Islam in the News (May 2013)

From WikiIslam, the online resource on Islam
Jump to: navigation, search
Islam in the News
Archive:
October 2013September 2013August 2013July 2013June 2013May 2013April 2013March 2013February 2013January 2013December 2012November 2012October 2012September 2012August 2012July 2012June 2012May 2012April 2012March 2012February 2012January 2012December 2011November 2011October 2011September 2011August 2011July 2011June 2011May 2011Pre-April 2011

'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

Pakistan: Council of Islamic Ideology declare DNA tests are not acceptable as primary evidence in rape cases[edit]

Lahore: Pakistan's top human rights watchdog on Friday expressed "alarm and disappointment" over a declaration by the Council of Islamic Ideology that DNA tests are not acceptable as primary evidence in determining rape cases.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan described the Council's decision as "regressive" and "unkind to rape victims".

In a statement, the Commission said: "HRCP wants to unequivocally state that the latest pronouncement of the CII is regressive, brings no credit to this body and certainly not to the country, but most important of all it is exceptionally insensitive and unkind to rape victims."

Rape is a "horrendous crime, which is far too common in Pakistan", HRCP said. "Poor investigation methods and reluctance of witnesses to come forward out of fear mean that the balance is tilted in favour of the rapist as it is. In these circumstances, it would be foolish to not depend on all the evidence that is available, especially something as incontrovertible as DNA test results," the statement said.

"Rather than benefiting from scientific advances through DNA tests, which have proven to be an accurate method for identification, CII suggests discarding that without any prudent reason," it said.

The Council of Islamic Ideology, a constitutional body that advises the Pakistan government, announced on Wednesday that DNA tests cannot be used as primary evidence in rape cases.

DNA can be used as secondary or supporting evidence in rape cases, the Council ruled.
. . .
"DNA results, however, have proven to be an irrefutable tool in helping to conclude guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Refuting its importance and much more crucially, suggesting that it is made inadmissible as primary evidence helps the rapist and no one else," the HRCP said.

It further said the Council of Islamic Ideology's recommendation refuses to take into account the rights of rape victims and the need to punish criminals who are proven guilty beyond doubt...

Pakistan: Man dies after being forced to drink acid, killer suspected him of having an affair with his wife[edit]

For more on honor related violence, click here.

A case was registered on the complaint of the deceased’s brother. No one has been arrested so far.

Saddar police said that Javaid Khan, a resident of Chak 120-JB, had suspected that his wife and Muddassar Jamal from the neighbourhood were having an affair.

On Thursday, they said, Khan and his accomplices abducted Jamal from his house and took him to a dera, where they beat him up and forced acid into his mouth. After they fled, Jamal informed his brother

Rajab Ali, who took him to Allied Hospital where he died a few hours later.

Ali said that on the way to the hospital, his brother told him that he did not have an affair with Khan’s wife. He also identified the assailants...
‘Honour’ crime: Man forced to drink acid dies
The Express Tribune, May 31, 2013

"The war is yet to cease, it has barely started," al-Qaeda mag praises Boston and London terror attacks[edit]

For news on the Boston Marathon Bombings, click here. For news on the murder of British soldier in London, click here.

An English-language version of the spring 2013 issue of the online publication, obtained Thursday by NBC News, contains multiple articles praising alleged Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and one on last week’s gruesome knife slaying of a British soldier in London.

“When one looks at the terrific Boston Marathon operation and its aftermath, including the accusation of the two brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, he understands how a single lone jihad operation can force America to stand on one foot and live in a terrified state, full of fear and rare restlessness,” reads one article under the byline Abu Abdillah Almoravid.

Unlike the last edition of the publication in March, which contained bomb-building recipes – including one using a pressure cooker, similar to the devices deployed near the marathon finish line – and other suggested methods for inflicting small-scale terrorism, the new 39-page issue has numerous pieces aimed at the American audience.

A “Letter from the Editor” warns, “Americans, you should understand this simple equation: as you kill you will be killed. The war is yet to cease, it has barely started. Yesterday it was Baghdad, today it is Boston. The question of ‘who and why’ should be kept aside, You should be asking, “Where is next?”

“Leave us with our religion, land and nations and mind your own internal affairs,” warns another titled “Message to the American Nation” and supposedly written by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Commander Qassim Ar-Relmy. “Save your economy, look after your concerns.”

The articles also contain numerous high-resolution photos showing the carnage at the Boston Marathon finish line after the bombing on April 15 and one showing the blood-covered suspect in the London slaying of British soldier Lee Rigby...

Burma: More than 1,000 Myanmar Muslims find shelter in Buddhist monastery guarded by army soldiers[edit]

The army transported terrified Muslim families by the truckload out of a neighborhood in Lashio where overturned cars and motorcycles that had been charred a day earlier left black scars on the red earth.

“We heard things could get worse, so we waved down soldiers and asked them for help,” said 59-year-old Khin Than, who arrived at the monastery Thursday morning with her four children and sacks of luggage along with several hundred other Muslims. “We left because we're afraid of being attacked.”

The violence in Lashio this week shows how anti-Muslim unrest has slowly spread across Myanmar since starting last year in western Rakhine state and hitting the central city of Meikhtila in March. President Thein Sein’s government, which inherited power from the military two years ago, has been heavily criticized for failing to contain the violence.

In Lashio on Thursday, Buddhist monks organized meals for the newly arrived refugees, who huddled together in several buildings in the monastery compound.

Although a few Buddhist men could still be seen Thursday riding motorbikes with crude weapons such as sharpened bamboo poles, no new violence was reported. Several banks and shops reopened as residents emerged to look at destroyed Muslim shops. Trucks of soldiers and police crisscrossed main roads. They guarded the ruins of Muslim businesses that were reduced to ashes on Tuesday and Wednesday,, erecting roadblocks from twisted debris.

At one corner, where the charred remains of a three-story building still smoldered, Muslim residents sorted through rubble for anything salvageable. One family packed electronics from their shop into the back of a truck.

A woman who had fled a mob a day earlier was still in a state of shock.

“These things should not happen,” said the woman, Aye Tin, a Muslim resident who slept overnight in a Red Cross compound. “Most Muslims are staying off the streets. They're afraid they’ll be attacked or killed if they go outside.”

The rioting began Tuesday after a Muslim man splashed gasoline on a Buddhist woman and set her on fire. Buddhist mobs responded by burning down several Muslim-owned shops, a mosque and an Islamic orphanage. Roving motorcyclists continued the violence on Wednesday, leaving one person dead and four injured.

Presidential spokesman Ye Htut said 25 people had been detained so far. He said all those arrested were from Lashio...

US: Lebanese man gets 23 years for plotting to detonate bomb near Chicago’s iconic Wrigley Field baseball stadium[edit]

Lebanese citizen Sami Samir Hassoun was a legal resident of the United States at the time of his 2010 arrest.

“The thought of what might have happened if it was real is horrific,” U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman said in handing down the sentence.

Hassoun pleaded guilty last year to one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and one count of attempted use of an explosive device.

The 25-year-old admitted to telling an FBI source that he wanted to “paralyze” Chicago commerce and undermine the city’s political establishment.

The informant introduced him to an undercover FBI agent posing as a terrorist who agreed to help him carry out the plot for a “revolution.”

After weeks of reconnaissance work and discussion of potential targets, the agent gave Hassoun a backpack that he said was filled with explosives powerful enough to destroy half a city block.

Hassoun activated the timer on the fake bomb and dropped the backpack in a trash bin when the nearby bars were filled with patrons who had attended a concert at Wrigley. He was then arrested.

“In conversation after conversation, Hassoun made clear that he was willing to bomb innocents and shoot police officers as part of a bizarre effort to destabilize the City of Chicago,” said Gary Shapiro, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

“And his actions demonstrated that his words were more than empty bravado.”...

US: Terrorists driven by low self-esteem and the need for a “sense of belonging”, Florida high schoolers told[edit]

It's low self-esteem and the need for a “sense of belonging” that drives terrorists to join groups that kill in the name of religion, according to an online lesson plan for Florida high school students.

The world history course on “Invisible Warfare” — offered by the Florida Virtual School, the nation’s first statewide Internet-based public high school — begins by asking students “what comes to mind” when considering the concept of fundamentalism and then prompts them to think of the term in a religious context. It later defines terrorism as the act of using fear or violence to accomplish certain political or religious goals.

“Common traits that psychologists have found in terrorists are that they are often risk-takers and many suffer from low self-esteem,” according to the lesson plan, which was obtained by FoxNews.com. “Sometimes joining a terrorist group provides these individuals with a sense of belonging.”

Earlier in the lesson plan, students are asked to consider how “this type of fundamentalism” has affected Islam and notes that some Islamic fundamentalist groups have reinterpreted the word jihad, which means “struggle” in Arabic, to mean a “holy war” against non-Muslims. Some critics including the Global Dispatch claimed that the transition from Christianity to Islam within the lesson plan “softly could imply Christianity may be affecting (therefore causing) Muslim extremism.”

“For example, some passages in the Bible could be used to justify the slaughter of men, women and children in ways we have difficulty understanding today,” the plan reads. “Would anyone condone this now? How would you react to someone who insisted that holding these beliefs was fundamental to Christianity?”

Representatives at the Florida Virtual School denied those claims, saying the lesson plan does not suggest a link between fundamentalists within Islam and Christianity. Tania Clow, a spokeswoman for the Florida Virtual School, told FoxNews.com in a statement that the purpose of the lesson was to lay foundational knowledge in order for students to understand the more complex issue of global terrorism and the impact religious fundamentalism is having globally.

“Yes, the Bible is referenced, but only as an example of how some passages may no longer be compatible with the modern world, prompting students to think about whether the ideas would be condoned today,” Clow wrote in an email. “The lesson does not suggest that there is a link between Islam and Christianity as fundamentalist groups.”
. . .
Not everyone, however, agrees that the lesson plan as presented is useful for young minds, including Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, who claimed the lesson plan unfairly compared fundamentalists within Christianity and Islam.

“Fundamentalist Christians pray for people, they pray for their own members who convert to another religion,” Donohue told FoxNews.com. “Fundamentalist Muslims will kill you. So, right off the bat, the equation is pernicious.”

Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and Fox News contributor, said it takes more than low self-esteem to prompt someone to don a suicide vest in the name of religion.

“Much more in the way of psychiatric disorder is required to create a terrorist than just low self-esteem," Ablow said. "The real key is a failure of empathy, and while it might be true that many terrorists have low self-esteem, there are lots of people with low self-esteem that are either depressed, homeless, or are in relationships with people that abuse them – but not terrorists.”...

Nigeria: Hezbollah armoury discovered in Kano city, intended for use against 'Israeli and Western interests'[edit]

Three Lebanese nationals have been arrested, an army spokesman, Brig Gen Ilyasu Isa Abba, said.

The cache, including rifles, anti-tank weapons and an RPG, were found in a warehouse in the city of Kano, he said.

Nigeria's State Security Service said they were intended for use against "Israeli and Western interests".

"This is the handwork of Hezbollah," Bassey Ettang, director of the State Security Service in Kano said.

"What has just been discovered is a cell of Hezbollah and what you have seen here is a Hezbollah armoury," he told journalists in Kano on Thursday.

Brig Gen Ilyasu Isa Abba said 11 anti-tank weapons, four anti-tank mines, a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) and 21 RPG missiles, 17 AK-47s, two sub-machine guns and 76 grenades had been amongst the weapons found.

The Lebanese owner of the warehouse where "the weapons of mass destruction" had been stored in sawdust was out of the country, he said

There is a large business Lebanese community in Kano city, the commercial hub of in northern Nigeria.

Kano and north-eastern Nigeria has suffered multiple attacks in the last three years since the home-grown Islamist militant group Boko Haram launched an insurgency.

Mr Ettang added: "You can also be sure that if a group like this is existing then it may even lend support to some of the local terrorists we have on the ground."

Hezbollah is a Shia military and political movement based in Lebanon considered by the US to be a terrorist organisation.

Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is forbidden", says its quest is to overthrow the Nigerian government and create an Islamic state.

There has been growing concern that Boko Haram could be receiving backing from al-Qaeda-linked militants in other countries.

Italy: Muslim attacks sex shop then shouts about the glory of Islam[edit]

He had had enough of the "decadence of western morals". So the "young North African" put an enormous paving stone into his rucksack. In mid-afternoon, he went to throw it through the window of the sex shop "Sex appeal" in Bolzano, in Trentino-Alto Adige. He then remained, calmly awaiting the arrival of the police "while shouting about the glory of Islam". Between shouts, he puffed on his cigarette.

The manager, Giovanni Lo Iacono, is still terrified of it: "It was 5.30 pm on Friday afternoon, I was chilling inside the ship when I heard a terrible crash and I saw the shop window explode. At first I though a car had smashed into it. If the rock had fallen on my head, it would have killed me."

"Outside," he said, "the street was full of people. The shop window might also have fallen on someone. It's very heavy, made with anti-burglary double glazing. We needed a crane to install it."

Nigeria: Chief Imam in prison for destroying property belonging to Archbishop Felix Job[edit]

Chief Imam of Lagbasa Central Mosque in Eti Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State, Alhaji Akibu Adam, is still languishing in Kirikiri Prisons, Lagos, seven days after he was arraigned before an Igbosere Magistrate Court, Lagos for damaging the fence of an estate belonging to Archbishop Felix Job.

The Chief Imam is been detained following his inability to meet his bail conditions.

Adam, who was arraigned alongside four others, Alhaji Oseni Falana, Chief Shamsudeen Elegbeleye and Tunde Ashafa, was alleged to have conspired with others to destroy the fence of a 10-acre land located at Langbasa Estate, in Eti-Osa council.

Police Prosecutor, Michael Okon, alleged in the three-count charge leveled against the defendants, that the destroyed fence, valued at N3 million, belonged to Archbishop Job.

Part of the charge reads: "That you, Akibu Adam, Oseni Falana, Shamsudeen Elegbeleye, Tunde Ashafa and others at large, sometimes in 2012 at Alaba Estate Langbasa town, Eti-Osa Local Government Area, Lagos, did maliciously damage the fence of entire 10 acres of land valued at N3 million, property of Archbishop Job."...

Iran: Country amends law on stoning convicted adulterers to death to allow judges to impose a different form of execution[edit]

The controversial practice, in which stones are thrown at the partially buried offender, has provoked outcries from human rights organizations, international bodies and Western countries urging Iran to abandon it.

An article of Iran's Islamic new penal code, published earlier this week, states that, "if the possibility of carrying out the [stoning] verdict does not exist," the sentencing judge may order another form of execution pending final approval by the judiciary chief.

The article does not explain what is meant by the possibility of stoning not existing.

In Iran, executions are normally carried out by hanging.

Under Iran's interpretation of Islamic Sharia law in force since its 1979 revolution, adultery is punished by the stoning of convicted adulterers.

Women are buried up to the their shoulders, but men only up to their waists. They are spared if they manage to free themselves before dying.

Murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking are also punishable by death in Iran, which has one of the highest annual execution counts in the world, alongside China, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

At least 150 people may have been stoned in Iran since 1980, the International Committees against Execution and Stoning said in 2010...

Report: 100,000 Christians killed annually over faith, anti-Christian violence rising in countries like Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt[edit]

"Credible research has reached the shocking conclusion that an estimate of more than 100,000 Christians are violently killed because of some relation to their faith every year," Vatican spokesman Monsieur Silvano Maria Tomassi said Tuesday in a radio address to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

"Other Christians and other believers are subjected to forced displacement, to the destruction of their places of worship, to rape and to the abduction of their leaders, as it recently happened in the case of Bishops Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, in Aleppo [Syria]," Tomassi said.

While several human rights groups could not comment specifically on the Vatican's number, organizations, like Persecution.Org, said the persecutions of Christians have been on the rise in places like Africa and the Middle East over the last decade. "Two-hundred million Christians currently live under persecution. It’s absolutely on the rise," Jeff King, the group's president, told FoxNews.com.

"It’s easing in the old Communist world and it's rising in the Islamic world," King said, noting in particular countries like Egypt, Pakistan and Nigeria. King said that the first major killing spree in recent years happened between 1998 and 2003, when he claims 10,000 Christians were murdered in Indonesia alone during those years.

Last March, a Nigerian Christian leader was killed when suspected Muslim militants burst into his home and shot him. Two members of Islamic militant group Boko Haram shot Faye Pama Mysa, a Pentecostal pastor and secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, in his home Wednesday, according to multiple reports. The killing happened just after President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency because of ongoing attacks in Africa's most populous nation.

King spoke of another example in which young Christian girls were forced into sex slavery in Bangladesh. More than 140 children were rescued from Islamic training centers over the last year -- with the majority of girls being targeted because of their religion, according to King.

ohn Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International, has raised grave concerns over what he calls "religious cleansing" in Syria.

"Religious minorities are under constant threat in Syria," Eibner told FoxNews.com. "If things continue as they have been for the past two years in Syria, with an increase in religious cleansing, it's reasonable to think that there will be no more Christian communities or other religious minorities in the near future."

"Anti-Christian violence is on the increase throughout the world, especially throughout North Africa and the Middle East," he added. "It's hard for me to say with precision what the numbers are, but without doubt anti-Christian violence is on the increase."

Dinah Pokempner, general counsel for Human Rights Watch, was not able to independently verify the Vatican's figure, but said, "I think there’s little doubt that every week, every day, someone in the world is being persecuted – even to the point of losing their life – based on their religion."

"Persecution is a daily event on the basis of religion," Pokempner said. "This persecution affects Christians just as it does Muslims, Jews, Bahá'ís and people of other faiths."

A spokesman with the Vatican could not be immediately reached for comment.

Jane Zimmerman, the U.S. State Department's Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, said in a statement that: "While I’m unfamiliar with the methodology that was used to reach that number, we have certainly followed numerous cases in recent years in which Christians and others of many faiths have been attacked or killed on account of their religious beliefs."

"Whatever the numbers, no one should die for professing or practicing their faith, whatever that faith is," Zimmerman told FoxNews.com. "The United States firmly supports the freedom to profess and practice one’s faith, to believe or not to believe, and to change one’s beliefs. As Secretary Kerry said on May 20, religious freedom 'is a birthright of every human being.'"

France: Suspect, a convert to Islam, arrested has admitted to stabbing of French soldier in Paris[edit]

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

A suspect arrested Wednesday has admitted to the weekend stabbing of a French soldier in Paris and was probably acting based on his “religious ideology,” Paris prosecutor Xavier Molins tells AFP news agency.

Molins said the man, named Alexandre and who turns 22 on Thursday, had converted to Islam and was known to police after undergoing an identity check in 2007 for praying on the street. “The suspected perpetrator of the attack on a soldier Saturday evening in La Defense (business district) was arrested this morning,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls said in a statement, reported AFP.

Sources close to the investigation said the 22-year-old man has been a follower of a “traditionalist even radical Islam for the last three or four years.”

The French soldier had been patrolling a business neighborhood west of Paris on Saturday when he was stabbed in the neck by a man who quickly fled the scene, President Francois Hollande said.

The soldier was patrolling in uniform with two other men as part of France’s Vigipirate anti-terrorist surveillance plan when he was approached from behind around 1800 p.m. and stabbed in the neck with a knife or a box-cutter.
. . .

The attack came days after a British soldier was killed on a London street by two men who said they were acting out of revenge for violence against Muslims.

UK: 16-year old girl goes to police on her wedding night after being forced to marry stranger to avoid being killed[edit]

A 16-year-old girl turned up at a police station in her pyjamas on her wedding night claiming she had been forced by her family to marry a man she had only met once, a court was told.

The girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, told officers 'she would be taken to Pakistan and shot and everybody back home would be told it was suicide', Luton County Court heard.

She had fled her wedding reception, which was attended by up to 1,000 guests, and arrived at a police station 'in her pyjamas and in a distressed state'.

It was also alleged death threats had previously been made against her if she refused to marry, counsel for Bedfordshire Police James Weston told a hearing yesterday.

Two women have been accused of conspiring to force the girl to marry breaching court orders already banning any arranged wedding.

The court heard that in November last year His Honour Judge Sir Gavyn Arthur made three court orders against one of the defendants stopping her from arranging the child's marriage either in the UK or abroad, forbidding the woman to enlist another person's help in doing so, and prohibiting any harassment of that child.

The orders were backed by powers of arrest.

But in April, despite the orders being made, it is alleged the girl was married at a religious wedding ceremony and in May a large reception attended 'by between 550 and 1,000 guests' was held at a city hotel celebrating the event.

It was following the reception that the child 'turned up in her pyjamas in a 'distressed state' at a police station saying she had been forced to a marry a man she had met just once...

Saudi Arabia: Writer urged his Twitter followers to sexually molest women hired to work as cashiers[edit]

A Saudi writer has urged his Twitter followers to sexually molest women hired to work as cashiers in big grocery stores, the latest backlash from conservatives who want to roll back limited social and economic reforms launched in Saudi Arabia.

Abdullah Mohammad Al Dawood, who writes self-help books including one called The Joy of Talking, has stirred fierce debate this week via the internet microblogging service with the use of the hashtag harass_female_cashiers, to press for Saudi women to be forced to stay at home to protect their chastity.

His campaign against official moves to encourage women to work in mixed gender environments has led some Twitter users to denounce him. Others however applauded him as a fighter against government efforts to westernise and corrupt the country...
Working women should be molested: Saudi writer
Abeer Allam and Michael Peel, Financial Times, May 29, 2013

Burma: Unrest rocks Myanmar after Muslim man sets Buddhist woman on fire[edit]

Houses and mosques were set ablaze by mobs in a town in eastern Myanmar after a Buddhist woman was allegedly "torched" by a Muslim man, authorities said Tuesday, in a fresh bout of religious violence.

An ethnic Shan-Muslim man was arrested after he "torched" a woman selling petrol, a police officer in the Shan State capital of Lashio told AFP under the condition of anonymity. A town official confirmed the arrest of the Muslim man who he said had "torched a woman with petrol".

A curfew was imposed late Tuesday to disperse angry mobs of local people - including Buddhist monks - who had "destroyed some houses and mosques", the official added, also declining to be named. "Fires have been put out at some places in the town... the situation is under control now," the official said.

Indonesia: Police officer publicly caned for gambling, first law enforcer to receive such punishment under Shari'ah[edit]

A police officer was publicly caned in an Aceh district on Tuesday for violating Shariah law, making him the first law enforcer to receive such a punishment.

Darwin, the head of general crimes unit at the Sabang Attorney’s Office, told the Jakarta Globe that Brig. Irwanuddin was lashed six times for gambling in the district of Aceh Besar.

He was the first policeman punished for violating a “qanun” (bylaw) since the province implemented partial Shariah law in some districts.

Irwanuddin’s caning was conducted at the Sabang Great Mosque in front of hundreds of onlookers from all over the province.

Darwin said his office initially planned to institute the same punishment for two other civilians, though they managed to run away before the officials could find them.

Previously it was reported that the public caning, which was scheduled for Thursday, was broken up by a group of policeman led by an officer who refused to identify himself, with only his rank of police commissioner visible.

“Today [Tuesday], we decided to lash the policeman … since it was canceled on Thursday. Irwanuddin’s superior agreed that he should undergo the punishment and he was brought to us,” he said.

A witness, who asked not to be named, said on Thursday that the police took away one of the three men who was due to be caned, and who was also a police officer...


Netherlands: School in heavily Muslim neighborhood delays plans for Holocaust monument over vandalism fears[edit]

Gerard Brasjen, a spokesman for the Paul Kruger School, told JTA on Tuesday that the Christian-affiliated school’s board had discussed a plan to place a commemorative plaque on the school facade, but the plan stalled “not because of the Jewish-Muslim issue but because it may not be wise in the neighborhood, which is not a peaceful place.”

Before the Holocaust, the building of the Paul Kruger School, in the Schilderswijk neighborhood, housed the Joodsch Lyceum, a Jewish high school. Kruger was an Afrikaner national leader.

Last week, the De Telegraaf daily reported that the school dropped the plan following objections by local residents who said a Holocaust plaque might not be acceptable to some members of Schilderswijk’s sizable Muslim population, but Brasjen said he was not aware of such objections.

The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, a Hague-based watchdog on anti-Semitism, wrote in a statement Monday that “it seems that the school feared there would be protests,” but “there is little reason to fear violence against memorial monuments for Jewish children in the area.”

Anat Harel, a co-organizer of a Holocaust commemoration event May 4 at the school, told De Telegraaf that a poster advertising the event could not be placed outside the building “because of concerns regarding kids hanging around the school.”...

Greece: Afghan immigrant with tattoos of swastikas and other Nazi symbols robs and throws woman over coastal wall[edit]

Police in Corfu have arrested an illegal Afghan immigrant after he robbed a 20-year-old student and callously threw her over an eight-meter coastal wall. Police were surprised to find the Afghan had tattoos of swastikas and other Nazi symbols on his body.

Pantelis Haidos, the father of the young history student that was viciously attacked, described her ordeal to Zougla. He said she was returning home from a night out with friends when the alien Afghan robbed her. The young woman immediately handed over her purse when the robber demanded it, but as two cars approached the Afghan threw the Greek girl over the coastal wall.

Ms. Haidos is hospitalized but now out of danger. Meanwhile the criminal perpetrator has been charged with robbery and attempted murder. He will undergo a DNA test to ascertain his true age as his travel documents indicated he was 17-years-old but police have stated that his appearance is that of an older adult. If the man is indeed 17 he will be held in a young offenders’ jail rather than an adult prison.

According to Xryshaygh the Afghan criminal had applied for political asylum in Greece but had not been held in detention.

Proto Thema reported police are also perturbed by the swastikas and other Nazi symbols tattooed on the man's body. The man refused to answer police questions regarding his tattoos but stated he was a Muslim...
Greece: Afghan with swastikas throws woman over coastal wall
Katerina Nikolas, Digital Journal, May 28, 2013

UK: Prison guard kidnapped, beaten and held for five hours by terrorist jailed for plot to behead a soldier[edit]

A TERRIFIED prison officer was kidnapped and held hostage by the evil terrorist who inspired the horrific killing of Drummer Lee Rigby.

Al-Qaeda fanatic Parviz Khan was jailed for life for a plot to behead a soldier.

He held the warder captive for almost five hours inside one of Britain’s toughest prisons.

Khan took the officer hostage with two fellow extremists and told him he would be killed. But the warder was freed after an armed riot team was called in to Full Sutton jail and overpowered the men. The officer was left badly injured.

Authorities have linked the attack with Drummer Rigby’s killing in Woolwich last week.

Just 48 hours before the attack, Khan reacted furiously when the prison imam called for inmates to pray for Rigby.

Seething with rage Khan, 41, stood up and insisted the Woolwich murder was justified.

He and two prisoners – an African born fanatic and a white English convert – then plotted to ambush the prison officer.

They seized their chance on Sunday when they bundled him into a cleaning room in the category A part of the jail near York.

They barricaded the door and battered the officer with mop handles.

A source at the jail said: “It was inspired by the terrible death of Lee Rigby.

“Khan wanted to start a riot and after taking a hostage he was shouting for ‘true Muslims’ to join a holy war. He was the ringleader behind the beating of the prison officer.

“By the time the attack had finished the officer was covered in bruises and blood. He feels very lucky to be alive. He was told they would kill him.”

Fearing for the warder’s life, officers in riot gear stormed the cleaning room. They rescued their colleague and bundled Khan and his fellow rioters into segregation cells.

The officer was taken to hospital for treatment. He is believed to have been released and allowed home to recover and is expected to be off work for several weeks.

Khan was jailed for life with a minimum of 14 years in 2008 over a Birmingham-based conspiracy to kidnap a UK Muslim soldier and decapitate him “like a pig”.

The aim was to deter others from joining the British army. Khan was the ringleader.

Prior to the ambush, staff at Full Sutton had warned bosses of an increased security risk.

At a Muslim prayer service on Friday, the jail imam asked inmates to pray for drummer Rigby.

Khan was outraged at the request and stood up and ranted that the horrific attack was justified. He refused to calm down and stormed out as prison officers moved in.

Officers in the unit, which holds dozens of convicted terrorists, warned senior staff of Khan’s behaviour.

They wanted Khan put into segregation. But they said the warnings were ignored as bosses did not want to risk stirring up trouble.

Iran: Government shuts down largest Persian-language Pentecostal church, just one week after pastor was arrested during service[edit]

Government agents shut down Iran’s largest Persian-language Pentecostal church Monday, just one week after one of its pastors was arrested and hauled away midway through a worship service.

The closing of Central Assemblies of God church in Tehran is the latest case of the Islamic Republic’s leadership cracking down on Christians ahead of the June 14 presidential election to replace President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Leaders appear especially wary of groups deemed dangerous to their power base, including growing Christian churches, according to Iranian Christians and rights groups who spoke to BosNewsLife, a news agency that specializes in the plight of Christians in Middle Eastern nations.

"These incidents appear to be an attempt to stop worship services from being conducted in Farsi, the language of the majority of Iranians," George Wood, general superintendent of the AoG in the U.S., told the service. "Services are allowed in Armenian, a minority language that most Iranians do not speak or even understand."

On May 21, authorities grabbed Pastor Robert Asserian while services were under way. They have not told parishioners where he is being held.

"Before going to the church, authorities raided Pastor Asserian’s home, where they confiscated a computer and several books,” Wood said. “Then, they found Pastor Asserian at the church leading the prayer service, immediately arrested him and announced the church’s imminent closure."

Christian groups fear a further erosion of what little tolerance of religious diversity has existed in Iran. Some estimates place the number of Iranian Christians, many of them converts from Islam, at about 100,000, in a nation of 75 million.

Concerned Americans have been following the plight of Pastor Saeed Abedini for several months. An evangelical Christian from Idaho, he traveled to his homeland last summer to help build a secular orphanage, but was arrested for allegedly evangelizing. Earlier this year, he was sentenced to eight years in Tehran’s infamous Evin prison.

In January, amid an international outcry, an Iranian court freed another Christian pastor, Youcef Nadarkhani. Nadarkhani had served three years in prison and had been sentenced to death for apostasy – conversion away from Islam – and evangelizing. But a court downgraded the sentence and he was released.

Other pastors known to be detained in Iranian prisons include Behnam Irani, who is held in Ghezel Hesar Prison in Karaj City, one of the toughest jails in the country, some 12 miles west of the nation's capital, Tehran.

"He has been sentenced to five years in prison for his Christian activity," Jason DeMars, of advocacy group Present Truth Ministries, told BosNewsLife.

Iranian Christians fear a court verdict directing prosecutors to pursue the death penalty against Irani for apostasy, said Firouz Khandjani, a council member of the Church of Iran movement to which the pastor belongs.

He urged Christians around the world to sign a petition asking the White House "to take immediate steps to put pressure on the Iranian government to secure the release of Irani.

"Most of the focus of the American church, regarding persecution, has been [Abedini],” he said. "I’m very thankful that so much attention has been given to him [but there are also] others in prison serving a sentence for their Christian faith."

Iraq: Death toll passes 500 in May, as authorities struggle to contain wave of unrest[edit]

Violence in Iraq has killed more than 500 people in May, AFP figures showed on Tuesday, as authorities struggled to contain a wave of unrest that has raised fears of new sectarian conflict.

Meanwhile, the UN envoy urged Iraqi leaders to meet to resolve a long-running political crisis that is often linked to the inability of the country's security forces to reduce levels of violence.

As of Monday, 503 people were killed and 1,273 wounded, making May the deadliest month in at least a year, according to the data, based on reports from security and medical officials.

May is the second month in a row in which more than 400 people have been killed, for a total of 960 people in the two months.

A wave of attacks, including bombings in Baghdad that mainly targeted Shiite areas, killed 58 people on Monday and wounded 187, officials said.
. . .
Iraq has seen a heightened level of violence since the beginning of the year, coinciding with rising discontent among Iraqi Sunnis that had erupted into protests in late December.

Members of Iraq's Sunni minority, which ruled the country from its establishment after World War I until Saddam Hussein's overthrow by US-led forces in 2003, accuse the Shiite-led government of marginalizing and targeting their community.

Analysts say government policies that have disenfranchised Sunnis, coupled with Shiite-led authorities' refusal to make any major concessions to the protesters, have given militant groups fuel and room to maneuver among the disillusioned community...

Australia: Serial rapist's sentence cut by 2 1/2 years after judge ignored trauma of life under Taliban[edit]

In April last year, 32-year-old Esmatullah Sharifi was sentenced to 14 years' jail with a non-parole period of 11 years after he pleaded guilty to two charges of rape and one of false imprisonment over two attacks on women which occurred within five days of one another in December 2008.

Sharifi was convicted of raping an 18-year-old woman on December 19 and a 25-year-old woman on Christmas Eve.

Last month, he was granted leave to appeal against the sentence for the December 19 rape. The rape occurred after Sharifi struck up a conversation with the drunk 18-year-old woman outside a nightclub in Melbourne's southeast and offered her a lift to a pub to meet with friends who had abandoned her.

He then drove her to a dark street and raped her.

In reducing Sharifi's sentence to 12 1/2 years, with an minimum of 8 1/2 years, Court of Appeal judges Peter Buchanan, David Ashley and Robert Redlich gave weight to an observation made by the prosecutor that the victim "had the impression that despite her tears and protests Mr (Sharifi) was acting as if she was a willing participant".

The judges also gave weight to the fact Sharifi had driven his victim to her friend's home after the rape, as well as a March 2012 psychologist's report. The report found he had suffered depressive and post-traumatic symptoms at the time of the offence.

"He was very isolated. He was inexperienced in forming relationships with women and possessed an unclear concept of what constitutes consent in sexual relations. These factors in combination heightened the probability of the commission of the offence," the psychologist found.

In his overturned 2012 sentence, Victorian County Court judge Mark Dean found Sharifi had deliberately sought out vulnerable, drunk women to rape. He did not accept Sharifi's flight from the Taliban as an excuse.

"The offence . . . was an extremely serious act of violence, and . . . you well knew the victim was not consenting," Justice Dean said. "You have no remorse or insight into your offending."...

Syria: Western backed rebels attack Christian village, massacre citizens, including women and children, before Assad's Army interfered[edit]

This reported attack comes shortly after intense fighting in the city of al-Qusseir over the weekend, in which Bashar Al-Assad's forces inflicted heavy casualties on the rebels.

Assad's forces launched an offensive in April in an effort to cut off supply lines to the rebels by taking the city and its surrounding areas from the rebel groups that had been entrenched there since last year. Two weeks ago, the Syrian forces reached the center of the city

While the sources describing Monday's massacre are supportive of Assad, it's possible that it occurred since the rebel groups fighting the Assad regime are composed mainly of members of al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda affiliated groups and have committed war crimes and atrocities in the past.

Jabhat al-Nusra, the branch of al-Qaeda that fought and killed American and allied troops in Iraq, have positioned themselves in Syria and control the rebel movement.

The U.S. and other Western governments that are backing the FSA have acknowledged the presence of jihadists but insist that they're only a small part of the rebel movement. However, al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremist groups have been at the front of the rebel movement since day one of the Syrian war that began two years ago. According to German intelligence, 95 percent of the rebels aren't even Syrian.

“Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of,” the New York Times reported last month.

In April, Abou Mohamad al-Joulani, the head of al-Nusra, pledged allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahri, the head of al-Qaeda.

Members of the FSA have admitted that their plan is to institute sharia law, and the rebels now have a brigade named the Osama bin Laden Brigade.

Despite the evidence of al-Qaeda connections, the U.S. government continues to support the FSA...

France: Suspect in knife attack on a uniformed soldier in Paris 'prayed' before attack[edit]

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

Fears increased on Monday that the stabbing of a French soldier in Paris was an attempted copycat attack, inspired by the murder of a British soldier in London. The latest reports claim the suspect was seen 'praying' before the knife attack.

Reports in the French media on Monday raised the likelihood that the stabbing of a uniformed French soldier in Paris on Saturday could have been inspired by last week’s hacking to death of a British soldier in London.

Sources for French daily Le Parisien have claimed that the suspect, who has still not been found since fleeing the scene of the attack at at the shopping and transport hub La Défense, was seen ‘praying’ in the train station, before stabbing the soldier in the neck.

The suspected knife wielder was captured on CCTV cameras before, during and after the attack.

So far, he is described as being a bearded, athletically-built man, 1.90 metres tall, who wore a black pullover, and not a djellaba (a traditional north-African robe) as was first reported in the press.

The 23-year-old soldier Cédric Cordier was stabbed in the neck from behind, by a man wielding what initial reports identified as a box-cutter, but was later confirmed to be a knife.

Cordier's partner, Amélie, told RTL radio on Sunday that the stab wound had come terrifyingly close to being lethal.

“It was just two centimetres away from his carotid artery,” she said.

Cordier was release from hospital on Monday morning.

Meanwhile, French president François Hollande told reporters accompanying him on a trip to Ethiopia: "We still do not know the exact circumstances of the attack or the identity of the attacker, but we are looking at all options."

"I do not think that at this stage a link can be made" to the attack in London on Wednesday, he said.

French interior minister Manuel Valls, however, said there were similarities, and that the knife attack, which left Cordier ‘traumatized’ but stable, ‘could have been a terrorist act.’

“Basically, there are components which could lead you to think we’re dealing with an act of terrorism,” Valls told France 5 TV on Sunday.

On Saturday Valls also said that the "sudden violence of the attack" in Paris was one of a few elements that suggested "there was a form of comparison to be made with what happened in London.
. . .
The soldier, who was armed and in uniform, was patrolling as part of France's Vigipirate anti-terrorist alert system that sees troops deployed at high-profile tourist, business and transport sites across the capital...

UK: War memorial vandalized, mosque firebombed and clashes on the street, tensions rise after Muslims slaughter soldier[edit]

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

Thugs sprayed the word ‘Islam’ across two war memorials in a provocative vandalism attack yesterday.

Memorials to members of RAF Bomber Command and animals killed at war were targeted in London, as police forces across the country dealt with a spate of ugly attacks fuelled by hatred after soldier Lee Rigby’s murder.

One charity claimed that more than 200 attacks on Muslims had been reported to police since the brutal killing, while Help for Heroes said it would not accept any money raised for it by the English Defence League, saying it did not want to be used for ‘political purposes’.

In London, supporters of the far-Right clashed with police and anti-fascists, shutting down streets around Parliament. As tensions mounted across the country:
. . .
Kevin Carroll, joint leader of the EDL, said Drummer Rigby’s death must be a ‘turning point’ for the country.

He said: ‘We want to tell David Cameron – while he’s on a deckchair sunning himself in Spain – just how angry we are that one of our British servicemen was decapitated in this city.’

Great Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell said attacks on mosques and other Islamic institutions were playing into the hands of terrorists who wanted community conflict.

He added: ‘It’s sheer, simple stupidity. I’m appalled and shocked. I didn’t expect this in Grimsby.’

Nearly 200 anti-Muslim incidents have been recorded since the Woolwich murder, including attacks on mosques, online abuse and cars being daubed with graffiti, according to Faith Matters.

Spokesman Fiyaz Mughal said: ‘On a really heavy day we would normally pick up eight cases but at the minute it is around 40 to 50 every day. We are almost unable to keep up.’

Warrant office Douglas Radcliffe, 89, of the Bomber Command Association, travelled to Green Park to guard the monument yesterday, wearing his war medals.

He said: ‘It’s disgraceful. It is such a shame for this to happen to the memorial. It is very sad.

‘My fellow crewmen died in Germany to give freedom to everybody who lived, whatever their nationality, so it is so disturbing when this kind of thing happens.’

EDL demonstrators pushed their way through a police cordon as they made their way to Trafalgar Square.

They chanted 'Muslim killers off our streets' and 'There’s only one Lee Rigby' and protesters held placards that read 'Blood on your hands' and 'GB RIP'.

They are expected to demonstrate outside Downing Street later.
. . .
A Grimsby mosque was last night hit with petrol bombs, while people were inside, including children.

Chairman Diler Gharib said: 'We had just finished our prayers and were discussing how to thank our neighbours for the support they have shown us over the past few days when we heard a bang and saw fire coming under the door.

'I grabbed a fire extinguisher and put it out and then two more petrol bombs hit the fire escape and the bin so I had to put those out too.

'Luckily the police have been monitoring the mosque since the last attack and they were able to arrest two people almost straight away.

'We have all been feeling on edge and now this has happened. It’s not just the people at the mosque we are worried about, it’s our wives, daughters and children who are out in the community.

'People need to realise that the people who committed the murder in Woolwich are criminals and it had nothing to do with the Muslim faith.'

A 33-year-old man and a 37-year-old man were arrested following the attack and were tonight in police custody at Grimsby Police Station.
. . .
Meanwhile, hate cleric Anjem Choudary has told how Muslims have been shaking his hand in the street in support of his views on Islam, as Theresa May takes steps to ban extremist preachers from our screens.

Choudary said that his rants were to do with foreign policy and the oppression of Muslims, and said he had never encouraged any terrorism.

He said many people were now scared of speaking - but he had been congratulated for his stance on the issue.

He said: 'People are coming up to me and shaking my hand. There has been a lot of support for me, on the internet, on social networks and on the streets...

UK: Pakistani lesbians who are the first Muslim gay couple to wed in UK claim asylum, lives endangered if they return home[edit]

For more on persecution of homosexuals, click here.

A pair of Pakistani women have made history as the first Muslim lesbian couple to get married in the UK.

Rehana Kausar, 34, and Sobia Kamar, 29, made history when they tied the knot in a register office civil ceremony, then immediately applied for political asylum after they were wed, claiming their lives would be in danger if they returned to their native country.

Watched by their solicitors and two friends, the pair wore traditional white bridal dresses when they were married in Leeds, West Yorkshire.

The pair, from the Lahore and Mirpur regions of Pakistan, said they had received death threats from opponents in Pakistan - where homosexual acts are illegal and considered against Islam.

And since news of their wedding earlier this month spread, the pair claimed they had even received death threats from the UK. Before the service, even the registrar advised the couple to give serious thought to their decision to marry because of some Muslims’ views on homosexuality.
. . .
Pakistani law does not recognise same-sex marriages and there are no laws to stop discrimination.

Both women met in Birmingham as students when they moved to Pakistan from the UK.

They later started living together as a couple in South Yorkshire, where they spent a year before deciding to wed.

A relative said: 'The couple did not have an Islamic marriage ceremony, known as a nikah, as they could not find an Imam to conduct what would have been a controversial ceremony.

'They have been very brave throughout as our religion does not condone homosexuality.

'The couple have had their lives threatened both here and in Pakistan and there is no way they could ever return there.' Many scholars of Sharia - Islamic - law view homosexuality as a punishable offence.

There is no specific punishment prescribed but in extreme cases gay people can be sentenced to death.

Kenya: Cleric with ties to Muslim terrorist group al-Shabaab killed in police shootout[edit]

A Muslim cleric accused of possessing explosives and radicalising Kenyan youths into joining the Somali Islamist rebel group al Shabaab was killed in a shootout with police on Sunday, Kenyan authorities said.

Police said Khalid Ahmed, a Somali with a Kenyan passport, had been a close friend of Aboud Rogo, a slain Muslim cleric whom the Kenyan government and the United States accused of helping al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants in Somalia.

Senior police official Thomas Sangut said Ahmed was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police at his family home in the Indian Ocean port city of Mombasa. Two policemen were wounded, and a hand grenade, two gun magazines and 68 rounds of ammunition were recovered, Sangut told a news conference.

Aboud Rogo was killed in September last year when his car was sprayed with gunfire in Mombasa. Supporters blamed the attack on security services and it sparked days of deadly rioting that exposed deep social, political and sectarian divisions in Kenya's mainly Muslim coastal region. Kenyan police denied killing Rogo.

"Just like his slain friend Aboud Rogo, Khalid was a Muslim cleric and has been teaching madrassas (Islamic religious schools), from where we believe he was recruiting young innocent Kenyans to join terrorist organisations," Sangut said.

Police said Ahmed was charged with possessing explosives in 2012 but skipped bail and had been on Kenya's most wanted list of suspects ever since. "He disappeared into Somalia where he was training as a terrorist," Sangut said.
. . .
Separately, Kenyan police said one of two men arrested over the murder of a British soldier in a London street last week had been detained in Kenya in 2010 on suspicion of seeking to train with al Shabaab.

The Nairobi government initially said Michael Adebolajo had never visited Kenya. But on Sunday, the head of Kenya's anti-terrorism police said Adebolajo had been detained three years ago and deported to Britain.

Indonesia: North Aceh head bans women from dancing in public, in line with Shari'ah and supported by residents[edit]

A women’s rights group has criticized a move by North Aceh’s district head to ban women in the area from dancing in public places.

Muhammad Thaib, the district chief, on Saturday said that he had banned all adult women from dancing when welcoming guests in North Aceh, adding that only children should perform the tradition.

“I’m very glad to welcome our guests with Aceh culture,” Thaib said as quoted by Tempo on Saturday. “But cultural preservation should not damage Islamic Shariah values, such as dancing performed by adult women.”

Masruchah, deputy chair of the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), told the Jakarta Globe on Saturday that Thaib violated the rights of women to express themselves in an art such as dancing.

“Indonesia upholds the constitution, and it guarantees all citizens the right to express themselves, including in dancing,” Masruchah said. “Dancing is apart of Indonesian culture to show people the local tradition. It should not be linked to someone’s opinion about Islam. Islam indeed supports art and the right to express.”

Thaib said that the ban was in line with the spirit of Islamic Shariah, which he claimed was supported by North Aceh residents.

“Such activities that go against Shariah should be banned according to the mandate of the ulema,” he said, adding that if he did not ban public dancing it would reflect on him as a bad leader.

The North Aceh Ulema Consultative Assembly (MPU) supported Thaib’s ban, calling the move a positive innovation.

Mustafa Ahmad, head of the MPU, said that Aceh’s traditional dances, including the Saman dance, were evil because it involved body movement, as quoted by Atjehlink.com...
North Aceh Head Bans Women From Dancing in Public
Camelia Pasandaran, Jakarta Globe, May 26, 2013

Pakistan: Report finds country could have stopped anti-Christian violence but didn't[edit]

A series of violent riots against Pakistani Christians in the past decade has concerned human rights watchers and religious minorities in Pakistan.

The latest deadly incident, which took place just two months ago, raised questions about what, if anything, can be done to prevent such violence.

The March incident when a Muslim mob burned down a Christian neighborhood in Lahore, echoed a similar incident in the rural town of Gojra four years earlier. Nine people were killed when rioters torched two Christian neighborhoods over rumors the Christians had celebrated a wedding by showering the groom with pages torn from the Quran. Despite hundreds of arrests, no one was tried for the riots, and relatives of those killed have now fled Pakistan.

In 2009, the Punjab government asked a senior judge to investigate how to prevent incidents like the one in Gojra. The judge interviewed nearly 600 witnesses, including senior politicians and intelligence officials, producing a 318-page report detailing who was responsible for the violence. But the full report was not released until recently – nearly four years after the riots.

It implicates members of Pakistan Muslim League-N, at the time just recently elected to power, and recommends Pakistan's blasphemy laws be reformed to prevent future violence. According to the report, the Interservices Intelligence (ISI) and local intelligence agencies knew banned extremist groups like Sipah-e-Sahaba were organizing the mobs, yet authorities did not take preventative action.

“Everything could have been avoided, if the local administration did what they were supposed to do,” says Mehboob Khan, who headed fact-finding trips to Gojra for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Like the riot in Lahore this year, Mr. Khan says police had several days to curtail growing threats from Muslim extremists in Gojra.

On July 30, 2009, members of Sipah-e-Sahaba led a mob that burned down the entire village of Korian over the blasphemy accusation. The next day, preachers at three local mosques used their Friday sermons to demand that Gojra's Christian community – some 40,000 people – be expelled. They announced rallies the next day.

The next day, busloads of seminary students from the nearby town of Jhang – a radical Sunni stronghold – joined the rallies, which were addressed by local PML-N leaders and preachers from Sipah-e-Sahaba.

Bishop John Samuel, who heads an Anglican community in Gojra, says local police should have stopped the meetings and arrested those calling for more violence. “There had already been one fire, why did the police allow these meetings?” he asks.

By that evening, crowds from the rallies made their way to the Christian neighborhood near the center of Gojra.

Despite the efforts of some religious leaders to disperse the crowd, the mob began throwing stones at the homes, and some began shooting at Christians.

Hameed Maseeh, a Christian, climbed on top of his roof and began firing back, but he was shot and killed. The crowd of Muslims swelled to more than 7,000, and some began setting fire to the Christian homes.

According to the report, police that were supposed to protect the Christians told them to flee, before leaving the scene themselves. “At the height of the riot, they [the police] were nowhere to be seen,” recalls Bishop Samuel.

Hameed Masih's family – unwilling to leave his body behind – locked themselves inside their home. Seven of them, including two children and three women, died when the mob set fire to their home.


France: Bearded terrorist of North African origin stabs patrolling soldier in the neck, four days after Woolwich incident[edit]

The attack was being treated as a "terrorist incident", said a source at the Paris prosecutors office.

"The anti-terrorist branch of the prosecutors office is dealing with the matter," the source added.

Coming just four days after the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby in London, the stabbing was immediately seen as a possible copycat attack.

The 25-year-old, patrolling as part of France's Vigipirate anti-terrorist surveillance plan, was injured in the stabbing around 6pm but would survive, the source said. He was reported to be from France's Fourth Cavalry regiment, based in Gap in the southern Alps.
. . .
He was attacked in the Parisian business district of La Defense, inside the train station.

French daily Le Parisien cited police sources as saying the suspected attacker was a bearded man of North African origin about 30 years old, and was wearing an Arab-style garment under his jacket.

He ran away following the attack and has not yet been detained.

Pierre-Andre Peyvel, police prefect for the Hauts-de-Seine area, said the soldier had lost a considerable amount of blood but would survive, and was being treated in a nearby military hospital.

"The wound appears to be quite serious, but it's not life-threatening," he told iTele news television.

Francois Hollande, the French president, said that "at the moment" no link was being made between the murder of Drummer Rigby but that "we must look at all the hypotheses".
. . .
France is on high alert for attacks by Islamist militants following its military intervention in Mali in January, which prompted threats against French interests from AQIM, the North African wing of al Qaeda.

On Friday a jihadist group based in West Africa claimed responsability for attacks on a French uranium mine in Niger, which it said was in response to France's military action in the region.
French soldier stabbed in Paris
Harriet Alexander and Peter Allen, The Telegraph, May 25, 2013
Updates:[edit]
Fears increased on Monday that the stabbing of a French soldier in Paris was an attempted copycat attack, inspired by the murder of a British soldier in London. The latest reports claim the suspect was seen 'praying' before the knife attack.

Reports in the French media on Monday raised the likelihood that the stabbing of a uniformed French soldier in Paris on Saturday could have been inspired by last week’s hacking to death of a British soldier in London.

Sources for French daily Le Parisien have claimed that the suspect, who has still not been found since fleeing the scene of the attack at at the shopping and transport hub La Défense, was seen ‘praying’ in the train station, before stabbing the soldier in the neck.

The suspected knife wielder was captured on CCTV cameras before, during and after the attack.
A suspect arrested Wednesday has admitted to the weekend stabbing of a French soldier in Paris and was probably acting based on his “religious ideology,” Paris prosecutor Xavier Molins tells AFP news agency.

Molins said the man, named Alexandre and who turns 22 on Thursday, had converted to Islam and was known to police after undergoing an identity check in 2007 for praying on the street. “The suspected perpetrator of the attack on a soldier Saturday evening in La Defense (business district) was arrested this morning,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls said in a statement, reported AFP.

Sources close to the investigation said the 22-year-old man has been a follower of a “traditionalist even radical Islam for the last three or four years.”

Uzbekistan: Christian sentenced to 18 months of "corrective labor" for possessing Bibles and religious material[edit]

The Uzbek authorities have sentenced a Protestant Christian in Urgench, in the northwest of the country to 18 months of "corrective labor", charged with "illegal production, storage, importation or distribution of religious materials." The judge Makhmud Makhmudov ruled that the woman should carry out menial jobs at the complete service of the state, while a good part of her salary be handed over as payment of a fine. In addition, for the next few months she can only travel within the state.

In a second incident of violation of religious freedom, a group of people in the capital were sentenced to heavy fines for "gathering" to pray and read Christian material (a Bible) in a private home.

Local sources said that the secret police artfully assembled fake evidence to nail Sharofat Allamova, who was then convicted in a sham trial. The possession of religious materials is strictly controlled by the State, with a heavy censorship of the Committee for Religious Affairs, which often targets the Christian minority.

The double raid on the private home took place in January and the court only ruled on the case recently, in accordance with Article 244-3 of the Criminal Code. Already in May 2012 she had suffered similar punishment, again for possession of religious materials. In addition to the confiscation of the Bible and other texts, the biggest fear is that the woman can be shipped to the cotton fields for the autumn harvest. As repeatedly denounced by organizations and activists, the state uses the work of minors and convicts for the grueling task.

88% of the Uzbek population is of the Sunni Muslim faith while Christians make up 8%. In the country, confessional freedom is subject limited by the government. The annual report of the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom, published on April 30, under the heading "Countries subject of particular attention" included a list of 15 governments including that of Tashkent.

Afghanistan: Explosives transported by Taliban militants accidentally detonated while they stopped at a mosque, killing 12[edit]

Local official Qasim Desewal on Saturday said that four civilians and eight militants died in the blast during evening prayers the night before in Ghazni province's district of Andar.

He said that the Taliban had apparently stopped at the mosque while traveling and the explosives they were carrying went off while they were inside.

The Ghazni explosion was on the same day as Taliban fighters supported by a suicide car bomb attacked a compound for international aid workers in the capital.

Kabul police today raised the siege death toll from two to four, including a 6-year-old child, two compound guards and one policeman.

Netherlands: ‘Orthodox Muslim territory’ 2 kms from city center is ignored by authorities, run by unofficial Shari'ah police[edit]

There have been calls for an urgent debate in the Dutch parliament about the integration of Muslim immigrants amid claims that one area of The Hague, known locally as “the Sharia triangle”, is being run by a form of unofficial Sharia police.

The claims relate to the district of Schilderswijk, about two kilometres from the city centre, where an almost entirely Muslim population of some 5,000 people surrounds the El Islam mosque, fuelling criticism that the government has failed to ensure a proper ethnic mix in schools and local housing. One recent investigation, in which local people were extensively interviewed, concluded that Schilderswijk had become “orthodox Muslim territory” which was now largely ignored by the city authorities, by politicians and even by the police, on the grounds that it had become self-regulating.

The investigation found that orthodox Muslims had become so dominant that they were dictating what people in the neighbourhood wore and how they behaved.

“The norms of the majority are beginning to take over,” it said.

In the case of women, dress was a particular issue. One woman told how her daughter had been approached and told her short skirt was inappropriate, while her son had been called a “kaffir” – a racist term formerly used in colonial South Africa to refer to a black person – for smoking.

A youth who had previously been involved in local gangs said that criminality had dropped off, not because of the police, but because he and his friends were “afraid of the wrath of Allah”.

Another man said he felt he was gradually being driven out of his home because he had a dog, and many traditional Muslims tended not to keep or favour dogs...

A Special Report by ICC: Lashings, imprisonment for converting coworker in Saudi Arabia[edit]

The sentencing of a Lebanese Christian to lashings and imprisonment for converting a Saudi coworker puts the spotlight on the laws of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its firm resistance to reason or political persuasion.

On May 12, a Lebanese man was sentenced to 300 lashings with a whip and six years in prison, for his part in encouraging a Saudi Muslim to convert to Christianity and his subsequent role in helping her flee to Sweden to secure religious asylum. A Saudi man, who was also involved in the conversion and escape, was sentenced to 200 lashings and two years in prison.

The woman was an employee of an insurance company in the eastern district of Khobar, and the two men were her colleagues. In July 2012, the two men were arrested on charges of forcible conversion following charges laid against them by the girl’s father, who says that the Lebanese man had “shaken her convictions” and inspired misconceptions about Islam.

According to the local Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution (BIP), the story dates back to when the young woman struck up a friendship with her Saudi colleague and then the Lebanese man. The three would meet up from time to time, the girl fell in love with the young Lebanese who gave her books and invited her to follow a religious chat room. Subsequently, she converted to Christ and fled to Lebanon.

Her father claimed that she even left the country illegally. Under Saudi law, in fact, a woman cannot have a passport without the permission of her “guardian” i.e. father, husband or brother. They claimed that the two men helped her leave the country via Bahrain, using false documents.

Her identity has not been disclosed, although she is now known as “the girl of Khobar.” After fleeing Saudi Arabia, she was granted refuge in Sweden where she lives under the protection of unspecified NGOs, according to local press reports in Saudi Arabia.

‘Peace in Christianity’ In July 2012, speaking from Lebanon, she defended her new faith and claimed that the Church was her only home. She criticized Saudi Arabia’s Sunni monarchy for instilling in her a hatred of Judaism and Christianity, according to the English-language Saudi Gazette. The Jeddah-based paper wrote that she “fell in love with the religions after she found peace in Christianity.” She publicly declared her faith in Christ through a YouTube video, after dreaming about climbing to the sky and hearing God say that Jesus is his Son, according to the Gazette.

Almost a year after their arrest, the two men were sentenced to lashings and imprisonment for assisting in her conversion and escape to Sweden. Hmood al-Khalidi, the lawyer for the girl’s family, expressed satisfaction with the severe punishments, which is only the natural legal outcome in a country where proselytizing for other religions or even practicing them publicly is outlawed.

Kingdom’s Poor Record However, the sentencing of the Lebanese man has not been taken lightly by the Lebanese government. Lebanon’s foreign affairs minister, Adnan Mansour, told the publication NOW, that the case was “personal and not political” and was waiting for more information from the Lebanese Embassy in Saudi Arabia. The incident has drawn attention to the country’s record of religious persecution.

Saudi Arabia’s commitment to “safeguarding Islam” from the “evangelistic thrust of Christianity” comes at the cost of hurting its own efforts to rebrand itself as religiously open-minded. Last year King Abdullah, who has promoted limited reforms since coming to the throne in 2005, opened a center for religious dialogue in Vienna that drew criticism because of Saudi Arabia’s own lack of religious freedom. In 2008, he also sponsored an inter-faith conference in Spain.

But these efforts seem vain when considering the gross violations of human rights that are rampant in the Kingdom itself, which appears immune to the reasoning that their restrictive religious laws breed religious intolerance and violate the universal right to religious freedom, something that is not even guaranteed in the constitution.

For this reason, among others, Saudi Arabia was ranked second in the 2013 Open Doors’ Watch List of the most religiously oppressive countries in the world. Public Christian worship is forbidden and worshipers risk imprisonment, lashing, deportation and torture. Evangelizing Muslims and distributing non-Islamic materials is illegal. Muslims who convert to Christianity risk honor killings and foreign Christian workers have been exposed to abuse from employers.

Saudi Arabia is even immune to political persuasion. The U.S. government has thus far exempted Saudi Arabia from punitive measures because of the oil trade. As Dwight Bashir, deputy director for policy at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, told Fox News, “Since 2004, the United States has designated Saudi Arabia a severe violator of religious freedom, yet the U.S. government has waived any punitive action that such a designation mandates. Until the U.S. government lifts this waiver and prioritizes religious freedom in its relationship, you can expect limitations and abuses to continue.”

Without any political leverage and the constant dependency on the region for its oil resources, the international community seems unwilling and unable to confront the monarchy about its poor record of religious freedom, even as Christians in Saudi Arabia continue to be trapped in a specter of control through fear and intimidation.

US: The Council on American-Islamic Relations aiming for 'hijab-friendly' policy in all local and federal U.S. prisons[edit]

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is aiming for a uniform “hijab-friendly” policy to allow Muslim women to keep their head cover during detention and photos in all local and federal U.S. prisons.

“I’m working on several pending cases in different states... and I’m in touch with an attorney for the Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights,” Nadhira al-Khalili, legal counsel for CAIR, told Al Arabiya.

Novi recently became the first locality in Michigan to officially permit Muslim women to don their head cover during detention and photos at the local prison.

“There are other accommodations in other localities in Michigan for Muslim females to keep their hijab during detainment.

However, Novi is the first locality in Michigan that has made it an official policy,” Dawud Walid, executive director of CAIR’s Michigan chapter, told Al Arabiya.

“If hijab is allowed in the military, and U.S. driving licenses permit women IDs with hijab, then the same logic can be applied,” Walid said. “Hijab doesn’t impede the identity of women.”...
‘Hijab-friendly’ policy urged in U.S. prisons
Dina al-Shibeeb, Al Arabiya, May 24, 2013

UK: Two men try to breach cockpit during flight from Pakistan, threaten to 'blow up the plane'[edit]

Two men repeatedly tried get into the cockpit of a passenger plane forcing it to be escorted by an RAF Typhoon jet as it travelled from Pakistan to the UK.

Police have arrested two British nationals on suspicion of endangerment of an aircraft today after the plane was diverted to Stansted Airport. Officers are treating the incident as a criminal offence.

Officers boarded Pakistan International Airlines flight PK709, which is believed to have been carrying 297 passengers bound for Manchester, after it landed at Stansted and removed the arrested men, aged 30 and 41, from the plane.

It is believed one of the passengers threatened to blow up the plane after other passengers tried to intervene in a row he was embroiled in.
. . .
According to one of the passengers, the aircraft's cabin crew said two men had repeatedly tried to get into the cockpit.

Umari Nauman told Sky News: 'The cabin crew informed us that basically they tried to come into the cockpit a few times and because they had been asked not to do that they got into a bit of an argument with the crew and made a few threats.'

She said all the passengers had been ordered to leave their possessions on board before leaving the plane.

Ms Nauman also said helicopters escorted the aircraft before landing.

It is thought that the incident might have been sparked by a scuffle or a disagreement among passengers.

A police spokesman said: 'Essex Police have boarded a passenger plane diverted to Stansted Airport and two men have been arrested on suspicion of endangerment of an aircraft. They have been removed from the plane.'

The RAF jet was scrambled following an incident around 10 minutes before the plane, which departed from Lahore, was due to land in Manchester at 2pm.
. . .
The arrests come at a sensitive time in Pakistani politics following a string of terror attacks in the country after the presidential elections.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility yesterday for a bomb that killed 11 security personnel and two civilians in the southwestern city of Quetta.

It was the second major attack since the May 11 general election which marked the first transition between civilian governments in Pakistan's turbulent history after a campaign marred by violence.

Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif has called for talks with the Pakistani Taliban in a bid to end rising militancy.

Afghanistan: University students protest against 'un-Islamic' women's rights, including banning child and forced marriages[edit]

During yesterday's protest in Kabul, protesters called for the repeal of a decree that defines domestic violence as a crime, bans child and forced marriages and says that rape victims cannot be prosecuted for adultery. It also outlaws "ba'ad", the traditional practice of exchanging women or girls to settle disputes or pay debts.

More than 200 male students protested in Kabul yesterday against women's rights, calling for the repeal of a presidential decree on the 'Elimination of Violence Against Women', which they say is un-Islamic.

The decree bans child and forced marriage, makes domestic violence a crime and says that rape victims cannot be prosecuted for adultery. It also outlaws "ba'ad," a traditional practice of exchanging women or girls to settle disputes or debts.

The protest came days after conservative lawmakers blocked an attempt to turn the decree into law.

Mawladad Jalali, the mullah of the university mosque, was one of the protest's organisers. Yesterday, he called for parliament to repeal the decree. Demonstrators slammed the decree "imposed by foreigners" for violating Sharia.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued the decree on women's rights three years ago as part of a series of commitments to international donors, but a lawmaker wanted to pass it in parliament to prevent any future president from reversing it.
. . .
The parliamentary speaker ended the debate Saturday after fierce opposition from conservative lawmakers who said several provisions-including the ban on child marriage and jail time for domestic abuse-violated Islamic law.

The decree remains in force, but the debate appears to have roused opposition to it.

In another worrisome sign for activists, the international group Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that the number of women and girls jailed for alleged loose morals is the highest since the ouster of the Taliban, even though most of those detained are victims of abuse and have committed no crime under Afghan civil law.

Iran: Supreme leader Ali Khamenei: The European races are Barbaric races[edit]

Ali Khamenei: The European races are barbaric. They wear freshly pressed suits and ties, and they smell of eau de cologne, but deep down, they still have the same barbaric nature known from history. They kill with ease. They murder people without any problem. Therefore, beating women in their homes is of no consequence to the [Europeans] and Americans, whereas in an Islamic environment, it is unimaginable.

Malaysia: 40 year-old man rapes 12 year-old girl and marries her, sees nothing wrong with his actions under Shari'ah law[edit]

"There are many cases of men marrying underage girls," restaurant owner Ruduan Masmud told reporters.

"I do not see how my case can be any different," adding it was "suka sama suka" or mutual consent acceptable under sharia law.

In a case that has outraged rights activists Mr Masmud, a father of four from his first wife, allegedly raped the girl inside a car parked by a road in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the Borneo state of Sabah, on February 16.

But on April 18 the girl withdrew her accusation against the man in a police report and said they are in the process of him taking her as his second wife.

In subsequent court hearing prosecutors did not object to the case being withdrawn but said the man needed to settle the matter under sharia law.

The girl's father said Mr Masmud paid the family 5000 Malayasian ringgits ($1,708) in compensation and said he accepted the marriage.

"It is best for her that they get married. What else can I do?" he said.

Mr Masmud said he plans for the girl to finish her studies and then "take up a cosmetics course with his first wife."

After reports of the marriage emerged Sabah's minister for community and consumer affairs Datuk Jainab Ahmad said her ministry was questioning the validity of the marriage.

"As a mother, I am still puzzled: how could the father of the girl allow his daughter to be married to the man who had raped her?" she said.

"The girl was only 12 years and six months. I believe the victim is in a trauma. She should be protected instead of marrying the man who raped her."

The Child Rights Coalition Malaysia (CRCM), a group comprising seven child-related non-government-organisations, slammed the Sabah court for ruling in favour of the child marriage.

"It is unfortunate that marriage is seen as a solution for addressing the growing societal issue of rape," the coalition said in a statement...
Child rape case sparks outrage in Malaysia
Lindsay Murdoch, The Sydney Morning Herald, May 23, 2013

Kuwait: Country recognizes Saudi regulations: Saudi women banned from driving, unless permitted to do so by their guardians[edit]

“In case a Saudi woman comes to Kuwait to obtain a driving licence, we will not give her unless she gets approval from her guardian,” Brigadier Saleh Al Najim said.

“This rule applies on all Saudi women, whether they are minors, adults or married,” he told the Saudi Arabic language daily Alhayat.

He said Kuwait recognizes Saudi regulations which still ban women from driving cars, adding that some men do not allow their wives or daughters to drive.

“We do not want to cause trouble inside families by giving women driving licence without the knowledge of their guardians,” he said.
Saudi women need nod to drive in Kuwait
Emirates 24/7, May 23, 2013

Pakistan: Two arrested for plot to blow up a priest’s house, accomplice of theirs killed when explosives he was carrying went off[edit]

City Police Officer (CPO) Riffat Mukhtar Raja held a press conference in this regard shortly after the arrests were made.

He said the three Christian men, identified as Zeeshan Masih, Shiraz Masih and Sohail Masih, were extortionists. He said they had been threatening to blow up the priest’s house unless they were paid protection money. He said they were carrying explosives on two motorcycles when come went off, injuring Zeeshan Masih. He said the two men took him to a hospital, from where they later fled. Zeeshan Masih was pronounced dead a few hours later.

The CPO said that the hospital administration informed the police. A team was formed to look for the two men, who were arrested on Wednesday. Shiraz Masih was arrested from Dawood Nagar, and Sohail Masih from Warispura.

The CPO said that the two men had confessed to plotting against the priest and demanding money. He quoted them as saying that they had demanded Rs1 million from Qaisar Masih, a resident of Street 7 in Bilal Town.

They said they had called him (the priest) introducing themselves as workers of the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and had threatened to kill him in case of non-payment. They said they had also written a letter to him, but he had ignored the threats.

“We planned to plant the explosives next to his house. We were on our way to his house on two motorcycles, when the explosives on Zeeshan Masih’s motorcycle went off,” they had told the police. They said on seeing their accomplice in a critical condition, they had fled the hospital fearing that some one would inform the police...

UK: Allahu Akbar-screaming Muslims hack soldier to death on street in broad daylight, ask passers-by to film them[edit]

A man reported to be a serving soldier died and the two attackers were then shot by the police following the terrorist attack in Woolwich.

Senior Whitehall sources said the two attackers, who are in hospital, asked passers-by to film them, and they shouted "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is great).

In footage that has emerged, one of the attackers wields a bloodied meat cleaver and says: "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you."

The black man, dressed in a grey hooded jacket and black woolly hat, apologises to members of the public who witnessed the horrific scenes before making a number of political statements.

In the footage, he is heard to say: "We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

"I apologise that women have had to witness this today, but in our land our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe.

"Remove your government, they don't care about you."

Witnesses also described seeing the "crazed" Woolwich attackers "hacking" at their victim and posing for pictures before charging at police wielding meat cleavers.

One onlooker, identified as James, said he saw two black men chopping at a man in his 20s like he was "a piece of meat".
. . .
"They then stood around, waving knives and a gun, asking people nearby to take pictures of them "as if they wanted to be on TV or something".

He said they were running up and down the road, urging people to take pictures.

"In my opinion, they were waiting for the police to arrive to be shot by the police. That's the only thing I can think," he said.

When armed police arrived 20 minutes later, "the man with the beanie hat, the tall guy, he charged at the police vehicle," James said.

Another witness, Julia Wilders, 51, who lives near the scene, said she saw one of the attackers run towards police clutching two meat cleavers.

"He ran towards police before they could even get out of the car, and it looked like the other one was going to lift the gun up," she said.

"We were driving back and my husband said to me 'don't look, they're resuscitating someone'. But apparently they were stabbing him."
Updates:[edit]

London terrorist was a “nice, normal guy” from a devout Christian family until he converted to Islam

One of those who attacked Drummer Lee Rigby is a British citizen of Nigerian descent who became obsessed with Islamic extremism as a schoolboy, it was revealed today.

Former classmates of Michael Adebolajo told the Standard how he started becoming interested in Islam aged 15 or 16 having been raised as a Christian.

They said his Nigerian parents became so worried about his behaviour that they moved him from their home in Romford to London in a bid to protect him from being radicalised.

Today anti-terror police raided addresses in London, Lincolnshire and in Romford and took away members of his family for questioning.

Both killers of the British soldier who was hacked to death in the street in Woolwich yesterday were revealed today as known to MI5 but are thought to have acted alone.

But detectives are investigating claims that Adebolajo may have been radicalised after attending meetings of the now banned group Al Muhajiroun.

Adebolajo, believed to be 28, was filmed after the atrocity wielding a bloodied meat cleaver, saying: "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you."

In the chilling footage, with hands covered in blood, he explains his terrifying actions, saying : "We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,"

The killer is said to have formally converted to Islam in 2003 when he started using the name Mujahid.

He attended Marshalls Park school in Romford and was described as a "nice, normal guy" by friends, who expressed "utter shock" at seeing him on television covered in blood brandishing a meat cleaver and machete, declaring "you and your kids will be next".

A friend, who asked not to be identified, said: "He was a Christian. A nice, normal guy. All his friends were white and used to go round to each other's houses all the time.

"He started getting involved with Islam aged about 15 or 16, and that is why his parents moved him away out of the area. It is utterly shocking to see what he has done. It's unbelievable."

Adebolajo began attending meetings of the banned Islamist organisation Al Muhajiroun and its successor organisations but stopped going two years ago.

Anjem Choudary, the former leader of the group, said: "I knew him as Mujahid. He attended our meetings and my lectures. I wouldn't describe him as a member [of Al Muhajiroun]. There were lots of people who came to our activities who weren't necessarily members...
Woolwich attacker Michael Adebolajo and his accomplice were both known to MI5
Benedict Moore-Bridger & Justin Davenport, London Evening Standard, May 23, 2013
Adebolajo was identified online by Muslim clerics and reports as a 28-year-old raised in a devout Christian family. He reportedly converted to Islam after college. He and a second suspect in Wednesday's barbaric slaying of a British solder in broad daylight remained hospitalized Thursday.


One of the terror suspects accused of butchering a British soldier on a London street has been identified as Michael Adebolajo, who was raised in a devout Christian family and converted to Islam after college, reports said.

A Muslim cleric named the 28-year-old, although authorities had yet to confirm his identity early Thursday.

“He converted around 2003 to Islam, before I met him and I knew him as his convert name Mujaheed when he used to attend our demonstrations and lectures,” claimed London cleric Anjem Choudary, according to Metro UK.

Choudary, himself a controversial imam in Britain and outspoken critic of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, called Adebolajo a “quiet” and “pleasant lad.”

The self-proclaimed jihadi may have been a student at London's University of Greenwich and lived in the area around 2004 and 2005. A spokeswoman for the school wouldn't confirm Thursday whether he attended classes.

Adebolajo is allegedly seen in a cellphone video clutching a bloodied knife and ranting just moments after the soldier was viciously slaughtered and beheaded Wednesday afternoon “like a piece of meat,” witnesses said.

The other suspect, seen wearing a tan coat and shouting, “We want to start a war in London tonight!” has not been identified.

They were both shot after charging at police at the scene in London’s Woolwich neighborhood. They remain in separate hospitals held by armed guards.

Government sources suggest both Adebolajo and his accomplice were known to the security services MI5 and police, Sky News reported.
. . .
London authorities have beefed up security and deployed 1,200 extra officers on the streets as well as at houses of worship.

Although both of the suspects are believed to have converted to a radical form of Islam, they weren’t immediately linked to terror groups in Nigeria, such as the jihadist organization Boko Haram.

The soldier who was killed is believed to be about 20 and was not identified early Thursday.

Terrorist transcript: "We swear by the almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you... we are forced by the Qur'an"

Video from The Sun. Transcript thanks to Damien.

Why were the references to the Qur'an cut out by mainstream media sources?

"The only reason we have killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers. And this British soldier is one. It is an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. By Allah, we swear by the almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. So what if we want to live by the Shari'a in Muslim lands? Why does that mean you must follow us and chase us and call us extremists and kill us? Rather you lot are extreme. You are the ones that when you drop a bomb you think it hits one person? Or rather your bomb wipes out a whole family? This is the reality. By Allah if I saw your mother today with a buggy I would help her up the stairs. This is my nature. But we are forced by the Qur'an, in Sura At-Tawba, through many ayah in the Qu'ran, we must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. I apologise that women had to witness this today but in our lands women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your governments, they don’t care about you. You think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start busting our guns? You think politicians are going to die? No, it’s going to be the average guy, like you and your children. So get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so can all live in peace. So leave our lands and we can all live in peace. That’s all I have to say. [in Arabic:] Allah’s peace and blessings be upon you."

"It is not a “betrayal” of Islam as he’d put it but rather a “portrayal” of Islam," Al-Shabaab's response to David Cameron's comments

Al-Shabaab is taking issue with British Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement that the horrific cleaver attack on a Brit by men wanting their actions to be filmed wasn’t a representation of Islam.
. . .
Cameron called the “shocking” attack “not just an attack on Britain” but “also a betrayal of Islam – and of the Muslim communities who are give so much to our country.”

“There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act,” he said.

Al-Qaeada-linked Somali terror group Al-Shabaab disagreed with that in a series of tweets from its official media arm this morning...
Cameron: Attack Not Representative of Islam; Al-Shabaab: Yes It Is
Bridget Johnson, The PJ Tatler, May 23, 2013

War memorial vandalized, mosque firebombed and clashes on the street, tensions rise after Muslims slaughter soldier

Thugs sprayed the word ‘Islam’ across two war memorials in a provocative vandalism attack yesterday.

Memorials to members of RAF Bomber Command and animals killed at war were targeted in London, as police forces across the country dealt with a spate of ugly attacks fuelled by hatred after soldier Lee Rigby’s murder.

One charity claimed that more than 200 attacks on Muslims had been reported to police since the brutal killing, while Help for Heroes said it would not accept any money raised for it by the English Defence League, saying it did not want to be used for ‘political purposes’.

In London, supporters of the far-Right clashed with police and anti-fascists, shutting down streets around Parliament. As tensions mounted across the country:
. . .
Kevin Carroll, joint leader of the EDL, said Drummer Rigby’s death must be a ‘turning point’ for the country.

He said: ‘We want to tell David Cameron – while he’s on a deckchair sunning himself in Spain – just how angry we are that one of our British servicemen was decapitated in this city.’...

Prison guard kidnapped, beaten and held for five hours by terrorist outraged after prison imam called for inmates to pray for Rigby

A TERRIFIED prison officer was kidnapped and held hostage by the evil terrorist who inspired the horrific killing of Drummer Lee Rigby.

Al-Qaeda fanatic Parviz Khan was jailed for life for a plot to behead a soldier.

He held the warder captive for almost five hours inside one of Britain’s toughest prisons.

Khan took the officer hostage with two fellow extremists and told him he would be killed. But the warder was freed after an armed riot team was called in to Full Sutton jail and overpowered the men. The officer was left badly injured.

Authorities have linked the attack with Drummer Rigby’s killing in Woolwich last week.

Just 48 hours before the attack, Khan reacted furiously when the prison imam called for inmates to pray for Rigby.

Seething with rage Khan, 41, stood up and insisted the Woolwich murder was justified.

He and two prisoners – an African born fanatic and a white English convert – then plotted to ambush the prison officer.

They seized their chance on Sunday when they bundled him into a cleaning room in the category A part of the jail near York.

They barricaded the door and battered the officer with mop handles.

A source at the jail said: “It was inspired by the terrible death of Lee Rigby.

“Khan wanted to start a riot and after taking a hostage he was shouting for ‘true Muslims’ to join a holy war. He was the ringleader behind the beating of the prison officer.

“By the time the attack had finished the officer was covered in bruises and blood. He feels very lucky to be alive. He was told they would kill him.”

Fearing for the warder’s life, officers in riot gear stormed the cleaning room. They rescued their colleague and bundled Khan and his fellow rioters into segregation cells...

Woolwich terror suspect, Michael Adebolajo, enters court with Quran and blows kisses to supporters

WOOLWICH murder accused Michael Adebolajo held a Koran and blew kisses to supporters as he appeared in court this morning.

Adebolajo told Westminster Magistrates Court he wished to be known as "Mujahid Abu Hamza".

Adebolajo, 28, of Romford, Essex is accused of the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby.

He also faces charges of attempting to murder two police officers and possession of a firearm.

Adebolajo, whose left arm was bandaged, sat between plain clothes police officers and a prison guard during the brief hearing.

He was remanded in custody....

Truth about 'wave of attacks' on Muslims after Woolwich killing: Most incidents 'offensive' messages on Facebook and Twitter

Claims that large numbers of Muslims were attacked in the aftermath of the Woolwich murder were questioned yesterday.

A Government-funded project warned it had received more than 200 reports of Islamophobia following Drummer Lee Rigby’s murder, including attacks on mosques and Muslim women.

Project director Fiyaz Mughal said the figure represented a ‘substantial spike’ in hate crimes and warned of ‘a sustained wave of attacks and intimidation’ against Muslim communities across Britain.

But more than half of the incidents reported to the Tell Mama (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) hotline related to offensive messages on Twitter, Facebook or online blogs, and only a tiny minority were physical attacks, it has emerged.

The claims raised questions about the way Tell Mama presented its figures in the days after Drummer Rigby’s murder, amid repeated calls for calm to avoid reprisal attacks.

Mr Mughal said Tell Mama had received 162 reports of anti-Muslim prejudice in a 48-hour period.

Between four and eight incidents are normally reported daily to the charity, which receives £214,000 a year in funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government to provide data and reports on attacks against Muslims to combat hate crime.

A total of 212 incidents were reported between the Woolwich murder on May 22 and the end of last week.

The attacks received widespread coverage alongside warnings from Mr Mughal of a ‘cycle of violence’ against Muslims which had led to ‘a sense of endemic fear’.

But while they included a petrol bomb attack on a mosque in Grimsby and in another incident in Essex where a man entered a mosque armed with a knife, only 17 cases involved individuals being physically targeted, a Sunday newspaper reported.

Six people had things thrown at them and most of the other 11 incidents related to attempts to rip off women’s headscarves or other items of Islamic dress.

More than half – 120 – related to offensive or abusive messages on social networking sites including Facebook and Twitter.

Contacted by the Daily Mail, Mr Mughal refused to discuss the figures, which he said would be independently checked by Birmingham University for a report next month...

Facebook does not consider the 'Lee Rigby deserved it' page 'hate speech'

Twitter is abuzz today over an offensive Facebook page titled, "Lee Rigby deserved it." Lee Rigby, who had served in the British Army for seven years, was brutally killed on May 22 in south-east London by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, who ran the soldier down on the street and butchered him with a meat cleaver, attempted to decapitate him, while screaming "Allahu Akbar." Adebolajo famously justified his attack on a video taken by a bystander.

Rigby left behind a wife and young son. Many on the extreme left, such as the group, Unite Against Fascism (UAF), have sickeningly justified the attack, or at least diminished it. Last month, UAF members threw flowers which had been placed at a memorial for the slain soldier.

The Facebook page certainly falls into this category. The author declares,

He [Rigby] killed many people as a soldier directly or indirectly by supporting the Royal British Army, he deserved it. Great Britain is racist.

In a post today, the author of the page says in part,

"Go away with your backward ideology, the troops of Great Britain are nothing but scum, they are the TOOL of your racist fascist government, which are used to massacre innocent babies, women, and men, every day, for the past 10 years..."

The rant continues,
. . .

Soldier attacked by a gang who chanted “Lee Rigby” as they kicked him on the floor

The 18-year-old, known as Alexander, has been a member of the Coldstream Guards for six months.

But on route to his home in St Thomas, Exeter, he said he was targeted by the hateful mob as he is a serving member of the armed forces.

After a period of about two minutes he managed to escape after fighting off but fear his injuries could have been a lot worse.

The incident happened at just before 2pm on Wednesday afternoon.

He said: “I was walking home from the train station at Exeter Central and got to the ruins at Exe bridges. As I went into the underpass a group of lads walked past me.

“They stopped and asked if I was in the forces. I replied yes and before I could say why, fists were coming towards my face.

“I was knocked to the floor and then carried on kicking me for what felt like a couple of minutes.

“I crawled up in a ball but couldn’t get up. One was trying to get a screwdriver out of his pocket. I managed to get it off him and fight him off.

“They were all covered up so I couldn’t see any of their faces. They kept shouting Lee Rigby – like they wanted to re-create what happened.”

After managing to escape and run off Alex was left with a split lip, sore ribs and a swollen jaw. H was treated at the NHS Walk in Centre

He said: “I have only been in the army six months but this is the first time anything like this has happened. I was very shaken up by it but am starting to get to grips with what happened.”...

Iraq: Unknown gunmen shot dead at least seven women and five men at a brothel in Baghdad[edit]

The attack took place in the capital's eastern area of Zayouna, where a number of brothels are located.

An interior ministry official said the gunmen burst into the establishment early in the afternoon and opened fire.

Both prostitution and alcohol are prohibited by Islam, the religion of the vast majority of Iraq's population.

Zayouna is an upmarket, mixed district of Sunni and Shiite Muslims where a number of brothels opened in the relatively quiet recent years.
. . .
With the latest attack, 399 people have been killed so far this month, according to AFP figures based on reports from security and medical officials...

Turkey: Senior from ruling Justice and Development Party called for the “annihilation of atheists" on his Twitter account[edit]

Mahmut Macit, a senior member of AKP’s Ankara provincial board and keen user of social media, flared up on May 21 about insults against believers via Twitter. “My blood boils when spineless psychopaths pretending to be atheists swear at my religion. These people, who have been raped, should be annihilated,” Macit wrote in one tweet. He also argued that “insulting Islam could not be considered freedom of expression.”

His remarks came as renowned Turkish-Armenian linguist and former columnist Sevan Nişanyan was condemned to 13 months in prison for alleged blasphemy in a blog comment.

They also added more fuel to Turkey’s culture wars, reignited by a bill currently debated in the Turkish Parliament that foresees new restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol.
. . .
This is not the first time that members of the AKP have stirred debate with comments about atheists. AKP Zonguldak deputy Özcan Ulupınar had said last year that “no benefits could come to society from an atheist youth.”

Recently a Turkish sociologist had likened atheism with autism, saying that autistic children can't go to heaven as they were “atheists due to a lack of a section for faith in their brains.”

Turkey: Armenian writer sentenced to 13 months in jail for 'blasphemy'[edit]

An Istanbul court today sentenced Turkish Armenian writer Sevan Nisanyan to 13 months in prison for blasphemy for using a phrase considered offensive to the Prophet Mohammed, Turkish media said. Last month the Turkish pianist FazÕl Say was also handed a suspended 10-month prison sentence for "offending religious values" in a case that generated national and international attention.

Malaysia: 12 worshipers narrowly escape disaster as mosque's roof collapses after Isyak prayers[edit]

HULU TERENGGANU: It was minutes after finishing their Isyak prayers last night at the mosque in Kampung Binjai Kertas here in Kuala Berang that the people outside were startled by the booming sound of the roof collapsing.

Some 12 people who were in the mosque had just exited, and fortunately no one was hurt in the 8.50pm incident, according to district police chief Deputy Superintendent Mohd Ismail Muslim.

"The 10x11 msq area affected was the mosque's foyer and does not involved the praying space,

"It was suspected the steel structure gave way, as it failed to stand the weight of the roof tiles," Ismail said today.

"Police line was installed around the vicinity of the mosque, and a report on the incident was lodged this morning,

"The Public Works Department (PWD) engineer who came to the scene last night had issued a directive that the mosque is unusable for any activity," he added, saying that apart from the PWD, personnel from the Fire and Rescue Department, Tenaga Nasional Berhad and Kuala Berang state assemblyman Datuk Tengku Putera Tengku Awang had also visited the crash site later last night.

Afghanistan: Number of women and girls imprisoned for 'moral crimes' has risen by 50% in the past 18 months[edit]

Human Rights Watch says many are jailed for running away from home, often from forced marriages or domestic violence.

Others are behind bars as a result of alleged adultery, in truth often involving rape, it said.

The government should "get tough on abusers of women and stop blaming women who are crime victims", said HRW.

It said 600 women and girls were now imprisoned for "moral crimes" - the highest since the US-led overthrow of the Taliban 12 years ago.

About 110 of those were girls under 18.

Virginity tests

Human Rights Watch's alert comes just three days after angry scenes in the Afghan parliament forced a halt to a debate about reinforcing a law to prevent violence against women.

The law banning violence against women, child marriages and forced marriages was passed by presidential decree in 2009, but did not gain MPs' approval.

Some women's activists had worried that by opening up the law for debate might risk it being watered down or even repealed.

Human Rights Watch says many of the protections within the Elimination of Violence Against Women law - which bans forced and underage marriage, beatings and rape - are still not being implemented on the ground.

"Four years after the adoption of a law on violence against women and 12 years after Taliban rule, women are still imprisoned for being victims of forced marriage, domestic violence, and rape," Brad Adams, HRW Asia director, was quoted as saying.
. . .
'Tragedy'

HRW's Afghanistan researcher, Heather Barr, said the dramatic increase in prosecutions for "moral crimes" could be related to increased confidence among religious conservatives as international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan in 2014.

"I think it's possible that as everyone anticipates the departure of foreigners, there is a feeling that in a sense things can go back to normal, and... people will be free to ignore [women's rights] in the future, Ms Barr told AP news agency.

"If that's true, that's really is a tragedy, because these ideas didn't come from foreigners. These ideas came from Afghan women's rights activists, she said.

HRW called on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to issue a decree that running away should not be treated as a crime and instruct police to investigate possible incidents of violence against women.

It urged international donors to pressure the government to improve women's protections.

The Afghan interior ministry says it is preparing a response to Human Rights Watch's report.

Saudi Arabia: Five Yemenis accused of robberies beheaded, bodies publicly displayed[edit]

Saudi Arabia today executed five Yemenis and publicly displayed their bodies, local media reported. The five men, among them three brothers, were accused of a number of robberies in several different areas of the country and of killing a Saudi.

Their deaths take the number of executions in Saudi Arabia to at least 45 since the beginning of the year with six this week.

On Monday a Syrian was beheaded after being found guilty of drug trafficking.

Saudi Arabia has the third highest execution rate after China and Iran and it is carried out for crimes including murder, rape, armed robbery, drug trafficking and apostasy...

Pakistan: Political candidate instigated calls from mosque loudspeakers for attacks on Christians, whom he blames for his election loss[edit]

A Muslim political candidate suspected of murdering a Christian has instigated calls from mosque loudspeakers for attacks on Christians, whom he blames for his May 11 election loss.

Tensions were high in Punjab Province’s Okara district after provincial assembly seat candidate Mehr Abdul Sattar, sought by police in connection with a 2008 murder, on May 13 arranged for mosque calls for violence against Christian villages.

“Burn their homes to the ground … Punish them such that they forget Gojra and Joseph Colony,” blared village mosques in the district, according to Younas Iqbal, chairman of the Anjuman-e-Mazareen Punjab, a peasant movement fighting for land rights.

Iqbal told Morning Star News by phone that that when unofficial election results were announced on May 12, Sattar’s supporters ambushed a convoy of about 100 Christians on their way to congratulate his opponent on his victory.

“They destroyed two motorcycles and threw them in the canal, besides damaging a tractor,” Iqbal said. “We went to the Okara Saddar Police Station to register a case, but the police officials refused to move against Mehr.”

Recent religious furor has been easily stoked in Pakistan. In Lahore on March 9, about 3,000 Muslims attacked Christians in Joseph Colony, destroying 175 homes, after rumors spread of an alleged remark against Islam by a Christian. In Gojra in 2009, eight Christians were burned alive, 100 houses looted and 50 homes set ablaze after a blasphemy accusation.

Sattar has targeted Christians in several villages, designated by number-letter combinations from British colonial times, particularly village 8/4-L, for voting against him, Iqbal said. Christians largely voted for Mian Yawar Zaman, also a Muslim, for a provincial assembly seat in the general election on May 11.

Iqbal said that early on May 13, Sattar’s men prevented the Christian principal of the Government Primary School, Shamoun Masih, men from entering the institution.

“They told Shamoun that since the Christians had voted against Mehr, he wouldn’t be allowed inside,” he said. “They also roughed him up, but there were no serious injuries. In 3/4-L village, Amjad Masih was harassed.”

Iqbal added that Sattar’s supporters had also forcibly occupied land of some Christians.

“The threat of violence in 8/4-L is most serious because of the tiny Christian population there,” Iqbal said of the village of roughly 600 Christians. “Sensing the gravity of the situation, we immediately informed Zaman, the legislator-elect, who pressed the police to deploy personnel in the village.”

Okara Police Chief Rao Jabbar told Morning Star News that officers would take all necessary measures to protect the Christian peasants...

Tunisia: After months of going into hiding, Femen activist Amina Tyler caught and under arrest[edit]

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

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...

Morocco: Two men jailed by a court in Temara for four months for being homosexuals[edit]

For more on persecution of homosexuals, click here.

Two young Moroccan men were jailed on Monday by a court in Temara for four months for being homosexuals, one of their lawyers told AFP.

The two, aged 20 and 28, were arrested at the beginning of the month at Temara near the capital by police who found them together in a car.

On Monday both men denied the charges.
. . .
Under Article 489 of the Moroccan penal code, sexual acts between people of the same gender are punishable by between six months and three years in prison.

Israel: 200 firebombs and 90 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) thrown at Rachel's Tomb in 6 months[edit]

The Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee discussed the security situation at Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem in Monday. It appears that a roof may be built over the compound, to protect the worshipers inside from incessant Arab attacks.

The IDF told Knesset Members that about 200 firebombs and 90 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have been thrown at the compound since November's Pillar of Defense military operation in Gaza. That means an average of almost two bombs a day.

The military said that the very tall walls that have been constructed around the compound – nine meters high, or almost 30 feet – have not sufficed to provide security.

Committee Chairman Avigdor Lieberman instructed the military to examine plans that were drawn up a long time ago, to add a roof over the compound, in order to provide security for the worshipers inside. The military is to go back to the committee and report on its findings in a month's time...
Rachel's Tomb: 290 Firebombs and IEDs in 6 Months
Israel National News, May 20, 2013

Indonesia: Religious minorities slammed President's interfaith award when attacks against minority faiths increasing[edit]

The Appeal of Conscience Foundation, which campaigns against crimes committed in the name of religion, has named Yudhoyono its “World Statesman” of 2013, and he is due to collect the award at a ceremony later this month in New York.

But attacks against minorities in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country have been rising in recent years, and Yudhoyono has been repeatedly criticized for failing to take action.

Minority Muslim groups, such as Ahmadiyah and Shiites, and Christians, have been targeted by Muslim radicals in the Sunni-majority country, with places of worship attacked and in some cases worshippers even killed.

Ahmadiyah cleric Rahmat Rahmadijaya, who has been locked inside a mosque near the capital Jakarta since April with a group of other sect members after it was sealed by hardliners, said he was “disappointed” at the award.

“He only listens to the voice of the majority and allows the discriminatory acts against us to continue,” he told AFP. “If he accepts the award, he must be shameless.”

Ahmadis, unlike mainstream Muslims, do not believe Muhammad was the last prophet.

Palti Panjaitan, a Christian cleric whose congregation on the outskirts of Jakarta has been locked out of its church by Muslim hardliners, accused the president of “turning a blind eye” and failing to act.

“He blows his own trumpet at international conferences to paint a picture that all is well in Indonesia but in reality, that’s not the case,” he told AFP...

Pakistan: 19-year-old woman’s suicide turns out to be honor killing[edit]

For more on honor related violence, click here.

Last week, the capital police were informed that a 19-year-old woman had committed suicide in the Muslim Colony locality near Bari Imam Shrine.

The police arrived at the spot and found the circumstantial evidence suspicious.

So, they got an autopsy conducted on the body and also gathered information from the neighbours of the deceased. The autopsy report revealed that the death was a homicide.

Narrating the incident to Dawn, the investigators said on May 12 the victim’s paternal uncle informed the police that his niece had committed suicide.

Upon arrival at the house, the police found the body ready for burial. The family had already changed her clothes and given bath to the body.

On inquiry, the family members told the police that she had committed suicide by hanging and nothing was suspicious about the death. The police also found that the clothes, which she had put on at the time of ‘suicide’ and the scarf used in the hanging, had been washed.

It was also revealed that the victim had allegedly committed suicide in her maternal uncle’s house.

The victim’s family said as the girl had committed suicide they completed the rituals but later her uncle suggested that the police should be informed to avoid any complication. The police shifted the body to hospital for autopsy.

Later, the investigators approached the neighbours to gather information and came to know that the victim had run away from her parents’ house four days back - on May 8 - and returned to the house of her maternal uncle on May 11.

The autopsy on the body showed that she was four months pregnant. Besides, injuries were also found at nine spots on the body, including neck, cheeks, chin and hands.

The autopsy report said it was “homicidal strangulation.” In response, the police registered a murder case against unidentified killer(s) but believed that her family was behind the death in the name of honour.

According to the police investigation, the victim had fallen in love with a 16-year-old boy living in the same locality some two years ago and got pregnant a few months back.
. . .
In the light of the autopsy report and circumstantial evidence, the police registered a murder case. The victim’s family hailed from Dir and her father sells edible items on a pushcart. The paternal uncle of the deceased is a driver by profession.

The police said the family did not want to register a case, so it was lodged on behalf of the state after making a policeman as a complainant.

The police said in such cases the families did not cooperate with them and protect the killers.

They also feared that if the killer(s) was a family member, he would be pardoned by the legal heirs.

The police said the samples collected from the body of the victim, including the foetus, were sent for DNA test to establish the parentage. After establishing the parentage, the man would be arrested on the charge of adultery.

Legal experts and senior police officers are of the opinion that honour killing should be considered as a crime against the state to curb the practice.

As the complainant in an honour killing case is the legal heir of the victim, who is also the relative of the killer(s), so the issue is settled out of court.

The killers always remain unpunished in honour killing cases, so the state should be the complainant instead of the legal heirs, they said.

Australia: Rioter in last year's violent Muslim protests berated after refusing to stand before a magistrate due to his 'religious beliefs'[edit]

For more news related to the "Innocence of Muslims" video clip, click here.

Mohammed Issai Issaka, who was charged with riot, assaulting police and resisting arrest over the September incident, this morning said his religious beliefs stopped him for rising for the court - the standard practice whenever a judge or magistrate enters or leaves.

Magistrate Jacqueline Milledge repeatedly demanded Issaka stand for her, telling him she didn’t accept his refusal.

"You can tell me where it is in his religion that it says he cannot stand," she said to Issaka's lawyer, Stephen Hopper.

"I was a magistrate at Bankstown Court for four years and I have never had to deal with such disrespect."

The hearing had to be postponed for nearly half an hour after the prosecution and defence consulted Ms Milledge, with the case eventually continuing after Issaka waited outside the courtroom as everyone stood for the magistrate.

Constable Allan Simon, who helped arrest Issaka during the CBD protests, told the court he first noticed the man take a "boxer stance" in front of a police line, where he was "jerking backwards and forwards" and "hissing" at the officers' dogs.

He said he next saw the accused rioter about 15 minutes later when he was violently lashing out at riot squad police.

"There was like a running jump-kick at the (officers') shields and he was punching the shields," he said.

Constable Simon said three officers brought Issaka to the ground but he continued resisting them and the man kicked him in the knee before he was bundled into a police van.

While in the truck he kept repeating "I have no respect for you guys", the court heard.

Issaka shook his head repeatedly during parts of the constable’s evidence.

Sgt Catherine Sadler said she saw Issaka dragged towards the police van and she heard him yell out: "You’re not a lady, you’re f…ing filth".

"I don’t recall anyone other female officers being there – I took the abuse as being towards me," she said.

Issaka, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, has claimed he only acted in self-defence to being violently restrained during the protests.

He produced a bloodied beanie during his last hearing date in February as proof of the injuries he allegedly suffered in the confrontations with police.

Officers were pelted with bottles and other missiles during the CBD protest.

The demonstration was called in response to an anti-Islamic clip being posted on YouTube overseas.

Saudi Arabia: Man escapes sentence of paralysis for paralyzing another man by offering him $270,000 compensation[edit]

The sentence was dropped after the family of Mohammed al-Hazim, 26, accepted $270,000 in compensation from the family of convicted Ali Khawahir, 24, Al-Watan daily reported.

A court in the eastern city of Al-Ahsa had registered a waiver by the plaintiff's family, and would now proceed with the release of Khawahir, who has already spent 10 years in jail.

Last month Amnesty International said Khawahir had reportedly been sentenced to Qisas, or retribution, and could be paralyzed from the waist down if he failed to pay compensation.

The London-based human rights watchdog said Khawahir had stabbed a friend in the back in 2003, and paralyzed him. Khawahir was 14 years old at the time.
. . .
Amnesty said a Saudi court had passed another sentence of paralysis in 2010, but it was unclear if it had been carried out.

The ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom imposes several forms of corporal punishment attributed to Islamic sharia law, ranging from flogging to amputation and beheading.

UK: Middle-class Muslim convert who publicly condemned 7/7 bombings, may have been its mastermind[edit]

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

Suspicions have grown that Muslim convert Samantha Lewthwaite, now known as the White Widow due to her fugitive status in East Africa, was actually one of the masterminds behind the killings in 2005. Immediately after the explosions which murdered 52 people on the London transport system, she said she "abhorred" the actions of her dead husband Jermaine Lindsay, whose bomb detonated near King's Cross on the Piccadilly Line.

However, the middle-class Muslim convert from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, has since risen to a senior status in the Al Shabaab movement in Kenya and Somalia, a terror group affiliated to Al Qaeda.

Believed to be behind its funding and propaganda, the 29-year-old has assumed cult status among her jihadi followers for her characteristic street-slang rants at non-Muslim "kuffar".

An arrest warrant was issued for her last May after she failed to appear in court in Kenya to face bomb-making charges.

Her alleged co-conspirators are two other Britons, her second husband Habib Saleh Ghani, from Hounslow, west London and Jermaine Grant, from east London, who remains in custody in Kenya after his arrest in December 2011.

At the time of Grant's arrest, he reportedly told police that Lewthwaite was "the boss".

They are all accused of possessing chemicals and "conspiring to improvise an explosive device with the intent to cause harm to innocent civilians".

The chemicals found in a raid on her home in Kenya in December 2010 included acetone and hydrogen peroxide, two of the key components of the terror attacks in London eight years ago.

A security source said: "That raises the prospect that Lewthwaite may have been more closely involved in the 7/7 attacks than previously thought. It might also explain her seniority as a top-rank Al Qaeda leader and the suspected chief financier of Al Shabaab."

Lewthwaite is also a suspect for a grenade attack at a hotel bar in Mombasa, Kenya, in which three people were killed last June while watching an England football match on television during Euro 2012.

She has boasted of rearing children to become Mujahideen terrorists and is now one of the world's most-wanted women.

She is thought to be behind a "press office" Twitter account for the Muslim Youth Centre, which distributes announcements exhorting violent jihad and has even called for the assassination of a fellow jihadi, US-born Omar Hammami, also known as Al Mansoor Al-Amiriki who angered former colleagues by saying violent Islamic struggle was failing in Kenya.

When confronted on Twitter last month by a journalist who suggested that the @MYC_Press account was being operated by Lewthwaite, the response was: "She's back in Luton :). In Bedford we take no prisoners."
Terror link of 7/7 widow and 'bomb factory'
Ted Jeory, Express, May 19, 2013

Afghanistan: Debate by MPs about beefing up a law to prevent violence against women halted amid angry scenes[edit]

Parliament's speaker ended the debate after 15 minutes after traditionalists called for the law to be scrapped.

A law banning violence against women, child marriages and forced marriages was passed by presidential decree in 2009, but did not gain MPs' approval.

Hundreds of people have been jailed under the current law, introduced by President Hamid Karzai.

'Lack of assurance'

The decision to seek parliamentary approval for the law had split women activists.

Some had said opening it up for debate in parliament could pave the way for conservatives to amend it and weaken protection for women - or even throw it out altogether.

One of those against the move was prominent MP Farkhunda Zahra Naderi. She told the BBC after Saturday's events in parliament that her fears had been proved right.
. . .
"There is a lack of assurance that any president of Afghanistan will have any commitment to women's issues and in particular towards this decree," Ms Koofi told the BBC before the debate.

President Karzai has come under fire from women's groups for frequently changing his position on women's rights.

In 2012, he endorsed a "code of conduct" issued by an influential council of clerics which allows husbands to beat wives under certain circumstances.

Ms Koofi and fellow activists have argued that the law is similar to those in many other Islamic countries.

The existing law will now remain in force while further discussions on procedure are held, our correspondent says.

Despite the efforts taken to enhance rights for women and girls in Afghanistan, child marriages remain common and stories of abuse keep coming to light...

Egypt: Escalation of Muslim attacks on churches continues, two attacked this week, one Copt killed and several injured[edit]

The escalation of Muslim attacks on Christian churches in Egypt continues unabated. This week two attacks were carried out, one in Alexandria and one in Menbal in Upper Egypt -- both allegedly prompted by harassment of Muslim women. Yesterday the church of St. Mary, in the Dakhela district, west of Alexandria, was attacked by Molotov cocktails and bricks, causing the gate to burn and the breaking of most of the stained glass windows. One Copt was killed and several injured.

According to the official police explanation, the Copt Basem Ramzy Michael was seen by the Muslim Hamada Alloshy, a registered criminal, allegedly extending his body from his balcony to gaze at the flat of Alloshy's sister, who lives on the ground floor. A quarrel broke out and when the church was attacked, hundreds of Copts hurried to the area to defend the church, among whom was 36-year-old Sedky Sherif, a father of three children. According to his nephew Rabah, who was with him at the time of his death, 1000 Copts were present and were attacked by over 20,000 Muslims, who were firing bird shots at them and throwing bricks. While the church was being attacked the Muslims were shouting "Allahu Akbar." Security forces were sent out to diffuse the situation and disperse the crowd. They made several arrests on both sides.

According to the Security report, the Copt "died of fright," suffering a heart attack after hearing the sound of gun fire. According to his family and those who saw him, his body was full of bruises and marks from bird shots.

The family and relatives of Sedky Sherif waited this morning at Kom el Dekka morgue to receive his body and the results of the autopsy. A death certificate was issued quoting cause of death as "under investigation." Weesa Fawzy from Al-Kalema Human Rights Center said that this was the first time that a death certificate is issued and the cause of death is still under investigation. "Has he been seen by the forensics team or not, so how are they still investigating when the body is already buried?"

Coptic Mina Milad Saber, 19 years, was severely injured in yesterday's attack and underwent brain surgery, but this morning he was found shackled to his bed by the police for fear he might escape, although he is still in a coma.

Most Christians who were injured during the attack either went privately for treatment or quietly left hospital, "as it will end by them being arrested too," said Weesa Fawzy.

On May 13, in the village of Menbal, district of Matay, north of Minya province, a Muslim mob stormed the village church of Prince Tadros el-Mashreki and assaulted a person inside. They hurled stones and broke everything inside the church, including doors and windows. The mob then went along the streets looting and destroying all Coptic-owned businesses and pharmacies and torching cars. The Copts were also threatened to be expelled from the village. According to witnesses, any Copt who was met by the mob in the street was beaten up...

UAE: Couple sentenced to a year in jail each for sex outside marriage in Dubai[edit]

A couple has been sentenced to a year in jail for sex outside of marriage, after the man’s wife reported them to police.

The man’s wife was in the couple’s marital home in Discovery Gardens on November 29 at the time of the incident. She was in the living room while the pair were in the bedroom.

The hotel manager and his partner pleaded not guilty when they appeared before the Dubai Misdemeanour Court. They said they got married in Ukraine on August 1, 2012 and provided the judge with a copy of their marriage contract...

Australia: Rock legend Gene Simmons sparked outrage when he made anti-Islam comments on a Melbourne radio station[edit]

"This is a vile culture and if you think for a second that it's willing to just live in the sands of God's armpit, you've got another thing coming," the Israeli-born musician said on Melbourne’s 3AW radio.

"They want to come and live right where you live and they think that you're evil. Extremism believes that it’s okay to strap bombs onto your children and send them to paradise and whatever else and to behead people,” he continued.

The Kiss bassist, who was in Australia on tour, continued on his anti-Muslim rant for over a minute stating that dogs were treated better than Muslim women, and insinuating that the West was under threat.

"Your dog, however, can walk side by side, your dog is allowed to have its own dog house... You can send your dog to school to learn tricks, sit, beg, do all that stuff - none of the women have that advantage," Simmons stated.

Simmons said that the United Nations approach was not effective, suggesting that the West had to “speak softly and carry a big stick.”

Simmons has since defended his comments, stating “I was asked about extremists, and that’s what I was talking about – only extremists.”...
Gene Simmons calls Muslims 'vile'
YNet News, May 18, 2013

UK: Teacher at Blackburn mosque charged with assaulting two of his pupils[edit]

A TEACHER at a Blackburn mosque has appeared before the town’s magistrates charged with assaulting two of his pupils.

Catherine Allan, prosecuting, told the court Mahmad Hajat worked at the Cumberland Street Mosque where it was alleged he had ‘grabbed, hit and slapped’ the pupils.

The court heard the two victims were aged seven and eight at the time.

Hajat, 33, of Winchester Street, Blackburn, pleaded not guilty to two charges of assaulting the boys while in a position of trust. The magistrates directed the cases should be heard at Preston Crown Court.

Hajat was given bail to appear there on May 29.

Conditions of bail include not to teach at the mosque and not to have unsupervised contact with any child under the age of 16...

Pakistan: Doctor who helped track down Bin Laden was denied asylum in U.S, convicted and jailed by a tribal court on bogus charges[edit]

Portions of the voluminous 357-page Abbottobad Commission Report, which has yet to be made public and were obtained exclusively by Fox News, acknowledge Dr. Shakil Afridi’s conviction last year by a government-sponsored Jirga has undermined Pakistan’s credibility. The report calls for Afridi to be given a new trial.

The report also claims Afridi joined the CIA search for Bin Laden five years ago, while he was staying in the U.S. with a cousin. According to the report, Afridi applied for asylum after a terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Islam, stepped up its operations in Pakistan's lawless tribal belt.

Afridi was reportedly kidnapped by the group in 2008 and released after his family paid a $10,000 ransom. After helping the CIA pinpoint the terror mastermind just prior to the 2011 raid in which Navy SEALs killed Bin laden, Afridi was arrested and convicted by the tribal court of colluding with Lashkar-e-Islam.

The State Department declined to comment on the report's claims that Afridi had applied for asylum while staying in the U.S...

Indonesia: A mob of more than 100 people destroy an Ahmadiyah mosque in Tulungagung, East Java[edit]

Baitul Salam mosque, located in Gempolan village, Tulungagung, had its windows and entrance door destroyed after the mob, which consisted of youths from Gempolan village and neighboring areas, threw stones at it at 9:30 p.m.

“It was spontaneous, the mosque was destroyed by young people,” said Sarijan, a local resident whose house is near the mosque, on Friday, as quoted by Tempo.

Sarijan said that while three people — mosque attendant Japar, Ahmadiyah member Edi Susanto and Ahmadiyah preacher Rizal Fazli — were inside the mosque ahead of the attack, no one was killed.

Three hours before the attack, Imam Muslim, the local Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) head, and police met with the trio to request that they shut down the mosque and stop spreading Ahmadiyah teachings. They also demanded Rizal leave the village immediately.

Edi and Rizal had been taken out of the mosque by the police before the attack, but Japar insisted on staying inside to close the doors and turn off the lights. He did not leave the mosque, which was built on land donated by his family, until the mob started to stone it. Imam evacuated him out of the mosque when the attack began.

“We have tried to mediate [conflict between congregations and residents], but Japar said that he was not the one responsible when residents asked him to knock down the mosque,” Imam said, as quoted by Antara news agency.

Sarijan said that local residents had long opposed the mosque and recently requested that worshippers shut it down...

Yemen: Austrian man held hostage for five months spared after forced conversion to Islam at gunpoint[edit]

An Austrian man held hostage for five months in Yemen said he was kept in permanent darkness in a room too small to stand up in and was forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint.

At one point, Dominik Neubaur told Austrian magazine News, he was taken out for what he thought would be his execution — but believed he was spared after he recited verses from the Quran.

“I heard a weapon being loaded and felt its muzzle on the back of my head,” he said his first interview since his release a week ago.

Neubaur, a 26-year-old student of Arabic, and the Finns were kidnapped by tribesmen in Sanaa on December 21, and were later sold to Al Qaida, according to the Yemeni government. The three were freed on May 9.

France: 7 men arrested for removing a child from her parents' care while running a sinister online dating site for Muslim converts[edit]

A schoolgirl who secretly converted to Islam left home to live with an older man after being forced to marry him over the phone, it was claimed today.

The 15-year-old, whose British father is a Christian, is set to give evidence against seven men arrested in Mulhouse, eastern France.

All are accused of removing a child from her parents' care while running a sinister online dating site for Muslim converts. After being introduced to young girls on the internet, men who subscribed to the site were allowed to wed them over the phone.

In the case of the teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, she completed her marriage vows and then immediately left home to live with him.

Detectives believe she was forced to convert to Islam in secret, along with three female friends aged 17, 18 and 19.

The girl's father informed local prosecutor Herve Robin after his daughter started wearing a burka and expressing 'extreme Islamist views', according to prosecutors.

'She had converted without her parents' knowledge after browsing social network sites on the internet,' said a source close to the case. 'Her father, who is British, was deeply shocked when he found out what had happened.'

Mr Robin confirmed that the schoolgirl was forced to marry the unnamed Muslim man, who is 28, 'over the phone'.

It was on May 6 that the girl's father first called police to tell them that his daughter had run away.

Using a signal from the 28-year-old man's mobile phone, police were able to trace him to an address in Valence, some 300 miles from the girl's home in Mulhouse.

When police raided the property they found the man living with his new teenage 'wife'.

She told investigating officers that it was her second 'marriage' on the site, and that her 'first husband' had denounced and rejected her.

The girl is now back in the care of her parents, while assisting police and prosecutors with their enquiries.

Her convert 'husband' has, meanwhile, been remanded in custody, along with four of the seven other suspects who all face prison sentences if found guilty...

UK: Oxford grooming ring promoted by imams who encourage Muslims to think white women deserve to be “punished”[edit]

For related commentary on the same subject, click here.

Dr Taj Hargey, imam of the Oxford Islamic Congregation, said race and religion were inextricably linked to the recent spate of grooming rings in which Muslim men have targeted under-age white girls.

Earlier this week seven members of a child sex ring from Oxford were found guilty of forcing under age girls to commit acts of "extreme depravity".

Their victims, aged between 11 and 15, were groomed and plied with alcohol and drugs before being sexually assaulted and forced into prostitution. They targeted "out of control" teenagers.

Dr Hargey said that the case brought shame on the city and the community and is a set back for cross community harmony. But worse still is the refusal to face up to its realities, he wrote in the Daily Mail.

The activities of the Oxford sex ring are “bound up with religion and race” because all the men - though of different nationalities - were Muslim and they “deliberately targeted vulnerable white girls, whom they appeared to regard as 'easy meat', to use one of their revealing, racist phrases”, Dr Hargey said.

That attitude has been promoted by religious leaders, he believes. “On one level, most imams in the UK are simply using their puritanical sermons to promote the wearing of the hijab and even the burka among their female adherents. But the dire result can be the brutish misogyny we see in the Oxford sex ring.”

People tiptoe around the issues and refuse to discuss the problems exposed by the scandals such as those “from Rochdale to Oxford, and Telford to Derby”, he wrote.

In all cases the perpetrators were Muslim men and the victims were under age white girls.

To pretend it is not a problem is the Islamic community is “ideological denial”, Dr Hargey said.

“But then part of the reason this scandal happened at all is precisely because of such politically correct thinking. All the agencies of the state, including the police, the social services and the care system, seemed eager to ignore the sickening exploitation that was happening before their eyes...
Update:[edit]
The mother of two members of the Oxford child sex abuse gang has blamed the schoolgirls for the ordeal they suffered, saying ‘they were having sex at the age of ten instead of playing with toys’.

She defended her sons – Akhtar, 32, and Anjum Dogar, 31 – and claimed they were innocent after they were found guilty of a catalogue of vile offences last week.

Mrs Dogar, believed to be called Bashira, accused the police, social services and the girls themselves of being complicit in creating Britain’s ‘grooming culture’.

The two brothers were part of a group of mainly Asian men who groomed girls as young as 11 before giving them drugs and carrying out humiliating attacks, then hiring them out for sex with others.

But Mrs Dogar said: ‘These girls should be playing with toys. If they start [having sex] at ten, by 15 they are proper ladies.’

Speaking from her home in Oxford, the Dogars’ mother said they were innocent. She said one of the girls was looking for a boy at a station in London and no one had pressured her into having sex.

She added: ‘On the news they say the girls went from Oxford to London on the train. Are they not old enough then? Nobody can feel sorry for them unless they’re sorry themselves.’

Mrs Dogar said that in a Muslim community girls focus on study, and questioned why the authorities allowed it to happen...

Nigeria: Members of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Boko Haram assassinate a Christian leader[edit]

According to a spokesman from the National President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev Ayo Oritsajafor, Rev Faye Pama Musa was shot dead at about 7:30 p.m. local time on Tuesday at his residence in Maiduguri by Boko Haram jihadists.

“The Borno CAN secretary has been killed. We’ve got the report and the national president received it with heavy heart. It is very sad,” the spokesperson added in a statement.

The Israeli police source said that there were reports that the deceased Christian pastor had “attempted to run away but his assailants caught him and they “shot him at close range.”

The killing of the popular Christian pastor occurred shortly after Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the most troubled states in the northeast part of the country where Boko Haram is believed strongest.

The states most at risk for Boko Haram attacks are Yobe, Adamawa, and Borno, the source noted.

Also on Monday, the Boko Haram sect claimed responsibility for the recent major assault on Baga and Bama, in Borno state, in which up to 200 people, including soldiers, policemen, prison warders and civilians, were massacred.

Meanwhile, last week Nigerian police and security forces reported that upwards of 60 people were fatally wounded when suspected al-Qaeda affiliate Boko Haram Islamists attacked security formations in Nigeria’s terrorist-infested Borno region, according to Jorge Vega, an international counterterrorism and security expert...

Israel: Police bar Jews from Temple Mount after Muslims threaten violence over planned visit by Jewish children[edit]

Police barred Jews from entering the Temple Mount on Thursday, after Muslim groups threatened violence in the wake of a plan to bring Jewish children to visit the site. The plan, organized by groups encouraging Jewish visits to the Mount, was meant to be an educational program that would demonstrate rituals associated with the Temple, such as the bringing of bikurim ("First Fruits", the gift to the Temple brought on Shavuot).

Over the past few days, chatter on Islamic web sites indicated that the groups would be met by rioters. Instead of seeking to defuse the situation or defend the groups of visiting children, police chose to capitulate to the threats, and announced that they were closing the Mount to all non-Moslems out of “concern for public safety.”

The decision came only a little while before the tour was set to begin, at 8:30, and after dozens of children and their families – many coming from far distances – had already gathered at the Kotel.
. . .
Over Shavuot itself, the groups reported, hundreds of Jews were able to visit the Mount – but they were a small percentage of the thousands who sought to get in. Police severely limited Jewish access to the Mount, with visitors being allowed to enter only in small groups beginning on Tuesday, the day before Shavuot. In several instances, dozens of Muslims sat and blocked the entrance of the Mughrabi Gate, used by non-Muslims to ascend the Mount. Those Jews who did manage to run the Arab gauntlet – with little, if any, police assistance – were followed and harassed by Muslims, and verbally assaulted the entire time they were on the Mount.

Police intervened only after a riot broke out – with their response to close the gates of the Mount to Jews altogether, evacuating the Jews who had managed to enter via a side exit.

France: Priest attacked by Muslim, Archbishop of Avignon speaks out against Muslims taking control of district[edit]

The day after the attack on Father Grégoire, Monsignor Cattenoz has spoken out strongly and denounces "people of the Muslim faith taking control of the district". The facts are taking on a political/religious dimension...

On Monday at around 8 pm, Father Grégoire from the parish of Saint-Jean was attacked by an individual. Struck on the face, the priest was unconscious on the ground until two other members of the parish arrived. This Tuesday morning at around 11 am, Monsignor Cattenoz, Archbishop of Avignon, denounced growing insecurity in the district of Saint-Ruf (while the local authority official in charge of public safety claims instead that there has been a decrease in crime in this sector), as well as the proliferation of thefts and threats towards members of the parish.

The leader of the Catholics in Vaucluse went even further: "People of the Muslim faith have progressively taken control of this district"... before proposing to create a committee bringing together representatives of the main religions, in order to calm the situation.

The Avignonnese Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the French Council of the Muslim Religion, also wants to calm things down: "Before highlighting adherence to one or another religion, we need to see if the attack was accompanied by words or gestures associated with the religion. Giving it a religious dimension seems counter-productive to me."

Meanwhile, politicians have not been slow to react.

The mayor of Avignon Marie-Josée Roig (UMP) said he was "dismayed by this indescribable act", recalling that "our republican compact cannot tolerate such violent acts perpetrated by some who have an unbearable sense of impunity". the deputy mayor of Orange Jacques Bompard (Ligue du Sud) [League of the South] calls it an "act of racism (in the sense of the penal code) with regard to a Catholic priest, which is also the consequence of the hatred which a certain Islamism propagates with regards to everything that is French and Christian."

PA: World Press Photo's picture of year of Palestinian funeral procession for children killed in Gaza 'photoshopped'[edit]

Swedish photographer Paul Hansen's photo titled "Gaza Burial" portraying a Gaza funeral procession for children killed during Operation Pillar of Defense, is inspiring controversy worldwide in recent days, but this time for artistic – and not political – reasons.

The reason - tech blog Extremtech claims the picture underwent massive manipulation and was put together from a number of different photographs with the help of photoshop.

Despite the fact that Operation Pillar of Defense ended with a considerably low number of civilian fatalities in comparison to Operation Cast Lead four year earlier, upon publication, Hansen's picture hit Israeli hasbara missions hard.

Dr. Neal Krawetz from Extremtech, claims that a lab analysis – in which he specializes – revealed Hansen's photo underwent serious "enhancement" and is a fake or at least "digitally modified."

According to Extremtech's report, "The photo itself is almost certainly a composite of three different photos, with various regions spliced together from each of the images, and then further manipulation to illuminate the mourners’ faces."

Krawetz further claims the picture was reedited not long before the World Press Photo's submission deadline in January.

"I cannot tell you about the original picture, but I can tell you that the controversial picture is definitely not original." Krawetz is quoted as saying, adding "it appears to have been modified specifically for this contest."...

Malaysia: Muslim lawyers threaten Christians over using the Arabic word "Allah" to refer to God[edit]

An evangelical church group’s Facebook message calling Christians to pray for “Allah’s blessings” on the country has riled up a group of Muslim lawyers who are demanding state Islamic bodies act against what they have branded a “criminal” offence against their creed.

The Muslim Lawyers Society of Malaysia (PPPMM) today accused the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship of Malaysia (NECF) of committing “criminal” blasphemy against Islam by misappropriating the name of the Islamic god for their purposes, even as the dispute is being heard in the Court of Appeal.

“It is an offence for any party to deliberately and continuously use Allah and a few other words with roots from Islam in the context of a non-Islamic religious for any purpose.

“The NECF poster that has clearly misused the sacred name of Allah is obviously a criminal action and breaches the Schedule of (Section 9) Part I of the Enactment that forbids the use of the name of Allah as well as other Islamic terms by non-Muslims,” PPPMM president Datuk Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar said in a statement.

While the Federal Constitution upholds the right to freedom of religion, nearly all of the 13 states have enacted legislation that allows for control and restriction of the propagation of non-Islamic religions. ...

A High Court had in 2009 ruled that the Catholic Church had the right to publish the word “Allah” in the Bahasa Malaysia section of its newspaper, Herald, as the Arabic word was not exclusive to Islam, contrary to the belief of many Muslim Malaysians.

Issues concerning religion and race in this country of 28 million, where 60 per cent are constitutionally defined as Malay and Muslim, touch a nerve and have sparked violence in the past, leading to attacks on several places of worship nationwide in 2010 following the landmark judgment.

The Home Ministry is appealing High Court judgment and the Court of Appeal is currently hearing an appeal by several state Islamic councils to intervene in the case as well.

UK: Local council decides against flying the flag of St George after concerns were raised that it would offend the town’s 16 Muslims[edit]

Eleanor Jackson, a university lecturer, said the red and white symbol could cause upset in Radstock, Somerset, because it was used during the Crusades 1,000 years ago.

The Labour councillor voiced her concerns at a meeting called to discuss which flag should be purchased to fly atop the town's repaired civic flagpole.

She said: “My big problem is that it is offensive to some Muslims, but even more so that it has been hijacked by the far right. "My thoughts are we ought to drop it for 20 years."

Radstock Town Council, which serves a local population of more than 5,600 residents, eventually decided to purchase a Union flag to fly on Armistice Day...

Egypt: Christian teacher detained for ‘insulting Islam’ out on bail, pending further investigation[edit]

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

An Egyptian Christian teacher detained over charges of insulting Islam has been released on bail on Tuesday, her lawyer said.

A history and geography teacher in the southern city of Luxor, 24-year-old Dimiana Abdul-Nour paid L.E. 20,000 (almost $3,000 dollars) to be freed pending further investigation, the lawyer, Badawi Abu-Shanab said. The decision comes four days after a judge ordered her detained for 14 days during the investigation.

Parents of a student had accused the teacher of showing contempt to Islam while talking to fourth-graders about religion. Three pupils allegedly complained the teacher showed disgust when she talked about Islam, something the family and lawyer of Abdul-Nour denied.

Egypt is witnessing a surge of blasphemy-related allegations leveled by ultraconservative Islamists against their critics, including the country’s Christians who make up 10 percent of the population.

Christians have long complained of discrimination. Emboldened by Islamist electoral gains since the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak in the 2011 uprising, members of the fundamentalist Salafi movement have recently been linked to a spike of violence against Christians.

Just like cases of insulting Islam have been on the rise lately, instances of Egyptians investigated over insulting Islamist President Mohammed Morsi have also spiked.

In one recent case, a Muslim English school teacher was summoned for questioning on Tuesday by police over a question in the final exam he wrote that was deemed an insult to Morsi, according to the state-run Al-Ahram daily website.

The accusations, filed by the Alexandria Teachers’ Union, alleged that Ihab el-Islamboli included a question in his exam which mentions that: “in the animal kingdom, a sheep can’t be king,” according to the paper...

Syria: ‘We will slaughter all of them.’ TIME interview the rebel behind the atrocity video[edit]

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

News sites around the world have shown Khalid al-Hamad sink his teeth into what appears to be the lung of a dead Syrian government soldier. His fellow rebels have called for him to be arrested or killed for the act. Human-rights groups have condemned him. But al-Hamad has no regrets.

In an interview conducted via Skype in the early hours of May 14, al-Hamad explained to TIME what caused him to cut out the soldier’s organs: “We opened his cell phone, and I found a clip of a woman and her two daughters fully naked and he was humiliating them, and sticking a stick here and there.”

The video, a 27-second clip in which al-Hamad brandishes organs that appear to be the lungs and heart of the Syrian soldier who lies dead at al-Hamad’s feet, was first seen by two TIME reporters in April. A few weeks later, TIME obtained a copy. Though we had been told by witnesses to the filming that the video was legitimate, we set about authenticating its content, aware of the potential that it could have been faked for propaganda purposes. Al-Hamad has now confirmed that the video is real, and that he did indeed take a bite of the soldier’s lung. (At the time of filming, al-Hamad believed he was biting into the liver. A surgeon who has seen the video confirms that the organ in question was a lung, which somewhat resembles the liver). On May 12, a copy of the video appeared on a proregime website, sparking a flood of Facebook Shares and YouTube views...

US: North Carolina man spoke of killing Army soldiers as part of jihad pleads guilty to possessing stolen firearm[edit]

A North Carolina man who the FBI says spoke of killing U.S. Army soldiers as part of a personal jihad has pleaded guilty to possessing a stolen firearm.

Erwin Antonio Rios admitted guilt Tuesday in U.S. District Court as part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

In an affidavit filed with the court, FBI Special Agent Frank Brostrom said the 19-year-old from Fayetteville holds extremist Islamic views and told a government informant he would like to kill Fort Bragg soldiers.

Authorities said Rios also plotted to travel overseas to commit violence and devised a scheme to commit armed robberies to get money to buy weapons...


Iraq: Gunmen armed with silenced weapons shoot dead 12 people at alcohol shops[edit]

The gunmen, who were travelling in four vehicles, restrained federal policemen at a checkpoint in the Zayouna area of west Baghdad, an interior ministry official said.

They then shot dead 12 people in multiple adjoining alcohol shops nearby, the ministry official said.

A medical official confirmed the toll.

With alcohol forbidden by Islam, Baghdad liquor stores are an attractive target for fundamentalist groups, made more so because they are often staffed by religious minorities.

Violence in Iraq has fallen from its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common, killing more than 200 people in each of the first four months of this year.

Kuwait: 215 young homosexuals arrested during an extensive campaign at Internet cafes and 'suspicious places'[edit]

Personnel from the Criminal Investigation Department during an extensive campaign at Internet cafes and suspicious places in the six governorates have arrested 215 young homosexuals and lesbians of various nationalities, reports Al-Anba daily.

A security source said 30 low rank officers took part in the campaign and some of the arrested persons are believed to be residence law violators and others wanted by law for committing petty crimes or on civil charges and yet others for gambling.

The violators have been referred to the authorities.

US: 7 chemical engineers and recent college graduates caught trespassing at Quabbin reservoir, patrols stepped up across state[edit]

Shortly after midnight Tuesday, seven people were caught trespassing at the Quabbin Reservoir.

State Police say the five men and two women are from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore, and “cited their education and career interests” for being in the area. The men told police they were chemical engineers and recent college graduates.

The Quabbin, in Belchertown, is one of the country’s largest man-made public water supplies. Boston’s drinking water comes from the Quabbin and the Wachusett Reservoirs.

State Police say there were no warrants or advisories on any of the individuals and “there was no evidence that the seven were committing any crime beyond the trespassing.”...

Nigeria: President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a state of emergency in three north-eastern states[edit]

The insurgency, led by Boko Haram, has killed some 2,000 people since 2009. It has spread across the mainly Muslim north and central Nigeria.

With the attacks becoming increasingly sophisticated, there is growing concern that Boko Haram is receiving backing from al-Qaeda-linked militants in other countries.

Here, BBC Africa's Farouk Chothia looks at the changing nature of the conflict...

Indonesia: Bekasi Mayor Rahmat Effendi and local Islamic leaders petition President to institute a nationwide ban on Ahmadiyahs[edit]

“The request is part of an agreement between Bekasi ulema and the [local] government who met to discuss the Ahmadiyah today,” Rahmat told the state-run Antara News Agency on Monday.

The mayor met with the Bekasi chapter of the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) to hash out a solution to the city’s strained relationship with its Ahmadiyah community on Monday. The solution, according to Rahmat, is a complete ban on the religious sect.

The Bekasi MUI threw its support behind the city’s ban on the Ahmadiyah, demanding that followers renounce their beliefs and convert to mainstream Islam. Local MUI head Mursyid Kamil urged the central government to either shut down all Ahmadiyah places of worship or strip them of Islamic symbols. All Ahmadiyah members should convert to mainstream Islam, Mursyid said. The Bekasi MUI plans to convert the sect’s Al Misbah mosque, in Pondok Gede, to mainstream Islam as a way to promote interfaith harmony, he said.

The Bekasi Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) shuttered the Al Misbah mosque on April 5, locking at least 20 followers inside the mosque. The congregation said they planned to remain in the mosque in protest of the local government’s actions. But the Ahmadiyah, sealed behind a metal wall erected around the mosque, have struggled with occasional police interference as officers attempted to prevent community members from delivering the protestors food.

Iran: A pastor, his wife and two church workers arrested for the second time for converting to Christianity[edit]

An Iranian Assemblies of God (AOG) pastor, his wife and two church workers have been returned to jail after their one year sentences for converting to Christianity and “propagation against the Islamic regime through evangelism" were upheld by a High Court on 1 May.

Pastor Farhad Sabokrooh, his wife Shahnaz Jayzan and church workers Naser Zaman-Dezfuli and Davoud Alijani were initially arrested in December 2011, after authorities in the southern town of Ahwaz raided their church’s Christmas celebrations and detained everyone in the building, including children attending Sunday School.

According to Iranian agency Mohabat News, all four were charged with “converting to Christianity and propagating against the Islamic Republic through evangelism”, and were each sentenced to one year in prison by the Revolutionary Court in Ahwaz. They were temporarily released, but were summoned to court on 1 May 2013 and re-arrested. Mr Alijani was transferred to Ahwaz’s Karoon Prison to complete his sentence, while Pastor Sabokrooh, Shahnaz Jayzan and Mr Zaman-Dezfuli were taken to Sepidar Prison.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has also been informed that Mostafa Bordbar, a Christian arrested in Tehran in December 2012 and whose case details were obscure, is now confirmed to be detained in Ward 350 of Evin Prison, along with Church of Iran member Alireza Seyyedian and AOG Pastors Farshid Fathi and Saeed Abedini. Pastor Abedini, who had been placed in solitary confinement for taking part in a peaceful protest against prison conditions, has now been returned to Ward 350 after being taken to hospital this week following a further deterioration in his health...

US: Man arrested in Detroit and charged with making false statement about why he brought a pressure cooker with him on a flight[edit]

A Saudi Arabian man was arrested in Detroit and charged with making a false statement about why he brought a pressure cooker with him on a flight from Amsterdam, according to a criminal complaint filed on Monday.

Hussain al-Khawahir, 33, arrived at the Detroit airport on Saturday and was questioned about why he had brought a pressure cooker with him. The man's name was spelled al-Khawahir in the criminal complaint, while a spokeswoman at the U.S. attorney's office had earlier said it was al-Kwawahir.

He initially said the pressure cooker was for his nephew, a university student in Toledo, Ohio.

"The Defendant then changed his story and admitted his nephew had purchased a pressure cooker in America before but it 'was cheap' and broke after the first use," the complaint said.

Pressure cookers packed with explosive powder and shrapnel were set off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, where they killed three people and injured 264. The bombs, left on the ground, caused gruesome injuries with more than 10 people losing limbs, either directly from the blasts or when doctors had to amputate the badly-mangled limbs.

Al-Khawahir was also charged with altering his passport because a page was torn out of the document, the complaint said...

Syria: Western-backed Sunni rebel cuts out heart of dead soldier and eats it, while comrades shout "Allahu akbar"[edit]

A video of a Syrian rebel commander cutting the heart out of a soldier and biting into is emblematic of a civil war that has rapidly descended into sectarian hatred and revenge killings, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

The New York-based group said an amateur video posted on the Internet on Sunday shows Abu Sakkar, a founder of the rebel Farouq Brigade who is well known to journalists as an insurgent from Homs, cutting into the torso of a dead soldier.

The video has caused outrage among both supporters of President Bashar al-Assad and opposition figures.

"I swear to God we will eat your hearts and your livers, you soldiers of Bashar the dog," the man says to offscreen cheers of his comrades shouting "Allahu akbar (God is great)".
. . .
"The mutilation of the bodies of enemies is a war crime. But the even more serious issue is the very rapid descent into sectarian rhetoric and violence," said Bouckaert.

He said that in the unedited version of the film, Abu Sakkar instructs his men to "slaughter the Alawites and take their hearts out to eat them", before biting into the heart.

Abu Sakkar has been seen in previous videos firing rockets at Lebanese Shi'ite villages on the border and posing with the body of a soldier purportedly from the Lebanese Shi'ite militant Hezbollah group, which is helping Assad's forces...
Update:[edit]
News sites around the world have shown Khalid al-Hamad sink his teeth into what appears to be the lung of a dead Syrian government soldier. His fellow rebels have called for him to be arrested or killed for the act. Human-rights groups have condemned him. But al-Hamad has no regrets.

In an interview conducted via Skype in the early hours of May 14, al-Hamad explained to TIME what caused him to cut out the soldier’s organs: “We opened his cell phone, and I found a clip of a woman and her two daughters fully naked and he was humiliating them, and sticking a stick here and there.”

The video, a 27-second clip in which al-Hamad brandishes organs that appear to be the lungs and heart of the Syrian soldier who lies dead at al-Hamad’s feet, was first seen by two TIME reporters in April. A few weeks later, TIME obtained a copy. Though we had been told by witnesses to the filming that the video was legitimate, we set about authenticating its content, aware of the potential that it could have been faked for propaganda purposes. Al-Hamad has now confirmed that the video is real, and that he did indeed take a bite of the soldier’s lung. (At the time of filming, al-Hamad believed he was biting into the liver. A surgeon who has seen the video confirms that the organ in question was a lung, which somewhat resembles the liver). On May 12, a copy of the video appeared on a proregime website, sparking a flood of Facebook Shares and YouTube views...

Iran: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could face 74 lashes if charged with breaking electoral rules[edit]

After accompanying his former chief of staff to register for June’s presidential vote, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may face punishment if charged with breaking electoral rules.

On Sunday, the country’s electoral watchdog attracted worldwide media attention after pointing out Ahmadinejad may face a punishment of “74 lashes” for accompanying and appearing to endorse election entrant Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie.

Iranian electoral law bans individuals from supporting candidates in an official capacity, while the use of state resources on behalf of or against any candidate is also banned.

A conviction could bring a maximum punishment of six months in jail or 74 lashes, according to Iranian press reports.

But analysts have brushed off “hyped” claims that Ahmadinejad would be penalized, and even if he were to be lashed or imprisoned, it may not be anytime soon.

“There will be no lashing; the news is hyped and ridiculous,” Dr. Alireza Nourizadeh, the director of the Centre for Arab & Iranian Studies in London, told Al Arabiya English on Monday.

“Yes, there would be a punishment if this were in a country that runs by law and order, with a strong judiciary that ensures laws and punishments are followed through.

“But in Iran, most people break the rules, from the Ayatollah to the man on the street,” Nourizadeh said.

The president had accompanied Mashaie on Saturday to register at the Interior Ministry. Photographs in the Iranian media showed them making peace signs.

Mashaie said the president had accompanied him on “a day off” from work; a claim Nourizadeh says would be Ahmadinejad’s “innocent response” if ever he were questioned as to why he went.

But a report by Iranian online news site, Khabar, on Monday stated the president had “introduced an individual [Mashaie] as an election candidate.”

A spokesman for the Guardian Council, Abbas Ali Kadkhodai, said the council’s supervisory board unanimously agreed

“the...actions of the president in introducing an individual as an election candidate constituted a violation and were criminal,” according to Khabar.

“We reported the facts to the judiciary,” Kadkhodai said.

The Guardian Council, a body of clerics and jurists, vets all candidates for elections.

“If President Ahmadinejad had trespassed the electoral process, it’s up to judiciary to decide and not the Guardian Council,” Iranian political analyst and writer Camelia Entekhabifard told Al Arabiya English.

A warning to Ahmadinejad

However, the move by the Guardian Council could be a tactic to ward off the president from future interference in the elections.

Ahmadinejad cannot run for a third term on constitutional grounds in the June 14 presidential polls.

“Even if he is officially charged [over an electoral violation], he cannot be convicted before a trial. In this case, I think the Guardian Council wants to prevent the president from further interfering in the election in favor of his friend Mashaei,” Entekhabifard added...

Italy: Pope Francis canonizes 800 Italians killed by Ottoman forces for refusing to convert to Islam in the 15th century[edit]

Pope Francis on Sunday created the first saints of his reign, canonizing some 800 Italian martyrs who refused to convert to Islam in the 15th century, as well as a Colombian and a Mexican who founded congregations.

Thousands of faithful gathered in St Peter's Square to attend the service to formally bestow the sainthoods, which had been approved by Francis's predecessor Benedict XVI.

The new saints include Italian cobbler Antonio Primaldo, who was killed along with an estimated 800 other Italians in 1480 by Ottoman forces for refusing to convert to Islam...

Bangladesh: Security forces arrest the leader of country's biggest Islamist party on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity[edit]

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

AKM Yusuf, the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, was arrested in the capital Dhaka and charged with offences dating back to Bangladesh's 1971 war of independence with Pakistan.

His arrest comes after the sentencing to death last week of another Islamist party leader for wartime atrocities. That decision brought a wave of violent protest from supporters, and police say they are concerned about the risk of a backlash from Jamaat activists.

More than 100 people have been killed in protests and counter-protests since January, when a tribunal set up by the government to investigate alleged abuses in the war sentenced to death in absentia a former senior Jamaat-e-Islami figure...

UAE: Australian woman jailed for eight months for being raped by three colleagues speaks out (video)[edit]

With Dubai emerging as a major stopover point for long haul journeys, five hundred flights a month will deliver over one million of us to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the next year.

Dubai is being promoted as a luxury high-class paradise in the desert, but the reality is brutally different, as Australian Alicia Gali discovered. Gali took a job in the UAE with one of the world’s biggest hotel chains, Starwood. What happened next makes this story a must-watch for every Australian planning on travelling through the region.

Gali was using her laptop in the hotel’s staff bar when her drink was spiked. She awoke to a nightmare beyond belief: she had been savagely raped by three of her colleagues. Alone and frightened, she took herself to hospital. What Alicia didn’t know is that under the UAE’s strict sharia laws, if the perpetrator does not confess, a rape cannot be convicted without four adult Muslim male witnesses. She was charged with having illicit sex outside marriage, and thrown in a filthy jail cell for eight months.

Now, finally home and struggling to move on with her life, Alicia breaks her silence for the first time on television to reporter Ross Coulthart...
Abandoned
Yahoo News, Reporter: Ross Coulthart, Producer: Ali Russell, May 12, 2013

Saudi Arabia: Court jails man for six years and sentences him to 300 lashes for helping woman convert to Christianity[edit]

A Saudi court jailed a Lebanese man for six years and sentenced him to 300 lashes after convicting him of encouraging a Saudi woman to convert to Christianity, local dailies reported Sunday.

The same court sentenced a Saudi man to two years in prison and 200 lashes for having helped the young woman flee the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom, local daily Al-Watan said.

A court delivered the verdict in Khobar in the kingdom's east, where the woman and the two accused worked for an insurance company.

The July 2012 case caused a stir in Saudi Arabia, which applies a strict version of Islamic Sharia law that stipulates Muslims who convert to another religion must be sentenced to death.

The woman, known only as "the girl of Khobar,” was granted refuge in Sweden where she lives under the protection of unspecified NGOs, according to local press reports.

She had appeared in a YouTube video last year in which she announced that she had chosen to convert to Christianity.

Her family's lawyer Hmood al-Khalidi said he was "satisfied with the verdict," according to the press.

Both men, who could also be prosecuted over other charges including corruption and forging official documents that allowed the woman to leave the country without her family's agreement, will appeal.

Speaking to NOW, Lebanese caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour said that the case was “personal and not political.”...

Somalia: Up to 3,000 AMISOM soldiers have been killed while fighting Muslim militant group Al-Shabaab[edit]

U.N. Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson, told reporters on Thursday that “up to 3,000 AMISOM soldiers have been killed”, while fighting Al Shabaab in Somalia. Secretary Eliasson paid tribute to the fallen U.N. mandated African Union (AU) forces.

AMISOM – African Union Mission in Somalia – were initially deployed to Somalia as a peacekeeping force but after initial refusal by the U.N., the mandate still transitioned to a peace-enforcement one.

Over 10 African countries have troops in the African Union mission to Somalia the majority of those troops are from Uganda, Burundi and Kenya who joined in 2011. AMISOM have made significant gains against Al Shabaab in their 7 year deployment, capturing major cities and towns in southern and south central Somalia.

On Friday, Somali government troops backed by AMISOM forces captured the town of Awdinle in Bay region. According to sources in the region, Al Shabaab did not resist the allied forces and vacated Awdinle situated between Baidoa and Bardaale.

AL Shabaab still has a strong presence in Bay and Bakool regions despite the presence of AMISOM, Ethiopia and Somali government forces. On Thursday, Somali government forces clashed in Baidoa – the capital of Bay region – leading to two deaths...
3,000 AMISOM forces killed in Somalia
Garowe Online, May 11, 2013

Egypt: Christian teacher jailed for 'blasphemy', as more and more Christians arrested on allegations of insulting Islam[edit]

Under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, more and more people are being arrested in Egypt on allegations of insulting Islam. The latest case involves a Coptic teacher who was detained on the order of the Prosecutor's Office in the Governorate of Luxor, and is set to remain behind bars until the end of the investigations.

Until her arrest, Demyana Emad was a 23-year-old social studies teacher at the Sheik Sultan primary school in south Luxor. She became a case in April, when the head of the parents' association filed a complaint against the teacher for insulting the Prophet Muhammad in front of her pupils, a charge Ms Emad has rejected, calling for more evidence to be brought to the fore.

What is known is that recently, several Islamic "extremists" pushed their way into the school to press the pupils to testify against her.

Edam's case is not unique. With the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood, more and more people, especially minority Copts, have been detained on allegations of blasphemy and insulting Islam.

The most serious case occurred back in October in Bani Suef (Upper Egypt) when two Coptic children Nabil Nagy Rzik, 10, and Mina Nady Farag, 9, were arrested after local Islamic authorities accused them of urinating on some pages of the Koran.

Despite the resistance of their parents and the local priest, who pointed out that the two kids were illiterate, the imam of their village put pressure for their detention.

In another case in September 2012 in Sohag, Bishoy Kamel, a Coptic religion teacher, was sentenced to six years for posting blasphemous cartoons and insults against President Mohammed Morsi on Facebook. He has always maintained his innocence and said that he is the victim of a plot.

On 13 September 2012, police arrested Saber Albert, a 25-year-old Coptic man for posting an anti-Islam film that caused demonstrations all over the world.

Saber is still in custody awaiting trial.
Update:[edit]
An Egyptian Christian teacher detained over charges of insulting Islam has been released on bail on Tuesday, her lawyer said.

A history and geography teacher in the southern city of Luxor, 24-year-old Dimiana Abdul-Nour paid L.E. 20,000 (almost $3,000 dollars) to be freed pending further investigation, the lawyer, Badawi Abu-Shanab said. The decision comes four days after a judge ordered her detained for 14 days during the investigation.

Parents of a student had accused the teacher of showing contempt to Islam while talking to fourth-graders about religion. Three pupils allegedly complained the teacher showed disgust when she talked about Islam, something the family and lawyer of Abdul-Nour denied.

Egypt is witnessing a surge of blasphemy-related allegations leveled by ultraconservative Islamists against their critics, including the country’s Christians who make up 10 percent of the population...
The pale, young Christian woman sat handcuffed in the courtroom, accused of insulting Islam while teaching history of religions to fourth-graders. A team of Islamist lawyers with long beards sang in unison, "All except the Prophet Muhammad."

The case against Dimyana Abdel-Nour in southern Egypt's ancient city of Luxor began when parents of three of her pupils claimed that their children, aged 10, complained their teacher showed disgust when she spoke of Islam in class. According to the parents, Abdel-Nour, 24, told the children that Pope Shenouda, who led the Egyptian Coptic Church until his death last year, was better than the Prophet Muhammad.

Blasphemy charges were not uncommon in Egypt under the now-ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak's regime, but there has been a surge in such cases in recent months, according to rights activists. The trend is widely seen as a reflection of the growing power and confidence of Islamists, particularly the ultraconservative Salafis.

"Salafis are the engineers of these stories," said Abdel-Hamid Hassan, a Muslim and the head of the parents' council at the primary school where Abdel-Nour teaches. Hassan's daughter was among several students who denied any wrongdoing by Abdel-Nour...

Indonesia: Muslim mob raid two mini-marts for selling alcoholic beverages[edit]

Dozens of members of the Tangjungduren Islamic People’s Association raided two minimarts in Grogol Petamburan, West Jakarta, on Friday for selling alcoholic beverages.

The mob, who failed to meet the owners of the two establishments, a 7-Eleven and an Indomaret, decided to enter and confiscate all of the minimarts’ alcoholic beverages from their refrigerators.

“We have since March warned them not to sell alcoholic drinks. But these stores kept on selling the beverages freely,” Khalid, the coordinator of the mob, said as quoted by Beritajakarta.com.

Members of the Jakarta Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) were on location, but they remained on the sidelines during the incident, which caused a traffic jam along Jalan Tanjung Duren Raya.

Representatives from the stores promised the group that they would stop selling alcohol.

Khalid demanded that Satpol PP and the police take strict action against minimarts that openly offer alcoholic beverages.

Grogol Petamburan subdistrict head Denny Ramdhani said that out of the 12 minimarts operating in his area, only the 7-Eleven and the Indomaret continue to deal booze.

“If in the future they still sell alchol, we will … revoke the permits of the two stores,” Denny said...

US: Man sentenced for plotting to behead federal witnesses whose testimony helped convict him for plot to attack a Marine base[edit]

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

North Carolina man was sentenced Friday to four life terms for plotting to behead federal witnesses whose testimony helped convict him for his role in an earlier plot to slaughter U.S. servicemen and their families.

Hysen Sherifi, 29, was one of six Raleigh-area Muslims convicted in 2011 of planning to attack the Marine base in Quantico, Va., and overseas targets.

Shortly after starting his 45-year prison sentence in the terror case, Sherifi approached another inmate to help him hire a hit man to behead government informants and FBI agents. He recruited his younger brother Shkumbin Sherifi, 23, and former special education teacher Nevine Aly Elshiekh, 48, to help pay the hit man and organize the murders.

But the inmate whose help Sherifi sought turned out to be yet another government informant. FBI agents then staged an elaborate sting that involved secretly videotaped meetings with a woman posing as the go-between for a fictional hit man named Treetop and doctored photos that appeared to show the corpse of a beheaded witness in a shallow grave.

Federal prosecutors recommended leniency for the two coconspirators, who pleaded guilty last year and agreed to testify at the elder Sherifi's trial on nine felony counts.

Citing their extensive cooperation, U.S. District Senior Judge Earl Britt sentenced the younger Sherifi to 3 years in prison, while Elshiekh got 3 1/2 years. They had faced as much as 10 years each.

Before Hysen Sherifi was sentenced, he lectured the judge about Islamic teachings.

"The Koran is the truth that invalidates all other religions," said Sherifi, who declined a court-appointed lawyer and represented himself at trial. "If you do not submit, he will severely judge you, and on the day of judgment you will enter hellfire."

"That it?" asked Britt, who has served more than three decades on the federal bench. The judge then tacked the four life sentences onto the end of Sherifi's earlier 45-year prison term, along with another 50 years on top of that...

US: Boston Bomber secretly buried in Muslim cemetery by Christian woman who claimed his body because 'Jesus says to love our enemies'[edit]

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

A Christian woman today revealed that she helped authorities coordinate the secret burial this week of Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a Muslim cemetery in Doswell, Virginia.

'Jesus says [to] love our enemies,' Martha Mullen, 48, told the Boston Globe's Wesley Lowery in an exclusive interview. 'So I was sitting in Starbucks and thought, maybe I’m the one person who needs to do something.'

Tsarnaev was buried under a shroud of secrecy Wednesday evening at the Al-Barzakh Cemetery in central Virginia, about 15 miles from Richmond.

Mullen said she coordinated the clandestine burial with the help of the Islamic Society of Greater Richmond after a number of cemeteries refused to take his body.

Within an hour of contacting the group, she got a response saying a plot had been found. So she called the officials overseeing Tsarnaev's burial and arranged to have the body, which was being held at a Worcester, Mass. funeral home, transported to Virginia to be buried Wednesday evening.

The development has infuriated some residents of the rural Virginia town as well as members of the area's Islamic community who say they weren't consulted in the decision.

The whole Muslim community here is furious,' Imam Ammar Amonette of the Islamic Center of Virginia told the Associated Press. 'Frankly, we are furious that we were never given any information. It was all done secretly behind our backs.'

'Now everybody who's buried in that cemetery, their loved ones are going to have to go to that place,' he added.

News of the burial comes several days after a Massachusetts police chief went on national television to plead for help in finding a plot for the 26-year-old suspected bomber, as number of cemeteries and lawmakers in three states had turned down requests to bury his body.

'There is a need to do the right thing,' Worcester Police Chief Gary Gemme said. 'We are not barbarians. We bury the dead.'...

Mali: At least five suicide bombers dead in failed attacks aimed at Malian and Nigerien troops[edit]

One of the towns hit was Gossi, the furthest south al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels have struck in a guerrilla war launched against Malian and regional forces since the rebels were driven from their former strongholds in a French-led offensive this year.

The attacks have had limited success so far but threaten to undermine international calls for elections to be held across Mali in July although security is not yet fully restored to a zone that was occupied by Islamists last year.

The suicide raids took place nearly simultaneously between 4 and 5 a.m. in Menaka and Gossi, near Gao.

"The first attack targeted Nigerien soldiers in Menaka. A car bomb entered the (military) camp, but the soldiers ... destroyed the vehicle, which exploded," Lieutenant Colonel Souleymane Maiga told Reuters.

"At the same time in Gossi, three suicide bombers on foot attacked a checkpoint. Again the soldiers ... shot them. The three bombers were killed," he said.

As the men exchanged fire with soldiers, a fourth member of the group entered a nearby military camp and blew himself up, slightly wounding two soldiers, a second military source said.

A bus driver passing through Gossi, 150 km (90 miles) southwest of Gao, told Reuters he saw dismembered body parts strewn along the road, which links Gao and the capital Bamako.

Hours after the attacks, France's President Francois Hollande and Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou reiterated calls for elections due in July to be held across the entire country.

"No part of Mali should be deprived of the possibility of organising an election," Hollande told journalists...

Turkey: Authorities questioning suspect over a plot to kill the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople[edit]

According to Turkish private broadcaster NTV, local authorities are questioning a suspect following an investigation by the Prosecutor of Ankara into a plot to kill the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Two more people are still wanted in connection with the case. The website of newspaper ‘Hurriyet’ announced that the investigation began after a letter, sent from the province of Kayseri in Central Anatoli, stated that the Ecumenical Patriarch was the target of an assassination. The attack was due to take place on May 29, at 560th anniversary of the conquest of Constantinople...

Pakistan: Taliban commanders issued mandate to carry out widespread attacks in the country on May 11 by the chief commander[edit]

Issued on May 1, 2013 and addressed to TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan, TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud wrote: “I will keep control of the attacks in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, while you should cover Sindh and Punjab.”

Referring to poll candidates and the democratic system, Mehsud expressed hope that the Taliban commanders would be busy working against the agents of an “infidel system.”

“I am sending a list of attacks and the modus operandi, along with a separate list of fidayeen (suicide bombers),” wrote Mehsud, adding that TTP leaders could prescribe amendments to it after consultation.

The letter also lists targets in Punjab and Sindh for Election Day.

Earlier, in a letter to media personnel, Mehsud had written that his group was focused on jeopardising democracy by hindering elections.

Mullah Nazir stands guard

In another letter issued by the Shura of pro-government Mullah Nazir Group in Wana subdivision, all group members have been warned to maintain peace and avoid siding with any election candidate.

The letter says that the Mullah Nazir group should struggle to ensure that polling is carried out in a smooth and stable manner, adding that all candidates contesting for NA-41 are equal for them.

10-point rules

Furthermore, the letter says that voters and candidates should follow the 10-point rules to maintain peace – adding that those found guilty of violation deserve to be punished. The points are as follows:-
. . .

Jordan: Syrian refugees sold for marriage, men aged between 50 and 80 ask for girls no older than 16[edit]

Before the war began, Kazal was in love with her neighbour in Homs. "He was 20 years old and I dreamed of marrying him one day," she says. "I never thought I would marry someone I didn't love, but my family and I have been through some hard times since coming to Amman."

Kazal says she is 18 but looks much younger. She has just got divorced from a 50-year-old man from Saudi Arabia who paid her family about US $3,100 (UK £2,000) to marry her. The marriage lasted one week.

"I lived with my husband in Amman, but we weren't happily married. He treated me like a servant, and didn't respect me as a wife. He was very strict with me. I'm happy that we're divorced."

Her huge, blue eyes fill with tears when she talks about the marriage.

"I agreed to it so I could help my family. When I got engaged I cried a lot. I won't get married for money again. In the future I hope to marry a Syrian boy who's my own age."

'Survival sex'

Andrew Harper, the Representative of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Jordan, is concerned that some of the 500,000 Syrian refugees in the country are increasingly turning to such desperate measures.

"We don't have enough resources to give aid to all those who need it. The vast majority of refugees are women and children. Many of them are not used to going out to work, so survival sex becomes an option."

His office in central Amman is surrounded by hundreds of newly arrived refugees, waiting in long lines to register for aid. He says the UNHCR has intervened with some families who have been offering their daughters up for early marriage.
. . .
Syrian matchmaker

The director of Kitab al-Sunna, Zayed Hamad, says that he is sometimes approached by men who want to marry Syrian women.

"They ask for girls who are over 18. They're motivated by helping these women, especially those whose husbands died as martyrs in Syria. Arab men see Syrian women as good housewives, and they find them very pretty, so traditionally it is desirable to marry one."

Um Mazed is a 28-year-old Syrian refugee from Homs who has started earning money by arranging marriages between Syrian girls and Arab men.

In a grubby room covered with mould, she fields phone calls from prospective brides and grooms.

"The men are usually between 50 and 80, and they ask for girls who have white skin and blue or green eyes. They want them very young, no older than 16."

She says she has presented more than a hundred Syrian girls to these men, who pay her a fee of US $70 for an introduction, and about US $310 if it results in a marriage.

"If these marriages end in divorce after a short time, that's not my issue, I'm just the matchmaker. As far as I'm concerned it's not prostitution because there's a contract between the groom and bride."

Um Mazed means "Mother of Mazed", one of her three children. She doesn't want her identity known because she's ashamed of what she is doing for a living, but claims she has no choice.

"How are we supposed to live when the NGOs give us so little help? How are we supposed to pay our rent? We're not getting enough help to live decently, that's why I'm doing this - so my family and I can survive."

Australia: Offender who attacked a policewoman and police dog in last year's Muslim riots sentenced to four years in jail[edit]

For articles related to the "Innocence of Muslims" video clip, click here.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Jane Culver yesterday made the comments while sentencing father-of-one Mahmoud Eid, 26, to at least 33 months in jail with a total term of just over four years over the ugly September 15 riots in which he kicked a police dog and pushed over a policewoman. The Punchbowl plumber, who was charged with rioting, assaulting police and animal cruelty, was found to have played an active part in every violent clash with police during the protests. His actions were caught on various footage of the riot.

He handed himself in two days after being exposed in the media for his actions, which included pushing over a female constable, kicking police dog "Chuck" in the ribs and hitting an officer's riot shield.

Eid previously served 15 months of a two-year jail term for a reprisal attack after the 2005 Cronulla riots and he has a string of convictions for assaulting and resisting police.

Defence lawyer Elie Rahme said Eid had religious beliefs he held "very dear" but clearly he had unresolved problems with "communicating (his thoughts) into words", "anger management" and "impulse control".

"He joined a mob which, it appeared, had similar people in it who were poor in expressing their emotions and poor at expressing their feelings," he said.

"Instead of speaking about their feelings they chose to lash out with violence."

The riots began as a protest against a YouTube clip mocking Islam before degenerating into angry clashes in which police were pelted with bottles, timber poles and other missiles.
. . .
"Freedom of speech cannot be a vehicle by which violence can be perpetrated," she said.

Ms Culver sentenced Eid to at least 33 months in jail with a total term of just over four years. She said she would have given him four years for rioting alone if not for local court rules which imposed a cap on the length of sentences.

Eid smiled and hugged supporters before he was taken into custody.

US: Muslim cleric invited to pray over fallen SEALs damns them as 'infidels to Allah' during service[edit]

The families of Navy SEALs killed in an August 2011 shoot-down of a helicopter in Afghanistan spoke at a press conference Thursday morning, citing a number of grievances, including an allegation that the Pentagon invited a Muslim cleric who “disparaged in Arabic the memory of these servicemen.”

In addition to blasting the Obama administration for the mission and for an official investigation they deemed a cover-up, the families complained that “military brass, while prohibiting any mention of a Judeo-Christian God, invited a Muslim cleric to the funeral for the fallen Navy SEAL Team VI heroes who disparaged in Arabic the memory of these servicemen by damning them as infidels to Allah.”

During the news conference, attorney Larry Klayman who is representing the grieving parents showed a video with audio of the prayer and a translation that scrolled over the screen.

Canada: Via Rail terror suspects discussed plans to poison air/water to kill up to 100,000 people, third man arrested[edit]

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

Two of the Via Rail terror suspects allegedly contemplated poisoning the air or water before settling on the plot to target a passenger train, according to newly released U.S. court documents.

The fresh details came to light Thursday as American authorities revealed an FBI sting operation scooped up a third man in connection to the foiled plot to derail a train between Toronto and New York.

Ahmed Abassi, a Tunisian citizen who previously lived in Canada, has been charged with two counts of knowingly making false statements in an application to immigration authorities for a green card and work visa, in order to facilitate an act of international terrorism.

"As alleged, Mr. Abassi came to the United States to pursue terrorist activity and support others in the same shameful pursuit. What Mr. Abassi didn't know was that one of his associates, privy to the details of his plan, was an undercover FBI agent," said FBI assistant director-in-charge George Venizelos in a statement.

Authorities arrested Abassi at New York's JFK airport on April 22, the same day Canadian law enforcement nabbed Chiheb Esseghaier, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, of Toronto.

In its release, the U.S. Department of Justice alleges Abassi was responsible for radicalizing Esseghaier and met with him in New York City after travelling to the U.S. in mid-March. It is unclear where Abassi lived in Canada or how long he was there.

In recorded conversations with Esseghaier and the undercover FBI agent, Abassi allegedly talked about his desire to commit terrorist acts in the U.S. and other countries and his intention to provide support to terror organizations including an al-Qaida affiliate based in Iraq called the al-Nusrah Front.

It's also alleged he had plans to recruit others to his cause.

Court documents released by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York describe how Abassi and Esseghaier worked to hatch the alleged plan including that "the defendant noted that he had suggested an alternative plot -- contaminating the air or water with bacteria in order to kill up to 100,000 people -- but that Esseghaier was dismissive of that plan."...

Egypt: Activists post video online that depicts police officer attempting to attack detained citizen and threatening him with rape[edit]

The video posted on the website of the privately-owned Egyptian daily Youm 7 shows a point of view shot of an inmate behind bars with a police officer verbally abusing him.

However, when the police officer realized he was being filmed by the detainee, he approached the cage and started threatening the prisoner.

The officer shouted at Mohammed al-Sayed saying he will “break his phone” and “rape him” if he does not stop recording, the newspaper said.

Al-Sayed replied back “you will take my phone because I’m recording the truth,” a statement which can be heard in the video in Arabic.

The video went viral on Egyptian social media.

The newspaper reported on Wednesday that al-Sayed originally went to the police station to report a car accident.

Al-Sayed and a mini-bus driver collide on the streets of Egypt but upon reaching the police station for legal procedures agreed to reconcile.

However, the officer, seen in the video, refused to dismiss them, according to the newspaper, which added that the officer instead told them they should have thought it though before coming to the police station in the first place. He later detained al-Sayed, the newspaper reported...

Bangladesh: Another prominent leader of Jamaat-e-Islami has been sentenced to death by the country's war crimes tribunal[edit]

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

Muhammad Kamaruzzaman was found guilty on five out of seven counts of torture and mass murder committed during the 1971 war of independence.

The tribunal was set up in 2010 to try people accused of collaboration.

Kamaruzzaman, who denied the charges and said his trial was politically motivated, is set to appeal.

Jamaat says the government is using the trials to curb opposition activities ahead of elections due next year.

International rights groups, meanwhile, say the tribunal falls short of international standards.

Street battles In a packed Dhaka court room, Kamaruzzaman - the assistant secretary-general of Jamaat - was convicted of mass killings, rape, torture and kidnapping, said Attorney General Mahbubey Alam.

He was found guilty of masterminding what the prosecution described as one of the bloodiest single episodes in the independence war - the killing of at least 120 unarmed farmers in the remote northern village of Sohagpur which subsequently became known as the "Village of the Widows".

Three women widowed as a result of the killings testified against Kamaruzzaman during his trial. They described how he led Pakistani troops to the village and helped them to line up and execute the farmers.

The BBC's Salman Saeed, who was in court, says Kamaruzzaman looked tense throughout the proceedings, and when the verdict was announced he stood up to declare it was the "wrong judgement".

"History will not forgive anyone," he said. "History will put everyone in the dock."

Thursday's announcement of the verdict and death sentence prompted cheers of celebration from crowds gathered outside, says the BBC's Masud Khan in Dhaka.

Kamaruzzaman, who would have been about 18 during Bangladesh's secession war, was charged in August 2010, a month after being arrested in a separate criminal case.

He was accused of being a key organiser of the al-Badr, an auxiliary force of the Pakistani army which killed Bangladeshi intellectuals during the 1971 conflict.

His conviction comes at a testing time for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who has made prosecution of 1971 war crimes one of her government's key goals.

Analysts say the death sentence will only exacerbate an already febrile situation in a country where police and Islamist protesters have this week been fighting deadly battles on the streets of the capital Dhaka.

The umbrella organisation behind the protests - of which Jamaat is a part - is calling for the introduction of more Islamic laws, and has shown it can easily mobilise vast numbers onto the streets...

Switzerland: Turks protest against monument to commemorate the Armenian Genocide[edit]

Perhaps the most famous contemporary Armenian, the singer Charles Aznavour, who is well over 80, was present personally two years ago as the city of Geneva presented its plans for a memorial. The memorial was to commemorate the genocide that victimised up to 1.5 million Armenians in the First World War. The reaction of Turkey was not long in coming: they protested to the department for foreign agairs. Then all went quiet about the project. In short, only the veto of the cantonal memorial commission only applied to the planned location in Geneva's old town.

But now the promoters have found a new place for the "Lanterns of Tears", which - instead of lamps - are intended to hold tears made from steel. Now the memorial is to be in Ariana park, right next to the UN building...

Turkish circles are not going to the barricades over these plans. In recent weeks they have not only interceded with the Geneva authorities, but tried to mobilise the management of the UN building against the project. Celâl Bayar, president of the Union of Turkish Associations of Suisse Romande, confirmed that the Turkish side had intervened with the UN.

The new site is "a provocation", says Bayar. The memorial infringes the principles of the UN, as in the case of the Armenians there had been no genocide according to the Genocide Convention, he said. The Turkish embassy in Bern also condemns the project. The memorial is "an expression of hatred", he writes in an opinion. Such a controversial topic must be dealt with "in an open, objective and academic debate" and not the one-sided view of one party, he said. Turkey does not accept the "Events of 1915" - according to the official formulation - as genocide.
Türkei will Gedenkstätte in Genf verhindern (English translation)
Neue Zürcher Zeitung (German), May 9, 2013

India: Taliban linked group issue diktat in Uttar Pradesh: no night weddings, punishment of 100 lashes for those found flouting their orders[edit]

The outfit, which still does not have a formal name, has instilled fear among the local people and all weddings in the Palia area, along the UP-Nepal border, have either been postponed or are being held in broad daylight.

Some people approached the police officials of the area who have ordered action against the persons issuing the diktat but no one has been identified so far.

“Some local influential people are a part of this outfit and if we take their names, we will have to face the consequences. Even the police know who they are but they are avoiding action,” said a local school teacher who has shifted the venue of his daughter’s wedding to Kanpur, where his relatives live.

The school teacher, who requested anonymity, said that as soon as he booked marriage hall for the wedding, representatives form the outfit came to his house and began pulling him out for the 100 whip lashes.

“I begged for mercy and promised to toe their line. Almost overnight, we decided to shift the venue of the wedding to Kanpur where my relatives made all the arrangements within two days. The groom’s family also cooperated with us and now the wedding will be held on May 12,” the father said.

Another case is that of Mukhtar Jahan and her husband Abdul Karim who belong to Mahigiran locality. Both had fixed their daughter’s wedding on April 15 and had hosted a dinner on the occasion where more than 400 guests were expected to attend.

The couple realised the impact of the diktat when not even a single guest turned up for the feast and the entire food went waste. The baraat came and the wedding rituals were rushed through to avoid any untoward incident.

Pakistan: Taliban send suicide bombers to mount election-day attacks on country’s historic polls[edit]

The Taliban have sent suicide bombers to mount election-day attacks on Pakistan’s historic polls, a militant commander said on Thursday, following a bloody campaign which has claimed more than 100 lives.

Saturday’s vote will be a democratic milestone in a country ruled for half its history by the military but the Pakistani Taliban have condemned it as un-Islamic.

They have directly threatened the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and its main partners in the outgoing government, seriously restricting their ability to campaign, and staged a series of attacks during the campaign.

The insurgents’ leader Hakimullah Mehsud had personally ordered suicide bombings on polling day, said a Taliban commander in the northwest.

“The Taliban has dispatched several of fedayeen (suicide bombers) to carry attacks on election across Pakistan,” he told AFP on condition of anonymity.

AFP saw a copy of a letter apparently sent from Mehsud to Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, mapping out the plan for bombings.

“You take care of attacks in Punjab and Sindh. I will take care of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan,” it said in reference to Pakistan’s four provinces.

Attacks on politicians and political parties, most of them claimed by the Taliban, have already killed 113 people since mid-April, according to an AFP tally.

Pakistan has said it will deploy more than 600,000 security personnel on polling day.

A separate pamphlet distributed by a previously unknown group in the most notorious Taliban and Al-Qaeda-stronghold of North Waziristan has warned people of punishment if they allow women to vote.

The Taliban threats have cowed the PPP, which has run a leaderless campaign. Its chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari — too young to stand — has not been seen in public...

Iran: Christian convert arrested in February, 2012 suffering from internal bleeding, refused access to a doctor by prison officials[edit]

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

One of the Christian prisoners in Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz is in critical health condition, suffering from a lack of much needed medical care.

According to Mohabat News correspondents, Vahid Hakkani, a Christian prisoner in Shiraz, is suffering from internal bleeding of his digestive system. As told by doctors in prison, he needs surgery urgently. However, prison officials do not seem to care and have not taken any action to accommodate his transfer to a hospital for the much needed surgery. Mr. Hakkani's condition has been reported as critical.

Unfortunately, prisoners of the ward known as "Ebrat" (meaning edification), Mr. Hakkani being among them, are not given even minimum care and time to get fresh air. This has caused physical and mental difficulties for many of them. The ward is especially dedicated to prisoners of conscience.

Also, because these prisoners are taken to medical centers with their hands and feet chained and are humiliated, they do not readily express personal interest to be transferred to hospital.

Mr. Hakkani, together with Mojtaba Seyyed-Alaedin Hossein, Mohammad-Reza Partoei (also known as Koroush), and Homayoun Shokouhi, were arrested as they gathered for worship in a house church on February 8, 2012. The security authorities arrested them as well as a number of other Christian believers in attendance for participating in house-church services, evangelizing and promoting Christianity, having contact with foreign Christian ministries, propagatin

Pakistan: Unknown group warned that women in Waziristan should not vote in Saturday’s general election, threatening punishment[edit]

“The people of Waziristan are hereby warned that they should not allow their women to cast votes and shouldn’t let any candidate influence them”, said the pamphlet, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

Signed by “Mujahideen”, the leaflets were thrown from vehicles into shops in the town of Miranshah, an AFP reporter said. “Take our words, this kind of disgraceful act will not be tolerated and anyone influencing women to cast a vote will be punished,” the pamphlet said.

In tribal communities women live in purdah, confined to women’s-only quarters at home. They do not go shopping, they do not work outside the house and they only go to hospital in a dire emergency.

Out of a population of 180 million in Pakistan, 37 million women and 48 million men are registered to vote in the May 11 polls in a country that has been ruled by generals for half its life and where military coups have repeatedly interrupted democracy.

But in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, adjoining tribal areas on the Afghan border and Balochistan, few women voted at the last election and officials fear it will be the same again.

In 2008, not a single vote was cast at 564 of 28,800 women’s polling stations, officials said. In the most conservative areas, officials estimated women’s turnout at 10-15 per cent of those registered.
Women in Waziristan warned not to vote
The Express Tribune, May 8, 2013

PA: Senior official praises the use of violence against Israel, 'if we had nuke, we'd have used it this morning'[edit]

A senior Palestinian Authority has praised the use of violence against Israel, asserting that if the PA had the military wherewithal to rise up against the Jewish state, it would not hesitate to do so.

"I swear that if we had a nuke, we'd have used it this very morning," vowed Jibril Rajoub during an interview with the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen TV channel, as reported by the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).

Jibril Rajoub is the Deputy Secretary of the Fatah Central Committee and Chairman of the PA Olympic Committee.

The interview was also published on Rajoub's Facebook page on May 2, 2013.

According to PMW, two other senior PA officials also expressed open support for the murderer who killed Evyatar Borovsky, an Israeli who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist last week as he was waiting for a bus at the Tapuach junction in Samaria.

"We salute the heroic fighter, the self-sacrificing Salam Al-Zaghal," said Abu Al-Einein, who was until recently an advisor holding the rank of minister to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas...

US: Over 100 Holocaust scholars urge President Obama to cancel planned visit by Sudanese leaders involved in the Darfur genocide[edit]

One hundred and seven leading Holocaust and genocide scholars from around the world have sent a letter of protest to President Obama, urging him to cancel a planned visit to the United States by Sudanese leaders involved in the Darfur genocide.

The delegation will represent Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for his role in the Darfur genocide. Heading the delegation will be Bashir adviser Nafie Ali Nafie, a prominent participant in the mass killings.

The letter of protest was organized by The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, based in Washington, D.C. It is the latest in a series of Wyman Institute initiatives seeking U.S. action to stop the Darfur atrocities and bring Bashir to justice.

"We must make it clear to the perpetrators of genocide that the United States will treat them as outlaws and bring them to justice, not treat them as respected statesmen and bring them here for friendly visits," the letter of protest argues.

The letter continues: "[W]e have just marked the 70th anniversary of the tragic Bermuda conference of 1943, at which the United States and England pretended to take an interest in the victims of Nazi genocide, but then did nothing to intervene. Let us not repeat that tragic mistake. The victims of Darfur must not be abandoned as were the Jews of Europe."

The 107 signatories on the letter, who come from the United States, Germany, Canada, Israel, England, South Africa, and Sweden, include the most distinguished figures in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies. The signatories include:

  • Prof. David S. Wyman, author of The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust 1941-1945.
  • Prof. Ben Kiernan, director of the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University.
  • Prof. Yehuda Bauer, former director of Yad Vashem’s International Center for Holocaust Studies.
  • Prof. Deborah Lipstadt of Emory University, author of History on Trial.
  • Prof. Walter Reich, former director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The complete text of the petition follows below...

PA: Hamas lobbying for stricter enforcement of Islamic law - including cutting off hands of thieves and lashes for drinking[edit]

Hamas is lobbying for a stricter enforcement of Islamic law in Gaza – including provisions to cut off the hands of thieves, and execution of individuals who cheat on their spouses. A report in the Al-Hayat daily newspaper said that Hamas expects the new regulations to take effect in the coming months, after introduction of the legislation in the PA parliament.

Existing laws mete out the death penalty to individuals convicted of murder, spying, homosexuality, or selling land to Jews. The new legislation will expand the crimes for which individuals can be executed to include disloyalty to a spouse – having sexual relations outside the context of marriage. Other provisions of the law include chopping off the right hand of a thief (along with at least a seven year jail sentence), and lashes for a large number of “crimes,” including drinking alcoholic beverages and gambling. All the punishments are derived from sharia, Islamic law.

In addition, girls age 15 will be able to decide to marry on their own, without requiring permission from their parents. Individuals age ten and over are considered adults under the new legislation, and are subject to the full force of the law for offenses...

Tanzania: Three Emirati men, a Saudi national and five Tanzanians arrested over a deadly church bombing[edit]

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

Tanzania has arrested three Emirati men and a Saudi national over a deadly church bombing, officials said Wednesday, clarifying earlier reports they were all from Saudi Arabia.

Five Tanzanians have also been arrested following the Sunday attack on a packed church in the northern city of Arusha that killed three people.

"There are three nationals of the United Arab Emirates and a Saudi... they were arrested while trying to cross the border" into Kenya, Arusha's governor Magesa Mulongo told AFP.

None of those arrested have been charged yet, he added.

"Investigations are continuing. They are only suspects at this time. They can be released or brought to trial, it will depend on the results of the investigations."

The bomb attack, which no group is known to have claimed yet, was described by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete as "an act of terrorism" and was one of the worst such incidents to hit the east African country in years.

More than 60 people were injured when attackers hurled a bomb into the compound of the newly built Saint Joseph's Roman Catholic church.

The church, in the Olasti district on the outskirts of Arusha, was celebrating its inaugural mass at the time and was filled with worshippers, many of whom were sitting on benches outside.

Arusha is a town popular with tourists visiting the Serengeti national park and snowcapped Mount Kilimanjaro.

The Vatican's ambassador to Tanzania, Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla, was among those attending mass at the church but was not harmed.

Officials have given no indication as to who might have carried out the attack, but tensions have been high between Tanzania's Christian and Muslim communities in recent months.

Kikwete, who said he was "shocked and deeply saddened" by the incident, has called on people to remain calm while police investigate the attack.

Around half of Tanzanians are believed to be Christian, and around a third Muslim, although there are no official figures...

Indonesia: Homosexuals living in Aceh province will be publicly lashed 100 times under proposed bylaw backed by capital’s deputy governor[edit]

For more on persecution of homosexuals, click here.

Homosexual men and women living in Indonesia’s strictly conservative Aceh province would be publicly lashed 100 times under a proposed bylaw backed by the provincial capital’s deputy governor.

Banda Aceh Deputy Mayor Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal called homosexuality “a social disease that should be eradicated,” as she pushed for harsher bylaws against sexual behavior that runs counter to the region’s adherence to Islamic Shariah Law.

The Aceh Legislative Council (DPRA) is discussing proposed changes to the province’s bylaws, including a bylaw criminalizing homosexuality. The proposed bylaw received the support of the deputy mayor, who bemoaned the fact that police were unable to punish same-sex couples under current regulations.

“There is no law that could be used to charge them,” Illiza said. “The existing [regulations] only stipulate about khalwat [being in close proximity] for intimate relations between unmarried males and females.”

Banda Aceh’s Shariah Police have struggled to crack down on same-sex relationships, Illiza said. Couples meet in rented rooms and pursue relationships under a veil of secrecy, she said.

The deputy mayor said she was prompted to action by a 2012 survey on at-risk communities and HIV/AIDS transmission rates in Aceh. Illiza told the Jakarta Globe she didn’t remember the specifics of the survey’s findings, but was concerned that some respondents told surveyors they were gay.

“If we ignore it, it will be like an iceberg,” Illiza said. “Even if one case of homosexuality found, it’s already a problem… we are really concerned about the behavior and activities of the gay community, because their behavior is deviating from the Islamic Shariah.”...

Turkey: Prime Minister moving toward allowing Hagia Sophia, now a museum, to be opened as a mosque[edit]

According to the Turkish daily newspaper Vatan, during a meeting between the executives of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Erdoğan was called to answer whether or not and when Hagia Sophia will start to function as a mosque.

He did not exclude the possibility of Hagia Sophia serving as a mosque and said “The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (i.e. the Blue Mosque) is empty during the hours of praying. When it will be full we can discuss the topic of opening Hagia Sophia for praying”.

Some took Erdoğan’s response as a vacillation and others as a first sign of plans for permitting the opening of Hagia Sophia as a mosque. In the last month, religious organizations in Turkey began a petition drive backing the use of the former Byzantine temple as a mosque.
Erdoğan Mulls Hagia Sophia As Mosque
Greek Reporter, May 7, 2013

Burma: Seven Muslims charged with the murder of a Buddhist monk that fueled deadly communal riots two months ago[edit]

Seven Muslims in Burma have been charged with the murder of a Buddhist monk that fueled deadly communal riots two months ago in central Meikhtila city, lawyers said Tuesday.

Six of them face the death penalty if convicted in one of the most high profile cases since sectarian violence first flared nearly a year ago.

A seventh suspect, who is under 16 years old, will be tried in a juvenile court in connection with the murder of the monk identified as Thawbita who, according to reports, was pulled off his motorbike, attacked and burned on March 20.

If found guilty, the maximum sentence that could be imposed on the teenager is seven years in jail.

The masterminds of the alleged murder have not been held yet, lawyers said.

"The real four perpetrators [of the alleged crime] are on the run," lawyer Thein Than Oo told RFA's Burmese Service.

He said the suspects were charged under various laws, including the Criminal Procedure Code and Religious Crime Act.

The monk was among at least 43 people killed in a wave of violence stemming from a quarrel between a Buddhist couple and a Muslim goldsmith in his shop.

Last month the goldsmith was among three Muslims sentenced to 14 years in prison each for various offenses, including aggravated assault, attempted injury, and aiding and abetting crimes.

A total of 70 people have been held in connection with the Meikhtila violence, the Irrawaddy journal reported.

They are comprised of 28 Muslims and 42 Buddhists, it said...

Sweden: Appeals court reduces sentence of 17-year-old boy found of guilty fatally stabbing his sister more than 100 times in honor killing[edit]

For earlier news on the same subject, click here. For more on Honor Related Violence, click here.

A Swedish appeals court has reduced a lower court's eight-year prison sentence for a 17-year-old boy found of guilty fatally stabbing his sister more than 100 times after she fled a forced marriage in Iraq, in what the court referred to as an "honour killing".

In a ruling issued on Tuesday, the Malmö Court of Appeals (Hövrätten), upheld the teen's guilty verdict, but discarded the lower court's eight-year prison sentence.

The court instead sentenced the boy to four years in juvenile detention because he was 16 when he killed his sister.

As the boy was only days away from his 17th birthday at the time of the attack, the lower court had decided to punish him as a 17-year-old rather than as a 16-year-old, allowing for a longer prison sentence.

The appeals court verdict stated that had the the crime been committed by an adult, it would have warranted a sentence of life in prison.

The appeals court's verdict also confirmed that there was enough evidence to tie the teen to the murder, restating that the apparent motive was the notion of protecting the family's honour.

The 17-year-old's sister had previously fled a forced marriage in Iraq and returned to Sweden. Her body was found with multiple stab wounds in her Landskrona apartment in April 2012.

Representatives of the Malmö-based organization Tänk om, which works to stop honour crimes, told local media at the time that the woman had been in touch with them for one year since returning to Sweden and that she slept with a knife under her pillow for fear of reprisals over her escape.

They claimed local authorities had ignored their warnings that the woman was under threat and needed protection.

After being found guilty in district court, the victim's brother appealed his sentence and argued he should be set free.

Upon learning of the verdict, attorney Elisabeth Massi Fritz, who represented the victim's sister, claimed the question of sentencing for violent crimes committed by young people should be tried in the Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen).

"You have to look at what sort of murder we're dealing with. There are a number of complicating circumstances," she told the TT news agency.

She added, however, that she was happy that the appeals court had confirmed the "honour" motive for the killing, seeing the verdict as a sign that the Swedish courts are starting to deal with a matter facing many young people in Sweden.

"I'm even more pleased considering all of those who have actually been victims of honour crimes," she said.

Egypt: Muslim preacher rapes his 12-year-old Qur'an student inside mosque after seducing him[edit]

An Egyptian Islamic preacher raped his 12-year-old Quran student inside a mosque in the North African Arab country after seducing him into the workers’ room.

Police arrested the preacher after the boy’s father reported the incident at the mosque in Cairo and examination showed the boy was telling the truth.

Newspapers said the Sheikh, who holds a degree in Islamic law, lured the child into the workers’ room at the mosque, claiming he wanted to give him a new Quran lesson.

“The boy later rushed to his father crying and told him what the Sheikh did to him…when the boy recounted what happened, his parents were stunned and his father rushed to the police station,” the Egyptian Alyoum Alsabei daily said.
Preacher rapes boy inside Egypt mosque
Emirates 24/7, May 7, 2013

Syria: Hezbollah use knives to butcher 20 people, most of them women and children[edit]

Fierce fighting continues between Syrian army forces and rebels around the city of Al Qusair, in the rural area of Homs.

A spokesman for the rebels in Homs told the Al Sharq newspaper that Hizbullah forces carried out yet another massacre Monday near Al Qusair, in which they used knives to murder twenty people – most of them women and children who had been fleeing the battle zone.

The spokesman noted that Syrian army forces and their Hizbullah collaborators are no longer carrying out arrests, but simply killing every person who falls into their hands, as part of a strategy of ethnic cleansing intended to facilitate the establishment of an Alawite state in eastern Syria...
Hizbullah 'Slaughtering Syrians'
Israel National News, May 7, 2013

US: City of Dearborn apologizes for arresting Christians at 2010 Arab Festival, settlement reached in lawsuit[edit]

After more than two years of intense motion practice and discovery, the City of Dearborn has agreed to enter into a settlement that includes a public apology for arresting several Christian missionaries who were peacefully preaching to Muslims at the Dearborn Arab International Festival in 2010. The American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), a national nonprofit Judeo-Christian law firm, is representing Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, David Wood, and Paul Rezkalla, who were thrown in jail on June 18, 2010, and charged with “breach of the peace” for their free speech activity.

In September 2010, Robert Muise, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, represented the Christians during a five-day criminal trial. At the end of the trial, the Christians were acquitted by a unanimous jury verdict. Following the acquittals, fellow AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel David Yerushalmi and Muise filed a 100-page, civil rights lawsuit against the City, its mayor, John B. O’Reilly, its chief of police, Ronald Haddad, 17 City police officers, and two executives from the American Arab Chamber of Commerce on behalf Qureshi, Wood, and Rezkalla. The lawsuit was later amended to add the Arab Chamber as a defendant. The civil rights complaint alleged that the Christians’ constitutional rights were egregiously violated during the Arab festival.

Just this past week, the City agreed to enter into a settlement, which includes a public apology that will be posted on the City’s website for three years; the removal from the City’s website of a press release and letter from the mayor that contained derogatory comments about the Christians; and a payment to the Christians, the amount of which is confidential. The legal claims against the Arab Chamber defendants will proceed.

The City’s public apology states as follows: 

On June 18, 2010, David Wood, Nabeel Qureshi (co-founders of Acts 17 Apologetics) and Paul Rezkalla were arrested by Dearborn police officers at the Dearborn Arab International Festival (“Arab Festival”), while they were engaging in a peaceful dialogue about their Christian faith with several festival attendees. Wood, Qureshi, and Rezkalla were subsequently charged with breach of peace, a misdemeanor offense.

The decision to arrest these individuals was based in part on information provided to the Dearborn police by Arab Festival attendees, workers, and volunteers. When all of the information—including the video captured by Wood, Qureshi, and Rezkalla—was presented to a Dearborn jury, the jury found that these individuals were not guilty of the criminal offense of breach of peace.

The City of Dearborn regrets and apologizes for the decisions to arrest and prosecute David Wood, Nabeel Qureshi, and Paul Rezkalla and the hardship caused to everyone involved.

Through this apology and its acceptance by David Wood, Nabeel Qureshi, and Paul Rezkalla, the parties seek to build a bridge and to confirm to the community that members of all faiths are welcome in Dearborn to peacefully share their views and to engage in religious discussions.

Muise commented, “For too long our clients have been vilified for simply exercising their constitutional right to evangelize on a public street during the Arab Festival. And despite their acquittal, they continued to be treated as if they had committed a crime. With this settlement and apology, our clients have been vindicated and this dispute with the City will finally be put to rest.”

Yerushalmi added, “While the dispute with the City is over, there is still unfinished business with the Arab Chamber. As the City itself noted in its apology, Arab Festival volunteers and workers, who were acting under the guidance and direction of the Arab Chamber and its executive director, Fay Beydoun, and pursuant to the Chamber’s festival ‘rules and regulations,’ are similarly responsible for the violation of our clients’ rights, and we intend to hold them accountable.”

Egypt: Mother sets fire to herself and two daughters for ‘spoiling the family’s reputation’ among the neighbors[edit]

An Egyptian mother set fire to herself and her two daughters as she could not bear their ‘misconduct’ of going out and coming late as it ‘spoiled the family’s reputation’ among the neighbors, reported Sada Al Balad newspaper.

Giza Police Department received a tip from 6th October Hospital about the arrival of a housewife and her two daughters suffering severe burns which led to their death upon arrival at the hospital.

Investigations revealed that an altercation had broken out between the mother and her two daughters because they stayed away for long periods and had multiple boyfriends, which led to bad reputation among neighbours.

The angry mother poured kerosene on the body of her two daughters and her body and set fire to them and in herself.

The fire spread to their apartment alerting the neighbors who broke the door of the apartment, but could not save them.

The mother is divorced and had taken the custody of her daughters from her husband.

The investigations and the neighbours’ testimony revealed that she was always quarreling with them because they used to go out of the house for long periods.

The victims were buried and the prosecution was notified.

Tanzania: Four Saudi Arabian citizens arrested following a bomb attack on a Catholic church[edit]

A police commander in Tanzania says four Saudi Arabian citizens have been arrested following a bomb attack on a Catholic church.

Magesa Mulogo said Monday that the four Saudi nationals were among six people arrested.

Mulongo said two people died in Sunday's bombing of a newly opened church in the northern city of Arusha. Nearly four dozen people were wounded in the blast just before the church's inaugural Mass, which was attended by the pope's envoy to Tanzania.

Mulogo said eyewitnesses reported that the bomb was thrown from a motorcycle into the church. Mulogo said the driver of the motorcycle is among those arrested.

Bangladesh: More than 140 Christian children rescued from madrassas, girls were used for forced labor and sex slavery[edit]

More than 140 children have been rescued from Islamic training centers (madrassas) in the last nine months, with a majority of the children targeted because of their Christian faith. The females, accounting for nearly half of those rescued, report that they were used for forced labor and sex slavery.

New information has come to light regarding the treatment of the young girls rescued from madrassas earlier this year. “They were forcefully converted to Islam,” said Akash, a contact for International Christian Concern (ICC) whose name is changed for security reasons. “The girls were made to wear veils at all times. Some girls were also forced to work as slaves in the homes of Muslim families and were only fed one time a day.”

The rescued girls were told they would study at a Christian school and receive training to become beauticians. However, after completing the grueling travel from their villages to the capitol city, Dhaka, they discovered it was all a lie. “Instead of training in the Beautifying Parlor, we were forcefully sent to hotels for the sex trade,” explained one of the girls. Suspicions Lead to Rescue


Last year Akash was selling bus tickets for a transportation company in Bangladesh when he noticed that a man named Norbert Tripura frequently traveled to Dhaka with groups of children. When asked what he was doing, Norbert replied that he was taking the children to a Christian missionary school “where they can eat and live in comfort with a good education.” Hoping for his daughter to have the opportunity for a quality education, Akash asked Norbert to take her to the Christian missionary school, and became suspicious when he was refused. “Doubt was created in my mind when Norbert continued to avoid me,” said Akash.

Akash began to investigate the matter and soon discovered that countless families had sent their children with men, including Norbert, who were later discovered to be traffickers. With the help of an ICC ministry partner, Akash arranged for the rescue of the first twelve children in July 2012. More were rescued in October 2012, followed by over 100 rescued since January 2013. How Does This Happen


As Christians, these children and their families are a marginalized minority in a country that is over 90% Muslim. As minorities, Christians find it difficult to locate jobs and obtain quality education. They are sometimes even banned from using community wells in the villages. As a result, many Christians, specifically the Tripura people, are extremely poor and desperate for a better life for their children. This, in turn, leaves them vulnerable to traffickers like Norbert.

Reports by The Kapaeeng Foundation and ICC’s partner in Bangladesh indicate that there may be as many as 138 children from Rangamati, 42 from Banderban and six from Khagrachari that are still missing. “We think they are also sold to madrassas and we are searching for them,” said Akash. “It is my dream that all the children will be rescued and receive a higher education so that they can stand on their own two feet.”

Turkey: Man opens fire near a Church in Istanbul, tensions high as another church attacked by a mob not long before[edit]

An armed man opened fire near the Surp Asdvadzadzin Armenian Church in the European-side neighborhood of Kumkapı today following Eastern liturgy.

The unidentified assailant opened fire into the air seven times before walking off on foot. The attack caused huge panic among those attending the service, but no one was injured.

Police were deployed to the church after the incident and launched an investigation to search for the whereabouts of the assailant. Following the first inspection, police determined that the seven empty cases belonged to the same gun.

Tanzania: Bomb blast hits a Catholic church, killing one child and injuring more than 30 people[edit]

A bomb blast hit a Catholic church on Sunday in Arusha in northern Tanzania, killing one child and injuring more than 30 people, witnesses reported.

The dead was among the church followers who were gathering for Sunday prayers.

The church located in Arusha's Olasiti suburb was bombed just before a mass in the presence of Bishop Josaphat Louis Lebulu of Arusha Diocese, who was accompanied by a representative of Pope of Vatican.

Police in Arusha said one man was arrested in connection with the incident, which caused a lot of panic in the tourist capital of the East African country.

Casualties are yet to be updated. "We are still working on the matter. We'll give more detail after investigating the matter," said Arusha Regional Police Commander Liberatus Sabas.

He said the man was arrested following a tip-off from people at the scene when the explosion occurred.

"We are still interrogating the suspect," he said.

Regional Commissioner Magesa Mulongo described the blast as horrific and unique in Tanzanian history, calling on the public to remain calm.

"So, people should continue with their daily activities, as police and other security organs have normalized the situation," Mulongo said.

A witness said, "I saw more than 30 people, taken by a police vehicle, which took them to the Mount Meru Regional Hospital."

Another witness said the bomb hit the church at around 10:00 a. m. local time when church followers were gathering for the historic Sunday prayer at the new church.

"We were trying to organize ourselves for the mass, when we heard loud sound, the situation that made more people to start rushing out of the church," a witness told Xinhua...

UK: Imam at one of Scotland’s biggest mosques arrested in drugs raid, 'significant quantity' of crack cocaine found at his home[edit]

Cops reportedly found a “significant quantity” of crack cocaine and cash at a property owned by the imam in Leith, Edinburgh.

It’s understood the religious leader, who cannot be named, regularly leads prayers at the capital’s Central Mosque. Last night one source said: “Nobody had any idea. This will come as a huge shock to everyone.

“We must be careful not to jump to conclusions. This comes totally out of the blue.”

The arrest on Thursday came as part of Operation Amend, which saw officers seize more than £500,000 of drugs and cash in the city in two days.

Police Scotland confirmed a man had been arrested and charged in connection with alleged drug offences.

Indonesia: Mob of 400 Muslims attack Ahmadiyah community, Ahmadiyah Mosque and homes destroyed[edit]

An Ahmadiyah community in Tasikmalaya, West Java, was left in shambles on Sunday after hundreds of Islamic hard-line group members destroyed homes in their village.

Asep Taufik Ahmad, a member of the Sukamaju village in the Singaparna subdistrict, said some 400 hard-liners from a mass organization stormed the village at 1 p.m. and damaged dozens of houses belonging to followers of a minority sect of Islam, Ahmadiyah.

“It all started with our decision to hold a Koran recital event to commemorate Isra Mi’raj [the birth of prophet Muhammad]. We already informed the local police about our plan,” Asep told the Jakarta Globe on Sunday.

The police tried to persuade the villagers to not go through with their plan, citing security issues.

“The police said we should cancel the event for our own safety, because a mass organization, I won’t say which one, was apparently unhappy with our activity, but we proceeded anyway because it was a religious activity,” he said.

Some 60 police officers were standing by to secure the event. However, Asep said that hundreds of hardliners came to the village Sunday afternoon and broke past the police barricade.

“The police were outnumbered, everything happened so fast. Suddenly they managed to get into our village and started to attack our houses with stones and sticks while chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ ['God is great']. There was not much the police could do to stop them, they were totally out of control,” he said, adding that the assailants left the village about two hours later.

“Fortunately there was no fatality or casualty, even though many of our belongings were damaged and people here are still traumatized,” he said.

Tasikmalaya Police chief Sr. Comr. Wijonarko told Indonesian news portal portalkbr.com that the attackers were not only from Tasikmalaya but also from Bandung and Ciamis. He said even though the attackers did not wear any identifying articles, the police believe they were members of the Islamic Defender Front (FPI).

Asep denied reports that the hard-liners set an Ahmadiyah mosque on fire.

Ahamdiyah men have been guarding the village since last night, Asep added.

“We did not have a wink of sleep since last night, we are still too scared because we heard that more hard-liners from Majalengka will come to attack us,” he said.

Asep said on Sunday around 3:00 p.m. that police officers were standing by in the village, but no additional personnel had been deployed since the attack.

Singaparna Police chief Comr. Nono Suyono told Indonesian news portal Detik.com that the police were investigating the attack.

“The case is now being handled by Tasikmalaya Police,” he said...

Chechnya: Ramzan Kadyrov invites foreign tourists to his republic, saying on his twitter account, "In Chechnya it is safer than in England"[edit]

Pro-Kremlin Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has invited foreign tourists to come to his republic, saying on his twitter account, "In Chechnya it is safer than in England."

Kadyrov's May 4 invitation comes after Britain’s Foreign Office issued a warning to its citizens on May 3 to avoid travel to Chechnya, Daghestan, Ingushetia, and several areas of Stavropol Krai, all regions in Russia's North Caucasus.

Russia's North Caucasus region remains volatile, with security forces and police regularly clashing with armed criminal groups and Islamic militants.
Kadyrov: Chechnya 'Safer Than England'
Radio Free Europe, May 5, 2013

Syria: US backed rebels destroy Christian monastery in Deir Ezzo, no longer any Christians left[edit]

“There was an explosion near our church in Deir Ezzor that destroyed it,” writes Br. Antoine Haddad, Viceprovincial Minister of Lebanon, in a message to us.

The news was picked up by the media because the two Capuchin friars who lived there, with the help of the Lebanese and Syrian International Red Cross, and the nuncios of Lebanon and Syria, left with the Sisters of Mother Teresa and about ten seniors who lived in our place.

They were the last remaining Christians in the area to leave. The church was completely destroyed, but until now it was not possible to know if the friary was hit or not, because there are no longer any Christians in Deir Ezzor, apart from one who returned because he lived in the ‘quieter’ area of the city. His attempts to get to the scene did not succeed because of intense gunfire. Until recently, our church of Deir Ezzor was the only one left almost intact. But then a few months ago there was a video on YouTube in which you could see the church with the door and side wall gutted and soldiers entering.

“Deir Ezzor is a city in the east of Syria, on the Euphrates, between Palmyra and the Iraqi border.—Br. Antoine explains—Our presence there goes back to the thirties of the last century, but our presence in the area goes back a lot farther. We also have another house to the south of Syria, in As-Suwayda, an area that is still quiet for the moment, where there are two brothers. Our Viceprovince, in almost four centuries of history, has always suffered destruction, persecution, martyrdom…But always, like the legend of the Phoenix—the mythological bird known for being reborn from its own ashes—our Viceprovince rose again with the Risen Christ. Recently, we have recovered, after thirty years, another property (Abey), destroyed by the war in Lebanon: it too has begun to rise again…this church of stone will also be rebuilt one day when there is a springtime of peace in our Mediterranean world.”

Egypt: UN survey - 99.3% of women had experienced harassment of one form or another, 60% had been touched inappropriately.[edit]

A recent UN survey suggested an astounding 99.3% of Egyptian women had experienced harassment of one form or another. Sixty percent of those asked said they had been touched inappropriately.

Of course, the problems started within Egyptian society long before the 2011 revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak, but they do appear to be worsening.

And just when the issue of sexual harassment needs decisive action, Egypt's Information Minister Salah Abdul Maksoud has caused outrage by making remarks to a female reporter that appear highly derogatory, though the minister himself is unrepentant.

"In the news conference, I asked him: 'Where is media freedom?'" says the journalist involved, Nada Mohamed.

"He said to me: 'Come here and I'll show you.' Then he laughed," she says. "This was clear harassment. I was shocked."

As it happens, Ms Mohamed's parents both accompanied her to the news conference.

"We went with Nada because things are so bad these days with security for girls, I don't want to leave her alone," says her father, Mohamed. "I call her 10 times a day if I am not with her, I am so worried."

"Then the minister said what he did and I was so angry, but it was not the place to start shouting. But I am happy other people have responded."...

Nigeria: Muslim group Boko Haram responsible for highest Christian death toll in any country, 900 Christians killed in 2012[edit]

As reported by CBN News on Friday, Nigeria has quietly become the nation with the highest Christian death toll at the hands of Islamic extremists. In 2012, 900 Christians were killed there. The guilty party? A group of Islamic militants identified as Boko Haram.

As CBN reports:

"They are so radical they don't even spare Muslims. If Muslims are sympathetic to any cause at all...if they are sympathetic to the Christians cause, or the minorities cause, they are also termed as infidels," Mark Lipdo, program coordinator for the Stefanos Foundation, said."

In America, politically-charged, divisive, special-interest groups regularly make headlines with their claims of victimization at the hands of "intolerant Christians". It appears there is a tremendous disconnect with reality but many are waking up to the reality that political correctness has draped the entire country like a soaking blanket.

Recently, comedian Bill Maher (an atheist) openly spoke out against the absurdity by the political left in America, which continues to paint all religions with a broad brush, insisting that Christians and Muslims are all the same; that they pose the same kind of threats to society. Bill Maher, however, expressed that that kind of reasoning is nothing but "liberal bullsh......t"

"I mean, there's only one faith, for example, that kills you, or wants to kill you, if you draw a bad cartoon of the prophet. There's only one faith that kills you or wants to kill you if you renounced the faith. An ex-Muslim is a very dangerous thing. Just ask Salman Rushdie after the show, about Christian versus Islam. You know? I'm just saying. Keep it real."

Bill Maher is able to make that distinction. Others, for some reason, cannot.

CBN News' report is an obvious confirmation of this. As CBN also reported, so far in 2013, there have already been 120 Nigerians murdered, most of them Christians and at the hand hands of Muslim radicals.

Gregory Lar, who is an internationl human rights attorney, added that this recent surge in violence against Christians and their sympathizers comes as a result of a renewed Muslim mission to "propagate their religion"...

Iran: Women who wear revealing clothing and behave immorally are responsible for earthquakes, says a senior cleric[edit]

Women who wear revealing clothing and behave immorally are responsible for earthquakes, this is what a senior Iranian cleric has to say.

The cleric's unusual explanation for quakes follows the prediction made by the country's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that a quake is certain to rock Tehran and many of its 12 million inhabitants should relocate to save their lives.

Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi told the country's media that women who do not dress in dignified manner "lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society".

According to Sedighi, the only way to escape the disaster is to take refuge in religion and adapt to Islam's moral codes.

Seismologists have predicted a major earthquake in Tehran in the near future. Tehran is located on several fault lines, including one more than 50 miles long, although it hasn't suffered any major quake in the last 180 years.

Turkey: Group of 30 to 40 people attack the 'Atasehir New Hope Church' with stones and raw eggs[edit]

On Saturday afternoon, a group of 30 to 40 people attacked the "Atasehir Yeni Umut Kilisesi" ("Atasehir New Hope Church") in Istanbul's Atasehir district with stones and raw eggs. The only member of the parish present in the church, a Finnish citizen, suffered no injuries. However there was material damage to the church building.

As reported by the Christian news website SAT7TÜRKHABER on Saturday evening, the police were soon on the scene after the attack and announced an in-depth investigation of the events. Windows were broken on the parish premises, the panel with the church name torn out and taken away and parts of the decoration in the entrance area destroyed. Some attackers tried to break through the door into the inner area, but did not manage to reach the church.

As a church representative said to the news website SAT7TÜRKHABER, the community was officially opened a week ago. The intention of the parish members is not to stir up disquiet in society, but to live in peace with all and transmit the work of God.

Another attack in Istanbul around the same time: A group of about 10 young people of Turkish origin invaded the Greek Church of Saint John in one of the Princes’ islands, the island of Antigone in Istanbul and caused some vandalism and damage, officials said..

The young Turks, aged from 15 to 18 years old and who did not live in the island, were arrested by residents and led to the local police station. They were released because they were minors.

The Ecumenical Federation of Constantinopolitans denounced the attack in an announcement, where it reported that: “Religious and nationalistic fanaticism that is promoted by various circles in Turkey, some of which are adjacent to the current government, is the instigator of this attack.”

The announcement continued: “Apart from imposing the necessary sanctions to the perpetrators of this attack, as the Ecumenical Federation of Constantinopolitans has mentioned many times to the authorities in charge, the government of Turkey should urgently proceed to measures of fighting the nationalistic and racist violence, firstly by removing from school books the ignorant of history negative reports against non-Muslim Communities.”

Commentary: Does this paint it black, or am I a fool to cry? Breaking down the new Pew study of Muslims[edit]

Dr Timothy Furnish has served as an Arabic linguist with the 101st Airborne and as an Army chaplain, holds a PhD in Islamic history from Ohio State, is the author of Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads, and Osama bin Laden (2005), and blogs at MahdiWatch. His extended piece for the History News Network, The Ideology Behind the Boston Marathon Bombing, recently received “top billing” in Zenpundit’s Recommended Reading of April 24th.

Pew has released another massive installment of data from its research, 2008-2012, into Muslim attitudes, entitled “The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society.” Over 38,000 Muslims in almost 40 countries were surveyed, thus constituting a survey both statistically sound and geographically expansive. Herewith is an analysis of that information and what seem to be its major ramifications.

The first section deals with shari`a, usually rendered simply as “Islamic law” but more accurately defined as “the rules of correct practice” which “cover every possible human contingency, social and individual, from birth to death” and based upon the Qur’an and hadiths (sayings and practices attributed to Muhammad) as interpreted by Islamic religious scholars (Marshal G.S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam, Vol 1: The Classical Age of Islam, p. 74). Asked “should sharia [as Pew anglicizes it] be the law of the land,” 57% of Muslims across 38 countries answered “yes” — including, most problematically for the US: 99% of Afghans, 91% of Iraqis, 89% of Palestinians, 84% of Pakistanis and even 74% of Egyptians. Should sharia apply to non-Muslims as well as Muslims? Across 21 countries surveyed on this question, 40% answered affirmatively — with the highest positive response coming from Egypt (its 74% exceeding even Afghanistan’s 61%). And on the question whether sharia punishments — such as whippings and cutting off of thieves’ hands — should be enacted, the 20-country average was 52%, led by Pakistan (88%), Afghanistan (81%), the Palestinian Territories [PT] (76%) and Egypt (70-%). On the specific penalty of stoning for adultery, the 20-country average was 51% — with, again, Pakistan (89%), Afghanistan (85%), the PT (84%) and Egypt (71%) highest in approval. Finally, 38% of Muslims, across those same 20 nations, support the death penalty for those leaving Islam for another religion.

Huge majorities of Muslims across most of these surveyed nations say that “it’s good others can practice their faith” — but Pew’s imprecise terminology on this topic makes possible that this simply mean many Muslims are willing to grant non-Muslims the tolerated, but second-class, ancient status of the dhimmi. Majorities, too, in most countries say that “democracy is better than a powerful leader;” however, the latter was actually preferred by most surveyed in Russia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as by 42% of Iraqis, 40% of Palestinians and 36% of Egyptians. Most Afghans, Egyptians and Tunisians (and even 1/3 of Turks) believe that “Islamic political parties” are better than other ones, although 53% of Indonesians and 45% of Iraqis are also worried about “Muslim extremists.” (Curiously, 31% of Malaysians are, on the other hand, worried about “Christian extremists” — although evidence of such existing in that country is practically non-existent.) There is good news on the question of suicide bombing, however: across 20 countries, only 13.5% think it is ever justified — although the support is much higher in the PT (40%), Afghanistan (39%) and Egypt (29%).

In terms of morality, large majorities in most Muslim countries (especially outside Sub-Saharan Africa) think drinking alcohol is morally repugnant, notably in Malaysia (93%), Pakistan and Indonesia (both 91%). Most Muslims in most countries surveyed consider abortion wrong, as well as pre- and extra-marital sex and, almost needless to say, homosexuality. (Although one wishes Pew had asked about mu`tah, or “temporary marriage” — a practice originally Twelver Shi`i which has increasingly become used by Sunnis.) Yet, simultaneously — following Qur’anic rubrics — some 30% of Muslims in 21 countries support polygamy, including almost half of Palestinians, 46% of Iraqis and 41% of Egyptians. There is also significant support for honor killings in not just Afghanistan and Iraq but also Egypt and the PT. Over ¾ of Muslims across 23 countries says that “wives must always obey their husbands:” an average of 77%. And Pew notes that there is a statistically very significant correlation between sharia-support and believing women have few(er) rights.

Asked whether they believed they were “following Muhammad’s example,” 75% of Afghans and 55% of Iraqis answered affirmatively — although most Muslims were not nearly so confident. On the question “are Sunni-Shi`i tensions a problem,” 38% of Lebanese, 34% of Pakistanis, 23% of Iraqis and 20% of Afghans said “yes.”

It is no surprise that huge majorities of Muslims in most surveyed countries believe that Islam is the only path to salvation, nor that most also say “it’s a duty to convert others” to Islam. It is somewhat counterintuitive, however, that many Muslims say they “know little about Christianity” — even in places with large Christian minorities, such as Egypt. Muslims in Sub-Saharan Africa are the most likely to agree that “Islam and Christianity have a lot in common,” and so are 42% of Palestianians, as well as some 1/3 of Lebanese and Egyptians. But only 10% of Pakistanis agree. Asked whether they ever engaged in “interfaith meetings,” many Muslims in Sub-Saharan Africa said that they did (with Christians), and a majority of Thais said likewise (albeit with Buddhists). But only 8% of Palestinians, 5% of Iraqis, and 4% of Egyptians said they ever do so—despite substantial Christian populations in each of those areas.

Regarding the question “are religion and science in conflict,” most Muslims said “no” — with the exceptions of Lebanon, Bangladesh, Tunisia and Turkey where over 40% in each country (and, actually, a majority in Lebanon) said that they were at loggerheads. Most Muslims also say they have no problems with believing in Allah and evolution — the exceptions being the majority of Afghans and Indonesians. Regarding popular culture, clear majorities of Muslims in many countries say they like Western music, TV and movies—but, at the same time, similar majorities say that such things undermine morality (although Bollywood less so than Hollywood).

Observations:

1) The high degree of support for sharia is the red flag here. Contra media and adminstration (both Obama and Bush) assurances that most Muslims are “moderate,” empirical data now exists that clearly shows most Muslims, in point of fact, support not just sharia in general but its brutal punishments. Perhaps just as disturbing, almost four in ten Muslims are in favor of killing those who choose to follow another religion. And countries in which the US is heavily involved either diplomatically or militarily (or both) are the very ones where such sentiments run most high: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, the Palestinian Territories. So are the “extremists” these very Muslims who want to follow, literally, the Qur’an and hadiths? Messers Brennan, Holder and Obama have some explaining to do.

2) Afghanistan would appear to be a lost cause. Afghans are at the top of almost every list in support for not just sharia, suicide bombing, honor killing and — ironically (or perhaps not) — confidence that they are emulating Islam’s founder, as well as dislike for democracy. In light of this clear data, two points about Afghanistan become clear: tactically, ostensible American befuddlement as to the causes of “green on blue” attacks and the continuing popularity of the Taliban in Afghanistan appears as willful ignorance; strategically, the US decision to stay there after taking out the al-Qa`ida [AQ] staging, post-9/11, and attempt to modernize Afghanistan was a huge, neo-Wilsonian mistake. 2014 cannot come soon enough.

3) In some ways Islam in Southeastern Europe, and to a lesser extent in Central Asia, seems to be a more tolerant brand of the faith than the Middle Eastern variety. For example, the SE European and Central Asian Muslims are the least likely to support the death penalty for “apostasy,” and the most supportive of letting women decide for themselves whether to veil. And Muslims in Sub-Saharan Africa are the most likely to know about Christianity, and to interact with Christians. On the other hand, African Muslims are among the most enamored of sharia, and Central Asian ones fond of letting qadis (Islamic judges) decide family and property disputes. So there does not seem to be a direct link between Westernization and moderation; in fact, the influence of Sufism — Islamic mysticism — in the regard needs to be correlated and studied (beyond what Pew did on the topic in last year’s analysis).

4) One bit of prognostication based on this data: Malaysia may be the next breeding ground of Islamic terrorism. It’s home to some 17 million Muslims (61% of its 28 million people), who hold a congeries of unsettling views: 86% want sharia the law of the land; 67% favor the death penalty for apostasy; 66% like sharia-compliant corporal punishments; 60% support stoning for adultery; and 18% think suicide bombing is justified. PACOM, SOCOM and the intelligence agencies need to ramp up hiring of Malay linguists and analysts.

5) Finally, some words for those — like FNC’s Megyn Kelly and Julie Roginsky (on the former’s show “American Live,” 4/30/13) — who pose a sociopolitical and moral equivalence between Muslim support for sharia and Evangelical Protestant Christian support for wives’ obedience to husbands: that’s a bit too much sympathy for the devil. Yes, Evangelical Christian pastors hold some pretty conservative views of the family, as per a 2011 Pew study of them; for example, 55% of them do agree that “a wife must always obey her husband” (compared to 77% of Muslims). And, ironically, many such Evangelicals agree in large measure with Muslims on issues such as the immorality of alcohol, abortion and homosexuality. However, one searches in vain for any Evangelical (or other) Christian support for whippings, stonings, amputation of thieves’ limbs, polygamy or suicide bombing.

Islam is the world’s second-largest religion, numbering some 1.6 billion humans (behind only Christianity’s 2.2 billion). There is, thus, enormous diversity of opinion on many issues of doctrine and practice, and essentializing Islam as either “peaceful” or “violent” is fraught with peril. Nonetheless, this latest Pew study provides empirical evidence that many — far too many — Muslims cling to a literalist, supremacist and indeed brutal view of their religion. Insha’allah, this will change eventually — but time is not necessarily on our side.

Morocco: Atheist blogger gone into hiding a month after creating the the country's first public atheist organisation[edit]

Self-identified atheist student and blogger Imad Iddine Habib has gone into hiding a month after he created the Council of Ex-Muslims of Morocco, the country's first public atheist organisation. An alleged Casablanca police investigation into Habib's activities arrives on the heels of conflicting reports of a pending fatwa which would 'condemn to death' Moroccans who renounce Islam. On Tuesday, Habib expressed concern for his safety in a Facebook statement. Netizens who were supportive and critical of Habib took to discussion threads on his Facebook page, sparking debates on freedom of expression and religious criticism...
Hiding in Casablanca
Al Jazeera, May 3, 2013

Indonesia: Qur'an teacher arrested for sodomizing 14 under-age students and paying them off afterwards[edit]

A Koran teacher in Cakung, East Jakarta, has been accused of sexually harassing 14 of his students.

“Every time the perpetrator [sodomized his students], he always gave them between Rp 1,000 and Rp 2,000,” Comr. Didik Haryadi, a spokesman for the East Jakarta police, said on Thursday as quoted by Detik.com.

Didik said the teacher, 28-year-old Abdul Aziz Salam, chose his victims randomly and sodomized them after lessons were completed.

“He told other students to go home and then asked one of them to massage him. Afterward, he would massage the victim’s waste and roll down their trousers,” Didik said.

He committed these acts from December 2012 until April 2013, and he told his students not to tell their parents what he did.

However, in April, one of the students complained to his parents that he felt a pain in his backside and revealed to them that he was violated by Abdul. The confession sparked outrage amongst other parents, who asked their own children if they too were victims of the instructor.

Five parents of eight of the victims decided to bring the case to the police. The neighborhood unit chief then called the Cakung police to arrest the perpetrator, who was almost beaten by an angry mob.

Adj. Sr. Comr. M. Soleh, another spokesman with the East Jakarta police, said that medical examinations proved that the 14 boys were sexually harassed.

Last month, a Koran teacher was placed on the police’s wanted list for allegedly raping and molesting three children in Ciputat, South Tangerang. The man, identified as Muhammad Firman, 25, worked as a teacher at a Tangerang mosque.

The Commission on International Religious Freedom: Ten out of 15 of the worst countries for religious intolerance are Muslim[edit]

The Commission on International Religious Freedom, or USCIRF, an arm of the U.S. government has named 15 nations as the "worst violators of religious freedom." An independent advisory body created by the International Religious Freedom Act. The commission monitors religious freedom abuses worldwide. In its 2013 report, the group identifies "governments that are the most egregious violators." Of the 15 nations listed, 10 are Muslim.

The 15 countries listed are Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam. All of these nations severely restrict independent religious activity and harass individuals and groups for religious activity or beliefs.

These nations are classified as Tier 1. "Countries of particular concern" in the report.

In spite of its recent opening and political reforms, change in Burma has "yet to significantly improve the situation for freedom of religion and belief." Most violations in Burma occurred against minority Christian and Muslim adherents.

Egypt's transitional and elected governments have made progress toward religious freedom, but the commission duly noted the attacks that Coptic Christians that have been ongoing in the period after the Arab Spring that brought down the Mubarak regime. "In many cases, the government failed or was slow to protect religious minorities from violence."

The former Soviet states of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were included for pursuing state control over religion, targeting Muslims and minorities alike.

Iraq was cited for, among other things, tolerating "violent religiously motivated attacks" and Iran for "prolonged detention, torture, and executions based primarily or entirely on the religion of the accused."

Western ally Saudi Arabia also continues to suppress religious practices outside of the officially-sanctioned Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. Saudi Arabia also continues to interfere with the faith of guest workers and prosecutes individuals for "apostasy, blasphemy and sorcery." Pakistan has a strict blasphemy law and failure to prosecute acts of religious violence, the report said.

Furthermore, the situation in the West African nation of Sudan has deteriorated since South Sudan gained its independence. Criminalization of apostasy, the imposition of the government's strict interpretation of Shari'ah on both Muslims and non-Muslims and attacks against Christians, were cited in the report for the decline...

Pakistan: Candidate running for national assembly and his three-year-old son shot dead by Taliban[edit]

A candidate running for Pakistan's national assembly at historic polls next week has been shot dead, police have said.

Police said that Sadiq Zaman Khattak, the Awami National Party (ANP) candidate, had been shot dead on Friday along with his three-year-old son in Karachi.

"He was returning from a mosque after saying his Friday prayers with his three-year-old son when gunmen on a motorbike opened fire," police spokesman Imran Shaukat told AFP news agency.

Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, said that Khattak's son died of his wounds in hospital and the Tehreek-e-Taliban, Pakistan's umbrella Taliban factionm, had claimed responsibility for the shooting.
. . .
Five injured

Police said that five people, including two guards of the slain ANP candidate, were injured.

It is the first time that a national assembly candidate has been killed in Pakistan's election campaign. Campaigning has been marred by Taliban threats and attacks, which have killed 62 people since April 11, according to an AFP.

Khattak was a candidate for the ANP, the leading secular party in Pakistan's ethnic Pashtun northwest.

A senior party leader said he had received threats...

Netherlands: Dutch Turk volunteer receives death threats and goes into hiding for opposing Holocaust supporters[edit]

Several major Dutch newspapers have published that Dutch-Turkish volunteer Mehmet Sahin, is being harassed and intimidated by other Turks - almost on a daily basis. He had comitted the "sin" of admonishing three youngsters from his community who praised the Holocaust, Hitler and the killing of Jewish babies in February on TV.

Sahin mentioned that reactions from other Turks included that he “is a Jewish agent,” “psychologically sick,” and “a collaborator.” Sahin had received death threats after his admonishment of the young Turkish anti-Semites.

The Mayor of Arnhem where he lives, rather than offering protection, then recommended that Sahin go into hiding with his family, which he did. Thereafter, Sahin remained at home for a month.

Sahin now told the press that when he went out on the streets afterwards, he was called names in Turkish including: “You are born out of the sperm of a Jew who raped a Turkish mother.” He said, “I replied ‘Dirty Fascists!’ He also said that Turks in his neighborhood isolate him and the same is the case with Turkish organizations and key figures in and outside Arnhem.

The official prosecution claimed that only one of the youngsters had said things which were punishable by law, and made an agreement with him that he would work with an organization which fights anti-Semitism. Sahin however was warned by the prosecution that if he insults people again within a year, he will be prosecuted.

Sahin wanted to take the youths on a trip to Auschwitz, but now doubts whether this will ever happen. Sahin insisted that he will continue to fight anti-Semitism.

In view of the ongoing negative news from the Netherlands concerning Jews and Israel, Arutz Sheva asked Israeli anti-Semitism expert Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld to comment on this issue.

He said, “The Sahin Affair, even if it concerns a single victim, well illustrates three major negative aspects of contemporary Dutch society. The first issue is, as Sahin relates, the immoral attitudes held by significant parts of Dutch Turkish society. The second aspect is the failure of the Dutch major media which only started to give substantial publicity to the scandal of the young Hitler admirers on mainstream TV after several weeks had passed, when the Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote a protest letter to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

The third more recent failure is that of the Dutch police and prosecution. The net result of the death threats and hatred against Sahin coming out of the Turkish community is that one of the youths receives some superficial “educational training,” while the victim is warned that he will be brought before a court if he insults his aggressors again. This shows that there is much which is radically wrong with Dutch police and the Justice Ministry, under which the prosecution resides. The authorities make much of the fact that the youngster apologized to the police for what he said. Sahin hits the nail on the head when he says that the youngsters should apologize to him and the Jewish community, which they have not done...

Pakistan: Former actress takes on leading Islamist cleric, whose party wants to turn country into a Shari'ah state[edit]

She was once the darling of millions of filmgoers. Today, she begs for votes in a dusty city in northwestern Pakistan.

Mussarat Shaheen is in the news for taking on the country's leading Islamist leader, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, whose conservative Jamiat-e Ulema Islam (Society of Muslim Clerics) wants to turn Pakistan into a Shari'a state through the ballot box.

Shaheen's election pitch is to expose Rehman's alleged corruption and hypocrisy to Dera Ismail Khan's predominantly conservative voters.

"Maulana Fazlur Rehman gets votes in the name of religion. But once elected, he only enjoys the perks and privileges of power," she told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal. "Now we will see how he wins."

Dera Ismail Khan, in the southern part of Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, is plagued by sectarian violence and Taliban attacks. It borders the Waziristan tribal regions, where the Taliban has exerted influence for a decade.

Shaheen says that she is often taunted, both because she is a woman and due to her former career. She says she has also heard that hard-line Islamists have declared that she should be killed for spreading obscenity.

"I have no security because the administration only worries about protecting Maulana and other rich candidates," she says. "I will be proud if I die for the rights of the people of Dera Ismail Khan and Pakistan."

Shaheen was once a leading heroine in Pakistan Pashto film industry, also known as Pollywood. She was known for her raunchy dance steps...

Kenya: Two Iranians found guilty of plotting terror attacks on British, US or Israeli targets in Nairobi[edit]

A Kenyan court has found two Iranian men guilty of plotting to attack Western targets inside Kenya.

Ahmed Mohammed and Sayed Mansour were caught with 15 kilos (33 pounds) of explosives in the capital, Nairobi, last June.

They are accused of belonging to a terror network planning to blow up British, US or Israeli targets in Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa.

The pair, who deny all charges, face up to 15 years in prison.

Judges ruled that both men had been proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt of all terror-related charges.

Prosecutors said the suspects had explosives "in circumstances that indicated they were armed with the intent to commit a felony, namely, acts intended to cause grievous harm".

Swift action by the Kenyan police in apprehending the men had averted mayhem and a massive number of deaths, the court magistrate said.

The two Iranians arrived in Kenya on 12 June last year and travelled to Mombasa to pick up the powerful explosive RDX. They were arrested a week later in Nairobi. Officers discovered the explosives hidden at a golf course in Mombasa.

Another accomplice was still at large, police said.

Investigators believe the terror group has shipped more than 85 kilos of explosives into Kenya...

Indonesia: Five teenage girls dance to a Maroon 5 song, police charge them for blasphemy[edit]

Last week, the Indonesian police charged five teenage girls with blasphemy. What was their crime? Dancing to a Maroon 5 song, alternating between pop moves and traditional prayer movements. The video, which was filmed with a cell phone, was posted online.

According to press reports, it was first uploaded in March but entirely ignored. Only after the school headmaster reported the “incident” to the Indonesian authorities did the police take interest. The video has now been viewed over 500,000 times on YouTube.

The school headmaster felt offended by the allegedly blasphemous crime—yet he is the one who raised the profile of the video. Even if he considers teenage girls dancing and giggling offensive, are criminal charges the best response? Does plucking the video from obscurity and promoting criminal prosecution advance social and religious harmony? Content offensive to someone is an inevitable part of the internet, and it can be contested through the counter-speech that free expression encourages.

He reported his students to the local police,claiming to have consulted with the Indonesia Ulema Council as well as the Islamic Defenders Front. He also expelled the girls from their school in Tolitoli city on Sulawesi Island. Not only are the teenagers now accused of blasphemy and facing criminal charges, but they have been forbidden from taking an important national exam to graduate from high school. In other words, a school headmaster has deliberately jeopardized the academic future of his own students. He has received no sanctions as of yet.

The girls are being charged under Article 156 (a) of the Indonesian penal code, which targets those who deliberately express “feelings of hostility, hatred, or contempt” against religions. It is hard to define from a legal point of view what constitutes “hostility, hatred or contempt” so the government or individuals can abuse its interpretation and implementation, to stifle dissent and debate. The penalty for violating Article 156(a) is a maximum of five years imprisonment. Minors usually face half the adult sentence, so the teenage girls whose crime was to dance could face juvenile detention for two and a half years.
. . .
Human Rights First monitors cases of blasphemy around the world. For more information, check out report Blasphemy Laws Exposed. Indonesia’s blasphemy law has often targeted victims on grounds of thought or belief. It has also triggered grave outbreaks of violence. Here is a sample of recent human rights abuses in Indonesia caused by its blasphemy law (in chronological order):

  • On July 12, 2012, the Shia leader Tajul Muluk was sentenced to two years in prison on blasphemy charges. Muluk was accused of encouraging Muslims to pray three rather than five times a day, in addition to allegedly stating that the Koran was no longer authentic and that believers need not make the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Muluk and his Shia followers were attacked and threatened, and their houses, a place of worship, and Muluk’s school were by a mob of Sunni Muslims, none of whom were arrested. On August 26, Muluk’s village was attacked. Two Shia men were killed, dozens were injured, and many Shia houses were burnt. This time, several perpetrators were detained. Muluk’s sentence was later extended to four years in prison by East Java High court.
  • On March 14, 2012, Andreas Guntur, the leader of the spiritual group Amanat Keagungan Ilahi (AKI), was sentenced to four years in prison for blasphemy. A fatwa was issued against AKI by the Indonesia Council of Ulema in 2009, claiming that they rejected conventional Islamic rituals.
  • On January 18, 2012, Alex Aan, an atheist man, was arrested for allegedly stating on his Facebook account that God did not exist. Before he was arrested by the authorities, Aan was severely beaten by an angry mob that called for his beheading. While in police custody, he was later beaten by a group of inmates who knew about the accusations against him. After being transferred to another prision, Aan was handed a prison sentence of two years and six months. He is currently appealing his sentence to the country’s Supreme Court.
  • On August 14, 2011, in response to the sentencing of individuals involved in a fatal attack on an Ahmadiyya house of worship in February 2011, hundreds of members of Islamic Defender’s Front (FPI), armed with machetes and bamboo sticks, stormed another Ahmadi mosque while ten Ahmadis were praying inside in Makassar, South Sulawesi. One victim suffered serious head injuries and three human rights workers who tried to stop the attack were beaten. According to reports, the police did nothing to stop the violent attack.
  • On February 8, 2011, more than one thousand protestors stormed the District Court in Temanggung after Antonius Richmond Bawengen, a Christian from Jakarta, received what extremists believed to be a too lenient sentence for blasphemy. The mob attacked prosecutors, judges, and the defendant, injuring nine people; then destroyed three churches and torched vehicles. Bawengen was sentenced to five years in prison, the maximum sentence under Article 156 of Indonesia’s criminal code, for distributing books and leaflets that “spread hatred about Islam.” Some called for the death penalty. Prosecutors are seeking a one-year sentence for Syiabuddin, the leader of the mob, because he runs an Islamic boarding school and has had no prior convictions. Seventeen of the 25 men who were tried for participating in the riot also received light jail sentences of four to five months on charges of vandalism. The maximum sentence for the charge of incitement is six years in prison.
  • On February 6, 2011, while twenty-one members of the Ahmadiyya sect assembled at the home of their leader, a mob composed of more than one thousand villagers armed with machetes and sticks, stormed the house of worship, killing four and wounding six others. Graphic video footage of the brutal and allegedly unprovoked attack shows the attackers stoning their victims to death and then beating the corpses, some naked, as police officers and villagers watched and did nothing to stop the bloodshed. According to Waseem Sayed, a spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the United States, the police were warned of the attack days before the event.

Saudi Arabia: Prominent Muslim scholar slams local children's TV channel for showing cartoon with pig as main star[edit]

A prominent Saudi Islamic scholar has slammed a local satellite TV children channel for showing a cartoon film involving a pig as its main character.

Sheikh Mohammed Al Areefi described the programme telecast by Ajial (generations) channel as trivial and without any educational objective.

“The cartoon film shown on that channel is trivial and has no educational or cultural benefit as it involved a pig as its star,” Al Areefi said on his Twitter page.

“I wonder who is the manager of this TV channel that shows such bad programmes…is his name is Daniel, George or what,” he added, according to Saudi newspapers.

Mali: Christian aid and advocacy group set up shelters for Christian converts in heavily Muslim country[edit]

A Christian aid and advocacy group has set up shelters for Christian converts in heavily Islamic Mali, which has been ravaged by civil war and Islamic extremism.

Voice Of the Martyrs (VOM) told BosNewsLife that it had set up "several safe houses" in southern Mali where Christian converts were forced to flee their communities "due to serious life-endangering threats made by members of their own Muslim families."

"When they fled from Islamist militants in the north, most left their possessions behind, including their Bibles," VOM said in a statement.

VOM said besides providing shelter its workers also provide the local Christians with new Bibles.

"As a result, these believers are not only able to cultivate nearby farmland for physical sustenance, they are now also equipped with the spiritual tools required to grow in their faith through daily prayer times, group classes and individual Bible study," the group explained...
Shelters For Christian Converts
BOS News, May 2, 2013

Saudi Arabia: Senior public servant, arrested by religious police for persistent harassment of women, forced to marry[edit]

A Saudi prince forced a senior public servant to marry to end his persistent harassments of women after he was arrested by the Gulf Kingdom’s feared religious police, a newspaper reported on Thursday.

Prince Faisal bin Khaldi bin Abdul Aziz was told that the official was seized by members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice as he was harassing women in a public place, Okaz said.

The Prince asked the police to let him handle the issue so the unnamed official will avert imprisonment and possible loss of his job...

Pakistan: Authorities plan to deploy 600,000 security personnel for May 11 election against Taliban attacks[edit]

A spokesman for Pakistan’s top election body says authorities plan to deploy over 600,000 security personnel during next week’s parliamentary election to prevent possible Taliban attacks.

Spokesman Khursheed Alam said on Thursday that the figure includes police, paramilitary forces and 50,000 soldiers who will be deployed around the country for the May 11 vote.

He says the Election Commission of Pakistan would have about 5-10 security personnel at each polling station.

Alam says the Commission is setting up about 73,000 polling stations in Pakistan to ensure a free and fair vote...

Indonesian: New survey released by the Pew Research Center reveals 72 percent of Muslims favor Shari'ah Law[edit]

Despite being touted as the Muslim world’s largest democracy, a new survey released by the Pew Research Center on Tuesday revealed that 72 percent of Indonesia’s Muslim population would favor an Islamic legal code as the “official law of the land” if given the option.

The survey, which focused on 39 countries and interviewed 38,000 people, found that most followers of the world’s second-largest faith want their religion to shape not only their personal lives, but also their social and political interactions as well.

According to the CIA World Factbook, Indonesia is home to roughly 216 million Muslims, or 86.1 percent of the country’s population.

“Most Muslims believe Shariah [Islamic law based on the teachings of the Koran] is the revealed word of God rather than a body of law developed by men based on the word of God,” the report read.

The survey revealed, though, that most countries were selective in which aspects of Shariah they wanted to implement, and 44 percent of Indonesians said that there were “multiple interpretations of Shariah.”

In Indonesia, half of those who wanted Shariah enforced in the archipelago said that it should be applied to both Muslims and non-Muslims, and only 18 percent held the belief that one should be put to death for leaving Islam.

The study also found that Muslims, especially in Indonesia, are generally more comfortable with applying Shariah to their family lives than in the public sphere.

For instance, 93 percent of Indonesian Muslim men and women surveyed expressed the view that a wife is always obliged to obey her husband. However, 81 percent stated that a woman should be able to decide for herself whether or not to wear a veil.

When asked if sons and daughters should receive the same inheritance rights, 76 percent of Indonesians championed equal shares for men and women.

Fewer than half of Indonesian Muslims (45 percent) polled who advocated for Shariah as the law of the land were in favor of dishing out punishments like amputations for thieves and robbers...

Iran: Muslim leader with close ties to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei accuses Jews of engaging in sorcery[edit]

An Iranian leader with close ties to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei recently accused the Jews of engaging in sorcery and employing it against Iran, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported.

“The Jews are currently subjecting us to an unprecedented trial. As you read in the Koran, [King] Solomon ruled the world… and God ordered a group of sorcerers to come out against him. The Jews have the greatest powers of sorcery, and they make use of this tool,” said Mehdi Taeb, who heads Khamenei's Ammar Base think tank.

“All the measures that have been brought against us originate with the Zionists. The U.S. is a tool in their hands. So far, they have not used the full [scope of] their sorcery against us. Sorcery was the final means to which they resorted during the Ahmadinejad era, but they were defeated,” he said. “This ability of the Jews was eliminated by Iran. Five years ago they tried to oust Ahmadinejad [by this means].”

Furthermore, the Rasanews.ir website, which is associated with the religious seminaries in Qom, posted an article in March stating that Jews cherish the knowledge of sorcery, pass it down from generation to generation, and believe that it can be used to control mankind, nature and the decisions of G-d...


See Also[edit]

  • News - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Islam in the news

External Links[edit]