Islam in the News (March 2013)

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'Islam in the News' contains worldwide news concerning Islam and its followers. Further news covering the persecution of minorities, free speech, and some other issues can be found via the hub page

Contents

Indonesia: Christians hold Easter service in front of presidential palace, peacefully protest persecution and forced church closures[edit]

More than 200 Indonesian Christians on Sunday held an Easter service in front of the presidential palace, demanding the government stop church closures in the world’s most populous Muslim country.

Amid hooting cars and other traffic noise, men, women and toddlers sang hymns and said prayers in a two-hour service that also served as a protest against the lack of protection for religious minorities.

The worshipers came from three areas on the outskirts of Jakarta where local government officials shut churches, citing community opposition or the lack of proper building permits.

Rights activists have said local governments are using the permit issue as an excuse to kowtow to religious hard-liners, with churches and Islamic minorities bearing the brunt of attacks.

They say mosque building permits are rarely challenged.

“We are here to show the president and the world that law enforcement, constitutional supremacy and protection of minority groups are not as sweet as the president had claimed,” said Bona Sigalingging, a spokesman for GKI Yasmin church.

“We urge President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to stop staying silent and uncaring of the rampant violations of freedom of religion in Indonesia,” the congregation said in a statement.

Ninety percent of Indonesia’s 240 million people identify themselves as Muslim but the constitution guarantees freedom of religion.

Among those worshiping near the palace Sunday were members of the HKBP Taman Sari church, whose building was pulled down by the Bekasi district administration on March 21.

“The Easter celebration this year, including Good Friday, touched our hearts more than before because now our church is in ruins,” Panahatan Siregar of the Taman Sari church told AFP.

Rights group Setara Institute of Peace and Democracy says cases of intolerance are on the rise, with 543 reported in 2011 compared to 491 in 2009. More than 300 incidents were recorded in the first half of 2012.

India: Hindus protest after woman abducted, forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim man[edit]

MEMBERS of Hindu community staged a protest in Sindh after a woman converted to Islam and married a Muslim man, according to a media report Saturday.

Protests within the minority community led to postponement of polls for Hindu Panchayat in Jacobabad Friday.

Reports said Ganga married Asif Ali at Amrot Sharif Dargah after converting to Islam, Dawn reported. Ganga changed her name to Aasia.

The woman's parents lodged an FIR that alleged Ganga was kidnapped.

Syria: Western backed rebels importing Muslim girls, including children, to satisfy their sexual needs[edit]

What are the Muslim jihadis in Syria doing when they are not fighting against Bashar Assad's army?

According to reports in a number of Arab media outlets, the jihadis are importing Muslim girls to satisfy their sexual needs.

The sexual exploitation of girls was revealed after several Tunisian families reported that their teenage daughters had gone missing in recent months.

It later transpired that the girls had been dispatched to serve to Syria on "jihad marriages." In other words, the girls had been sent to Syria to satisfy the sexual needs of the anti-Assad jihadis.

The jihadis, some of whom are affiliated with Al-Qaeda, are probably not getting enough weapons from Arabs and Westerners to fight against Assad's forces. But what is evident is that they are in the meantime getting enough supplies of young girls to satisfy their sexual needs.

The phenomenon apparently began after a Saudi religious scholar, Mohamed al-Arifi, reportedly issued a fatwa [religious decree] allowing Muslim girls to go on "jihad marriages" in Syria. Al-Arifi has since denied issuing the fatwa.

The fatwa purportedly allows the jihadis, who abandoned their wives to fight against Assad's regime, to marry girls for a few hours to satisfy their sexual needs.

But even if there never were such a fatwa, as the Saudi scholar says, what is evident is that Tunisian girls are being sexually exploited by the jihadis in Syria.

Tunisian Minister for Religious Affairs, Noor Eddin al-Khadimi, said that Tunisians should not abide by the fatwa.

Salma al-Raqiq, a Tunisian opposition figure, said that the "jihad marriages" were a disgrace for the Tunisians.

She also called on the authorities to start dealing with the increasing phenomenon of Tunisian jihadis heading to Syria to join radical Islamist groups.

Al-Raqiq told United Press International that the phenomenon was a dangerous one. She said that young girls, including minors, have been sent to Syria to "marry" jihadis for a few hours.

The reports about "jihad marriages" follow charges that Muslim men have been exploiting the plight of Syrian refugees by "marrying" their young daughters.

Reports in the Jordanian media revealed that Muslim men from various countries have been converging on Jordan to pick young Syrian girls residing in a temporary refugee camp near the border with Syria. Nearly one million Syrians have fled to Jordan since the beginning of the crisis in their country two years ago.

A report on Channel 4 revealed this week that Syrian girls in Jordan were being kidnapped, sexually harassed and raped.

What is disturbing is that many Arab and Islamic human rights organizations have remained silent about the crimes committed against Muslim women throughout the Arab and Muslim world. By contrast, these organizations are often quick to denounce Westerners for "insulting" Islam by publishing photos depicting the Prophet Mohamed.

If anyone is really insulting Islam, it those the Muslim fundamentalists and jihadis who show no respect for Muslim girls and treat them as sex slaves.
Jihadis' Exploitation of Muslim Girls
Gatestone Institute, March 31, 2013
Update:[edit]
A number of Tunisian girls who had travelled to Syria to perform “sexual jihad” there have returned back home pregnant, Tunisian Interior Minister Lotfi Bin Jeddo said on Thursday.

The Tunisian girls “are (sexually) swapped between 20, 30, and 100 rebels and they come back bearing the fruit of sexual contacts in the name of sexual jihad and we are silent doing nothing and standing idle,” the non-partisan minister said during an address to the National Constituent Assembly.

Bin Jeddo said the interior ministry has banned 6,000 Tunisians from travelling to Syria since March 2013 and arrested 86 individuals suspected of forming “networks” that send Tunisian youth for “jihad” to Syria.
. . .
Former Mufti of Tunisia Sheikh Othman Battikh said in April that 13 Tunisian girls “were fooled” into travelling to Syria to offer their sexual services to rebels fighting to overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad...

Pakistan: Office of NGO (Society for Appraisal and Women Empowerment) bombed by militants[edit]

A bomb was planted by unidentified militants near the gate of the NGO’s office in Hayatabad Phase-I. The device, weighing six kilogrammes, rendered heavy losses to the building, furniture and a vehicle used by the organisation, but no loss of life was reported. “The blast also damaged two other houses in the area,” said a police official.

Sawera’s technical advisor Lal Jan Afridi said the NGO, which stands for Society for Appraisal and Women Empowerment in Rural Areas, is presently working on voters’ education and mobilisation in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). He added they are also providing livelihood to displaced persons not residing in refugee camps.

Jan said despite the murder of their colleague in Jamrud, Khyber Agency on July 4, 2012, they have continued with their operations fearlessly.

Sawera’s Executive Director Farida Afridi was shot dead while she was on her way to office from her house in Hayatabad, Peshawar. “She was a great loss for us, but that didn’t deter us from working for the welfare of poor people,” Jan told The Express Tribune.

He added they had not received any prior warnings of an attack on them, saying it was “sudden and tragic.”

Jan claimed they have now been compelled to suspend operations as their office has been completely destroyed. He said they will talk to donors to provide funds to compensate for the losses they have sustained. “We will do everything we can to ensure the organisation keeps running.”

He said the lives of the NGO’s employees were at stake and appealed to the government to provide them security. “We have 15 staff members, most of whom are females. They are gripped with fear after this blast.”
. . .
“The lukewarm response of Pakistani forces and their constant failure to catch the culprits are providing a safe haven for terrorists in tribal areas. These attacks are now happening on a daily basis. The caretaker government should chalk out a proper strategy to rid Pakistani soil of these militants,” he added....
Bomb explosion: Office of NGO targeted in Hayatabad
The Express Tribune, March 31, 2013

Syria: Western backed rebels behead and parade body of pro-Assad cleric[edit]

Syrian rebel forces killed a pro-regime Sunni cleric in the city of Aleppo, with some reports suggesting he was beheaded, and then dragged his body through the streets, a watchdog group said on Saturday.

Sheikh Hassan Seifeddin, imam of a mosque in the northern Aleppo neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsud, "was killed overnight Friday by rebel fighters in the east of the area and his body was dragged through the streets," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported that Seifeddin was "assassinated by terrorists who mutilated his body afterwards," while official television station Al-Ikhbariya said he had been "slaughtered" and beheaded.

"The ulema [clerics] of Aleppo denounce this despicable crime committed by the enemies of humanity who assassinated Sheikh Hassan Seifeddin and laid his head on the minaret of Al-Hassan mosque in Sheikh Maqsud," the station reported.
. . .
A March 22 suicide bomb attack on a central Damascus mosque claimed by jihadists killed 42 people, including the country's most prominent pro-regime Sunni cleric.

The Observatory said 31 people had been killed in Sheikh Maqsud in 24 hours, including 10 civilians, 14 pro-regime gunman and seven rebels.

At least 157 people were killed through Syria on Friday, according to the watchdog group which gathers its information from a network of activists and medics on the ground.

Iraq: String of bombings targeting Shi'ite mosques kills 23 and wounds dozens[edit]

A string of bombings targeting Shi'ite mosques in Iraq have killed at least 23 people and wounded dozens, officials say.

Friday's attacks were the latest in spectacular assaults staged by insurgents seeking to undermine the Shi'ite-led government's efforts to achieve security across the country.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the bombings bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda's Iraq branch. The group, known as the Islamic State of Iraq, frequently uses car bombs, suicide bombers and coordinated blasts in an effort to sow fear among Shi'ites and erode their trust in the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Four car bombs hit Shi'ite mosques in the Iraqi capital as worshippers were leaving after Friday prayers, killing 19 people and wounding 72.

First, a parked car exploded in Baghdad's western Jihad neighbourhood, killing seven worshippers and wounding 25, a police officer said. Another police officer said four people were killed and nearly 20 were wounded in a bombing in an eastern Qahira neighbourhood. Three people died and 15 were wounded in the eastern Zafaraniyah district while yet another car bomb killed five people and wounded 14 in the northeastern Binook neighbourhood.

Three health officials confirmed the causality figures.

And in the northern city of Kirkuk, 290km north of Baghdad, a suicide bomber drove his explosive-laden car into a group of worshippers as they were leaving a mosque after Friday prayers, killing three people and wounding up to 70, according to police colonel Najat Hassan. A senior provisional health official, Sidiq Omar Rasool, confirmed the casualty figures in Kirkuk.

Violence has ebbed sharply since the peak of Sunni-Shi'ite fighting that pushed the country to the brink of civil war in 2006 and 2007, but Sunni insurgents still occasionally carry out high-profile attacks against Shi'ites, considering them to be heretics...
BOMBINGS KILL 23, WOUND DOZENS IN IRAQ
Yahoo News, March 30, 2013

UAE: British teacher faces a year in jail for having lunch with married man in Abu Dhabi[edit]

A British woman could be locked up for a year in an Abu Dhabi jail for having a glass of wine with a married man.

The ex-pat teacher, whose first name is believed to be Lisa, says she was introduced to the Syrian man by a male colleague.

He is understood to have eaten with the pair but then left them alone at the man’s house – where the woman was arrested.

She has now appeared in court in the strict Arab emirate, charged with being alone in the company of a man other than her husband or a close relative, and drinking alcohol without a licence.

The court heard that the Syrian threw his wife out of their home last week after an argument.

After she complained to police about her husband’s behaviour, officers visited him the next day and found him enjoying an after-lunch glass of wine with the British woman, who has not been officially named.

The man’s wife insisted that officials press charges when she was told that her husband had been drinking with another woman.

If found guilty under the country’s strict legislation, which is influenced by Islam’s sharia law, the teacher could be imprisoned for as long as 12 months.
. . .
The Syrian man will not be punished for being with the Briton, as it is not a crime for men to socialise with women, but has been detained on a separate drugs charge.

US: Defense Department says giving Purple Heart to Fort Hood survivors would hurt Hasan trial by labeling the attack terrorism[edit]

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

Legislation that would award the injured from the 2009 Fort Hood shooting the Purple Heart would adversely affect the trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan by labeling the attack terrorism, according to a Defense Department document obtained by Fox News.

The document comes following calls from survivors and their families for the military honor, because they say Fort Hood was turned into a battlefield when Hasan opened fire during the November 2009 attack. Fox News is told that the DOD “position paper” is being circulated specifically in response to the proposed legislation.

The document reads in part:

"Passage of this legislation could directly and indirectly influence potential court-martial panel members, witnesses, or the chain of command, all of whom exercise a critical role under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Defense counsel will argue that Major Hasan cannot receive a fair trial because a branch of government has indirectly declared that Major Hasan is a terrorist -- that he is criminally culpable."
. . .
"This is a cynical travesty. What the government has done by making this statement is guarantee that anything done to help the victims will effectively prevent or impair Hasan's prosecution. There was no reason for the government to put this kind of a statement in writing, even if it were true (which it is not)," Sher said via email.

Sher represents families who are suing the Defense Department over the shooting which killed 13 and injured dozens at the Texas Army base in 2009.

Fox News was the first to report in 2011 that DOD was handling the attack, in which survivors say the shooter shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he opened fire – in the context of workplace violence. Fox News was the first TV network, in June 2012, to interview the survivors.

The Defense Department document says that to expand the Purple Heart criteria to include “domestic criminal acts or domestic terror attacks would be a dramatic departure” from traditional criteria.

“The Army objects to (the proposal) because it would undermine the prosecution of Major Nidal Hasan by materially and directly compromising Major Hasan’s ability to receive a fair trial. This provision will be viewed as setting the stage for a formal declaration that Major Hasan is a terrorist, on what is now the eve of trial. Such a situation, prior to trial, would fundamentally compromise the fairness and due process of the pending trial,” the document said.

It continues: “Moreover, the effect of such an act by Congress would be to deprive the victims of these crimes the right to see justice done.” But Sher said the Army's legal arguments that such a situation prior to a trial would fundamentally compromise fairness and due process are especially troubling given the Holder Justice Department wanted to prosecute the self-described architect of 9/11 Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-conspirators in a New York City federal court.

"Seriously? We could try KSM no problem, but helping out Hasan's victims creates due process problems?" Sher said.

Sher said the Fort Hood families he represents in the federal suit find it hurtful that DOD would now claim "such an unprecedented action would thwart the real and lasting measure that will bring closure to the grieving and harmed victims and families -- the trial itself."

While the document claims "the Government has vigilantly tended to the needs of the victims and families since the tragic events of November, 5 2009," Sher said the facts show the Army has failed to live up to its creed that no soldier will be left behind...

Bangladesh: Tens of thousands of Muslims hold prayers on streets to call for new blasphemy laws against bloggers[edit]

For earlier news and updates on the same subject, click here.

Tens of thousands of Islamic activists prayed on the streets of the Bangladeshi capital today during a rally calling for the introduction of blaspemy laws and the restoration of a caretaker government.

Members of the Islami Andolan Bangladesh are demanding the arrest of 'atheist bloggers who insulted Islam' and to pass laws punishing those who 'insulted Islam in the parliament'.

They have announced plans to 'lay siege' to the office of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on April 25 if their demands are not met.

They include the restoration of the phrase 'absolute trust and faith upon Almighty Allah' in basic principles of the constitution; passing laws to punish atheists; holding of national elections under an impartial government; ensuring good governance and justice, uprooting terrorism and corruption; and establishing Islamic rule for a prosperous and welfare state.

According to www.thedailystar.net, the party's Amir Mufti Syed Muhammad Rezaul Karimalso told the rally: 'The incumbent and previous governments have nurtured corruption, violence, nepotism and other different evil practices during last few decades.

'Islami Andolan Bangladesh should be voted to power to get rid of this situation.'...

Libya: Pro-Palestinian activists with a humanitarian convoy destined for the Gaza Strip gang raped by five men[edit]

TWO British activists with a humanitarian convoy destined for the Gaza Strip have been subjected to a brutal gang rape by five men in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi, the deputy prime minister says.

The two women of Pakistani origin "were brutally raped in front of their father", Awadh al-Barassi said on his Facebook page, condemning "a horrible act".

Barassi said he had been to see the two victims in Benghazi on Thursday, and that the family was "in a very bad psychological state".

The women, accompanied by their father on the convoy organised by Turkish NGO IHH, had been destined for the Palestinian coastal enclave blockaded by Israel when it was blocked from leaving Libya and entering Egypt.

The three decided to return to Benghazi accompanied by two more Britons, with the aim of getting a flight home. But when they arrived in Libya's second city they were abducted by five unidentified men...
Pro-Palestinian activists raped in Libya
The Australian, March 29, 2013

India: Muslim women must be accompanied by male member of family whom she cannot marry for the Haj pilgrimage[edit]

Muslim women are not allowed to travel alone for the Haj pilgrimage to avoid risking their safety, the state government has informed the Kerala high court.

The government clarified its stance on a petition filed by a Muslim woman questioning the Haj Committee of India's denial of permission to her to travel with a female companion. According to the committee's rules, Muslim women have to be accompanied by a male family member to perform Haj.

The petitioner, 64-year-old Aminakutty Mohammed of Kadalundi in Malappuram district, is demanding a court order permitting her to travel with a female companion.

Opposing this, senior government counsel Sajid T P told the court of Justice Antony Dominic that it was in view of the safety and security risks involved in permitting Muslim women to travel alone that the Haj committee was insisting that they be accompanied by a male family member.
. . .
As per the rules framed by the Haj committee, women performing Haj should be accompanied by a male member of the family whom she cannot marry. Such a male member is termed as 'mehram' in Sharia, the moral code and religious law of Islam...
Muslim women can’t go for Haj alone: Kerala govt
The Times of India, March 29, 2013

Egypt: Imam swears to Allah 'Islam’s flag will be raised above the White House' at Friday sermon (video)[edit]

A video recording from a recent Friday sermon in Egypt, where the imam swears to Allah several times that the flag of Islam will be raised above the White House of America, recently appeared on the Arabic Internet. According to the imam preaching, all Muslims need do is be patient and continue working towards this goal.
“Islam’s flag will be raised above the White House”
Raymond Ibrahim Islam Translated, March 28, 2013

Turkey: Prime minister attacks Dutch lesbians for adopting Turkish Muslim boy, lesbians go into hiding[edit]

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called homosexuality a ‘sexual preference’ saying it conflicted with the ‘culture of Islam’.

Erdoğan made these statements during a visit to the Netherlands, where he objected to a lesbian couple adopting a nine-year-old Turkish boy named Yunus.

Quoted by the Turkish daily Hürriyet, he said late last week: ‘We should hand over Yunus to secure hands. If we say “a six-month child cannot make such a decision so it is the judiciary who decides”, then this could lead to us to a big mistake’, he warned during meeting the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte.

Erdoğan said non-governmental organizations in the Netherlands should get involved to ‘ensure that children are placed within a situation they have been used to before’, i.e. a heterosexual Islamic background.

Rutte objected to the suggestion saying: ‘The placing of Dutch foster children is the sole responsibility of the Dutch government, of nobody else.

‘For this reason I'm against having the issue taken up at a ministerial level.

‘Ultimately no distinction is made based on sexual orientation or religion’.

He added: ‘It would be good, seen from a different angle, if there were more Islamic families in the Netherlands willing to take foster children from an Islamic background’.

Dutch deputy premier Lodewijk Asscher on Friday (22 March) called any interference by a ‘foreign power’ based on religion or sexual orientation ‘presumptuous’.

Turkish authorities placed Yunus, who is now a Dutch citizen, as well as his two older brothers in the care of the same lesbian couple as the biological family was deemed ‘abusive’ and ‘unfit’ to raise children.

The mother nevertheless managed to kidnap Yanus’s two older brothers taking them to her parents’ home in Turkey.

The mother then went on to appear on Turkey’s main TV channel, which is run by Erdoğan’s stepson, accusing the Netherlands of ‘child abuse’ by placing Yanus with a lesbian couple.

The TV station along with prominent Turkish politicians further hyped up the incident claiming that it is wrong to have homosexuals and non Muslims adopt a Turkish child.

The Turkish human rights commission has even alleged that Yunus is being ‘forcibly assimilated’ by the Netherlands, igniting a diplomatic dispute between the two countries.

Meanwhile Yunus’s lesbian parents were forced into hiding after a crew from the Turkish TV channel began stalking them.

During his visit Erdoğan also pressed to increase Turkish-Dutch trade volume from $7 billion to ‘$15 billion by 2015’ he said.

Speaking with Gay Star News, Ali Erol, chair and founder of Turkish LGBT rights group, Kaos GL, said: ‘Erdoğan’s hypocritically aggress the Netherlands to increase the capacity of trade but does not accept a child’s rights regarding his needs of love and security...
Update:[edit]
Turkey’s prime minister has instructed his government to take the case of an adoption of a boy by a Dutch lesbian couple to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

A report by the Turkish daily Sabah states that Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is making plans to take the case to the court, saying it was wrong to allow a lesbian couple to adopt the child.

Turkish authorities placed Yunus, who is now a Dutch citizen, as well as his two older brothers in the care of the same lesbian couple as the biological family was deemed ‘abusive’ and ‘unfit’ to raise children.

The mother nevertheless managed to kidnap Yanus’s two older brothers taking them to her parents’ home in Turkey.

Yunus’s biological mother has now asked Erdoğan to intervene on her behalf as to remove him from his adopted lesbian parents...

Bangladesh: Crackdown on "blasphemous" atheist bloggers widens after threats by Muslims[edit]

Bangladesh has widened a crackdown on allegedly blasphemous blogs after a threat by Islamists to march to the capital demanding the prosecution of atheist bloggers, an official said Wednesday.

The telecommunications regulator ordered two leading Internet sites to remove hundreds of posts by seven bloggers whose writings it said offended Muslims, according to its assistant director Rahman Khan.

"These writings have defamed Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. The two sites -- Somewhereinblog.net and Amarblog.com -- have removed most of the posts," Khan said.
Update:[edit]
Tens of thousands of Islamic activists prayed on the streets of the Bangladeshi capital today during a rally calling for the introduction of blaspemy laws and the restoration of a caretaker government.

Members of the Islami Andolan Bangladesh are demanding the arrest of 'atheist bloggers who insulted Islam' and to pass laws punishing those who 'insulted Islam in the parliament'.

They have announced plans to 'lay siege' to the office of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on April 25 if their demands are not met.

They include the restoration of the phrase 'absolute trust and faith upon Almighty Allah' in basic principles of the constitution; passing laws to punish atheists; holding of national elections under an impartial government; ensuring good governance and justice, uprooting terrorism and corruption; and establishing Islamic rule for a prosperous and welfare state.

According to www.thedailystar.net, the party's Amir Mufti Syed Muhammad Rezaul Karimalso told the rally: 'The incumbent and previous governments have nurtured corruption, violence, nepotism and other different evil practices during last few decades.

'Islami Andolan Bangladesh should be voted to power to get rid of this situation.'...
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today pledged stern action against people found guilty of defaming Islam using the internet as right-wing Islamic parties threatened to wage an intensified street campaign against "atheist bloggers".

"You (Islamic parties) do not need to go for any movement. As a Muslim, I have the responsibility to take action," Hasina said at a party meeting of her ruling Awami League, this evening.

She added, "We have already decided what action to be taken against those responsible for (internet posts and blogs) hurting people's religious sentiments."

The premier's comments came days after newly-emerged Hefazat-e-Islam announced a long march towards the capital Dhaka on April 6 to protest against "atheist internet bloggers"...
Three atheist bloggers in Bangladesh were today arrested here on charges of defaming Islam, as the government set up the country's first cyber crime tribunal to prevent exploitation of religion on the Internet.

The crackdown as well as the announcement came two days after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pledged stern action against people found guilty of defaming Islam using the Internet.

"We are amending both the Right to Information Act and the Penal Code toughening punitive measures for hurting the people's religious sentiments," Law Minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed told a press conference also joined by Home Minister Mahiuddin Khan Alamgir and two state ministers.
. . .
The trio, who were paraded in hand-cuffs at today's press conference, could face 10 years in jail if convicted under the country's cyber laws, which outlaw "defaming" a religion, deputy commissioner of Dhaka police Molla Nazrul Islam said...
Thousands of Islamist protesters marched the streets of Bangladesh’s capital, calling for the death penalty for bloggers who insult Islam. The city ground to a halt as demonstrators demanded the government change the law to punish blasphemers.

The activists gathered in their thousands at Dhaka’s commercial hub on Friday night in protest over blasphemous bloggers who offend Islamist sensibilities on social networks. In a demonstration that lasted well into Saturday, they urged the government to introduce a new law with the provision of the death penalty for those who defame Islam.

As the protesters advanced they chanted: "God is great, hang the atheist bloggers!”
. . .
Dhaka police put the number of demonstrators at around 100,000, while the event’s organizers said the protests drew more than half a million Muslims. The so-called ‘long march’ brought people from remote villages to participate...
A few lakh Islamists gathered at Motijheel in the capital yesterday and gave the government three weeks’ time to meet their demands, which include a law allowing for the death penalty for maligning Islam and stern punishment to those they call atheist bloggers.

Otherwise, they threatened, they would lay siege to the capital on May 5.

Assembled under the banner of Hefajat-e Islam, the Islamists also called a daylong hartal for tomorrow in protest at the “government efforts” to obstruct their long march.
. . .
Hefajat-e Islam Demands

1. Reinstate the phrase “Absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah” in the constitution as one of the fundamental principles of state policy

2. Enact a law providing for capital punishment for maligning Allah, Islam and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and smear campaigns against Muslims

3. Stop all propaganda and “derogatory comments” about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) by the “atheist leaders” of the Shahbagh movement, bloggers and other anti-Islamists; arrest them and ensure stern punishment to them

4. Stop attacking, shooting, killing and persecuting the Prophet-loving Islamic scholars, madrasa students and people united by belief in Allah

5. Release all arrested Islamic scholars and madrasa students6. Lift restrictions on mosques and remove obstacles to the holding of religious programmes

7. Declare “Qadianis” non-Muslim and call a halt to their publicity and conspiracies

8. Stop foreign cultural intrusions including free-mingling of men and women and candlelit vigils, and put an end to adultery, injustice, shamelessness, etc. in the name of freedom of expression and conscience

9. Stop turning Dhaka, the city of mosques, into a city of idols, and stop setting up sculptures at intersections, colleges and universities

10. Scrap anti-Islam women policy and education policy and make Islamic education mandatory from primary to higher secondary levels

11. Stop threatening and intimidating teachers and students of Qawmi madrasas, Islamic scholars, imams and khatibs

12. Stop propagating hatred among the younger generation of Muslims by misrepresentation of Islamic culture in the media

13. Stop anti-Islam activities by NGOs, evil attempts by Qadianis and conversions by Christian missionaries in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and elsewhere in the country
Govt given three weeks
Daily Star, April 7, 2013
As part of their push for a change in the law, the Hefajat-e-Islam group on Monday forced the closure of schools and businesses and barricaded inter-city motorways and railways across the country in a general strike.

Police said at least 30 people were injured in clashes between pro-government activists and Islamists, already infuriated by the recent convictions of leading opposition figures for war crimes.

But Sheikh Hasina, who has been leading a secular government in the Muslim-majority country since 2009, said existing laws were adequate to prosecute anyone accused of insulting a religion.

“Actually, we don’t have any plan to (bring in a new law). We don’t need it,” Hasina told the BBC in an interview broadcast Monday.

“They should know that existing laws are enough,” she added, before stressing that “this country is a secular democracy”...

Canada: Imam acquitted on sex charges re-arrested for charges of criminal sexual contact with a child[edit]

A day after being acquitted of sex-related charges, a former Toronto imam was arrested Wednesday for extradition to the United States.

Mohammad Masroor, 50, is wanted in Michigan and Florida on charges of criminal sexual contact with a person under 13, Toronto Police said.

“The offences are alleged to have occurred between 2000 and 2005,” police said Thursday.

Masroor was charged two years ago with sexually assaulting six people between November 2008 and July 2011. He was also charged with threatening death.

At the time of his 2011 arrest, Masroor was an imam teaching the Qur’an to children at an east-end mosque.

The allegations came as a shock to Muslim community members attending the mosque.

On Wednesday, after standing trial on seven sex-related charges, he was acquitted on all counts.

Masroor — of Bangladeshi origin — has been in Canada since 2008, police said.

Officers noted in 2011 that he had also been to a number of other places: Germany, Hungary, Sri Lanka, Singapore, France, Michigan and Florida.

Police said Thursday Masroor is in custody and currently awaiting proceedings that could end with his extradition to the U.S.

UK: Judges accept Abu Qatada is ‘very dangerous’ but put his human rights ahead of protecting the public[edit]

Britain could be stuck with Abu Qatada for life after judges put the fanatic’s human rights ahead of protecting the public – even though they accepted he was ‘very dangerous’.

The judges said that while Qatada’s deportation was ‘long overdue’, his risk to the public was not ‘a relevant consideration’ under human rights laws.

The verdict drew a furious response from the Tories and sparked new demands for the Government to ignore the courts and simply throw him out of the country.

The Appeal Court yesterday upheld an earlier verdict that sending the hate preacher to face a terror trial in Jordan would not be fair.

Ministers have been trying for a decade to send Qatada to Jordan, where he is accused of plotting a terrorist atrocity to coincide with the Millennium.

His removal was originally approved by the British courts, only to be halted by the European Court of Human Rights last year. Judges in Strasbourg said he would not get a fair trial because some of the evidence used against him may have been obtained by torture. Controversially, Mrs May opted not to appeal against this verdict.

Instead, she and her ministers secured personal promises from the Jordanian authorities there would be no use of torture evidence, and began the deportation process again in the UK legal system.

But last November, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) said it was not satisfied with the assurances, and halted Qatada’s removal. The court said it must reflect the Strasbourg ruling.
. . .
Qatada is in Belmarsh high-security jail for allegedly breaching his immigration bail conditions.

Police are investigating whether he posted extremist propaganda on the internet while his every move was supposedly monitored by security officials. Anti-terror police raided his home after finding fresh jihadi articles on the internet.

If charges are brought, it would mean Qatada standing trial in Britain for the first time, which could itself halt deportation proceedings.

The worst-case scenario for the Home Office is that police take no further action and Qatada is once again granted bail. He is shortly due to go before Siac to ask for his release. The court has granted him bail on two previous occasions.

If freed, Qatada would go back under round-the-clock surveillance estimated to cost £100,000 a week, or £5million a year.

Should the Home Office’s appeal against yesterday’s verdict be refused, and no charges are brought, there would no longer be any grounds for holding him in jail or under effective house arrest.

Instead, he would be placed on a so-called T-Pim - a terror control order that would restrict his movements and use of the internet, while leaving him free to walk the streets for up to 12 hours a day.

T-Pims normally only last two years, raising the prospect of Qatada being free by mid-2015.

The alternative is for Mrs May to try to get yet more assurances from Jordan and seek permission to restart the deportation process. Qatada has been linked to a long list of international terrorists. He featured in hate sermons found on videos in the flat of one of the September 11 bombers.

In April 1999, he was convicted in his absence on terror charges in Jordan and sentenced to life imprisonment. It is on these charges that he faces a retrial.

Last night, the Home Office said: ‘This is not the end of the road. The Government remains determined to deport Abu Qatada.’

Pakistan: Judge dismisses bail petition of man accused of blasphemy who had already been denied bail three times[edit]

Abdul Shakoor alias Baba Sahib allegedly instructed a follower of his late father, Ghafoor Shah, to recite the kalma but with the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) name substituted with his father’s name. Shakoor is the mutawali, or caretaker, of his father’s shrine.

The follower, Liaqat Ali, is also in jail.

The complainant in the case is Qari Shaukat, the imam of a mosque next to the graveyard where Ghafoor Shah’s shrine is located. Shaukat claims to have recorded the alleged blasphemy on his mobile phone.

Shakoor told the court on Wednesday that he had been falsely accused by the imam, with whom he had personal differences as well as a dispute over some land. He said that the so-called recording had not been sent to a lab, so there was no real evidence that it was his voice.

He said that the location from where the imam purported to have made the recording was some 30 feet from the shrine. It was not possible for him to have made a clear recording from that distance on a cheap mobile phone, he said.

Shakoor said that the only witness Shaukat had produced in support of his complaint resided with the imam in the mosque. He said that the complainant had a personal grudge against him because he had not invited the imam to his father’s urs or to a nikah. Further, they had a dispute over some land.

He said that he had been in jail for 14 months for a crime he had not committed and he deserved bail.

Advocate Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, counsel for the complainant, said that the imam had heard the allegedly blasphemous recitation when he got up early in the morning for tahajjud prayers. He said he had heard Shakoor direct Liaqat Ali to make the allegedly blasphemous utterance.

He said when the imam instructed him not to do so, Shakoor insulted and threatened him.
Blasphemy accused denied bail for a fourth time
The Express Tribune, March 28, 2013

Nigeria: Special Task Force set up to protect communities against Islamic terror attacks, commit Islamic terror attacks[edit]

Nigerian athorities were under pressure Tuesday, March 26, to investigate the reported attack on a Christian family in which a rogue soldier killed a young girl and an infant, while injuring their sister, mother and grandmother

Local Christians said a member of the Special Task Force (STF), set up by the government to protect communities against Islamic attacks, was believed to be responsible for the March 17 bloodshed in the village of Torok, some 65 kilometers (41 miles) southwest of Jos in Nigeria's central Plateau state.

Christian news agency Morning Star News quoted Lyop Dangyel, a mother of three, as saying she was injured in the same shooting spree that killed her nine-month old baby and second daughter Nancy, who is five.

Dengyel, 30, said she had asked her bleeding 7-year-old daughter Comfort to pray for her survival. “Dear Jesus, please save me and mom,” Comfort reportedly began, as Dangyel silently joined her in prayer that their lives would not ebb away.

Minutes later, her husband, Dangyel Chuwang, returned to find his wife, first-born daughter and 50-year-old mother wounded, along with the corpses of his infant and five-year-old, Morning Star News said.

STUDENT INJURED

A high school student, Elisha Dalyop, said he was also injured in the March 17 attack when he was shot in the leg by an unidentified STF policeman after escaping from the family home where the initial shooting occurred.

The violence has underscored attacks against Christians in the area.

On March 14, Islamic extremist gunmen reportedly shot a Christian high school student, Davou Gwong, in his thighs at about in nearby Wereng village.

Previous attacks on Wereng village took place in July and December when at least one elderly man Danburang Tengwom a father of eight children, was killed, Christians said.

Riyom Local Government Chairman Sam Audu was quoted as saying that that STF forces are responsible for some of the 100 deaths and 60 wounded in the area the past six months.
. . .
The violence has been encouraged by Islamic group Boko Haram, which also attacks Christians as part of its attempt to carve out an Islamic state.

Last week, dozens of people were killed in a series of explosions that rocked a bus station in the Christian neighborhood of Nigeria's northern city of Kano.
. . .
Other known incidents since last month included suspected Muslim attackers using machetes and guns to murder 10 members of the same Christian family February 21 in Plateau state, with half the victims under the age of six, the military and government confirmed...

Jordan: Five students detained for desecrating the Quran and engaging in 'devil worship'[edit]

Human Rights Watch urged Jordan on Wednesday to charge or release five university students detained earlier this month for allegedly desecrating the Koran and engaging in "devil worship."

The students, from Al al-Bayt University in northeastern Jordan, deny the accusations and have neither been charged nor taken before a judge. They were assaulted by a crowd of other students before their arrest on March 12, the rights watchdog said on its website.

"Jordanian authorities should release the five students and take steps to protect them from further attack," said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at HRW.

"The authorities should hold to account anyone who joined in this witch hunt and committed acts of violence. They should not be allowed to walk free while their victims are locked up."

Other students alleged the five ripped and burned a manuscript of the Muslim holy book and threw it in the toilet while performing a "religious ritual."

HRW quoted their relatives as saying no evidence of criminal behavior has been presented to the detained students.

"Authorities should also investigate reported remarks, including by a well-known Salafist sheikh, advocating the students' deaths and prosecute anyone whose language amounted to direct incitement to murder," it said.

Salafists are an ultra-conservative current of Sunni Islam.

These remarks "have led to other calls for the students to be killed in messages posted on Facebook... prompting fears for their safety and doubts about whether they will be able to complete their university studies in Jordan."...

US: Double-murder in Pakistan ordered by New York City cab driver angry after his daughter escaped arranged marriage[edit]

A federal grand jury is investigating a double-murder in Pakistan that authorities say may have been ordered by a New York City cab driver angry after his daughter escaped her arranged marriage, The Post has learned.

Mohammad Ajmal Choudhry, 60, was arrested last month in Brooklyn and charged with visa fraud.

But US federal agents now are scrutinizing claims that he arranged the recent execution-style murder of two people in Pakistan's Punjab province after his daughter refused to return to the marriage, officials disclosed yesterday.

"United States law enforcement agents are actively investigating the murders," says a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement report about the federal grand jury probe.

Authorities say the cab driver's daughter, Amina Ajmal, escaped the coerced union in Pakistan with the help of a cousin and US diplomatic personnel and then returned to New York City, where she had grown up and was educated.

But when the daughter refused to return to the arranged union in Pakistan, her father - who lives in Brooklyn - vowed to kill the cousin and her relatives, officials said.

Late last month, two relatives of the cousin who helped Ajmal escape the forced marriage were gunned down and murdered in Pakistan, while a third was badly injured in the shooting, officials said.
. . .
Choudhry - a legal US resident and citizen of Pakistan who is a New York City cab driver - pleaded not guilty earlier this week after he was indicted on the earlier visa fraud charges.

At this point he has not been charged with the killings.

Choudhry's defense attorney has vowed to fight the visa fraud case, but said he had not been informed of the Brooklyn federal grand jury probe into the murders.

Yesterday, a federal magistrate judge signed a material witness warrant for Choudhry's other brother - who also lives in Brooklyn - barring him from leaving the US, after the feds alleged that he, too, may have knowledge about the murder plot.

After Choudhry's arrest on the visa charges in February, Brooklyn federal prosecutors said that more than three years ago the cab driver had forced Ajmal, a US citizen in her early 20s, to travel back to Pakistan to marry Abrar Ahmed Babar.

He ordered one of his brothers to hold Ajmal captive in Pakistan until the wedding took place there in November, sources said.

But several weeks after the ceremony took place, Ajmal escaped back to the United States with the help of her cousin and the US Embassy personnel.

When she arrived back in New York, Ajmal agreed to help federal agents investigate her father actions and then recorded several telephone conversations with him, officials said.

In two taped conversations, on Feb. 20 and 21, Choudhry allegedly threatened Ajmal's cousin and her relatives - all of whom live in Pakistan, officials said.

A few days later, the two relatives were killed.

France: Police arrest two men on suspicion of complicity with Muslim terrorist Mohamed Merah[edit]

For earlier news and updates on the same subject, click here.

French police on Tuesday arrested two men on suspicion of complicity with Islamist terrorist Mohamed Merah, who killed seven people, including a rabbi and three Jewish school children, in the city of Toulouse a year ago.

An anti-terror unit arrested the pair in Toulouse, police officials said, without providing details on their identity, the AFP news agency reported.

Two men aged 19 and 22 were arrested a month earlier on suspicion of assisting Merah, aged 23, who was shot dead in a police siege after killing a rabbi, three Jewish children and three paratroopers outside the Otzar HaTorah Jewish day school.

They were released without charge, as were three others arrested before them, according to AFP.

French police doubt that Merah, a self-described Al-Qaeda sympathizer, could have acted alone, but the only individual charged thus far with complicity in the crime has been his brother Abdelkader.

France has seen a 45 percent increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents since the Toulouse shootings.
France Arrests Two Over Toulouse Shootings
Israel National News, March 27, 2013

UK: Medicine being stockpiled ready for biological attack on a city centre or train station, security officials reveal[edit]

Medicine is being stockpiled in readiness for a biological attack on a city centre or train station by terrorists, security officials revealed yesterday.

The chilling prospect of biological warfare on our streets was included in a Home Office list of threats facing the UK.

Officials also warned of the possibility of a Mumbai-style firearms attack on a crowded place, and surface-to-air missiles being used to shoot down a passenger jet.

According to the document, handed to MPs, there are emerging fears about a ‘large-scale terrorist attack using biological agents’.

No further information was given about the nature of the threat - but biological warfare can involve the release of a deadly virus or bacteria, such as smallpox.

The Home Office report, called Contest, says: ‘We have increased the stocks of medical supplies and put in place better plans to improve the speed and coverage of the health response.’

Charles Farr, head of the Home Office’s Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism, said one potential source of biological weapons was UK universities, where science labs use materials with a ‘dual purpose’.

Universities have been asked to improve security to prevent fanatics being able to steal the biological agents.

Other current threats to the UK include:

  • A doubling in the number of Westerners, including Britons, being kidnapped abroad
  • Jihadists returning from the Syrian civil war to carry out attacks in the UK
  • Planes being blown out of the sky carrying UK tourists

The report said the overall threat to the UK had diversified beyond al Qaeda plots developed from within Pakistan to other areas.

More than 150 foreign nationals have been kidnapped by Islamist terrorist groups since 2008, at least 13 of whom were British, the report said.

In a worrying trend, numbers last year were more than double those in 2010.

Fanatics linked to al Qaeda and other groups have received at least £40million to fund terrorism as a result.

Officials also raised the prospect of a jet carrying British passengers being shot out of the sky using surface-to-air weapons, when passing over North Africa.

A number of weapons have gone missing in the chaos which followed the downfall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya. Planes carrying Westerners are considered an attractive target.

Concerns remain about the ‘trend for terrorists to use firearms as part of an attack’, officials said.

Specialist teams of police and emergency services have been trained to respond to terrorists attempting a mass casualty attack on a hotel, train station or city centre in the UK.
. . .
Some 600 terrorist attacks involving Syrian groups took place last year, including 60 suicide deaths. Whitehall sources have suggested there could be 70 British fanatics who have travelled to Syria.

The fear is that they will travel back to the UK to carry out attacks here.

Mr Farr said threats from terrorism were spreading across a wider area into lawless countries with no recognised government.

The report said: ‘This poses significant challenges to our national security and to the security and intelligence agencies and departments working on counter-terrorism...

More than 10,000 extremist websites on Internet, fewer than 100 countering them[edit]

There are more than 10,000 extremist websites on the Internet compared to fewer than 100 countering them, an analyst on Tuesday told a conference which stressed the need to rebut militant propaganda.

"In many ways, the terrorists are very successful in cyberspace," said counter-terrorism analyst Rohan Gunaratna, who heads the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore.

"It is very important for us to build in the next 10 years the capacities and capabilities to counter the increasing presence and the operation of these groups in cyberspace."
. . .
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a keynote speech that self-radicalisation through constant exposure to radical views online was a "growing phenomenon".

"Jihadist sites and sermons by charismatic ideologue firebrands are just a mouse click away," said Lee, who also stressed the need for closer international cooperation against terrorism.

Some 500 security analysts, academics and religious leaders attended the forum.

Islamic scholar Ali Mohamed, co-chairman of Singapore's Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG), said cyberspace "is shaping up to be the new battleground for hearts and minds".

The RRG counsels and reindoctrinates jailed militants and helps them reintegrate into society, including some arrested in late 2001 for allegedly plotting to bomb US and other targets in the city-state.

"Terrorists are increasingly exploiting the Internet as a tool for mass communication and radicalisation," said Ali.

"RRG believes that this is one of our greatest challenges today -- to deal (with) and counter the pervasive spread of terrorist ideologies and extremist views online."

Egypt: Mosque turned into house of torture for Christians[edit]

Islamic hard-liners stormed a mosque in suburban Cairo, turning it into torture chamber for Christians who had been demonstrating against the ruling Muslim Brotherhood in the latest case of violent persecution that experts fear will only get worse.

Such stories have become increasingly common as tensions between Egypt’s Muslims and Copts mount, but in the latest case, mosque officials corroborated much of the account and even filed a police report. Demonstrators, some of whom were Muslim, say they were taken from the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in suburban Cairo to a nearby mosque on Friday and tortured for hours by hard-line militia members.

“They accompanied me to one of the mosques in the area and I discovered the mosque was being used to imprison demonstrators and torture them,” Amir Ayad, a Coptic who has been a vocal protester against the regime, told MidEast Christian News from a hospital bed.

Ayad said he was beaten for hours with sticks before being left for dead on a roadside. Amir’s brother, Ezzat Ayad, said he received an anonymous phone call at 3 a.m. Saturday, with the caller saying his brother had been found near death and had been taken to the ambulance.

“He underwent radiation treatment that proved that he suffered a fracture in the bottom of his skull, a fracture in his left arm, a bleeding in the right eye, and birdshot injuries,” Ezzat Ayad said.

Officials at the Bilal ibn Rabah Mosque said radical militias stormed the building, in the Cairo suburb of Moqattam, after Friday prayers.
. . .
The latest crackdown is further confirmation that the Muslim Brotherhood’s most hard-line elements are consolidating control in Egypt, according to Shaul Gabbay, a professor of international studies at the University of Denver.

“It will only get worse,” said Gabbay. “This has been a longstanding conflict, but now that the Muslim Brotherhood is in power, it is moving forward to implement its ideology – which is that Christians are supposed to become Muslims.

“There is no longer anything to hold them back,” he continued. “The floodgates are open.”
. . .
Experts agreed that the Copts, who comprise roughly 10 percent of the nation’s 83 million people, are not alone in their opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood, which took power in hotly contested elections following the 2011 ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak. Moderate Muslims and secular liberals are increasingly uncomfortable with the Islamization of the government.

Sheikh Ahmed Saber, a well-known imam and official in Egypt’s Ministry of Endowments, has blasted Morsi’s justice ministry for allowing persecution of Copts.

“All Egyptians in general are oppressed, but Christians are particularly oppressed, because they suffer double of what others suffer,” Saber told MCN.
Update:[edit]
A mosque in suburban Cairo was used by Islamic hardliners to terrorize a Christian and anti-Islamist protestors in suburban Cairo in March, activists said. Christians and liberals are growing increasingly concerned with the Muslim Brotherhood’s failure to protect religious minorities.

Amir Ayad was on his way to join protestors near the headquarters of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party in suburban Cairo on March 22 when he was stopped by a group of civilians who were checking vehicles for weapons.

“I mistakenly thought they were police,” Ayad told ICC. “When they saw my ID card they found out that I am a Christian. At that moment, they hit me on the head from behind and I lost consciousness. I woke up to find myself lying down on the floor of Belal Ibn Rabah mosque in Al-Moqattam.”

Ayad said the mosque had been turned into a torture facility. “Inside the mosque I was tortured, naked, my legs were tied, and my hands were tied behind my waist,” he explained. “They came with thick wooden sticks and metal rods and started to strongly hit my legs and arms in order to break my bones.”

According to Ayad, the facility had been installed by Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers in order to scare protestors who disagreed with the Brotherhood’s policies. “At first, I was there with nine others who were demonstrating against the Brotherhood,” Ayad said. “They released the other captives—after breaking their legs and arms—and brought more demonstrators.”

Wagih Yacoub, a Coptic rights activist and friend of Ayad’s, said the facility used deliberate and efficient methods of torture that would be too sophisticated for an unorganized group of criminals to fabricate. “They were very well organized,” Yacoub told World Net Daily. “They had stations and one where they made people take off their clothes. The others, they passed their clothes to another group where [the clothes] could be searched. The people in the mosque checked the pockets and took the victims’ identification papers.”

Ayad reportedly told Yacoub that the torturers operated in the dark so they would not be identified. “[The torturers] also relied on the cell phone lights so no one could recognize their faces. They put [the victims’] hands behind their backs and tied up their legs,” explained Yacoub. “The torturers lifted their victim’s legs up onto a chair and then they beat them with sticks badly all over their body – on their legs, on their hands, on their back, and on their head.”

Torture Undermines President’s Authority

Six hours after his abduction, Ayad found an opportunity to escape. “The last 20 minutes there was a debate between two groups of people who were torturing us because they had different opinions,” Ayad said. “The first was to kill me and the second was to smash my bones and to fill my body with scars to be an example to others who decide to protest against the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“At the end I was in the room with only two men who were torturing us,” Ayad continued. “While they were busy I decided to jump out the window. I crawled for around an hour until I reached some people. Then I lost consciousness until I woke up to find myself at El-Hilal Hospital in Cairo.”

Mosque officials later claimed that they had no idea the mosque had been used to torture people. “[We] deeply regret what has happened and apologize to the people of Moqattam,” officials said, according to MidEast Christian News. “[We] had lost control over the mosque at the time.”

Shaul Gabbay, a professor of international studies at the University of Denver, told Fox News that the men who tortured Ayad likely work hand-in-hand with the Muslim Brotherhood and may be beyond the ability of President Mohammad Morsi to control. “Though [Morsi] may benefit from roving bands that attack demonstrators, they also undermine his claim of being a legitimate leader,” Fox News reports.

The situation for Christians in Egypt is bound to get worse, says Gabbay. “This has been a longstanding conflict, but now that the Muslim Brotherhood is in power, it is moving forward to implement its ideology – which is that Christians are supposed to become Muslims,” he said.

Christians Oppressed

Two weeks after Ayad was tortured, hundreds of Christians and sympathetic Muslims gathered outside a funeral procession held at St. Mark's Cathedral in Abbassia, Cairo on April 7 to denounce the Muslim Brotherhood for failing to protect Christians and to call on Morsi to step down from power. “With our blood and our soul we will sacrifice ourselves for the cross,” chanted protestors, according to The New York Times.

Hours after the demonstration, Christians were again attacked, this time by Muslim rioters who threw Molotov cocktails and tear gas at Christian mourners attending a funeral inside the cathedral. Two Christians were killed and several dozen were injured.

Morsi called Coptic Pope Tawadros II soon after to condemn the attack on the cathedral and to assure that Christians would be protected by the government. “But in reality [Morsi] did not [protect the cathedral],” Tawadros said, according to The Associated Press. “[It] comes under the category of negligence and poor assessment of events… The church has been a national symbol for 2,000 years. It has not been subjected to anything like this even during the darkest ages... There has been no positive and clear action from the state.”

Christians, who comprise roughly 10 percent of Egypt’s population, are not alone in their opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood. Moderate Muslims and liberals are also growing frustrated with the Brotherhood’s treatment of religious minorities.

“All Egyptians in general are oppressed, but Christians are particularly oppressed,” Sheikh Ahmed Saber, an imam and official in Egypt’s Ministry of Endowments, told MidEast Christian News. “[Christians] suffer double of what others suffer.”

Sudan: Vice president invites rebel groups to help prepare a new constitution[edit]

Sudan's vice president on Tuesday invited rebel groups to help prepare a new constitution, a sign of Khartoum's newly-relaxed stance toward the insurgents since signing border security deals with South Sudan this month.

Relations between Sudan and its southern neighbour have been tumultuous since the two split apart in July 2011 under a peace deal that ended decades of civil war - and both have accused the other of continuing to support rebels in their territories.

After the split, the two fell out over the position of their border, the status of disputed land, the division of national debt and how much the landlocked South should pay to export its oil through Sudan, among other issues.

Tensions compelled South Sudan to shut off its entire 350,000 barrel-a-day oil industry - the lifeblood of both economies - in January last year, and brought the two close to all-out war a few months later.

But Sudan's First Vice President Ali Osman Taha said on Tuesday the two were headed toward warmer ties since agreeing in African Union-brokered talks this month to a timeline for resolving some of their most bitter disputes.

He called on Malik Agar and Abdelaziz al-Hilu, leaders of rebels fighting in the border areas with South Sudan, to help prepare a new constitution, which Sudan had been supposed to draft after the South's secession.

"I invite all political and opposition forces and Malik Agar and Abdelaziz al-Hilu to join in preparing the new constitution," Taha said in a rare press conference in Khartoum.

"There is no way to continue with partial solutions, and Agar and al-Hilu have a right like any other Sudanese citizen to participate in preparing the new constitution."

He said dialogue with the rebels, who are known as the SPLM-North, would aim at completing "popular consultations," a process supposed to define the relationship between people in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile border states and Khartoum.

Popular consultations were provided as part of the 2005 peace deal with the South, but they were halted when fighting broke out in the two states.

The rebels sided with the south during the civil war with Khartoum that led up to South Sudan's independence. But they were left inside Sudan after the partition.

Fighting between the SPLM-North and Sudan's government reignited around the time South Sudan seceded. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes in the two states.

The rebels have said they are open to talks with the government but there is a long way to go before achieving peace...

Pakistan: Mob led by Muslim cleric beat and torture Ahmadi family, police present but no action taken against the mob[edit]

Local clerics attacked a house belonging to an Ahmadi family in the Kasur district of Punjab on Tuesday and subjected the family members to violence allegedly over their religious belief, The Express Tribune has learnt.

A mob led by a local cleric chanted slogans against Ahmadi families, their religious beliefs and their community before breaking into Mansoor’s* house in the Shamsabad area.

The five members of Mansoor’s family tried to take refuge in a room but the mob broke into the room as well.

Police personnel were reportedly present at the spot but did not take any action against the mob.

Mansoor was severely tortured after which he lost consciousness, while his wife and his 70-year-old uncle were also beaten.

Mansoor was shifted to a hospital where authorities claimed that he is in critical condition.

Sheikh Yousaf, Head of the Ahmadi community in Kasur, told The Express Tribune that he had repeatedly asked the DPO Kasur to establish a police check post in the area as they had been receiving threats since six months. He said that the DPO had agreed to his demands but the local MNA created hurdles in establishment of the check post.

He claimed that the police had deliberately left the Ahmadi family at the mercy of the mob, and the clerics who attacked that threatened the family to convert to their religion or face consequences.

The house was attacked when Mansoor refused to convert, Yousaf added.

Uganda: Muslim cleric and former al-Qaeda suspect charged with terrorism[edit]

Two people, including a Muslim cleric (imam), Jamal Kiyemba, who were implicated in the disappearance of a number of people, including children, have been charged with terrorism and remanded to Luzira Prison.

Jamal Kiyemba, 34, a former al-Qaeda suspect and Bashir Nyangishu, 26, appeared before the Makindye Court Grade One Magistrate, Henry Hadilu, last Wednesday and were charged with terrorism.

On the charge sheet, the prosecution alleged that Kiyemba, Nyangishu and others still at large, between 2008 and January 2013 at Zzana in Wakiso district, were directly involved in the kidnapping of a group of people.

The two are alleged to have kidnapped the people for “the purposes of influencing the Government or intimidating the public for a political and religious aim”.
. . .
Kiyemba is an imam at Masjid Taqua in Kirimanyaga zone, Zzana, while Nyangishu is a bodaboda cyclist and a resident of Seguku in Wakiso. The case was adjourned to April 10.

The Police arrested Kiyemba from his home in Zzana following the disappearance of Zaida Mutebi and his children: Mohammed Wamala, 13, Shadia Bibirye, 12 and Huzaifah Mutebi, 7.
. . .
Kiyemba was formerly a detainee at the US detention facility of Guantanamo after he was arrested in Pakistan while on his way to Afghanistan. He was arrested as a terror suspect in 2003. He spent there three years before being released and deported to Uganda
Muslim cleric charged with terrorism
New Vision, March 26, 2013

Egypt: Women speak out against rapes, Muslim officials outraged and blame the women[edit]

The sheer number of women sexually abused and gang raped in a single public square had become too big to ignore. Conservative Islamists in Egypt's new political elite were outraged — at the women.

"Sometimes," said Adel Abdel Maqsoud Afifi, a police general, lawmaker and ultraconservative Islamist, "a girl contributes 100 percent to her own raping when she puts herself in these conditions."

The increase in sexual assaults over the last two years has set off a new battle over who is to blame, and the debate has become a stark and painful illustration of the convulsions racking Egypt as it tries to reinvent itself.

Under Hosni Mubarak, the omnipresent police kept sexual assault out of the public squares and the public eye. But since Mubarak's exit, the withdrawal of the security forces has allowed sexual assault to explode into the open, terrorizing Egyptian women.
. . .
The female victims, these officials declared, had invited the attacks by participating in public protests. "How do they ask the Ministry of Interior to protect a woman when she stands among men?" Reda Saleh Al al-Hefnawi, a lawmaker from the Muslim Brotherhood's political party, asked at a parliamentary meeting on the issue.

The revolution initially promised to reopen public space to women. Men and women demonstrated together in Tahrir Square peacefully during the heady 18 days and nights that led to the ouster of Mubarak. But within minutes of his departure the threat re-emerged in a group attack on the CBS News correspondent Lara Logan. There are no official statistics on women attacked — partly because few women report offenses — but all acknowledge that the attacks have grown bolder and more violent.

By the second anniversary of the revolution, on Jan. 25, the symbolic core of the revolution — Tahrir Square — had become a no-go zone for women, especially after dark.

During a demonstration that day against the new Islamist-led government, an extraordinary wave of sexual assaults — at least 18 confirmed by human rights groups, and more, according to Egypt's semiofficial National Council of Women — shocked the country, drawing public attention from President Mohammed Morsi and Western diplomats.

Hania Moheeb, 42, a journalist, was one of the first victims to speak out about her experience that day. In a television interview, she recounted how a group of men surrounded her, stripped off her clothes and violated her for three quarters of an hour. The men all shouted that they were trying to rescue her, Moheeb recalled, and by the time an ambulance arrived she could no longer differentiate her assailants from defenders.
. . .
Of the 18 confirmed attacks that day, six women were hospitalized, according to interviews conducted by human rights groups. One woman was stabbed in her genitals, and another required a hysterectomy.

In the aftermath, victims of other sexual assaults around Tahrir Square over the last two years have come forward as well. "When I see Mohamed Mahmoud Street on television from home, my hand automatically grabs my pants," Yasmine Al Baramawy said in a television interview, recalling her own attack last November.

She and a friend were each surrounded by two separate rings of attackers, she said. Some claimed to be protecting her from others but joined in the attack. They used knives to cut most of the clothes off her body and then pinned her half-naked to the hood of a car. And they continued to torment her on a slow, hourlong drive to a nearby neighborhood, where she said residents finally interceded to rescue her.

"They told people I had a bomb on my abdomen to stop anybody from rescuing me," Baramawy said.
. . .
Members of the political elite, meanwhile, have appeared more concerned with blaming one another. The Muslim Brotherhood "plotted the sexual harassment in Tahrir Square" to intimidate the demonstrators, asserted Mohamed Abu Al Ghar, the president of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.

The Muslim Brotherhood said opposition leaders "ignored the brutal party of harassment and rape" in the square, according to a column on the Brotherhood website. The rapes are "a disgrace on their foreheads," the column declared.

Other Brotherhood lawmakers faulted protest organizers for failing to segregate the demonstrators by gender as the Islamists usually do.

Some ultraconservative Islamists, now a political power alongside the Brotherhood, condemned the women for speaking out at all.

"You see those women speaking like ogres, without shame, politeness, fear or even femininity," declared a television preacher, Ahmed Abdullah, known as Sheikh Abu Islam.

Such a woman is "like a demon," he said, wondering why anyone should sympathize with those "naked" women who "went there to get raped."

Moheeb called such remarks "scandalous" and accused Islamist lawmakers of being complicit.

"When ordinary people say such things, ignorance might be an excuse," Moheeb said, "but when somebody in the legislature makes such comments, they're encouraging the assailants."

Indonesia: Muslim threats against Christian Holy Week celebrations[edit]

This Holy Week will be full of tensions for Catholics in West Jakarta, who put up with repeated threats over the weekend from hundreds of Islamic extremists, who tried to block access to Christ the Peace Catholic Church in Kepa Duri, an administrative area west of the Indonesian capital.

Last Saturday, on the eve of Palm Sunday, Islamist groups (pictured) made serious threats against Catholics in Kepa Duri, telling the priest and the faithful to cancel scheduled weekend celebrations.

Their hatred was triggered by the fact that the place of worship is located inside a school, which, in their opinion, "should not be used" for religious services.

The extremists tried to attack the site when the priest and some members of the congregation started a prayer meeting. As a result, Fr Matthew Widyolestari turned to the Interfaith Forum in Jakarta, which met with the leaders of the extremist protest.

Contacted by AsiaNews, Fr Matthew said that Sunday services would be held "regularly, as scheduled," which is what happened. Yesterday in fact, the faithful were able to attend Mass, also thanks to the massive deployment of security forces sent to protect their life.

Now attention has turned on Holy Week services, with the maximum level of vigilance in force.

Tunisia: Protesters demand minister for women’s affairs resign over defending a nursery where a toddler was raped[edit]

Protesters on Monday demanded the resignation of Tunisia’s minister for women’s affairs, Sihem Badi, accusing her of defending a children’s nursery where a three-year-old girl was raped.

The protesters, among them relatives of the victim, gathered outside the ministry in Tunis shouting slogans against Badi, including “Minister of shame, get out!” and “Ministers who protect pedophiles have no place among us.”

The young girl was raped repeatedly by the caretaker of the nursery in La Marsa, an upscale suburb of the capital, according to the police.

The suspect was arrested on Saturday

On the same day, Badi, who as minister of families as well of women’s affairs is responsible for children’s nurseries, said a member of the girl’s family was to blame and that no measures against the caretaker were needed.
. . .
If found guilty, the suspect risks the death penalty, even though no executions have actually been carried out in Tunisia since 1991...

Iran: American pastor imprisoned for his faith gets letter to his family, tells of abuse and torture[edit]

For earlier news and updates on the same subject, click here.

According to CBN News, the letter is written in the margins of newspaper scraps, and tells of abuse and torture.

He said he did not recognize himself after being beaten. He also expressed concern for his wife and children back in the United States.

"My hair was shaven, under my eyes were swollen three times what they should have been, my face was swollen. . .," he wrote.

Read the entire letter at ACLJ website.

The American Center for Law and Justice is calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to put pressure on the Iranian government to secure his release. So far, the State Department has been mostly silent on the issue.

You can sign the American Center for Law and Justice's petition to free Saeed here.

Italy: High-profile Muslim convert to Christianity will leave Catholic Church to protest its soft stance against Islam[edit]

A high-profile Italian Muslim who converted to Catholicism and was baptized by Pope Benedict XVI announced on Monday (March 25) that he will leave the church to protest its soft stance against Islam.

Egyptian-born Magdi Cristiano Allam, 61, a prominent journalist and outspoken critic of Islam, publicly entered the Catholic Church on March 22, 2008 during an Easter Vigil service, receiving baptism directly from Benedict.

After his conversion, Allam founded a small right-wing political party that lost badly in Italy's general elections last April.

Writing on Monday in the right-wing daily Il Giornale, Allam explained that he considers his conversion to Catholicism finished "in combination with the end of (Benedict's) pontificate."

"The 'papolatry' that has inflamed the euphoria for Francis I and has quickly archived Benedict XVI was the last straw in an overall framework of uncertainty and doubts about the Church," he wrote.

On Friday, Francis pledged to "intensify dialogue among the various religions," particularly Islam.

Allam, who has called Islam an "intrinsically violent ideology," said his main reason for leaving the church was its perceived "religious relativism, in particular the legitimization of Islam as a true religion."

"Europe will end up being subjugated to Islam," he warned in Il Giornale, unless it "finds the courage to denounce Islam as incompatible with our civilization and fundamental human rights," and to "banish the Quran for inciting hatred, violence and death towards non-Muslims." Europeans also need to "condemn Sharia as a crime against humanity" and to "stop the spread of mosques."

Allam said he would remain a Christian but that he didn't "believe in the church anymore."...

Spain: Government to allow Morocco control of adopted Muslim children to make sure they have not converted to Christianity[edit]

The Spanish government will allow Moroccan religious authorities to take control of children up to 18 years of age to make sure they have not been converted to Christianity.

In the name of Sharia it designates the set of rules of Muslim life. Islamic states are adopting it as their own legislation. They are even doing this – in partially-in Islamic countries that are not Islamic states.

In our case it is the subject of adoption. Apparently many couples want to adopt Spanish children outside our borders. We see that there are not enough children here.

Anyway, in Morocco, since the Islamists came to power in January 2012 [you know, the Arab spring], for a child to be adopted by a Moroccan Spanish family, it requires the child to remain culturally and religiously Muslim. Furthermore, the Spanish Government should be obliged to control the process [?] And allow Moroccan religious authorities to take control of children up to 18 years of age to ensure they have not been converted to Christianity.

The demands of an Islamic country is not a surprise for us, for we know far too well their lack of religious freedom. What is truly inconceivable is that the Spanish government accept these conditions. Well, what you just read, this unprecedented advance of Sharia in our country, will soon be included in our legislation.

Some questions that confront us are: What about religious freedom? And the Spanish Constitution? What about the West?

Apart from other issues such as the control of another state on our citizens within our borders, I think that no government has the right to create spaces within the country in which it suspends the right to religious freedom.

By observing the optimism and “normality” with some sectors towards such radical secularism when we hear this kind of news, it is understood that for some people the concepts of democracy, freedom, human rights, etc.. both extol them-however-are underlined with its hatred of Christianity (I am speaking now of Spain, of course). They forget, or ignore, that all these rights and freedoms are the result of a culture steeped in the Christian faith.

PA: Local Gaza man sentenced to death by strangulation for collaborating with Israel[edit]

Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers have sentenced a man to death for collaborating with Israel.

A statement on Sunday by Gaza’s Interior Ministry, translated by Arab affairs expert Dalit Halevi, had said that a military court had sentenced the man to death by strangulation. He was, according to the statement, convicted of providing information to “hostile elements” in Israel.

Badr al-Din Badr, head of the communications department of the Interior Ministry, said in the statement that the agent who was sentenced to death was arrested quite some time ago by security forces, and had failed to turn himself in as part of two previous campaigns that allowed agents to turn themselves into the government and be pardoned under certain conditions.

Earlier this month, Hamas rulers in Gaza launched a month-long campaign urging alleged Arab "collaborators" with Israel to turn themselves in as a means of being granted leniency.

"We announce the opening of the door to repentance for remaining collaborators and for all those who have fallen into the traps set by the enemy's intelligence services," interior ministry spokesman Islam Shahwan told reporters on March 12.

"We urge them to return to the bosom of their people and their families," he said, noting that the offer of clemency was open until April 11.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) released a statement on Sunday, in which it confirmed that a man named F.A.A. was sentenced to death after being convicted of spying in favor of an enemy entity.

The organization noted that this sentence is the first of its kind in 2013. The number of death sentences issued by the Palestinian Authority (PA) since its establishment in 1994 is 132, including 106 death sentences issued in Gaza and 26 in the PA-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria, the organization said. 46 of these death sentences have been issued since 2007.

In November, during Israel’s counterterrorism Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, the Hamas government executed seven such collaborators without trial.

Six of the seven were publicly executed, with witnesses saying the men were pushed from a vehicle and shot. Pictures from Gaza showed the body of one of the men being dragged behind a motorcycle...
Hamas Sentences Man to Death for Spying for Israel
Israel National News, March 25, 2013

Maldives: One million people sign worldwide petition calling for end to flogging of women and children[edit]

An online petition calling on the Maldivian government to end the practice of flogging women and children for the crime of fornication has been signed by more than one million people worldwide.

The Avaaz.org petition, titled ‘Horror in Paradise’, follows the sentencing of a 15 year-old rape victim to 100 lashes and eight months house arrest, for confessing to a separate instance of fornication during the investigation into the alleged murder of her baby. The child was found buried in an outside shower area.

“Let’s put an end to this lunacy by hitting the Maldives government where it hurts: the tourism industry,” declares the Avaaz petition.

“Tourism is the big earner for the Maldives elite, including government ministers. Let’s build a million-strong petition to President Waheed this week, then threaten the islands’ reputation through hard-hitting ads in travel magazines and online until he steps in to save her and abolish this outrageous law,” it states.

Worldwide support for the petition has extended to the travel media, with industry news website eTN declaring that that it would not accept advertising or press releases from any Maldives government agency until the issue was resolved.

“I am outraged on hearing that a 15 year-old girl, who has survived rape by her stepfather and a resultant pregnancy, has now been found guilty of “fornication” and sentenced to flogging and house arrest. I am an active member of the UNWTO World Tourism Network on Child Protection and as a world citizen I cannot be silence about this. No civilized country should get away with such a nightmare system of justice,” said eTN publisher Juergen Thomas Steinmetz.
. . .
Second flogging sentence of underage girl

The most recent flogging sentence passed against the 15 year-old abuse victim follows a similar case in September 2012, in which a 16 year-old girl was sentenced to house arrest and 100 lashes for fornication with a 29 year-old man.

The man was convicted of sexual assault under common law and sentenced to 10 years in prison. The girl was sentenced under Islamic Sharia on the charges of consensual sex outside of wedlock.

An official of the Ministry of Gender, Family and Human Rights at the time said the matter was the concern of “either the court or JJU (Juvenile Justice Unit). We will be concerned once the girl is flogged, but as far as I know, she hasn’t been flogged yet. We do not want to associate ourselves with a case that we are not involved in.”...

Indonesia: Muslims close off church during services, 20 police officers present do nothing[edit]

Members of Muslim community groups closed off the Damai Kristus Catholic Church in Tambora, West Jakarta, on Saturday evening.

The attack took place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., with dozens of members of the congregation unable to leave, while other congregation members were locked out.

Rev. Matius Widyo said around 20 police officers were guarding the place but did nothing to the people who sealed the church. “They seemed to start to take action only when a fight broke out,” he told The Jakarta Post.

The church received threats last month from the notorious Islam Defenders Front (FPI), who allege that the church lacks a permit...
West Jakarta church sealed during services
Jakarta Post, March 24, 2013

Tunisia: Femen activist thrown in psych ward for topless feminist Facebook pictures[edit]

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

A 19-year-old Tunisian woman named Amina posted a picture of herself to Facebook with "My Body is My Own and Not the Source of Anyone’s Honor" written on her bare chest in Arabic. Now she's been committed to a psychiatric ward as a Tunisian vice authority, Almi Adel, calls for her to be stoned to death for her action, which "could be contagious and give ideas to other women." That’s exactly what Amina had in mind — she posted her picture in solidarity with feminist group Femen of the Ukraine. Twitter is now buzzing with an #Amina hashtag, and her Facebook photos have lit a fire online.

Indonesia: Country ignores UN ban on female genital mutilation, 'following the practices of Prophet Mohammed'[edit]

Thrashing wildly, 5-year-old Reta wails as she is hoisted onto a bed during a circumcision ceremony in a school-hall-turned-clinic on Java.

“No, no, no,” she cries, punching and kicking as her mother cups her tear-soaked face to soothe her.

Doctors clap and cheer encouragingly. One of them gently swipes her genital area with antiseptic and then swiftly pricks the hood of her clitoris with a fresh sewing needle, drawing no blood.

The ordeal is over in seconds as other girls and babies waiting for their turn shriek in fear.

Doctors say the procedure will have no effect on the girl, her sexual pleasure in later life or ability to bear a child.

“I’m happy. My daughter is now clean,” Yuli, a 27-year-old seamstress, told AFP at a mass circumcision of 120 girls and babies at the Assalaam Foundation’s Islamic school, in the West Java city of Bandung.

She believes the ritual will nevertheless have an effect.

“Many girls are getting pregnant out of wedlock these days. Circumcision hopefully will prevent my daughter from becoming oversexed, and will make her less amorous when she grows up.”

Indonesia, home to the world’s biggest Muslim population, argues that this form of circumcision is largely symbolic, not harmful and should not be seen as mutilation.

The United Nations thinks otherwise. In December it passed a resolution banning female genital mutilation, which extends to the circumcision practiced in Indonesia.

Procedures such as pricking, piercing, incising, scraping, cauterization or burning that are carried out for non-medical purposes are classed by the World Health Organization as mutilation along with practices that alter or remove any part of the genitals.

The more extreme practices can lead to severe bleeding, urination problems and complications during childbirth, according to the WHO.

A ritual dating back thousands of years and typically seen in parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, its most brutal forms require stitching together the inner and outer labia, or excising all or part of the clitoris.

Indonesia says that genital cutting does not take place and that it has worked to eradicate other more severe circumcisions as it seeks compromise between conforming to international standards and placating cultural and religious traditions.

It banned female circumcision in 2006 but backtracked in 2010, arguing that many parents were still having their daughters circumcised but often by unskilled traditional doctors who often botched the procedure.

“It’s impossible to ban a longtime tradition,” Health Ministry official Budi Sampurno said. “When we banned it in 2006, people turned to untrained traditional healers instead. We had to regulate it to ensure the safety of women and children.”

In response to the ban, The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the country’s top Islamic clerical body, issued a fatwa in 2008 allowing the practice but did not make it compulsory.

’Impossible’ to ban longtime tradition

Religious leaders and adherents say they are following the practices of Prophet Mohammed.

However, “Islam does not force girls to be circumcised,” MUI chairman Amidhan said.

While no official data is available to measure the extent of the practice in Indonesia, it is common in the country of 240 million people, according to aid agencies.

A 2003 study by the Population Council found that 22 percent of 1,307 female circumcision cases were excisions, meaning part of the clitoris or labia was removed. Of the rest, 49 percent involved incisions while 28 percent were “symbolic.”

Researchers say the situation has improved in the past 10 years.

A 2009 study led by Jurnalis Uddin, a doctor and lecturer from Jakarta-based Yarsi University showed that 18 percent of health institutions still performed female circumcisions but that these did not extend to cutting the genital area.

“The situation now in 2013 is certainly different from 2003. People are now more educated about safe circumcision procedures and they also know that they can report harmful methods to the authorities,” Artha Budi Susila Duarsa, a lecturer also at Yarsi who helped devise the 2009 study, told AFP.

“If there is excision, the number must be significantly lower [than in 2003],” he added.

Jakarta issued a 2010 regulation allowing “scraping the clitoral hood, without injuring the clitoris,” while criminalizing more severe procedures — a regulation that is nevertheless defined by the WHO as mutilation.

Islamic foundations like the Assalaam Foundation in Bandung say they ditched the scissor-snipping for pin-pricking.

“In the past, we had used one or two doctors and more traditional healers and they used scissors to snip a bit on the hood. We abandoned that method many years ago,” Assalaam’s coordinator Eulis Sri Karyati said, adding that certified doctors carried out procedures at the school.

Sampurno said Indonesia wants to replace scraping with swiping “with a cotton bud,” hoping that the UN would not see this as mutilation. Jakarta has not indicated how it would enforce it in such a populous nation.

‘A religious obligation’

Some reports allude to more severe forms of female circumcision still being carried out in Indonesia, especially in remote areas where the belief is strong that the practice would cleanse girls.

“The effectiveness of government regulations is questionable,” Martha Santoso Ismail, who is overlooking harmful traditional practices at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), told AFP.

“Circumcision is still taking place and I can’t rule out that more severe forms of circumcision other than pin-pricking could be done by untrained non-medical persons,” she added.

In Aceh province, Indonesia’s Islamic stronghold where partial shariah law is implemented, people are so indoctrinated into the practice that opting out is considered immoral, rights activists say.

“Almost every girl in Aceh is circumcised. Parents see it as a religious obligation and turn a deaf ear to any opposing view and look down on those who don’t circumcise their children,” provincial National Commission on Violence Against Women official Azriana said.

Despite the UN resolution, the custom still has deep meaning for Indonesian Muslims and will likely remain, officials say.

Housewife Tita Lishaini Jamilah, 28, who also took her baby to the clinic for a circumcision ceremony, said Indonesia should not bow to the UN’s ban on the practice, insisting that the ritual was safe.

“Why would any parent hurt her child? If any doctor were to mutilate my daughter, I’d be the first to protest,” she said.

Pakistan: Authorities reopen trial against mentally challenged Christian girl on charges of "blasphemy"[edit]

Pakistani authorities have reopened a trial against a mentally challenged Christian girl on charges of "blasphemy" while a Christian mother faces a possible death sentence for allegedly making "derogatory remarks" about Islam's prophet Mohammed, lawyers told BosNewsLife Saturday, March 23.

"A police investigator asked the Supreme Court in Islamabad to reopen the case" against Rimsha Masih, 14, "saying he was pressured by the government to drop charges against her after an international outcry," said the Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD) group.

Rimsha was jailed August 17 in a prison near Islamabad after allegedly burning pages with verses of the Koran, viewed as holy book by Muslims. Her detention at Adiala Jail triggered international protests because of her age and a medical report confirming that she was mentally handicapped.

Amid mounting pressure, Rimsha was flown to safety on September 8 and eventually acquitted on the charges, though she remains in hiding. On the outskirts of Islamabad families are afraid to return to their Christian community in the city's Mehrabadi district because the girl lived there.

Besides Rimsha, who may face life imprisonment, a court is also considering a death sentence against 47-year-old Martha Bibi after years of legal wrangling, BosNewsLife learned.

COURT APPEARANCE

Bibi, who is married and has 7 children, will face a court in the city of Lahore on March 27, said her lawyer Mushtaq Gill.

"She was detained in January 2007 in her village of Kot Nanak Sigh for allegedly making "derogatory remarks" about Prophet Mohammed in an argument with a Muslim woman," explained Gill, who is also director of the LEAD advocacy group.

Bibi has always strongly denied the charges.

The blasphemy case was registered at a nearby police station where she "was arrested and put behind the bars after being beaten and tortured by Muslims," the lawyer said.

Though he managed to get her released on bail of 100,000 Pakistani Rupee ($1,000) three months later, she remained concerned about her future, he said.

MEDICAL PROBLEMS

"The six years of waiting on a possible death sentence has made her sick," Gill explained. "I just met her as we prepared for the trial at the Lahore High Court and she was very tense," he added.

Gill said the latest legal challenges are part of efforts by authorities to defend the controversial blasphemy laws in the country.

If she is sentenced to death, she will be the second woman in Pakistan facing execution for blasphemy, he said. Asia Bibi, who is not related, has been awaiting her appeal against the death penalty for several years behind bars.

The latest blasphemy trials against Christians come shortly after as many as 180 Christian-owned homes, shops and two churches were burned down by an angry Muslim mob in the city of Lahore this month.

Gill said his group is trying to free Christian Sawan Masih, 26, whose alleged "derogatory remarks" about Islam's prophet triggered the M March 8-9 riots in Lahore's Joseph Colony.

INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE
. . .
Fifty two of the accused and their supporters have been murdered in the last two decades, according to rights activists. Even in police custody blasphemy suspects are not safe.

In December last year, an angry mob reportedly broke into a police station in Sindh province and beat a blasphemy suspect to death. He had been accused of burning pages of the Koran.

Earlier in Ahmedpur East in July 2012, a man accused of throwing pages of the Koran on the street was dragged by crowds from a police cell and killed, after being pulled through the streets behind a motorbike.

Two politicians, the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, Salman Taseer, and Christian federal minister Shahbaz

Nigeria: Muslim gunmen kill 25 during four simultaneous attacks on Ganye in Adamawa state[edit]

The gunmen carried out four simultaneous assaults on Ganye in Adamawa state on Friday, opening fire on a bar, a bank, a prisoner warder and separately attacking a prison, Mohammed Ibrahim, police spokesman for the western Adamawa state said.

"Twenty five people were killed in total in four different simultaneous attacks by gunmen in Ganye," Ibrahim said.

Members of insurgent group Boko Haram were the prime suspects, he said. Violence by Islamist insurgents in northern Nigeria is on the rise again after a brief lull.

Three bombs exploded in the north's main city of Kano on Saturday, Kano state police spokesman Magaji Majiya said by telephone.

One of the bombings was a suicide attack, but did not claim any lives apart from those of the bombers. However, a remote control bomb targeting a joint military and police checkpoint wounded several police, he said.

A separate gun attack in the city's Dakata area killed one person on Saturday, he said.

UK: Sudanese war criminal allowed to stay in Britain indefinitely under human rights law[edit]

A war criminal who took part in attacks in which countless civilians were killed is living rent-free at taxpayers’ expense in a large house in the West Midlands.

Mohamed Salim, 27, claimed he was in a militia that ‘wiped out entire villages’ in his native Sudan.

But despite being found guilty of crimes against humanity last year, he was allowed to stay in Britain indefinitely under human rights law because sending him home might put his life in danger.

The former fighter in the Janjaweed militia, which killed around 300,000 people during the war in Darfur, is living off benefits in a semi-detached house surrounded by family homes on a tree-lined street in Handsworth, Birmingham.

He is given £160 a month of taxpayers’ money and spends his days watching football in nearby bars.

Despite claiming that he shot so many people dead in Darfur that he lost count, he is under minimal supervision and does not have to report to the police.

Salim voluntarily gave anonymous media interviews after arriving in Britain in 2006, boasting about burning and looting 30 villages where men, women and children were killed.

He said at the time: ‘Whenever we go into a village and find resistance we kill everyone. Sometimes they said “wipe out an entire village”. And we shoot to kill. Most were civilians.

'Most were women. Innocent people running out and being killed, including children. There are many rapes.’

Last year the Mail told how a court ruled he could not be kicked out of Britain, despite his detailed ‘confession’, because his life could be at risk if he returned to Sudan. He later denied the claims he made in the interviews.

A judge said that because he had criticised his commanders and revealed embarrassing political information about the conflict in the interviews with BBC Newsnight and The Times, they may try to kill him.

Although the media had kept his identity secret, the judge said the Sudanese community in Britain knew it was him, which put his life at risk.

But it can now be reported that the National Asylum Support Service, which is part of the UK Border Agency, is paying his benefits and rent.

Speaking outside the six-bedroom house, which he shares, Salim said: ‘I came here because I listened to friends who said it was good to live her and claim asylum here. I don’t pay to live in this house.’ The terms of his asylum mean he is unable to work, but he attends college, where he learns English for free.
. . .
During the conflict in Darfur, western Sudan, Janjaweed forces attacked dozens of non-Arab tribes in a burning and killing spree that is now regarded as ethnic cleansing.

After more than two years as a paid fighter, Salim deserted and came to the UK because he was told it was easy to be given asylum here. He arrived in 2006 and claimed asylum but his case was not decided until last year.

An immigration judge granted him asylum and ruled his human rights to life and protection against torture would be infringed if he returned.

Judge CJ Lloyd said she thought it was ‘fairer’ to examine the evidence he gave to the tribunal in person, in which he changed the story he had given in interviews and claimed he had ‘never killed anyone in his life but was careful to shoot in the air’.

She also said he would be at risk from the Sudanese government if sent back because his name would be known.

The Home Office appealed and in an Upper Tribunal ruling in October, Judge Hanson ruled that Salim did join in attacks against civilians and had ‘criminal responsibility’.

He overturned the decision to grant asylum on the grounds the man was a war criminal.

But he upheld the human rights ruling which found Salim was at risk if returned to Sudan – as a result of the interviews he gave.

Salim’s right to stay in Britain is being challenged by the Home Office, whose lawyers have argued the Geneva Convention allows for war criminals to be refused asylum.

Bangladesh: 15 Hindus including three women beaten up and another temple set on fire[edit]

For earlier news and updates on the same subject, click here.

In a fresh attack on Hindus in Bangladesh, at least 15 people, including a freedom fighter and three women were beaten up in a hate attack in in Hatibandha upazila of Lalmonirhat on Friday night.

In another incident, Islamists vandalised four idols by setting fire to a temple in Sadar upazila of Gazipur district on Friday.

According to a Daily Star report, a gang of 10 in Lalmonirhat went to the house of freedom fighter Amulya Chandra Roy, 62, around 9:00 pm on Thursday and started beating him indiscriminately. As his family members and neighbours went to his rescue, they too were badly beaten up and had to be admitted to a local hospital.

The attackers fled the scene quickly.

None of the victims or community leaders would say anything about the attackers.

Although the victims restrained from revealing who were the attackers, some locals said the neighbourhood is surrounded by Jamaat strongholds and that Jamaat-Shibir men had a hand in the attack.

Abu Bakkar Siddique Shyamol, an aide to Motahar Hossain, state minister for primary and mass education and local lawmaker, said the anti-Liberation forces might have been behind the attack to create panic among the Hindu community.

The ruling Awami League would bear the medical expenses of those injured, he added.

Reports also claim that the temple which was torched was a Laxmimata temple in Sadar upazila and four idols were damaged in the arson attack. Locals rushed to the scene and put out the blaze before it could wreak more damage.

Meanwhile, the Shahbagh protesters on Thursday declared a series of programmes, including a torch rally, marking the black night of March 25, 1971 and the Independence Day.

According to reports, representative of the Gonojagoron Mancha and Convener of Blogger and Online Activists Network Imran H Sarker urged the people to make the programmes successful.

He also warned of tougher programmes if the process to ban Jamaat-Shibir does not commence by their earlier deadline of March 26.

As per the announcement, torch processions will be brought out all over the country on Monday at 7:00pm in memory of the black night of 1971, when the Pakistani occupation army launched a crackdown on unarmed Bangalees.

The organisers of the movement also called upon all educational institutions to hold discussions on the nation’s struggle for independence on March 25.

On the day, the protesters will hold cultural programmes, bring out silent procession from Projonmo Chattar at Shahbagh which would march past the Central Shaheed Minar and end at the Jagannath Hall martyrs grave on Dhaka University campus. They will light candles there.

The next morning, the protesters will place floral tributes at National Mausoleum in Savar, on the outskirts of the capital, marking the 42nd Independence Day of Bangladesh. They will hold a grand rally at Projonmo Chattar at 4:00pm and release 42 sky lanterns in the evening.

The month-long signature campaign at Shahbagh ended on Friday with over 17 lakh signatures collected in Dhaka alone pressing for a six-point demand of the Gonojagoron Mancha. The demands include capital punishment to war criminals and banning of Jamaat-Shibir.

UK: Al-Qaeda remains greatest terror threat, major attack on the scale of 7/7 foiled every year[edit]

Officers also fear a hybrid of terrorist and criminal gangs could bring a new threat on the UK.

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne warned that the country is facing the most complex terror threat in its history.

He said the threat is constantly changing with al-Qaeda inspired Islamic extremists now plotting in smaller, harder to detect groups.

The danger is coming from an increasing number of hot spots around the world and there is also a growing threat from republican groups in Northern Ireland, who would attack mainland Britain if they could.

Mr Osborne, who is the senior national coordinator for counter terrorism, said: “On average we've probably had about one potential attack planned with an intent to create something similar to July 7 every year.

"The UK threat as we stand today remains at substantial, which means that a terrorist attack remains a strong possibility and could occur without warning."

Last month, three men were convicted of planning to kill hundreds of people in the UK with up to eight suicide bombers after concluding the 7/7 attacks had “not done enough damage”.

And in 2006 a plot to blow up passenger jets with bombs disguised as soft drinks was foiled but led to tighter restrictions for carry on luggage.
. . .
an increasing number of Britons are exploiting unrest abroad to receive terror training before returning home.

Syria is the biggest destination now and the fear is those taking part will form small independent cells once back rather than become part of a major plot.

Mr Osborne said: "Some who have been trained actually are becoming quite self-motivated, they are beginning to plan in small groups which are hard to detect.

"There is no doubt that the big sophisticated 9/11 or 7/7 type plots are much harder to organise, they did need a lot of overseas direction, and some of the al Qaida leadership have said that's good if you can do it, but if not any attack whatever you can do at whatever size is useful.

"We are seeing more small groups getting together at shorter notice and more people wanting to do things without that broader command and control."

Al Qaida remains the greatest terror threat to Britain, he said, but there continues to be a danger from Northern Ireland. He said the aspiration of Republican groups would be to attack the mainland but stressed he had not seen any evidence of that so far.

The comments came as new figures revealed the number of terror arrests had risen by 60 per cent in the year to September 2012.

A total of 245 people were held on suspicion of terrorism-related offences in the period, compared with 153 in the previous 12 months, the Home Office said.

Iran: UN report details Iranian persecution of non-Muslims, even nursing mothers imprisoned[edit]

Iran’s hard-line regime has intensified its violent crackdown on Christians and other religious minorities, even imprisoning nursing mothers for practicing their faith, according to a new UN report.

The March report provides a rare, detailed view into the shocking treatment of Christians in Iran, where American Pastor Saeed Abedini is serving an eight-year sentence for his alleged work with Christians.

“The persecution of Christians has increased,” said Ahmed Shaheed, the UN’s expert on human rights in Iran. “It seems to target new converts and those who run house churches.”

At least 13 Protestant Christians are currently in detention centers across Iran, and more than 300 Christians have been arrested since June 2010, according to the report. In addition to Christians, the nation’s 350,000 Bahai, who form Iran’s largest non-Muslim faith, have suffered under Tehran’s repression.
. . .
The UN report is the latest evidence that Iran’s clerical leaders seek to stamp out religious freedoms for minorities and dissent in the authoritarian Islamic Republic.
. . .
"Over the past year, the Iranian government has stooped to new lows by incarcerating infant children with their Baha'i mothers and more brutally, clamping down on Christian converts from Islam,” Bashir said. “The U.S. government also should sanction Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad for their culpability in committing serious human rights abuses.”

Shaheed found “that 110 Bahais are currently detained in Iran for exercising their faith, including two women, Zohreh Nikayin (Tebyanian) and Taraneh Torabi (Ehsani), who are reportedly nursing infants in prison. It was further estimated that 133 Bahais are currently awaiting summonses to serve their sentences, and that another 268 Bahais are reportedly awaiting trial.”

He called the Bahai group the “single most important persecuted community in country.”

The Bahai is Iran’s largest non-Muslim faith, and was founded by Bahá'u'lláh in Iran in 1863. There are an estimated 350,000 Bahai in Iran.

As with the cases of repression targeting Iran’s Christian community, Mohammad Reza Noroozpour, the Iranian spokesman, did not delve into the specifics of the allegations in the UN report of incarceration of Bahai members...

US: Gunman behind the Dark Knight massacre in Colorado converts to Islam to justify murder spree[edit]

James Holmes, the gunman behind the Dark Knight massacre in Colorado last July, has reportedly turned Muslim and prays five times a day.

The killer showed off a lengthy, thick beard during a court appearance earlier this month, and a prison source has claimed it is a symbol of his new-found faith.

The source said Holmes has turned to Islam as a way of justifying his horrific murder spree in an Aurora, Colorado cinema on July 20 which left 12 people dead and 58 people wounded.

'He has brainwashed himself into believing he was on his own personal jihad and that his victims were infidels,' a prison source told the National Enquirer.
. . .
Holmes is charged with 166 counts, mostly murder and attempted murder, in the assault on moviegoers at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora.

On the night of the attack, prosecutors say he donned a police-style helmet, gas mask and body armor, tossed a gas canister into the seats and then opened fire.

The judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf earlier this month. In the nearly eight months since Holmes first shuffled into court, neither he nor his lawyers have said much about how he would plead.

If Holmes is convicted, he could be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison.

Prosecutors have not said yet whether they will pursue the death penalty, but will make their decision known on April 1.
. . .
The judge set August 5 for the start of the trial.

Syria: Bishop says 30,000 Christians out of a Christian minority of 160,000 have fled Aleppo[edit]

The Chaldean Catholic bishop of Aleppo, Antoine Audo, said on Thursday that up to 30,000 Christians have fled the Syrian city and spoke of his concern about two priests kidnapped weeks ago.

Audo, who was in Rome as a representative of the Caritas-Syria charity for a meeting of regional humanitarian organizations, told AFP that the situation in the war-ravaged city was "painful."

"I do my work from Damascus. I am in contact with my vicar, my priests, my friends and my relatives. The closure of Aleppo airport and the dangerous road have prevented my return," he said.

"I have been advised not to travel there despite my strong desire to be with my people," he said.

"A month and 10 days ago in Aleppo, two young priests were kidnapped. Ransoms of 15 million Syrian pounds, or around $150,000, have been demanded," he said.

Audo said between 20,000 and 30,000 Christians out of a Christian minority of 160,000 have fled.

Sudan: 1,500 trapped Christians on their way to South Sudan, as part of rescue operation dubbed 'Exodus'[edit]

Some 1,500 Christians trapped in Sudan are on their way to neighboring South Sudan, as part of a massive rescue operation dubbed 'Exodus', an aid group told BosNewsLife Thursday, March 21.

The Christians bring the total of rescued believers under the program to roughly 3,800 – almost double the number originally planned, explained Barnabas Fund.

"It has been a great privilege for us to be able to help suffering Christians...begin a new life in a place where they can be free to practice their faith in peace and have opportunities to improve their circumstances," said Patrick Sookhdeo, the Fund's international director.

A convoy of buses and lorries carrying the Christians and their belongings set off Tuesday, March 19, taking them to a new life in South Sudan, aid workers said.

"They join 2,300 of their compatriots whom we, working with our partners on the ground, Africa Inland Church – Sudan (AIC – S), have either flown or bussed to safety," Barnabas Fund added in a statement.

WOMEN, WIDOWS, CHILDREN

Aid workers said they had been "prioritizing" the most vulnerable women, around two-thirds of whom are widows, and children.
. . .
DISPLACED CHRISTIANS

Displaced Southerners, who are mainly Christian and African, said they experienced much persecution and discrimination in the overwhelmingly Muslim and Arab North, where they live under sharia, or Islamic, law.

The hostility towards Christians intensified after the South voted to secede from Sudan in January 2011, aid workers said.

"All people of Southern origin in Sudan were stripped of their citizenship and given a deadline to leave. But those like Ayen who were living in desperate circumstance did not have the money and resources to transport themselves and their families to South Sudan," Barnabas Fund said.

It said the the Exodus rescue mission had been able to bring Ayen "and thousands of other needy Christians" to safety.

MANY REMAIN BEHIND

However tens of thousands more Southerners remain stranded in makeshift camps on the outskirts of the Sudanese capital Khartoum, Thursday, March 21, with rescue workers warning that they were in increased danger.

Sudan "ramps up efforts to rid the country of the remaining Christian presence in what appears to be a systematic campaign," Barnabas Fund said.

Sookhdeo told BosNewsLife he hopes more people will support the Exodus operation.

"There are thousands of others who need rescuing," he said.

Indonesia: Hundreds of Muslim protesters brand Christians "infidels" and demand church building be torn down[edit]

Around 100 Indonesian Christians begged the government Thursday to halt the demolition of their church, as hundreds of Muslim protesters branded them "infidels" and demanded the building be torn down.

While dispirited church members dressed in black gathered outside the building and sang hymns, police held back hundreds of Muslims who chanted "knock the church down now" -- in a sign of increasing intolerance in the country.

The church congregation flew the Indonesian flag at half mast and children clutched signs reading "please do not dismantle our church" as preparations began to demolish the building, at the centre of a planning row.
. . .
Police in Bekasi city on the outskirts of the capital Jakarta told AFP they planned to help knock down the partially-built Taman Sari Batak Christian Protestant Church on Thursday, at the city government's request.

They said the church did not have a legal building permit, while the congregation argued that it was unfairly rejected after they had spent 13 years worshipping in a temporary shelter on the land.

Reverend Advent Nababan, who leads the congregation, said the church had obtained 82 signatures of support from the community before building started, above the 60 required by law.

"We can't possibly perform our religious duties without a church building," Nababan told AFP. "We obtained signatures of support from more than enough people in the neighbourhood."

Only 500 metres (550 yards) away, some 200 Muslim protesters staged a demonstration, blocked by police from getting any closer.

"They're infidels and they've built their church without permission," a protester shouted over a loudspeaker, while others chanted "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) and "Knock the church down now" in response.

Ninety percent of Indonesia's 240 million people identify as Muslims, and the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion.

The Setara Institute of Peace and Democracy, however, says cases of intolerance in the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation are on the rise, with 543 incidents reported in 2011, up from 491 cases in 2009.

More than 300 incidents were recorded in the first half of 2012...
Update:[edit]
City tears down church in front of worshippers, as Muslims egged on workers and chanted 'Allahu Akbar'

An Indonesian city government demolished a church in front of its weeping congregation Thursday, as Muslim protesters egged on workers and branded the Christians "infidels".

Dozens in the 100-strong congregation wailed as a digger tore down the brick walls, with worshippers accusing the government of "criminalising our religion", in a sign of increasing intolerance in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation.
. . .
As the walls of the Taman Sari Batak Christian Protestant Church -- at the centre of a planning row -- crumbled, police in Bekasi city on the outskirts of Jakarta, dispersed 200 Muslim women who sneaked onto the church land chanting Koranic verses.

Along the road Muslim protesters held back by a police cordon had chanted "Knock the church down now", and "Allahu Akbar" (God is greater).

One man shouted through a loudspeaker: "They're infidels and they've built their church without permission." Members of the congregation had earlier begged the Bekasi city government to halt the demolition, with children clutching signs reading "please do not dismantle our church".

Reverend Advent Nababan shed tears as the building was pulled down. "You just witnessed the government criminalising our religion," he said.

The local government had ordered the demolition of the church for being built, in October 2012, without a legal permit.

However the congregation said the permit was repeatedly and unfairly rejected after they had spent 13 years worshipping at the site unopposed in a temporary shelter.
. . .
Ninety percent of Indonesia's 240 million people identify themselves as Muslim and the country's constitution guarantees freedom of religion.

The Setara Institute of Peace and Democracy, however, says cases of intolerance are on the rise, with 543 incidents reported in 2011, up from 491 cases in 2009. More than 300 incidents were recorded in the first half of 2012.

Christians are among the main targets, along with worshippers who follow the Ahmadiyah and Shiite Islamic minority sects.
. . .
"The problem is the government has shown no political will to stop cases of intolerance in the country. It does not demand the law be upheld and that perpetrators are brought to account," he said.

The Batak Protestant Church has been at the forefront of attacks in the greater district of Bekasi. One congregation was pelted with rotten eggs and urine by Muslim hardliners who denied them entrance to their land, forcing them onto the street.

Indonesia: Singles caught having sex face up to five years in jail under proposed law[edit]

A draft of a criminal code (KUHP) revision proposed by the government for debate earlier this month punishes unmarried people caught having sex, a report said on Thursday.

“It [singles engaging in premarital sex] is liable for up to five years in jail,” Wahiduddin Adams, the director general for legislation at the Justice and Human Rights Ministry, said, as quoted by Tempo Interaktif online.

In the current penal code, only adultery is punishable under article 284.

Wahiduddin said that the government included non-married individuals in the proposed revision because it reflected the prevailing norms in the society.

“Our society is not like in the old penal code, that allows this,” he said, according to Tempo Interaktif.

However he said that the law could only be used if a report against an individual was filed by others who deemed they have been put at a disadvantage because of the action.

“Therefore, it cannot [be used] in a sweeping operation in the field,” he said, referring to the raids often conducted by police and officials on hotels and inns to look for unmarried couples sharing a room.

Wahiduddin said that the draft penal code revision also threatened unmarried couples living together with up to one year in jail.
. . .
Syarifuddin Sudding, a lawmaker from the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura), said his political fraction had not yet discussed the matter but he agreed that they should be dealt with under the law.

“I think, it would be good if this is regulated,” Syarifuddin said.

Afghanistan: At least four shot dead when dozens of villagers clashed with police over the desecration of the Quran[edit]

The clashes broke out in Musa Qala, a town troubled by insurgent violence in the southern province of Helmand.

"Four people have been killed and seven others, including two policemen, have been shot and injured in the clash," said provincial spokesman Ahmad Zeerak.

He noted that it was unclear whether police bullets caused the casualties and said officers had been forced to intervene after "Taliban fighters hiding among the protesters opened fire on police first".

Helmand has been the scene of some of the worst fighting between NATO troops and the Taliban since the 2001 US-led invasion which ousted the militants from power nationally.

Local official Mohammad Ismail Hotak said a suspect, who had disguised himself as a police officer, had been detained for questioning after he set fire to copies of the holy Quran which had been pulled from the shelves of a local mosque.

In 2012 US troops set fire to copies of the holy Quran, sparking days of protests in which about 40 people died...

Israel: Rockets fired at Israeli targets in the midst of U.S. President Barack H. Obama's visit[edit]

Hamas on Thursday denied that it or any other Gaza terror group had fired rockets at Israeli targets in the midst of U.S. President Barack H. Obama's visit to Israel. “Israel has fabricated these reports in order to mar the reputation of the resistance forces,” a spokesperson for Hamas said.

A rocket fired at Israel from Gaza caused heavy damage to a house in Sderot Thursday morning. A second rocket hit an open area near the Gaza border, and two other rockets aimed at Israel fell on the Gaza side of the border fence. There were no injuries, but two residents of the house were treated for shock.

Israel, for its part, said that the attack would not go unanswered, and that Israel would “choose the time and place for its response.” Israeli officials said that it was possible that Hamas was trying to elicit an Israeli response to the attack while Obama was in the region, creating a diplomatic crisis when the President visits Palestinian Authority-controlled areas Thursday and Friday. If that is indeed their intent, the officials said, then Israel could expect more rocket attacks during Obama's visit.

Israeli officials added that they were interested in seeing if PA chief Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attacks when he spoke with Obama Thursday afternoon, something he had not done at all during the period leading up to Operation Pillar of Defense, when Hamas and other Gaza terror groups fired thousands of rockets at Israel.

In an interview on Israel Radio, Yossi Haziza, whose house was damaged in Thursday's attack, said that while physical damage – to houses and people – could be repaired, the real damage by attacks like these was to the psyche of the victims. Haziza's wife and child were sleeping at the time of the attack, and the shock of the attack caused them a great deal of fear that he was unsure they would ever be able to ovecome.
. . .
“It could be that Hamas is doing this in 'honor' of Obama, sending him a message before he goes to Ramallah that he had better not forget about them,” Haziza continued. “But so what? Because they want to send a message to the president we have to suffer? Are our children supposed to be sitting ducks for diplomatic reasons? Now they have to grow up with these negative experiences. Who knows what the damage will be later on? We need to be properly defended, regardless of diplomatic issues."
Update:[edit]
President Barack Obama’s Mideast trip not turning out to be the rip-roaring success he’d hoped it would be. During a joint press conference Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Barack Obama reaffirmed the “unbreakable bonds” between Israel and the U.S. This apparently didn’t set too well with Palestinians in Gaza. Protesters there ripped and burned the American flag as they chanted “Allahu Akbar.” They marched in the streets carrying signs and banners proclaiming “Your bulldozers demolish Palestinian homes, Obama.”...

Mali: Muslims behead French hostage in retaliation for France's intervention in Mali, 14 hostages still being held[edit]

Al Qaeda's wing in north Africa said it had beheaded a French hostage in retaliation for France's intervention in Mali, Mauritania's ANI news agency reported on Tuesday, citing a spokesman for the group.

In what ANI reported was a telephone call to the agency, which has close links to militants, the commander said Philippe Verdon had been beheaded on March 10 "in response to the French military intervention in the north of Mali", ANI reported.

The death, if proved true, would be a worrying development for Paris, which still has some 14 hostages held in West Africa, including seven in the Sahel by AQIM and its affiliates.

French President Francois Hollande in part justified military action in Mali to prevent the north from being used as a launch pad for terror attacks in Africa and in the West.

Verdon, a French geologist, was captured in the northern Mali town of Hombori in November 2011. A French foreign ministry spokesman said he had no information on the report.

One of AQIM's leaders, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, had pledged revenge after France launched a campaign in January to dislodge the group and other Islamist militants who had hijacked a Tuareg rebellion in the Sahel nation and seized the northern half of the country.

After driving them from the main cities of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal in a swift, nine-week assault, some 1,600 French and Chadian troops began searching for Islamist rebels in their pocket hideouts in the mountainous region of northern Mali.

The AQIM spokesman, who identified himself only as Qayrawani, described Verdon as a French spy, adding that Hollande "bore the responsibility for the remaining hostages".

ANI's director Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Aboulmaaly told Reuters he knew Qayrawani, an AQIM commander who according to him, is of Tuareg origin, had called him from Mali.

When asked by the agency whether Belmokhtar had been killed, he neither denied nor confirmed it. There have been conflicting reports on whether Belmokhtar was killed in the French military campaign against the rebels.

No more ransoms

The possible death of Belmokhtar and another AQIM leader Abou Zeid has raised questions about the fate of eight French hostages held by al Qaeda in the Sahel...
Al Qaeda in Africa beheads French hostage
Emirates 24/7, March 21, 2013

Somalia: 18-year old buried in the ground and stoned to death for being gay[edit]

An allegedly gay man Mohamed Ali Baashi was buried in the ground up to his chest and stoned to death on 15 March in Barawe some fifty miles form the Somali capital of Mogadishu. According to reports, Al-Qaeda linked Al Shabaab ordered the attack after charging and finding Baashi guilty of sodomy. Members of Al Shabaab stood behind the judges who passed sentence while wearing face masks and showing off their rifles.

Both Baashi and another man, who was also charged with murder, were found guilty after apparently admitting their crimes. The judge supposedly said “We investigated, and this man did what Muslims shouldn’t do and as a result, he will be stoned to death and the one that killed someone will be shot because homosexuality is more punishable in Islam.”

By investigated, the process likely involved torturing the individuals involved until they confessed, and then executing them. Such actions are typical for Al Shabaab, which has allegedly used Sharia law to execute anyone they wanted to even if they were not guilty of the crimes involved...

Nigeria: Muslim gunmen target Christian funeral, 5 shot dead, 11 hospitalized with serious wounds[edit]

Christian children fleeing from gunmen saved their lives by hiding among the rock formations towering over the eastern side of this northern village, but a 6-month-old baby and a 13-year-old girl never got the chance.

The infant, Alexander Blessed, and the girl, Happiness Adamu, were the youngest of five people from five churches who were slain. Christians were still gathered in and about a home where a funeral for the village chief had taken place in the predominantly Muslim state of Kaduna when, under cover of darkness on a Saturday night (Feb. 23), marauding, black-clad gunmen arrived from the west and began firing.

Eleven Christians were hospitalized with wounds, including Martha Blessed, who was shot as she tried to protect her infant son. Bullets broke both legs of another 13-year-old Christian girl, Gloria Livinus, of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Aduwan.

The raid came as a shock as area Christians had been living without enmity toward anyone, said John Audi, 45-year-old grandson of the village chief and a member of St. Patrick’s church.

“We were all scattered, and some that were shot were crying,” he told Morning Star News. “We all ran for cover where we believed we could avoid being hit by the bullets.”

Witnesses reportedly said the gunmen spoke in Fulani dialect, but church leaders said the area had been free of the land and property conflicts that have marked relations between Muslim, ethnic Fulanis and predominantly Christian tribes. Islamic extremist groups have increasingly incited Fulani Muslims to attack Christian areas, and witnesses reportedly said the assailants carried sophisticated weapons.

Area church leaders questioned how the shooting could have gone on for three hours without response from authorities in a north-central state that has been blanketed with military security forces to counteract terrorist violence.

“This village was attacked for three hours, yet no help came to our people here,” said the Rt. Rev. Danlami Bello, bishop of the First African Church, Kafanchan Diocese, whose headquarters are in Aduwan. “These attacks have gone unhindered without security agencies coming to the scenes of the attacks to assist Christian victims.”

As did others, he suspected a strong religious element to the attack.

“There is no doubt that this attack, like many others on Christian communities in northern Nigeria, had religious bearings,” he said. “There is this desire by Muslim leaders in Nigeria to Islamize the country by force; hence the attacks are aimed at forcing Christians into submitting to Islam.”

The Rev. Casmir Yabo, vicar of the First African Church Mission in Aduwan, told Morning Star News that church members who hid in farmlands west of the village reported seeing about 10 assailants leaving after the attack.

“We believe that the attackers are Muslim Fulani gunmen who invaded and attacked this village. I wept as I saw corpses of the five killed for no justifiable reason,” said Yabo. “The impact of the attack is that at the moment our members are scared of coming to churches for worship services.”

The attack came two days after a similar slaughter of 10 people in village near Jos in Plateau state.

Besides hit-and-run attacks by Fulani Muslims, Christians in Nigeria have also been targeted by the Islamic extremist Boko Haram group in its effort to destabilize the government and impose sharia (Islamic law) nationwide. Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million and live mainly in the south, while Muslims account for 45 percent and reside primarily in the north. Nigerians practicing indigenous religions may be as high as 10 percent of the total population, according to Operation World, so the percentages of Christians and Muslims may be less.

Saudi Arabia: Court bans gender-mixing at primary schools[edit]

A court in Saudi Arabia has annulled a decision by the Ministry of Education to depart from a long-standing policy and allow gender-mixing at primary schools, saying the Ministry had erred in issuing such a decision.

The Administrative Court in the capital Riyadh criticized the Ministry of Education for taking such a move, saying it should have examined its actions before issuing that decision, according to Saudi newspapers.

“The Court annulled the Ministry’s decision, saying it had erred in making such a decision, which was wrong,” Alsaudeh daily said.

“It said the Ministry should now work to redress this wrong action, which has no legal basis in the religion and the system.”...

US: Child abuse charges for mother who burned teen daughter over arranged marriage[edit]

A South Florida mother who used a knife to burn her teen daughter after the girl resisted her parents' wishes to marry her cousin in an arranged marriage is facing child abuse charges, Hollywood Police said Tuesday.

Sahar Thabit, 35, was arrested Friday and is facing three counts of child abuse on her 17-year-old daughter, according to a Hollywood Police arrest affidavit.

According to the affidavit, the abuse began in early January when Thabit used a stove to heat up the metal on the knife and burn her daughter's arm three times, twice on her left forearm and once on her upper right arm.
. . .
The burns caused permanent disfigurement, the report noted.

A friend of the girl reported the abuse to a school administrator, who later called police, the affidavit said.

According to the friend, the teen said her parents became upset because she didn't want to marry her cousin, but wanted to marry a boy in Yemen she had met on the Internet, the affidavit said.

The daughter later told police that she had been talking to the boy in Yemen through the Internet, even though it's not allowed in the family's religion.

The girl's friend also said the parents verbally and mentally abused their daughter calling her a whore and slut, the affidavit said. The friend also said the girl had attempted suicide over the incident, the affidavit said.

When the victim's father was questioned by detectives, he claimed she had been burned by a stove until it was pointed out that the burns were in three different areas, the affidavit said. The father then asked for an attorney, the affidavit said.

The girl's grandfather gave the same explanation Tuesday, saying, "She burned herself in the stove."

After interviewing witnesses and the victim, police determined Thabit had placed the knife on her daughter's arms, the affidavit said.

Detectives weren't able to interview Thabit because she only speaks Arabic, the affidavit said. She was arrested and later released on bond, and it's unknown whether she has an attorney.

The girl's father told NBC 6 over the phone that the family is going through difficult times with the allegations and said he had no comment.

Lenore Walker, a psychology professor at Nova Southeastern University, said the alleged abuse in the case is similar to an honor killing.

”The rationale is that you're shaming your family by getting involved with a boy or a man who is unacceptable for whatever reason. In this particular case, it's because she was promised to another man and so she talked on the Internet, not even face to face," Walker said.

Tunisia: Cleric issues fatwa against Femen activist, calls for her to be flogged then stoned to death[edit]

Tunisian high school student Amina, 19, has joined the Femen credo of protest through nudity, and a Muslim cleric has issued a fatwa calling for her to be flogged then stoned to death. Amina posted a topless picture of herself with the words my body is mine and no one else's written on her skin on the Tunisian Facebook fanpage of Femen, a social movement and provocative women's movement founded in 2008 in the Ukraine. The page got 3,700 supporters and also a lot of insults and protests against what some deem is mere exhibitionism...
Updates:[edit]
Amina, a 19-year-old Tunisian aspirant to the radical, Ukraine-born feminist group Femen has been delivered by her parents to a psychiatric hospital in Tunis, according to reports received by Femen leader Inna Shevchenko in Paris. Amina (her last name is unknown) had posted topless photos of herself on the Femen web page she created for the group in Tunisia several weeks ago. One photo shows her topless, smoking a cigarette, with "My Body is My Own and Not the Source of Anyone's Honor" scrawled in Arabic across her chest. Another shows her raising her middle fingers to the camera, with "Fuck Your Morals," written on her torso. The site was subsequently hacked and temporarily plastered with citations from the Quran.

The head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Tunisia, Almi Adel, a Salafi Islamic preacher, has called for Amina to be "stoned to death" for posting the images. He warned that Amina's action could cause "epidemics and disasters" and "could be contagious and give ideas to other women." Media reports say Tunisian secular law would punish her with up to two years in prison.
. . .
Prominent atheist Richard Dawkins, author of the 2006 bestseller The God Delusion, has taken up her cause and is calling for a day of action in support of Amina. Twitter is ablaze with reaction to the events (check out #Amina) and a petition has been posted online demanding that those who threaten Amina's life face the courts.

Femen itself issued a statement calling on women to "Fight for their freedom against religious atrocities" and to "Use your body as a poster for the slogans of freedom. Bare breasts against Islamism."

Amina's disappearance follows her appearance on the popular Tunisian television talk show, Labes, on March 16. With her face blurred, apparently to protect her identity, she explains her decision to join Femen.

I asked Shevchenko what she planned to do in response to Amina's detetion. "The only question for us is," she replied, "when are we in Femen going to Tunisia?"
4 April is International Topless Jihad Day!

We have appealed to the world for support and the world has answered! The fate of the Femen Tunisia activist Amina Tyler has shaken up and united thousands of women across the globe. Amina's act of civil disobedience has brought down upon her the lethal hatred of inhuman beasts, for whom killing a woman is more natural than recognising her right to do as she pleases with her own body.

For them, we now see, the love of freedom is the most dangerous kind of psychiatric illness, one demanding radical forced treatment in the spirit of fascist punitive medicine. The 'Arab Spring', for the women of North Africa, has turned out to be a frigid sharia winter that has deprived them of what few political rights and liberties they enjoyed.

Stoning and flogging, kidnapping and rape, forced psychiatric treatment and other sorts of physical and psychological torture are what the new Sharia Caliphate has in store for women.

The union of religion and state gives rise to inquisitions, and inquisitions ignite the purgatorial bonfires of religio-political terror, bonfires burning with the bodies of women as fuel - such is the message the bloody history of medieval theocracies cries out to us.

Any educated, free-thinking woman is, for [the inquisitors], a witch deserving of condemnation and murder.

Muslim men shroud their women in black sacks of submissiveness and fear, and dread as they do the devil the moment women break free to light, peace, and freedom.

Religious dictatorship begins by enslaving women but a woman's act of self-liberation is the first step toward destroying the sharia regime. Topless protests are the battle flags of women's resistance, a symbol of a woman's acquisition of rights over her own body!...
Topless Jihad!
Huffington Post, March 26, 2013
Protesters from the Ukrainian women's power group Femen held "International Topless Jihad Day" in capitals such as Berlin, Kiev and Paris and painted their torsos with slogans including "Bare breasts against Islamism."

"We're free, we're naked, it's our right, it's our body, it's our rules, and nobody can use religion, and some other holy things, to abuse women, to oppress them," Femen member Alexandra Shevchenko said at a small demonstration in front of a Berlin mosque amid temperatures near the freezing point.

"And we'll fight against them. And our boobs will be stronger than their stones."

The rallies targeted in particular the case of a Tunisian activist calling herself Amina Tyler who sparked a scandal last month when she posted pictures of herself online with the words "My body belongs to me" and "Fuck your morals" emblazoned across her naked breasts.

Supporters fear she could face criminal prosecution.

Police in Kiev detained two young activists with "Free Amina" on their exposed chests immediately after their arrival in front of the city's sole mosque...
The woman who scandalised Tunisia by posting topless photos of herself as a form of feminist protest is now trying to leave the country, her former lawyer said Tuesday after a video surfaced in which the woman recounted being drugged and given virginity tests by relatives.

Amina Tyler, 19, shocked this Muslim nation when she posted Facebook photos with the words “my body belongs to me” scrawled across her naked chest. She was later spirited away by her family after religious hardliners issued death threats against her.

Bouchra Belhaj Hamida, Tyler’s former lawyer who has in the past acted as her spokeswoman, said Amina had escaped from her family in a village outside the capital and was now staying with friends as she gathered the necessary documents to get to France...
After months of reportedly going into hiding, the outspoken Tunisian feminist who sparked a trend of “topless jihad” has been found and arrested by Tunisian authorities earlier this week and may be charged for conducting “provocative acts.”

Amina Tyler, 19, was found in the midst of police scuffles with hardline Salafist group Ansar al-Shariah in the central Tunisian city of Kairouan on Sunday.

Tyler previously described herself as a member of the Ukrainian feminist group Femen, which uses nudity in protests.

Witnesses said she allegedly scrawled “Femen” on the wall near the main mosque and may have intended to hang a banner on the building before an angry crowd gathered and started shouting at her to leave, according to The Associated Press.

Video posted by the Tunisian online Nawaat news site shows Tyler, with dyed blonde hair, clutching a banner and being hustled away by police and put into a van as residents chased her.

A local resident shouts at the camera: “She is dishonoring us. We will protect our town, but a dirty girl like her shouldn’t come among us.”

Mohammed Ali Aroui, the spokesman for the Tunisian interior ministry, described her acts as provocative and said she was under investigation and may be charged for her behavior on Sunday. He added that he understood the angry reaction of local residents to her appearance.

The ministry had banned Ansar al-Shariah’s annual conference, citing it as a threat to security and public order, and sent 11,000 soldiers and police to prevent hardline Muslims, known as salafis, from entering Kairouan...

Pakistan: 1,000 cases a year of Christian and Hindu girls kidnapped by Muslims, forced marriage and conversion[edit]

The Christian teenager Ryan Stanton, victim of false accusations of blasphemy, was rescued and taken abroad with his family. A Christian girl, Rafia Mansha, 14, kidnapped by a Muslim and forced into an Islamic marriage and conversion, got justice from a court, which declared the marriage "false, illegal and void." The two cases reported to Fides Agency by the Christian community in Pakistan, again points its attention to the precarious condition that the Christian minorities in the country live.The 15 year old Ryan Stanton was accused of having sent a blasphemous text message to some Muslim peers regarding the Prophet Muhammad. For this reason, in October 2012, his home in the suburb of Gulshan-i-Iqbal, a bourgeois area of Karachi, a metropolis in the south of Pakistan, was looted and set on fire by Muslim radicals . The boy and his family escaped by a miracle and lived several months in hiding. Now the NGO "Rescue Christians" managed to transfer Ryan and all his family abroad, where he will begin a new life. The boy explained that some of his Muslim peers used his cell phone, sent the blasphemous text message in order to incriminate him.In another case, Rafia Mansha, a Christian girl, was abducted in December 2012 by two Muslims and then forced into a Muslim marriage to Imran and conversion. The family turned to the NGO LEAD which filed an appeal to the court of Pattoki. Rafia testified in court that she had been kidnapped and suffered marriage and forced conversion. Despite opposition from the Muslim counterpart, the Court declared the nullity of the marriage and returned Rafia to her family. Rafia’s family also filed a complaint for "kidnapping", demanding that the guilty are to be punished. A Fides source notes that "this case should serve as an example." In Pakistan, in fact, in recent years there have been about 1,000 cases a year of Christian and Hindu girls kidnapped by Muslims, forced marriage and conversion.

Mali: French police force reject captured waging jihad against his own country[edit]

A French citizen caught in early March waging jihad in Mali against his own country was once a serving police officer, his sister claimed on Monday.

Named only as Djamel, the 37-year-old French national of Algerian birth led his family to believe that he had joined the gendarmerie, a national police force that is part of the French military, at the end of the 1990s.

He then told them that he had moved on to the plainclothes BAC (Anti-Criminal Brigade) and had ambitions of joining France’s notorious CRS riot police, his sister “Sonia” (not her real name) told RTL radio.

But on Tuesday France’s minister of Interior told French daily Le Parisien that Djamel had in fact never belonged to the police force, as his application was rejected twice.

When his marriage broke down, Djamel drifted towards religious extremism before finally setting off to wage holy war in Africa.

He was taken prisoner at the beginning of March during French-led operations in northern Mali to flush out Islamists who had occupied the vast semi-arid region for ten months.
. . .
Djamel ‘spoke of joining al Qaeda’

When his marriage fell apart he moved back to Grenoble, leaving behind three children under six.

“He had become a Salafist,” Sonia said. “He sometimes spoke of joining al Qaeda, but as far as we were concerned it was just talk.”

In November 2012 Djamel told his family he was moving to Paris - but when he rang his wife and asked to speak to his children, she noticed that he was using a Malian number.

“We had no idea that he could have done something like that,” she said, sounding equally shocked and disappointed.

She concluded: “We live in France, we respect French secularism. And while we don’t deny our Muslim faith, going on jihad against your own country is beyond the pale. I hope he pays dearly for this, but above all he needs to explain to his family and to his country how it could have come to this.”...

Islamic clerics from Egypt to the UK: International aid and individual welfare payments are Jizyah from infidels[edit]

Historically, the jizya was money, or tribute, that conquered non-Muslims had to pay to their Muslim overlords to safeguard their existence, as indicated in Koran 9:29. As the spirit of Islam continues making a comeback, Muslims around the world continue calling for non-Muslims, especially Christian minorities under Islam, to resume paying the jizya, which was abolished in the 19th century thanks to European intervention.

According to the sheikh [on Al Hafiz TV, an Egyptian Islamic station, during a roundtable discussion on the U.S. and foreign aid to Egypt], Egypt must be less cooperative with the U.S. and at the same time insist for more monetary aid. If so, the sheikh believes that "America will accept; it will kiss our hands; and it will also increase its aid. And we will consider its aid as jizya, not as aid. But first we must make impositions on it."

When the host asked the sheikh "Do the Americans owe us jizya?" he responded, "Yes," adding that it is the price Americans have to pay "so we can leave them alone!" When the host asked the sheikh if he was proclaiming a fatwa, the latter exclaimed, "By Allah of course!" The sheikh added that, to become a truly Islamic state, Egypt must "impose on America to pay aid as jizya, before we allow it to realize its own interests, the ones which we agree to."

While the Egyptian cleric was focused on "international jizya"—that is, money paid by one non-Muslim nation to a Muslim nation, U.S money to Egypt—other Muslims have been receiving and enjoying individual "jizya" from Western, infidel governments, in the form of welfare aid.

Just last February, for example, Anjem Choudary, an Islamic cleric and popular preacher in the United Kingdom, was secretly taped telling a Muslim audience to follow his example and get "Jihad Seeker's Allowance" from the government—a pun on "Job Seeker's Allowance." The father of four, who receives more than 25,000 pounds annually in welfare benefits, referred to British taxpayers as "slaves," adding, "We take the jizya, which is our haq [Arabic for "right"], anyway. The normal situation by the way is to take money from the kafir [infidel], isn't it? So this is the normal situation. They give us the money—you work, give us the money, Allahu Akhbar ["Allah is Great"]. We take the money. Hopefully there's no one from the DSS [Department of Social Security] listening to this."...
Muslim Cleric Calls U.S. Aid to Egypt 'Jizya'
Raymond Ibrahim, Middle East Forum, March 19, 2013

Indonesia: Head of Shariah Police tests positive for drug use after crashing car into a tree and house[edit]

The head of the Lhokseumawe Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) and Shariah Police in Aceh has tested positive for marijuana use after slamming his car into a tree and a house on Sunday night, police said.

Shariah Police officer Zulkarnain lost control of his car after leaving his office in Simpang Asmi, Kutablang village on Sunday. Another officer came to investigate the accident, where he discovered hashish inside Zulkarnain’s car.

“His urine test shows that he was consuming drugs,” head of the Lhokseumawe police narcotics division, First. Insp. Poeloeng Arsa, told Atjehpost.com on Monday.

Zulkarnain was not arrested after the officer found the illegal substance because injuries he sustained during the accident required immediate treatment. He was admitted to the Kasih Ibu Hospital, where he received 20 stitches for a wound on his lips.

Poeloeng told Detik.com that Zulkarnain will be questioned by police after he recovers from his injuries.

Australia: Adulterous Iraqi awarded refugee visa after convincing Tribunal he would be hunted down by angry husband[edit]

AN adulterous Iraqi taxi driver has been awarded an Australian refugee visa after he convinced the Refugee Review Tribunal he would be hunted down by an infuriated husband who caught him in an tryst with his wife.

The Shia refugee, who arrived by boat from Indonesia in December 2011, claimed the husband, an Iraqi soldier, chased him through city streets after uncovering the affair, repeatedly firing a handgun at him.

Although his asylum claim was initially rejected by the Immigration Department, the refugee was among more than 500 boatpeople to successfully appeal their case at the Refugee Review Tribunal since July.

The Australian reported yesterday that in the past eight months, three quarters of boatpeople who appealed against their failed asylum claims in the RRT have been rewarded with permanent residency in Australia.

The tribunal accepted the Iraqi man had no viable asylum claim under the 1951 Refugee Convention but decided to grant him "complementary protection" because he would probably have faced serious harm if returned.

Giving evidence to the tribunal, the taxi driver recounted how his 31-year marriage to a cousin had grown tiresome - including in the bedroom - when an attractive, unmarried 38-year-old woman hired his cab in 2006.

They struck up an instant rapport and, after five meetings, the infatuated man approached her family with a plan to divorce his wife and wed the younger woman.

The offer, which was made behind his wife's back, was rebuffed. A marriage was instead arranged to the Iraqi soldier, whom her family liked better.

The taxi driver and his lover were apart for six months, until the woman began inviting him over for sex whenever her husband was at work, often twice a week.

The affair ended after 18 months, when the soldier came home earlier than expected at 9pm one night. The taxi driver was frightened for his life - extramarital relations are sometimes punished by "honour killing" in extreme Islamic circles - and scaled a wall into the front garden.

The soldier, recognising the taxi driver and incensed by what he had uncovered, drew his handgun and gave chase, firing several rounds at him through the darkness.

As the soldier and his family hunted for him, the taxi driver fled across Iraq's southern border to Kuwait. The refugee's family sought to negotiate a truce, but the soldier was in no mood to deal.

After flying to Malaysia, he reached Indonesia before making the treacherous month-long journey to Australia aboard a smuggler's boat.

His mistress was beaten by her husband until she confessed the affair, and he then divorced her.

Refugee Review Tribunal member Rosemary Mathlin found in December that although he did not fear harm for a convention reason - such as race or political opinion - she awarded "complementary protection" because it was "highly probable that if the applicant returns to Iraq he will be killed by the husband of his former lover"...
Adultery now reason for refuge
The Australian, March 19, 2013

Nigeria: 50 out of 52 Catholic churches in Maiduguri diocese destroyed by Muslim group Boko Haram[edit]

Boko Haram militants in Nigeria destroyed 50 of Borno state's Catholic churches, a priest charged.

The Rev. Jerome Ituah of Christ the King Catholic Parish in Kurudu, a populated area of the Abuja Capital Territory, made the accusation Saturday, saying he witnessed the destruction, Leadership Newspapers reported.

"Out of the 52 Catholic churches in Maiduguri diocese, 50 of them have been destroyed by Boko Haram. Yet the faithful are not discouraged of their faith. You would always see them worshiping under rain and sun in open places at the site of their destroyed places of worship," Ituah said.

Egypt: Russia Today reporter battered with stick, attacks on journalists have become increasingly frequent[edit]

Young men emerging from the Cairo headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood have battered the head of a reporter for the Arabic service of Russia Today television with a wooden stick.

The reporter, named Mukhtar Muhammad, was filming local youngsters covering a wall with graffiti.

Attacks of this kind have become increasingly frequent after the Egyptian authorities accused many Egyptian and foreign media organizations of exercising ‘counterrevolutionary bias’.

Several journalists were attacked by Muslim Brotherhood members

Clashes at the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters in Mokattam district, Cairo, intensified late on Saturday, with reported assaults on journalists by group members adding fuel to fire...
Russia Today reporter attacked in Cairo
The Voice of Russia, March 18, 2013

UK: Terror suspect and 'threat to the public and national security' uses Human Rights Act to stay in the country[edit]

An Iraqi suspected of being involved with al-Qaeda by MI5 has used the Human Rights Act to stay in Britain.

The alleged terror plotter was once regarded as a threat to the public and national security and was the subject of a control order, similar to those imposed on hate preachers Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza.

We have called him Mr X because we are banned from revealing his real name and the location of a mosque in the east of England where he allegedly met with six other extremists.

Patrick Mercer MP, a former army intelligence officer, said: "This shows the Human Rights Act needs to be repealed. We can't claim to be a sovereign country when foreign powers impose these sorts of laws upon our courts. This man could clearly be dangerous to the British public."

Mr X, a Muslim from Mosul, was monitored by MI5 for a year from July 2006 because it suspected he was an associate of a known terrorist and hate preacher, identified in court as AE, who had links to militant Islamic groups including Ansar Al Islam, Ansar Al Sunnah and al-Qaeda.

Mr X, who brought his Iraqi wife into the country in 2010, had failed a number of times to claim asylum since 2002, including once when he claimed he had been framed for murder in Iraq.

An immigration judge ruled in November Iraqi authorities knew of his alleged links to al-Qaeda and could torture him if he was sent back. The judge added: "There is also a risk of execution."

Mr X's wife was also granted asylum after the judge said she would also "face persecution as the closest family member of her husband who will be suspected as a Sunni terrorist". Both were granted anonymity.

The court heard the US sent CIA agents to interrogate Mr X because he was deemed to be such a threat...

Indonesia: Rising child rape a 'National Emergency', 62% of 2,637 cases of child abuse in 2012 were sexual[edit]

In the past few months, Indonesia has been rocked by shocking cases of children being sexually abused.

In January, an 11-year-old girl fell into coma for six days and later died of infection. Doctors confirmed she had been sexually abused and contracted sexually transmitted diseases from her rapist.

It was later learned that the girl was raped several times by her own father.

In late February, the family of a 5-year-old boy filed a report to the police after he was allegedly sodomized by his neighbors, a police officer and a construction worker.

The boy was severely traumatized, and medical examination revealed he had been sexually abused.

Shortly after the case went public, the family had to evacuate after being intimidated by neighbors who did not believe the boy’s claim and thought the family was trying to stir up trouble.

“We have already declared 2013 as a year of national emergency over child sexual abuse. This is totally unacceptable,” said Arist Merdeka Sirait, chairman of the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas PA), a nongovernmental organization advocating children’s issues.

Arist said there had been a worrying escalation in the number of child sex abuse cases. In 2010, Komnas PA received 2,046 reports of violence against children, 42 percent of which were sexual.

In 2012, the figure had risen to 2,637 cases, 62 percent of them sexual abuse.

“Remember this is just the tip of the iceberg, many more cases go unreported,” Arist added.

Maria Advianti, secretary of the Indonesian Commission on Child Protection (KPAI), said the most worrying part was that most rape or sexual abuses were committed by family members.

“In such cases, the probability of the victim filing a report is even lower.”

Maria said rape committed by family members usually went unreported because the family could not bear the shame if it was publicly known.

“We have heard cases where daughters were raped by their own fathers for years, in such cases where it would be impossible for the mothers to be totally ignorant, she said.
. . .
In late 2012, a 14-year-old student in Depok was expelled from her school after she was kidnapped and raped by a man she met online.

The growing use of the Internet and social media in Indonesia has also played a role in the escalating number of cases of sexual abuse against children.

Last week, a 15-year-old junior high school student was raped by several men after she agreed to meet someone she befriended on Facebook.

“In the social media era, even 10-year-olds have started using Facebook or Twitter. Parents must take control before it’s too late,” Arist warned...

Pakistan: Missionary beaten after trying to organize a protest against the 3,000 Muslim mob rampage in Lahore[edit]

Naeem Bhadhar, a Presbyterian pastor and missionary, was several beaten by Muslim extremists after he tried to organize a protest in Kalaswala, a village 85 miles from Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city. The attack on Bhadhar came less than a week after a mob of 3,000 Muslims attacked a Christian neighborhood in Lahore and set fire to 120 homes. The “poor Christians of the neighborhood are now living in the streets, desperate for food and other needs,” Lahore’s Daily Times reported. “Their children cannot attend school or college due to the destruction and fear.”

India: Man divorces wife on Facebook by posting ‘Talaaq’ three times, and obtains fatwa in favor of his action[edit]

In a bizarre case, a man is said to have divorced his wife on Facebook. He wrote ‘Talaaq’, three times on his wife’s Facebook wall. The man also obtained a fatwa in favor of his action.

Following her husband’s action the woman filed a police complaint, acting on the complaint the police arrested the family members of the man.

The accused man is still absconding. According to the police this is case is a first of its kind. City Qazi Sayeed Mushtaq Ali Naqvi has ruled that this way of divorcing a wife is against Shariyat.

The woman had earlier also filed a complaint against that her in-laws harassed her and were also demanding Rs. 2 lakhs and a car in dowry.
Man divorces wife on Facebook
Bhaskar News, March 17, 2013

Lebanon: Tensions rise as Sunni Shaykhs in Shiite neighborhoods are attacked in two separate incidents[edit]

Tensions rose in Beirut late Sunday evening following attacks against Sunni Sheikhs in Shiite neighborhoods, sparking anger as protesters cut roads and armed men appeared on the streets of Beirut's Tariq al-Jedideh neighborhood.

Two Sheikhs, identified as Mazen Hariri and Ahmad Fakhran, were beaten in the central Beirut neighborhood of Khandaq al-Ghamik while walking from Downtown Beirut's Mohammad al-Amin Mosque, the National News Agency reported.

Meanwhile, another two Sheikhs, Adnan Imama and Hassan Abdel Rahman, were assaulted in the South Beirut suburb of Shiyyah, Lebanon's state agency added.

Following the incident, protesters in Sunni areas of Lebanon's capital began cutting roads, as tension rose in the city.

Sunni Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir checked up on two of the wounded Sheikhs in the Makassed Hospital in Beirut’s Tariq al-Jedideh neighborhood, as hundreds of young men with Islamist flags gathered outside the building to protest against the attack.

The protesters then marched to the nearby Imam Ali Mosque, where a number of them started firing their weapons into the air, an eyewitness told NOW.

Following the gathering and prayers, the angry Sunni youths rushed to the Kola roundabout and began burning tires and garbage dumpsters. Smoke rose into the air all across the Kola roundabout that links the Sidon-Beirut highway to the central areas of Lebanon’s capital.

Armed men could be seen roaming the streets of Tariq al-Jedideh, the eyewitness said, adding that traffic was at a minimum.

As the night wore on, the Lebanese army deployed to on the western side of the Kola roundabout across from Tariq al-Jedideh and by morning the thoroughfare had been reopened.

Local media outlets reported that roads had also been cut in Beirut's Tayouneh neighborhood as well as in Sidon.

Amid the growing tension, the Lebanese army announced in a statement that it had raided the homes of men suspected in the attacks, arresting five of them.

Lebanon's top Sunni cleric, Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Qabbani, called for "self-restraint" following the incident...

Pakistan: “Those involved in immoral activities will be dealt in the same manner”, woman gunned down for ‘bad character’[edit]

Unidentified assailants on Saturday opened fire on two women on GT Road near Hashtnagri, leaving one dead and the other seriously injured.

The women were standing on the roadside when armed men rode up on a motorcycle wearing helmets and opened fire at them in broad daylight.

They also reportedly tossed a letter next to the victims, which read: “those involved in immoral activities will be dealt in the same manner.” The assailants managed to flee following the attack.

The body of the deceased woman was shifted to Hashtnagri police station, but could not be identified as yet. The injured woman has been identified as Yasmin, wife of Namet, and a resident of Regi village. She was taken to the Lady Reading Hospital following the incident.

A Hashtnagri police official said the letter left by the attackers blamed the women for prostitution. Both victims are said to be at least 45 years old, he added.
. . .

Previously, several women were killed by Taliban militants in Michani in Yakatoot, Khazana and suburban Chamakani for possessing ‘bad character’.

Libya: Flogging adulterers begins in post Muammar al-Gaddafi Libya (video)[edit]

A video of bearded Islamists taking turns to flog a man in former Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi’s hometown, Sirte, has left people in the country in shock, Al Arabiya reported Saturday

Although it was not clear what the man had done to deserve the punishment, the floggers – who belonged to Ansar al-Shariah (Partisans of Islamic Law) – were apparently executing his sentence.

Flogging people who have committed adultery exists within Libya’s legal system, however, such a sentence has not been carried out in decades.

Although some members of anti-Qaddafi forces have joined the country’s army, others still roam around carrying weapons...

UK: Cleric describes white Muslim "extremist" Richard Dart as a 'victim' and his terror plot an act of 'resistance'[edit]

For earlier news and updates on the same subject, click here.

HATE cleric Anjem Choudary has described white Islamic extremist Richard Dart as a “victim” and said his terror plot was an act of “resistance”.

Bearded Dart, 29, is one of three fanatics facing long jail terms for a string of hate crimes.

Last week a court heard how ex-BBC security guard Dart and self-confessed terrorist Imran Mahmood plotted to target Royal Wootton Bassett, Wilts, where people line the streets to welcome home the bodies of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Dart also talked about killing the heads of MI5 and MI6 and with a third man, ex-police support officer Jehangir Alom, planned to go to Pakistan for terror training.

But twisted Choudary, who groomed Dart, said the terror bid was just “an act of resistance”.

Despite Dart’s guilty plea, Choudary said the men were victims of the UK’s “oppressive” legal system.

He said Dart’s visit could have been innocent and added: “Terrorism, according to the British government, is any Muslim that wishes to defend their Muslim brothers and sisters.

“They could have been abroad for a myriad of reasons but because they are Muslims they can expect no leniency.”..

Iraq: Violence has increased since US troop withdrawal, thousands of ex-prisoners held by US forces rejoin insurgent groups[edit]

In a blow to hopes that the pull-out would remove the key catalyst for bloodshed, figures show that death rates have actually gone up since the last American soldier left Iraqi soil in December 2011.

Last year, some 4,570 civilians were killed, compared to 4,147 in 2011, according to the Iraq Body Count, the independent organisation that has analysed death rates in Iraq since the US invasion in 2003.
. . .
The upsurge in violence has been attributed mainly to al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has made a comeback in the past year after being put on the back foot during the US-led troop surge of 2007-2008.

Iraqi officials say the group has almost increased its strength to up to 2,500 fighters in the past year, up from previous estimates of only 700 when US forces left.

Sweden: Christian convert who fled Iran after husband was murdered for conversion at risk of being sent back[edit]

Parvaneh Sarabadi is a Christian woman who converted from Islam to Christianity with her husband around two years ago. As she told Mohabat News, after they trusted Christ, one of their relatives who works for the Islamic regime and has security support from the government, found out about their faith and eventually killed her husband in a conflict.

In her interview with Mohabat News she added that her husband's murderer also subjected her to physical harassment, sexual abuse and severe mental pressure. Having no one to support her, and knowing that her testimony would not be accepted in the Islamic judicial system of Iran, she was forced to leave the country against her will. She crossed the border illegally and after many difficulties managed to arrive in Sweden where she sought asylum. Shortly after her arrival, she began ministering in a local church in the city of her residence. However, despite confirmations from the church regarding her claim, and the support of a number of the Human Rights advocacy groups, her asylum application was turned down by the Swedish Immigration Board Office. She is currently at risk of being deported to Iran.

She is currently being held police detention. On another occasion, on February 15, she was put on a plane heading to Iran, but when she as well as other passengers objected, the pilot said he wouldn't fly the aircraft if she was on board. The police officers then took her back to detention and treated her badly as if she were a criminal.

In addition to collecting signatures for a petition in support of Ms. Sarabadi, a group of social activists also held protests and announced that according to international laws, she should be released and be granted her rights as a religious and political refugee. One of the many protests held in her support took place on the morning February 15, when police tried to send her back to Iran.

The protest was held in partnership with the church of Falun. A number of Ms. Sarabadi's friends and supporters gathered in front of the police detention center in Falun. Another group held a protest in front of the Immigration office in Stockholm in expressing their objection to the decision of Immigration authorities regarding Ms. Sarabadi's deportation.

Nevertheless, Ms. Sarabadi's lawyer has said that he is following up on her case and going through the legal process to annul the Immigration Board's decision and request that they review her case again. The lawyer says, "I think the support of all media, Refugee and Human Rights advocacy organizations is necessary and sincerely ask for their help. Publicizing Parvaneh's situation through the media, especially in Europe, the advocacy of Human Rights organizations, as well as protests in support of Parvaneh's refugee claim can be of great help".

Considering the brutal treatment of the Islamic regime of Iran towards religious and political dissidents, and the death sentence for Christian converts who are apostates in the Iranian regime's eyes, it is clear that deporting religious and political asylum seekers to Iran can put their lives at risk. This is why many social and political activists put all their efforts into stopping the deportation of asylum seekers to Iran...

Pakistan: Militants bomb CD shops, warn of more attacks against those engaged in ‘un-Islamic’ businesses[edit]

A pamphlet was found at the site of explosion which warned of more attacks against those engaged in the ‘un-Islamic’ businesses.

A local trader in the area talking to Dawn.com confirmed that a pamphlet was received in the market according to which, all ‘immoral’ businesses would face share the same fate as the targeted CD shop.

A local police official told Dawn.com that one kilogram of explosive material was used in the blast adding that no one was harmed in the attack.

Earlier this month, shop keepers in Peshawar discontinued the sale of mobile phone SD memory, USB flash memory and other media after the Pakistani Taliban had threatened to blow up mobile phone markets for selling ‘shameless’ video clips, ringtones and accessories.

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militant organisations have also warned in the past of attacks against those selling viagra, obcene films and also against those running net-cafes and CD shops.

Russia: Muftiat Council of Russia calls on the country’s officials to dedicate 15% of TV and radio air time to Muslims[edit]

Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin, head of the Muftiat Council of Russia has formally requested Anatoli Lisenku, director of the International TV and Radio Academy of Russia to dedicate 15 of TV network’s air time to broadcasting Islamic programs.

Gainutdin has said in a letter that 15 percent of the Russian population are Muslims and therefore at least 15 percent of the TV programs should be about Muslims and Islam.

He has urged Russian TV networks to produce and broadcast special documentaries, educational programs and movies for Muslims.

UK: Newborn baby found dead near soccer stadium with a note asking for a Muslim burial[edit]

Police searched Friday for the mother of a newborn baby found dead in the Manchester area in England with a note asking for a Muslim burial.

The body was discovered just before 5 p.m. Thursday in underbrush near the Bolton Wanderers' soccer stadium, The Sun reported. Police said the newborn was wrapped in plastic bags.

"While we cannot speculate on the ethnicity of either parent, there was a note requesting an Islamic burial," Chief Inspector Carol Martin said.

Martin said the mother would probably need medical care. Police reached out to Muslim leaders during Friday prayers.

Investigators were unsure how long the body had been lying under bushes before it was found.

An autopsy was scheduled for Monday. Police did not release the gender of the baby and said the cause of death was unknown.

Mecca: Imam criticized the decision to hang Jamat-i Islami leader for his role of killing and raping in 1971[edit]

The imam of one of the holiest sites of Muslims, Mecca, has criticized the decision to hang Jamat-i-Islami leader for his role in killings of people in 1971.

According to a JI statement, the Imam e Kaaba said that the JI leader was not only the great Islamic scholar and Quran researcher of Bangladesh but one the whole Islamic world.

He is one the beloved Muslim scholars of the world, he said adding that he personally knows Sayyedi and the decision of his hanging was unacceptable.

Sudan: Report says the country's 'security systematically targeting Nuba Christians'[edit]

South Kordofan — "According to HUDO's observation, it is clear that the systematic campaign of the government [of Sudan] is part of a plan targeting the native Nubians. Even the timing is arranged to destroy all institutions that gather Nubians either religious or social as the beginning of implementing the Univision (single Islamic Arabian), denial of Nubian Christians' religion rights and Nuba people's rights to practice their culture or social activities.

This was clear when the government security found no charges to issue against the innocent Nubian church leaders and they began accusing them of Christianization and accessing funds from outside Sudan in illegal ways", says the Human Rights and Development Organization (HUDO).

In the second part of its report HUDO describes the arbitrary arrests, the systematic targeting and the reasons it believes are behind these incidents against the Nuba people. The information provided is based on the agency's own observations on the ground, but also on local reports and on information gathered from various sources...

Afghanistan: Huge truck bomb plot foiled in which 7,800 kilograms of explosives could have wiped out an area of Kabul[edit]

Afghanistan’s intelligence agency said Friday that it had foiled a massive truck bomb plot in which 7,800 kilograms of explosives could have wiped out an area of Kabul.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) said the attack had been planned by the Pakistan-based Haqqani network and the Taliban leadership, though it offered no concrete evidence of the plot.

Shafiqullah Tahiri, spokesman for the spy agency, said the explosives had been found on Tuesday, hidden in cement bags in a truck on the eastern outskirts of the capital.

“Based on an investigation by the NDS, these explosives would have destroyed everything within 1,500 meters,” Tahiri told reporters.

“It would have been a catastrophe for people living in the city if it had been detonated.

“NDS forces discovered it due to prior information that the terrorists were organizing this attack in a crowded part of Kabul.”

During the NDS night raid early on Tuesday, five suspected plotters were killed in an exchange of fire, Tahiri added. Two other people were arrested.

Kabul has been hit by a series of bomb and suicide attacks in recent years as Taliban insurgents battle against the US-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

The most recent deadly attack was last Saturday when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the defense ministry, killing nine people while US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagle was visiting a US base nearby in the city...

Nigeria: Muslim cleric charged with defrauding apprentice of N500,000 ($3,152)[edit]

A man, who claimed to be a Muslim cleric, Issa Bulala, was on Thursday arraigned before an Apapa Senior Magistrates’ Court, Lagos, for allegedly defrauding an apprentice of N500,000.

Bulala, 34, allegedly collected the money with a promise to make the 25-year-old apprentice, Taofeek Saka, rich. Taofeek was also charged with him.

The duo, who live at Odun-Ade area of Orile-Iganmu, are facing a three-count charge of stealing, conspiracy and obtaining money under false pretences.

The Prosecutor, Mr Friday Inedu, told the court that Bulala approached Saka asking him to pay some money into his account to enable him to pray for him to become rich.

``Saka stole his master’s money and paid it into Bulala’s savings account No. 305377879 at First Bank, Orile–Iganmu to pay the fees charged by the cleric.

``The accused said he would use the money to buy a white horse and 19 copies of the Holy Koran to be distributed to various mosques.

Indonesia: Church members refuse to dismantle place of worship after local government threatened them to shut down[edit]

Bekasi. Congregation members from the embattled Huria Kristen Batak Protestan Setu Church in Bekasi have refused to dismantle their place of worship after the local government ordered them to shut down last week.

“We're firm, we won't dismantle the temple of God that we have built,” said Torang Simanjuntak, the pastor at the church known as HKBP, on Thursday.

The Bekasi district government sealed the church on March 7, after the local public order agency (Satpol PP) claimed that the church did not hold the necessary building permit.

Dikdik Jasmeda Astra, head of the Bekasi Satpol PP, said that he had given the church seven days to dismantle it.

“If until the deadline, it has not been dismantled, we will do it,” Dikdik said.

Torang said that it was up to the government to decide what they would do with the church, adding that the congregation would not “dismantle our own house of worship.”
. . .
The HKBP Setu congregation is the latest Christian group in West Java to face opposition from locals over their presence in largely Muslim communities.

Also in Bekasi, the HKBP Filadelfia congregation has been forced to worship on the street outside its church or in members’ homes since 2007, as the district administration continues to deny it a permit

US: Man who plead guilty to NYC Synagogue Bomb Plot, sentenced to 10 years in prison[edit]

An Algerian New Yorker was sentenced to 10 years in prison Friday for plotting an attack on New York City synagogues, even as his lawyers continued to insist that he was manipulated by a police mole and never had any intention of carrying it out.

Ahmed Ferhani, 28, pleaded guilty in December to rare state-level terrorism charges in order to avoid the possibility of decades in prison.

His lawyers acknowledged that he purchased guns, ammunitions and an inert grenade at the conclusion of an elaborate police sting. Investigators also recorded Ferhani saying hateful things about Jews and talking about attacking houses of worship. But Ferhani and his lawyers say his true intention was to sell the weapons on the black market because he was desperate for money. The police recordings also captured him talking about lining up buyers and speculating about how much he might earn.

"This was, your honor, a gun crime, and not a crime of terrorism," his lawyer, Lamis Deek, told the judge.

At his sentencing hearing, Ferhani apologized to his parents, who he said had raised him to be respectful of people, regardless of their race, religions or sexual orientation.

"They were humiliated, attacked and harassed on a daily basis over the last two years," said Ferhani, who moved to the U.S. to escape Algeria's civil war as a child and spoke in a New York accent. "I was raised by parents who taught me to put others before myself."

He promised to make something of his life once released.

"I will use this time to strengthen my mind and character," he said.

Ferhani is almost certain to be deported to Algeria after his release from jail. His citizenship applications over the years had been denied because of his past criminal history and mental health problems that included repeated hospitalizations for psychiatric disorders.
. . .
In a statement following the sentencing, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Ferhani posed a real threat to New York City's Jewish community, and heralded the work of the NYPD Intelligence Bureau in ensuring the imprisonment of a "dangerous man."

Outside the courthouse, Deek said her client only pleaded guilty to the terrorism charges because 10 years was a sentence too good to pass up. She said Ferhani probably would have gotten nine years in jail on the weapons charges, even if terrorism wasn't involved.

The case against another man who was arrested along with Ferhani in May of 2001, Mohamed Mamdouh, is still pending.
Updates:[edit]
The Boston Marathon explosions were on the minds of officials in Manhattan yesterday as a would-be city synagogue bomber was sentenced to five years’ prison.

Mohamed Mamdouh, 22, a naturalized citizen from Morocco, had pleaded guilty in a closed-court proceeding last year to conspiracy and weapons possession as crimes of terror.

His co-defendant, Algerian citizen Ahmed Ferhani, got a 10-year sentence last month as the scheme’s mastermind.

The two had been taped during an eight-month NYPD undercover operation plotting to throw a grenade into an unspecified synagogue and to wire multiple bombs to a single detonator to blow up several synagogues simultaneously.

DA Cyrus Vance Jr. said the sentencing “marks the successful conclusion of New York’s first state-level terror prosecution.”
5 yrs. for bomber wannabe
New York Post, April 27, 2013

Bangladesh: 85 dead, 700 Hindu homes and 47 temples destroyed as violence over Jamaat-e-Islami leader's sentencing continues[edit]

For earlier news and updates on the same subject, click here.

The revenge attacks on Hindus that began after a top Islamist leader was sentenced to death for war crimes continue unabated in Bangladesh with the government appearing to be in position to contain the violence.

Delwar Hossain Sayedee, vice-president of the Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami, was sentenced to death on February 28 for crimes including rape and murder committed during the 1971 independence conflict.

The death sentence to Sayedee and other JeI leaders has triggered the worst violence in the Muslim-majority country since independence; 85 people have so far lost their lives in the unrest.

Hindus, their houses and temples had come under attacks in districts like Noakhali, Satkhira and Sirajganj.

As per an organisation that looks after Hindu temples in the country, 47 temples and at least 700 Hindu houses had either been torched or vandalised by members of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir.
. . .
Amnesty International has made an urgent appeal to the Bangladesh government to provide its minority better protection.

“The Hindu community in Bangladesh is at extreme risk, in particular at such a tense time in the country. It is shocking that they appear to be targeted simply for their religion. The authorities must ensure that they receive the protection they need,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty’s Researcher.

Hindus, who make up 8-10 percent of Bangladesh's 153 million-strong population, are traditionally seen as supporters of the Awami League, which brands itself as a secular party.

They were the main targets during Bangladesh's 1971 independence war against Pakistan and during post-poll violence in 2001 when a centre-right party allied with Jamaat won a two-thirds majority.

UAE: Indian woman sentenced to three months in jail for preaching the bible on the streets[edit]

A woman accused of attacking Islam by preaching the bible on the streets of Abu Dhabi has been jailed.

Abu Dhabi Criminal Court yesterday handed out the three-month sentence to the Indian woman after she was found guilty of proselytising and handing out copies of the text on the streets of the UAE capital.

Court records show that an Arab man reported the woman to police after he saw her preaching on Al Najda Street.

Egypt: Government warns that a U.N. declaration on women's rights could destroy society by allowing a woman basic rights[edit]

Egypt's ruling Muslim Brotherhood warns that a U.N. declaration on women's rights could destroy society by allowing a woman to travel, work and use contraception without her husband's approval and letting her control family spending.

The Islamist movement that backs President Mohamed Mursi gave 10 reasons why Muslim countries should "reject and condemn" the declaration, which the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women is racing to negotiate a consensus deal on by Friday.

The Brotherhood, whose Freedom and Justice Party propelled Mursi to power in June, posted the statement on its website, www.ikhwanweb.com, and the website of the party on Thursday.

Egypt has joined Iran, Russia and the Vatican - dubbed an "unholy alliance" by some diplomats - in threatening to derail the women's rights declaration by objecting to language on sexual, reproductive and gay rights.

The Muslim Brotherhood said the declaration would give "wives full rights to file legal complaints against husbands accusing them of rape or sexual harassment, obliging competent authorities to deal husbands punishments similar to those prescribed for raping or sexually harassing a stranger."

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice last week touted at the commission - a global policy-making body created in 1946 for the advancement of women - progress made by the United States in reducing the rate of violence against women by their partners.

"All 50 states in our union now have laws that treat date rape or spousal rape as just as much of a crime as rape by a stranger," Rice said. "We cannot live in truly free societies, if women and girls are not free to reach their full potential."

The contrasting views show the gap that needs to be breached in negotiations on the declaration, which this year is focused on urging an end to violence against women and girls. The commission failed to agree a declaration last year on a theme of empowering rural women due to similar disagreements.

WORLD IS WATCHING

Egypt has proposed an amendment, diplomats say, that would allow countries to avoid implementing the declaration if it clashed with national laws, religious or cultural values. But some diplomats say this would undermine the entire declaration.

The Muslim Brotherhood warned the declaration would give girls sexual freedom, legalize abortion, provide teenagers with contraceptives, give equality to women in marriage and require men and women to share duties such as child care and chores.

It said the declaration would allow "equal rights to homosexuals, and provide protection and respect for prostitutes" and "equal rights to adulterous wives and illegitimate sons resulting from adulterous relationships."...

UK: Lord Nazir Ahmed, one of Britain's first Muslim peers, blames jail term on Jewish 'conspiracy'[edit]

A British politician jailed for causing a deadly road accident while texting behind the wheel, has reportedly blamed his prison sentence on a Jewish conspiracy.

Lord Nazir Ahmed, 55, who became one of the first Muslim peers in the UK after former British prime minister Tony Blair appointed him in 1998, has said that his prison sentence was a result of pressure applied on the court by Jews “who own newspapers and television channels,” the Times of London quoted him as saying Thursday.

Nazir also purportedly claimed that the judge in his 2008 trial was appointed to his position after he helped a “Jewish colleague” of Blair during an important case. According to Ahmed, Justice Wilkie was hand-picked to carry out the sentencing because no other judge was willing to handle his case.

He also alleged that Jewish-owned media organizations pressured the courts to charge him with a more serious offense.

Ahmed maintained that the plot to stemmed from Jewish disapproval of his support for the Palestinians in Gaza. The Times said he repeated his comments during a television interview in Pakistan, which was said to have been broadcast last April.

“My case became more critical because I went to Gaza to support Palestinians. My Jewish friends who own newspapers and TV channels opposed this,” he allegedly said in the interview.

According to the Times, three Court of Appeal judges refused to quash Ahmed’s conviction. They maintained that the sentence was justified and that there should not be “one law for the rich and powerful and one law for the rest.”

However the appeal court did agree to the “exceptional” course of suspending the sentence for 12 months after learning that his sentence would hinder Ahmed’s work “building bridges between the Muslim world and others.”

The peer was freed after serving only 16 days in jail.

Last year Ahmed was suspended by the Labor Party following reports that he offered a £10 million bounty for the capture of President Barack Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Lord Nazir Ahmed allegedly made the offer after the US announced a $10 million bounty for Hafiz Muhammed Saeed, founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist group blamed by India for a series of attacks in Mumbai in 2008 that killed 166 people.

In 2009, Ahmed joined forces with a number of British-based Islamists to sign a letter praising Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he walked out of a debate with President Shimon Peres at the Davos Conference in Switzerland.

Following the incident, he led a delegation to the Turkish Embassy in London to pay tribute to Erdogan.

The same year, he also reportedly threatened to mobilize 10,000 Muslims to prevent the House of Lords from screening “Fitna”, a film by Dutch politician Geert Wilders that claims that Islam sanctions terrorism.

In 2005, Ahmed hosted a book launch in the House of Lords for an activist who frequently uses anti-Semitic language in his work. Russian-born Israel Shamir claimed that blood libels against the Jews were in fact true and that all political parties were Zionist infiltrated.

In an interview on the Iranian mouthpiece Press TV during Operation Cast Lead in 2009, Ahmed said that Jewish student groups actively recruited for the IDF. He said that British Jews who served in the IDF should be arrested and, if necessary, charged with war crimes.

“We know that there are student unions that have been actively recruiting young people in Britain to join the IDF and we also know that there are young Jewish students who go and serve on the kibbutz and also in schools, who are also then doing national service in Israel,” he said.

Saudi Arabia: Firing squads to carry out executions due to a lack of qualified swordsmen, acceptable by Shar'iah says senior cleric[edit]

A senior cleric in Saudi Arabia has given his seal of approval for execution by firing squad, as long as it is as quick or faster than the traditional method of beheading, it was reported.

Media reports last week suggested that the kingdom, which enforces a strict version of Sharia law, was mulling introducing firing squads to carry out executions, apparently due to a lack of qualified swordsmen.

Sheikh Ali Al-Hakami, member of the Senior Board of Ulema, was quoted by English language Saudi Gazette as saying that death by firing squad could be permissible according to Sharia, as long as the process is painless.

“That’s why beheading by sword is the best way to achieve the purpose of punishment in Islam because it does not cause any torture,” Al-Hakami said.

Al-Hakami added that religious scholars in the Gulf’s most populous country should also investigate the possibility of using other methods, such as electric chair, hanging and lethal injections, to find out if they also comply with Sharia.
. . .
According to rights group Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia has executed 17 people so far this year, compared with 82 in 2011 and a similar number in 2012.
Update:[edit]
Saudi Arabia executed seven jewelry burglars this week by a firing squad for the first time in the history of the conservative Muslim Gulf Kingdomm, paving the way for an end to a long-standing practice of beheading convicts by the sword...

Pakistan: Man beaten, blindfolded and stoned to death for attempting to elope with a girl[edit]

An official of the political administration and three tribesmen, including an elder of the local tribe confirmed The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity that the man, Nooruddin, was stoned to death near a graveyard in Parachinar around noon.

The tribal elder said the accused was blindfolded and brought to the ground where more than 300 men started throwing stones at him until he died.

Sources said that Nooruddin, a resident of Mianwali district of Punjab, was a government employee in Parachinar where he started a love affair with a local girl. He was transferred to Azad Kashmir. However, he continued to maintain the relationship.

On Monday evening, Noorud­din came to Parachinar to elope with the girl but her family found out and locked him in a room after roughing him up.

A jirga was convened to decide his fate. “It was decided that according to the tribal code ‘tora’, both the man and girl would be killed.” The fate of the girl remained unclear till the filing of this report...

Libya: 48 Coptic Christians arrested, devout Muslims torture and attempt to convert them to Islam, desecrate Christian imagery[edit]

Libyan Salafis are responsible for torture, attempts to forcibly convert and desecration of Christian imagery. This is according to 44 of the 48 Egyptian Coptic vendors on their return home. "They forced us to pronounce the al-shahaadatayn - said one of them - the proclamation of the Islamic faith and spit on images of Pope Shenouda III." So far, the Egyptian government has not reacted to the episode that involved its citizens nor charges of religious discrimination. However, the relatives of the victims are demanding justice and accuse the Islamist government of protecting the Libyan Salafists.

Arrested in mid-February in the Benghazi market, accused of publicizing religious images and illegal immigration, the Coptic Orthodox were held for several days in a jail guarded by Salafi armed guards. They were released after several days of negotiations between the Egyptian and the Libyan governments accused on several occasions of failing to protect foreign nationals in its territory. Currently four Christians are still detained in Libya for further investigation.

The case has also sparked outrage among the population of Benghazi, which in October revolted against the Salafi militias accused of having organized the attack on the U.S. consulate in which the US Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed.

Further aggravating relations between Cairo and Tripoli, but also between the Government of Benghazi and its people, is the case of Ezzat Atallah, also Egyptian and Christian, who died last March 10 in a prison in the Cyrenaica capital in mysterious circumstances. Like his 48 fellow vendors, he was arrested by a Salafi militia on charges of publicizing religious images. According to the Libyan authorities the man, 45 years old and father of two, suffered from diabetes and heart problems and likely died of natural causes. To date, the family has denied the statements made by the government in Benghazi. In an interview with the Christian Middle East News Agency (Mcn-direct), Atallah's sister points out that "my brother never had diabetes or heart."

Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi cases of aggression or attacks on foreign minorities living in Libya have increased. The communities most affected include the Egyptians, Coptic Christians especially Catholics and Orthodox. In February, an armed group raided a church in the Cyrenaica capital and attacked two Coptic priests, Fr. Paul Isaac and his assistant. At the end of February, four foreigners - an Egyptian, a South African, a South Korean and a Swede with U.S. passport - were arrested on charges of distributing Bibles and other religious material. They are imprisoned in a prison in Tripoli, awaiting trial...
Updates:[edit]
Christians living in Libya have been rounded up, beaten and accused of proselytising, in the latest evidence of a militant Islamic movement gripping the country since the revolution.

The men, Egyptian Copts working in Benghazi, were seized by an Islamist militia but handed over to the government. One, named as Ezzat Atallah (44) died at the weekend after allegedly being tortured, his brother, Effat, said.

The authorities have condemned an attack on the community's priest, but in a sign of their powerlessness in the face of sectarian violence, have taken no further action. After the death of Mr Atallah, four men remain in custody out of 60 detained, while 35 of the remainder have been deported on the grounds of illegal immigration.

Ragaa Nagah, the wife of one of the four incarcerated men, Emad Seddeek, said: "When I visited him he was in a pitiful condition. He was afraid to tell us how he was tortured, but he couldn't see out of one of his eyes.

"They were standing over him and beating him while they asked him to confess and when they were about to give him an electric shock he said, 'Don't do that and I will say anything you want me to say'."

Video

The arrests were revealed in a startling video that sent shock waves through Egypt's Christian minority. It showed a room full of prisoners, lorded over by Islamist militiamen who had shaved their captives' heads.

The round-up appears to have been carried out by Ansar al-Sharia, a notorious militant accused of involvement in the death of Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador, in the city last September. That group is not recognised by the authorities, though it operates with impunity...
Egyptian Christians describe torture at the hands of Libyan captors
In a troubling development, Egyptian Copts in Libya say one of their number has been killed by a militia while detained along with dozens of other Copts. Copts accuse Libyan militias, with the tacit approval of the government, of harassing, arresting, torturing, and now killing Christians...

US: San Francisco officials say anti-jihad ads quoting jihadis offends Muslims[edit]

San Francisco leaders say ads that started running on city buses on Monday are anti-Islamic, racist and denigrating to members of the Muslim community.

The ads, paid by American Freedom Defense Initiative dollars, show Osama bin Laden and the Fort Hood, Texas, shooting suspect — Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan — pictured among some quotes about Islam-driven warfare and weaponry. One quote, attributed to the Islamic group Hamas, reads. “Killing Jews is worship that brings us closer to Allah,” The Associated Press reports.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, as well as District Attorney George Gascon, condemned the ads, AP says.

“These offensive ads serve no purpose than to denigrate our city’s Arab and Muslim communities,” Mr. Gascon said, in the AP report.

But AFDI officials say that’s kind of the point. AFDI executive director Pamela Geller said the reason for the ad campaign is to show just how jihadists term their own actions. The ads only reflect what jihadists have done and said themselves, she said.

“City officials denounce our ads, but not the actual quotes from high-profile jihadists calling for holy war and genocide,” she said, in the AP report. “Our new campaign focuses on how jihadists use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and supremacism.”

Sudan: Country will continue amputations, any doctors who refuse 'the rule of Allah' will face prosecution[edit]

Judges can receive special training to perform court-ordered amputations if doctors refuse to carry out the sentences, a Sudanese justice said Tuesday.

Deputy Chief Justice Abdul Rahman Sharfi added that any doctors who refuse "the rule of Allah" will themselves face prosecution, the Sudan Tribune reported.

He made the comments at a news conference in response to strong criticism from human rights groups concerning last month's amputation of the right hand and left foot of a man found guilty of armed robbery.

"We cherish the book of Allah (Koran) and not the Hippocratic Oath," said Sharfi.

He said if doctors refuse to follow Islamic law the government is prepared to train and qualify some judges to perform court-ordered amputations.
. . .
Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir has said he wants to adopt a "100 percent" Islamic constitution now that the South has split off.

Afghanistan: Newly-built school building in Qala-i-Naw blown up[edit]

Unknown assailants blew up a newly-built school building in Qala-i-Naw, the capital of northwestern Badghis province, an official said on Tuesday.

They lobbed a hand-grenade into the building on Monday evening , comprehensively damaging two rooms of the school in Kharistan area, the governor's spokesman, Sharafuddin Majidi, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

Blaming the incident on insurgents, he accused the rebels of creating hurdles to the education process in the province. About 500 students, including girls, are studying in the school, he added.

A ninth grade student, Ali Gul, said he saw one portion of their school was damaged as he arrived in the morning. He said text books and furniture were burnt in the fire caused by the explosion. He asked the government to arrest those responsible.

Australia: Islamic Peace Conference to feature Saudi cleric who has called for violent jihad and the annihilation of Jews[edit]

The three-day Australian Islamic Peace Conference is billed as the "largest, the biggest and the best-ever Islamic event in the history of Australia" and will kick off this weekend in Melbourne.

Conference organisers, the Islamic Research and Educational Academy, have come under fire for inviting Saudi cleric Abdul Rahman al-Sudais.

Al-Sudais has in the past reportedly called for violent jihad and for the annihilation of Jews.

Senator Bernardi says other speakers who have been invited to the conference are noted for their support of Osama bin Laden.

"It's hard for even the stoutest defender of freedom of speech to defend the poison that is peddled by this lot," he told parliament on Tuesday, adding that a number of speakers were extremists and preachers of hate.

A spokeswomen for Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor said al-Sudais had not yet applied for a visa to visit Australia.
. . .
"Bigotry spewed out by Saudi extremist preacher Dr al-Sudais was un-Australian," Mr Danby said in a statement.

Pakistan: 1,500 Sikh families fled Khyber after Muslim group Lashkar-e-Islam rose to power[edit]

Ranjeet Singh,28, did not come to the city out of choice. He belongs to one of 1,500 families who moved out of Bara, Khyber Agency as security conditions in the area deteriorated.

“Three people from my family were killed and our shop was destroyed when mortar shells hit our herbal medicine store five months ago,” he said after prayers at the gurdwara in Dabgari. Ranjeet and his family now live with a relative in the provincial capital.

Most people are reluctant to say anything about the situation in Bara or name any group responsible for the mayhem. They even choose to remain silent about their own plight for fear of getting kidnapped or killed.

“No one can freely talk about this because everyone knows they will have to face the consequences,” Ranjeet said, adding the recent abductions and murders of Sikhs are preventing people from speaking up.

Minorities living in Bara had for long enjoyed equal rights and no one interfered in their religious activities. However, when banned militant outfit Lashkar-e-Islam rose to power, their leader Mangal Bagh imposed jizya on the Sikhs. Those who refused to pay the tax were kidnapped and then executed.

“We had been living in Khyber Agency for centuries, running our businesses and carrying out our religious activities without any fear,” said Santok Singh, adding that now it is very risky for them to even move about freely.

Jawal Singh migrated from Shalobar. He used to run a general store in Bara Bazaar. “My family of eight lives in miserable conditions in a rented house. We cannot even afford our daily expenditures.”

An elder of the Sikh community, Sahib Singh, says the government is always making claims of maintaining peace, but the use of force has further deteriorated the security situation in the once peaceful tribal belt.

He said the government and the Supreme Court need to help the Sikhs out of this situation, put an end to the curfew and help them restart their businesses in Bara. He also urged them to announce compensation packages for the affected families and shop owners in Khyber Agency...
Internally displaced: When the Sikhs fled Khyber
The Express Tribune, March 12, 2013

Libya: Supreme cleric issues fatwa against UN's women's rights document, 'it counters Islamic law'[edit]

Libya's supreme religious cleric is calling on Muslim nations to reject a United Nations document on women's rights, saying that it counters Islamic law.

Mufti al-Sadiq al-Ghiryani issued a fatwa, or religious edict, against the document set to be signed by nations at the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women this month.

While Islamic jurisprudence prefers witnesses for a divorce, the mufti says the U.N. document insists on judicial interference.

The edict issued Monday criticizes the document's references to inheritance and its equating of men and women. Al-Ghiryani says this puts full burden on women to share equally in terms of domestic spending.

The mufti also condemns the document's wording on sexual freedoms and the rights of children born out of wedlock.
Libyan Islamic cleric rejects women's rights document
The New Zealand Herald, March 12, 2013

US: Devout Muslim convert goes on stabbing spree over religious dispute, devout Christian stops him[edit]

News concerning this convert to Islam's religious motivation can be read here.

It happened at one of the busiest intersections in the county outside a business known around the world.

Shortly before 5 p.m. Monday, Vancouver police arrested Scott C. Fandrich, 54, of Ridgefield suspected of stabbing two people in the Starbucks coffee shop drive-thru at Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard and Chkalov Drive.

He was arrested on two counts of first-degree assault. Police did not indicate where Fandrich lives.

One of the victims was treated and released, the other was still hospitalized, Vancouver police said Monday night. Neither of the victims was identified.

Several bystanders, patrons and employees at nearby businesses rushed to the first victim’s aid, following the altercation.

Another man, apparently trying to help the victim, was stabbed in the foot.

Marty, 43, who asked that his last name be withheld, helped at the scene. He was praying about the right to life on the other side of the strip mall with a group of about 10 people from Westminster Presbyterian Church when he heard people yelling that there was a fight. He saw a man, estimated to be in his 60s, lying on the ground between two drive-thru signs with multiple stab wounds. A man with a knife stood over the victim, then started to walk away. He was described as being in his 50s and wearing a camouflage jacket.

Marty told the man he couldn’t leave, but the man walked to a white Chrysler minivan parked in a handicapped parking spot behind the Starbucks at 11502 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd. in Cascade Park. He had closed the knife, and had car keys and a cane in his hands.

“I was not going to let him flee,” Marty said.

He stepped in front of the driver’s door and the suspect raised his cane above his head as if to strike Marty. Marty pinned him against another vehicle and twisted the man’s hand to make him let go of the knife. After pulling him away from the car, others in the strip mall helped pin the man down until police arrived about two minutes later...
UPDATE: Man named in stabbing at Chkalov Drive Starbucks
Patty Hastings, The Columbian, March 11, 2013

Nigeria: Death toll from Boko Haram's Sunday attacks in Kano climbs to five[edit]

Information reaching 247ureports.com indicates that the Sunday attack at Dakata and Hotoro quarters in Kano metropolis has resulted in two more deaths. The death toll rose from three [3] to five [5].

The attack had occurred through the actions of Jihadists who drove in a tricycle [keke napep] armed with machine guns. They opened fire on residents at the two areas – killing three on the spot – while many more sustained injuries.

According to the Chairman of the Kano Chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria [CAN], Bishop Ransom Bello, the two latest victims were blood brothers of same parents. “The parents of the slain victims have officially communicated report of the attack to CAN secretariat in Kano”.

The victims were returning home from Sunday service at the ECWA church, Dakata when the Jihadist gun men struck. According to the CAN State Chairman, the attacks came two weeks after 13 Christians were gun down in Sheka, Sharada Phase 3 in Kumbotso Local Government Area...

Iran: Five Christian converts put on trial for their faith - crackdown against Christian converts and house churches increases[edit]

Five Iranian Christian converts who were detained late last year will reportedly begin trial in Iran’s Revolutionary Court this week, according to a human rights group following the case.

The five men were among seven arrested in October when security forces raided an underground house church in the city of Shiraz during a prayer session. They will be tried at the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz’s Fars Province on charges of disturbing public order, evangelizing, threatening national security and engaging in Internet activity that threatens the government, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a religious persecution watchdog group.

“Judging from recent cases, it is likely that, at the very least, those detained may face lengthy prison sentences,” said CSW spokesperson Kiri Kankhwende.

According to Kankhwende, the crackdown against Christian converts and house churches parallels a general increase in repression against many, including journalists, religious and cultural minorities and others as the government is leading up to June’s presidential elections.

The five imprisoned men, Mohammad Roghangir, Surush Saraie, Eskandar Rezaie, Shahin Lahooti and Massoud Rezaie are members of the Church of Iran denomination, one of the country's largest house church movements.

“There has been a noticeable increase in the harassment, arrests, trials and imprisonments of converts to Christianity, particularly since the beginning of 2012," Kankhwende said. "Any movement that differs from or offers an alternative to orthodox Shia Islam, and any persons who chooses to follow an alternative belief system, are interpreted as a challenge to the very state itself.”

The underground church network has been rapidly growing in Iran as a place where converts from Islam to Christianity can pray as they are forbidden to attend services at formal churches.

Alongside the growing network of home churches has been the increase in violent crackdowns and raids on these communities and arrests made on Christian converts, among them the internationalized case of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, held for almost three years on charges of apostasy and more recently American Pastor Saeed Abedini who is currently serving an eight-year sentence for evangelizing and threatening national security.
. . .
More than a decade ago, Abedini worked as a Christian leader and community organizer developing Iran’s underground home church communities for Christian converts who are forbidden from praying in public churches. He was arrested in 2005, but released after pledging never to evangelize in Iran again. When he left his wife and two kids in Idaho last summer to return to Iran to help build a state-run, secular orphanage, Iranian police pulled him off a bus and imprisoned him.

After months of imprisonment without any notice of charges, Abedini was sentenced at the beginning of this year to eight years in prison, as his family and attorneys continue to pressure the State Department and other public and private groups to facilitate his release.

Under Shariah, or Islamic law, a Muslim who converts to Christianity is on a par with someone waging war against Islam. Death sentences for such individuals are prescribed by fatwas, or legal decrees, and reinforced by Iran’s Constitution, which allows judges to rely on fatwas for determining charges and sentencing on crimes not addressed in the Iranian penal code.

All religious minorities in Iran, including Bahais, Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians, have faced various forms of persecution and political and social marginalization throughout the regime’s 30-year reign. But the government saves its harshest retribution for those who have abandoned Islam.

UK: Three men arrested following an alleged sexual assault and false imprisonment at a Muslim girls' school[edit]

Three men arrested following an alleged sexual assault and false imprisonment at an Islamic girls' school have links with the school, police said.

Officers are investigating an alleged incident last Tuesday involving a small number of girls at Jamea Al Kauthar in Lancaster.

A Bolton man, 40, and a Blackburn man, 30, were arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and false imprisonment.

They have been bailed. A Blackburn man, 53, has been released without charge.

Searches were being conducted at the school by female officers.

The alleged incident was reported to police on Saturday and a search warrant was executed on Sunday.

Police will not confirm the details of the men's connections with the establishment, but said they were arrested at the school...

France: Convicted killer and member of a Palestinian terrorist organization made an honorary resident of Paris suburb[edit]

A suburb of Paris made the killer of Israeli minister Rehavam Ze’evi an honorary resident.

Bezons awarded the title last month to Majdi Al-Rimawi, according to the March edition of its official newsletter, Bezons Infos. The motion to recognize Rimawi passed unanimously at a special council vote of the municipality, which is northwest of Paris and nearly eight miles from the city's center.

“He is imprisoned for more than 10 years in an Israeli prison. His crime? Defending his city and its inhabitants, calling for the application of international law for the establishment of Palestine in the 1967 borders as recognized by the United Nations and Jerusalem as its capital. For this he was sentenced in 2002 [sic] to life in prison… More than 80 years!” proclaims the newsletter article.

The article does not mention the 2008 conviction of Rimawi, a member of the terrorist organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, for the murder of Ze’evi in Jerusalem in 2001. Rimawi was one of four shooters who waited for Ze’evi, Israel's minister of tourism, outside a hotel in Jerusalem.

Bezons Mayor Dominique Lesparre was quoted as calling the vote to honor Rimawi “a strong political act.”

The inscription on the plaque prepared by Bezons, which has a population of approximately 28,000, referred to Al-Rimawi as a "political prisoner," according to Palestinian Media Watch.
French town honors killer of Israeli minister
Jerusalem Post, March 11, 2013

Indonesia: At least 18 women arrested for wearing tight-fitting clothes as authorities arrest dozens in weekend raids[edit]

Authorities in Banda Aceh rounded up dozens of people over the weekend, mostly women, for allegedly violating the province’s ultraconservative Islamic bylaws on indecent conduct.

The series of raids was carried out late Saturday night and early Sunday by the Wilayatul Hisbah, the so-called Shariah police, with help from regular police and soldiers.

Effendi, a WH official, said two couples were arrested at a hotel in Banda Aceh during one of the raids, and had been taken into custody for violating a bylaw prohibiting khalwat , the practice of unmarried couples being alone together in private.

“The four individuals are still being questioned by our officers,” he told the Jakarta Globe on Sunday afternoon.

“If they refuse to see the error of their ways, we’ll have to charge them under the bylaw, for which they could be punished with a public caning.”

In another raid led by Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal, Banda Aceh deputy mayor, WH officers arrested 15 women from a cafe on the outskirts of the city.

Officials said the women were arrested for wearing tight-fitting clothes and for being out late at night.

No men were arrested in that raid.

A third raid, at a boarding house in a densely populated part of the city, netted one man and three women.

Effendi said the man was believed to be a pimp. He said WH raided the house after receiving complaints from residents about “un-Islamic activities” taking place there, but declined to elaborate.

He added that the three women found at the scene were arrested for wearing tight clothing.

“We’re continuing to question these four people because we have strong reason to believe that the man is a pimp and that the three women are ‘comfort women,’ ” Effendi said.

Three more women were arrested in a further raid on a late-night eatery in the Banda Aceh outskirts for wearing tight-fitting clothes, forbidden under Aceh’s partial adoption of Shariah law.

Effendi said all the women arrested for this violation were released into the custody of their families after promising not to repeat their conduct.

Illiza said the raids were necessary to “keep Banda Aceh clean from the stench of vice.”

“We’re carrying out these raids to crack down on those that are violating Shariah law,” she said...

Israel: The UN issues report that exposes Palestine's lies to the media: Hamas killed BBC reporter's baby in Gaza[edit]

The United Nations has issued a report with unusual courage and accuracy that plainly tells the tale of Israel’s Pillar of Defense counter terror operation – and exposes the lies of Hamas, told to a grieving father and his BBC bureau chief.

In what has become typical of international media, The Washington Post and a BBC bureau chief last November accused and convicted the Israel Defense Forces in a heartrending, angry piece without verifying their information after a fellow editor in Gaza lost his baby son in rocket fire that struck his home.

The front page photo of an Arab stringer for a world-class news network, clutching his dead baby son in his arms, tears running down his cheeks, became a powerful icon of the tragedy of the conflict.

It was used by Hamas as propaganda to blacken Israel’s name in the media and politically in the international arena as it fought to defend its southern population against Gaza’s missile fire.

But apparently very few questioned the source of the rocket fire – certainly not the grieving father, Jihad Misharawi, who at his son’s funeral blamed “the Jews” – nor did BBC Middle East bureau chief Paul Danahar, who came to Gaza to support his colleague, or The Washington Post, which printed the story, written by Max Fisher and "foreign staff", with photos, published on the front page.

Photos of the damaged home were duly posted, along with a photo of the little child, who is indeed beautiful, and the heartbreaking photo of a grieving father carrying what appears to be his dead son wrapped in shrouds.

“An Israeli round hit Misharawi’s four-room home in Gaza Wednesday, killing his son, according to BBC Middle East bureau chief Paul Danahar, who arrived in Gaza earlier that Thursday,” Fisher reported in his article along with the paper’s “foreign staff” on November 15. “Misharawi’s sister-in-law was also killed, and his brother wounded. Misharawi told Danahar that, when the round landed, there was no fighting in his residential neighborhood.

“We’re all one team in Gaza,” Danahar told me,” Fisher wrote, “saying that Misharawi is a BBC video and photo editor. After spending a ‘few hours’ with his grieving colleague, he wrote on Twitter, ‘Question asked here is: If Israel can kill a man riding on a moving motorbike (as they did last month), how did Jihad’s son get killed.”

Answer: Jihad’s son was killed by Hamas, according to independent investigators from the United Nations. He was murdered by the journalist’s own neighbors, the very men who purport to be his biggest protectors, who live in the surrounding buildings in the city where he lives.

According to the advanced version of its report released by the U.N. Human Rights Council released late last week, “On 14 November, a woman, her 11-month-old infant, and an 18-year-old adult in Al-Zaitoun were killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.”

A footnote to the section says the case was personally investigated by the U.N. OHCHR, and that investigators believe the attack emanated from Hamas.

The terrorist organization – as well as its allied terrorist groups, such as the Islamic Jihad – is well known for launching attacks against Israel from within residential areas in Gaza and maximizing the use of its human shields.

The U.N. document reveals Gaza terrorists fired more than 1,500 rockets at Israel between November 14-21, 2012. For the first time, a number of the missiles reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Six Israelis were killed, including four civilians, and 239 Israelis were wounded. Gaza terrorists readily admitted to aiming at civilian targets.

“While some projectiles were directed at military objectives, many, if not the vast majority of the Palestinian attacks on Israel constituted indiscriminate attacks,” noted the report. “Such attacks violate international humanitarian law".

"Most rockets fired by the armed groups did not seem to be directed at a specific military objective. Furthermore many Palestinian armed groups directly and indirectly indicated their determination to – and took responsibility for – attacks on Israeli civilians or large population centers in Israel. Such acts clearly violate international humanitarian law, namely the principle of distinction...

“Another issue of serious concern during the crisis was allegations related to rocket attacks launched by Palestinian armed groups from populated areas in Gaza...some of these rockets may have been launched from underground tunnels....eyewitnesses informed OHCHR that on two occasions rockets were launched from an area south of Palestine Stadium in Gaza City, about 100 meters from a residential area...OHCHR received first-hand information indicating that rockets were fired from areas close to civilian buildings in the east of Gaza City... about 300 meters from several residential houses.

“Launching attacks from populated areas constitutes a violation of customary rules of international humanitarian law, i.e. the obligation to take all precautions to protect civilians. By having done so, the civilian population’s exposure to the inherent dangers of the military operations taking place around them was greatly heightened.

"The real questions should be, 'Will The Washington Post print a retraction in the same location as its captivating erroneous front page article? An apology? A new photo? How will BBC bureau chief Paul Danahar respond to this U.N. report, and how to correct the erroneous reports he may have disseminated?,'" Israeli veteran journalist and Middle East analyst Hana Levi Julian pointed out.

"Just a few years ago, a BBC bureau chief was kidnapped by a Gaza terrorist organization and held hostage for nearly five months, his life hanging in the balance. By a miracle, negotiators managed to free him and his life was spared," Julian noted.

"With terrorists breathing down this news organization's neck, scrutinizing the actions of each of its local reporters, can the BBC allow itself to report objectively in Gaza?"

Afghanistan: Suicide attack in city of Khost kills eight children and one policeman, two other children wounded[edit]

A suicide attack in eastern Afghanistan killed eight children and one policeman, officials said, adding the target of the strike was Afghan and international forces.

"A suicide attacker blew up his explosives on a road beside a joint patrol of Afghan police and international forces in the city of Khost," the provincial governor of Khost said in a statement.

Police said that the officer had died when he grabbed the attacker.

"A suicide attacker wanted to target a joint patrol in Khost city, but he was identified and grabbed by a policeman," Sardar, the head of Khost rapid reaction police unit, who only uses one name, told AFP.

"The attacker detonated himself killing the policeman and eight children. Two children were also wounded."

Israel: Indictment filed against relatives of 16-year-old girl raped for months then attacked with acid after rejecting marriage proposal[edit]

When the accused understood that the 16-year-old girl he raped intended to marry another, he spilled acid on her face. This is a portion of the indictment filed Sunday morning in the case of the acid attack in Nazareth.

As a result of the assault, the young girl sustained injuries to her eyes and throat. She was hospitalized in serious condition at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa and the doctors are still fighting to save her sight.

The two attackers, ages 51 and 17 are the young woman's relatives. The full indictment, which will be filed with the Nazareth District Court by Attorney Liora Hilu, from the Northern District Prosecutor's Office, has been placed under gag order in order to prevent any additional harm to the girl's privacy. The two are accused of multiple acts of rape and aggravated assault.

A summary of the released information on the indictment reveals that the two accused sexually assaulted the 16-year-old girl for months. In addition, the elder of the two men, who is married with children, asked to wed the girl, but the family refused him.

"Close to the month of February 2013, the accused was made aware of the complainant's intention to become engaged to someone else," the prosecutor described. "The accused understood that her engagement was likely to distance her from him, and thus, he would not be able to continue to rape her."

The indictment also reveals that last February 18th, at around 11:30 PM, the accused knocked on the girl's bedroom window. "When the complainant opened her window, the accused spilled hydrochloric acid on her head and face and fled."

Simultaneous to the filing of the indictment, the prosecutor's office filed a request for remand until the completion of proceedings. Ynet was informed that the main evidence in the case is the girl's testimony. "The acts of the accused reveal his immense brutality, as he will not stop at anything to attain his desires and as he does not value human life," as stated in the request...
Update:[edit]
Girl, 16, says suspect assaulted her because she refused his marriage proposal. 'I never thought he would realize his threats,' she says.

The teenage girl from Nazareth who was assaulted with acid has been discharged from the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa having regained partial vision in one eye.

She is now staying with relatives in a village in the Galilee. "It all happened because he wanted to marry me and I said no," the 16-year-old explained the incident which changed her life.

"The day I was injured he threatened me and said: 'If you don't agree to marry me I'll hurt you or shoot you and burn you'. I never expected him to realize his threats."

Recalling the day of the attack, she said, "I went to bed. At 11 pm he approached my bedroom window, opening and shutting it three times. I got up to see what was going on and then he poured the acid."

The teen noted that the suspect had visited the house many times asking to marry her. "I always said no. One of the times he pulled out a bullet and said: 'I'll use this to kill you if you don't marry me.'"

She further noted that the suspect continued threatening her for a long time taking advantage of the times her mother was out of the house.
. . .
"The most important thing for me is that the suspect stays in jail because it slowly helps me forget the incident. I've really missed going school; in a couple of days I will go back without fearing anyone."...

Turkey: Country supporting an effort by Arab nations to fund radical Muslim rebel forces in Syria[edit]

Turkey, a member of NATO and an ally of the United States, is reportedly supporting an effort by Arab nations and NGOs to fund radical Islamist rebel forces in Syria.

The report, published last week in Foreign Policy magazine, quoted Iraqi National Security Adviser Faleh al-Fayyad who warned that Qatar and other Arab nations, as well as nongovernmental agencies were funding the Syrian Jabhat al-Nusra – the Al Nusra Front terrorist organization.

Fayyad told columnist Blake Hounshell through a translator that Turkey was aware of the financing to Al Nusra Front – which appears on the U.S. government’s official list of banned terror groups -- and had agreed to it. “These are the same sources that finance Al Qaeda,” Hounshell quoted Fayyad as saying. “In times of crisis, some countries use Al Qaeda; some countries make peace with Al Qaeda.”

Al-Nusra Front is among the 13-member rebel Islamic Front for the Liberation of Syria, many of whose members are terrorist organizations linked to Al Qaeda and global jihad. They are dedicated to installing a government led by Shari’a (Islamic law), in much the same style as Iran and Saudi Arabia.

“Very frankly, elements of Al Qaeda are very active in certain parts of Syria,” Hounshell quoted Fayyad as saying, comparing Turkey’s role of hosting and facilitating armed groups to that of Syria at the height of the insurgency in Iraq. The Iraqi leader claimed that Turkey, Qatar and other Arab nations had pushed the uprising in Syria.

However, Fayyad made it clear his nation felt no major compulsion to offer support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, either. “Bashar al-Assad has hurt Iraq the same as Saddam Hussein,” commented Iraqi parliamentarian Yassin Maijid, a member of Fayyad’s delegation to Washington.

However, both lawmakers – who were in Washington for talks with U.S. officials -- expressed concern about the rise of Jabhat al-Nusra, which they noted has ties to Al Qaeda in Iraq.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told at a news conference on March 5 in Doha with Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin al-Thani that Washington was increasingly confident that weapons sent by others to the Syrian opposition were going to moderate forces -- rather than to Islamic extremists.

Fayyad's visit to Washington last week was specifically aimed at contradicting that belief, and raising Washington's awareness of the apparent two-way street that Qatar and other regional players appear to be traveling -- including America's ally, Turkey -- and to warn the Obama administration that not everything in the Middle East appears as it might seem.

Kerry announced at a meeting in Rome two weeks ago that the United States will provide $60 million in "immediate" non-lethal aid to hand-picked Syrian rebel groups, making it clear the assistance would go to mainstream opposition groups, not to radical jihadists. At the same event, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that Britain would join the United States in training and equipping opposition forces in their fight to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power...

Pakistan: Over 100 Christian homes burned over blasphemy charge, local imam says "we'll find the Christian and kill him."[edit]

This morning, an angry mob set fire to over 100 homes in the Joseph Colony Christian settlement, near Badami Bah (Lahore). Residents were forced to flee and at least 35 people were injured. The attack resulted from an accusation of blasphemy registered against one of the settlement residents, Sawan Masih, who yesterday afternoon had an altercation with a Muslim.

According to initial reports, the 26 year old Christian went to the Islamic barber for a haircut, but the store owner, Imran Shahid, refused to serve him. A heated discussion arose between the two, and the Muslim reportedly used offensive words about Christianity.

Together with other people, Shahid then went to the nearby police station, the group recorded a charge of blasphemy against Masih (art.295C), arguing that the young man was drunk and had insulted the Prophet Muhammad. Shortly after, the police arrested the Christian. The maximum penalty under that law is life imprisonment.

The anger of the Islamic community did not subside however, and this morning a large group of people ransacked Joseph Colony, then set fire to the homes. "We were working like every day - Salamat Masih, a resident of the settlement told AsiaNews - when we started to hear a noise, and suddenly a wall of people fell upon the colony. They threw acid and stoned our houses, then set them on fire. The authorities intervened only when everything was destroyed". The local imam said Sawan will be killed when found...
Updates:[edit]
The Supreme Court of Pakistan accused the Punjab police of sheltering the criminals involved in the arson attack on the Christian Joseph Colony of Lahore, on last 9th march. At least 160 houses, 18 shops and two churches, one catholic and one Seventh day Adventist, were burnt...
Christians demand a separate province in Pakistan after as many as 180 Christian-owned homes, shops and two churches were burned down by an angry Muslim mob in the city of Lahore....
Christians told, ‘protest again and you will die!’. Local imams called on Muslims from the mosque loudspeakers to gather and punish those Christians who were decrying the blasphemy law...
Naeem Bhadhar, a Presbyterian pastor and missionary was beaten after trying to organize a protest against the 3,000 Muslim mob rampage in Lahore...
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had announced Rs0.5 million in compensation for each of those affected in the mob attack. However, the 265 cheques distributed by the government have bounced.

According to reports, the finance ministry had issued the amount promised. When the cheques bounced, the victims started protesting.

On March 9, an over 3,000-strong mob had set ablaze more than 150 houses of Christians in the Joseph Colony over alleged blasphemous remarks against Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) by Sawan Masih, a 28-year-old Christian sanitation worker...

Bangladesh: Muslim mobs still rampaging after sentencing of Jamaat-e-Islami leader, Hindu and Buddhist communities attacked[edit]

For earlier news and updates on the same subject, click here.

Saraswati Rani Das ran for her life with her two young children when a Muslim mob rampaged through her village in the southern Noakhali district of Bangladesh.

Mrs Das broke down repeatedly as she tried to explain how their tiny tin-roof house was destroyed and set on fire.

The attack started hours after a senior hardline Islamist leader was sentenced to death by a special tribunal in late February.

Jamaat-e-Islami party Vice President Delwar Hossain Sayedee was given a death sentence for crimes committed during the war of independence from Pakistan in 1971.

The sentencing triggered a wave of angry protests from the Islamist party's supporters. In many districts, buildings and vehicles were damaged. More than 60 people were killed in clashes with the security forces.

Living in fear

Minority Hindu and Buddhist communities bore the brunt of the attacks as their houses and temples were vandalised and burnt down.

"We heard the mob was coming towards our house. So, we just ran away. Our house was completely burnt. They looted all our belongings, including our savings. We have lost everything," Mrs Das says.

The village of Aladin Nagar, about 120km (75 miles) south of the capital Dhaka, was strewn with torn tin sheets, broken glass, food grain, damaged books and burnt bicycles.

Its residents have been living in fear since the attack and are afraid that they may be targeted again.

Hindu community leaders allege that the attacks were co-ordinated and widespread. So far, they say, more than 50 temples have been damaged and more than 1,500 houses destroyed in the attacks, which took place in nearly 20 districts over the last few weeks.

In some villages near the southern city of Chittagong, statues of Buddha were damaged and Buddhist temples were vandalised.

But the authorities say that such crimes will not go unpunished.

"We are fully committed to protecting the minorities. We have taken enough measures so that these people are not attacked in the future. We have also provided sufficient relief," Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir told the BBC.
. . .
Hindu community leaders say the attacks are systematic and have been going on for years. They say they are not only carried out by hardline Islamists but also by supporters of other mainstream political parties, including the Awami League and the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

The aim of the violence, Hindu leaders allege, is to grab land and other property. As a result, they say, many Hindus are fleeing to India to escape harassment, intimidation and violence.

"In 1947, Hindus constituted around 30% of the population," says Subroto Chowdhury, a Hindu community leader in Dhaka.

"Now it is less than 10%. Hindus are being warned to leave so that locals can take over their land and houses.

"Our community is being persecuted."...

Nigeria: Muslim "extremist" group says it has executed seven foreign hostages after kidnapping them last month[edit]

The Ansaru group, suspected to be an offshoot of Boko Haram, released a statement on an Islamist website saying it had killed the hostages following attempts by Britain and Nigeria to free them.

Ansaru kidnapped the construction workers from a compound belonging to Lebanese construction company Setraco on February 7. The hostages, taken from the site in the Bauchi state in the north of Nigeria, included a Briton, an Italian, a Greek and four Lebanese workers.

British government blamed The statement, issued in Arabic and English, included screen shots of a video purporting to show the dead hostages, the SITE Monitoring Service reported.

One shot showed a man with gun standing above several figures lying on the ground. The image was not clear enough to see if they were dead or much detail about them.

"(We) announced the capture of seven Christian foreigners and warned that should there be any attempt by force to rescue them will render their lives in danger," the statement said. "The Nigeria and British government operation lead to the death of all the seven Christian foreigners."

A spokesman for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "We are aware of reports of the death of a British national in Nigeria and are urgently investigating. We urge the media not to speculate at this extremely sensitive time."...
Update:[edit]
A video posted online appears to show the corpses of some of the seven foreign hostages abducted by Islamic extremists in northern Nigeria and later killed, a gruesome warning of the growing dangers in the region.

The video, viewed by The Associated Press on Monday, matched still images released earlier by the Islamic extremist group Ansaru when it claimed the killings. The face of one of the corpses in the video also resembled that of one of the hostages already named by authorities.

European diplomats said Sunday that the hostages had been killed.

On Monday, Nigerian Interior Minister Abba Moro told the BBC's Hausa language radio service that those nations said that it was "likely" that their citizens had died in the attack.

"We hope they're alive," Moro said. Moro did not respond to requests for comment Monday from the AP. Nigerian officials often speak to the BBC Hausa service, as it is viewed as one of the dominant independent news sources in Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north.

In the video, a gunman stands in sand, holding a rifle near what appears to be dead bodies. A later shot in the video shows three male corpses, one of whom appears to have been killed by a gunshot wound to the head from a high-powered weapon.

The video has no sound. An accompanying caption for the video in Arabic calls it: "The killing of seven Christian hostages in Nigeria." Another description includes the statement Ansaru released Saturday claiming that it killed the hostages, signed by a man with the nom de guerre Abu Usamatal Ansary.

Ansaru fighters kidnapped the foreigners Feb. 16 from a camp for the construction company Setraco at Jama'are, a town 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Bauchi, the capital of Bauchi state. In the attack, gunmen first assaulted a local prison and burned police trucks, authorities said. Then the attackers blew up a back fence at the construction company's compound and took over, killing a guard in the process, witnesses and police said.

Those kidnapped included four Lebanese and one citizen each from the United Kingdom, Greece and Italy. Local officials in Nigeria initially identified one of the hostages as a Filipino, something the Philippines government later denied. The gunmen appeared to be organized and knew who they wanted to target, leaving the Nigerian household staff at the residence unharmed, while quickly abducting the foreigners, a witness said. In an online statement Saturday in which it claimed the killings, Ansaru said it killed the hostages in part because of reports in the Nigerian press of the arrival of British military aircraft to Bauchi. However, the local news articles cited by Ansaru reported that the airplanes were spotted at the international airport in Abuja, the nation's central capital 180 miles (290 kilometers) southwest.

The British Defense Ministry said Sunday the planes it flew to Abuja ferried Nigerian troops and equipment to Bamako, Mali. Nigerian soldiers have been sent to Mali to help French forces and Malian troops battle Islamic extremists there. The British military said it also transported Ghanaian soldiers to Mali the same way. Ansaru had said it believed the planes were part of a Nigerian and British rescue mission for the abducted hostages.

The news of the killing of the hostages comes as the nation's security forces remain unable to stop the guerrilla campaign of bombings, shootings and kidnappings across the country's north. The majority of those attacks have been blamed on Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group that grew out of the remains of a sect that sparked a riot and a security crackdown in Nigeria in 2009 in which about 700 people were killed.

Boko Haram has hit international targets before, including an August 2011 car bombing of the United Nations office in Abuja that killed 25 people and wounded more than 100. An online video also purportedly claims that Boko Haram is currently holding hostage a family of seven French tourists who were abducted from neighboring Cameroon in late February. The group is blamed for killing at least 792 people last year alone, according to an AP count.

Ansaru, which analysts believe split from Boko Haram in January 2012, seems to be focusing much more on Western targets. Analysts say it has closer links to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and cares more about international issues, as opposed to Boko Haram's largely local grievances. But much remains unknown about Ansaru, which has communicated through short, sometimes muddled online statements.

The hostage killings appear to be the worst in decades targeting foreigners working in Nigeria, an oil-rich nation that's a major crude supplier to the United States. Most kidnappings in the country's southern oil delta see foreigners released after companies pay ransoms. The latest kidnappings in Nigeria's north, however, have seen the hostages killed either by their captors or in military raids to free them, suggesting a new level of danger for expatriate workers there.
Nigeria: Video shows bodies of foreign hostages
Associated Press, March 11, 2013

Indonesia: Local neighborhood chief threatens church to take down all Christian icons and vacate the building[edit]

The Banua Niha Keriso Protestan (BNKP) in Bandung, West Java, was bracing for a confrontation on Friday after a group of local leaders demanded the church cease operations, a religious tolerance group said.

The church was told to take down all Christian icons and vacate the building by a small group led by a local neighborhood chief, according to a statement by the Indonesian Committee of Religions for Peace (ICRP).

When church leaders refused to comply, the men promised to return with a larger group, the statement read.

“We are expecting that after the Friday prayers, [neighborhood chief] Haj Ayi, and Samidin and an even larger group will come to the church and disturb it again,” Theophilus Bela, the chairman of the Jakarta Forum of Christian Communication (FKKJ), said.

The threats coincided with the forced closure of HKBP Setu Church in Bekasi, West Java, by the local public order agency (Satpol PP).

Officers shuttered HKBP Setu on Thursday over complaints that it lacked a necessary building permit.

This latest round of anti-Christian actions came weeks after West Java re-elected its Islamist governor Ahmad Heryawan, of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

Ahmad inked a deal with the province’s hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) the day before the election promising to rid the province of the minority Muslim Ahmadiyah sect and instill Islamic values.

Churches have long faced closure in West Java. The St. Johannes Baptista Church in Bogor was sealed over similar complaints last year.

Christians make up less than 10 percent of Indonesia’s population. Both Catholicism and Protestantism are protected under the pancasila as two of the six officially recognized religions.

But Christians routinely face opposition from terrorist groups, community leaders and government officials.

Israel: Muslims accuse Jerusalem cop of defiling Quran, website calls on Muslims to slit his throat[edit]

Jerusalem Police reinforce entrances to Al-Aqsa mosque fearing that an inflammatory website accusing a policeman of stepping on the Quran could cause riots • PA security forces prepare for possible unrest after 23-year-old Palestinian protester dies of IDF rubber bullet wound.

Jerusalem Police is bracing for violence near the Temple Mount on Friday after the spread of an inflammatory internet article claiming that one of its policemen threw a Quran onto the ground and stepped on it.

Police have reinforced their presence near the Temple Mount out of concern that extremists may stir violence at the most sensitive of locations in Jerusalem.

Muslim Internet forums published photos of an Israeli policeman earlier this week, accusing him of defiling Islam's holy book, the Quran. The man serves in the Israel Police's religious sites unit, and the website called on Muslims to throw shoes at the man, and to even slit his throat.

The event which sparked the controversy took place this past Sunday. A group of female Muslim worshippers at the entrance to the Temple Mount were disrupting visitors from entering through the Jewish entrance. Police on site attempted to move the group of women and during the ensuing commotion a Quran fell out of one of the women's bags.

A police officer standing next to the woman in question became the subject of an intense smear campaign; he was accused of throwing the Quran to the ground, kicking it and even stomping on it. As a result of the ensuing death threats against the policeman, Jerusalem police have had to take measures to ensure his safety...

Egypt: Pious Muslims in Tahrir Square rape both men and women activists, estimated 1,000 rapes last year[edit]

Women are being systematically raped in Cairo's Tahrir Square, Egyptian activist and psychiatrist Sally Toma told a March 8 conference organized here by Democratic Party (PD) MEP Silvia Costa. But also men are sexually abused by men in uniform.

Organized groups are roaming Tahrir Square, raping women in order to scare half the population away from demonstrating, while men are being beaten and raped in military barracks and police stations: they might outnumber the female sexual assault victims, Toma told in her update on the situation of women two years after the revolution.

In Cairo, women activists and demonstrators are being targeted by civilians. "They are sent by extremist groups led by the Salafist movement or by the (Muslim) Brotherhood", explained Toma. "They move in groups of five to six people, molesting not for sexual gratification, but for the pleasure of harming others". Women told her "they had knives held to their vaginas, while others were abducted, stripped and driven around the city, exposed to public shame," Toma recounted. This is a way to keep at least half the demonstrators away, she said. "Women decide to leave Tahrir Square in fear of what has already happened to other women and to their friends." But the women of Tahrir "are tough", said the activist, who coordinated marches and meetings even before January 25.

"We women will remain," she told ANSAmed in an interview. The sexual assaults against male activists are something new, Toma went on. Abducted off the streets, they are dragged to police stations and military barracks, where they are sexually abused by men in uniform. Many of these male victims are among her patients, said Toma, who now works almost full time helping these rape victims overcome the trauma. "I deal with post-traumatic situations. I've always worked with victims of sexual abuse and torture", she explained, adding that many young activists are coming to her to tell her their stories. "There is no official data", but the violence has increased in the past two months, Toma added. While many victims refuse to come forward out of shame, she estimates there were 1,000 rapes last year. "I work with my patients on how to channel the rage, sadness or shame, trying to reduce the desire for revenge", said Toma, adding that many return to the street, only to be raped again. "This has happened to many of my patients. Some of these kids got raped two, three times in a row. We want to stop this vicious circle". Toma currently directs the Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies, which is supported by the United Nations Democracy Fund and which educates activists on how to act on the political level. It also provides training on how to form pressure groups at the local level in cities outside Cairo. "The revolution must move forward throughout the country, not just in Tahrir. We train them, we teach them how to denounce abuses and violations, how to contact NGOs and humanitarian organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. We have trained a large network of activists. It is made up of small cells, in which everyone knows one another and supports one another"...

Bangladesh: Muslims call for reunification with Pakistan and creation of a "pure" state free of non-Muslims[edit]

For earlier news and updates on the same subject, click here.

Acts of violence, especially against Bangladesh's Hindu minority, and strikes (hartal) continue across the country as Jamaat-e-Islami supporters call for reunification with Pakistan, and the creation of a "pure" state, free of its non-Muslim population.

Since unrest began more than a week ago, 87 people have died-mostly police and peaceful protesters. The atmosphere is increasingly tense after the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the country's main opposition party, decided to throw its support behind Jamaat and call for an end of war tribunals set up by the ruling Awami League. In addition, the BNP has called for the death penalty imposed on Jamaat's deputy chief Delwar Hossain Sayeedi to be dropped, and for the government to resign.

For Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, leader of the Awami League, opposition demands are unacceptable because they would mean her defeat.

However, Jamaat appears bent on pursuing its agenda come what may. With the BNP on its side, it does not seem willing to stop its terror strategy. In fact, it has begun handing out weapons to women and children to "save Islam and its soul from danger".

Well-organised, the Islamic party has a large pool of supporters. On a number of blogs, many of them are openly calling for reunification with Pakistan and the expulsion of Hindus, atheists and Christians. Instructions are also provided on how to sabotage railway lines, attack security forces, and cause unrest during strikes.

Some of the suggestions are quite "creative". For example, on one site instructions are given on how to generate pictures using the photo of death-row leader Sayeedi against the background of a full moon. Waved as if they were real thing, the pictures have been used the stress the urgency to save him and avoid going to hell. In other touched up photos showing people floating in the air, radiant faces, jinn (spirits) and angels are presented as supporting the Muslim revolt.

As the country's largest minority (9.6 per cent), Hindus have been the main target until now. What is more, most witnesses in the war crimes trials have been Hindus.1

The latest wave of attacks also suggest that other religious (Buddhist and Christian) and ethnic (tribal) minorities might be the next to be targeted, as was the case in the past.

In fact, police recently arrested a group of Muslim fundamentalists that planned to kill ten teachers at an Ahmadiyya school. Ahmadis are a Muslim religious group deemed heretical by mainstream Islam.

It is unclear what will happen now, but there are growing fears that things might get out of hand. Shahbagh, a secular-oriented non-political movement named after a Dhaka neighbourhood, continues its peaceful protests and initiatives, but is losing popularity. What appeared to be local movement inspired by the 'Arab spring' is becoming increasingly isolated and is seen as nothing but an ally of the Awami League.

Various political parties, including small factions within the Islamic party, have called for dialogue, but no one has yet said on what terms.

Meanwhile, Jamaat appears to be getting stronger. Although it lacks the right numbers, it has been backed by a stronger ally, the BNP, something that makes the situation even worse.

Should the BNP back away from Jamaat, it would likely allow the Awami League to win the next elections, something that might not be on BNP leader Khaleda Zia's agenda...

UK: Uncle and nephew get 36 years for raping and drugging vulnerable schoolgirls[edit]

Two men have been imprisoned for a total of 36 years for the “wicked and pernicious” drugging and raping of vulnerable schoolgirls they picked up off the streets of Keighley.

Uncle and nephew Shazad Rehman and Bilal Hussain, known to their victims as Yaz and Naz, raped a 14-year-old girl “one after the other” and each committed a brutal rape and assaults on other underage girls.

Rehman, 30, of no fixed address, was imprisoned for 18 and a half years and Hussain, 23, of Neville Road Avenue, Leeds, for 17 and a half years.


They were sentenced at Bradford Crown Court yesterday afternoon after the jury found them guilty of all counts against them.

Rehman was convicted of raping two 14-year-old girls, one repeatedly, sexually assaulting a third underage girl and sexual activity with a child.

Hussain was convicted of raping two girls, one repeatedly, and common assault.

Both men were found guilty of multiple charges of supplying cannabis to underage girls and conspiracy to intimidate a witness.

Judge Jonathan Rose told them: “Over a period of some months, beginning in May 2010, both of you engaged in a course of conduct which has become increasingly and depressingly familiar in this country.
. . .
“You appeared in your fancy cars, with money to spend and compliments to pay, and with alcohol and drugs, to entice these girls into those cars and then you took them somewhere private and hidden, there to sexually violate, abuse and degrade those girls until bored, you sought what you, Shazad Rehman, called fresh meat.”

Judge Rose continued: “I don’t have a shadow of doubt that you caused incalculable psychological harm to your victims.”

He said that, although neither man lived in Keighley, they went to the town looking to find unhappy children who would go with them for fun and a good time.

What the girls got was “sordid and loveless sexual abuse”.

They were smuggled in through the back door of “squalid” hotels where cash was paid, or sneaked into a house Rehman had access to, their heads covered in hoods.

The men could then do as they liked with their young victims as they lay practically insensible after being plied with vodka and cannabis spliffs.

Girls were taken to the Campanile Hotel in Roysdale Way on the Euroway industrial estate in Bradford and the Alder House Hotel at Batley. Some went missing for days.

Judge Rose said the men had “an endless lust” for underage girls.

The victim of repeated rape convinced herself she loved Rehman and he loved her. At 14, she feared she was pregnant.

“When will that child ever learn to trust a man again?” the judge asked.

Another 14-year-old girl said she felt ashamed, dirty and worthless after she was drugged and raped.

After the men had sexually abused the girls, they gave them a few pounds for a MacDonald’s, a KFC, Skittles or crisps and paid for their bus or taxi fare home.

The girls did not tell anyone because they thought they would be labelled “slags” who were “up for it”.

“You used them and you dumped them saying: ‘We need to update and get better birds’,” Judge Rose said.

The men had pulled up near to two girls, aged 12 and 13, in a residential area of Keighley and been chased off by an angry mother.

Rehman had carried on abusing young girls after he was bailed and given a police warning to keep away from them.

Then, when both men were behind bars awaiting trial, they repeatedly rang a single mother to frighten her into not giving evidence against them....

Jordan: Angry MP loses control and tries to draw a pistol during a session of parliament[edit]

A Jordanian MP, angered by a fellow deputy accusing the premier of corruption, tried to draw a pistol during a session of parliament on Wednesday but was circled by colleagues who talked him down.

Khalil Atiyeh, a deputy speaker, said MP Shadi al-Adwan was annoyed when fellow MP Zeid Shawakbeh accused Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur of corruption.

Videotapes of the incident showed Adwan reaching for his belt to pull out a pistol and then being surrounded.

Atiyeh said he suspended the session until Thursday, when the question of carrying arms inside parliament will also be on the agenda.

Last July, an MP got into an argument on a television talk show. He first took off his shoe and threw it at his adversary, then pulled a revolver from his belt and pointed it at him.

He eventually put the gun away.

Nigeria: 13 Christians killed for not taking part in the 7 p.m. Muslim prayer[edit]

The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN has urged the authorities to probe the gruesome killing of 13 factory workers identified as Christians at Sheka, Sharada Phase 111 in Kumbotso Local Government Area of Kano, by gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members.

Although CAN has started its own probe of the killings, it wants the police to unravel what really happened.

Reports said terrorists stormed the residence of the factory workers at the weekend and killed all the men except, sparing the women and children..

“The occupants of that compound are mostly factory workers, and they are Christians. The gun men who came in taxi asked if they were not observing the evening Muslim prayers; and when they confirmed their victims were Christians, they started killing them sparing only the female and children.

“After the attack, I counted at least, 13 dead bodies murdered in gruesome manner. Security agencies later came and evacuated them, while the very few of them who survived the attack fled the area and vowed never to return,” said a resident of the area.

Bishop Ransom Bello, CAN chairman in Kano has been in a very bad mood, not only because of the killings but what he described as the non-challant attitude of Kano state government over the incident.

Bello who is also the General Overseer of Calvary Life Assembly said he has handed over the matter to CAN’s national leadership, adding that with what is happening, it has become obvious that Christians are no longer safe in Kano.

“Reports of the attack reaching us disclosed that on that fateful Saturday at about 7 p.m, Muslim faithful were conducting their prayer close to the affected compound occupied by Christian families, when two taxi cabs stopped in front of the compound and the occupants, who all concealed their arms dashed into the complex and demanded to know why the residents were not part of the 7 p.m. Muslim prayer.

“They responded by telling the visitors they were Christians and so could not be part of the Muslim gathering. At that point, they separated the men from their wives and children and shot them dead on the spot after ordering the women and children into their homes. The 13th victim, who hid in a dark alley in the compound, surrendered himself, following threats by the gunmen to visit the same fate on the women and children if any man was found shielded,” Bello recounted.

“We are pained over the silence of the relevant authorities in the state, including the government on such a high profile murder. Even though we believe it is the handiwork of extremists, who do not see the reason why the Muslim North should accommodate Christians. We are really worried that nobody from the government has deemed it right to console the family of those that were killed,” Bello lamented.

He added that, “government should show more concern, like it has always done when Muslims are affected; I have not seen that in the case of Christians—that 13 Christians were killed in one straight attack and nothing is heard from the government reflects selective justice because we are aware of compensation paid to Muslim families in situations of this nature.”...

Denmark: 17-year old girl stripped, whipped and strangled with a belt for dating Danish boy[edit]

Copenhagen Police arrested four close family members of a 17-year-old girl Tuesday night (March 5th 2013). ... Those arrested are two married couples with Palestinian background - the girl's parents and her aunt and uncle. ... It is a case of honor-related violence, which apparently stems from the fact that the family could not accept that the girl has got a Danish boyfriend.

The girl's parents picked her up Monday at Nørrebro and according to the prosecutor they lured her to come with them to visit some family members in Taastrup (Copenhagen suburb), where other family members waited for her. The father told one of the other family members that he or she was allowed to kill her, and that the father did not want to see her again. Then the girl's parents left, and the girl was ordered to undress, after which she was beaten with a leather belt, got her hair cut off and had a belt tightened around her neck so she could not breathe.

The violence lasted for two hours but stopped, as the 17-year-old succeeded in escaping from the house. She then called the police.

Syria: Western backed rebels take UN observers hostage in Golan Heights[edit]

A group of UN observers have been "stopped in the Golan Heights" by members of Syrian opposition fighters, according to a Youtube video in which rebels are seen in front of a UN vehicle. The rebels say they will release the observers if Assad's army withdraws from Jamlah in the Daraa province. The video shows the spokesman for the 'Martyrs of Yarmouk' brigade saying that "today on March 6 ,2013, we have taken into custody UN forces and will hold onto them until Assad's (the Syrian president) troops withdraw from the Jamlah village." The young man went on to say that "we are asking the United States, Europe and the (UN) Security Council to release those we have in our hands...to withdraw Assad's troops from Jamlah, along the Israeli border. If this does not happen within 24 hours, we will treat them (the UN peacekeepers) as prisoners." The name of the Syrian rebel brigade is in memory of the historical battle fought between Byzantine forces and the Islamic army in the seventh century A.D. near the Yarmouk river, which today runs between the borders of Jordan, Syria and Israel.
Update:[edit]
The Syrian rebels who captured a group of Filipino UN peacekeepers failed to release them despite earlier promises to hand over the hostages to the Red Cross, the Philippines government said.

The Syrian militant group that had captured 21 blue helmet troops in Golan Heights is sticking to its initial demands, said the spokesman for the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs, Raul Hernandez. After seizing the peacekeepers on Wednesday, the Syrian rebels demanded that Syrian government forces withdraw from the village of Jamlah in exchange for the release of the captives.

The abrupt change of plans appears a sign of discord among the Syrian rebel group, which is detaining the Filipinos. Earlier on Friday they seemed to have played down their demands, calling the hostages “guests” and stressing that they would not harm them.

It comes after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights released a video showing some of the 21 peacekeepers, with one man – who identified himself as a captain in the UN Philippines battalion – saying that he and his men are in “a safe place.”

The peacekeepers were taken by Syrian rebels in Golan Heights, a territory that Israel captured from Syria in 1967. The land grab was not recognized as legitimate by either Syria or the international community.

The UN has maintained a peacekeeping force in the area to maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Syria since 1974. As of late January, there were more than 1,000 troops and about 100 civilian personnel deployed there.

A flurry of condemnation followed the ill-fated capture, as the countries and organizations usually seen as supporters of the Syrian armed opposition demanded their freedom. The US called it "absolutely unacceptable," while the EU called such moves “serious breaches of international law.”

The UN and the Philippines government had condemned the capture of the peacekeepers and urged the insurgents to immediately release them. Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said the seizure of the UN observers showed “gross disrespect for the United Nations.”

It’s not clear whether the militant group had changed their intentions about the hostages due to the international pressure or because they thought that holding UN personnel does not give them enough leverage on the Syrian government to force their troops out of Jamlah.

The incident will not make the UN withdraw its peacekeeping force from the Golan Heights, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

Bangladesh: Hindu communities attacked, homes set alight, women & girls assaulted, temples desecrated[edit]

For earlier news and updates on the same subject, click here.

Scores of homes have been set on fire, women and girls have been assaulted, temples have been desecrated and statues of the goddess Kali have been destroyed.

For days, Hindu communities in some areas of Bangladesh have been targeted by supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamic party, after its leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee was sentenced to death for war crimes.

Acts of violence against the Hindu minority got worse yesterday during a hartal or strike called by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Jamaat's main ally, to protest against the verdict.

In Khulna (a town in the country's southwest), various activists from the Jamaat-Shibir (Jamaat-e-Islami's youth wing) and the BNP led protesters towards Dhopapara, a poor area largely inhabited by Hindus. Rapidly, the Muslim extremists set fire to eight homes and looted ten stores before they were dispersed by police.

"Jamaat members entered my house and beat my mother, my wife and my three daughters," said Amio Das, one of the victims of the attack. "They took our stuff and then set fire to the rest."

In the village of Aditmari (in the northern district of Lalmonirhat), some fundamentalists stormed and looted the Hindu temple of Sree Sree Shoshan Kali Mandir, dedicated to Kali, destroying statues of the goddess.

The same occurred to a temple in the village of Lakhirpar and another in Satkania (Chittagong).

Israel: Temple Mount closed to non-Muslims, Jews ordered to leave to prevent violence by Muslim mob[edit]

Groups of Jewish visitors were prevented from ascending the Temple Mount (Judaism's holiest site) by a mob of hostile Muslim women on Wednesday morning.

Like very day, the Jewish groups lined up below the Temple Mount's Mughrabi Gate, where police checked to make sure they weren't committing the heinous crime of trying to bring a Bible into the premises. The Muslim authorities forbid the presence of Jewish and Christian holy items, and, out of fear, Israel plays along.

As the groups began to move through the gate, a group of Muslim women blocked their path and began hurling insults at the Jews. Police officers managed to disperse the women, only to then be confronted by an even larger group of angry Muslim men.

In order to avoid any violence, Israeli police decided to close the Temple Mount to non-Muslim visitors and ordered the Jewish groups to leave.

A similar incident occurred on Monday, when new Knesset member Moshe Feiglin (Likud) attempted to use his parliamentary immunity to enter the Temple Mount, but was turned away by security officials afraid of a confrontation with the Muslims.

Feiglin said it was "a clear admission of the loss of Jewish sovereignty on the Mount."...

Somalia: Vehicle full of explosives accidentally detonates, killing 15 terrorists and wounding 20 more[edit]

Up to 15 Al-Shabaab fighters were killed when a vehicle laden with explosives went off in a house in Buloburte town, some 200 km north of the capital Mogadishu.

It was not clear if the militants died while packing the car with bombs for a suicide mission or if it went off afterwards while they were in the vicinity.

Resident said that they believed 20 more were wounded, local media houses in Mogadishu reported.

"The militants were most likely packing the vehicle with explosive devices or in the house when the deadly incident occurred," said a resident who asked the media not to release their name.

Residents said the militants were on Tuesday busy burying the dead while keeping the scene of the blast sealed off from the general public.

It is not the first time vehicles being assembled for suicide missions in Somalia have exploded while still under the care of the militants.

On some occasions, residents in the affected areas, especially in Mogadishu, said that foreign jihadists (holy warriors) were among those killed or injured.

Sometimes landmines have also blown up while being planted by the militants...

US: Southern Florida imam convicted on charges of funneling more than $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban[edit]

A southern Florida imam was convicted yesterday on charges of funneling more than $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban.

A federal court jury convicted Hafiz Khan, 77, on four counts of providing money and support to the group, which the United States considers a terrorist organization. Each count is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Khan is a U.S. citizen born in Pakistan and was the imam at the Flagler Mosque, one of Miami’s oldest mosques. Prosecutors said he sent money to friends and family in Pakistan to be funneled to the Taliban between 2008 and 2010 and that some of the money was used to buy weapons.

Jurors reached a verdict on the fifth day of deliberations after a two-month trial. U.S. District Judge Robert Scola set sentencing for May 30.
Imam convicted of sending $50,000-plus to Taliban
The Columbus Dispatch, March 5, 2013

Egypt: Up to 100,000 Christians have fled Egypt since the Muslim Brotherhood came to power[edit]

Life for Christians under the government of Mohammed Morsi in Egypt has become difficult. Reports are emerging that up to 100,000 Christians have left Egypt since the Muslim Brotherhood came to power. Some of those have arrived in Moscow. VoR’s Brendan Cole went there to investigate. This week Cairo saw the launch of a Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice designed to protect 'Islamic morality'. Many Christians fear that Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood may further limit their ability to live and worship freely.

PA: UNRWA cancels marathon after authorities in Gaza insisted that no women should participate[edit]

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) announced Monday it cancelled its third marathon following a disagreement with authorities in Gaza on women’s participation.

“This disappointing decision follows discussions with the authorities in Gaza who have insisted that no women should participate,” UNRWA said in a statement published on its website. “Registered participants who still wish to come to Gaza are welcome and UNRWA is working on a program of other events, which will be forwarded to those interested as soon as possible.”

The marathon, a 42-kilometer run along the coastline of the Gaza Strip, was to be held on April 10. It was organized to help finance UNRWA’s program of fun summer activities for Gazan children...

Yemen: At least 15 child executions in 5 years, rights group calls on president to put a stop to 3 more[edit]

Yemen has executed at least 15 young male and female offenders, all aged under 18 when they committed the offences, in the last five years, Human Rights Watch has said, urging the government to halt such executions.

The New-York-based group also called on the president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, to reverse the execution orders of three juveniles on death row, whose appeals have been exhausted.

"Sending child offenders before firing squads is hardly the way for Yemen to show that it respects human rights," said Priyanka Motaparthy, children's rights researcher at HRW.

In a 30-page report, HRW cited the case of Hind al-Barti, executed by a government firing squad in Sana'a on murder charges. The group said the young woman's birth certificate showed she was 15 at the time of the alleged murder.

Barti told HRW in March 2012 that she had made a false confession after police officers beat her and threatened her with rape. Government authorities only gave her family a few hours' notice before her execution.

"There is strong evidence that Hind al-Barti was just a girl when she was accused of murder, yet she was sentenced – and received – the ultimate punishment," said Motaparthy.

"The Yemeni government should have reduced her sentence if there was any reason to believe she was under 18 at the time of the crime."

HRW said several other juvenile offenders it interviewed said they had faced threats, physical abuse and torture in custody, which they said led them to make false confessions.

Yemen's human rights minister Hooria Mashhour said Yemeni law prohibited the execution of offenders under the age of 18, but that people often lacked birth certificates to prove their age.

"Problems happen during procedures, during trials, where they treat the young offender as a fully responsible adult," said Mashhour, when asked about the HRW report.

"When rulings are issued and we, as ministry of human rights, intervene, the judiciary consider our action as interference by the executive branch in their work."

Hadi, who took office a year ago after popular protests forced the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh to quit, is trying to reassert government authority in a nation that was lawless, chaotic and impoverished even before the political upheaval.

An official of a Yemeni group, the Seyaj Organisation for Childhood Protection, said it had managed to get the execution of an alleged child offender halted on Wednesday at the last minute after contacting Hadi. The juvenile, Mohammed Abdulkarim Hazaa, was not among the three named by HRW as on death row.

Libya: 48 Egyptian Christians detained in Benghazi, tortured and have cross tattoos burned off with acid[edit]

Libyan Islamists detained 48 Egyptian Christians in Benghazi last week, torturing them and using acid to burn off tattoos of the cross, according to family members.

The Christians, who are peddlers, were arrested by Islamist Salafists in Benghazi, who said they had Christian icons at their marketplace stalls, according to Mideast Christian News. The men were later reportedly freed and await deportation, but their family members back home told the Egyptian press they were abused while held, initially on charges of proselytizing.

“When the residents of the village told me that he was imprisoned, I embraced his sons and told them they would not see their father again,” Fardoos Salib, the mother of Coptic farmer Atif Kamel, told Egyptian newspaper al-Watan. “I prayed in the church, until God responded and he was released, as God knows our conditions.”

Activists in Libya last week posted photographs on Facebook showing the Egyptian Copts under detention. A video later seized by police showed the Egyptian Christians locked in a small room and guarded by bearded Salafists. Many appeared to be cut and bruised, and all had had their heads shaved.

The detained Copts had been tortured by their captors, who had also shaved their heads and used acid to burn off the crosses tattooed on their wrists, a source told Ahram Online.

Kamel told family members he was subjected to electric shocks and forced to clean toilets, as his jailers assaulted him and mocked his religion, according to his family. Kamel has a wife and two children in Egypt, but went to work in a Benghazi vegetable market in order to provide for them.
. . .
Repression of Christians living in Libya is on the rise, according to human rights watchers. In mid-February four foreigners -- an Egyptian, a South African, a South Korean and a Swede with a U.S. passport -- were arrested on charges of distributing Bibles and other religious material.

Several Catholic religious orders that have operated within Libya for decades, serving at hospitals and in elder care, have been driven from the country in the wake of its revolution. In January, the Franciscan Sisters of the Infant Jesus left Barce and the Ursuline Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus left Beida, both citing pressure from Islamists. In October, nuns from the Convent of the Holy Family of Spoleto in Derna were forced to leave Libya amid continuous threats from Islamic extremists.

Egyptian Copts living in Libya say diplomats from their homeland do little to help their cause. Kamel said that despite Copts facing persecution from armed authorities, the officials from Egypt’s embassy ignored them.

Kamel’s uncle, Khalaf Naguib Salib, said the Copts detained by Libya are mostly illiterate and don’t know the meaning of proselytizing.

“I say to Egypt’s president, his government and Foreign Ministry, that during Mubarak’s term we felt we were second-class citizens,” Salib said. “This has deteriorated even further under the Muslim Brotherhood. What is the position of Egypt’s president on the violations committed against the expatriate Egyptians? Where is the freedom and justice? Why do we respect foreigners in our country when they violate our dignity in their countries?"

Pakistan: Christian woman falsely accused of stealing from Muslims is abused and tortured by police[edit]

A Christian woman who was "tortured" by police and "falsely accused" of stealing ornaments from a wealthy Pakistani Muslim household has been reunited with her family, attorneys confirmed to BosNewsLife Sunday, March 3.

Arshad Bibi, a domestic worker of the Muslim family in Pakistan's second largest city of Lahore, allegedly removed jewelry worth the equivalent of some $5,560.

Bibi, 35, earned just over $30 dollars per month, said the Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD), an advocacy and aid group.

The complainant, Zahida Perveen, reportedly told police in Lahore's Muslim Town area that her "Christian female servant" managed to steal the jewelry, though "they were locked up."

Bibi was detained February 13 and only released on bail February 25, BosNewsLife learned.

"ABUSED AND TORTURED"

The Christian, who had been working for the Muslims over the last eight years, strongly denied wrongdoing. In published remarks, she said police had "abused and tortured" her so she would confess to having committed the alleged offense.

However, "I did not steal even a single penny from the house," she added. She did not provide more details about the alleged torture, and police did not immediately comment.

LEAD's Chief Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill told BosNewsLife that police sent her to prison despite questions surrounding the case.

"The allegation was fake" which prompted him to "file a bail application which was allowed by the judicial magistrate".
. . .
The case has underscored concerns among rights activists about wider abuse of Christian domestic servants in the country and false accusations against minority Christians, a vulnerable group in this predominantly Islamic nation.

"Such [theft] allegations are being leveled against poor Christian house servants Christians," Gill told BosNewsLife. "We hope that we shall prove her innocence in court."

LEAD has been involved in Christian relief, development and free legal aid for several Christians as part of what it says are efforts to help especially Children families and communities "to overcome poverty and injustice."...

Egypt: Islamic morality police unleashed on Cairo, enforcers will carry canes to beat violators[edit]

new informal police force has been launched in Cairo, to ensure Islamic morals are adhered to. The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice denies it is linked to Saudi's dreaded morality police, which share the same name.

Islamic Cleric Hisham el-Ashri, founder of Egypt's newly launched Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, stated the morality police will only use "non-violent methods" to implement the moral principles of Islam, the IB Times reported.

El-Ashri said: "We will only offer advice to those who want to listen. We shall have no business with people who refuse to listen to us."

In spite of el-Ashri's declarations of non-violence the Salafist morality enforcers will carry canes to beat violaters. According to Bikya News they will be provided with electric tasers at some point in the future.

Following his recent return from the U.S. el-Ashri gave a television interview during which he declared: "It is the dream of my life to wage war against Israel." He also stated: "There is no such thing as a Christian religion."

Activists in Egypt have condemned the launch of the morality police as Islamic bigotry that flies in the face of the freedoms they have fought for. One activist told Bikya the Islamists will undoubtedly abuse any powers they derive from their membership of the morality police, saying “the reality is that they will abuse it and force people, especially women, to act in stupid conservative ways."
Egypt unleashes Islamic morality police force
Digital Journal, March 3, 2013

Egypt: 100s of Muslims riot, throw firebombs and rocks at Coptic church, 23 injured[edit]

A senior security official says a missing Muslim woman suspected of conversion to Christianity has been found. Her disappearance set off rioting in southern Egypt.

Muslims stormed a church in Kom Ombo, charging that the woman was being held there.

Major General Hassan Abdul-Hay, security chief of Aswan, told reporters late Saturday that "family and social reasons," not religion, were behind her disappearance, and she had not converted. He gave no other details.

Hundreds of Muslims threw firebombs and rocks Thursday night at the church, injuring 11 policemen and 12 Christians.

Clashes between Coptic Christians and Muslims usually are sparked by rumors of conversion, Muslim-Christian love affairs and construction of churches.

Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population. They have long complained of state discrimination.
Egypt: Missing Muslim Woman Found After Riot
Associated Press, March 3, 2013

Bangladesh: Five students arrested for hacking to death anti-Islamist blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider[edit]

Police arrested five students Saturday on charges of murdering an anti-Islamist blogger, as four people were killed in fresh protests over the sentencing to death of an Islamic party leader for war crimes.

The students allegedly confessed to hacking to death blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider after he helped organise protests against leaders of the biggest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, who are being tried by a war crimes court, police said.

The students, all enrolled at the elite private North South University, targeted Haider, 35, "because of his allegedly blasphemous writings against Islam and the Prophet Mohammed," Dhaka police deputy commissioner Masudur Rahman said.

"They tracked him by his Facebook account" and "on the day of the murder they played cricket in front of his home and waited for his return", he told AFP.

The arrests came as police firing claimed four lives during street protests over the sentencing of Islamist leaders for crimes committed in the 1971 independence war.

The deaths bring the total toll of those killed since the tribunal delivered its first verdict on January 21 to 57, according to police.

The trials of a dozen Jamaat and main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party leaders have opened old wounds and divided the nation.

More unrest looms on Sunday in the impoverished South Asian nation, when Jamaat is due to hold a nationwide general strike to protest against the trials.

In Saturday's violence police said they killed three people outside the port city of Chittagong when they opened fire on Islamists protesting against the death penalty given earlier in the week to Jamaat vice president Delwar Hossain Sayedee.

Bangladesh: 46 killed in violence over Jamaat-e-Islami leader's death sentence for crimes against humanity[edit]

For earlier news and updates on the same subject, click here.

Violence continued unabated in Bangladesh on Friday as at least 46 people were killed in clashes that erupted after a top leader of fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami was handed down death penalty for "crimes against humanity" during the 1971 liberation war.

The violence broke out after 73-year-old Delwar Hossain Sayedee, vice-president of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), was sentenced to death by International Crimes Tribunal.

At least 42 people were killed on Thursday in rioting triggered by the death sentence to Sayedee, who was found guilty of eight counts out of 20, involving rape, mass killings and atrocities during the 1971 freedom war against Pakistan.

Fresh violence erupted on Friday killing three people in Gaibandha and Chapainawabganj districts and one policeman succumbed to his wounds sustained in clashes on Thursday.

Officials said that law enforcement agencies appeared to be the prime target of the right-wing JI activists.

The situation prompted local authorities to enforce ban on gathering of more than four people under section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code in troubled areas, five northwestern and one southwestern district, said to be JI strongholds.

Many others, including policemen, were also injured when the supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir clashed with police and ruling party men in different locations in the country.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse Jamaat protesters in the capital Dhaka leaving several people injured, police said.

Meanwhile, in a major development main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Khaleda Zia today extended its open support to its extreme right-wing ally JI.

Zia accused Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of influencing the war crimes trial saying that she was standing by non-partisan youngsters who are demanding capital punishment for the top war criminals.

"No judge (of the war crimes tribunal) can now independently try the accused after her (Hasina's) call asking them to be sympathetic to the demands for death sentences to the war criminals," Zia told reporters.

JI earlier called for a 48-hour nationwide general strike from Sunday to mount pressures to thwart the trial process as Zia called an identical stoppage on Wednesday demanding resignation of the government.

Sayedee was the third JI politician to be convicted by the International Crimes Tribunal since the trial of war crimes suspects, mostly belonging to the Islamist group, began three years ago.

In the first verdict of the tribunal in January, former Jamaat leader Abul Kalam Azad was sentenced to death on similar charges.

Another Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah was sentenced to life in February for atrocities during the war.

Paramilitary border guards have been deployed across the country to beef up security and ease tension that has gripped the nation following convictions of Islamist leaders over war crimes committed during the 1971 independence war.

"Our troops were deployed in 15 troubled districts in aide of civil administration... BGB (Border Guard Bangladesh) has been kept alert so it could move immediately wherever they are required," BGB chief major General Aziz Ahmed told PTI.

A police spokesman, meanwhile, said law enforcement agencies were on high alert as Jamaat and Sayedee's supporters planned more protests.

Meanwhile, several thousand people converged on Shahbagh intersection as the youths demanding death penalty to all war criminals started a public rally this afternoon.

People from all walks of life imbued with the spirit of '71 started to throng the Shahbagh since noon as the demonstration stepped into 25th straight day.

They chanted anti-Jamaat-Shibir slogans and anti-strike slogans.

Also, tens of thousands of youngsters, joined by 1971 veterans and ruling Awami League supporters, took to the streets in Dhaka and other major cities yesterday to celebrate the verdict against Sayedee.

Violence erupted on Thursday as activists of JI clashed with security forces, denouncing the judgement.

UK: Four Muslims admit plotting terror attack armed with guns and home-made bombs[edit]

Four Islamic extremists admitted plotting a terrorist attack on British soil armed with guns and home-made bombs.

The men were caught after in a massive multi-million pound surveillance operation by police and the security services.

Hidden bugs recorded them discussing methods, materials and targets for a terrorist attack, including using improvised explosive devices.

They downloaded illicit online terrorist instructions, purchased survival equipment and collected thousands of pounds to fund the plot.

Investigators looked on as they organised and undertook physical training and prepared to send others to Al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan.
. . .
The court was told the offences took place between January 2011 and April last year. All four men are of Pakistani origin.

Their plea came a week after three Birmingham men were convicted of the biggest British terrorist plot for six years.

The home-grown terrorists boasted they would kill more people than the July 7 bombers and wanted to create another landmark date alongside 9/11.

Irfan Naseer, Irfan Khalid and Ashik Ali masterminded a conspiracy to attack unknown targets in their home town.

They too were caught after a huge surveillance operation when two of them returned from a terrorist training camp on the lawless Afghan border.

Naseer, a pharmacy graduate, was trained in making improvised bombs from chemical sports injury cold packs but their plans were smashed by police.

The trio were also caught with material by Anwar Al Awlaki and worshipped Mohammed Sidique Khan, who led the July 2005 atrocities...
Update:[edit]
A home-grown terror gang facing life in jail for plotting ‘another 9/11’ were today ordered to ‘stay quiet’ by a crown court judge as they laughed and joked in the dock while awaiting sentence.

The 11 men, all from Birmingham, were ordered to be silent by Mr Justice Henriques at Woolwich Crown Court in south-east London and did not appear fazed by their impending prison sentences.

The men, aged from 21 to 34, whom the court heard wanted to kill up to 2,000 Britons, are expected to be sentenced on Friday - but the hearing started today because there are so many defendants.

The ‘chief financier’ of the jihadist cell joked about stealing money from charities, the court heard.

Rahin Ahmed, 26, acted as fundraiser for the gang, who aimed to explode eight rucksack bombs and possibly other devices in crowded places in the UK.

Under the cover of legitimate street collections for Muslim Aid and local Islamic learning centre Madrasah-e Ashraful Uloom, he stole thousands of pounds to fund the planned attacks in 2011.

Prosecutor Brian Altman QC told the sentencing hearing that Ahmed had joked to one accomplice: ‘I’ve got so much Muslim Aid money I’m stealing, I have to bank it all,’ and then laughed.

Mr Altman told the court that ‘Ahmed had a large part to play not only collecting money, but also in investing and managing the money collected’.

He and others would wear high-visibility tabards and carry buckets to collect money from ‘unsuspecting passers-by’.

Ahmed banked over £13,500 from his fundraising activities, but only passed on £1,500 to Muslim Aid and £900 to Madrasah-e Ashraful Uloom.

He then set up a Forex capital markets trading account, lying about his qualifications and claiming that his net worth was between of £100,000 and £250,000 and he had liquid assets of up to £50,000.

Planning to boost the group’s funds by investing in commodities such as gold, he instead lost over £9,000 and the group’s trust.

Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 28, and Ashik Ali, 28 - the group’s three leaders - have been warned they face life imprisonment after they were found guilty of masterminding the plot in February...

Egypt: Two Coptic children risk jail on blasphemy charges, detained in a juvenile prison since April 2012[edit]

Yet another case of violence and abuse against Coptic Christians. On 26 February, the Court of Bani Suef (Upper Egypt) dismissed the appeal of the families of the two children Rzik Nagy, aged 10, and Mina Farag, 9, accused of desecrating the Koran. They have been detained in a juvenile prison since April 2012. The case has attracted a lot of criticism in the country. Many claim the trial was illegal and devoid of any logic.

Sami Harak, a lawyer and member of the Egyptian Movement Against Religious Discrimination, points out that "the Bani Suef case is a sad precedent and in the future there may be others for religious defamation, especially against children of the Christian faith."

On 9 April 2012 the two were stopped by a local imam who accused them of having urinated on the Koran. Before calling the police, the Muslim cleric led Nabil and Nady to the local church demanding the priest punish them. At the priest's refusal the Imam took the two children to the local court with three other Muslims of the village. Without a trial, the judge detained the two children in a youth detention center on charges of religious desecration. Their parents' appeals and those of the local Christian community to local authorities have proven fruitless. Nabil and Nady are both illiterate and according to the parents could not have known what was written on those pages, found in among rubbish.

If they are convicted, the case will mark a serious precedent for the country. For Saaid Abdel Hafez, a Human Rights lawyer, a double mistake has been committed. Given their age and the fact they are Christians they can not be punished under Sharia law. Local Muslims should seek compensation from parents and representatives of the local Coptic community. The second and more serious mistake was the trial by a civil court under pressure from a religious leader.

Fr. Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church, launches an alarm ove rthe growing Islamization of the country. "The Muslim Brotherhood - he says - are quietly replacing all local officials in governorates with people loyal to them. Egypt is increasingly becoming an Islamic country, with serious risks especially for the Christian minority." According to the priest these changes are occurring silently and far from the eyes of the media. Islamists are replacing second and third rank officials, which act as "advisors" to the leaders of the various sectors of the economy and Justice system. "The general population - he says - notice nothing strange. But dozens of people are being laid off and replaced with others who are openly close to the extremist establishment." Thanks to this "infiltration of the most intransigent wing of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis act without the fear of being punished."

...

Pakistan: ‘Blasphemy’ pastor released on bail after accuser admits mistake[edit]

A pastor, who had been languishing in a Pakistani jail since October for "blaspheming Islam", was free on bail Thursday, February 28, after the complainant admitted he had mistakenly charged him, Christians said.

Karma Patras, 55, was detained by police October 13, when a Muslim mob attacked his home in Sanghla Hill in central Punjab province.

The violence broke out after Patras was holding a prayer meeting in the house of a Christian family where the Islamic sacrifice feast, Eid-Ul-Adha, was discussed, BosNewsLife reported earlier.

During the gathering, someone reportedly asked what Eid-Ul-Adha's offered meat meant to Christians.

Patras gave an answer that apparently included quoting Bible verse Corinthians 10:28-29: "But if anyone says to you, 'This was offered to idols', do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience' sake; for the earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness. "Conscience," I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man's conscience?"

MUSLIM NEIGHBORS

Muslim neighbors who overheard the discussion quickly told other Muslims, Christians said. When Patras returned home, Imams reportedly used mosque loudspeakers to urge fellow Muslims to punish the pastor "for prohibiting Eid-Ul-Adha" to Christians.

Shouting "Pastor Karma Patras is a blasphemer and infidel, liable to be killed," hundreds of Muslims attacked Patras' home, according to witnesses. Police initially rescued Patras from a mob that was seen beating him and destroying his household, but later charged the pastor under Pakistan's notorious blasphemy laws, rights activists said.

However his main accuser, identified as Syed Zulqernain Shah, told a Sangla Hill court that he had wrongly accused the pastor of blasphemy and that he had no objections against his release, attorneys explained.

Though prosecutors objected, the judge said the pastor could be released on bail since the main witness had withdrawn his statement, according to trial observers.

The exact bail amount was not revealed and it was not immediately clear when a next hearing would be held in what is a volatile area.

ISLAMIC ATTACKS

Sangla Hill itself was the scene of several Islamic attacks against churches and other Christian institutions in homes in recent years, after reportedly unsubstantiated desecration of the Koran, seen as a holy book by Muslims.

In one the worst cases, some 2,000 Muslims attacked several churches in 2005 after Christian Yousaf Masih was accused of burning a Koran. Masih was later acquitted after his accuser, identified as Mohamed Saleem, said he had not seen him torching a building used to store copies of the Islamic book.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws carry a potential death sentence for anyone who insults Islam, with suspects often languishing for years in jail before their appeals are heard. Critics claim the legislation has been used to persecute minority faiths and to settle personal disputes.

Over a dozen people are known to be on death row over blasphemy allegations and more than 50 people have been killed while awaiting trial on similar charges, according to rights activists.

Two politicians, the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, Salman Taseer, and Christian federal minister Shahbaz Bhatti, were assassinated in 2011 for criticizing the country's blasphemy law.

Sudan: Man convicted of armed robbery has hand and foot amputated by court order[edit]

Government doctors in Sudan amputated a man's hand and foot to carry out a sentence for robbery, rights groups said on Wednesday, describing the extremely rare punishment as a form of torture.

The amputation of Adam Al Muthna's right hand and left foot took place by court order at the interior ministry's Al Rebat hospital in Khartoum on February 14, the rights groups said, citing "reliable sources."

Muthna, 30, was convicted of armed robbery related to an attack on a truck carrying passengers, said a statement issued by New York-based Human Rights Watch, also on behalf of the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, London-based REDRESS and US-based Physicians for Human Rights.

"Cross amputation is a form of state-sponsored torture," said Vincent Iacopino, senior medical adviser at Physicians for Human Rights.

Sentences of amputation have previously been handed down under Islamic sharia law, whose introduction in 1983 sparked a devastating 22-year civil war.

But since 2001 there have been no known cases of such sentences being carried out, the rights groups said.

The Sudanese authorities "routinely" order flogging penalties and last year issued two sentences of death by stoning for adultery, although the capital punishment was later overturned, they added.

"Authorities should immediately stop imposing such cruel and inhuman punishments, and bring laws in line with Sudan's human rights obligations," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

Australia: Four men found guilty of giving a convert to Islam 40 lashes: Islamic punishment for drinking alcohol[edit]

Four men have been found guilty of giving a Sydney electrician 40 lashes with a cable, which they said was a punishment under Islamic law for drinking alcohol and using drugs.

Zakaryah Raad, Tolga Cifci, Wassim Fayad, and Cengiz Coskun were today convicted of several charges relating to whipping Cristian Martinez, a convert to Islam, in July 2011.

"Until now, assaults occasioned in the course of a religious practice involving the mortification of the flesh have not been before any court in any common law country."

Mr Maloney said that, from the outset, prosecutors were clear the case was not about sharia, or about the Islamic faith.

The court heard Mr Martinez drank alcohol and took drugs on July 15 and 16, 2011, before he called Fayad, who had been his spiritual leader, and said he wanted help to get off drugs and make a fresh start.

Fayad said: "Yeah, it means I'm going to tie you up, brother, that's what I'm going to do.

"I'm going to tie you up, OK, and that's what you need brother, because now you need this level because you're not going anywhere."

Fayad called Raad and told him to go to Mr Martinez's western Sydney townhouse to check on him, where Raad sent Fayad a message saying something like: "Allam, the sharia bring right material. It's important."

Fayad, Cifci and Coskun then went to Mr Martinez's unit late on July 16 and Fayad whipped him while the others held him down on a bed.

"Mr Fayad counted out the lashes and when he came up to number 10 ... he gave Mr Martinez a break," Mr Maloney said.

"Mr Martinez went into the bathroom and vomited.

"Mr Martinez was then forced back onto the bed and given 10 further lashes by Mr Fayad. He was given another break and went to the bathroom again."

After the whipping, Mr Martinez sought advice from from Sheik Omar el Banna, the imam of the Omar Mosque in Auburn.

In a statement to the court, the sheik said the men's actions were not sanctioned by the Islamic community in any way.

"I said [to Mr Martinez] ... 'This is ridiculous. You can't apply this ruling, this is wrong. This isn't what should be happening'," he said.

Mr Martinez said he consented to the 1st, 11th and 21st lash, but Magistrate Maloney found that his consent had been withdrawn.

Raad was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in company, stealing and two counts of intimidation, while the others were convicted of the assault and stealing charges, related to a CCTV hard drive they took from Mr Martinez's home.

The men will be sentenced at a later date.
40 lashes under 'Islamic law': men guilty of assault
The Sydney Morning Herald, February 28, 2013

Pakistan: More than 100 schools destroyed in Mohmand by Taliban[edit]

Suspected Taliban militants bombed four boys’ schools in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt on Thursday, officials said, in the latest attack by militants on government educational institutions.

No one was injured in the pre-dawn blasts in Mohmand tribal district, where officials said Taliban attacks have now destroyed more than 100 schools.

“Militants from TTM (Tehrik-i-Taliban Mohmand) blew up the buildings of four schools at around 2:30 am,” an intelligence official in Mohmand told news agency AFP.

Liaqat Ali, a government official, confirmed the incident and told AFP that militants planted locally made explosives to dynamite the school buildings.

“All the four schools were completely destroyed, the number of schools destroyed in Mohmand is now more than 100,” Ali said.

Extremist militants opposed to co-education have destroyed hundreds of schools, mostly for girls, in northwest Pakistan in recent years.

Maldives: 15 year-old rape victim sentenced to 100 lashes and eight months of house arrest[edit]

The religious Adhaalath Party (AP) has declared that the 15 year-old rape victim who was recently sentenced to 100 lashes and eight months of house arrest “deserves the punishment”, as this is the penalty for fornication under Islamic Sharia.

The party, members of which largely dominate the Maldives’ Ministry of Islamic Affairs, stated that the sentence of flogging had not been passed against the for being sexually abused by her stepfather, but rather for the consensual sex to which she had confessed to having on another occasion.

“The purpose of penalties like these in Islamic Sharia is to maintain order in society and to save it from sinful acts. It is not at all an act of violence. We must turn a deaf ear to the international organisations which are calling to abolish these penalties, labeling them degrading and inhumane acts or torture,” the statement read.

“No one has the right to criticise any penalties specified in Islam,” the party added.

Quoting verses from the Quran, the statement said that no citizen should be allowed to express ideas and opinions about a verdict made in accordance with the religion in a court of law in a 100 percent Muslim country.

The Adhaalath Party further cautioned that criticising issues like this would “encourage enemies of Islam, create confusion among the general public and open up opportunities for people who aim to stop the practice of similar penalties commanded in Islam.”

“Furthermore, Allah has decreed that expressing disapproval of issues such as this contradicts with faith in Islam,” the statement continued, quoting more verses from the Quran.

“Allah has also commanded that we show no kindness when implementing these penalties.”

The party also stated that it was saddened by the physical and psychological abuse the girl had suffered at the hands of her parents, calling the state authorities to ensure they were given the punishments they were due as detailed in Islamic Sharia.

“If such sinful activities are to become this common, the society will break down and we may become deserving of divine wrath,” the Adhaalath Party stated.

Flogging amounts to degrading punishment or torture: UN

United Nations has expressed concern over the case of the 15 year-old being sentenced to flogging.

“The child is allegedly a victim of long-standing sexual abuse. Under international legal human rights obligations of Maldives, corporal punishment, including flogging, amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or even to torture,” read a statement issued by the UN in the Maldives.

“ The approach to sexual abuse which has been adopted in numerous international human rights frameworks is that governments should implement prevention, prosecution of perpetrators, and protection measures to ensure that sexual abuse does not occur. Where it has occurred, governments should put in place measures for rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration of victims.”...

Egypt: Muslims surround Christian Church in Shubra al-Kheima in attempt to stop construction[edit]

A group of Islamists surround the Abu Maqar Church in Shubra al-Kheima on Monday in an attempt to stop construction on the church's annex, claiming that the building is not licensed, said sources from the Qalyubiya security department.

Security forces were deployed to the area to convince the group to step down and allow work to resume, the sources claimed.

Ramsis al-Deiry, a member of the Shubra al-Kheima archbishopric's Millet Council, said group of Salafis and members affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood surrounded the building and prevented workers from resuming construction.


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