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Islam in the News (June 2013)

'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

Saudi Arabia: Conference on 'women in society' held at university, not a single woman present

This image show attendees at a conference in Saudi Arabia on the topic ‘women in society’ – and not a single one is female.

The conference, reportedly held at the University of Qassim last year, was attended by representatives from 15 nations, apparently all men.

The seats in the hall are filled with men in traditional Arab dress apart from one wearing a blue chequered shirt.

The photograph was published in a Saudi newspaper last year, and has since been making the rounds on social networks.

Twitter users have branded the image ‘absurd’, ‘the height of misogyny’ and ‘astonishing’ as the internet responded to what is only the latest proof of the gender gap in the Middle-Eastern nation.

Segregation between men and women in the oil rich country is widespread due to the ultra-conservative Wahhabi sharia law.

Restrictions mean they are not allowed to drive, they must use separate entrances at banks and offices, and a plan to build a city for female workers only has been announced.

They also need permission from a male relative or their husband to work, travel, study or marry and a woman's testimony counts for less than that of a man in a court of law...

Afghanistan: Soldier defused suicide vest while hog-tied terrorist was still wearing it

Covered from head to foot in padded protective gear, but with his extremities still dangerously exposed, this Afghan bomb disposal expert took his life in his hands to defuse this suicide bomber's explosive vest.

Security forces captured the would-be martyr before he blew himself up in Jalalabad earlier today, hog-tying the man to stop him detonating the device.

But before the suspected terrorist could be taken in for interrogation, the bomb squad had to be called in for the risky job of disarming the bomb strapped across his chest.

One hundred miles down the Khyber Pass, in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, 17 people were not so lucky.

A car bomb exploded there as a convoy of paramilitary troops passed through the outskirts of the city, killing at least 17 people and wounding dozens of others.

It was one of three blasts which killed at least 43 people in different parts of Pakistan today, just as David Cameron visited the country's capital pledging help to fight extremism.

The heavily armoured Afghan National Army man gingerly, in scenes reminiscent of the blockbuster Hollywood war film The Hurt Locker, approached the suicide bomber wielding naught but a pair of wire cutters.

After carefully disabling the improvised device, the suspect was loaded, his face bloodied and still bound by his hands and feet, into a flat bed truck to be taken to a detention centre for questioning...

Saudi Arabia: Seven jailed for up to ten years for posting Facebook status messages calling for anti-government protests

According to a statement issued Sunday by the New York-based human rights organization, the seven activists were all from the country’s Eastern Province and were convicted and sentenced to prison for terms ranging from five to ten years.

The eastern sector has seen a number of demonstrations by minority Shi’ites over alleged government discrimination and negligence since the region-wide Arab Spring uprisings two years ago.

“Sending people off to years in prison for peaceful Facebook posts sends a strong message that there’s no safe way to speak out in Saudi Arabia, even on online social networks,” HRW deputy Middle East director Joe Stork said in the statement.

“If the European Union doesn’t raise these cases with Saudi officials this weekend, its silence will look like craven compliance with the rights abuses of an authoritarian state.”

EU officials, including foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and other European officials, are meeting on Sunday with their Gulf counterparts – including Saudi Arabia.

Numerous Arab media have reported that Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) banned Viber earlier this month, and also plans to block the WhatsApp Internet-based communications app as well, along with Skype.

The Saudi government makes a routine practice of closely monitoring all social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter.

Syria: The Vatican confirms the death by beheading of priest, who was martyred by western-backed rebels on June 23

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

Below is the news release from the Vatican, via

On Sunday, June 23 the Syrian priest François Murad was killed in Gassanieh, in northern Syria, in the convent of the Custody of the Holy Land where he had taken refuge. This is confirmed by a statement of the Custos of the Holy Land sent to Fides Agency. The circumstances of the death are not fully understood. According to local sources, the monastery where Fr. Murad was staying was attacked by militants linked to the jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra.

Father François, 49, had taken the first steps in the religious life with the Franciscan Friars of the Custody of the Holy Land, and with them he continued to share close bonds of spiritual friendship. After being ordained a priest he had started the construction of a coenobitic monastery dedicated to St. Simon Stylites in the village of Gassanieh.After the start of the Civil War, the monastery of St. Simon had been bombed and Fr. Murad had moved to the convent of the Custody for safety reasons and to give support to the remaining few, along with another religious and nuns of the Rosary.

"Let us pray," writes the Custos of the Holy Land Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM " so that this absurd and shameful war ends soon and that the people of Syria can go back to living a normal life." Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, titular of the Syrian Catholic archeparchy in Hassaké-Nisibis reports to Fides: "The whole story of Christians in the Middle East is marked and made fruitful by the blood of the martyrs of many persecutions. Lately, father Murad sent me some messages that clearly showed how conscious he was of living in a dangerous situation, and offered his life for peace in Syria and around the world. "

This should make it clear to Christians around the world what jihadists are about. Make no mistake. Catholics and Christians around the globe are under dire threat, particularly from the spread of militant Islam. Until the threat is recognized and taken seriously, martyrdoms like this will continue.

We have a link to video provided via LiveLeak. We must warn you, the video is extremely graphic. We believe the first victim is Father Francois, and the second victim that is depicted is another person said to be a collaborator with the Assad regime.

The video CLEARLY depicts the beheadings of these victims. DO NOT follow the link unless you are over the age of 18, and are prepared to view content of this nature.

Catholic Online believes it is very important the world knows that Christians are being murdered for their faith, and that martyrdom isn't an ancient phenomenon.

Somalia: Al-Shebab members kill two of their own top commanders, one with a $5 million US bounty on his head

"We have informed their widows of their deaths, as they must now wear the clothes of mourning," Shebab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab told AFP.

The pair killed are two co-founders of the Islamist group, including US-wanted Ibrahim Haji Jama Mead, better known by his nickname Al-Afghani -- "the Afghan", due to his training and fighting with Islamist guerrillas there.

Washington offered a $5 million bounty for Afghani, who opposed the command of top Shebab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane. Godane earlier this month ordered Afghani and other leaders' arrest.

Shebab gunmen also killed Abul Hamid Hashi Olhayi, named as another senior commander and co-founder of the group.

Family members said they were arrested and then executed, but the Shebab said they were killed during a gun battle. "We deny reports that the men were killed after capture," Musab told AFP.

"The two men were killed in a shoot out when they were resisting arrest on court orders."

Somalia's Shebab is fractured into multiple rival factions, some based along clan lines and others ideological.

Some are more attracted by a nationalist agenda to oust foreigners from Somalia, while others -- including Godane -- have more international jihadi ambitions.

However, despite its divisions, analysts say it remains a dangerous and powerful force...

Pakistan: Christian girl falsely accused of burning Qur'an flees country to live safely in Canada

Immigration minister Jason Kenney tells CTV News he personally intervened to help a young Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, who has fled Pakistan with her parents and settled in Canada due to concerns for her safety.

Rimsha Masih and her family left Pakistan in March, after she had been locked up in maximum security prison for several weeks last August.

The girl, believed to be between the ages of 11 and 14, was accused of burning Islam’s holy book. Her case drew international attention to Pakistan’s severe blasphemy laws.

She was later acquitted, after a local Muslim cleric was thought to have framed her.

“This was an extraordinary example of brutal persecution,” Kenney told CTV News. “Rimsha was accused of blasphemy which was completely trumped up by people in her local village.”

Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, a Muslim cleric who lobbied for Masih’s release from prison, said it was troubling she had to flee her homeland.

"I am sad that this innocent girl had to leave Pakistan. She had been acquitted by the court, and despite that it was not possible for her to live freely," he said.

The case has received international attention because of the girl’s young age, and there are questions surrounding her mental abilities.

Due to safety concerns, the Masih family’s exact whereabouts in Canada are being kept secret.

In recent months entire villages have been burned in a series of attacks on minority Christians.

Pakistan: Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman on death row for 'blasphemy', faces two years wait behind bars before her appeal

Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman on death row whose blasphemy conviction was decried as unjust by slain former governor Salmaan Taseer, faces a wait of at least another two years behind bars before her appeal is likely to come up before the Lahore High Court.

Bibi, 45, has been jailed since June 19, 2009, when her neighbours in a village near Nankana Sahib accused her of making derogatory remarks about the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). An additional district and sessions judge convicted and sentenced her to death in November 2010, pending confirmation of the decision by the LHC.

The case attracted the attention of then Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, who visited Bibi in jail and denounced her conviction as well as the blasphemy law. A couple of months later, Taseer – and any hope Aasia Bibi had of a quick release was killed in a hail of bullets fired by his own bodyguard.

Some two-and-a-half years later, Bibi is waiting for a date to be fixed for the hearing of her appeal. The court has a large backlog of cases and is currently hearing appeals filed at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009. Appeals filed at the end of 2010 are due to come up in 2015.
. . .
Aslam Pervez Sahotra, the chairman of the Human Liberation Commission Pakistan, a group that lobbies for greater awareness of human rights, said that he had sent a request to the chief justice of Pakistan that Bibi’s appeal be heard as soon as possible, but had received no response.

He said that Aasia Bibi faced threats from fellow inmates and her jailers at Sheikhupura Jail. She was reported to have been badly beaten by a jail staffer in October 2011. “For her safety, and because of the many lacunae in her conviction, her appeal should be heard immediately. We are hopeful she would be acquitted by the High Court,” he said.

According to the FIR of the case, registered at Saddar Nankana Sahib police station on June 19, 2009, on the complaint of Qari Muhammad Salam, Aasia Bibi had made blasphemous remarks after getting into an argument with Asma Bibi, her sister Mafia Bibi, and Yasmin on June 14.

The complainant said that he had summoned the witnesses and the accused and heard their stories, after which Aasia Bibi had apologised.

Nankana Sahib Additional District and Sessions Judge Muhammad Naveed Iqbal presided over her trial, hearing eight prosecution witnesses, but none in defence of Aasia Bibi. On November 8, 2010, he sentenced her to hang to death.

Ireland: Muslim man demands right to bring second wife to country

A Muslim man has gone to the High Court in Ireland demanding that he be allowed bring in his second wife to Ireland.

The native of Lebanon, where polygamy is allowed, says his polygamous marriage must be recognized.

Liam Egan, a member of the Muslim Public Affairs Congress, told the Irish Sunday Times the man was being discriminated against unfairly. “It is draconian to treat this family differently,” said Egan.

“Ireland discriminates against Muslims seeking citizenship by asking them to sign an affidavit. The state should not be interfering in families like this. It is silent on adulterous affairs but the moment you try and do something honourable by bringing a woman into a marriage, even a polygamous marriage, there is an issue.”

The man first entered Ireland some years ago and claimed political asylum which was granted. It is believed there are numerous other cases involving second or even more wives awaiting the court's verdict. British law allows only one wife to legally emigrate.

Liam Egan says the Koran allows Muslims to marry and “love each of them equally.” The Immigrant Council of Ireland says the case highlights the need for the government to deal fairly with the issue.

Afghanistan: Six Taliban members accidentally blow themselves up with their own bombs in separate incidents

Six Taliban accidentally blew themselves up with their own bombs June 27 in separate incidents, Bakhtar News Agency reported, citing an Afghan Interior Ministry statement.

They were trying to plant bombs to target security forces, but the devices detonated prematurely, the statement said.

The incidents occurred in the Tanay District of Khost Province, the Zankhan District of Ghazni Province and the Zhamkani District of Paktia Province.

Pakistan: Aid organisations suspend operations at Jalozai following threats of a terrorist attack

Jalozai Camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) is home to tens of thousands of people displaced from the tribal belt.

Officials from the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) told The Express Tribune law enforcement agencies informed camp management on Tuesday that militants had planned to carry out an attack, specifically to target large gatherings.

“We received information from intelligence agencies about the threats to Jalozai,” said a PDMA official requesting anonymity. He added as soon as the threat is averted, operations will be resumed.

Currently, nearly 12,000 families or 72,000 internally displaced persons reside at the camp. Of these, 40% are children. The World Food Programme, UNHCR, UNICEF, World Health Organization as well as 16 Pakistan-based non-governmental organisations care for basic needs at the camp.

The announcement for closing down offices of aid groups have panicked those displaced. Residents of the camp fear they may face food scarcity if the organisations pull out...

"We represent Islam. We fight together. We stand together. We die together," More than 10,400 domains defaced by internet Jihadist

In Nouakchott, a dusty city wedged between the Atlantic ocean and western dunes of the Sahara, a young hip-hop fan coordinates a diverse group of hackers targeting websites worldwide in the name of Islam.

Logging on to his computer, he greets his Facebook followers with a "good morning all" in English before posting links to 746 websites they have hacked in the last 48 hours along with his digital calling card: a half-skull, half-cyborg Guy Fawkes mask.

He calls himself Mauritania Attacker, after the remote Islamic republic in west Africa from which he leads a youthful group scattered across the Maghreb, southeast Asia and the West.

As jihadists battle regional governments from the deserts of southern Algeria to the scrubland of north Nigeria, Mauritania Attacker says the hacking collective which he founded, AnonGhost, is fighting for Islam using peaceful means.

"We're not extremists," he said, via a Facebook account which a cyber security expert identified as his. "AnonGhost is a team that hacks for a cause. We defend the dignity of Muslims."

During a series of conversations via Facebook, the 23-year-old spoke of his love of house music and hip hop, and the aims of his collective, whose targets have included U.S. and British small businesses and the oil industry.

He represents a new generation of Western-style Islamists who promote religious conservatism and traditional values, and oppose those they see as backing Zionism and Western hegemony.

In April, AnonGhost launched a cyber attack dubbed OpIsrael that disrupted access to several Israeli government websites, attracting the attention of security experts worldwide.

"AnonGhost is considered one of the most active groups of hacktivists of the first quarter of 2013," said Pierluigi Paganini, security analyst and editor of Cyber Defense magazine.

An online archive of hacked Web sites, Hack DB, lists more than 10,400 domains AnonGhost defaced in the past seven months.

Mauritania, a poor desert nation straddling the Arab Maghreb and black sub-Saharan Africa, is an unlikely hacker base. It has 3.5 million inhabitants spread across an area the size of France and Germany, and only 3 percent of them have Internet access.

Much of the population lives in the capital Nouakchott, which has boomed from a town of less than 10,000 people 40 years ago to a sprawling, ramshackle city of a million inhabitants. In its suburbs, tin and cinderblock shanties battle the Sahara's encroaching dunes and desert nomads stop to water their camels.

In the past six months experts have noted an increase in hacking activity from Mauritania and neighboring countries. In part, that reflects Mauritania Attacker's role in connecting pockets of hackers, said Carl Herberger, vice president of security solutions at Radware.

"This one figure, Mauritania Attacker, is kind a figure who brings many of these groups together," Herberger told Reuters.


Mauritania Attacker says his activities are split between cyber cafes and his home, punctuated by the five daily Muslim prayers.

Well-educated, he speaks French and Arabic among other languages and updates his social media accounts regularly with details of the latest defacements and email hacks. He would not say how he made a living.

His cyber threats are often accented with smiley faces and programmer slang, and he posts links to dancefloor hits and amusing Youtube videos. But his message is a centuries-old Islamist call for return to religious purity.

"Today Islam is divisive and corrupt," he said in an online exchange. "We have abandoned the Koran."

Mauritanian Attacker aims to promote "correct Islam" by striking at servers hosted by countries they see as hostile to sharia law. "There is no Islam without sharia," he said.

Mauritania is renowned for its strict Islamic law. The sale of alcohol is forbidden and it is one of only a handful of states where homosexuality and atheism are punished by death.

The quality of Mauritania's religious scholars and koranic schools, or madrassas, attract students from around the world. Mauritanians have risen to prominent positions in regional jihadist groups, including al Qaeda's north African branch AQIM.

As hackers from the region organize into groups, the Maghreb is emerging as a haven for hacktivism as it lacks the laws and means to prosecute cyber criminals, Herberger said.

"There's a great degree of anonymity and there's a great degree of implied impunity," he said.

Security sources in Nouakchott said they were not aware of the activities of Mauritania Attacker.

He says he supports Islamists in Mauritania but opposes his government's support for the West, which sees the country as one of its main allies in its fight against al Qaeda in the region.

With tech-savy young Muslims in the Maghreb chafing under repressive regimes, analysts anticipate a rise in hacktivism.

Hacking is a way for young people to express religious and political views without being censored, says Aaron Zelin, fellow at the Washington Institute.

"These societies are relatively closed in terms of people's ability to openly discuss topics that are taboo," he said.

For disillusioned youth in countries like Mauritania, where General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz seized power in a 2008 coup before winning elections the next year, hacking has become "a way of expressing their distaste with status quo," Zelin said.


AnonGhost's global reach is its greatest weapon, but it has yet to stage a major attack on a Western economic target.

Most of AnonGhost's campaigns have simply defaced Web sites, ranging from kosher dieting sites to American weapon aficionado blogs, with messages about Islam and anti-Zionism.

It has attacked servers, often hosting small business websites, located in the United States, Brazil, France, Israel and Germany among others.

Mauritania Attacker and the AnonGhost crew say these countries have "betrayed Muslims" by supporting Israel and by participating in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"We are the new generation of Muslims and we are not stupid," read a message posted on the Web site of a party supply business in Italy. "We represent Islam. We fight together. We stand together. We die together."

The team has also leaked email credentials, some belonging to government workers from the United States and elsewhere.

As part of a June 20 operation against the oil industry, carried out alongside the international hacking network Anonymous, Mauritania Attacker released what he said were the email addresses and passwords for employees of Total.

A spokesperson for the French oil major did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

One security expert said AnonGhost's attacks exploited "well-known vulnerabilities in configurations of servers" in target countries rather than going after high-profile companies.

Carl Herberger, vice president of security solutions at Radware, remains unconvinced AnonGhost has the technical skills to wage full-scale cyber terrorism by harming operational capabilities of companies or government agencies.

"The jury is still out," he said, but cautioned against underestimating the emerging group. "You're never quite sure what they're going to do on the offensive, so they have to be right only once and you have to be right always."

(Additional reporting by Laurent Prieur in Nouakchott; editing by Daniel Flynn and Philippa Fletcher)

US: Boston bomber to face 30 charges including using a weapon of mass destruction, could face execution

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

A US grand jury has been told one of the Boston bombers scrawled a message declaring he "can't stand to see such evil go unpunished".

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was indicted overnight on 30 charges including using a weapon of mass destruction and bombing a place of public use, resulting in death.

Many of the charges were brought against him in April, but new charges cover the killing of a police officer and the carjacking of a motorist during a getaway attempt that left Tsarnaev's older brother, Tamerlan, dead.

The jury was told the 19-year-old Chechen immigrant had scrawled a confession on the inside walls and beams of the boat he was hiding in before his capture, saying, "I don't like killing innocent people.

But, he allegedly also wrote, "the US Government is killing our innocent civilians. I can't stand to see such evil go unpunished. We Muslims are one body; you hurt one you hurt us all. Stop killing our innocent people, we will stop.

The indictment further alleged that the Tsarnaev brothers carefully designed the twin bombs in order to "shred skin, shatter bone and cause extreme pain and suffering, as well as death.

They bought 48 fireworks mortar shells containing explosive powder from a fireworks store. It also disclosed that they used the Internet to order electronic components that could be used in making bombs.

Three people were killed and more than 260 injured in twin explosions near the finish line of the marathon on April 15.

Authorities said each brother placed a backpack containing a shrapnel-packed pressure cooker bomb near the marathon finish line. The bombs went off within seconds of one another.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed following a shootout with police four days later, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured hiding in a boat in a suburban backyard.

The court papers also confirm that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev inadvertently contributed to his brother's death by running him over during the shootout .
. . .
At the same time the federal indictment was announced, Massachusetts authorities brought a 15-count state indictment against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev over the police officer's slaying and the police shootout.

US: Prison warden: Muslim inmates joining prayer groups formed gangs and bullied other prisoners

The warden of a U.S. prison holding high-risk inmates, including American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh, insisted Thursday that he was obeying a court order to allow daily group prayer by permitting inmates to pray in pairs within their cells.

Warden John Oliver told a federal judge that when the prison allowed group prayer earlier this year, Muslim inmates formed gangs and bullied other prisoners.

Lindh attended the hearing by video conference from the high-security unit that houses him and about 40 other inmates, including several convicted on terror charges.

A U.S. District judge ruled in January that barring Lindh and his fellow Muslims from engaging in daily group prayer violates a 1993 law that bans the government from curtailing religious speech without showing a compelling interest. The judge issued an order demanding that the prison allow group prayer.

Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, filed a motion in Lindh’s name in April asking the judge to find the prison warden in contempt. The motion argued that the warden allowed only three group prayers per day in a single room, instead of the five that Lindh said his faith requires.

But Oliver said he believed he was balancing inmates’ religious rights with the security needs of the special unit that severely restricts inmates’ communications with the outside world.

The prison converted a recreation room into a “meditation room” to accommodate group prayer in March, but Muslim inmates, who make up more than half of the 42 people in the unit, used the inmate-led prayers to set up a prison gang, Oliver said.

Some Muslim inmates “shunned” others by banning them from the prayer group, controlled access to food and claimed the room as their territory by leaving prayer rugs and other religious items there. Oliver said this intimidated inmates of other faiths and deterred them from using the room...

Australia: 120 extremists capable of violence in western Sydney, moderate Muslim told by TV station not to "alienate the extremists"

MORE than 100 extremists capable of violent radicalism are entrenched in western Sydney, a Muslim cleric claimed last night.

A western Sydney imam has revealed his losing battle turning young Muslim extremists back from the brink of terrorism.

Exposing the scale of the problem, moderate imam Afroz Ali said he was losing the battle to turn 120 extremists at this Lakemba-based organisation back from the brink.

Imam Afroz left the federal government-backed National Imam's Consultative Forum in April in no doubt how worried Australia should be about the young radicals.

"We have had a program for the last seven years now in which we have had 240 people who were considered to be moving in a direction which may have led them to violent radicalisation - to terrorism," Imam Afroz told the national forum.

"What we have found is, of the 240 people, 120, exactly half of them, are people who have changed their thinking, their mindset. That is something that I don't necessarily share too widely in public, but I am happy to share it here."

His warning to the forum, made up of over 20 imams from every state and territory, was recorded and will be broadcast tonight on Channel 7's Today Tonight.

Imam Afroz, who runs the Al-Ghazzali Centre for Islamic Sciences & Human Development, could not be contacted for comment last night.

But Sydney-based Maajid Nawaz, himself a former radical who spent 13 years inside Hizb ut-Tahrir, the fanatical global Islamist political movement, said it demonstrated the extent of the problem.

He said he did not consider it a success that there were still 120 young radicals potentially headed for terrorism.

"I find it astonishing we've got one centre that has 240 radicals," Mr Mawaz told Today Tonight

"If 120 can become violent in one Islamic centre, that tells me the scale of the problem. It's massive because that's only one centre."

That is on top of the hundreds of followers who follow Hizb ut-Tahrir, Sheik Feiz Mohammed, the Global Islamic Youth Centre at Liverpool and Auburn's Bukhari House Bookshop and prayer hall in western Sydney.

Mr Mawaz had offered to debate Muslim leaders at a public meeting organised by the TV program but was told they did not want to further alienate the extremists.

He said in order to stem the rising tide of radical young Australian Muslims turning to hate the community had to "aggressively claim the middle ground".

Syria: Suicide bomb outside the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox church leaves four people dead

Several people were injured in the attack in the Bab Sharqi neighbourhood, near a church.

Rebel sources confirmed the number of dead, but said the attack was caused by a mortar bomb.

More than 90,000 people have died and millions have been displaced by Syria's two-year conflict, the UN says.

Reports say that the bomber was wearing a suicide belt and blew himself up outside the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox church.

Some shops were damaged in the blast.

No-one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

There have been consistent but unverified reports of violence directed against Christians in Syria since the uprising began in March 2011, including attacks on churches.

Syria's Christians are believed to make up about 10% of the population, but despite their minority status they have long been among Syria's elite.

Nigeria: Boko Haram member revealed how he killed 23 people, including a police officer, in two days

The suspect, who started reeling out his murderous escapade hours after he was arrested by the volunteer armed youths famously known as civilian JTF, shocked residents when he confessed to have killed 23 people within 48 hours.

The middle-age man, arrested by the youths on Tuesday at Ngomari ward, Bakin Borehole within Maiduguri metropolis and subsequently handed over to the Joint Task Force, Operation Restore Order, said he slaughtered a village head and a police officer because he felt they were against the activities of the dreaded sect.

Residents of the area where the suspect was arrested said he came from Gwange, adding that the suspect was picked up by the vigilance youth group following the arrest of his younger brother who assisted the youths by taking them to Ngomari where the suspect was residing until his arrest.

“We were shocked when we heard that civilian JTF came and arrested a sect member in our area.

We have never imagined we could have somebody like that in our area because we have been living peacefully. We were even more shocked when he confessed that he killed 23 people in two days,” one of the residents who did not want his name in print told journalists. Sources said the suspected Boko Haram member had relocated about a year ago to Ngomari from Gwange. “He rented a room apartment there and lived discreetly,” some residents said.

Commentary: "Islamic Socialist Network" campaign brings Shari'ah blasphemy law to Facebook and blogs

Over the last couple of weeks Facebook has clamped down heavily on various (around 40) counter-jihad and patriot pages.

The administrators of these pages were shocked when they logged on and found that their pages had suddenly 'disappeared'. In some cases Facebook has made this statement: 'Your Page was flagged for content containing nudity, pornography or sexual solicitation.' The page admins, however, have claimed not to have posted anything with explicitly sexual content. What will have happened is that Muslims, and/or the Leftist whores/enablers-of-Islam, will have 'reported' these pages for 'sexual content' knowing full well that it would be much more difficult to make a political/religious case for banning them. (I've been reported by a Hope Not Hate (UK) member, and then banned by Facebook, for an innocent cartoon image -- Facebook used the phrase 'sexual content' then too.) These pages will therefore have been consistently reported by Muslims, and/or Leftists, for anti-Islamic content, not for sexual or violent content.

So, perhaps unknowingly, the automated machine that is Facebook will mainly respond to Muslim and Leftist 'reports' without looking into their true nature and seeing they are in fact being taken for a ride by such people. And because Facebook is free it simply won't have the manpower to check all reports. Thus it will ban indiscriminately -- on reports alone. Either that, or the Muslims and Leftists who work for Facebook are taking matters into their own hands by imposing Sharia Blasphemy Law on Facebook without its owners, or those at the top level, knowing this.

Here are some of the pages banned by Facebook recently.

On the 19th on June, 'Ban Islam' was itself banned. ('Ban Islam' had at least 45,000 followers.) The admin immediately set up 'Ban Islam 2' only to be banned again a couple of days ago. 'Islam Against Women', 'Islam Free Planet' and many others have also been banned. The blog Sharia Unveiled estimates that around 40 pages have been banned in the last couple of weeks. And, as that blog puts it, 'from what we are hearing, this is only the beginning'.

None of this is a surprise. There has been a huge effort by Muslims and Islamic groups to get rid of certain pages -- or all pages! -- which are critical of Islam (in any way whatsoever!). Of course they have focused on the most popular ones to begin with.

This campaign to get Sharia Blasphemy Law implemented on Facebook dates back to at least 2010. To take just one example of this. There is a page which is honest it its extremism and about how absolutist it is about all criticism of Islam. Its name alone betrays that extremism: 'We want Facebook to remove all groups & pages that [are] against Islam'. In that page you can find the following statement:

"This page is created for the sole purpose of removing all the groups and pages that are against Islam. If 50,000 people report those Groups and Pages than Facebook will disable."

It is partly an organisation called Islamic Socialist Network responsible for some of these assults on free expression (according to the American blog 'Sharia Unveiled'). This 'network' ran a website called 'Union Star Network'. However, in the last 24 hours this website/blog has itself been closed down. I can only assume that this has been in response to critics of the 'Wanted' posters which many Internet users may have 'reported'. On that website there were (I saw them myself) indeed various 'wanted' posters which offered rewards of up $1 million for personal information on the admins of patriot and counter-jihad pages. Of course the Islamic and Leftist totalitarians are also intent on banning or hacking websites and blogs too (e.g., 'Your Daily Muslim' is one victim of this campaign for the elimination of all contradictory views), not just Facebook pages.

All this means that Islamic Sharia Blasphemy Law Campaign on Facebook is merging into the Leftists' 'no platform policy'. (All totalitarians together, eh?) That campaign should now be called 'The Blasphemy Law Policy' or 'No Platform for Blasphemy Against Islam'. (When did the Left become so protective of religious sensibilities? Answer: When the UK and U.S.'s religious became brown-skinned.)

At least the Muslim Facebook page 'Remove all Groups and Page that are against Islam' is honest about its extremism and absolutism in that its very name is explicit about it. It is telling Muslims, and their Leftist helpers, to 'remove all groups and pages that are against Islam' so that Muslims can go on killing and oppressing without anyone doing anything about it. So that Islam can remain uncriticised; as it has been, at least in the Muslim world, for 1,400 years.

Finally, it's strange that so many Muslims constantly boast about how many Muslims there are in the world as if that in itself proves something. But is it any wonder that there are so many Muslims with such a massive and deep iron wall of protection around Islam (which has been in place since that religion's invention)? In any case, the numbers of Muslims proves nothing. I would guess that at the peak of National Socialism's popularity and support there were at least 100 million Nazis in Europe and beyond. The numbers would have been even higher for Communists at the peak of Communism's popularity and support. So, if anything, that large number of Muslims is best explained by the persecution and killing of all the critics of Islam (as well as death for apostasy). And this current campaign to get Facebook to fully implement Sharia Blasphemy Law is just the latest stage in that Islamic war against everything 'un-Islamic'.

Saudi Arabia: Hajj pilgrimage numbers restricted as a new virus spreads near the "global focal point for contagious diseases"

With 39 deaths globally from a virus outbreak hitting hardest in Saudi Arabia, the government has begun relaying health advisories that children, the elderly, pregnant women and the terminally ill should stay home from this year’s Muslim pilgrimages to the holy city of Mecca.

The pilgrimage for the Muslim hajj holiday, which this year falls in mid-October, annually draws about 3 million faithful from around the world to Mecca. Millions more come on pilgrimage before the hajj, with the pilgrimage season this year peaking in summer and autumn.

The pilgrimage historically has been a global focal point for contagious diseases. A 2012 study of French pilgrims said more than 80% returned with respiratory symptoms, and 40% with flu-like symptoms.

Pilgrimages to Mecca are a central tenet of the Muslim faith. Islam requires all Muslims with the means to make the pilgrimage at least once in their lives.

Saudi Arabia said last week it was cutting the number of pilgrims this year – by 20% for foreigners, and 50% for Saudis – attributing the reduction to construction work in Mecca which has restricted crowd capacity.

But diplomats have suggested that the recent viral outbreak may be another reason for the cuts, announced in Arab news media just as the annual pilgrimage season moves into high gear. Some note that Saudi Arabia issued the same recommendation for the same four groups ahead of the 2009 hajj, amid concerns about the spread that year of the H1N1 avian flu virus.

Since September 2012, the World Health Organization has reported 70 confirmed cases of the new virus, which medical authorities have dubbed the Middle East respiratory-symptom coronavirus, or MERS. The virus is from the same family as the SARS virus which killed more than 700 people a decade ago.

The majority of MERS cases and deaths have occurred in Saudi Arabia in the past three months. Several of the victims had contact with goats and camels, though health authorities have yet to confirm the virus’s original animal source.

Saudi websites for pilgrimage visas have begun relaying medical advisories stating that those considered particularly susceptible – pregnant women, those with a pre-existing mortal illness, children, and the elderly – should not attend the hajj or umrah pilgrimages this year.
Saudi health authorities have decided to restrict the number of visas issued for hajj and umrah pilgrimages in 2013in order to prevent the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), a cousin of SARS. So far, the virus has killed 45 people (38 of them in the Islamic Kingdom).

The General Health Directorate (DGS), which runs the Health Ministry, issued a circular to this effect. In a statement posted on its website on Saturday, the Saudi health ministry urged people in certain categories not to perform hajj.

"Elderly persons, pregnant women, children and people affected by chronic diseases, notably people with cardiac, diabetic or respiratory disease, kidney or immune-system deficiencies, will be unable to obtain a visa this year," the circular said.

However, the statement was unclear as to how restrictions would be implemented or what the age limits would be.

MERS-CoV is related to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a virus in the coronavirus family that caused a pneumonia-like outbreak in Asia in 2003.

The World Health Organisation has not recommended any MERS-CoV-related travel restrictions, but noted that countries should monitor unusual respiratory infection patterns.

This and the recent outbreak on its territory have prompted Saudi Arabia to restrict hajj...
As of last Friday, there were 103 reported cases of MERS around the world and 46 deaths, NSW Health says.

Saudi Arabia is the country worst hit by the coronavirus, a cousin of the deadly SARS virus, with 82 cases.

NSW Health says all travellers should check the latest health advice.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard of NSW Health's communicable disease branch says there is a risk pilgrims could contract MERS and bring it into Australia.

"This has already occurred in other countries including Italy, the UK, France, Tunisia and Germany", Dr Sheppeard said on Tuesday.

People over the age of 65, those with chronic diseases, pregnant women and children under 12 should not make the journey for their own safety, Saudi Arabia's health ministry says.

Thousands of Australians are expected to join the three million Muslims making the pilgrimage in mid-October.

There is no vaccine against the virus, which has a 51 per cent fatality rate.

It is believed to be related to the SARS virus that erupted in Asia in 2003.

Like SARS, MERS is thought to have jumped from animals to humans, and it shares the former's flu-like symptoms, but differs by also causing kidney failure.

U.S. ignores the wishes of the Syrian people and sides with al-Qaeda, begins shipping arms for Syrian rebels

70% of Syrians (including Sunni Muslims) support Bashar al-Assad, 20% are neutral, and only 10% are aligned with Western-backed Sunni rebels. Clearly the reason for the US' involvement has little to do with helping the Syrian people.

The Central Intelligence Agency has begun moving weapons to Jordan from a network of secret warehouses and plans to start arming small groups of vetted Syrian rebels within a month, expanding U.S. support of moderate forces battling President Bashar al-Assad, according to diplomats and U.S. officials briefed on the plans.

The shipments, related training and a parallel push to mobilize arms deliveries from European and Arab allies are being timed to allow a concerted push by the rebels starting by early August, the diplomats and officials said, revealing details of a new covert plan authorized by President Barack Obama and disclosed earlier this month.

The CIA is expected to spend up to three weeks bringing light arms and possibly antitank missiles to Jordan. The agency plans to spend roughly two weeks more vetting an initial group of fighters and making sure they know how to use the weapons that they are given, clearing the way for the first U.S.-armed rebels to enter the fight, diplomats briefed on the CIA's plans said.

Talks are under way with other countries, including France, about pre-positioning European-procured weapons in Jordan. Saudi Arabia is expected to provide shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, known as Manpads, to a small number of handpicked fighters, as few as 20 at first, officials and diplomats said. The U.S. would monitor this effort, too, to try to reduce the risk that the Manpads could fall into the hands of Islamists.

Up to a few hundred of the fighters will enter Syria under the program each month, starting in August, according to diplomats briefed on CIA plans.

At that rate, U.S. and Saudi officials believe it would take four to five months before there are enough rearmed and trained moderate fighters to make a meaningful difference against Mr. Assad's forces and their Hezbollah allies, according to diplomats and U.S. officials.

A spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan, declined to provide or confirm details on U.S. assistance to rebels, including the timeline for delivery.

The U.S. effort remains marked by debate. With Mr. Obama's decision to arm Syrian rebels after months of White House opposition to the idea, some U.S. officials say the CIA needs to move faster; others argue careful measures are necessary to make sure any fighters armed by the agency don't join pro-al Qaeda groups...
"U.S. Begins Shipping Arms for Syrian Rebels" (archived)
Adam Entous, Julian E. Barnes and Siobhan Gorman, The Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2013,

Syria: Two Christians, one a priest, suspected of cooperating with the military beheaded by western-backed rebels

A video uploaded to the internet yesterday shows two men with their hands bound, surrounded by dozens of people, many of them armed and cheering in celebration.

Note: Video Below Article

The two are brutally executed – beheaded with a small combat knife. Echoing previous beheading recorded by insurgents, the head is held up to the cheers of onlookers and then placed on the body.

This month has seen an escalation in sectarian atrocities committed by insurgents, who have been publicly armed and supported by America, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other actors. Indeed, the atrocities are coinciding with further arms transfers – with new advanced weaponry witnessed in the hands of militants in the past number of weeks.

The most recent beheading recorded on video and uploaded to the internet, reportedly took place in Idlib countryside.

Recently, a Catholic priest was executed by foreign militants. The monastery in which he resided was burnt and looted, echoing the events of a massacre in Homs last month which resulted in the entire population of a Christian village being wiped out and their houses and possessions burnt. Two Christian bishops who were kidnapped by Chechen gunmen in Aleppo earlier this year, are still missing.

As well as Christians, Shia villages are receiving the brunt of a boldly-confident insurgency. This newly-found confidence has resulted in having just recently received confirmation of America’s intent to supply them with more weapons. Last week, militants massacred dozens of villagers in the province’s town of Hatla. Since then, summary executions and sectarian house-to-house raids have taken place.

The following video is extremely graphic and viewer discretion is advised. Many thanks to Arabi Souri, a Syrian activist for the translated version of the video...
The Vatican is confirming the death by beheading of Franciscan Father, Francois Murad, who was martyred by Syrian jihadists on June 23.

Below is the news release from the Vatican, via

On Sunday, June 23 the Syrian priest François Murad was killed in Gassanieh, in northern Syria, in the convent of the Custody of the Holy Land where he had taken refuge. This is confirmed by a statement of the Custos of the Holy Land sent to Fides Agency. The circumstances of the death are not fully understood. According to local sources, the monastery where Fr. Murad was staying was attacked by militants linked to the jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra.

Father François, 49, had taken the first steps in the religious life with the Franciscan Friars of the Custody of the Holy Land, and with them he continued to share close bonds of spiritual friendship. After being ordained a priest he had started the construction of a coenobitic monastery dedicated to St. Simon Stylites in the village of Gassanieh.After the start of the Civil War, the monastery of St. Simon had been bombed and Fr. Murad had moved to the convent of the Custody for safety reasons and to give support to the remaining few, along with another religious and nuns of the Rosary...

China: 27 people killed and three others injured after knife-wielding gangs went on the rampage

The Xinhua news agency said mobs attacked police stations, a local government building and a construction site in the Turpan Oasis in the Turkic-speaking Xinjiang region.

Nine police officers and security guards, as well as eight civilians, were killed before police shot dead 10 of the attackers.

The death toll from the unrest was the worst in the restive region since July 2009, when nearly 200 people were killed in riots in the regional capital Urumqi, involving local predominantly Muslim Uighurs and ethnic Han Chinese.

Xinhua said Wednesday's unrest erupted at about 6am in the remote township of Lukqun, about 120 miles southeast of Urumqi.

Gangs attacked officials and civilians, stabbing people and setting fire to police vehicles, Xinhua reported.

Residents told Sky News there was a heavy police presence in the township. Search results for the words Xinjiang and Lukqun, in both English and Chinese, were unavailable on Chinese search engines.

The reasons for the attacks were not immediately clear, but Xinjiang has been the scene of numerous violent incidents in recent years.

The region is home to a large population of Uighurs, and the influx of China's Han majority has led to unrest.

Many Uighurs, who have ethnic links to central Asia, accuse the Chinese government of placing restrictions on their culture, language and religion.

They also claim Beijing has encouraged the numbers of Han Chinese to rise in order to reduce the Uighurs' dominance.

Pakistan: Lawyer defending Christian women sexually abused by activists of ruling party threatened by Muslims

The chief lawyer defending Christian women who were reportedly sexually abused by activists of Pakistan's ruling party said Monday, June 24, that Muslim militants have threatened to kill him if he and his legal team continue with this case or others, including attacks on a Christian neighborhood and rape.

Sardar Mushtag Gill, who heads the Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD) group, told Worthy News that he and a friend were "forcibly stopped at gunpoint by three armed men" Sunday, June 23, while driving home on a motorbike after meeting the mistreated women and their family in Sereser Chak No. 21 village, in the Kasur district of Punjab province.

"After we were stopped at Bypass Multan road they threatened to kill us while shooting in the air," Gill recalled. "I am confused that they didn't tell anything else…They just terrified us by their [potentially] deadly act", he added.

Gill, 32, said he had spoken with the recently attacked Christians about presenting a petition on June 24 asking the nearby Pattoki Court to detain the suspects, who have been linked to the governing Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).

He explained that sisters Arshad Bibi, Sajida Bibi and Sauriya Bibi, were abused by armed men and an influential landlord because goats owned by the women allegedly entered the landlord’s fields and damaged crops.


The incident occurred on the night of June 3 when male members of the family were attending to their jobs, Gill noted. Rights investigators said the attackers entered the house by jumping the boundary wall and unlocking the gate from the inside.

The women, all in their late 20s, were soon "brutally beaten and then paraded naked by armed men" employed by Muhammad Munir, the son of Abdul Rasheed, a landlord supported by the PML-N, Gill said.

In general Worthy News publishes names of suspects and abuse victims only if they are publicly identified. Gill said he is concerned that local police have "not acted on the complaint of physical abuse filed by the Christians," amid apparent PML-N pressure.

Instead, PML-N Parliamentarian Rana Ishaq "is forcing the police not to act against the perpetrators as they are also supporters of the ruling party," said the Asian Human Rights Commission, a major advocacy group.

Ishaq could not immediately be reached for comment but has so far declined to comment on the case.


Gill also suggested that the threats by militants was linked to his involvement in petitioning the Lahore High Court to cancel the release on bail granted to dozens of "Muslim extremists" who he said were involved in torching up to 100 homes and injuring dozens in a Christian neighborhood of Lahore city.

As many as 3,000 Muslims rampaged through Lahore's Joseph Colony on March 9 "to search" for Savan Masih, 26, after hearing reports that the Christian man committed blasphemy against Islam.

Masih has strongly denied the charges. "The next date of the hearing on dismissing the release on bail is fixed 27 June," Gill announced. Additionally, the Christian lawyer has come under pressure after successfully asking a court in June to dismiss the release on bail of a suspect in the rape of a Christian girl.

The 15-year-old Fouzia Bibi was raped January 25 by two armed Muslim men in Punjab province in a case that shocked the Christian community and underscored wider concerns over mistreatment of Christian women and girls, Gill said.

Despite the death threats, he told Worthy News that his group would continue to defend Christians. "We are not cowards. We will not stop to carry out what we were assigned to do by Jesus, to fulfill His Mission in Pakistan," the married young man said.


Gill isn't the only prominent Christian rights defender to receive death threats. Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was shot and killed in January 2011 by one of his security guards after publicly criticizing controversial blasphemy laws under which several Christians have been detained...

US: 'Faces of Global Terrorism' bus ads being pulled, too many Muslim faces offensive to Muslims

The FBI says it’s pulling some advertisements off buses in the Seattle area, after some people complained that they stereotyped Muslims.

The ads, which began running this month in connection with a State Department program, features pictures of 16 men wanted around the globe for terrorist activities below the words: “Faces of Global Terrorism.”

Among those criticizing the ads was U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott of Seattle, who suggested they gave the impression that “terrorism only comes from one religion or one color of people,” and said the ads might increase the risk of hate crimes against Middle Eastern, South Asian and Muslim Americans.

Syria: Priest murdered by Muslims at a convent where he had fled for refuge

"Fr. Franҫois Mourad's killing of is a sad occurrence and a blow to all the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land," said Fr Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land, as he spoke with AsiaNews about the Syrian clergyman who died on Sunday in al-Ghassaniyah, a predominantly Christian village in Jisr al-Shughur District, Idlib province. His funeral was celebrated yesterday in the small village of Kanaieh, a few kilometres from where he was killed.

Until yesterday, there were two versions of the murder, the first spoke about a stray bullet, the second of an actual attack carried out by Islamist insurgents against the Monastery of St Anthony in al-Ghassaniyah.

"The second is the most reliable version," Fr Pizzaballa said. "From the photos and the testimony of our religious, the rebels attacked the village in past few weeks, forcing most residents to flee."

The Monastery of St Anthony was the only safe haven, where Fr Franҫois lived along with some Franciscan friars, four nuns and ten lay Christians. But on Sunday, rebels part of a fringe extremist Islamic group, stormed that place too."

According to the Custos of the Holy Land, Islamists broke into the convent, looted it and destroyed everything. When Fr Franҫois tried to defend the nuns and other people, the gunmen shot him dead.

"Right now, the village is completely deserted," Fr Pizzaballa said. "Rebels have moved there with their families and occupied the houses still standing."

"Let us pray that this absurd and shameful war ends soon and that the people of Syria can get back to a normal life soon," he said.

Hailing from a village in the province of Latakia in northwestern Syria, Fr Franҫois Mourad, 49, was trained by the Franciscan Fathers in the Holy Land.

Feeling called to a more contemplative life at the end of the 90s, he left the Franciscans to complete his studies with the Trappists of Latrun (Palestine).

Once back in Syria, he was ordained priest by the Syriac Catholic bishop of Al-Hasakah on the Syrian side of the Al-Jazira region.

In recent years, he launched a new monastic foundation, inspired by Saint Simon and founded a small monastery of contemplative life in Hwar, Aleppo province, devoting himself to the training of some young postulants, all Syrians.

He was in Hwar until this year when fighting between Islamic rebels and regime forced him to take refuge in al-Ghassaniyah, on the Orontes River, guest of the local Franciscan monastery.

Until his death, he worked together with the friars to bring relief to the Christian and Muslim residents of the area. (S.C.)

Lebanon: Cleric turned mosque, where he leads Friday prayers, into military base

Firebrand Lebanese Sunni cleric Ahmed al-Assir has turned his mosque into a military base, exclusive Al Arabiya footage shows.

The Lebanese army took control of Abra, an area which is home to the Bilal bin Rabah mosque where Assir leads Friday prayers, after fighting on Monday that killed 17 soldiers and 50 Assir loyalists in the southern city of Sidon, a Lebanese military source said. The footage shows the mosque was used to store weapons and ammunition, including hidden stashes discovered by the army. Barrels filled with sand placed at the entrance of the mosque and around its circumference made it look like a military barricade. The whereabouts of the cleric are unknown. “The battle has ended after the army took full control over the area and after the escape of” Assir, a military source told Al Arabiya.

Meanwhile, military sources told Al Arabiya on Tuesday that about 110 Assir loyalists were arrested. The military is also combing areas that his followers are known to frequent.
. . .

Sudan: MP calls for banning females from sports, saying that it is against Shari'ah (Islamic law)

The Sudanese MP, Dafa'a Allah Hasab Al-Rasool, has submitted a motion to a parliamentary subcommittee to ban women's sport in Sudan, saying that it is against Shari'a (Islamic Law)

But the parliamentary subcommittee which issued a report in response to the Youth and Sports' minister testimony before the national assembly declined to include his motion in its report.

Dafa'a Allah, who complained about ignoring his motion in the report, addressed MP's saying "you should remember your daughters' honor; I made this motion to protect your daughters and wives".

The committee's report called upon the Youth and Sports ministry to commit itself to the Islamic guidelines on women's sport as provided by the Islamic Fiqh (jurisprudence) Academy.

Dafa'a Allah who is dubbed in the local media as the "controversial" MP, is known for his support for female circumcision. He once described uncircumcised women as "dirty".

Last month, he demanded the parliament to adopt a motion calling for polygamy, saying that it is the only way to produce more males in the society to support the army and defend the country against the rebel groups.

Germany: Police foil Muslim terror plot to use remote controlled aircraft filled with explosives as guided missiles

Police in Germany have raided dozens of addresses to foil an Islamist terror plot intending to use remote controlled model aircraft filled with explosives to be flown into targets.

Armed officers of the specialist G9G units raided homes in Stuttgart, Munich and Dachau after receiving information that at least one assassination attempt was being planned using the model planes as guided missiles.

Technical materials and paperwork were seized at several addresses while prosecutors spoke of plans for a 'seditious outrage'.

German intelligence officers have been warning for some time of a home-grown attack inside the country's borders as more and more Islamists return from Jihadist training camps in Pakistan ready to commit terrorist acts.

As well as the addresses in southern Germany, an Internet service provider in the state of Saxony was also raided. At least two men are in custody and authorities say the operations will continue as more intelligence is gathered.

No information was given about likely targets or exactly which Jihadist organisation the suspects are affiliated with.

One of the addresses raided was at the Olympic Village in Munich, scene of the 1972 Olympic massacre when fanatics of the Black September movement stormed the living quarters of Israeli athletes.

All eleven hostages later died in a shootout at Munich Airport.

Prosecutors said that the arrests were linked to a plot centred on Islamist 'Holy war' but gave no further details...

Study: Almost 50 percent of European Jews say they are considering emigrating because they do not feel safe

EU agency: Forty to 50 percent of Jews say they are considering emigrating because they do not feel safe • Jewish think tank: Backlash against Muslim religious practices is harming status of Jewish communities in Europe.

Despite the absence of state-sponsored anti-Semitism, and a renaissance of sorts in European Jewish life, Jews on the continent feel insecure about their future, two new studies show.

The studies show that almost half the Jews in Belgium, France and Hungary are considering emigrating, some to Israel, others to North America. For those who want to come to Israel, there is very little political will in Israel to help with immigrant absorption bureaucracy, and there is no effective European equivalent of the popular Nefesh B'Nefesh organization.

• 26% experienced anti-Semitism in past year.

• 34% experienced anti-Semitic harassment over the past five years.

• 5% of respondents say that their property had been deliberately vandalized because they were Jewish.

• 7% of respondents experienced some form of physical attack or threat in the last five years....

Pakistan: Two girls and mother killed by stepson and his four friends over family video

For more on honor related violence, click here.

A family video showing two teenage girls enjoying rain in their house led to their murder in Chilas on Sunday night. Their mother was also gunned down allegedly by her stepson and his four friends.

Five masked men barged into the house of retired police officer Rehmat Nabi and started firing, killing his wife and daughters, aged 15 and 16.

According to police, the crime was motivated by a video clip circulated on mobile phones and showing the girls overjoyed by rain in the lawn of their bungalow.

The video, recorded six months ago, was circulated in the area four months later probably after a relative sent it to his friends.

Police believed that the girls’ stepbrother Khutore took it as an “assault on the honour of his family” and tried to “restore the family’s honour” by killing the girls.

Khutore escaped when police tried to get in touch with him for investigation. But, his four friends were arrested and, according to a senior police official, they have confessed to the crime. A case has been registered against the five.

Bangladesh: War crimes court orders a top UK Muslim to be tried for 19 murders during the 1971 independence war

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

The country's much criticised International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) charged Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan with 11 "crimes against humanity" counts including murder, confinement, abduction and torture.

"They have been charged with the murder of 19 top intellectuals during the war. They included writers, university professors, doctors and journalists," senior prosecutor Ziad Al Malum told AFP, adding both face the death penalty if convicted.

Rana Dasgupta, another prosecutor, told AFP that the court "has fixed July 15 for the opening statement" in their trial.

Some of the intellectuals the two men are accused of murdering, Malum said, are Sirajuddin Hossain, the executive editor of the Ittefaq daily newspaper; top playwright and Dhaka University professor Muneer Chowdhury; and the popular novelist Shahidullah Kaiser.

Both Mueen-Uddin and Khan were born in what was then East Pakistan before the nine-month war of independence against West Pakistan that ended in December 1971. They fled the country after Bangladesh successfully proclaimed its independence.

"Mueen-Uddin is living in Britain and Khan in the United States. The court has ordered the trial to be held in absentia and has provided defence lawyers for them," Malum said, adding the court was not seeking their extradition.

"It's up to the British people and their government whether they are going to extradite a top war crime accused or not," he said.

Mueen-Uddin, 64, has held positions in a host of top Islamic organisations in his adopted homeland of Britain and was involved in setting up the Muslim Council of Britain - the largest umbrella group in the UK representing Muslims.

The London-based former journalist, who denies any wrongdoing, was a newspaper reporter in the impoverished South Asian country when the war of independence broke out.

He is accused of being a leading member of the notorious Al-Badr militia and of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami political party, which opposed the country's break-away from Pakistan.

Mueen-Uddin would face the death penalty if convicted and extradited - although historically Britain has always refused extradition requests if the charges carry a death sentence.

Last week he told the BBC that he did not have confidence in the tribunal.

"I am happy to respond to these charges in an open and fair court of law that is recognised by the international community," he said. "But I have little faith that the current process in Bangladesh is open nor just."

Khan, a United States citizen, was a Dhaka University student leader during the war and who is now believed to be living in New York. Prosecutors described him as the "chief executor" for the Al-Badr militia. He has yet to make any public statement on the allegations.

The tribunal has already charged 12 people with war crimes. Four Islamists have been sentenced, three of whom have been handed down death sentences by hanging, including the vice-president of Jamaat-e-Islami.

Deadly protests over the trials have gripped the impoverished Muslim-majority country since January, when the court started handing out verdicts.

Bangladesh has struggled to come to terms with its violent birth.

The current government says up to three million people were killed in the war, many murdered by locals who collaborated with Pakistani forces...

US: McDonald's drops halal food from menu after contentious lawsuit accusing the chain of selling non-halal items

There have been only two McDonald's restaurants in the U.S. that have offered halal food. Both were in east Dearborn, Mich., which has a sizable population of Arab-American Muslims.

But after a contentious lawsuit that accused the restaurant chain of selling non-halal items advertised as halal, McDonald's has yanked its Halal Chicken McNuggets and Halal McChicken sandwiches off the menu. The move brings to an end a unique product that made the two McDonald's restaurants popular with Muslims.

"Those items have been discontinued as a result of our continued efforts to focus on our national core menu," a spokesman for McDonald's said Friday.

At one of the two restaurants, the Ford Road location, a sign in Arabic and English on its drive-through menu informs customers that halal items are no longer available. The decision to discontinue the products after a 12-year run drew a mixed reaction in Dearborn: Some were disappointed, while others said it was a good move because McDonald's had problems before with selling halal food.

The removal of the halal items, which was done last month, comes after a lawsuit filed in 2011 alleging that the fast-food restaurant was selling non-halal chicken it claimed was halal. Halal is the Muslim equivalent of kosher, requiring that meat be prepared according to Islamic guidelines, such as reciting a prayer while the animal is cut. In some cases, employees at the Ford Road location were mistakenly giving non-halal products to customers who asked for halal ones.

A $700,000 settlement was reached in April that allocated $275,000 to the Huda Clinic, a Muslim health center in Detroit; $150,000 to the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, and $25,000 to Ahmed Ahmed, a Dearborn Heights man who filed the lawsuit against McDonald's. The rest went to attorney fees.

McDonald's denied any wrongdoing in the settlement agreement, which made no mention of stopping the sale of halal food. Some Muslims didn't like the settlement, saying the money should have gone to individual customers, not organizations...

Nigeria: In the latest of a series of attacks, Muslims kill one Christian and destroy church buildings in four villages

"Muslim Fulani terrorists attacked some villages, including Bakin Rijiya village where Toma Vongjen was killed, and in Kumbur, Wase Tofa, Angwan Sayawa, some churches were also destroyed," the Rev. Dinfa Lamda, Church of Christ in Nations in Jos, told Morning Star News.

"There are Christian villages that have been completely wiped out by these Muslim terrorists. Just last week Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked some Christian farmers in Wase and destroyed all the crops they planted on their farms."

Lamda said Muslims have attacked Plateau state Christian communities in Wase, Langtang and Shendam.

"For a number of years, the attacks on Christians in these three local government areas have caused the displacement of thousands of Christians there," he said. "There is a very lamentable problem, as we are no longer able to worship God as Christians in this part of Nigeria."

In the last six months, more than 100 Christian farmers have been killed or injured and almost 100 churches destroyed in attacks by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen.

"They are armed with military assault guns and attack Christian communities at random, sometimes at night, or during daytime, when these Christians, who are mostly farmers, are on their farms," the Rev. Johnson Kikem, Chairman of the COCIN Regional Church Council in Langtang, told Morning Star News. "This has forced those that have survived the attacks to flee from their communities, and hundreds of them are staying here in Langtang town as displaced persons."

Kikem said Islamic extremists are believed to be arming Muslims and encouraging them to attack Christians.

"It's because we have refused to bow to the god of Islam, and so the plan is to forcefully Islamize us," he said. "It is part of the Islamic agenda to impose sharia on Christians in the northern part of Nigeria."

Christians, who live mostly in the south, make up 51 percent of Nigeria's population, while Muslims account for 45 percent and reside mainly in the north, according to Operation World.

Pakistan: Muslim gunmen storm a mountaineering base camp, kill 9 foreign tourists and two locals as they rested

Gunmen stormed a mountaineering base camp in northern Pakistan on Sunday and shot dead nine foreign trekkers and a Pakistani guide as they rested during an arduous climb up one of the world's tallest peaks, police said.

The night-time raid - which killed five Ukrainians, three Chinese and a Russian - was among the worst attacks on foreigners in Pakistan in a decade and underscored the growing reach of militants in a highland region once considered secure.

One of the victims also held a U.S. passport, a U.S. official said, without giving further details.

Police said a 15-strong gang of attackers wearing uniforms used by a local paramilitary force arrived at about 1 a.m. at a group of tents and ramshackle huts used by hikers scaling the flanks of the snow-covered 8,125-metre Nanga Parbat peak.

The assailants shot dead a Pakistani guard and held other workers at gunpoint, a senior official from the northern Gilgit-Baltistan province said. A Chinese climber managed to escape.

"The gunmen held the staff hostage and then started killing foreign tourists and made their escape," the official said.

It was the first time foreign tourists had been attacked in the province of Gilgit-Baltistan, where the convergence of the Hindu Kush, Karakoram and Himalayan ranges creates a stunning landscape explored by only a trickle of the most intrepid mountaineers.

Pakistan's Taliban movement and a smaller militant group both claimed responsibility.

The shootings, which followed several deadly bombings in different parts of Pakistan in the past week, pose a fresh challenge for the new government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is battling accusations that his calls for dialogue with insurgents amount to appeasing violent extremists...
The Taliban have said that the 10 climbers shot dead in northern Pakistan were killed by a branch of the militant group set up to target foreigners.

They were forced to kneel and shot in the head, officials said, as more details emerged about Saturday's deadly assault at Nanga Parbat base camp.

Pakistan's cabinet met to discuss the attack and its impact on the country's already troubled tourist industry.

Climbers in the area of the world's ninth highest peak have been evacuated.

The Pakistani Taliban said that the new faction - named in local media reports as Junoodul Hifsa - was set up to take revenge for drone attacks in Pakistan.

The Taliban had earlier said that the attack was in retaliation for the killing of their second-in-command, Waliur Rehman, who died in a suspected US drone strike in May.

Rounded up The nationalities of the foreign victims have now been identified as American, Chinese, Ukrainian, Slovakian, Lithuanian and Nepali. One Pakistani also died.

The BBC's Orla Guerin in Islamabad says the carefully choreographed assault was the worst attack on foreigners in Pakistan in a decade.

Survivors have yet to speak publicly about the attack but more details about their ordeal have emerged from local reports and from officials.

Police and army vehicles escorted the ambulances transporting the victims' bodies At least 15 gunmen dressed in the uniform of local security forces carried out the attack. Even though it took place at base camp, this was at a height of 4,200m (13,779 ft) and the attackers would have had to travel for at least 18 hours by foot or by mule, correspondents say.

The attackers forced two local guides to take them to the base camp. Once they reached their destination, they rounded up the foreign climbers and staff, took passports and money, destroyed mobile phones, blindfolded them and forced them to kneel...

Germany: Report shows German mosques raise funds for Hezbollah’s activities in Lebanon

The head of Germany’s federal agency for domestic intelligence and the country’s Interior Ministry have recently presented a report showing Hezbollah’s use of German based mosques and their affiliated organizations to raise funds for the terrorist group’s activities in Lebanon.

According to the 2012 report published this month by the domestic intelligence agency, known as the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the terrorist organization finances its activities through “Hezbollah-affiliated mosque associations” and raises funds within the framework of “religious ceremonies” as well as membership contributions.

Dr. Hans-Peter Friedrich, the head of Germany’s Interior Ministry, and Dr. Hans-Georg Maaßen, the relatively new director of the intelligence agency introduced the report several weeks ago in Berlin.

It is unclear from the report if the Hezbollah funds in Germany are funneled to aid the terrorist group’s efforts in Syria to support the regime of President Bashar Assad.

The report showed a steady presence of Hezbollah members in the Federal Republic, 950 members, the same figure for 2011. The intelligence agency’s 2010 report showed the number of Hezbollah members to be 900.

The 381-page 2012 intelligence report lists the Hezbollah attack on Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria, under the category of Islamic terrorism.

Although the Bulgarian Interior Minister blamed Hezbollah for the attack, which resulted in the deaths of five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver, the German report stated that “Hezbollah was brought into connection with the attack” but that the link was not yet definitively proven. The report was published before the Bulgarian government submitted new evidence, according to a JTA article last week, showing a Hezbollah operative used a printer in Lebanon to aid the terrorists with fake documents as part of their planning for the attack.

The German report also contained information about the July 7, 2012, arrest of a Hezbollah member in Cyprus who plotted to kill Israelis and Jews on the Island. Germany’s report, however, does not contain the March conviction of Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, who admitted he was a Hezbollah operative and part of the terrorist organization’s global mission to monitor Jews...

Pakistan: Shi'ite family, including three children, slaughtered by unidentified person

Unidentified accused killed five persons of a Shiite Muslim family in Rajana village of Toba Tek Singh on Saturday night, Geo News reported.

Police said the accused barged into a house in village Rajana Chak 264. They tied the arms and cut throats of Javed, his wife Tahira, two sons eight-year-old Ali Hassan and six-year-old Mohsin and four-year-old daughter.

Police have shifted the bodies for post mortem and started further investigation.

Iraq: Suicide bomber blows himself up inside a Shi'ite mosque killing at least 12 people during evening prayers

A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a Shi'ite mosque in northern Baghdad killing at least 12 people during evening prayers, police and medics said, in the deadliest of a series of attacks that claimed more than 30 lives across Iraq on Saturday.

Sectarian tensions in Iraq and the wider region have been inflamed by the civil war in Syria, where mainly Sunni Muslim rebels are fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, whose Alawite sect derives from Shi'ite Islam.

Insurgents including al Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate have been regaining ground and recruits from the country's Sunni minority, which feels sidelined since the U.S.-led invasion toppled former dictator Saddam Hussein and empowered majority Shi'ites.

"A suicide bomber blew himself up among the worshippers in the middle of evening prayer. There were bodies drenched in blood and others shouting for help while smoke filled the mosque," said a policeman at the scene.

A further 25 people were wounded in the attack, which took place in the Sab al-Bor district near Taji, 20 km (12 miles) north of Baghdad.

Scattered attacks across the country throughout the day killed at least 22 others, around half of them in or near the northern city of Mosul, where a suicide bomber killed four people at a police checkpoint...

Saudi Arabia: Cleric criticized for spending time in London, only weeks after urging Muslims to join jihad in Syria

Sheikh Mohamad al-Arefe, a leading Saudi preacher, called for jihad in Syria “in every possible way” during a high-level meeting of Muslim scholars in Cairo on June 14.

But the Saudi preacher, instead of translating his words into action and providing a model for Jihadist wannabes in Syrian frontlines, has chosen to shine elsewhere.

Recently he has been spotted in the streets of London, which he previously described as "a place where Muslims should not go to during times of crisis."

In London, he sometime threw off his white Thobe, the traditional Saudi dress, and embraced more modern attire.

Not so many pictures of him in London are available, but the few ones that came out showed the cleric in a white shirt and a jacket.

However, the sheikh claims he is on a business trip. He went to London to shoot his new television program "My Trip with al-Arefe" to be screened during the Muslim month of Ramadan on the religious “Iqra” television station, the Saudi Okaz daily reported.

The newspaper said the television will be shooting several programs around Europe this year, including Arefe’s show.

On his upcoming program, the Saudi cleric will address religious diversity in Britain as he meets Muslim youth to promote peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims.

He has already begun pushing his agenda on the social media. “I've mixed with the British public in London & found them to be pleasant, polite & respectful towards all religions," Arefe tweeted on Thursday to his more than five million followers.
. . .
However, Arefe’s call for jihad and subsequent travel to London exposed him to harsh criticism back home.

Saudi journalist Mohamed Suhaimi described clerics like Arefe as propaganda artists who talk the talk, but do not walk the walk. But the media cleric has got a response to that.

He re-tweeted on Wednesday a statement by the Syria Army (FSA) saying: "Frankly, we do not care about your differences with Sheikh al-Arefe as long as we Syrians know what he has done for our sake…God bless him…What have you done?"

The Sheikh also re-tweeted a statement attacking Al Arabiya television for reporting on his travel to London...

UK: Religious teacher from Blackburn charged with indecently assaulting 13-year old girl

A 40-YEAR-OLD religious teacher has appeared in court charged with indecently assaulting a girl under the age of 13.

Suleman Maknojioa faces five allegations that he intentionally sexually touched the girl, who was receiving private tuition from him.

Blackburn magistrates were told the assaults were alleged to have taken place in front of two other children, who were also being taught by Maknojioa.

Catherine Allan, prosecuting, said that on the day he was arrested, Maknojioa, a highly-respected Hafiz, was due to teach 30 children at a Blackburn mosque.

Maknojioa, of Billinge Street, Blackburn, pleaded not guilty to all five charges, and was directed to stand trial at Preston Crown Court, where he is due to appear on July 10...

Pakistan: Militants open fire on a Shiite mosque, then suicide bomber detonates explosives inside, killing 15

The attack hit the city of Peshawar, which is on the outskirts of Pakistan's tribal area, the main sanctuary for Islamic militants. They have targeted the city with scores of bombings in recent years.

Three militants initiated the attack on the mosque, located inside a Shiite religious school, by firing on a policeman who was standing guard outside, said senior police official Shafiullah Khan. The policeman was critically wounded, Khan said.

The militants then entered the mosque, where one of them detonated his suicide vest. The other two militants escaped, and police have launched a search operation to find them, Khan said. Fifteen people were killed and scores more wounded, he said.

Zawar Hussain, who was inside the mosque when the attackers struck, said their firing set off panic among the roughly 300 worshippers inside. Then came the explosion.

"After the blast, I fell down. People were crying for help," said Hussain. "I saw bodies and badly injured worshippers everywhere."

Local TV video showed blood splattered on the floor and walls of the mosque. Broken glass littered the floor, and there were holes in the walls and ceiling caused by ball bearings packed in with the bomber's explosives to cause maximum damage and casualties. Relatives at a local hospital wailed in grief as rescue workers wheeled in wounded victims, their clothes soaked in blood...

UK: Graffiti vandals spray graves with ‘Islam is great’ and the word ‘Islam’

The thugs used red paint to spray ‘Islam is great’ in large letters on one neatly-maintained grave.

On another headstone they painted the word ‘Islam’.

Visitors to the New Bradwell cemetery complained to council officials, who immediately sent out a graffiti removal squad.

Using specialist cleaning substances, council workers scrubbed the stones until no sign of the paint remained.

A spokesman said:“We have a policy to remove racist or highly offensive graffiti as soon as possible.

“We were very keen to remove this as soon as possible to minimise any further distress to the families.”

The council has appealed for information from anybody who saw people acting suspiciously around the graves.

“If we find out who is responsible we would certainly want them prosecuted and punished,” said the spokesman.

It is not yet known whether CCTV evidence will offer any clues to the perpetrators.

The name on the defaced grave pictured has been disguised by the Citizen to avoid distress to relatives.

Meanwhile other families who visit New Bradwell cemetery are furious about the vandalism.

“We’re worried they will strike again and damage other headstones,” said one visitor.

“To spray graffiti anywhere is mindless vandalism, but to deface a grave is the sickest thing imaginable.”

Somalia: Muslim extremists publicly execute Christian convert for his faith

Islamic extremists from the rebel Al Shabaab in Somalia earlier this month publicly shot a young man to death after identifying him as a Christian, sources said.

The insurgents in Jamaame district in southern Somalia had been monitoring 28-year-old Hassan Hurshe since his arrival from a Kenya in 2010 and determined that he had become a Christian while in Kenya, said area Muslim sources whose names are withheld for security reasons.

Al Shabaab members on June 7 brought Hurshe to a public place in the town of Jilib and shot him in the head, they said. “Many people watched this horrible action, including women and children,” said a witness.

Another area resident independently confirmed this account of the execution. A leader of the Somali underground church in Kenya who had also heard of the murder said Hurshe converted to Christianity in 2006, married in 2008 and fathered a baby boy in 2009.

The family left for Jilib, a town of about 45,000 in the Middle Juba Region, in the latter part of 2010 to visit family and start a small food shop, the source said.

Somalis are considered Muslim by birth, and apostasy, or leaving Islam, is punishable by death. After the execution, Hurshe’s parents, widow and son fled the area, a local resident said.

Many Somali members of Christian fellowships in Kenya have returned to Somalia after formation of a Somali government on Aug. 20, 2012, which replaced the Transitional Federal Government. Somali government troops backed by African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces have retaken large swathes of territory from the rebels.

Al Shabaab, said to have ties with Al Qaeda terrorists, has vowed to rid Somalia of Christians, who meet secretly due to persecution.

The insurgents have lost control of several areas of Somalia since Kenyan military forces helped to dislodge them in the past year, but they are suspected in the shooting death of a Christian pharmacist on the outskirts of Kismayo in February. Two masked men killed Ahmed Ali Jimale, a 42-year-old father of four, on Feb. 18 as he stood outside his house in Alanley village (see Morning Star News, Feb. 28).

On Dec. 8, 2012 in Beledweyne, 206 miles (332 kilometers) north of Mogadishu, gunmen killed a Christian who had been receiving death threats for leaving Islam. Two unidentified, masked men shot Mursal Isse Siad, 55, outside his home, Muslim and Christian sources said (see Morning Star News. Dec. 14, 2012).

Siad and his wife, who converted to Christianity in 2000, had moved to Beledweyne from Doolow eight months before. The area was under government control and there was no indication that the killers belonged to the Al Shabaab rebels, but the Islamic extremist insurgents were present in Buulodbarde, 20 kilometers (12 miles) away, and Christians believed a few Al Shabaab rebels could have been hiding in Beledweyne.

In the coastal city of Barawa on Nov. 16, 2012, Al Shabaab militants killed a Christian after accusing him of being a spy and leaving Islam, Christian and Muslim witnesses said. The extremists beheaded 25-year-old Farhan Haji Mose after monitoring his movements for six months, sources said (see “Morning Star News, Nov. 17, 2012).

Mose drew suspicion when he returned to Barawa, in the Lower Shebelle Region, in December 2011 after spending time in Kenya, according to underground Christians in Somalia. Kenya’s population is nearly 83 percent Christian, according to Operation World, while Somalia’s is close to 100 percent Muslim.

Pakistan: Christian women beaten, stripped and paraded naked by Muslim mob with the support of the ruling party

According to the Daily Times, three Christian women, Arshad Bibi, Sajida Bibi and Sauriya Bibi, the daughter-in-laws of Sadiq Masih, were brutally beaten and then paraded naked by armed men hired by Muhammad Munir, the son of Abdul Rasheed, a landlord who has the support of the ruling party, the PML-N.

The incident occurred on the night of June 3 when the male members of the family were attending to their jobs.

The attackers entered the house by jumping the boundary wall of their house and unlocked the gate from the inside.

At that time, the women were sleeping in the house along with their father-in-law Sadiq Masih, 73, and mother-in-law Rani Bibi, 70.

The mob invaded the house and started looking for Masih's sons, but when they could not find his sons, they started beating the three women. The party workers then took the three Christian women out into the street and tore their clothes off. Then they started shouting to attract the attention of the people nearby, to let them see the extent of the revenge and the power of the landlord...
Over a month after a Muslim landlord allegedly paraded three Christian women naked in Pakistan's Punjab province, a court in Lahore has finally taken notice of the matter and directed a judge to investigate the incident.

The Lahore High Court yesterday ordered the district and sessions judge, Kasur, to probe the matter and submit a report within two weeks.

The three Christian women were allegedly brutally beaten and then paraded naked by armed men of Muhammad Munir, a local landlord said to be having the backing of the ruling PML-N party, in Pattoki area of Kasur district, some 50 kilometres from Lahore.

The incident took place in the first week of last month.

The matter came to light a few days after the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) issued a news release to the media.


Cambridge University study reveals Jordanian teenagers still think 'honor killings' are justified

For more statistics on the same subject, click here.

Belief that so-called honour killings are justified is still common among Jordanian teenagers, a Cambridge University study revealed on Thursday.

The study by researchers from the university's Institute of Criminology found that almost half of boys and one in five girls interviewed in the capital, Amman, believe that killing a daughter, sister or wife who has "dishonoured" or shamed the family is justified.

"Researchers surveyed over 850 students, and found that attitudes in support of honour killing are far more likely in adolescent boys with low education backgrounds," a statement said, adding that the reesearch is published in the criminology journal Aggressive Behavior.

"Importantly, the study found that these disturbing attitudes were not connected to religious beliefs."

Between 15 and 20 women die in so-called "honour" murders each year in the Arab kingdom, despite government efforts to curb such crimes.

The main factors behind these crimes "include patriarchal and traditional worldviews, emphasis placed on female virtue and a more general belief that violence against others is morally justified," according to the study.

"We noted substantial minorities of girls, well-educated and even irreligious teenagers who consider honour killing morally right, suggesting a persisting society-wide support for the tradition," said Professor Manuel Eisner, who led the study with graduate student Lana Ghuneim.

In all, 33.4 percent of all respondents either "agreed" or "strongly agreed" with situations depicting honour killings.

"Boys were more than twice as likely to support honour killings: 46.1 percent of boys and 22.1 percent of girls agreed with at least two honour killing situations in the questionnaire."

Sixty-one percent of teenagers from the lowest level of educational background showed supportive attitudes towards "honour killing", as opposed to only 21.1 percent where at least one family member has a university degree, said the study.

And 41.5 percent of teenagers with a large number of siblings endorsed at least two "honour-killing situations", while this was only the case for 26.7 percent of teens from smaller families.

"While stricter legislation has been introduced -- despite conservative fears -- cultural support for violence against women who are seen as breaking norms has remained widespread," it added.

Murder is punishable by death in Jordan, but in "honour killings" courts can commute or reduce sentences, particularly if the victim's family asks for leniency.

Iran: Six more Christians sentenced for practicing their faith as 'moderate' comes to power

Six more Christians were sentenced for practicing their faith last week, while Iran’s presidential election of a moderate politician was not expected to soften the regime’s persecution of religious minorities.

After eight years of the hard-line rule of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hassan Rouhani proclaimed a “victory for moderation … not extremism,” expressed desire to rebuild bridges between Iran and the United States and promised to reopen stalled nuclear talks, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

While there has been optimism that the election of Rouhani and promises of reform will bring greater freedoms for persecuted religious minorities in Iran, an analyst said little will change as long as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei controls the country’s political destiny.

“[Khamenei] remains at the helm, and he has set course for utter destruction of the Christian faith in Iran,” Tiffany Barrans, international legal director for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) told Morning Star News. “His course was well-laid long before this election, and there is no sign that he plans to change course.” …

The Revolutionary Court in Shiraz, 571 miles (920 kilometers) south of Tehran, issued prison sentences of 44 months to Mojtaba Seyyed-Alaedin Hossein, Mohammad-Reza Partoei, Vahid Hakkani, and Homayoun Shokouhi for “attending a house church, spreading Christianity, having contact with foreign ministries, propaganda against the regime, and disrupting national security,” according the Mohabat News Agency. …

Iran: New "moderate" president tied to 1994 bombing of Argentinian Jewish center

Iranian President-elect Hassan Rowhani was on the special Iranian government committee that plotted the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, according to an indictment by the Argentine government prosecutor investigating the case.

The AMIA bombing is considered the deadliest terrorist attack in Argentina’s history, killing 85 and wounding hundreds more. The Argentine government had accused the Iranian government of planning the attack and Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah of carrying it out. Numerous former and current Iranian officials are wanted by Interpol in connection with the bombing.

Former Iranian intelligence official Abolghasem Mesbahi, who defected from Iran in the late 1990s, testified that the decision to launch the attack was made within a special operations committee connected to the powerful Supreme National Security Council in August 1993.

According to the 2006 indictment, Mesbahi testified that Rowhani, who was then serving as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, was also a member of the special committee when it approved the AMIA bombing.

“With regard to the committee’s role in the decision to carry out the AMIA attack, Moghadam stated that this decision was made under the direction of Ali Khamenei, and that the other members of the committee were [then-Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi] Rafsanjani, Mir Hejazi, Rowhani, Velayati and Fallahijan,” the indictment says.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei led the special committee, according to the indictment, and Khamenei and Rafsanjani made the ultimate decision to go ahead with the attack.

While Rowhani was allegedly present for deliberations about the planned bombing, it is highly unlikely he would have had approval authority, according to Iran experts.

“Rowhani’s power at that time comes directly from one individual, and that’s Rafsanjani,” said Reuel Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“As far as that bombing was concerned, because Rafsanjani had to give his approval for that, there was no doubt Rowhani was aware of it, and obviously his approval’s not necessary,” Gerecht continued. “He’s a subordinate. But he certainly would have been aware of all the discussions that led to the attack.”

Rowhani has been portrayed as a moderate reformer by the media and some Iranian regime supporters despite his close relationship with Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei. Rowhani also supported deadly crackdowns on student protesters in 1999, and claimed that he deceived the West into allowing Iran’s nuclear program to progress while serving as Iran’s nuclear negotiator with the Europeans...

Somalia: Muslim militants attack UN compound, twenty killed during gun battle as staff try to flee to secure bunker

The United Nations' gradual, peaceful return to Somalia was shattered this morning as a truck full of explosives was detonated at the front gates of its compound in the capital, Mogadishu.

Less than a month after declaring the end of the transition period in the East African country and reinforcing its mission, the UN came under sustained attack from Islamist militants al-Shabaab.

After an explosion, seven gunmen, from what the al-Qa'ida affiliate calls its "martyrdom brigade", ran into the compound. A battle lasting more than an hour ensued, as African Union peacekeepers and security guards fought the militants. At least 20 people were killed, including the seven terrorists and four of the security forces. Most of the UN staff inside found shelter in a secure bunker within the building, but not everyone made it.

"There was not very much time to get into the safe area," said UN spokesman Ben Parker, who warned there may be news of more casualties.

The initial blast sprayed shrapnel and masonry across a busy street, killing at least five civilians and wounding many more. Inside the compound, reports suggested that two South African de-mining experts, as well as a Kenyan and a Somali member of UN staff were among at least 20 dead. A Somali government official said all seven attackers had been killed.

Throughout the assault, a Twitter account purporting to represent the Somali militants gave live commentary, claiming that the attackers had killed 16 UN workers, including three Britons, two Kenyans and a South African. The Foreign Office is investigating reports of British casualties.

Survivors were evacuated to the Amisom military base only a few metres away, which is the closest that Mogadishu has to a green zone.

The attack comes after a prolonged period of optimism during which Britain reopened its embassy in Mogadishu and the new President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, was fêted at a London donors conference in May.

Earlier this month the UN declared the end of a troubled eight-year political transition in Somalia and appointed former British ambassador, Nick Kay, as special envoy. Speaking last night, he said that the attack would not prompt the organisation to withdraw from the nation: "The UN is here to help and we are here to stay."...

Iraq: Suicide bomber embraces and kills Sunni politician and four of his family a day before elections

A suicide bomber blew himself up as he embraced a Sunni Muslim political leader in northern Iraq on Wednesday, killing the man and four of his family a day before elections in the area.

Al Qaeda's local wing has increased its attacks this year, often targeting moderate Sunni Muslim leaders in a bid to ignite sectarian upheaval and undermine Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shi'ite-led government.

Pretending to be a guest at a family gathering, the attacker hugged Younis al-Rammah before detonating an explosive vest. Rammah headed the moderate Sunni "United Iraq Gathering" movement, a minor political group, police and local officials said.

France: European Parliament member to face prosecution for comparing Muslims immigration to Nazi occupation of France

The full parliament is now expected to formally lift her protection from prosecution as an MEP after a vote on the recommendation on July 3, clearing the way for her to face race hate charges in a French court.

Sajjad Karim, a British Tory MEP on the parliament's legal affairs committee, voted in favour Ms Le Pen losing her parliamentary immunity.

"There is a red line between freedom of speech and inciting racial hatred," he said. "I, along with many other MEPs, today voted to drop Ms Le Pen's immunity and I am confident that the majority of the European Parliament will follow our lead in July."

French prosecutors asked the EU assembly last November to lift the French National Front leader's immunity as a lawmaker so she could be prosecuted for remarks likening Islamic prayers to the Nazi occupation.

Ms Le Pen faces charges for comments she made in a speech to National Front supporters in December 2010 when she denounced the holding of Muslim prayers in the streets of France in areas where there are no mosques.

"For those who like to talk about World War II, to talk about occupation, we could talk about, for once, the occupation of our territory. There are no armoured vehicles, no soldiers, but it is an occupation all the same and it weighs on people," she said...

Russia: More than two million people from various ethnic Muslim backgrounds have converted from Islam to Christianity

Russian Ministries has published the Message of Glory New Testament, a new attempt to provide God's Word and encourage revival among people from a Muslim background in the former Soviet Union.

According to a news release from Russian Ministries, of all the cities of Europe, Moscow ranks first in the highest number of Muslims. Post-Soviet republics are gaining international notoriety with ties to terrorist groups and activities.

When reports of radical Islam grab widespread media attention, Russian Ministries said most people conclude that Christianity is not making headway in appealing to Islamics. However, the ministry said, the untold story is the number of people from a Muslim background who are quietly turning to Christ.

According to Russian Ministries, Roman Silyantev, a Russian expert on Islam, estimates that more than two million people from various ethnic Muslim backgrounds have converted from Islam to Christianity in Russia.

In contrast, Silantev estimates that the number of ethnic Russians who have converted to Islam is between two thousand and five thousand…

US: CAIR-Washington member Omar Abdelbadie arrested for raping 12-Year old girl

A University of Washington student accused of having sex with a 12-year-old girl he picked up in the University District has been charged with child rape.

Currently free after posting bond, UW Senior Omar Abdelbadie is alleged to have plied the girl with marijuana, brought her back to his apartment and had sex with her hours after they met. Abdelbadie, a 22-year-old originally from Bellevue, was described by prosecutors as a threat to community safety, despite his lack of a criminal history.

“The defendant is a danger to children given the circumstances of this crime where he met a 12 year old girl on the street, exposed her to marijuana, and took her to his home, where they had sexual intercourse,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Carol Spoor said in court papers.

Having left home that evening, the girl ended up in the U District just after midnight on June 10, according to charging papers. She told police she was about to head home – she described the crowd there as “creepy” – when she encountered Abdelbadie.

According to the girl’s account, Abdelbadie approached and struck up a conversation with her, and then asked her to smoke marijuana with him. The girl said she told him her age several times before he brought her back to his apartment, where he had sex with her after claiming she had “seduced” him.

The girl left Abdelbadie’s home the following day. Abdelbadie and a friend are alleged to have walked her home, and watched hiding behind a fence as she walked up to the house.

Abdelbadie’s friend – who met Abdelbadie when signing him up for a children’s charity -- then called 911 after arguing with Abdelbadie about his conduct with a young girl. Officers responded to the area and arrested Abdelbadie.

According to charging papers, Abdelbadie told police he met the girl walking near University Avenue and claimed she was dressed “provocatively.” He is alleged to have admitted he “hooked up” with the girl, but would not say whether he knew her true age...

France: Muslim woman loses baby after veil attack, police sources concerned over 'inconsistencies' in her account

For more incidents where Muslims have been caught fabricating anti-Muslim hate crimes, or lying about other issues, click here.

A young pregnant Muslim woman, who was allegedly attacked in the street for wearing a veil has lost her baby, her lawyer announced on Monday.

According to reports in the French media, the woman, who was four months pregnant, was assaulted in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil on June 13th.

On Monday, the 21-year-old’s lawyer Hosni Maati told AFP that the woman had since suffered a miscarriage.

“Her husband called me this afternoon. She lost the baby,” the lawyer said, before adding that the family were devastated by the tragedy and would not be making any further comment.

A police source involved in the investigation also confirmed the miscarriage to AFP but did not confirm that the attack was the cause of her losing the baby.

In reporting the attack to police she described how she was set upon on Thursday morning by two men in the middle of the street, just after she had finished talking to her mother on the telephone.

She initially blamed the attack on two "skinheads", saying the two men “ripped the veil” from her head and tore part of her clothing.

The prosecutor for Pointoise, Yves Jannier, also said the woman had been kicked in the hip before she managed to flee.

French daily Le Parisien said police sources had some concerns over “inconsistencies” in her account.

A contentious law banning the wearing in public of the full Muslim face veil, the niqab, was introduced in France in 2010. It did not however forbid the wearing of the hijab headscarf...

Italy: Intelligence monitoring 'dozens' of radicalized Muslim converts

Radicalised Italian converts to Islam like 20-year-old Giuliano Delnevo, who allegedly died in Syria fighting alongside rebels, have been under close surveillance for some time, anti-terrorism sources told Adnkronos.

"There are several dozen such individuals," the sources said.

"They are generally Muslim converts who use the internet to spread propaganda and communicate with other fundamentalists. "In some cases, they decide to take direct action and join jihadist fighters."

Most of the jihadists in Italy who are being monitored by secret services are Muslim immigrants from North Africa and have been to Syria at lest once to fight alongside rebels forces, according to sources cited by Il Giornale daily.

Il Giornale on Tuesday reported Delnevo's death, citing unnamed intelligence and interior ministry sources.

The daily did not say when or where in Syria Delnevo was killed, or for which rebel group he was allegedly fighting, stating only that it had learned of his death last Friday and that he had been identified from his Italian passport.

European Union terrorism experts believe around 500 Europeans have fought against pro-Assad forces in Syria.

Iraq: Two suicide bombers blow themselves up inside mosque, kill 31 and wound close to 60

Two bombers blew themselves up inside the mosque in the eastern al-Qahira district.

Close to 60 people were also wounded in the attack, officials say.

The attack comes a day after bombings near Baghdad killed at least 10. There has been a surge in sectarian attacks in recent months on targets like mosques, restaurants and local markets.

The two suicide bombers shot dead the guards standing outside the Habib ibn Mathaher mosque shortly after midday prayers, and then blew themselves up inside the mosque, eyewitnesses said.

The violence has rekindled fears the country is being dragged towards a wider conflict between the Shia majority and the Sunni minority.

"The suicide bomber detonated himself among the worshippers, who were gathering after the call to prayer," policeman Furat Faleh, who was near the site of the blast, was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

Tuesday's attack comes a day after bombings near Baghdad killed at least 10 people in the cities of Taji and Fallujah, and included a blast in a roadside restaurant.

And two days ago, a string of bombings struck cities in southern, central and northern Iraq, but fewer people were killed in those attacks than in Tuesday's attack on the mosque, says the BBC's Rami Ruhayem in Baghdad.

Last month was the bloodiest in Iraq since June 2008, with 1,045 civilians and security officials killed...

Tanzania: Pastor viciously hacked by Muslims armed with machetes, as attacks on pastors and churches rises

The persecution of Christians in Tanzania continues. Two pastors have recently been attacked, and the police are doing little about it.

On the night of Sunday, June 2, a large group of radical Muslims attacked the home of pastor Robert Ngai in Geita town, northeastern Tanzania. The attackers broke into the home and attacked Pastor Ngai with machetes. The pastor received serious cuts on his hands and arms when he raised his arms to protect his head from the blows. Doctors at the local hospital said the injuries were beyond their ability to treat and urged that he be rushed to a hospital in a nearby, larger city for treatment.

Ngai is the pastor of the Evangelical Assemblies of God Church. At last word from Voice of the Martyr contacts, he was still in the intensive care unit. Geita town is less than 50 miles from Buseresere, the city where Pastor Mathayo Kachili was killed by radical Muslims in February. Kachili’s story, and that of his widow, Generosa, is featured in Voice of the Martyr's June newsletter.

Two nights before the attack on Pastor Ngai, the home of Pastor Daudi Nzumbi in Geita also came under attack. Pastor Nzumbi leads the Free Pentecostal Church of Tanzania congregation in Geita. Thankfully, the attackers fled after they were confronted by Pastor Nzumbi’s large, barking dogs.

When Pastor Nzumbi heard his dogs barking, he looked out the window and saw the attackers. He called the police, but the officer in charge told him, “I cannot protect every pastor!”

Egypt: Coptic Christians threatened to convert to Islam

Two weeks ago in Egypt, a Coptic Christian man named Milad living in Tanta in northern Egypt submitted a formal complaint to authorities, saying that “unknown persons” invited him and his family to renounce Christianity and submit to Islam and convert. “They also snatched at the crucifix he was wearing around his neck, and threatened to kidnap his children and wife if he refused to convert to Islam.” The man identified them as members of the Salafi movement in Egypt—as they wore the trademark white robes and long beards. Such incidents—threatening Coptic Christians to convert to Islam and kidnapping their children—are becoming commonplace in post “Arab Spring” Egypt. Some months back, Coptic priests were threatened with death if they did not convert to Islam, and the jihad on Egypt’s Christian children is an ongoing phenomenon, most recently resulting in the abduction and slaying of a 6-year-old boy.

UK: Knifeman who stabbed three worshippers and a police officer in a mosque stopped to wash blood from his hands before praying

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

When police then arrived the man was tasered – but it had no effect and he stabbed a constable in the chest and stomach with his large combat knife.

Even though he was badly injured, the 31-year-old officer, who has been hailed a hero , managed to subdue the suspect with the help of a female colleague.

A 32-year-old man, thought to be from Somalia, arrested on suspicion of attempted murder is today at a secure mental health facility after being deemed unfit to be interviewed.

MP Liam Byrne said: “This is a devastating attack which has left the community extremely shaken.”

The incident happened at 11pm on Saturday when a man who was praying at the Madrassa Qasim Ul Uloom Mosque, in Washwood Heath Road, Ward End, suddenly stabbed three fellow worshippers with a large combat knife.

Horrified eyewitnesses told the Mail the man, thought to be of Somalian origin, even stopped to wash the blood off his hands after the first attack, before continuing to pray until police arrived.

Worshippers gave medical aid to the injured men. A 28-year-old man suffered multiple stab wounds and a 36-year-old man suffered a single stab wound to the thigh.

The third victim suffered a hand injury and is now recovering at home.

Nigeria: Seven students, two teachers and two insurgents killed when members of Boko Haram attacked a school

Sunday's attack will raise fears that, as with past surges, a month-long offensive by government troops has merely pushed militants into hiding or across borders to Niger, Chad and Cameroon, where they can regroup and prepare new attacks.

"Two teachers and two insurgents were killed when Boko Haram terrorists attacked the Government Secondary School ... Also seven innocent students lost their lives," Eli Lazarus, military spokesman in Yobe state, said in a statement.

Boko Haram, which roughly translates as "Western education is sinful", has attacked several schools in the past. It was not clear how two of the attackers were killed.

Vigilante groups armed with machetes and sticks have joined the effort to oust Islamist insurgents in the northeast, prompting concerns by some residents that this will lead to a breakdown in law and order.

The military has cautiously welcomed the support, while warning it must not lead to witch-hunts or the settling of scores.

Lazarus said three soldiers were critically wounded during a separate attack by Boko Haram targeting the military in Damaturu, and three insurgents had been arrested.

Nigerian forces say their offensive has enabled them to wrest back control of the country's remote northeast from Boko Haram. They say they have destroyed key bases and arrested more than 150 suspected insurgents in the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa -- all covered by a state of emergency declared by President Goodluck Jonathan last month.
. . .
The offensive has forced more than 6,000 refugees - mostly women, children and the elderly - to flee to neighbouring Niger, the U.N. refugee agency said last week.

Pakistan: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz MPA slaps bus hostess for not serving water quickly, hostess arrested

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MPA Nighat Sheikh allegedly slapped a bus hostess for not serving water swiftly reports on Sunday.

The MPA, travelling by a private bus from Islamabad to Lahore, asked bus hostess Iqra Nawaz to bring her water. She complied, but the MPA was furious over some delay and beat her up.

Passengers of the bus intervened and demanded a legal action against the MPA. On this, the driver took the bus to a local police station.

But the lawmaker managed to lodge a complaint against the girl, accusing her of making death threats.

The bus hostess was later arrested by the police...

Nigeria: Boko Haram members scream 'Allahu Akbar' before attacking four churches, killing Pastor and two others

One month after the declaration of emergency rule to fight insurgency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, violence has erupted again, as gunmen suspected to be members of Islamist terrorist sect attacked four communities of Hwa’a, Kunde, Gathahure and Gjigga of Gwoza Hills settlements, torching four churches with Improvised Explosives Devices,IEDS, and petro-bombs Thursday afternoon.

According to Tada Garuta, a resident of Kunde, the gunmen climbed the hills on foot with explosives and petro-bombs, and chanted God is great, in Arabic, before setting four local churches ablaze. Thereafter, they ransacked and emptied their bans of grains along with some livestocks. Gathahure and Hwa’a communities were also affected.

The attacked communities are located in Gwoza council area of Borno state of Mandara Hills, and 151 kilometres south of Maiduguri, the state capital.

Two churches at Hrazah and Hembe,hilly communities were also torched by the gunmen in April this year with the killing of two residents.

Garuta also told newsmen in Maiduguri, Bama road Motor Park yesterday that after torching another church in Hwa’a community, the gunmen also killed Rev. Jacob Kwiza (rtd) of Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), while picking mangoes at his father’s orchard on the hills settlement of Hwa’a.

He said: “as the gunmen threw some explosives at our church, they forced the retired Reverend to renounce Christianity and be converted to Islam, but Rev. Jacob defied the gunmen’s threats of being killed, as he insisted on being a Christian among his people on the hills of Hwa’a. They slit his throat with sharp objects; and we started to flee for safety, as we don’t know the next targets of these gunmen.”

He said because of fears and terrorizing around Hwa’a’s community, none of the residents came to pick the body of the slain Reverend for burial and prayers.

Lamenting on the continued fears of hills dwellers, Garuta said: “after the church at Hrazah was also torched by the gunmen, the people had to flee.”

He said they have now relocated to Ngoshe Ndahang, 10 kilometres east of Limankara, a border village with Cameroon and Adamawa state.

It was also disclosed by Garuta that the district heads of Kurana Bassa and Damboa were also killed by gunmen, adding that when the principal (name withheld) of Government Day Secondary School; Izge was travelling on his motorcycle to the school on Thursday, he was trailed and shot dead by unknown gunmen.

He said: “the district head of Kurana Bassa was trailed by gunmen in a Golf Volkswagen vehicle, before he was shot dead at Mbamba village of Gwoza council area of the state.”

Speaking on infiltration of fleeing Boko Haram gunmen into the neighbouring towns of Gwoza, Damboa, Chibok and other communities yesterday, a top military officer of the Special Operation Force said that the gunmen must have fled from their demobilized camps of Sambisa Games Reserve Forests.

He said: “all the attacked towns and communities where churches and local residents were recently burnt and killed by the suspected Boko Haram gunmen are located at the peripheral of the Borno Forests, which had been reclaimed and taken over by the soldiers since the commencement of our operations here in this state.”

Pakistan: Female suicide bomber kills 14 students on bus, follow-up attack in hospital treating survivors leaves 11 dead

A group behind assaults on Shiites in Pakistan has claimed responsibility for tandem attacks on a university bus and a hospital that killed at least 24.

The Sunni extremist outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi announced on Sunday that it had sent a female suicide bomber to strike the bus in Quetta, capital of the restive Balochistan province, killing 14 students from a women's university near a Shiite neighborhood on Saturday.

About 90 minutes later, a follow-up attack on the hospital treating survivors left at least 11 dead and led to a prolonged gun battle between security forces and militants occupying part of the building.

"The suicide attack on the bus was carried out by one of our sisters," said Abubakar Siddiq, a spokesman for Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. "She boarded the student bus and blew herself up. Then we carried out a second suicide attack at the hospital and our fighters killed several people. We did this because security forces killed our fighters and their wives in Kharotabad."

Troops fought gunmen who seized parts of the Bolan Medical Complex in Quetta after the initial explosion. The standoff lasted for several hours and ended when security forces stormed the building, freeing 35 people who had been taken hostage, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar told reporters on Saturday.

Quetta's head of police operations, Fayaz Sumbal, said those killed in the hospital explosion included a senior government official who had arrived to assess the situation.

Attack on historic building

Earlier on Saturday, suspected separatists killed a policeman and gutted a historic summer retreat once used by Pakistan's founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in a hill town in the province.

Saturday's attacks were the heaviest since bombings in Quetta at the start of the year claimed almost 200 lives and came only a week after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took office...

UK: Four men, including a policeman, stabbed with a large combat knife inside mosque by fellow worshipper

Police have praised the efforts of officers and the community as "heroic" after four men - including a policeman - were stabbed at a mosque.

They were stabbed with a large combat knife by a fellow worshipper inside the Washwood Heath Muslim Centre in the Ward End area of east Birmingham on Saturday night.

A group of worshippers confronted the attacker, who is not known to the mosque, before police arrived minutes later at around 11pm.

One officer used a taser on the suspect but it failed to have an effect on him, said Chief Superintendent Alex Murray. The policeman was knifed in the chest and stomach, around his stab-proof vest.

Chief Supt Murray said: "The work of those officers was heroic and the work of some of the people in the mosque assisting those officers was also heroic."

A 32-year-old man, believed to be of Somali origin, has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. He has been taken to a secure mental health facility, West Midlands Police said.

Reports suggest an argument may have broken out between members inside the building prior to the attack. Police said there was no information to suggest it was a hate crime.

Witness Arshad Mahmood told Sky News: "Everyone was frightened you know, it was so sudden and he had a proper knife with him.

"A few of us we went to stop him, one of the guys was strong enough to stop him. Then I held his hand - the guy who also tried to stop him had an injury on his thigh.

"After a few minutes, a police officer came and he also attacked the police officer."

Some of the injuries were serious, though the victims were reported to be in a stable condition.

One worshipper was stabbed in the arm and one in the leg, while another was slightly hurt.

Mohammed Shafiq, the leader of national Muslim organisation the Ramadhan Foundation, said a nearby resident overheard an argument coming from inside the mosque and believes it followed a dispute between members.

He said: "I have spoken to someone who lives a few doors down from the mosque and they described hearing an argument between some of the people inside the mosque.

"It escalated into violence and a police officer has been stabbed."

Mr Shafiq said: "People, anti-Muslim extremists, are going to try to take advantage of this - it's very serious that a police officer has been stabbed during duty.

"The aftermath of the brutal murder of Lee Rigby has led to an increase of attacks.

"The involvement of a police officer in this incident obviously causes more concern."

Officers were conducting patrols in the area in a bid to reassure local people. A cordon is in place while investigations continue at the mosque.

Chief Supt Murray told reporters: "There’s no connection with any other incidents that we can see at the moment, for example Woolwich or any other incidents around the country but we are exploring all lines of inquiry."...
A knifeman who stabbed three worshippers and a police officer in a rampage at a Ward End mosque stopped to wash blood from his hands before praying, witnesses said.

When police then arrived the man was tasered – but it had no effect and he stabbed a constable in the chest and stomach with his large combat knife.

Even though he was badly injured, the 31-year-old officer, who has been hailed a hero , managed to subdue the suspect with the help of a female colleague.

A 32-year-old man, thought to be from Somalia, arrested on suspicion of attempted murder is today at a secure mental health facility after being deemed unfit to be interviewed.

MP Liam Byrne said: “This is a devastating attack which has left the community extremely shaken.”

The incident happened at 11pm on Saturday when a man who was praying at the Madrassa Qasim Ul Uloom Mosque, in Washwood Heath Road, Ward End, suddenly stabbed three fellow worshippers with a large combat knife.

Horrified eyewitnesses told the Mail the man, thought to be of Somalian origin, even stopped to wash the blood off his hands after the first attack, before continuing to pray until police arrived.

Worshippers gave medical aid to the injured men. A 28-year-old man suffered multiple stab wounds and a 36-year-old man suffered a single stab wound to the thigh.

The third victim suffered a hand injury and is now recovering at home.
A Somali Muslim allegedly stabbed a policeman and three mosque worshippers after screaming: ‘Allah is going to punish you all.’

The 32-year-old is said to have tried to kill the worshippers during an argument over whether they were praying correctly.

It is thought the man, who was not a regular at the mosque in Birmingham, became upset because the prayers were not being performed in the manner of his denomination.

One witness, who asked not to be named, said: ‘I heard shouting behind me as I was praying. I turned around and saw two men grappling with each other.

‘Suddenly a man pulled out a knife and stabbed the other man in the leg, near the groin.

'Someone tried to intervene but the man just went for him and thrust a knife into his abdomen. It was absolutely terrifying.’

Minutes later two police officers, one male and one female, arrived at the Madrasah Qasim-ul-Uloom mosque in Ward End and the man allegedly ran at them with a large combat knife.

Despite the male officer shooting him with a Taser, the man is said to have stabbed him in his chest and stomach.

‘The police tried to Taser the man but he didn’t fall down,’ the witness continued. ‘Instead he just lunged at the officer after pulling out his knife again and stabbed him. There was blood everywhere.’

Despite his serious injuries the 31-year-old officer ‘heroically’ overcame the man...
A man has appeared in court charged with the attempted murder of a police officer in a knife attack at a mosque.

Mohamoud Elmi, 32, of Ward End Hall Grove, Birmingham also faces a second attempted murder charge and one count of wounding.

Mr Elmi was arrested late on 15 June following a knife attack during evening prayers at a mosque on Washwood Heath Road, Ward End.

He was remanded in custody at Birmingham Magistrates' Court...

US: Imams of Sacramento's two biggest mosques declared that music is not permissible according to the Prophet Muhammad

Muslim hip-hop artists, poets, singers and classical musicians will perform today at the Crest Theatre in "An Islamic Expression of Traditional & Contemporary Art."

The event – perhaps the first of its kind in the nation – challenges the belief among some orthodox Muslims that music can lead to sinful behavior.

"It's kind of risky. It's something we have not done before," said Imam M.A. Azeez of Salam Islamic Center, which organized the evening at the Crest. "It represents a paradigm shift in the Muslim community. Kids are listening to this stuff, so why not be proactive and expose them to beautiful, inspiring music that promotes love of religion and country?"

The imams of Sacramento's two biggest mosques declared that music is not permissible according to the Prophet Muhammad, Allah's messenger.

"It's a chain reaction – when people listen to music, they ask for alcohol, which will lead to adultery," said Imam Mahmoud Abdel of Masjid Annur Islamic Center. "One step leads to another in the majority of cases. It's well known that anybody who listens to music a lot will be distracted from his or her mission, which is worshipping God Almighty."

Imam Mumtaz Qasmi of Sacramento's Downtown Mosque said there's not a mosque in the world that allows music. "So how can we allow it outside the mosque?" he asked.

The only instrument the Prophet Muhammad allowed was a tabla, or drum, and not more than two at a time, Qasmi said.

The tabla – which will be played at the Crest – "can make you feel relaxed, but nowadays there are hundreds of instruments, and music actually makes you high, 100 percent," Qasmi said. "Music has magic, it gets in your blood and makes you want to get up and dance and forget your personality. Your butt is shaking and she's going to get up and her butt is going to shake – where is the religion then?"...

France: Church vandalised with graffiti 'Death to France, Long Live Islam, Long Live Bin Laden'

Saturday morning, a parishioner discovered tags within the walls of the church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste Bourgoin.

This is offensive graffiti against the Catholic religion and against France, to the glory of the Islam and bin Laden. They were made ​​in marker on two pillars, as well as on a poster located on the panel at the bottom of the church. Messages are signed by the GIA, which might suggest the Armed Islamic Group.

Police made ​​the findings of use. The parish team temporarily covered these tags posters.

Lebanon: “A war is coming to Lebanon” as Syrian rebels and Lebanese supporters prepare to launch attacks against Hezbollah

Hardline Lebanese Sunni Muslim cleric Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir warned on Friday that “a war is coming to Lebanon” as Syrian rebels and their Lebanese supporters prepare to launch attacks against Hezbollah “everywhere.”

Sheikh Assir said in a Friday sermon that a response to Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria could happen in a “few days” and will take place “anywhere” including Lebanon.

In April Sheikh Assir urged his followers to join Syrian rebels fighting troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.

“Lately, we have seen our people [Sunnis] in the region of Qusayr be subjected to violence, murder and slaughter by the hands of the Iranian party,” Assir told Al Arabiya in an interview. “We found that it is our legitimate duty to see to the [Sunnis’] victory.”

Senior Muslim Sunni voices have accused Hezbollah of starting a sectarian war by intervening in Syria against the Sunni opposition.

On Friday, Egypt’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood threw its weight behind the calls for Jihad in Syria, slamming Hezbollah for starting a sectarian war in Syria. “Throughout history, Sunnis have never been involved in starting a sectarian war,” spokesman Ahmed Aref said.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that his group is not involved in a war against Sunnis but that it is fighting against a U.S. Israeli conspiracy to control the Middle East.

He vowed to stay in Syria and continue fighting against what he said were extremist Islamists being used by major Western powers to re-draw the regional map.

US: University of Chicago permanently remove pews from historic chapel to accommodate Muslim prayers

University of Chicago (UC) administrators permanently removed pews from an 88-year old chapel on campus in order to accommodate Islamic prayers, according to a local news report.

Chicago NPR affiliate, WBEZ news, reported on May 23, the pews, which are now part of display at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago, were “removed in order to provide Muslim students a place to pray.”

Literature describing the artwork that was created by UC Director of Arts and Public Life Theaster Gates, also describes the removal of the pews as symbol of religious tolerance.

Pew survey finds seven of the ten countries that are least tolerant of homosexuality are Muslim majorities

A new survey by the Pew Research Center has found that Pakistan is among the least tolerant countries out of 39 surveyed, when it comes to homosexuality.

The global survey found that “there is broad acceptance of homosexuality in North America, the European Union, and much of Latin America. However, rejection of homosexuality is equally widespread in predominantly Muslim nations and in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in parts of Asia and in Russia.”

The countries that viewed homosexuality most positively were:

Spain (88% say it should be accepted by society) Germany (87%) Czech Republic (80%) Canada (80%) Australia (79%) France (77%) Britain (76%) Argentina (74%) Italy (74%) Philippines (73%)

The countries that viewed homosexuality least positively were:

Nigeria (1% say it should be accepted by society) Pakistan (2%) Tunisia (2%) Ghana (3%) Senegal (3%) Egypt (3%) Jordan (3%) Indonesia (3%) Uganda (4%) Palestinian territories (4%)

Commentary: The rise of Islamic extremism in Central Asia and the Caucasus

Islamic extremism in Central Asia and the Caucasus will further increase in the next few years, predicts a new report by Anna Münster, a Fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House.

US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, and expected regime changes in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan threaten to destabilise the region, providing radicals with a platform from which to operate, claims Growing Islamic Extremism in Central Asia and the Caucasus – Situation and Outlook.

The situation is further complicated, writes Munster, by the 'New Great Game' unfolding in Central Asia – part two of the 'Great Game' of the 19th and early 20th centuries, during which time Britain and Russia vied for power within the region.

The report, written for the World Watch List, traces the roots of Islam within Central Asia and the Caucasus to Dagestan (a republic of Russia, in the North Caucasus) in the seventh century, although the religion has since taken a variety of different shapes in different countries.

Sunni Islam is most widely followed, but Munster claims it is the individual and collective responses to particular factions of Islam which dictate how the religion is manifested.

Hard-line groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Muslim Brotherhood, and a "cult of martyrdom", have become a "unifying and mobilising factor" for young Muslims often dissatisfied by their political and socio-economic situation, reports Munster.

The notion of Islam growing as a response to disillusionment is referenced several times, as is the existence of solidarity between Muslims in Central Asia and the Caucasus who feel victimised by the West and believe themselves to be subjected to a "grand conspiracy against the Muslim world".

This sense of solidarity is perpetuated, writes Munster, through warfare – whether wars in Afghanistan and Iraq or conflicts in Chechnya and Bosnia: "The advance of political Islam in the last quarter of the century in the region is often described as a response to local grievances, challenges and conflicts," she writes.

Munster predicts US withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan will have a destabilising effect on the whole region, while she says the collapse of the Soviet Union played a major role in the recent growth of Islam, and Islamic extremism.

The repression of Muslims by the Soviet Union, which "closed mosques and exiled or killed clergy", and the emergence of new independent states such as Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, led to "local Islamic expressions developing under foreign influences", she writes.

These influences ranged from the peaceful to the political, as a range of international organisations gained footholds within the region. Different countries reacted differently, claims Munster, depending upon, among other things, their interpretation of Islam and the extent to which they were secularised during the Soviet era.

As various global powers vie for access to the wealth of natural resources in Central Asia and the Caucasus, Munster reports several modern examples of corruption and bribery.

Perhaps most notably, she highlights a deliberate "closing of the eyes" to human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, where Western governments have vested interests. Here, Munster says Islamists have been subjected to brutality and torture in prisons – "even those who never engaged in violent actions and were [incarcerated] simply for possessing a Hizb ut-Tahrir leaflet".

Torture is often "systematic" and "deeply disturbing", she writes, while the "extension of government control over life, including religious life, has been reminiscent of Soviet times, though the use of new technologies and events of the Arab Spring may present a stark warning to today's repressive governments".

Australia: Muslim man jailed for inflicting Shari'ah punishment on convert to Islam

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

An Australian Muslim was jailed for two years by a Sydney court Friday after thrashing a convert to Islam 40 times with an electrical cord for drinking alcohol.

Wasim Fayed, 45, will serve at least 16 months of the sentence for the assault in July 2011.

Three others were given 18-month suspended sentences for holding down 32-year-old convert Christian Martinez while Fayed whipped him.

Martinez confessed to drinking alcohol to one of the four, in contravention of sharia law, and had agreed to the punishment.

During the whipping he asked Fayed to stop but was ignored.

It was the first time in Australia that Muslims were being tried for inflicting a punishment determined under their own teachings...

Egypt: Prominent Egyptian-German author goes into hiding after Muslims called for his death for insulting Islam

The threats against Hamed Abdel-Samad came after he told a conference in Cairo earlier this month that “religious fascism” can be traced back to the origins of Islam, when the Prophet Mohammed’s followers were urged to destroy pagan idols.

That provoked a sharp reaction from Islamist hardliners on television and social media. Assem Abdel-Maged, a prominent member of the ultra-conservative Gamaa Islamiya party, described Mr. Abdel-Samad as an infidel.

“He has blatantly taken a stab at Islam, he must be punished by death,” Mr. Abdel-Maged said during an appearance last week on Al-Hafez, a privately-owned religious channel.

The remarks were welcomed by the show’s host, Mahmoud Shaaban, another Islamist hardliner who has previously called for the death of leaders of the National Salvation Front, Egypt’s main opposition to the government of President Mohammed Morsi.

Mr. Abdel-Samad is the son of a prominent Egyptian Imam, and is known for his writings and speeches on the dangers of religious extremism.

Communicating via email and Facebook messages from an undisclosed location, Mr. Abdel-Samad said he wouldn’t be intimidated by the latest threats. “I will continue to write what I think without self-censorship because if they succeed in silencing me for that reason, they will soon silence every other writer and journalist for minor reasons,” he said.

Mr. Abdel-Samad said that some Islamist politicians are trying to use his remarks on Islam in an effort to discredit the wider political opposition to Mr. Morsi’s government, which is facing mass demonstrations later this month. “It is another cheap way to misuse the religious feelings of simple Egyptians to distract them from the real political and economic problems in Egypt,” he said.

The death threats have prompted Mr. Abdel-Samad’s Germany-based publishing house, Droemer Knaur, to issue a statement calling on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to press Mr. Morsi to denounce the threats, and to protect Mr. Abdel-Samad, who lives in Germany but is a frequent visitor to Egypt...

Syria: Leading Muslim clerics issue call to jihad, "with mind, money, weapons; all forms of jihad” against Assad, Iran and Lebanon

Leading Sunni Muslim clerics issued a call to jihad in Syria on Thursday at a meeting in Cairo, which condemned the conflict as a “war on Islam” and said believers should use all means to ensure victory.

In one of the most powerful statements yet for holy war against Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and his allies from Iran and Lebanon, Islamic scholars from across the Arab world agreed a statement read by a prominent Egyptian preacher:

“Jihad is necessary for the victory of our brothers in Syria - jihad with mind, money, weapons; all forms of jihad,” Mohammad Hassan said, adding that more than 70 organisations represented had called for “support, whatever will save the Syrian people”...

Saudi Arabia: Horse sculptures smashed, top cleric denounced them as sinful and prohibited under Islam

Ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia has smashed sculptures of horses erected on a roundabout in the southwest after the kingdom’s top cleric denounced them as sinful, local media reported on Wednesday.

The municipality in the town of Abu Arish in Jazan province bordering Yemen demolished the statues on Tuesday, local online news website reported.

The decision came after Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz Al Shaikh sent a letter to the governor of Jazan demanding that “the sculptures be removed because they are a great sin and are prohibited under sharia (Islamic law),” said another news website, Statues of people and animals are prohibited under Islam as they represent a form of idolatry. However, the religion does allow artworks depicting plants and landscapes.

Tajikistan: Imam's home sex video sparks scandal

The future of an imam in Tajikistan is in question after he appeared having sex on video clips posted on the Internet.

The scandal erupted last week when three video clips appeared on YouTube and Facebook showing a couple involved in sexual activities.

In one clip a stocky, naked, middle-aged man appears to put a mobile phone on a table or shelf before climbing into bed and having sex with a woman wearing a green head scarf. The face of the man, who has a dark beard, appears clearly.

The videos were removed by YouTube and Facebook within a few hours. They appeared again for several hours on June 11.

Law enforcement officers have questioned the imam of a mosque in the village of Bolshevik in Rudaki district, near the capital, Dushanbe, as part of an investigation.

Local police tell RFE/RL’s Tajik Service that the imam has acknowledged filming himself having sex with his wife on his mobile phone.

The imam, whose name has not been made public, denied posting the videos and claimed he had lost the phone.

No criminal case was opened against the imam.

The Interior Ministry says it wants to know who posted the videos on the Internet as part of the police probe into possible invasion of privacy.

The person who posted the videos identified himself as Soleh Hotamyon.

One caption erroneously identified the man in the video as Muhiddin Kabiri, the nonbearded chairman of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT). The captions for the two other clips mention IRPT Deputy Chairman Mahmadali Hait, who has a white beard.

Neither official has made any comment.

The story has drawn furious reactions in the Rudaki district and on social networks...

Italy: "There can be no peace with us," Muslim terror suspect arrested for planning attacks

Police in Brescia near Milan on Wednesday arrested the alleged head of the Italian branch of a Belgium-based Islamist organisation on suspicion of planning attacks in the northern Italian city. Anas El Abboubi, alias 'Anas Abdu Shakur', born in Morocco in 1992 and living with his family near Brescia since 1999, had allegedly scouted out two targets on Google Maps, Brescia's train station and its main military barracks, police said. Police said they intercepted an email to foreign members of the organisation applauding the recent fatal attack on a British soldier in London and a copycat stabbing of a French soldier in Paris. "There can be no peace with us," he allegedly said. The 20-year-old Moroccan reportedly told police he had "hated the West" since being "taunted as a member of the Taliban after the September 11 attacks in America" and recently vowed to "die for Allah". El Abboubi was also becoming increasingly interested in Syrian Islamist fighting against the regime there and had recruited others to join him in supporting their cause, travelling to Syria if necessary. As well as Brescia, he was planning other attacks in other parts of Italy as well as France, police said. He and the recruits were "united by a common hatred of Jews and a desire to fight against Western countries," a police spokesman said. "Via the Web, the Moroccan passed on translations of jihadist literature and acquired instructions on using explosives, weapons and fighting techniques," he said. Police seized papers written by El Abboubi "including verses in which he sings the praises of jihad against Italy and France and leaves a sort of spiritual testament containing a collection of his translations about the legitimacy of holy war," the spokesman said. During the six months he had been under surveillance before his arrest, police said, he also reportedly made no secret of his admiration for a compatriot, Mohamed Jarmoune, arrested in March 2012 and sentenced last month to five years and four months in jail on terrorism charges. El Abboubi recently set up the Italian chapter of the Web-based Sharia4 organisation, a movement started in Belgium in 2010 and inspired by the jihadist preacher Omar Bakri, police said. Sharia4 has been banned in several European countries. El Abboubi was arrested at his home in the small town of Vobarno outside Brescia on suspicion of training terrorists and inciting religious and racist hatred, police said. Another two people are under investigation on suspicion of committing the same crimes. Police had been watching El Abboubi around the clock, and picked him up while he was on his way to take his school-leaving certificate. Anti-terrorism police also searched the homes of four Moroccans near Brescia, 100 km east of Milan, and around Pordenone, a city in northeastern Italy.

Nigeria: Boko Haram linked to increasing cases of sexually transmitted diseases in northeastern state of Borno

Members of the Boko Haram militant sect is linked to sexually transmitted diseases in Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno.

State Commissioner of Health Salma Anas-Kolo on Wednesday told reporters in Maiduguri, the state capital, that forced marriages by members of the insurgent group have caused increasing cases of sexually transmitted diseases among women.

"The insurgency has brought emerging health challenges among our people. It has impacted psychological trauma with cases of mental disorder and hypertension because of the violence going on, " she added.

"Women and children have suffered a lot. Many women died during prolonged labor because they cannot assess hospital service due to curfew and because of fear to go to the hospital," the commissioner disclosed.

Despite all these, the government has provided 35 ambulances with "specialized medical facilities" to take care of health challenges among residents, according to the official.

The government purchased anti-snake drugs for residents in the desert-prone northern parts of the state, which was until three weeks ago under the grip of the Boko Haram militants.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR on Tuesday said general insecurity and anti-insurgent operations in the northeast part of Nigeria have displaced thousands of people, of whom more than 6,000 fled to a neighboring country.

On May 14, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the northern states of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno following waves of killing and attacks by Boko Haram suspects.

The three states share borders locally and international borders with African countries Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Indonesia: Group of devout Muslims backed up by police interfere with Interfaith dialogue

t the end of Uli Abshar Abdalla and Bambang Noorsena’s “Islamic-Christian Theology Dialogue: Textual Criticism on Biblical and Koranic Text Variants,” eight people showed up and demanded to see the committee who planned the event. They then forced the organizers to go to the Surabaya Police station to be questioned.

“The weird thing is that the police officers who were present stayed quiet, regardless of what the group did,” Ahmad Zaimul Hamdi, a committee member and activist with the Anti-Violence Society Network, said on Wednesday.

“The police even provided a vehicle to bring the organizers to the police station.”

Ahmad said that the event was part of an academic discussion that analyzed the Koran and the Bible from both Islamic and Christian perspectives. Hundreds of people attended the event, and the discussion was going smoothly until the small group of hard-liners arrived on the scene.

In reality, the committee did obtain a police permit to conduct the event in a restaurant in South Surabaya. However, law enforcers revoked the permit shortly after on the grounds that the restaurant no longer wanted the event to be held at its location.

Since invitations were sent out, organizers decided to move the discussion to a Bishops Inn hotel in Surabay.

“News spread that the police knew that the discussion would be opposed by hard-liners,” Ahmad said. “They revoked the event permit instead of protecting us.”...

Afghanistan: Rate of civilians dying from insurgent-led 'complex attacks' gone up 800 percent compared to two years ago

The United Nations said civilian casualties from the conflict in Afghanistan have increased dramatically this year. News of the figures came as 14 people were killed by a Taliban suicide bomber Tuesday near Afghanistan's Supreme Court. The increasing number of civilians killed could impact Afghanistan national elections next year and its transition to security independence as international combat forces leave next year.

Civilians are bearing the brunt of the violence in Afghanistan. According to a U.N. report released Tuesday, more than 3,000 civilians have been killed and wounded in the first five months of this year. A fifth of those were children.

The head of the U.N. Assistance Mission to Afghanistan, Jan Kubis, said the situation in the country has worsened, with civilian casualties up 24 percent compared to the same period last year.

He said insurgent attacks are responsible for three quarters of those casualties, and targeting civilians is unacceptable.

"Targeting civilians is a crime punishable, and people targeting civilians will be punished for this, and I cannot understand this, also from another perspective," Kubis said. "Where is the honor in targeting civilians? What kind of show of “bravery,” in quotations marks, is this targeting civilians, killing unarmed people that are working for the people of this country?”

Kubis said the rate of civilians dying from insurgent-led "complex attacks" involving bombs, rockets, and other weapons has gone up 800 percent compared to two years ago.

Analyst Omar Sharifi of the Kabul-based American Institute of Afghanistan Studies said the Taliban and other anti-government forces are using violence to try to position themselves for next year’s national elections and political transition...

Syria: 14-year-old coffee seller publicly executed by western-backed rebels for insulting Muhammad

The public execution of Muhammad al-Qatta, a young coffee seller brutally assassinated on Sunday by a group of jihadists in Aleppo for insulting Muhammad, "is a terrible event that shocked the entire population of the city, Muslims and Christians, who do not want an Islamic state in Syria," Mgr Jean Clement Jeanbart, Melkite Archbishop of Aleppo, told AsiaNews. For the prelate, such an act is yet another example of the brutality of foreign militants fighting in Syria.

"Christians," he explained, "are terrified by these militias and fear that in the event of their victory they would no longer be able to practice their religion and that they would be forced to leave the country." Sending more weapons to the country would only lead to more such cases of violence, he added.

Reported by Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an organisation run by rebels in exile Muhammad al-Qatta's case has been repeated around the world.

The incident occurred on Sunday in one of the districts of the city controlled by Islamist insurgents. The young man was working at his kiosk when two men approached him demanding a cup of coffee for free. The boy protested, saying that "even Muhammad himself would have done the right thing and paid."

Outraged by the answer, the two fighters took away little Mohammed. After beating him, they led him to the streets getting people to bear false witness against him by saying that the boy had insulted the prophet and Islam.

After reading the verdict, the teenager was blindfolded and killed with two shots to the neck and the back, in front of his parents and a crowd of over a hundred people, forced to watch the execution. What actually happened has yet to be confirmed however.

In a video aired on a rebel website, a woman claiming to be Muhammad's mother describes her son's brutal killing, saying that the boy was working to help the family...

Ethiopia: Two Christians arrested for “crimes against Islam,” even though no such crime exists in penal code

In late March, Alemlayehu Legese was arrested by local police in Dodola, a city located 180 miles south of Addis Ababa, after admitting to owning literature that “discussed the history of Islam from a Christian perspective.” Legese, a student at Dodola Mekane Yesus Bible School, dropped off the literature at a copy shop where a Muslim employee who felt Christians should not be allowed to read about the history of Islam contacted police. “The police officers treated this incident as if it were a terrorist attack,” an ICC representative in Ethiopia said.

Fearful the investigation could lead to widespread violence, the local church advised Legese to report to the police and admit to owning the literature. Upon reporting to the police, Legese was arrested and imprisoned. When ICC asked why Legese was being imprisoned without being formally charged, the local police commander said they were detaining Legese to “cool down the anger of local Muslims.” It has been over two months since Legese was imprisoned, formal charges are yet to be laid against him.

On May 25, Tamirat Woldegiorgis, a Christian living in Moyale Town, located on Ethiopia’s border with Kenya, was arrested by local police. Many are concerned this arrest is connected to a previous arbitrary detention Woldegiorgis served from 2010-2012, when he spent 22 months in prison because local police accused him of “crimes against Islam.”

Local radicals claimed that Woldegiorgis wrote “Jesus is Lord” on the notebook of a student attending a local madrassa. Woldegiorgis was released on May 2, 2012 when human rights organizations, including ICC, became involved in the case. Woldegiorgis was again released on June 5, but was required to pay a bail of $5,319 for an unspecified criminal charge and will still face court hearings on June 10.

Afghanistan: Taliban behead two boys, 10 and 16, for spying in the southern province of Kandahar

The boys, 10 and 16, had been scavenging for food in bins near police headquarters when they were abducted.

They are thought to have regularly accepted food handouts from police. Analysts say the Taliban are known to target those suspected of colluding with police.

But the Taliban have denied responsibility in this incident.

Spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi insisted to the BBC the group had not beheaded any children in the area.

Food for family Kandahar's governor, however, condemned the acts as inhumane and un-Islamic and the provincial government has pinned the blame firmly on the militants.

Although the boys were abducted on Sunday, their bodies were only recovered on Monday morning in Kandahar's Zhari district.

News first emerged of the 10-year-old's death and later on Monday the Kandahar provincial government office confirmed that a second boy had also been beheaded.

The 10-year-old boy was very poor and was known to take food going spare from the police to take home to his family, says the BBC's Mahfouz Zubaide in Kabul.

Both boys may have gone through bins outside police and Isaf headquarters to find unused and expired packages of food, he adds.
. . .
Correspondents say the Taliban regularly deny such atrocities. Taliban fighters in Afghanistan have been known to behead targets in the past, but have always denied attacking children in this way.

Egypt: 13-year-old girl dies undergoing circumcision (Female Genital Mutilation)

Suhair al-Bata’a, a 13-year-old Egyptian girl, has died undergoing circumcision at a village in the Daqahliya governorate northeast of Cairo, Egyptian media reported on Sunday.

“We left our daughter with the doctor and the nurse. 15 minutes later, the nurse took my daughter out of the operation room to a nearby room, along with three other girls whom the doctor was circumcising,” Mohammed Ibrahim, a farmer, told Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm.

“I waited half an hour, hoping that my daughter would wake up, but, unfortunately, unlike the rest of the girls, she did not,” he said.

The doctor who circumcised Suhair had previously circumcised her elder sister two years ago.

“I want nothing but to hold the doctor accountable and to have justice for my daughter,” Suhair’s mother, Hasanat Naeem Fawzy, told the newspaper.

The police ordered an autopsy and summoned the doctor to find the cause of the young girl’s death.

A health inspector report said the cause of the death was due to “a sharp drop in blood pressure resulting from shock trauma,” the family’s lawyer, Abdel Salam, told al-Masry al-Youm.

Egypt's National Council for Women condemned the deadly incident of female circumcision as a criminal act that reflects “extreme savagery,” calling on the government to investigate the issue and punish the culprits.

UNICEF Egypt has also condemned the incident, saying female circumcision has neither medical nor religious justification...

Kenya: 10 people wounded in two separate attacks, including a blast at a church and a grenade hurled in a crowd

In the port city of Mombasa, attackers on a motorbike threw a homemade bomb into a church service, wounding seven, while in Nairobi, a grenade was thrown in the largely ethnic Somali district of Eastleigh, police said.

The attacks are the latest in a string of grenade blasts or shootings to have hit Kenya, although it was not immediately clear if the two attacks were connected.

In Mombasa, coastal police chief Aggrey Adoli said that police were searching for the attackers.

"The attack occurred at a crusade [church service]," Adoli said. "Those injured have been taken to hospital."

The blast was believed to be caused by an improvised petrol bomb.

In Nairobi, the capital's police chief Benson Kibue said "a grenade was thrown at a crowd within the Majengo area of Eastleigh, and three people have been injured."

Kenyan police have previously blamed similar grenade attacks on supporters or members of Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents.

Kenyan troops invaded southern Somalia in 2011 to attack Shebab bases, and have now joined an African Union force to battle the extremists there.

Kenya's invasion however sparked an angry reaction and warnings of revenge from the Islamists.

On the coast, police have in the past also accused a separatist group the Mombasa Republic Council (MRC) of staging attacks.

Saudi Arabia: Religious police raid 'tomboy' pageantry, seize energy drinks and “Satanist” items

Saudi Arabia’s religious police raided a party at a well known hotel where nearly 100 girls participated in a contest for the most beautiful 'tomboy'.

Members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, backed by police, raided the party at the hotel in the eastern port of Khobar and arrested most of the participants, Sabq Arabic language daily said.

Police also seized a large quantity of energy drinks, “Satanist” items and a crown to be awarded to the winner in the contest, it said.

“The party was staged under the cover of a graduation ceremony. A man and a woman who organised the party were arrested,” it said, adding that most of the girls were later handed over to their parents who had not known it involved tomboys.

Pakistan: Man accused of operating printing machine on which 'blasphemous' literature was produced denied bail

Asmat Ullah had said he was innocent and that he had nothing to do with the offence. He had also asked the court to order that his name be removed from the FIR.

Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, the counsel for the complainant, told the court that Asmat Ullah had printed blasphemous literature. He said that Asmat Ullah’s claim that he was just operating a printing machine and was not aware of the content was not plausible. “How can a man who knows he is working for Ahmadis not know what kind of literature is being printed?” he asked.

The FIR registered in Old Anarkali police station under Sections 298-C and 295-B of Pakistan Penal Code, says on February 24 the complainant Tufail Raza went to Altaf Book Binding to get a cost estimate for having his diary bound. He claimed he saw what appeared to Quranic literature and Islamic books at the shop. He said he picked one and started reading it and found out that the books were Ahmadi literature. He said he immediately called police who confiscated the books.
Ahmadi literature: Blasphemy suspect denied bail
The Express Tribune, June 9, 2013

UK: Muslim hate monitor to lose government funding after falsely claiming a 'wave of attacks’ against Muslims

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

A controversial project claiming to measure anti-Muslim attacks will not have its government grant renewed after police and civil servants raised concerns about its methods.

The project, called Tell Mama, claimed that there had been a “sustained wave of attacks and intimidation” against British Muslims after the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby, with 193 “Islamophobic incidents” reported to it, rising to 212 by last weekend.

The group’s founder, Fiyaz Mughal, said he saw “no end to this cycle of violence”, describing it as “unprecedented”. The claims were unquestioningly repeated in the media.

Tell Mama and Mr Mughal did not mention, however, that 57 per cent of the 212 reports referred to activity that took place only online, mainly offensive postings on Twitter and Facebook, or that a further 16 per cent of the 212 reports had not been verified. Not all the online abuse even originated in Britain.

Contrary to the group’s claim of a “cycle of violence” and a “sustained wave of attacks”, only 17 of the 212 incidents, 8 per cent, involved the physical targeting of people and there were no attacks on anyone serious enough to require medical treatment.

There have been a further 12 attacks on Islamic buildings, three of them serious, including a probable arson attack on a Muslim community centre in north London, which burned it to the ground.

Tell Mama supporters launched a furious campaign of protest against The Sunday Telegraph after it disclosed the breakdown last week, with round-robin emails to the newspaper accusing it of behaviour “better suited to the days of 1930s Germany”.

However, The Sunday Telegraph has now learned that even before Woolwich, the communities minister, the Liberal Democrat MP Don Foster, called Mr Mughal to a meeting and said that Tell Mama’s grant would not be renewed.

The organisation has received a total of £375,000 from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) since last year.

“Mr Mughal was giving data on attacks to DCLG which wasn’t stacking up when it was cross-referenced with other reports by Acpo [the Association of Chief Police Officers],” said one source closely involved in counter-extremism.

“He was questioned by DCLG civil servants and lost his temper. He was subsequently called in by Don Foster and told that he would receive no more money.”

A senior Liberal Democrat source confirmed the sequence of events, saying: “There was a bit of a spat. He was called in and told that Acpo had cast doubt on his figures. He was told that he would be closely monitored for the remaining period of the grant and that there would be no more money.”

A DCLG spokesman confirmed that Tell Mama’s funding would not be renewed and refused to deny that officials had raised concerns about its methods.

Tell Mama claimed in March that anti-Muslim crime was “rising”, even though the group had only been in operation at that stage for a year and had no previous figures to compare with.

Other figures, collected by the police, show that hate crime in mainly Muslim areas has fallen in the past 10 years. The only large force that collects figures on specifically anti-Muslim crime, the Metropolitan Police, reported an 8.5 per cent fall in such crimes between 2009 and 2012.

There was a spike in anti-Muslim incidents after the killing of Drummer Rigby. However, contrary to Tell Mama’s claims that it was “unprecedented”, the Met’s assistant commissioner, Cressida Dick, told MPs last week that it was “slightly less” than after previous terror attacks.

“There has not been such a very big increase in attacks as we might have feared,” she said. Mr Mughal himself has now admitted to the BBC that the number of physical attacks was “small”.

Tell Mama has also been using its budget to threaten members of the public with libel actions for criticising it on Twitter. In mid-May, before Woolwich, one Jewish activist, Ambrosine Chetrit, received a threatening letter from solicitors after she tweeted that “Tell Mama are sitting on Twitter on the EDL hashtag, threatening anyone and everyone whose comments they do not like about Islam”.

Tell Mama also objected to a tweet in which Ms Chetrit said it was “trying to close down pro-Israel [Twitter] accounts daily”.

Other recipients of legal threats at the same time include Atma Singh, a former race adviser to the then Labour mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, who received a legal letter from Tell Mama after tweeting that it “gives a platform to Islamists”.

Tell Mama did not claim that either of these individuals was racist or anti-Muslim. But it said their tweets were false and “defamatory” of Mr Mughal, had “damaged” his reputation, causing him “distress and embarrassment”, and demanded immediate apologies and damages. Up to four other people are believed to have received similar threats.

The letters were written by Farooq Bajwa, a solicitor who has acted for a number of Islamists and Islamist sympathisers, including the Palestinian radical leader Raed Salah and the Respect MP George Galloway.

The letters to Mr Singh and Ms Chetrit were sent to their private home addresses, neither of which are in the public domain. Ms Chetrit’s lawyer, Mark Lewis, who has acted for many phone-hacking victims, has reported Mr Bajwa and Tell Mama to the police after they refused to say how they obtained the information.

“I have been instructed to resist the claim,” said Mr Lewis. “It has no merit. I have not had any response as to how my client’s name and address were obtained.”

Mr Singh said: “I find it absurd that someone can threaten people on this kind of basis and use libel in this political way. This is nothing to do with Islamophobia – they are just trying to shut down debate.”

Ms Chetrit said: “It is very worrying and scary. All the people who have been threatened by Tell Mama are pro-Israeli.” The DCLG claimed that Tell Mama’s funding was always due to cease in September 2013 and that Mr Foster was “very impressed” by the “progress” the group had made.

However, the funding of Tell Mama was described as “ongoing” in the Government’s “hate crime action plan” last year and only in November Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, announced that £214,000 of “new” and “further” funding had been granted to Tell Mama.

Mr Mughal said: “The meeting with DCLG officials related to the publication of 2012 anti-Muslim prejudice figures and having an independent review of those figures, which is good practice.

"This was agreed and has always been part of the process. The 'loss of temper’ did not relate to the methodology of data collection.”

Mr Mughal said that no public money had been used to issue the libel threats.

He said: “We will defend the right of all people to express their identities and their support for countries and groups freely. However, we have the right to defend the integrity of our work when people broadcast [on Twitter] comments that are simply untrue and highly damaging about us.”

He declined to explain how the private addresses had been obtained, but said it was “within the law.”
Muslim hate monitor to lose backing
Andrew Gilligan, The Telegraph, June 9, 2013

Afghanistan: Suicide bomber hides explosives inside his rectum, kills self and injures target

Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s spy chief, Asadullah Khalid, was taking no chances.

A man had crossed into Afghanistan from Pakistan with important information he said he would only deliver personally to Mr. Khalid, who had just taken over as the head of the National Directorate of Security.

Mr. Khalid’s aides took the visitor to an armored room in the basement of a safe house in Taimani, an upscale neighborhood in the capital city, for a security screening. They were no doubt mindful of what happened in September 2011 when a Taliban peace emissary was allowed to meet with a prominent Afghan peace envoy and then killed him with a bomb hidden in his turban.

Watching the man over closed-circuit television, they ordered him to strip naked, which he did. Satisfied, they let him get dressed and took him to see their boss upstairs.

Then he blew up. The suicide bomber killed only himself, but Mr. Khalid sustained severe abdominal wounds as well as injuries to his hands and arms.

Now, months after that attack, on Dec. 6, a spokesman for the National Directorate of Security, Shafiqullah Tahiri, confirmed that the attacker had hidden the bomb inside his rectum.

Two other Afghan security officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the bomb had been hidden internally. Officials had earlier been quoted as saying the bomb had been hidden in the attacker’s underwear.

The last time such a bomb was known to be used was in an attempt to kill a Saudi prince with a device thought to be the work of Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, one of the most skilled bomb makers of Al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate.

In August 2009, Mr. Asiri’s brother, Abdullah, detonated himself during a meeting with Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, the deputy interior minister at the time, in Jidda. The prince was only lightly wounded; the bomber’s lower torso was shredded.

Afterward, the counterterrorism unit of Europol, Europe’s police agency, warned that airlines might have to tighten their screening procedures because a rectal bomb could escape detection by normal X-ray scanning machines.

“The sensitivity and power of these machines would need to be increased or reviewed, in order to overcome shielding of the device by the human body,” Europol’s report said.

Mr. Asiri, who was linked to the Saudi attack by postings on jihadist Web sites, is also believed to be the creator of the underwear bomb, used in an abortive attempt to bring down an American airliner in 2009.

Despite the concerns about what such bombs could accomplish on an airplane, and that they might make it easier to evade detection by normal X-ray scanners, Robert Bunker, a researcher who has extensively studied the possibilities of body-cavity suicide bombs, noted that there were inherent limitations to the design.

“There are some really practical limitations to what you can do with the basic physics,” he said. “You can only get so much in the body, and there is no shrapnel effect.” Because they are so small, the blast is greatly blunted by the bomber’s body itself...
Attacker in Afghanistan Hid Bomb in His Body
Rod Nordland, The New York Times, June 8, 2013

Pakistan: Man axes wife to death, cuts her body into pieces, after making her recite verses from the Qur'an

All it took was a few minutes of insane rage and an axe, and the unthinkable happened. A life was snuffed out – the life of a woman, ironically by him who was supposedly her life partner and protector, by her husband.

A man axed his wife to death and cut her body in pieces over a petty squabble in a remote village of Garhi Habib Ullah, police said. The accused, allegedly an addict, after committing the ghastly murder, threw the body parts out in the fields. According to the police, upon being arrested, he confessed to his crime.

Waqar Khan, the Station House Officer (SHO) of the police station Garhi Habib Ullah said that the villagers informed him about the murder of a woman in village Kashtara, some 12 km from the police station.

According to Khan, the accused Muneer, 45, has admitted to his crime in the police station, adding that his wife Nasreen Bibi, 35, often used to stay out of home. Muneer would take this as an insult and often stopped her from leaving the house.

On the Sunday evening before the heinous crime was committed, she again dared to step out. Muneer searched for her but failed to find any clue. However on Monday evening she returned home and when he inquired about her whereabouts the whole night, her answers could not satisfy him. According to SHO Khan, Muneer got angry and asked her to lie flat on the ground with her face down. “Before attacking her, the accused asked her to loudly recite the Kalimas; once she did so, he committed the horrendous act.

When asked about the reason for his cruelty, Muneer told the police that he in doing so had made her a lesson for other women who do not obey their spouses.

Other side of the story

Shedding more light on the possible reason for this act, Muhammad Javed of village Atarsheesha who is the younger brother of the victim, told the police and the media that his sister Nasreen got married to Muneer some ten years back and the couple had four children. Muneer, an addict, has no permanent source of living and used to work as a daily wager.

According to Javed, Muneer would often beat Nasreen whenever she demanded food and clothes for herself and her children. About two years back, the accused had beaten her with a club, damaging her skull partially. The concussion had altered her mental balance. “We took her to our home and got her treated for several months but she never fully recovered,” he said, adding that during her absence Muneer gave his four minor children to local philanthropists who have been looking after them for the last few months.

According to Javed, Muneer sought the support of the jirga and requested to take Nasreen back home on the promise that he would treat her with respect. But a habitually violent husband, he again started subjecting her to severe battering day in and day out and her mental condition further deteriorated.

On that fateful Sunday evening, she had gone to see her children in the neighbouring village; when she got late she stayed there overnight. A petty squabble ensued which led to her savage murder...

Pakistan: False accusation of blasphemy, 70-year old shepherd beaten and has hand broken

The police shifted him to Bahawal Victoria Hospital on Friday.

He told police that he was grazing his animals when he saw a torn poster lying on the ground, which had sacred verses on it. He said he picked up the poster and placed it at a higher place, but a part of it fell to the ground. Some unidentified people saw this and beat him up. “If the police had did not arrived in time they would have killed me,” said Haider.

Syed Shafiq Shah, a pir in the area, disagrees with his account.

Shah told a press conference that Haider had torn the poster and was about to throw it in a stream of dirty water, when people saw him and beat him up. Shah held that Haider guilty of blasphemy.

He demanded that the police take action against Haider and if warned of a protest rally if this was not done.

Sohail Zafar Chattha, the DPO, told The Express Tribune that he had investigated the incident and found Shah guilty of inciting violence. Chattha said that Shah was in police custody and is being interrogated. The police want him to reveal the names of the people who beat up Haider.
Mischief: False accusation of blasphemy
The Express Tribune, June 8, 2013

Indonesia: Social media movement aiming to discredit Shari'ah law in Aceh province discovered

The government in Aceh has claimed that a social media movement aiming to discredit Shariah law in the province exists, though it has refused to provide any details on who may be carrying out the conspiracy.

“We recognize there are still parties who are unhappy with the implementation Islamic Shariah in Aceh,” Syahrizal Abbas, the head of Aceh’s provincial Shariah agency, said on Friday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

Syahrizal urged all parties in the province to use mass media and social media to promote positive perceptions of Islam.

Yasir Yusuf, the head of the Aceh branch of the IKADI, echoed Syahrizal’s sentiments and stated that he has observed efforts which aim to undermine the Islamization of Aceh.

“Their movement is really academic and systematic. It involves social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter,” Yasir, who is also a professor at an Islamic Institute in Banda Aceh, stated.

He also claimed that the group behind the scheme often held biased discussions on Shariah, or Islamic law based on the teachings of the Koran.

“Their talks quote national and international media sources, even though such news is formatted to create stereotypes about Islamic Shariah in Aceh,” Yasir asserted.

The implementation of Shariah law, which nominally applies to all Muslims in the province, including police officers and government officials, has long been criticized by human rights groups.

Recently, North Aceh’s district head banned all adult women from dancing when welcoming guests in North Aceh because such actions “damage Islamic Shariah values.”

Additionally, a police officer was publicly caned for violating Shariah law last month.

Pakistan: Three Christian women pulled out of house and beaten by Muslim landlord and 12 family members

A Christian family in Kasur is accusing a landlord and 12 of his family members of beating up three of their women and ransacking their house over one of them being slapped.

The police are not registering an FIR against the men even though medico-legal reports have established injuries suffered by the women, says the family. The police told The Express Tribune that the landlord’s family were “innocent”. The Christian family, they said, was being “used” by the landlord’s rivals.

Bibi Rani, the mother-in-law of the injured women (aged 19, 26 and 35), told The Express Tribune that they were woken from sleep in the middle of the night on June 3 when Muhammad Ibrahim, Muhammad Rafique, their seven sons and four other men entered their house after scaling the boundary wall.

She said they were looking for her sons. Finding none of them home, she said, they had started abusing her daughters-in-law and beating them up. Their shirts were torn in the process, she said. The men had then dragged them out and beaten them up before they left.

It all started with a herd of goats, owned by the Christian family, entering Ibrahim’s nursery and damaging about a hundred saplings, says Shaukat Masih, the husband of one of the women. He said he had had an argument with Muhammad Munir, Ibrahim’s son, when he locked his goats in a cattle shed and refused to return them.

“We (the three brothers and his sister-in-law) went to them again to request them to release our goats,” Shaukat Masih told The Express Tribune. He said he had told Munir off when he “misbehaved” with his sister-in-law and pushed her. “Munir slapped me and then I slapped him. He was furious, saying how dare a Christian slap him,” Masih said. Elders of the area intervened then and persuaded Munir to return the goats.

Munir, however, filed an application at Pattoki Saddar police station against them. Learning about the complaint against them, said Masih, the men of the house decided to ‘disappear’ to avoid arrest. The medico-legal certificates “establish torture”, said Masih, “My mother has filed an application but the police are reluctant to register an FIR.”

Pattoki Saddar SHO Haji Abdul Aziz said, “The Christians are accusing innocent people.” He said that the ‘goat incident’ did take place but added that “there was no truth to the allegation that Ibrahim and others had entered their house and humiliated the women”.

Aziz said the doctor who examined the women had recommended action under Section 337-F(1) (Punishment of ghayr-jaifah) of the Pakistan Penal Code “which is not a cognisable offence”. “That is why FIR can be registered”. The PPC section deals with punishment for injuries in which the skin is ruptured and bleeding has occurred (damiyah). According to the section, a court can decide a compensation that is to paid by the offender to the victim for causing such hurt. The offender can also be punished with imprisonment up to a year.

Advocate Tipu Salman Makhdoom, a lawyer The Express Tribune talked to, said that the police “must still register an FIR” for trespass and humiliation of the women.
Equal before law: ‘How dare a Christian slap me’
Rana Tanveer, The Express Tribune, June 7, 2013

Pakistan: 16-year-old Christian convert from Islam still missing, two weeks after being kidnapped by Muslims

A 16-year-old Christian convert from Islam remained missing Friday, June 7, some two weeks after he was kidnapped by Islamic militants in Pakistan's volatile Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Christian said.

Aman Ullah was reportedly taken by fighters of a militant Taliban group on May 25 in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the former Northwest Frontier Province.

"We don’t know which of the 32 different Taliban groups operating both in Afghanistan and Pakistan is responsible," said John Taimoor, president of mission group 'Crossbearers Ministry' which works among former Muslims.

"My team, workers and disciples from Muslim backgrounds are facing pressures from many sides and physical persecution," he said in a statement. However, "We are looking to our Savior who is able to save us to the uttermost..."


There was no known statement from the Taliban on Friday, June 7, though the group has spoken in the past to media in other kidnapping cases.

The young kidnap victim, who became a Christian a year ago and evangelized, had memorized the books of John and Ephesians in the Bible, said Taimoor who gave the boy Bible lessons. His goal was to memorize the entire New Testament as he had already memorized the Koran, Taimoor recalled.

“He is very dear to me. Aman Ullah means ‘peace of God’ in Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Pushto languages," the official said. "He is a diamond, very dedicated and brilliant. He was outgoing; he made public statements and gave his testimony."

Taimoor’s group helps young converts such as Aman to memorize the Biblical Book of Ephesians and demonstrate "seriousness about growing in their faith" to impact other Muslims.
. . .
Taliban militants have been linked to several attacks against Christians, including former Muslims, as part of their crusade against what they view as a Western religion and colonialism.

Bangladesh: Mob of 60 muslims raid Catholic seminary, violently beat rector and some students

A mob of dozens has raided a seminary of the diocese of Dinajpur, northern Bangladesh, injuring the rector and a group of students inside the building at the time of the attack. The raid took place at 3 pm yesterday: about 60 local fanatics broke down the doors of the Jisu Niloy seminary, pouring inside the compound. The group targeted the rector Fr. Uzzal, surprised in his room while he was resting; the assailants knocked down his door and violently beat him and some students present at the time of the attack.

During the assault, the fanatics blocked the young students of the seminary and beat them with violence and brutality. The Jisu Niloy seminary is located Bolakipur and refers to Marimpur parish in the Diocese of Dinajpur.

Previously, the same mob had raided the nearby tribal village - Catholic majority - of Tivipara and Bagja. The assault occurred at 1 .30 pm, they plundered the inhabitants of 40 cows, 50 goats, a van, fruit and many other objects and utensils. Before leaving, the assailants threatened to come back the next night and burn the residents homes.

Most of the men fled the area for fear of new attacks, the women and children, however, have found refuge in the Catholic mission, where there are more security guarantees. The Catholics of the area belong to the tribal Santals, Urao, Mundas, Kharias and Malos.

Over the past few days there have been a wave of assaults and targeted violence against the Christian community in Bangladesh, a largely Muslim nation: June 5 it was the turn of the parish of Tumilia, which was attacked by extremists. The parish priest Fr. Abel was beaten and robbed, along with another priest.

UK: Birmingham Muslims to be sentenced for planning attack on English Defence League rally

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

The men, who have already been warned that they face "significant custody", only failed in their deadly plan because the gathering in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, last summer finished earlier than expected

Six Islamic extremists from Birmingham are to be sentenced for planning a murderous attack on an English Defence League rally, amid renewed controversy surrounding the far right group.

The men, who have already been warned that they face "significant custody", only failed in their deadly plan because the gathering in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, last summer finished earlier than expected.

Jewel Uddin, 27, Omar Mohammed Khan, 31, Mohammed Hasseen, 24, Anzal Hussain, 25, Mohammed Saud, 23, and Zohaib Ahmed, 22, all from Birmingham, are all due to appear at the Old Bailey.

All of the men except Hasseen travelled to the rally armed with two shotguns, swords, knives, a nail bomb containing 458 pieces of shrapnel, and a partially assembled pipe bomb, ready to cause mass injuries and deaths.

The nail bomb was an 18-inch (46cm) long rocket which was stuffed with shrapnel and was to be powered by explosives taken from at least two large fireworks.

Police and security services had no intelligence about the planned attack on June 30 last year, although Uddin was under surveillance in relation to another terrorist plan.

Ahmed was also on bail for possession of terrorist documents at the time of the plot.

Their sentencing comes amid fresh publicity surrounding the EDL in the wake of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby, and increased tensions between various political and religious factions.

Graffiti saying "EDL" was found daubed at a Somali community centre in Muswell Hill, north London, which was destroyed by fire. The blaze is now being investigated by counter-terrorism police.

Members of the EDL have been encouraged to attend the sentencing via the group's Twitter feed and Facebook page.

The six men due to be sentenced planned to attack a march where police estimated there could have been up to 750 EDL marchers, dozens of officers and innocent passers-by.

Their plan failed by chance, because they arrived at 4pm when the rally had dispersed by 2pm.

The planned atrocity was only uncovered because a traffic officer stopped Uddin and Khan on the M1 as they travelled home to Birmingham.

Checks showed their Renault Laguna was uninsured, so the car was impounded. Two days later staff at the pound near Sheffield looked at the contents of the Renault and found the gang's arsenal.

There were also 10 copies of a hate-filled note addressed to the enemies of Islam, the Queen and Prime Minister David Cameron.

It said: "This is a message to the enemies of Allah and his messenger. This is a message to the kafir (non-believer) female devil and self-proclaimed Queen Elizabeth and her accursed jubilee, fooling a nation of blind sheep to your self-proclaimed royalty and majesty."

The document addressed the EDL directly, saying: "To the EDL (English Drunkards League). O enemies of Allah! We have heard and seen you openly insulting the final Messenger of Allah... you should know that for every action there is a reaction.

"Today is a day of retaliation (especially) for your blasphemy of Allah and his Messenger Muhammad. We love death more than you love life. The penalty for blasphemy of Allah and his Messenger Muhammad is death.

"What we did today was a direct retaliation of your insulting of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and also in retaliation of your crusade against Islam/Muslims on a global scale. It is of the greatest honour for us to do what we did."

Hasseen has also pleaded guilty to possessing a document or record containing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

Malaysia: Four dead as Myanmar violence spills into Malaysia, all victims were Buddhists

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

Ethnic violence in Myanmar between Muslims and Buddhists appears to have spilled over into Malaysia, police said on Wednesday, with four killings in recent days suspected to be linked to the religious tension.

All the victims, including a man slashed to death by machete-wielding attackers at a car wash in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, this week, were Buddhists from Myanmar, said the city's deputy police chief Amar Singh Ishar Singh.

"We have a feedback that this may be Myanmar Buddhists and Muslims having a spillover here in Kuala Lumpur," he told Reuters. "In Myanmar, the Muslims are the victims, over here the Buddhists are the victims."

Singh said the police had set up a special task force to deal with the violence in Kuala Lumpur and had arrested about 60 Myanmar immigrants this week in an attempt to control tensions.

Malaysia's Bernama state news agency said the 20-year-old victim was sleeping at the car wash when he was attacked by 10 people. It quoted police as saying a man and a woman also suffered injuries in the attack.

Police did not give details of the other attacks.

Anti-Muslim violence in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar erupted in western Rakhine State last year and has spread into the central heartlands and areas near the old capital, Yangon, this year...

Commentary: Can David Cameron explain why he has put the United Kingdom on al-Qaeda’s side?

Peter Oborne is the Daily Telegraph's chief political commentator and the author of The Rise of Political Lying and The Triumph of the Political Class, and, with Frances Weaver, the pamphlet Guilty Men.

With Parliament back after the Whitsun recess, Mr Cameron made a statement that dealt principally with the civil war in Syria, and gave the belated parliamentary response to the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby. Many of his remarks were those of a man with only a tenuous grip on reality. What was missing was common sense. We have seen this many times before.

Sir Peter Tapsell, father of the Commons, said that Syria was now enduring what is “fundamentally a religious war between the Shia and the Sunni, which has raged within Islam for 1,300 years”.

Mr Cameron would not accept this point. “When I see the official Syrian opposition,” he replied, “I do not see purely a religious grouping; I see a group of people who have declared that they are in favour of democracy, human rights and a future for minorities, including Christians, in Syria. That is the fact of the matter.” Then Jack Straw, a former foreign secretary, asked whether the Prime Minister agreed that Iran would have to be part of any peace deal. Mr Cameron failed to deal with this essential question.

At the time of the Iraq invasion 10 years ago, something very like this happened to Tony Blair. A moment came when he too entered a virtual world.

Like Mr Blair, Mr Cameron has come to advocate policy in a macabre vacuum, devoid of truth or understanding. He too displays a reluctance to accept the irksome realities of the human condition. Like Mr Blair, Mr Cameron had taken no interest in the world outside Britain before he entered No 10. They both learnt about foreign affairs as prime minister, and both are open to the charge that they treat the subject like a grand, theoretical abstraction. From the start, Mr Cameron (just like Mr Blair in Iraq) has been happy to entertain the proposition that this Syrian conflict is in essence a struggle between good and evil – benevolent democrats and liberals fighting a virtuous struggle against the murderous tyrant Assad. In fact, the rebels were not nearly as good (and President Assad not as evil) as Mr Cameron has thought.

As a result of this, the Prime Minister has got it wrong from the start. He massively underestimated Assad’s support and staying power. He was absurdly contemptuous of the Russians (who have outmanoeuvred us all along). Above all, he has failed to understand the rebels. Very much as Mr Blair and his American allies were duped by the impostor Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress, so Mr Cameron has made the mistake of taking the Syrian National Coalition seriously. They are intelligent, educated, well-intentioned men in suits – hotel guerrillas – and as such irrelevant to what is now happening in Syria. The Prime Minister would do well to read the mea culpa published last week in Al-Monitor, by a pseudonymous writer from Aleppo who calls himself Edward Dark.

“So what went wrong?’ asks Mr Dark. “Or, to be more accurate, where did we go wrong? How did a once inspirational and noble popular uprising calling for freedom and basic human rights degenerate into an orgy of bloodthirsty sectarian violence, with depravity unfit for even animals?”

Mr Dark describes how the revolution has been captured by a collection of gangsters and fanatics. “This wasn’t what we revolted for,” he says in despair at the dreadful fate that has overcome the country he loves, “to replace one group of criminals with another.” Mr Dark now says he has given up on the revolution. He says that he has seen that the only way forward is “through reconciliation and a renunciation of violence”. Yet Mr Cameron wants to escalate the fighting by arranging military support to the rebels. He told Parliament on Monday that he hopes this will “tip the balance” in their favour. Iran – in reality an essential part of any solution – will not be welcome at the negotiating table, and in Mr Cameron’s mind there is no future for Assad, which probably means that the war will drag on and on.

I dare say that the Prime Minister is sincere when he asserts that Syria is in the grip of a civil war, with democrats and human rights activists ranged up on one side against an evil dictator. I have not been to Syria, but it is clear to me that Sir Peter Tapsell is much closer to the truth.

Certainly, the liberal elite in which the Prime Minister places such hopes was involved at the beginning of the uprising. But armed elements funded and supplied by interested parties in Saudi Arabia and Qatar were also present from the start. Their fundamental aim was nothing to do with human rights and the protection of minorities. It was to destabilise and destroy President Assad, Iran’s closest ally in the region, and therefore assert Saudi dominance. To what extent have Britain and America been complicit? It is hard to judge. What can be said with certainty is that over the past decade the Middle East, and to some extent the Islamic world, has broken down into two armed camps. On the one side are Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, backed by the United States and (quietly) Israel. To everyone’s enormous embarrassment, al-Qaeda is very firmly in this camp.

On the other side are Iran, Hizbollah and post-bellum Iraq, strongly backed by Russia and China. Viewed from this wider perspective, Mr Cameron’s claim to be on the side of democracy and human rights, and against dictatorship, is not merely fraudulent – it is patently ridiculous.

We are not on the side of democracy. As Sir Peter Tapsell hinted in the Commons, Britain has wholeheartedly backed the Sunni camp – Saudi, the Gulf States, and al-Qaeda – in its increasingly bloodthirsty and horrifying conflict against Shia Islam. There may be some very good reasons for this, but I do wish that the Prime Minister would re-engage with the real world, come out publicly, and explain what they are.

Syria: 70% of Syrians support Bashar al-Assad, 20% are neutral, only 10% are aligned with Western-backed rebels

Western politicos love to shed swamps of crocodile tears about "the Syrian people" and congratulate themselves within the "Friends of Syria" framework for defending them from "tyranny".

Well, the "Syrian people" have spoken. Roughly 70% support the government of Bashar al-Assad. Another 20% are neutral. And only 10% are aligned with the Western-supported "rebels", including those of the kidnapping, lung-eating, beheading jihadi kind.

The data was provided mostly by independent relief organizations working in Syria. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) received a detailed report in late May - but, predictably, was not too keen on releasing it.

As Asia Times Online has been stressing for months, the Sunni business classes in Damascus and Aleppo are either neutral or pro-Assad. And most Sunnis now regard the gangs of foreign mercenaries weaponized by Qatar and the House of Saud as way more repellent than Assad.

Meanwhile, in Britain - where David of Arabia Cameron remains gung ho on a no-fly zone to protect the "Syrian people" - only 24% of Britons are in favor of further weaponizing the "rebels" (although 58% support humanitarian aid).

And at a rally in Doha, perennial al-Jazeera star and Muslim Brotherhood icon Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi - now pontificating at Al-Azhar in Cairo - has called for a jihad of all Sunni Muslims against Damascus. As he also branded Hezbollah as "the party of Satan" and condemned Iran for "pushing forward arms and men to back the Syrian regime". He has in fact condoned a jihad of Muslims against Muslims, even though he insisted his call to fight Hezbollah is "not against all Shi'ites".

Still al-Qaradawi also said, "How could 100 million Shi'ites defeat 1.7 billion [Sunnis]?" Only because [Sunni] Muslims are weak". It's more than implied that Shi'ites are the enemy.

So who cares what the "Syrian people" might think? The Western "Friends of Syria" could not have found a more willing golden patsy to promote their usual, self-fulfilling Divide and Rule gambit - the Sunni-Shi'ite divide. It's always handy to have dysfunctional GCC petro-monarchies posing as "liberators" so the West once again may conduct a proxy war "leading from behind".

In other news, where's Evelyn Waugh when you need him? It's Scoop all over again, with Syria replacing a "promising" war in the African Republic of Ishmaelia and every hack in the Western world doing a remix of the Daily Beast, proclaiming Assad's imminent demise because, well, we're with the rebels and we have decided they are going to win...
Meet the 'Friends of Jihad'
Pepe Escobar, Asia Times, June 5, 2013

Indonesia one of the least tolerant countries in the world regarding attitudes toward homosexuality, a new survey finds

The “Global Divide on Homosexuality” study surveyed 37, 653 people in 39 countries. It found Indonesians were overwhelming opposed to homosexuality, with 93 percent saying that gay people should not be accepted.

While Muslim countries were found to be overwhelmingly opposed to homosexuality, Indonesia was more resistant to same-sex relationships than both Malaysia and Pakistan — two countries that prohibit same-sex practices by law.

The survey conducted 1,000 face-to-face interviews with Indonesian adults, giving a margin for error of 4 percent, broadly in line with both surveys for Malaysia and Pakistan.

In addition, attitudes do not appear to be changing in the archipelago. Only 3 percent of Indonesians claimed to be supportive of gay rights in the last Pew survey in 2007.

People in predominately Muslim countries such as Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia and Pakistan along with Nigeria, Senegal and other African nations overwhelming said gay men and lesbians should be rejected from society at large, the Pew Research Center found.
. . .

Younger generations were also “consistently more likely than older ones to say homosexuality should be accepted by society” even in countries that overall are more supportive of gays, Pew said.

For example, 54 percent of all Japanese polled offered support. But 83 percent of those younger than 30 said they accepted gays compared to about 40 percent of those 50 and older. In the United States, 70 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds supported gays compared with 52 percent of those ages 50 and older. In Indonesia, the findings were less conclusive, with 4 percent of those under 30 supportive of gays, which was the case for only 2 percent of respondents aged 30-49.

US: Boston Marathon bomber and family receiving financial donations from individuals pledging their support

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

Alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has told his mother that people are sending him money and that someone opened an account for him, according to a new recording of their first phone call from prison.

When his mother asked if he is in pain, Tsarnaev replied in Russian: "No, of course not. I'm already eating and have been for a long time," according to a translation by Channel 4 News in the UK, which first aired the audio. The call took place last week.

"They are giving me chicken and rice now, everything is fine," he said.

Dzhokhar also told his mother that he has received at least a "thousand" dollars in a bank account that someone opened for him since his arrest. The mother says the family has also received $8,000 from individuals pledging their support, according to Channel 4 News.

Tsarnaev's parents say they have been offered one phone call a month with their son, who is in prison awaiting trial.
. . .
Federal prison officials told ABC News that like all inmates, Dzhokhar had a federal prison trust fund step up in his name upon his transfer there.

"They can receive money from outside sources and deposit money from their prison work assignments," said Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesperson Chris Burke. Burke declined to say if Dzhokhar was working while he recovers from his injuries.

Listening to the recording again, his mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, is visibly emotional. She said Dzokhar spent much of the call trying to calm her down.

"Everything is good," her son assured her.

During the phone conversation, Tsarnaev's father Anzor told his son they will meet again in heaven...

Indonesia: Woman accused of stealing two BlackBerry cellphones stripped bare, shaved bald and beaten by mob

A woman accused of stealing two BlackBerry cellphones was assaulted before being stripped bare and shaved bald in another instance of vigilante justice in Jakarta on Tuesday.

The 19-year-old was marched to a security post in Matraman, East Jakarta, by a mob after she was allegedly caught stealing mobile phones from two homes. The teenager begged local residents for forgiveness as they beat and cursed her, said Gunadi, one of her alleged victims.

The residents, most of them women, then forced her to strip and shaved her head to “demean her,” Gunadi said.

“All were emotional, so they shaved her head to bald,” she explained.

Tuesday’s ordeal began as Gunadi reportedly caught the woman in her home.

“She was suddenly inside my house, I don’t know her,” Gunadi said.

The woman asked to use her bathroom, but was later seen with a BlackBerry belonging to Gunadi’s son, the victim said. Neighbors arrived on the scene and searched the 19-year-old, reportedly finding a second stolen phone.

“The mobile phone that was in her hand was my son’s phone, the other one was my neighbor’s phone,” Gunadi said. “She stole the phone before [coming to my house].”

The crowd then passed judgement and attacked the woman...

UK: 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...
A controversial project claiming to measure anti-Muslim attacks will not have its government grant renewed after police and civil servants raised concerns about its methods.

The project, called Tell Mama, claimed that there had been a “sustained wave of attacks and intimidation” against British Muslims after the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby, with 193 “Islamophobic incidents” reported to it, rising to 212 by last weekend.

The group’s founder, Fiyaz Mughal, said he saw “no end to this cycle of violence”, describing it as “unprecedented”. The claims were unquestioningly repeated in the media.

Tell Mama and Mr Mughal did not mention, however, that 57 per cent of the 212 reports referred to activity that took place only online, mainly offensive postings on Twitter and Facebook, or that a further 16 per cent of the 212 reports had not been verified. Not all the online abuse even originated in Britain.

Contrary to the group’s claim of a “cycle of violence” and a “sustained wave of attacks”, only 17 of the 212 incidents, 8 per cent, involved the physical targeting of people and there were no attacks on anyone serious enough to require medical treatment...
Muslim hate monitor to lose backing
Andrew Gilligan, The Telegraph, June 9, 2013

Egypt: Turkish protesters 'alcoholics', PM Erdogan is Islamist role model, a leader of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya claims

The protest movement in Turkey is an "uprising of alcoholics," a leader of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya has claimed.

Alaa Abul-Nasr, who is a leader of the group's political wing, the Building and Development Party, went on to say Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a role model for Egyptian Islamists during an interview on Rotana Masriya TV channel on Sunday.

Protests against government plans to tear down trees in Istanbul's Taksim Square turned violent on Friday after a police crackdown.

Tighter restrictions on alcohol sales and warnings against public displays of affection have provoked protests by activists who accuse Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) of trying to turn secular-oriented Turkey into a more conservative country.

At least a thousand people have been injured during four days of clashes and more than 1700 arrested.

Erdogan’s popularity soared in 2011 when Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador after Tel Aviv refused to apologise for its raid on the Mavi Marmara, a Gaza-bound flotilla. During the raid, eight Turks and an American of Turkish descent were killed.

Erdogan was granted a hero's reception on his arrival in Egypt in September 2011. Many of his most vocal supporters where members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

However, on 16 May 2013 US President Barack Obama stated that negotiations were ongoing between him and Erdogan over normalising relations with Israel.

Obama’s statement came after Israeli and Turkish officials began discussing compensation for the flotilla victims in April.

UK: Woolwich terror suspect enters court with Quran and blows kisses to supporters

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

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.

Dad-of-one Lee, 25, was hacked to death outside the barracks he was staying in Woolwich, south London.

Michael Adebowale, 22, of Greenwich, south London appeared at the Old Bailey via video link

He is accused of murdering Drummer Rigby on May 22, as well as possession of a firearm, a 9.4mm KNIL Model 91 revolver, with intent to cause others to believe that violence would be used.

No application for bail was made during the brief hearing.

The judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, told the court the defendant would reappear for a preliminary hearing on June 28, when his case is expected to be joined up with that of Adebolajo.

US: Charlton arson suspect says he tried to commit suicide because of his name, Jihad Georges

A Lebanese man whose apartment burned in a fire Sunday told police he set the blaze during a failed suicide attempt brought on by his inability to find work because of his first name: Jihad.

But a police report indicates that investigators didn't believe the story, because evidence found inside Jihad Elias Georges' apartment at 131 Muggett Hill Road indicated gasoline had been spilled on the floor and a sofa. They said people who commit suicide by fire "usually douse themselves with gas."

The name Jihad, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, can be used to describe "a personal struggle in devotion to Islam, especially involving spiritual discipline," or "a crusade for a principle or belief." But in Western culture the word has taken on the negative meaning of "a holy war waged on behalf of Islam."

According to a police report, Mr. Georges allegedly told investigators from Charlton and the state fire marshal's office that he spread gasoline in his apartment and used the stove to light a piece of paper to spark the fire, hoping to take his own life.

Instead, the explosion from the fire blew him out the door to safety. He got into his car and drove away as flames poured from his apartment and a neighbor rushed to see what had happened.

That neighbor helped evacuate residents from the other five apartments and later told police that Mr. Georges had to have known his home was ablaze as he drove away.

"The only way the No. 6 tenant could have not known that his apartment was on fire was if he was deaf and blind," the neighbor told police.

When Mr. Georges returned home, he seemed surprised to find emergency personnel there and claimed to know nothing about the fire, police wrote in their report. He told them he had a $20,000 renter's insurance policy. His apartment had been destroyed by the fire...

UK: Muslim convert threatened to kill Prince Harry just a day after the murder of a soldier in Woolwich

Ashraf Islam, 30, formerly known as Mark Townley, confessed to police that he wanted to kill the third in line to the throne, who has served in high profile tours of Afghanistan.

Islam walked into a police station in Hounslow on May 23 and told detectives that he wanted to murder the prince hours after soldier Lee Rigby, 25, was killed.

He was charged under Section 16 of the Offences against the Person Act, which carries a possible jail term of up to 10 years, following an investigation by the Metropolitan Police's Counter terrorism Command unit.

According to the Daily Star detectives found a laptop belonging to Islam which showed internet searches for 'guns', 'vans' and 'kidnapping'.

He is also said to have visited terrorist websites.

Islam, who is believed to have become a Muslim during a recent spell in prison, is currently behind bars after pleading guilty to the offence at Uxbridge Magistrates Court last Saturday.
. . .
A review of Prince Harry's security was launched in the wake of Drummer Rigby's murder, according to the Sunday Mirror.

It is feared that Harry, 28, might be a prime target for the Taliban after touring Afghanistan twice with the Household Cavalry in 2008 and the Army Air Corps last year.

The Taliban said while the Prince was at Camp bastion last year that they were doing everything in their power 'to get rid of him'.

His comments in an interview that revealed that he had killed Taliban insurgents while on active duty are likely to have made him even more of a target.

He is also a high profile supporter of military causes including the Help for Heroes charity - he opened a Help for Heroes funded facility for injured service personnel with Prince William days before Drummer Rigby's murder.

Drummer Rigby was reportedly wearing one of the charity's T shirts when he was killed.

A royal source told the Sunday Mirror: 'Prince Harry's security is constantly reviewed and has been massively stepped up in the last 10 days.

'This case and the horrific case of Lee Rigby show that there is constant danger. 'Harry's security team cannot be complacent.'

The prince is said to have been given extra SAS protection.

According to the Star, Northern Ireland Islam was given a suspended jail term and banned from England and Wales for two years under his former name Mark Townley for conning ex-soldiers.

He is said to have become 'ingratiated' with a Muslim group in 2010 and faced fraud and theft charges after he returned to Northern ireland after a spell in the Middle East.

He is said to have changed his name around the same time as he served a prison sentence in 2011.

Islam reportedly worked in the adult film industry and told a newspaper that he was a 'part time' Muslim.

He is believed to be in custody at Wormwood Scrubs prison in London.
A Muslim convert planned to assassinate Prince Harry using a low-calibre pistol in a plot he named Operation Regal, a court heard today.

Ashraf Islam, 31, formerly known as Mark Townley, confessed to police he had “advanced plans” to kill the Prince.

Belfast-born Islam walked into a police station the day after Drummer Lee Rigby was killed in Woolwich, south-east London, and told an officer of his intentions.

Islam described Drummer Rigby as a “soft target” and said he didn’t agree with the attack on the serviceman.

He eventually revealed he intended to kill Prince Harry because the third in line to the throne “had blood on his hands”.

A document found on Islam’s computer said: “Aim for target. No civilians to be injured.

"Dress code is the the biker look. Use low-calibre pistol at close range. Not to be viewed as Islamist extremist.”

Islam, who changed his name by deed poll in 2010, arrived in the UK from Thailand the day before his arrest.

Prosecutor Lynne Townley told Isleworth Crown Court: “He said he has been watching the Horse Guards Parade and planned to disarm an officer whilst disguised as a tourist rather than bringing a gun into London.

“He spent 10 days in Thailand searching Prince Harry and his whereabouts.

"He used his time in Thailand to get his fitness to a higher level. He planned to send a phone warning to create a diversion.”

Miss Townley explained Islam, after landing at Heathrow, checked into a Travelodge and at 11am the following morning went to Hounslow police station in west London.

“He told duty officer PC Boyne that he wanted to talk about a murder. Miss Townley added: “He said he was being monitored by UK security.

“He was asked for further details of what these plans were and he said it was the murder of a high-profile person.”

Islam, who is separated from his wife and young child back in Northern Ireland, decided to confess after feeling “scared and nervous” on the morning of May 23.

He said he believed hurting people was wrong but “Prince Harry had chosen his path and had blood on his hands for power and profit”.

He pleaded guilty at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court to one count of making a threat to kill on May 25.

After analysing his laptop, police discovered a number of internet searches showing Islam had been researching Prince Harry’s protection team, his engagements and his general whereabouts.

A video showed him making threats to kill Prince Harry to camera whilst he was in Malaysia.

Islam’s sentencing has been adjourned until November 1 so a mental health assessment can be completed.

Malaysia: Two Myanmar Buddhists found dead and decapitated following clashes with Muslims, three others hospitalized

Three others are reportedly hospitalized in Selayang.

“A Myanmar man was dead beheaded on May 30. Another one was found dead with a slash wound on May 31. Violence was again on June 1 and three Myanmar workers are in hospital. Those three men are also in critical condition,” said San Win, chairman of Kepong funeral services society.

Kepong funeral services society helps approximately a hundred of Myanmar people from the Selayang fresh market moving to Kepong monastery for their safety. A Myanmar national lived in Kuala Lumpur said that the Kepong monastery is intimidated over arson threats. Imminent rioters on motorbikes are going around the monastery. Guilty persons are not the Selayang residents. Although people were frightened there, the staff from the Myanmar embassy said there was no critical situation and the area was in peace.

A Myanmar national working in Selayang said “As far as I know, six people were murdered. Some were slaughtered brutally. We are facing instigation to violence and conflicts by the Muslim extremists here. Both Muslim and Buddhist shops in Kuala Lumpur are still quiet so far. The embassy doesn’t announce anything for the cases.”

He added that Myanmar nationals living in Selayong have not received the assistance from the Myanmar embassy.

Zaw Htay, director of the President’s Office told the Eleven Media Group that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would investigate the case and going to announce it.

Deputy Information Minister Ye Htut, spokesperson to the President’s Office, had posted on his Facebook page yesterday that no Myanmar national was murdered in Malaysia. He also explained the case on his Facebook page today.

Malaysia well-known newspaper The Star has not printed about the issue yet. NTV 7 has shown the movie file of Malaysian police carrying the cadaver. Bernama news revealed one death.

Two deaths by the Muslim people are Khine Min, aged 32, and Min Zaw, 33. Both are from Myanamr's Bago region.

Sister of Min Zaw, who also works in Malaysia, said “My brother had been living and working in Malaysia for ten years. He was a good man. I can’t agree with what people from Myanmar embassy said that Myanmar nationals fought with Muslims after they got drunk although it was not an official announcement.”

She continued that no aid came from the embassy. She had to take leave from the job for her safety. The Kepong funeral services society help with her brother funeral.

She has filed a lawsuit against the case at the Kepong police station. But the police station has not let known the penal code till now.

Min Zaw’s wife said that he is Myanmar Buddhist. Another murdered one may also be the Buddhist.
Ethnic violence in Myanmar between Muslims and Buddhists appears to have spilled over into Malaysia, police said on Wednesday, with four killings in recent days suspected to be linked to the religious tension.

All the victims, including a man slashed to death by machete-wielding attackers at a car wash in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, this week, were Buddhists from Myanmar, said the city's deputy police chief Amar Singh Ishar Singh.

"We have a feedback that this may be Myanmar Buddhists and Muslims having a spillover here in Kuala Lumpur," he told Reuters. "In Myanmar, the Muslims are the victims, over here the Buddhists are the victims."

Singh said the police had set up a special task force to deal with the violence in Kuala Lumpur and had arrested about 60 Myanmar immigrants this week in an attempt to control tensions.

Malaysia's Bernama state news agency said the 20-year-old victim was sleeping at the car wash when he was attacked by 10 people. It quoted police as saying a man and a woman also suffered injuries in the attack...

Egypt: Sexual violence against women has increased in the post-revolutionary Islamist rule, according to official reports

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality said in a report published on May 23 that 99.3 percent of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual violence.

Nearly 50 percent of women reported more harassment after the revolution; 44 percent said the level of harassment remained the same before and after the revolution. Meanwhile, more than 58 percent of men surveyed said harassment increased after the revolution.

Egypt's general directorate of moral police at the ministry of interior reported that 9,468 cases of harassment, 329 sexual assaults and 112 cases of rape took place in 2012.

Activists say the figures released by the government are smaller than the actual ones because many women do not report cases of harassment against them to the police in fear of shame.

The U.N. study found that only 19 percent of women actually report sexual violence against them to the police. It said 32.2 percent keep quiet and move away from the scene, while 26.9 choose to insult or hit back the assailant.

“What is different now [post-revolution], and why this has been brought to public and international attention, is that we’re witnessing a number of very violent assaults and rape,” Diana Eltahawy, a researcher at Amnesty International Egypt, told Al Arabiya English.

Manal Abdul Aziz Ali, a Cairo-based journalist said, “Today, neither a foreigner nor an Egyptian can enjoy a sense of safety... because of the noticeable rise in the rate of crime and harassment against women.”

The reported rise of sexual violence against women is often attributed to security deterioration and the rise of radical Islamists who seek to frighten women away from public places where anti-Islamist protests take place.

Salafist preacher Ahmad Mahmoud Abdullah said earlier this year that women protesting in Tahrir Square are “no red line” because they “have no shame and want to be raped,” a statement which was perceived as a sanctioning of violence against women.

Egyptian women now “have to think twice” before attending demonstrations, Abdul Aziz Ali said, “not because [women] fear tear gas or even bullets, but because of the harassment being practiced by some thugs and parties to discourage revolutionaries from participating in such events.”

Various groups have been formed to defend decry sexual violence against women in Egypt/ Operation Anti Sexual Harassment and Tahrir Bodyguard bring together volunteers to stop attacks in Tahrir Square, where the police are largely absent.

On Jan. 25 2013, as thousands of Egyptians marked the second anniversary of their uprising, at least 19 women were sexually assaulted, Operation Anti Sexual Harassment reported.

“These attacks aim to exclude women from public life and punish them for participating in political activism and demonstrations. They are also an attempt to ruin the image of Tahrir Square and demonstrators in general,” the group said, according to AFP.

“This phenomenon requires urgent attention and treatment, and is linked to the broader social problem of endemic and daily sexual harassment and assault of women.”...

Afghanistan: Muslim militants attack Red Cross office building, scores of disabled people protest

A two-hour gun and suicide assault in Jalalabad city on Wednesday left one Afghan guard dead in the first attack on a Red Cross facility in the country since the organization began work there 26 years ago.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) assists thousands of disabled people across Afghanistan, and is renowned for its programs providing artificial limbs and rehabilitation for victims of war and landmines.

“Death to the perpetrators of this inhuman and evil attack,” the protesters, many in wheelchairs or using crutches, chanted outside the office, which has been closed due to the attack.

The ICRC, which had 36 staff in Jalalabad including six expatriates, has also halted all staff movements at its clinics and offices around the country.

The group maintains strict neutrality in the Afghan conflict and was thought to be protected from attack by its working relations with the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

“We have enormous problems. The ICRC has been the only one helping us,” said Ferdous, an amputee who uses only one name. “We call on the government to protect the ICRC.”...

Afghanistan: Taliban bomber 'who killed three soldiers' could be freed within weeks to launch fresh attacks

A Taliban bomb-maker suspected of directing an attack that killed three British soldiers could be freed within weeks if lawyers win their battle to close the ‘British Guantanamo’, it was claimed last night.

Defence sources have told The Mail on Sunday that the terrorist leader is being held at a controversial prison within Camp Bastion.

But after pressure from human rights lawyers, the Taliban explosives expert is likely to be released into the notoriously corrupt Afghan judicial system, with the danger that he will be freed to launch fresh attacks.

Three British troops died and six others were wounded five weeks ago when their Mastiff armoured vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED) planted in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.

The deaths of Corporal William Savage, 30, Fusilier Samuel Flint, 21, and Private Robert Hetherington, 25, brought the number of British service personnel deaths since operations began in 2001 in Afghanistan to 444.

Days after the attack, British Special Forces uncovered a cache of home-made bombs five miles from the blast site. Troops followed up this success by capturing the suspected bomb-maker and four accomplices.

Now, following the intervention of British human rights lawyers, the Camp Bastion prison is facing closure and the inmates are likely to be transferred to an Afghan jail.

Defence sources are adamant that the country’s legal system remains corrupt and that suspected terrorists could be released by the courts or freed in Taliban raids.

Last night, former Government Defence Minister Sir Gerald Howarth attacked the move, saying it will put British soldiers’ lives at risk...

CAR: Muslim militants launch 'reign of terror' against Christians in Central African Republic

Islamic militants have launched a "reign of terror" against Christians in Central African Republic after Seleka rebels took control of the country in a March 24 coup, rights activists said.

Armed with a "hit list" of pastors and places of worship, Seleka rebels systematically looted church property, even seizing money from collection plates, according to Barnabas Fund, a Christian aid and advocacy group working in the region.

The reports, monitored by BosNewsLife Saturday, June 1, come after last month's report released by the Human Rights Watch group cited "severe violations" committed by Seleka rebels against civilians including rape, pillage and execution.

Among those killed was a church leader after the rebels fired upon a funeral procession on the Ngaragba Bridge in the capital Bangui on April 13, rights investigators said.


"As a result, many Christians have fled into the countryside: more than 200,000 people were displaced while nearly 50,000 others crossed CAR's borders into neighboring nations," Barnabas Fund explained.

In a sign of further tensions, the new Seleka-backed government of Central African Republic issued an international arrest warrant Friday, March 31, against deposed former president Francois Bozize, accusing him of "crimes against humanity and incitement to genocide", the state prosecutor said.

Thousands of fighters from the Seleka rebel coalition, angered by what they claimed was Bozize's "refusal" to honor an earlier peace deal, marched into the capital Bangui on March 24, forcing him to flee to neighboring Cameroon.

The mineral-rich nation's new leaders opened an investigation in May into alleged crimes committed during his 10-year reign.


However international diplomats suggest that the many Muslim militants among the Seleka rebels are also responsible for crimes.

Last month, United Nations envoy Margaret Vogt urged the Security Council to debate deploying a security force to contain "the anarchy" in the Central African Republic.

Vogt said there was a "total disregard for international law, as elements of Seleka turn their vengeance against the population".

Somalia: Al-Shabab fight campaign to administer polio vaccine, charging it contains the virus that causes AIDS

Al-Shabab, the rebels linked to al-Qaida, have discouraged many parents from getting their children inoculated against polio, a disease that is an incipient problem in this Horn of Africa nation long plagued by armed conflict and disease, according to health workers who spoke to The Associated Press.

The al-Shabab extremists have been pushed out of virtually all of Somalia's cities and face continued military pressure from African Union and government troops. Health workers are gaining access to more children to give the life-saving polio vaccine. But some mothers and fathers are refusing the inoculation, apparently heeding the advice of the Islamic militants who warn that the vaccination exercise is part of a foreign conspiracy to kill or weaken Somali children.

Vaccination workers who walked door to door in the capital, Mogadishu, were turned away by some parents who often didn't state why they objected to the vaccination. One man told the workers to leave immediately because they were carrying "toxic things."

Al-Shabab militants are spreading rumors against the polio vaccine in communities where they still have some influence, alleging the vaccine can make girls barren and that it is manufactured in Christian countries, said a senior United Nations health worker in Somalia, who insisted on anonymity because he isn't authorized to speak about the vaccination program.

Al-Shabab did not respond to questions about the allegations that they are spreading rumors against the vaccination campaign.

"Al-Shabab are paranoid about potential infiltration by spy agencies disguised as humanitarian workers. That's probably a principal reason for discouraging vaccination," said Abdi Aynte, the director of the Somali-based think-tank Heritage Institute for Policy Studies.

Somali government officials say the numbers of parents who reject the immunization campaign are far fewer than those embracing it, but health workers don't want to leave any unvaccinated. They warn that it is important for every child to get the polio vaccine in order to eradicate in Somalia the disease that causes limb paralysis and can be fatal...
In Somalia, Some Parents Say No to Polio Vaccine
Abdi Guled, Associated Press, June 1, 2013

Nigeria: Boko Haram paid children N5,000 each to burn down primary schools and to spy on soldiers

Children with ages ranging between nine and fifteen years have confessed to burning primary schools and spying on soldiers on the orders of Boko Haram leaders.

The children are part of those released by military authorities on Friday to the governors of Borno and Yobe state. They were released by the Commander, 21 Armoured Brigade, Maiduguri, Brig-Gen. R.O Bamigboye, on behalf of the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Sa’ad Ibrahim.

Thee children who are among the 23 women and 35 children released said they were paid as little as N5,000 to do the bidding of the terrorist group.

Read the Punch Newspapers report below:

PA: Iran cuts up to £15 million (Dh83.7 million) a month in funding for Hamas as punishment for backing Syrian rebels

Iran has cut up to £15 million (Dh83.7 million) a month in funding for Hamas as punishment for the movement backing the uprising in Syria, the Palestinian Islamist group’s leaders have admitted.

The two once-close allies have also ceased military cooperation, effectively ending a warm relationship in which Tehran provided weapons, technical know-how and military training to Hamas fighters.

The rupture has been caused by Hamas’ refusal to toe the Iranian line by supporting President Bashar Al Assad, whose Alawite regime has a loose religious relationship to Iran’s ruling theocracy. Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, has sided with its Sunni co-religionists who are trying to unseat Al Assad, in common with other mainly Sunni countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Gazi Hamad, Hamas’ deputy foreign minister, frankly described relations with Iran as “bad”. Asked about Iranian funding, he said: “I can say it is not like the past. I cannot give you the exact amount. For supporting the Syrian revolution, we lost very much.
Hamas loses Iran funds for backing Syria rebels
Robert Tait, The Telegraph Group Limited, June 1, 2013


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