Astrology

tufailThe word astrology comes from the Latin astrologia, deriving from the Greek noun for ‘star, celestial body’ and logia, ‘study of, theory, discourse (about)’.

Historically, the word star has had a loose definition, by which it can refer to planets or any luminous celestial object. The word planet (based on the Greek verb for ‘to wander/stray’), was introduced by the Greeks as a reference to how seven notable ‘stars’ were seen to ‘wander’ through others which remained static in their relationship to each other, with the distinction noted by the terms asteres aplaneis ‘fixed stars’, and asteres planetai, ‘wandering stars’. Initially, texts such as Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos referred to the planets as ‘the star of Saturn’, ‘the star of Jupiter’, etc., rather than simply ‘Saturn’ or ‘Jupiter’, but the names became simplified as the word planet assumed astronomical formality over time.

The seven Classical planets therefore comprise the Sun and Moon along with the solar-system planets that are visible to the naked eye: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. This remained the standard definition of the word ‘planet’ until the discovery of Uranus in 1781 created a need for revision. Although the modern IAU definition of planet does not include the Sun and the Moon, astrology retains historical convention in its description of those astronomical bodies, and also generally maintains reference to Pluto as being an astrological planet.

World traditions

Although most cultural systems of astrology share common roots in ancient philosophies that influenced each other, many have unique methodologies which differ from those developed in the west. Outside of western astrology, the two most significant of these are Hindu astrology (also known as “Indian astrology” and in modern times referred to as “Vedic astrology”) and Chinese astrology. Both of these systems have yielded great influence upon the world’s cultural history.

Western astrology

Western astrology is largely horoscopic, that is, it is a form of divination based on the construction of a horoscope for an exact moment, such as a person’s birth, in which various cosmic bodies are said to have an influence. Astrology in western popular culture is often reduced to sun sign astrology, which considers only the individual’s date of birth (i.e. the “position of the Sun” at that date).

Western astrology is founded on the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies such as the Sun, Moon, and planets, which are analyzed by their aspects (angles) relative to one another. These are usually considered by their placement in houses (spatial divisions of the sky), and their movement through signs of the zodiac (spatial divisions of the ecliptic). Western astrology is largely horoscopic, that is, it is a form of divination based on the construction of a horoscope for an exact moment, such as a person’s birth, in which various cosmic bodies are said to have an influence.

13-44

Bernard Hopkins Loss Overturned!

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

2011-10-15T045954Z_01_BTRE79E0DVZ00_RTROPTP_3_SPORTS-US-BOXING-HOPKINSFive days after the fight, the World Boxing Council (WBC) made a ruling on last Saturday night’s fight between Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson that came to a premature conclusion at the end of the second round as Hopkins suffered a damaged right shoulder after being lifted and sent to the canvas by Dawson. Referee Pat Russell ruled that no foul was committed, therefore since Hopkins was unable or unwilling to continue, the WBC light heavyweight title would change hands. Ultimately, Dawson was declared the winner via second round TKO.

Here is the WBC’s explanation of their ruling:

In regards to the championship defense of the light heavyweight WBC world champion between Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson, held in Los Angeles, California, in which the referee declared a KOT2 against champion Hopkins, as he could not continue due to an injury after a push by challenger Dawson, the head offices of the WBC sent videos, medical reports and the WBC corresponding Rules to the Board of Governors that unanimously declared a Technical Draw on the fight; therefore, Bernard Hopkins is still the WBC Light heavyweight champion of the world…

It does not appear that the WBC is demanding a rematch. Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Goy Promotions, told Maxboxing, “Gary Shaw and Chad Dawson make it clear that they don’t want to have a rematch. We made it clear that we don’t want a rematch and I think if you ask 100 people, fight fans, you’re probably going to have a 120 that respond, “No, we don’t want the rematch.” So I don’t think there’s interest, any appetite for the rematch and there’s no need for a rematch. I think Chad Dawson should move on and I’m sure there’s going to be good fights out there for him. I don’t know: maybe there’s a rematch with Jean Pascal. I think that’s what he would like to do. Go and pursue other fights, increase his marketability and fan base, then who knows? Other big fights will come for him. That’s what I think should happen.

The California commission will not convene until December to rule on the matter (which irks Schaefer to no end) but regardless of the ruling, he doesn’t believe this effects Hopkins’ deal with HBO. “I just spoke with Bernard. He was, of course, pleased that the WBC continues to recognize him as their light heavyweight champion. He’s going to get the results tomorrow from the MRI and the doctor’s opinion for how long he’s going to be out of having contact. How long it’s going to take him before he can get back in the ring and that’s what’s going to determine what I’m going to go back to HBO with, for securing Bernard’s next date.” Schaefer indicated that he hopes to see Hopkins back in the ring in spring of 2012.

As for Russell, Schaefer really has no hard feelings. In fact, he still respects him as a referee. “I really think Pat Russell had…and you can’t even say he had an off-night. He admitted in the interview he did with [Maxboxing] he just didn’t see it. And I think that happens. Nobody is perfect and sees everything. It’s impossible. So I’m really giving him the benefit of the doubt. I just think if they’re going to make arguments that it wasn’t a foul and that it was legal and all this kind of thing, that’s when I’m going to have a problem but I highly doubt that the California commission is going to take that kind of approach. It’s impossible.”

13-44

Qureshi and Bopanna Win Stockholm Open

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

France Tennis French Open

India’s Rohan Bopanna and Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi  won the Stockholm Open men’s doubles tennis title with a convincing 6-1, 6-3 victory over Brazilians Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares here on Sunday.

It was the top-seeded India-Pakistan pair’s second ATP World Tour title of the season following their victory at the Gerry Weber Open in June and their third title overall as a team. Bopanna and Qureshi are ranked seventh overall in the ATP men’s doubles team rankings, and they added 250 points after their win, thus improving their chances of qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour. There are three remaining spots in the eight team field of the season finale to be held in London next month.

“It feels great to have won our second title of the year and this is the best way to keep ourselves in contention for a berth in London,”announced Bopanna.“Bopanna and Qureshi were the better players from the first to the last ball today. They initiated quite early in the game and Melo/Soares couldn’t quite hang with the pace,” said Tournament Director Thomas Johansson.

After the match Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi thanked his partner and the support of the Pakistanis in the audience.“We hope to come back next year and win the title again,” said Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi after the match. Qureshi and Bopanna are next scheduled to play in the Valencia Open 500 in Austria.

13-44

Al Dah to Fight in US Next

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

17-EisaAlDah9-cropUnited Arab Emirates welterweight boxer Eisa Al Dah, also known as The Arabian Warrior, is scheduled to fight his tenth bout against as yet unconfirmed opposition on December 16 in Tampa, Florida after an invite to the USA International Boxing Championship sanctioned by the International Boxing Council (IBC).

The 32-year-old Emirati (seven wins, three losses, from nine fights, four by knock-out) has been training in the United States for the past two months with British WBA Super and IBF World Light Welterweight Champion Amir Khan. Khan fights Lamont Peterson at the Walter E Washington Convention Centre in Washington DC on December 10 to defend his titles.

Al Dah, who will fly back into the UAE on Monday before returning stateside for early November for the big fight, is hoping his famous sparring partner will enable him to reach higher competency over eight and six rounds, instead of his current four round ability.

The two-time Arab, six-time UAE and three-time West European champion, will be busy stoking support for his fight when he arrives back here this week as he looks to raise the profile of the sport in this region. Local training sessions will be taking place at Bel Rematha Sports Centre.

Having first beaten Larry Foster in 2007 via technical knock-out (TKO) in the first round at Shaikh Rashid Hall, at the Dubai World Trade Centre, Al Dah went on to beat David Love by first round stoppage in 2008 at the same venue.

Al Dah also beat Karl Taylor on points at Newport Leisure Centre in Wales that same year before losing to Alfredo Valdes by second round TKO in Polanco, Mexico in 2009. Three more wins followed in the form of two points decisions either side of a second round KO against Wayne Downing and Steve Cooper in Wales, plus Matt Seawright in Knightsbridge, London [listed chronologically] all in 2009.

However, it proved to be too much in a split decision loss awarded to Anthony Woods in Florida 2010. Al Dah made up for it in front of a home crowd at the Trade Centre with a third round KO of Ignasi Caballero this February. He now seeks his first career win in the Americas, [US and Mexico] where he’s previously sustained his sole losses.

13-44

Community News (V13-I44)

Rehan Khan new Northeastern VP

rehankhanBOSTON,MA–Northeastern University provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, Stephen W. Director, has appointed Rehan Khan to become the University’s new vice president and chief information officer. Khan, who begins his new role on Nov. 14, is currently the associate provost and chief information officer at West Virginia University.

In an email to faculty and staff, Director noted that “Rehan will oversee the strategic vision and leadership for Northeastern’s information technology and services that serve as vital components in supporting administrative, academic and leadership functions.”

Khan is also charged with enhancing Information Services to meet the growing needs of the Northeastern community, which relies on its vital services for everything from classroom instruction and research to conducting critical administrative duties.

“In order to attract and retain the best faculty and students and remain competitive in academics and research, it is essential that planning and investments in technology infrastructure remain a high priority,” said Khan. “Technology plays a key role in pedagogy, research, health care and service. I look forward to developing strategies that improve and enhance our services. I am very excited to join Northeastern.”

IS provides central information technology to more than 25,000 students, faculty and staff who use Northeastern’s secure, high-speed connectivity to the Internet through the on-campus network. IS also provides a range of other services, such as wireless connectivity through NUwave, robust high-speed Internet in residence halls, the popular 24/7 InfoCommons computing facility, access to the Blackboard instructional tool, myNEU access and academic and administrative software applications.

At West Virginia University, Khan was responsible for upgrading the institution’s core network to 10G/s, as well as the IT infrastructure in the Colleges of Engineering and Arts and Sciences. He was also responsible for implementing an identity and access management system, a degree audit system, and launching a shared computational high performance computing (HPC) facility.
Prior to West Virginia University, Khan worked at the University of Georgia, Emory University’s School of Medicine, and at Dartmouth Medical School, as well as in several private-sector information services roles.

He earned a Bachelor of Science in Management from the University of Massachusetts in 1981, and an MBA from Rivier College in New Hampshire. He was a 2006 Fellow at the Woodruff Leadership Academy at Emory University.

Harvard Muslim students dissatisfied with halal options

CAMBRIDGE,MA–Muslim students at Harvard have expressed their dissatisfaction with the halal options available on campus. The Crimson student newspaper reports that many students have completely given up eating on campus or have switched to a vegetarian diet.

Although Harvard University Dining Services has taken some steps to accommodate Muslims in dining halls, some students say the University could do more.

“The Muslim community is growing. There are many more Muslim students than there were a decade ago, or even five years ago,” says Abdelnasser Rashid ’12, a former president of the Harvard Islamic Society. “That’s something that [Harvard University Dining Services] and HIS should be talking about.”

Dr. Raza Dilawari Remembered

MEMPHIS,TN–Dr. Raza Ali Dilawari was the assistant dean for clinical affairs at the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences and the vice chairman of the department of surgery at Methodist University Hospital. He died Sept. 18, ten days before what would have been his 65th birthday, and was described as the premier surgical oncologist in the MidSouth in the obituary published in the Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tenn. Dilawari, a native of Pakistan, practiced surgical oncology and taught in Memphis for 35 years. His areas of academic interest were in the fields of breast cancer, melanoma and hepatobiliary malignancies, and he was the author of more than one hundred peer-reviewed publications, the obit said. He represented University of Tennessee Cancer Institute on the NCCN Melanoma/Thyroid/Colorectal Cancers. Significantly, he was the recipient of the 2005 Living Award from the Methodist Healthcare Foundation. According to the obit: It is not difficult to find Memphians who have a story about how he helped them or a loved one.

13-44

A Musical Evening

By TMO Stringer

Rochester Hills–October 23–Faiz M. Khan, the chief host and producer of Voice of Pakistan, hosted a musical evening this past Sunday at the Taza Banquet Hall in Rochester Hills.

More than 300 people attended the event.

Mr. Faiz M. Khan is chair and owner of a popular weekly program hosted Sundays on AM 1160 from 11AM to 12PM.  He held the gala dinner to celebrate his past success with Voice of Pakistan.  He introduced his team, especially Sakina Hakim, and also introduced the various dignitaries who were present at the dinner.

Faiz M. Khan is also associated with General Motors, Pioneer Printing, and is the Chair of the Pakistani American Caucus at the Michigan Democratic Party.

Following the food there was musical entertainment until late in the night, and the magical evening was improved by the musicians’ invitations to the audience to participate in the singing of traditional Muslim songs from the subcontinent.

For more information about Faiz M. Khan’s radio program, please visit faizmkhan.org.

13-44

Reggie Reg Davis’ Statement About Proposed Detroit Charter on November 8th Election

TMO Editor’s note:  Some of you may remember TMO’s series on Muslim candidates in the local 2009 elections.  Reggie Reg Davis, a famous radio personality and convert to Islam, was one of those we interviewed during that time, as he ran for a seat on the Detroit Charter Commission.  He was elected and the following is an open letter from him concerning the newly proposed Detroit Charter, to be voted on and potentially ratified in the November 8th election.

The newly proposed Charter language is better than the current language however, it is NOT good enough and i feel Detroit deserves nothing less than the best! As a voice for the grassroots community, standing for the have nots and the children of our community; the seniors and working class, I’d like to say vote NO on Proposal C on Tuesday November 8.
This new language is better because with the new addition of the office of Inspector General, it will not allow for an elected official to practice cronyism, in which they put their childhood friend into a position he or she is not qualified for. They wont be able to get away with nepotism in which they hire their family members as a favor to the family or any type of corruption whether it be waste, fraud, malfeasance, misfeasance etc. So for this reason its better, however it is not necessarily the things that are in the proposed language that i am in opposition to but those things that have been left out.

For example, the biggest conflict at the Charter table during the conception of the new language was if a Charter should be ONLY framework for city government to work by or if it should go even farther by adding some legislation measures. The problem with allowing it to be only framework is that by doing so the city of Detroit becomes a non progressive city unlike many other major US cities. Washington D.C. has embodied into their home rule Charter an office of Disability Rights, which deals head on with the concerns of their disability community. And other prominent US cities like San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and more have a commission set up to deal with issues related to disability in their community. The majority of our board voted to not include any dealings with the disability community in our Charter.

In 2009, Oakland Ca. added to their Charter a program called “KIDS FIRST” by which 3% of their general fund goes towards helping children with issues like health, education, and violence. And since 2009, the city of Oakland Ca. has witnessed a dramatic decline in youth violence and a major increase in graduation rates; the city credits their Charter for the change. This type of progression or thinking outside the box, is what we have failed to do in the new proposed Charter language.

Until we have a Charter that is inclusive of all the people of this great city we call Detroit and until we decide to progress, like many other major US cities, to the next level and not be afraid to sprinkle a small bit of legislation into this very important document we should say NO! This document should be prepared to stand until the end of time.

If the Charter is voted down this November, the commission will go back to the table and have no other choice but to SERIOUSLY be a voice for the people as we make the proper corrections to the document to BEST serve the people who we represent. And at that point, we will have newly proposed language prepared for a TRUE election year; 2012.

Thank you Detroit!
Reggie Reg Davis
Charter Commissioner
reggieregdavis@gmail.com

13-44

America Must Manage Decline

By Gideon Rachman

Recently I met a retired British diplomat who claimed with some pride that he was the man who had invented the phrase, “the management of decline”, to describe the central task of British foreign policy after 1945. “I got criticised,” he said, “but I think it was an accurate description of our task and I think we did it pretty well.”

No modern American diplomat – let alone politician – could ever risk making a similar statement. That is a shame. If America were able openly to acknowledge that its global power is in decline, it would be much easier to have a rational debate about what to do about it. Denial is not a strategy.

President Barack Obama has said that his goal is to ensure that America remains number one. Even so, he has been excoriated by his opponents for “declinism”. Charles Krauthammer, a conservative columnist, has accused the president of embracing American weakness: “Decline is not a condition,” he declared. “Decline is a choice.” The stern rejection of “declinism” is not confined to the rabid right. Joseph Nye, a Harvard professor and doyen of US foreign policy analysts, regards talk of American decline as an intellectual fad – comparable to earlier paranoia about the US being overtaken by Japan. Thomas Friedman, a New York Times columnist, has just published a book that is subtitled, “What went wrong with America – and how it can come back”.

What is not permissible, in mainstream debate, is to suggest that there may be no “coming back” – and that the decline of American power is neither a fad nor a choice but a fact.

Admittedly, America’s relative decline is likely to be much less abrupt than the falling-off experienced by Britain after 1945. The US is still the world’s largest economy and is easily its pre-eminent military and diplomatic power. However, the moment at which China becomes the world’s largest economy is coming into view – the end of the decade seems a likely passing point. Of course, it is true that China has its own grave political and economic problems. Yet the fact that there are roughly four times as many Chinese as Americans means that – even allowing for a sharp slowdown in Chinese growth – at some point, China will become “number one”.

Even after the US has ceded its economic dominance, America’s military, diplomatic, cultural and technological prowess will ensure that the US remains the world’s dominant political power – for a while. But although economic and political power are not the same thing, they are surely closely related. As China and other powers rise economically, they will inevitably constrain America’s ability to get its way in the world.

That is why America needs to have a rational debate about what “relative decline” means – and why the British experience, although very different, may still hold some valuable lessons.
What the UK discovered after 1945 is that a decline in national power is perfectly compatible with an improvement in living standards for ordinary people, and with the maintenance of national security. Decline need not mean the end of peace and prosperity. But it does mean making choices and forging alliances. In an era of massive budget deficits, and rising Chinese power, the US will have to think harder about its priorities. Last week, Hillary Clinton insisted that America will remain a major power in Asia – with all the military expenditure that this implies. Very well. But what does that mean for spending at home?

Few politicians are prepared to have that discussion. Instead, particularly among Republicans, they fall back on feel-good slogans about American “greatness”.
Those who refuse to entertain any discussion of decline actually risk accelerating the process. A realistic acknowledgement that America’s position in the world is under threat should be a spur to determined action on everything from educational reform to the budget deficit. The endless politicking in Washington reflects a certain complacency – a belief that America’s position as number one is so impregnable that it can afford self-indulgent episodes such as the summer’s near-debt default.

The failure to have a proper discussion of relative decline also risks leaving American public opinion unprepared for a new era. As a result, the public reaction to setbacks at home and abroad is less likely to be calm and determined and more likely to be angry and irrational – feeding what the historian Richard Hofstadter famously called “the paranoid style in American politics”.

For the fact is that management of decline is as much to do with psychology, as to do with politics and economics. In 1945, the British task was made much easier by the afterglow of victory in the second world war. Britain’s adjustment was also helped by the fact that the new global hegemon was the US – a country tied to Britain by language, blood and shared political ideas. It will be tougher for America to cede power to China – although the transition will also be much less stark than the one faced by Britain.

These days the British have learnt almost to revel in failure. They buy volumes with titles like the “Book of Heroic Failures” in large numbers. It is quite common for the supporters of a losing English soccer team to chant, “We’re shit and we know we are.” This is not a habit I can see catching on in the US. When it comes to managing decline, self-abasement is optional.

Financial Times (UK)

Muslim Founds Wonderful Education Tool

Press release

Suhail Khan has founded MyEducationKey, a comprehensive education website available for free.

To achieve Academic Excellence for the learning community throughout the world, MyEducationKey has launched an educational web portal for K-12 Grade School and University/College students/teachers/schools, where they can learn at their own pace from all video-based course content available to all for FREE.

MyEducationKey.com is a virtual educational web portal for completely FREE, world-class Online courses for K-12 grade school and University education students, self-learners, and teachers.

The high-quality video educational and learning content at MyEducationKey is aimed to help improve the quality of K-12 and University education, teaching and student learning experience at schools/colleges/universities, helping educators and self-learners alike.

Teachers can use this site to stream world-class high-quality instructional content in their classrooms, and leave themselves with the all-important task of concepts enhancement through discussions, practice & projects.

Students can use this site to preview/review course lectures/content as many times as wished before and after the content has been covered in the classroom.

Home-schoolers, and Self-Learners can use this site to learn new concepts at their own pace.

We believe this site will advance useful human knowledge, creativity, lifelong learning, and social welfare of educators, students, and self-learners.

MyEducationKey is a non-profit initiative with the goal of providing FREE education to ALL throughout the World.

MyEducationKey is based in Canton, Michigan (USA).

13-44

Tunisia’s Ennahda May Back Open Economy

By Andrew Hammond

2011-10-25T195752Z_357696695_GM1E7AQ0B4401_RTRMADP_3_TUNISIA

Soumaya Ghannouch (C), daughter of Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist Ennahda movement, celebrates outside Ennahda’s headquarters in Tunis October 25, 2011. The party said on Tuesday it had won more than 40 percent of seats in Sunday’s election, pledging to continue democracy after the first vote that resulted from the "Arab Spring" revolts sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.

REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

TUNIS, Oct 26 (Reuters) – Tunisian Islamists who won a historic election victory this week are expected to promote business-friendly economic policies but Europe’s economic woes could favour Gulf investors in the short term, analysts say.

Ennahda has tried hard to assuage the concerns of Western powers and secular elites which have long had the upper hand in the North African country that it will not alter laws that guarantee women equal rights to men in divorce, marriage and inheritance.

But it has also been keen to argue it will not cause any ruptures in Tunisia’s economic life. The two are linked since Western tourism, with its expectations of sun, sand and drinking, has been an economic driver for Tunisia.

Ennahda secretary general Hamadi Jbeli singled out on Tuesday wine and bikinis as elements in attracting tourism that the party had no intention to touch. He also said Ennahda had no plans to make changes to the banking sector, where Sharia-compliant services are so far minimal.

“We will pay close attention to what they implement but on the economic side we have no cause for concern. Our biggest concern is long delays in government formation,” said one Western diplomat in Tunis.

“A lot of their backers are from the merchant class who are keen on the idea of a liberal economic policy and they don’t have serious plans to change the economic policy of previous governments.”
Tunisia is under pressure to reinvigorate an economy that was hailed in recent years as a “miracle” by Western governments and financial institutions for its privatisations and deregulation but which has ground to a halt since the uprising that brought down Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January.

Unemployment was at 14 percent before Ben Ali fell, and one third of the jobless had higher education. The figure is thought to have worsened in recent months.

The biggest problem facing the country is resource distribution. It is no accident that the revolt started in Sidi Bouzid, a depressed provincial town in the semi-arid zone of the Tunisian interior where resentment against the affluent coastal cities is strong.

“Economically, they are not radicals. Ennahda is quite conservative economically,” said Jean-Baptiste Gallopin of Control Risks. “They favour free enterprise.”

Ennahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi assured a delegation of bourse officials on Tuesday that he favoured more flotations on a stock market. Share prices fell in October on apparent fear of an Ennahda win, though Tunisia’s Eurobonds did not react negatively to its victory.

An initial public offering in state operator Tunisie Telecom had been held up partly by the leftists who gained in influence after the revolution. Jbeli, who is tipped to be Ennahda’s prime minister, met employers’ federation leaders on Tuesday.

About 80 percent of Tunisia’s trade is with the European Union, but with Europe in a financial crisis Ennahda could draw money from the conservative Gulf Arab region.

“Qatar in particular may feel encouraged to resume exploring investment opportunities in the country as the political situation stabilises,” said Dubai-based analyst Ghanem Nuseibeh, founder of Cornerstone Global Associates.

“Although it did not proactively support the Tunisian revolution like it did in Libya, many Tunisians, including Ennahda feel indebted to Qatar for the moral support it gave to their cause,” he said.

Saudi Arabia is not thought to have close ties to Ennahda, but Qatar’s leading Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera has heavily promoted the group. Qatar was a major Arab backer of the NATO operation to back Libyan rebels who succeeded in ending the rule of Muammar Gaddafi.

Sama Dubai, a government-owned company in the emirate, had plans in the Ben Ali era to develop a residential and commercial district in Tunis but the future of the project is now not clear and the land sits empty.

Hardliners among Ennahda’s rank-and-file could still rock the boat, despite Ghannouchi’s attempts to offer reassurances on social and economic policy.

“The danger is that Ennahda members or influential independents foment fears among investors with unguarded comments that do not really reflect the party’s intentions,” said Crispin Hawes of the Eurasia Group.

“The net result is that we believe that investor sentiment over Tunisia will remain nervous and trending towards the negative in the aftermath of the election.” (Additional reporting by Christian Lowe and Tarek Amara; Editing by David Stamp)

13-44

Assad Meets Arab ministers; 20 Killed in Clashes

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis

AMMAN (Reuters) – At least 20 people died in clashes and strikes paralyzed parts of Syria, as President Bashar al-Assad met Arab ministers seeking to end months of violence and authorities held a mass rally to show support for him.

The official state news agency quoted the head of the Arab League delegation, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad al-Thani, as saying the talks on Wednesday were “cordial and frank” and that the ministers would meet Syrian officials again on October 30.

In the central city of Homs, a hotbed of opposition to Assad, people held a general strike to protest against his crackdown on seven months of unrest, in which the United Nations says 3,000 people have been killed.

Residents and activists said most employees stayed at home and shops were closed in the city of one million. One resident said armed opponents of Assad enforced the strike. Army gunfire, which killed 11 people across Syria on Wednesday, also kept people off the streets.

Residents and activists said most employees stayed at home and shops were closed in the city of one million. One resident said insurgents enforced the strike. Army gunfire, which killed 11 people across Syria on Wednesday, also kept people off the streets.

In the town of Hamrat, north of Homs, suspected army deserters killed nine soldiers in an attack on a bus with a rocket-propelled grenade, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. It was the latest incident in an armed insurgency emerging alongside the campaign of street protests.

Assad faces international pressure over his crackdown, with the United States and the European Union slapping sanctions on Syrian oil exports and businesses, helping drive the economy into recession.

“This will end with the fall of the regime. It is nearly unavoidable,” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Wednesday.

“But unfortunately it could take time because the situation is complex, because there is a risk of civil war between Syrian factions, because surrounding Arab countries do not want us to intervene,” he told French radio.

ARAB MISSION

In Umayyad Square in central Damascus, tens of thousands of people gathered for what has become a weekly show of support for Assad organized by authorities.

State television showed them waving Syrian flags and portraits of the president, saying they were rallying under the slogan “Long live the homeland and its leader.”

The rally took place before the envoys from six Arab nations arrived in Damascus for talks with Assad following their call on October 16 for the opposition and government to hold a dialogue within 15 days at the League headquarters in Cairo.

“What is hoped is that the violence will end, a dialogue will start and reforms will be achieved,” Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby said of the delegation, which is led by Qatar and also includes Egypt, Algeria, Oman, Sudan and Yemen.

13-44

Next Elections: Tsunami of Change

By Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

A visit to villages in Punjab and Khyber Paktoonkhwa (KPK) shows that the season of election has started. There are street banners and billboards from probable candidates of various parties, political rallies, corner meetings and local deal makings are in full swing. But there is a deeper current flowing that suggests that the country is preparing for a revolutionary change in its political structure. There are various factors in play for this sea change.

Youth activism in politics can be credited to the celebrity appeal of Pakistan Tehrike Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan. It started as a fan appeal but as these youth got indoctrinated in the ideology of Pakistan Tehrike Insaaf (PTI) they have become a potent political force that is eager to demonstrate its ability to affect the future of Pakistan. The challenge for PTI will be to mentor and guide this youthful energy with the experience and mentorship of seasoned politicians. They may be political novices but on the other hand they are savvy in using social media, mobile sms and twitter technologies to connect and mobilize at a very short notice. The effectiveness of these abilities was in full exhibit during the political rallies organized by PTI before and during Ramadan. This phenomenon was initially discarded by old guard politicians but the success of rallies in Faisalabad, Multan and Gujranwala has forced them to rethink their approach.

The other factor is the emergence of regional media that is showing its ability to educate local masses and influence their decision making by highlighting the poor performance and broken election promises of incumbent parties. As the national media focus on larger issues the regional media has carved its role by dictating the political agenda filled with local issues that can not be ignored by candidates and must become part of their election manifesto. Most of these media outlets are using social media and internet to spread their message to registered voters that have migrated to other parts of the country. If used effectively they can become a key factor in monitoring election fraud. Regional media is showing their desire to have an independent voice despite lack of financial resources to challenge the establishment and local landlord.

The third factor is the ever widening gap between rich and poor. As an illustration, Faisalabad is the second largest city in Punjab and an industrial center of Pakistan. Just few miles off the GT road, in the vicinity of Faisalabad, are located the poorest villages of Pakistan. In these villages the streets are unpaved, the children are unclothed, the sewerage is flowing in uncovered channels becoming breeding grounds for viruses, streets are littered with garbage and the houses are made of dirt. In the midst of this abject poverty the rich landlords are driving in shinning new Prado’s or Land Cruisers comforted by the cool breeze of an air condition while the masses are struggling below the poverty line burdened by the worry of the next meal. Rich are totally oblivious of the misery happening around them. They spend large part of the year in Faisalabad which is stocked with the best merchandize produced locally and internationally. Even when they spend few months in the villages their villas are built at a distance from the village featuring latest amenities construction technology can offer.

While the villages of central Punjab are poor ironically the Mosques are modern and adorned with the best marble inside and out. One wonders how people could afford to build such beautiful edifices when their own lives are below subsistence level. This paradox is solved when a person is informed that the funds for the mosque and attached Madrassa’s are provided by international benefactors. This is a recipe for disaster as the orthodox Imam of the mosque is impregnating the mind of the people with hatred for the rich in the name of the religion. This phenomenon has made Punjab a breeding ground for extremism. The religious establishment has become so powerful that no one has the strength or the courage to challenge them. Anyone who dares to hint at bringing these institutions under the state control is threatened with dire consequences. Mosque has lost some of its political luster because of the acts of terrorism committed by the religious extremist. But it can not be totally ignored and will play a role in the elections.

In the next elections all these factors will come into play and will impact the outcome of the elections. The larger struggle will be between the rich and the poor. Youth, media and religious establishment will all join hands to defeat the influential status quo. PTI can provide the vehicle for this dynamic if the party played its card right. Realizing the PTI potential to break out as a majority party, it has suddenly become the darling of old political elite that had lost its luster or lost last elections. The debate within the party is how to handle this challenge and balance the interest of the loyalist against electable. If too many old faces get the party ticket then it will lose the prized status of party of change while ignoring it might not produce the desired number of parliamentary strength. It is the test of party’s ability to gauge the political current and use it to their advantage without losing their core constituencies of youth, undecided and new voters. PTI rallies and jalsas are drawing increasing crowds but the party analysts have to ascertain how many of these are party voters versus fans of cricket hero Imran Khan.

Against this backdrop PML N looks tired and out of ideas. PML N President, Nawaz Sharif seems awakened from a long slumber and behaving more like a reactionary than a visionary. PML N is fighting an existential threat as its core vote bank is attacked by PTI, MQM, and JI. PPP seems to be confident that the status quo in parliament will hold up with minor losses in its current numbers. PML Q looks like the party that will be most affected, many of their dissident leaders have joined ranks with PML N while some others might be unseated in the next elections. ANP, JUI F and MQM are expected to maintain their numbers except that ANP might lose its majority in KPK provincial parliament. They are eager and open to make alliance with the next emerging power center.

Revolutions are bloody while transformations are comparatively peaceful. Pakistan is at the cusp where it can tilt either way. One must hope that the nation will choose the path of transformation and emerge as a beacon of light for the larger Muslim world.

13-44

Tariq Mehanna’s Prosecution a Larger Community Issue

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

Yet another “library terrorist” is being prosecuted in Boston, and as usual the typical Zionist lobbyists including the David Project aka “Citizens for Peace and Tolerance,” are suspect in a conspiracy against the Constitutional rights of this individual.

The Feds zeroed in on Tariq Mehanna, pointing to English translations of ancient Arabic Islamic texts on his website, aimed at new Muslims. The authorities said the pharmacist had conspired to attack civilians at a shopping mall, American soldiers abroad and two members of the executive branch of the federal government. The conspiracy occurred from 2001 to 2008, the acting United States attorney, Michael K. Loucks, said.

Mehanna comes from Sudbury, Massachussetts, an affluent suburb. He became acquainted with Daniel Maldonado, a Muslim convert who was arrested in Somalia, through his local mosque. According to the details from the Boston Globe, Tariq Mehanna was arrested for allegedly lying to the FBI in December 2006 regarding the whereabouts and activities of Daniel Maldonado. Mehanna is said to have spoken on the phone to Maldonado back in 2006 and then lied about doing so to the FBI which was investigating Maldonado for the “crime” of going to Somalia and receiving “terrorist training”.

Maldonado is said to have traveled to Africa where he joined up with the popular Islamic Courts Union and received military training and planned to fight with them against US backed warlords. He never even got a chance to fight as he contracted malaria. During this time his wife also contracted malaria, and by the grace of God some strangers brought his children back to Massachusetts in a tragic drama of epic proportions. Maldonado’s terrified children watched their mother die in a vehicle attempting to flee the war-torn country. Meanwhile, they await the release of their father from a CMU prison.

Mehanna was accused of many alarming things, but his only confirmed action was to travel to Yemen for religious study, and some other travel on the African continent. The FBI asked Mehanna to become an informant. When he refused, his troubles began. He accepted a job in Saudi Arabia as a pharmacist, and was arrested while trying to board the airplane. Agents from the NYPD traveled to Boston in an attempt to entrap him but Mehanna refused to partake in the “terrorist act” he was presented with. He has not been charged with any act of terrorism.

Tariq is described by those who know him well as humble, reserved, warm, compassionate, intelligent, charismatic, well-read, and dedicated. He has spent time delivering Friday sermons and directing youth study circles, speaking out against injustice and advocating for Muslim prisoners, teaching grade school students and helping those in need. Tarek is described as a man who is always giving.

“I have known him to be one of the most gracious, kind, caring, thoughtful, and respectable people I have ever known. For the two years that I knew him in Boston, I have seen him go above and beyond what most others would do to help others in need,” writes Ahmad AlFarsi in Tariq’s defense.

“Tariq was very involved in the Muslim community, masha’Allah; I remember many times that he would be giving halaqaat (Islamic lectures) in the local masjid on an Islamic text he was studying. And he helped many many other Muslims in the community come to the straight path.”

Mehanna has since been detained in pre-trial solitary confinement at Plymouth County Correction Facility in 23-hour isolation and denied bail twice. He now awaits trial, facing charges of “false statements,” “conspiracy” and “material support for terrorism” and a life sentence if wrongfully convicted. The trial has been set to begin next week. Supporters plan a protest march to the courthouse on Thursday.

Mehanna wrote in a letter to his supporters: “I cannot speak in detail about the charges and accusations against me, but suffice to say that nobody who truly knows me would for a second believe the utter lies and sensationalist garbage that has been peddled around in the media since my arrest. I am not the first person the government has played this game with, and I certainly won’t be the last. Regardless, that’s OK because, ‘Indeed, Allah defends those who believe…’ [Surat al-Hajj; v. 38]. And the Prophets themselves were targets of slander and lies by their opponents. So, who am I to be spared?”

While in prison, Mehanna has done his best to keep a positive attitude and to support fellow prisoners, while keeping his prayers. “No matter how bad things may be going for a given person, there is always someone worse off. There is always that one person you meet who gives you a reality check that reminds you that even though you are in prison going through hardship, etc., there are still things that you can take for granted.” He was referring to the unconditional support of his mother and family.

Pro-Israel lobbyists are connecting Mehanna to the Roxbury Mosque, which was not his regular prayer venue, in an attempt to connect their efforts to smear the Roxbury Mosque with this man’s plight. It would be wise for those defending Mehanna to uncover the conspiracy between extremist Jewish groups and the FBI in targeting this individual. If the David Project is not stopped, unlawful prosecutions will continue.

In a letter to supporters, Mehanna wrote about something a fellow prisoner said:

“‘When I was free, I saw your story on TV. However, it meant nothing to me, because I never thought it could happen to me. So, I did nothing for you. Now that I am in prison and it has happened to me, there are people who heard about my story and will think nothing of it, thinking it will never happen to them. Once it happens to them, others will think nothing of it and do nothing, etc…’ So, if you feel that you can just sit back and read about all these cases and do nothing to repel this injustice and that it can never happen to you, think again.”

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

13-44

Top Five Reasons to Review your Estate Plan

By Adil Daudi, Esq.

A very common question asked by many is, “I have an Estate Plan, but how often do I need to make changes to it, or review it?” I have witnessed clients having their estate plan completed over fifteen years ago and have not reviewed it once. This is definitely not the recommended approach.

Drafting an Estate Plan is essential for all families, whether you are single, married, or married with kids; but, reviewing those documents on a consistent basis is just as important. If you established a plan ten years ago when you were married, you could find yourself now having three kids with the same plan, but the consequences could be significant; because at the time of the drafting you didn’t include any kids (since you didn’t have any), but now by not having done a review, your plan still does not make any mention of your kids – not what you initially planned out.

That is why it is always important to have a sit-down and take the time to go over your Estate Plan and make sure it still fits your primary objective. The following is a list of tips that will help you decide whether it is time for you to review your Estate Plan.

No Kids/Young Kids – A review is a must if at the time you drafted your Estate Plan you had no kids, or your kids were relatively young (under the age of 18).

New Grandkids – If at the time of your Estate Plan you had no grandkids, but if you find yourself with grandkids, and would like to leave something for them, you should definitely have a review of your trust.

Difference in Wealth – Significant changes in your personal wealth also plays a role in your overall Estate Plan, as there could be new strategies/goals that would better suit your current situation.

Marital Status – If you had a change in your marital status (married or divorced), then a review of your plan is important, as you may need to include and/or exclude certain individuals.

No Review for Two Years – Some may find this too early, but through experience it is found that over a course of two years, a lot changes for families, whether it’s dealing with new kids, grandkids, change of wealth, or personal preferences. Therefore, it is advisable to make sure you complete a review at least once every two years.

One issue many have with this is that the Attorney they completed their plan with charges for the reviews. For anyone looking to draft an Estate Plan, always make sure the law firm you proceed with explains their fees (not just for the actual drafting, but for any changes that may be needed, or for follow-up meetings). Many firms charge less for the Estate Plan, but make-up the cost by charging for meetings and changes, which more often than not, is not properly explained to the client.

Adil Daudi is an Attorney at Joseph, Kroll & Yagalla, P.C., focusing primarily on Asset Protection for Physicians, Physician Contracts, Estate Planning, Shariah Estate Planning, Business Litigation, Corporate Formations, and Family Law. He can be contacted for any questions related to this article or other areas of law at adil@josephlaw.net or (517) 381-2663.

13-44

A Thirst for Blood

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

libyan-flag-9785144
 

There is a fine line that separates man from mere beast. This week that line was crossed by the armed rebels on the hunt for deposed Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi as they stumbled upon him held up in a storm drain in his hometown of Sirte. The events surrounding his death are as rough as the various video footage of his demise. Each video, shot from different cell phones, tells its own story. Some show Gadhafi being shot in the arm while others show him being beaten. Yet another shows him being dragged across the ground, his clothes in disarray, after he was apparently sodomized.  And the most notable reveals a gunshot wound to his head.

The question is not whether or not Gadhafi deserved to pay for his vast array crimes that stretched clear around the globe for decades. The answer is very clear in that regard, Gadhafi indeed deserved to be punished for his reign of terror. The question that begs to be answered is whether or not armed militia had the right to take matters into their own hands denying one of the world’s worst dictators the very basic of human rights, a trial in a court of law. Now many will argue that Gadhafi was not human in the way that he treated his own people with disdain and disregard for the sanctity of human life. In all respects Gadhafi was the judge, jury and executioner in Libya. However, hasn’t the very premise that made the ‘Arab Spring’ so inspirational to the world been forever tainted in a gushing of crimson blood?

It only got worse as Libyans danced in the streets with joy upon hearing of Gadhafi’s wholesale execution as scores followed his bloodied body to a nearby shopping mall where it was put on display. Men, women and children lined up and waited to catch a glimpse of Gadhafi’s gruesome corpse while taking even more cell phone video footage to share with the rest of the world.

Instead of stooping to Gadhafi’s merciless level, it might have been better to have hauled him off, alive, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to stand trial for his crimes against humanity. A great number of Gadhafi’s victims would have been given the opportunity to speak out against the dictator who dogged them for years and humiliate him in an international arena. Gadhafi was all about appearances and it would have caused him greater suffering to be publicly disgraced than merely shot in the head. Gadhafi meticulously tortured and enslaved his people without even showing the slightest bit of remorse. How fitting it would have been to see him stripped of all his self-given powers and forced to spend his remaining days confined to a minuscule jail cell. And while Gadhafi’s suffering was over in a mere matter of minutes, the people whose lives he scarred have a long road of healing to undertake.

13-44

People Power: Occupy Wall Street Movement

The Canadian Charger

2011-10-26T074901Z_1864182193_GM1E7AQ17ZP01_RTRMADP_3_USA-WALLSTREET

An “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrator chants during a demonstration in response to an early morning police raid which displaced Occupy Oakland’s tent city in Oakland, California October 25, 2011.

REUTERS/Stephen Lam

In the United States – the world’s lone superpower and a beacon of hope for many the world over – 14 million people are officially unemployed and two million of those have given up looking for a job. And that’s the tip of the iceberg: half a million people are homeless; nearly 50 million people are without health insurance; and 46 million Americans live below the poverty rate, yet banks and large corporations received billion dollar bailouts from taxpayers’ hard-earned money and bank executives never stopped receiving million dollar bonuses, on top of their seven figure incomes.

In response, the Occupy Wall Street movement – in the midst of its fourth week – continues to escalate, protesting against corporate greed, government inefficiency and income inequality. Many people are debating what the real message of this movement is and, more importantly, what impact it will have on the country itself.

Writing in the New York Times recently, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman said: “With unions and a growing number of Democrats now expressing at least qualified support for the protesters, Occupy Wall Street is starting to look like an important event that might even been seen eventually as a turning point.”

Of course, as with most controversial issues, the end of the political spectrum one is viewing the events from greatly influences one’s interpretation of said events. Speaking on the television show Cross Talk recently, radio talk show host and Tea Party organizer Tony Katz said that the Occupy Wall Street movement looked like a bunch of anarchists and he cautioned that the movement has the potential to turn violent.

Jason Del Gandio, assistant professor of rhetoric and public advocacy at Temple University, responded that the Occupy Wall Street movement is a nonviolent movement, expressing a deep desire for democracy that responds to the wants and needs of everyday people, not corporations.

Sensing the growing popularity of the movement, President Obama and his team are now saying that the demonstrators have a point; but with a team of Wall Street veterans as advisors, making all the important economic decisions that Obama lacks the expertise to make, the demonstrators consider Obama to be part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Meanwhile, on Cross Talk, Kevin Zeese, a political activist and one of the organizers of www.October2011.org said he and many others in the Occupy Wall Street movement see the Obama White House as part of the crony, capitalist, corrupt economy which has resulted in 400 people having as much wealth as 154 million – not because they’re smarter or work harder but because they’re politically connected and essentially bribing through campaign donations.

“Our goal is to shift the power to the people and end the corporate rule. Corporate rule does affect the cost of college; corporate rule does put our students in the greatest debt they’ve ever been in. They’re coming into a job market that’s absolutely terrible. These kids are in the streets because they’re being treated poorly by this economy…The empire economy with 1100 military bases around the world is not good for the United States; it’s not good for our national security; it’s not good for our democracy; it’s not good for our economy. We need to remove the power of corporations.”

Similar to the G20 protests, where citizens were expressing legitimate concerns about government policies, a minority of protesters always engage in destructive – and at times unlawful – conduct; and unfortunately it’s these acts that tend to make the evening news, and become the focus of right wing commentators. Not surprisingly, this is what Tea Party organizer Mr. Katz sees when watching the Occupy Wall Street movement.

“If you take a look from the outside looking in, it looks like a bunch of people who don’t care about the land, who are willing to abuse businesses around them and defecate on police cars. That’s the evidence base. You’re not going to get the Tea Party to favor a concept where everyone gets paid for doing nothing. We don’t accept that. We believe in capitalism; we believe in the free market; we believe you should keep what you earn. Governments shouldn’t get what you earn and Wall Street shouldn’t get what you earn. You should keep what you earn.”

The mantra of a free market is constantly trotted out by the right, as they continuously demand that government get out of the way of business and let the market decide. However, the reality is often quite different: Columbia University professor and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz pointed out in his book Free Fall, that over many years, governments have had to continuously bail out banks and large corporations when their bets went sour. And the current crisis is just a part of this continuum.

Mr. Del Gandio, and many others, can see this.

“Do we actually live in a free market society? Because the last time I looked it was the richest corporations and the richest banks on the face of the planet that were getting bailouts. So it’s communism for the rich and capitalism for the poor. We do not live in a free market society. That’s a myth. We’ve never lived in a free market society. It’s always privileged the rich,” Mr. Del Gandio said.

13-44

The Bellwether of Nations

Tunis, Libya and the Arab “Spring”

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Santa Barbara–October 24th–Those of you who have been here for as long as generations, please forgive me,  and have patience with me, and grant me your forbearance.  

Yesterday (October 23rd) two important events came about over two bordering Islamic North African States.

The most dramatic was the demise of Colonel Khadafy in Libya.  Today, the National Transitional Council (المجلس الوطني الإنتقالي ) of the Libyan Revolution scheduled an announcement of the liberation of Tripoli and her hinterlands.

Although it is a great victory of the three so far in the Arab “Spring,”  it was the bloodiest of those triumphs which, with over 160 claimant groups are currently within the capital, was the costliest; and, thus, is the least likely to succeed by the very fact it was a coup of arms.

Strangely, the three successful regime changes so far of the Arab “Spring” have occurred in North Africa – Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, and they all were Republics whose leadership was descended from the anti-colonial revolutions.  

The other grand occurrence of Sunday, October 23rd, was the Tunisian elections.   As I have pointed out before, Tunisia’s was the first Revolt of the “Spring,” and has the best chance of any of those successful so far to develop an Arab (Islamic) democracy.   Libya is the least in my humble opinion because of the degree of violence and foreign intervention to which it had to revert for its accomplishment.

It is too early to do much of an exegesis now so soon after the polls over Tunisia, but no egregious reports of irregularities have been reported to me so far, but Tunis has developed a viable civil society despite the years of dictatorship.  Unlike its neighbor, Libya, tribal politics are minor.  It has come out of its political nightmare as a manageable modern state although with serious challenges.
I expect our modern Punic Realm will do well – not without bumps along the way, though.  As I  mentioned in two weeks ago, much will depend upon the expertise and support from the West since so much of the wealth of that nation of ten million has been robbed by the last regime.  Yet, at the same time, the international financial crisis puts a strain on the deliverance of both material and aid of practical tutelage.  Alas, I wish I could be as positive for Benghazi.  I only hope that more military intervention will not be required from NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) on that side of the Northern African Sahara.

I would like to commend my colleague, Radwan Masoudi, the Libyan-American founder/Director of the Center of Islam and Democracy in Washington.  That think thank has been working on planning an Islamic democracy; so, that they can meld theologically and politically without contradiction. When the time miraculously arose, he had gone back to his native countryside to work with his cultural citizens to help make these elections possible by strengthening the roots of the civil society that already existed there!

13-44

Islamist Party Wins Tunisia Elections

By Damien Gayle

2011-10-23T143139Z_975547807_GM1E7AN1QI901_RTRMADP_3_TUNISIA-ELECTION

Manoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire, starting the Arab Spring.

REUTERS/Saidi

Tunisia’s main Islamist party is on its way to power after the first truly free and fair elections in the country’s history.

Early results from individual voting stations carried by local radio stations this morning put the Islamist Ennahda Party in the lead in many constituencies.

Tunisians voted yesterday to elect a constituent assembly in the first elections emerging from the so-called Arab Spring uprisings around the Middle East.

Electoral officials are still counting the votes and results are not expected until later today or tomorrow.

Boubker Bethabet, secretary general of Tunisia’s election commission, said that more than 90 per cent of the 4.1million registered voters cast their votes.

Radio Mosaique FM posted results from polling stations around the country with many showing a commanding lead for Ennahda.

Ennahdha (The Renaissance) is Tunisia’s main Islamist party. It was banned under the regime of ousted President Ben Ali.

Its leader, Rached Ghannouchi, 70, returned to his homeland earlier this year after more than two decades of exile in Britain. In a bid to counter fears of a fundamentalist-style crackdown, he has vowed that if an Islamic government comes to power, it will not ban alcohol or prevent women wearing bikinis.

He has also said his party will ‘respect democracy and modernity’ adding that his movement was one that could find ‘a balance between modernity and Islam.’

Tunisia is considered one of the Arab world’s most liberal states, with high levels of female participation in public and political life. Mr Ghannouchi has accordingly promised to show tolerance towards ‘women’s equality and liberal moral attitudes.’

Tunisia’s secular traditions go back to its first president after independence from France, who called the hijab an ‘odious rag’. When Mr Ghannouchi emerged after he cast his vote on Sunday, about a dozen secularists shouted at him: ‘Go away’ and ‘You are a terrorist and an assassin! Go back to London!’

Leaders insist the party has changed since its early years. First known as Islamic Action, then the Movement of the Islamic Tendency, it supported the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, the Iranian capital. The group was also said to have been behind the bombing of tourist hotels in the Eighties, but since reforming has denounced violence.

An Ennahda victory would be the first Islamist success in the Arab world since Hamas won a 2006 Palestinian vote. Islamists won a 1991 election in Algeria, Tunisia’s neighbour, but the army annulled the result, provoking years of conflict.

In the more affluent Tunis suburb of al-Aouina, Zeinab Souayah, an 18-year-old language student and former protester said: ‘I’m going to grow up and think back on these days and tell my children about them.’

‘It feels great, it’s awesome,’ she added, in English.

The ballot was an extra-large piece of paper bearing the names and symbols of the parties fielding a candidate in each district.

The symbols are meant to aid the illiterate, estimated at about 25 per cent of the population in one of the most educated countries in the region.

Voters in each of the country’s 33 districts, six of which are abroad, had roughly 40 to 80 ballot choices.

It was a cacophony of options in a country effectively under one-party rule since independence from France in 1956.

The moderate Islamic movement Ennahda, or Renaissance, is expected to win the most seats in the assembly, although no one party is expected to win a majority.

An Ennahda victory, especially in a comparatively secular society like Tunisia, could have wide implications for similar religious parties in the region.

Retired engineer Bahri Mohamed Lebid, 73, said he voted ‘for my religion,’ a sentiment common among supporters of the Ennahda movement.

He said he last tried to vote in 1974, when polling officers forced him to cast a ballot for the ruling party despite his objections.

Ennahda believes that Islam should be the reference point for the country’s system and laws and believes that democracy is the best system to maintain people’s rights.

It has also said it supports Tunisia’s liberal laws promoting women’s equality – making it much more progressive than other Islamic movements in the Middle East.

After 23 years of dictatorial rule, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia’s despotic president, was overthrown on January 14 by a month-long uprising.

The revolution, sparked by a fruitseller who set himself on fire in protest of police harassment, was stirred by anger over unemployment, corruption and repression.

Ben Ali’s regime was among the Middle East’s most corrupt and repressive, and his long-calm country was shocked by the self-immolations at the start of the uprising and the ensuing outbursts of pent-up anger.

As protests spread across Tunisia, the police crackdown left more than 300 dead.

The uprising inspired similar rebellions across the Arab world.

The autocratic rulers of Egypt and Libya have fallen since, but Tunisia is the first country to hold free elections as a result of the upheaval.

Egypt’s parliamentary election is set for next month.

Some voters expressed concern that despite its moderate public line, Ennahda could reverse some of Tunisia’s progressive legislation for women.

‘I am looking for someone to protect the place of women in Tunisia,’ said 34-year-old Amina Helmi, who does not wear hijab. She said she was ‘afraid’ of Ennahda and voted for the center-left PDP party, the strongest legal opposition movement under Ben Ali.

A proportional representation system will likely mean that no political party will dominate the assembly, which is expected to be divided roughly among centrist parties, leftist parties and Ennahda.

They will need to form coalitions and make compromises to create a constitution.

But many ordinary Tunisians said they felt indifferent about the elections, out of frustration that life has not improved since January’s revolution.

Tunisia’s economy and employment, part of the reason for the uprising in the first place, have only got worse since Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia, in part because tourists and foreign investors have stayed away.

Outside the school-turned-polling station in Hay al-Tadammon, a group of young men sat on the street, sipping tea and mocking journalists who were talking to people who had just voted.

Belhussein al-Maliki, 27, said he fought in the January uprising, which engulfed this downtrodden suburb, and lost a relative in the fighting.

‘We are jobless, we have nothing and we won’t vote,’ he said bitterly.

‘Everything is the same, the world is the way it is, and the world will stay the way it is.’

13-44

Ingrid Mattson Appointed as Chair of Islamic Studies

IngridMattsonLONDON, ON–Huron University College, at the University of Western Ontario, announced the appointment of Dr. Ingrid Mattson as the inaugural London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at its Faculty of Theology. The Chair in Islamic Studies builds on an almost 150-year tradition at Huron University College of open discourse and engagement between people of different faiths. Dr. Mattson will begin her appointment on July 1, 2012.

“Dr. Mattson brings an incredible wealth of knowledge and expertise to this area of study and Huron is privileged to have a scholar of her calibre,” said Dr. Stephen McClatchie, Principal of Huron University College. “We are honoured that, with her pick of many positions around the world, Dr. Mattson has decided to return to Canada and accept our appointment to the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies.”

Dr. Mattson was born and raised in Kitchener-Waterloo and earned her PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago. She is the first convert to Islam and the first woman to lead the Islamic Society of North America. Before accepting the Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College, Dr. Mattson was Director of the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Hartford Connecticut. She has also been an Advisor to both the Bush and Obama Administrations.

“It is an honour to be back in Canada and to accept this position at such a prestigious institution as Huron University College,” said Dr. Mattson. “Huron has a remarkable history of critical inquiry and I look forward to building on this tradition by offering Huron students the opportunity to learn about a faith that more than 20 per cent of the world’s population practices, in an open and liberal environment.”

13-44

Turkey Rescue Efforts Hurt by Lack of Equipment

Hürriyet Daily News

Search-and-rescue personnel working in the Van earthquake zone have decried their “primitive” working conditions and lack of technical equipment as they try and reach survivors from the eastern province’s devastating temblor.

“We are working with primitive tools, we have no equipment,” one rescuer told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Emergency personnel said they heard cries for help coming from under a collapsed building this morning and started to work on the wreckage to reach the survivors. The cries had stopped at around noon, they said, adding that they had to dig out the dead bodies of quake victims.

“We can’t get to survivors fast enough,” one rescue team member said.

The spirit among rescuers is noticeably low, and some members could only weep in frustration at the situation.

There is a device to find people under rubble, rescuers said, but added that they only had one of the devices in the district of ErciÅŸ, which was worst hit by the Oct. 23 quake.
“We yell into collapsed buildings, asking if anybody is there,” a rescue team member said.

Aid inadequate

Only one food distribution point was set up in Erciş and there was a significant lack of supplies and equipment. No new aid truck or supplies arrived for the hours that the Hürriyet Daily News was in Erciş.

Banks, hospitals and stores were all damaged or destroyed in the quake but there have been no reports of looting as people have continued to walk around ErciÅŸ in shock.

Many survivors said the only thing they wanted was some bread.

All but one of the homes in the nearby Yedikonak village was flattened in the quake.

13-44