are racist and unacceptable in the 21st century . . . They would have to choose.”

9-36

FCNA Announces ‘Eid Dates

ISNA Press Release:

The Fiqh Council of North America in its meeting in Herndon, Virginia on July 31-August 1, 2007 noted with satisfaction the recent Fatwa of its counterpart in Europe “the European Council for Fatwa and Research” related to the permissibility of the use of calculation method for determining the beginning of Lunar months including the months of Ramadan and Shawwal.

The position of ECFR is very similar to the position of FCNA adopted last year on June 10, 2006, with a minor difference. FCNA adopted the position that the conjunction should occur before noon at Greenwich time. ECFR has adopted Makkah al-Mukarram as a conventional point and took the position that the conjunction must take place before sunset in Makkah and moon must set after sunset in Makkah.

FCNA after careful discussion has revised its position and has adopted the Fatwa of ECFR. This revised position will change only a few dates in the Fiqh Council’s Five year calendar; but it will bring greater harmony and unity among the Muslims communities in the West.

On the basis of this new position the dates of Ramadan and Eidul Fitr for this year are as follows:

1st of Ramadan will be on Thursday, September 13, 2007

1st of Shawwal will be on Saturday, October 13, 2007

Ramadan 1428 AH:

The astronomical New Moon is on Tuesday, September 11, 2007 at 12:44 Universal Time (3:44 pm Makkah time). Sunset at Makkah on September 11 is 6:28 pm local time, while moonset at Makkah is at 6:24 pm local time (4 minutes before sunset). This does not meet the new criteria adopted by Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) and European Council of Fatwa and Research (ECFR). On Wednesday, September 12, 2007, sunset at Makkah is 6:27 pm local time, while moonset is at 6:55 pm local time. Therefore, first day of Ramadan is Thursday, September 13, insha’Allah.

Eid ul-Fitr 1428 AH:

The astronomical New Moon is on Thursday, October 11, 2007, at 5:00 Universal Time (8:00 am Makkah time). Sunset at Makkah on October 11 is 6:00 pm local time, while moonset at Makkah is at 5:59 pm local time (1 minute before sunset). This does not meet the new criteria adopted by FCNA and ECFR. On Friday, October 12, 2007, sunset at Makkah is 5:59 pm local time, while moonset is at 6:32 pm local time. Therefore, first day of Shawwal, i.e., Eid ul-Fitr is Saturday, October 13, insha’Allah.

9-35

Quake Rattles Kuwait

By Sumayyah Meehan, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

Kuwait City–This past Saturday, at approximately 1:46am, a mild earthquake shook Kuwait and some of its’ residents to their very core. Measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale the earthquake was measured by the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) at a depth of 7.3km and its’ epicenter was determined to be in the south of the country in Manageesh, which is just 50km away from the capital ‘Kuwait City’.

Earthquakes are very rare in Kuwait. The biggest one ever recorded was in 1993. It measured 4.7 on the Richter scale and it also occurred in Manageesh. However, tiny earthquakes do occur in Kuwait quite often. But since they usually only register at around 3 on the Richter scale they are not counted as real quakes, only as tremors, since they do not reach the surface of the land to move or shake it. Nonetheless, KISR does study these tremors extensively to better understand the occurrence of earthquakes in the region.

Many residents missed the effects of the recent quake because they were fast asleep. They only found out the next day as a result of the local newspapers and Kuwaiti blogs. However, there were several people who did feel the quake and got a pretty good scare. “I was watching TV and was just ready to fall asleep. I was laying on the floor and all of a sudden it started swaying and shaking,” says Abid Mohammad who is a Pakistani businessman, “I jumped up to my feet and looked outside to see if a plane had crashed. I did not find out that it was an earthquake until the following day.” A Syrian housewife, named Aisha, also got an intense jolt from the quake, “ I was up late with my sick daughter and I felt my building sway and the windows rattled. It was very scary.” Another Kuwait resident, Mumtaz Ahmed who is a local tailor, noticed that several dogs were barking in his neighborhood right before the quake. “I never even knew there were dogs in my neighborhood! But a few moments before the earthquake I heard at least four different dogs barking and howling. I knew something was wrong because animals always sense danger before humans do.”

The Kuwait blogs have also been abuzz with news about the quake and have helped people find others to share their experience and fears with. On one Kuwaiti travel blog Lucy Elbeheri wrote:

“I was physically wiggle-woggled out of my bed. I looked over to see my hubby snoring sweetly and my baby didn’t stir. I was standing by the bed with my heart pounding, things rattling and clanking around me. After a short while silence fell. I ran into the bedrooms of my 2 other children and they were both sleeping sweetly. My adrenaline was rushing and my eyes were WIDE open… nothing. Silence. No neighbor’s lights switching on from the windows, no one in the streets… I must have been dreaming. Was I?? I went into the lounge to check everything a last time before returning to my, now not shaking, bed. I turned to walk out and I saw the water in my fish tank sloshing from side to side. I wasn’t dreaming.”

The possibility of a larger and even deadly earthquake striking Kuwait in the future cannot be denied or ignored. Kuwait is strategically located just 350km from an active high-risk fault zone in Zargos, Iran. As a result of the danger earthquakes pose in the region, the research and development of a ‘Seismic Network’ is currently underway in Kuwait. Headed by the Professor of Geophysics at Kuwait University, Firyal Bu-Rabee, the network will be established on the campus grounds. It will be able to record and track any earthquake that occurs on the surface of the Earth irrespective of the size. Professor Firyal has also teamed up with Sheikha Amthal Al-Sabah in the development of a pamphlet entitled, “Are You Prepared for an Earthquake?” which has recently been published. Most residents in this tiny gulf state do not even know that earthquakes can occur in Kuwait let alone what to do incase one happens. The pamphlet educates the public about earthquake awareness and preparedness.

Earthquakes are the most unpredictable and devastating forces of nature. It is only through education and preparedness that countries in quake zones can protect their infrastructure and populace. Kuwait is just one country in the GCC that is setting an excellent example for which other countries can follow.

9-35

First Muslim American Ever to Run for President

Khalil Bendib (The Muslim Observer’s Cartoonist) is running as an independent candidate – not affiliated with any political party.

Muslim-American cartoonist throws his Fez into the Ring

In a year when America may see — for the first time — either a woman president or a Black Leader of the Free World, what are the odds for a first-ever Muslim Commander-in-Chief?

After carefully testing the waters for months, the newly declared candidate (who, as an homage to the late Dr. Seuss, calls himself , the Prez in the Fez,) today started pounding the pavement, mindful to not appear too stereotypically violent or too anti-pavement.

According to anonymous but reliable sources, turning swords into ploughshares will be at the heart of the candidate’s foreign policy. “Box cutters, machetes, Ginsu knives, we’ll turn any sharp cutting implements into organic- food cultivating instruments” declared the so-called Prez-in-the-Fez, whose campaign slogan is “The Pen is Funnier than the Sword”. According to Mr. Bendib, “Mirth Makes Right — not Might” and “Disarming the enemy through the power of laughter and good cheer” is the best defense. “Ours will be the funniest, most hilarious administration in American history,” asserts the candidate, with a straight face, no joke!

Some skeptics, however, claim that having turned the United States of America into the world’s laughingstock over the past seven years, the current administration may be a tough act to follow, comedically speaking. How does Khalil Bendib propose to outdo the clowns currently occupying the White House? The key, according to candidate Bendib, will be to “Make the rest of the world laugh with us, rather than laugh at us, as has been the case for the past decade or so.”But beyond these facile generalities, critics are asking Bendib “Where is the beef ?” and — more importantly; “is it Halal (Kosher for Muslims)?” What follows are a few planks from the candidate’s presidential platform:

* On Government waste and Pork barrel spending : As a self-respecting Muslim, you can guess how I feel about PORK: 1;m not exactly wild about it!…

* On Free Trade: The “Prez in the Fez” favors the free flow of Danish goods into America — except for Islamophobic cartoons, of course.

* On Education: “Pens not guns, books not bombs, Math Instruction not Mass Destruction.”

* On the Patriot Act: “Once elected, I will act like a patriot — and repeal the Patriot Act!”

* On the Use of Torture: In the candidate’s own words, … If you absolutely HAVE to obtain information?..Tickle, don’t Torture! Amuse, don’t abuse!

* Be clever and cute, don’t electrocute!

* On Nuclear proliferation: Islam is a religion of Peace and America is a Peace-loving nation. Instead of bombing Iran, we will shame the Islamic Republic into voluntarily abandoning its nuclear ambitions. How? We’ll lead by example and demand the dismantlement of all nuclear weapons everywhere, starting with the world’s largest arsenal – our own — putting back the “non” into “non-proliferation.”

* Finally, on Guantanamo Bay: The candidate says: Render unto Fidel what belongs to Fidel, have the Cubans tear down the torture center and put in something more positive there like a dental school or something! Concludes Bendib, “Sadly, Islamophobia runs deep in America today and it has been cultivated as an excuse for preventive wars, domestic spying, torture, the suspension of Habeas Corpus and the erasure of so many of our most treasured constitutional freedoms. What better way to bring back our precious liberties and to rid us once and for all of the exaggerated fear of Islam than to elect America’s first Muslim president? In 1960, President Kennedy did not bring the Vatican into the white House, as initially feared, and in 2008 the Prez in the Fez will not bring Mecca into the Oval Office!” To paraphrase another great president before him, the Muslim candidate concludes: “The only thing we have to fear is the fear of Islamophobia itself!

9-35

TMO Interview with Author Michael Hamilton Morgan

By Ilyas Choudry

Please briefly inform about yourself: When and where were you born: Your family background: Where you went to school and from where did you graduate from?

I was born in 1951 in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was an Echols Scholar at the University of Virginia and graduated in 1973 with a BA in English.

What are you doing now-a-days?

I’m a fiction and nonfiction writer, working on several projects in both areas. I head up a nonprofit group called New Foundations for Peace (www.nfpeace.org) and I occasionally write speeches for corporate executives.

Please inform our readers about your first two books: What were the themes and purposes of these books?

The Twilight War (1991) was an international thriller about the end of the Cold War. Graveyards of the Pacific (2001) was about the major naval battles of World War II in the Pacific. Collision with History: the Search for John F. Kennedy’s PT 109 was about John Kennedy’s experience in the Pacific in 1941-44, and about the expedition to find his sunken PT 109 boat in the Solomon Islands.

How did the idea for “Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers, and Artists” come about?

A few days after the 9/11 attack, I was asked to write a speech for a leading American business executive. While the original subject was to have focused mostly on her business and industry, the continuing national grief meant it would have been insulting to ignore the major issue of the day. And so this speaker agreed to try and bridge the gulf between Muslims and non-Muslims by remembering the greatness the Muslim world had spawned, and how much it meant to everyone.

Rather than focus on the awful reality of the present, I decided to have the speaker address the fascinating Muslim history that I’d uncovered in my reading and research…. A Muslim history that was about invention, creativity, big ideas, tolerance, and coexistence. A Muslim history that had been more intellectually accomplished than Christian Europe of the day, and a Muslim past where Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists had sometimes flourished and worked together. A Muslim culture that had seeded the European Renaissance, and helped enable many aspects of the modern West and global civilization.

It is a history that by the beginning of the 21st century had been forgotten, ignored, misunderstood, suppressed or even rewritten.

I thought that the speech might get some attention and might draw some criticism here at home. What I hadn’t expected was that Muslims overseas would also write, wanting to know, who were these historical figures referred to, and how could they find out more?

It was then I knew that there was a huge gulf of misunderstanding on both sides that needed to be filled. And so I came to think, if a fuller and deeper appreciation of Muslim history could be recovered, then maybe the very premises of the emerging “clash of civilizations” could be re-framed.

The result is this book. I know there may be those on the non-Muslim side of the divide, who will say that I’m distorting history, by choosing to emphasize the bright side of a very complex civilization. I will respond that I am simply balancing the incomplete and negative slant of most of what we non-Muslims have been given.

To apply the argument of these critics fully and fairly, we would need to include in the history of Western “Christian” civilization not only the thoughts of Voltaire and St. Thomas Aquinas, but also the thoughts and deeds of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.

There may also be those who will say that I have sought to rehabilitate and glorify heretics and impure Muslims, who deserve to be suppressed and forgotten.

By no coincidence, all of the great thinkers, inventors and artists of Muslim civilization were creative minds. Much like today’s scientific researchers, they were trained in their various disciplines to constantly question assumptions, in a search for higher truth. Their number included some who followed other religions. While they were all versed in the tenets and philosophy of their faiths, few were rigid, doctrinaire thinkers. And they operated in a very different political context than we see today. The Muslim quest for knowledge often drove even the most devout rulers and religious scholars to support freethinking and empirical scientific inquiry.

But fascination with the intellect came under increasing attack, beginning in the 9th century. One debate among many was between Muslim “rationalists” who believed in finding divine truth through reason, and “literalists” who stuck to the narrowly-interpreted literal statements and acts of the Prophet. It was not unlike the current and longstanding American debate between supporters of Darwinism and advocates of creationism or intelligent design.

By writing Lost History, I hope to show not only the contributions of an old and rich civilization. I hope to show, as Caliph AL Mamun concluded, that reason and faith can coexist: that by fully opening the mind and unleashing human creativity, many wonders, including peace, are possible.

How did you perform your research for this book: What were your sources?

I preferred to go back to the original texts — letters, diaries, speeches, sermons and contemporary historical accounts of the major leaders, thinkers and events of historical times — rather than depend on modern day scholarly interpretations. I was surprised at how much of this material exists after 1000 years or more. And more of it is coming to light each day, as once-lost manuscripts turn up hidden away in old collections and archives.

For modern interpretations, I tried to read as broad a selection, from all nationalities and schools of thought. I read scholars from Edward Said to Philip Hitti to Bernard Lewis to Seyyed Hossein Nasr.

Can you point to three inventions we use now-a-days for granted, which have Muslim Roots in their basis?

First, I argue that just about all of the digital electronic world — computers, hardware, wireless devices, software, Google searches and hedge fund computation models — derive from higher mathematics including the algorithm developed by Mohammed al Khwarizmi and others 1200 years ago in Baghdad, Cordoba, Damascus, Cairo, India and elsewhere.

Second, I would say inhalation anesthesia and surgical antiseptics like alcohol come from both Ibn Sina in Persia and AL Zahrawi in AL Andalus.

Third, I would argue that the modern love song, descended from the medieval European troubadours and love ballads, is really a descendant of 8th century Arabic love poetry, which filtered up in various forms through Spain, Portugal, France, Sicily and Italy.

Do you think in the wake of incidents of 9/11, people have taken your research seriously?

That depends on which people you are talking about. Educated people in the West seem more open to hearing a broader and deeper explanation of Muslim culture than what is being conveyed in the mass media. Some people, who are interested in encouraging conflict, reject what I’m saying because it differs from their preconceptions.

How did Muslim, Christian and Jewish Communities lived in the past?

Answer: Generally speaking until 1948, in the Muslim world, Christian and Jewish minorities were given a fairly secure status of autonomy, as long as they did not challenge Islam or openly seek converts. This is based in certain statements by the Prophet giving special protected status to children of the book, i.e. Jews and Christians as long as they respected the dominance of Islam. At times, there was a real spirit of tolerance and collaboration, such as in al Andalus from 756 to 1492, Ottoman Turkey and secular Turkey until today, Egypt, Morocco, Syria and other places with a long history of multi-culturalism. This is not to say there weren’t breakdowns, as in the massacre of Jews in Toledo in the 11th century. But while imperfect, the climate of Muslim tolerance for minority Christians and Jews was far superior to what “Christendom” did for Jews and other minorities, including numerous persecutions of Jews in medieval Europe, and Russian program of Jews, culminating in the Holocaust in World War II. Sadly for the last 50 years this long tradition of interfaith coexistence in the Muslim world has been breaking down in places.

Do you think the model community of Muslims, Christians and Jewish people living together be the model for Israeli-Palestinian Issue?

I wouldn’t pretend to tell Israelis and Palestinians how to resolve their problems, but only to remember that for a long time, all groups were able to coexist in the region for long periods of time.

Do you think books like this latest one avoid more blood shed in the world and solve the problems affecting us in the ongoing war on terror?

We’ll see if my book has any positive impact. Since our current problems have been building for a long time, it would be a miracle if new ideas helped bring a rapid end to conflict. But maybe in a generation or two…

9-35