Islam in the News (December 2013)

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


UK: Cousin of honor killing victim who helped to dispose of her body is "still proud of what he did" judge says

The cousin of honour killing victim Banaz Mahmod who helped to dispose of her body is "still proud of what he did", a judge said on Friday as he sentenced him to eight years in prison.

Dana Amin, 29, helped Banaz's father and two other men [now convicted of murdering the 20-year-old] bury her corpse in a Birmingham garden.

The Muslim's body was shoved into a suitcase before being driven to the Midlands and dumped in a make-shift grave in January 2006, where it lay undiscovered for three months.

Judge Martin Beddoe told Amin: "[Banaz's] death had been planned for about a month or so before it actually took place. There had even been an attempt on her life already.

"I am sure you were aware of all these matters and you knew not only of what had gone on but what was intended to happen.

"The reason is that, like other members of this family, you subscribe to this perverted code in that a grown woman cannot choose how to live her life.

"I fear for any female child you may father."

Banaz had been strangled with a shoe lace at her family home in Morden, south London, just hours before she was burried, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Her only crime was to divorce her first husband from an arranged marriage and fall in love with another man.

The new romance incurred the wrath of her relatives who believed she had brought shame on their family.

Terrified Banaz had repeatedly told police of her fears her life was in danger.

Her father, Mahmod Mahmod, and uncle, Ari Mahmod, were jailed for life in 2007 for her murder, together with henchman Mohamad Hama in what became one of Britain's most notorious honour killings.

Banaz's cousins, Mohammed Ali, and Omar Hussain, were also locked up after being extradited from Iraq in 2010.

Amin, on his uncle Ari's orders, joined Hussain and Hama at Ali's Brixton home to discuss plans to kill Banaz on the eve of her death.

All four men later travelled to Birmingham in Amin's black Lexus to get rid of the corpse...

Norway: Two teenaged sisters who ran away from home to help rebels in Syria are confirmed to be in war torn country

The youngest, aged 16, is injured and has to be treated before she and her sister can leave Syria, the lawyer, Geir Lippestad, told Norwegian public broadcaster NRK. Norwegian media reported the 16-year-old had a bullet wound.

The other sister is aged 19. Both are from a family of Somalian origin living in Norway.

Their disappearance in mid-October, with messages to the family that they planned to go to Syria to support insurgents there, prompted Norway to launch an international search for them through Interpol.

Their father told NRK at the end of October that online messages he had received from the girls suggested they had made it to Syria, where they said they were being "held against their will" by rebels.

But Lippestad said the father had now received assurances that the two would soon be released.

The identities of the girls and the father have not been made public by Norwegian authorities.

Norway's intelligence services estimate that 30 to 40 Norwegian nationals have gone to Syria to fight.

Syria: Western-backed rebels want to use nuns kidnapped from their Maalula convent as "human shields"

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

Rebels took a dozen Syrian and Lebanese nuns from Maalula to a nearby area under rebel control after capturing the historic Christian town late Monday, but it was not immediately clear whether the nuns had been kidnapped or moved for their own safety.

"Syrian army forces have started arriving in the Maalula area to restore security, after hundreds of rebels sowed chaos in the city, which they entered through the mountains, and kidnapped 12 Syrian and Lebanese nuns to take them to Yabrud," a rebel town northeast of Maalula, said Al-Watan.

"The terrorists want to use them as human shields," it added.

Yabrud is the loyalist army's next target in Qalamoun, a mountainous region north of Damascus that is strategic because of its proximity to smuggling routes across the Lebanese border and a key road linking the capital to central Homs province.

Al-Watan's report comes a day after the mother superior of Saydnaya convent in Damascus province, Fibronia Nabhan, said she had spoken with her Maalula counterpart, who confirmed the nuns were in Yabrud.

Maalula mother superior Pelagia Sayyaf said "she and the 11 other nuns, accompanied by three young maids, were comfortably installed in a house in Yabrud and no one was bothering them," Nabhan said.
. . .
Maalula has long been a symbol of the long Christian presence in Syria. Its residents are some of the few left in the world who speak Aramaic, the language that Jesus Christ is believed to have spoken.

Pakistan: Two young caste Hindu women raped by Muslim landlords, one of them was later murdered

Ms. Kakoo Kohli (24) and her elder sister, Nallan (26), who belong to the Jane sect of the Hindu religion, were residents of Goth Lalu Shar, Umarkot district, Sindh province. They were both raped by Mr. Mohammad Khadim Shar and his brother Mr. Sirajuddin Shar, the sons of the landlord and the owner of the village, Mr. Lalu Ilyas Shar.

The girls and their family members were working in the fields of Shar and were provided a hut to live in. The main culprit, Mohammad Khadim Shar, was lusting after Shrimati (Ms.) Kakoo and on several occasions asked for sexual favors. However each time Shar was denied. The poverty of Kakoo and her sister and lack of economical support prevented them from leaving their workplace. After a long session of frustration, anger and shame, generated by the constant denial and rejection from Ms. Kakoo, Mohammed Khadim Shar finally decided to take her by force.

Dalit women, who are mostly defenseless, are considered 'sexually available' and are targeted for sexual violence by the Muslim community. Dalits in particular and the entire Hindu community in general are vulnerable and voiceless and unable to oppose the atrocities which are perpetrated on them. The Kohli Hindus are considered to be the lowest people in the Hindu religion.

On October 18, the perpetrator, Mohammad Khadim Shar took his brother Sirajudding Shar with him and attacked Ms. Kakoo's house at gun point and restrained all the members of the Kohli family, including the mother and father. Khadim raped Kakoo and Siraj raped Nallan in front of their family members. After the rape, the attackers threatened the family that if they report the incident to anybody they would be killed. However, after the incident, Kumar Veerji Kohli, the father of Kakoo and Nallan took the victims to the Shadi Pali police station to report the rape. However, as usually happens, the police refused to file the report until they completed their investigation. After two days the police agreed to file an FIR which infuriated the main perpetrator, Khadim Shar. The police arrested Sirajuddin Shar but allowed Khadim to abscond. Sirajuddin was able to obtain bail.

In the meantime, the Umarkot police, on the instructions of the landlord, arranged a Jirga, an illegal court declared by the high court of Sindh, consisting of elders of the area. The Jirga compelled the victims and her family to reach a settlement with the perpetrators and this was sanctioned by the Judicial Magistrate. The police officials were happy to serve the landlords and the case against the perpetrators was withdrawn.

Khadim Shar was insulted that a Hindu woman from the lowest caste had filed a case against him and this, in his eyes, was a challenge to the supremacy of Islam. On November 29, while he was at his fields, he received information that Kakoo and her mother were attending the clinic of a local doctor. He took the jeep belonging to his friend and abducted the woman and her mother at gun point in full view of many persons. After reaching his fields he shot Kakoo in the head. He was arrested but still has not been charged as there were no eye witnesses and police classify the mother as a biased witness...

Russia: Seven churches burned in one year, attacks foiled and increased pressure on Christians to convert to Islam

In Tatarstan - autonomous republic of the Russian Federation, with a Muslim majority - the extremism alarm is increasing. So much so that the President Rustam Minnikhanov has expressed concern and promised to personally follow the investigations.

As for the fires, and in various parts of the region, the charges have been formalized as vandalism , and arson, in violation of freedom of conscience and religion. Investigators insist, however , that they be considered as "acts of terrorism" .

The last year saw Christian seven parishes torched. The last two episodes occurred on 28 and 29 November, as reported by the news agency. In 2012 there was a similar case. The attorney general pointed the finger at "unidentified extremists" and the culprits risk up to 20 years in prison .

According to the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, investigators are following the trail of Wahhabi groups That those responsible for the attacks are Muslims adherents to radical Islam with the support of the local clergy. In an interview with Interfax , Father Dmitri Sizov , pastor of Pestrechinsky, said that " the whole community knows that it is the work of the Wahhabis ." According to the priest, in some predominantly Christian villages of Tatarstan "fundamentalist agitators roam, inviting the faithful to convert to Islam". "The priests remain silent because they are afraid of being accused of incitement to religious hatred", added Fr . Sizov .

President Minnikhanov has offered a reward of one million rubles for those who provide useful information to identify those responsible for the attacks, and a criminal investigation for terrorist attacks was opened, after the discovery of unexploded ordnance in the districts of Alexeyevsky and Nizhnekamsk , at the end of November .

For their part, the local religious leaders - Muslims and Orthodox - have appealed to their communities not to give in to what they call "provocations" aimed at "destroying the good interfaith relations developed over the centuries in the Volga region". "The vandalism against objects and places of worship is a direct insult to the sentiments of the faithful and those responsible for these acts deserve wide public condemnation ," the Metropolitan Anastasius and the mufti of Tatarstan Kamil Samigullin, wrote in a joint statement.

Malawi: Human rights activist calls for religious tolerance after violence erupted over sale of pig meat

Malawi human rights activist Billy Mayaya has called for renouncing violence against non-Muslim groups in the eastern lakeshore district of Mangochi which is predominantly for Moslems.

Mayaya told Nyasa Times that it’s worrisome to note about violence that erupted when a trader Paulo Msangwa slaughtered a pig and went to sell it at Maldeco Market in the district.

This provoked the Moslems who rioted and a Magistrate Court ruled on Monday that that Msangwa was wrong because he continued selling the pork after he was warned that it was forbidden to do so in the area.

The ruling attracted a barrage of criticism from many people and others described it as miscarriage of justice.

There was no immediate comment from Minister of Justice Fahad Assani, a Moslem himself. But Mayaya called on Muslims mother body to take a stand on the matter.

“We appeal to the Muslim Association of Malawi and other Islamic umbrella bodies to make united calls for tolerance and peace amongst all communities,” Mayaya told Nyasa Times.

“Our differences and traditions must not divide us but rather enrich our diversity and respect for one another.,” he added.

The rights campaigner pointed out that “Malawi is a secular state that thrives on diversity. “

He said: “We therefore call upon the Government, faith leaders and communities to thwart any attempts to divide Malawians. We appeal for peace and understanding to prevail.

“Malawi cannot afford to be drawn into conflict. We have more to gain from understanding and recognising diversity rather than courting provocation.”

Law expert Justin Dzonzi, who is executive director of Justice Link, said there is no land in Malawi that is ruled by religious law...

India: Fatwa to boycott polio campaigns and schools issued in 30 Muslim dominated villages in Sambhal district

Issuing a shocking fatwa, a Muslim cleric asked villagers in Uttar Pradesh to boycott polio campaigns and schools in the locality. In the fatwa, the cleric claimed that polio campaigns put new-born babies in danger.

The fatwa has been issued in at least 30 Muslim dominated villages in Sambhal district. According to media reports, the cleric, by issuing the fatwa, has been trying to pressurise the state government to make their villages part of the adjoining Moradabad district.

A fine of Rs 500 will be slapped against those who will disobey the fatwa, threatened the cleric. Nearly 10 villages saw a total boycott while others witnessed a partial boycott of polio campaign on Nov 24, said a report.

Meanwhile, poor people of the locality have stopped sending their children to schools. Teachers of the schools have also been threatened to face consequences if they take classes.

Media reports quoted villagers who supported the cause of the fatwa. They said Moradabad is very near to their village as compared to Bahjoi, the headquarters of Sambhal district, which is about 70 km away...

Saudi Arabia: Man ends life by setting himself on fire after learning fiancée was breastfed by his mother

The man, in his 20s, was rushed to hospital in the southern province of Jazan with severe burns but died later, Sharq Arabic language daily said.

“Police men were told that he committed a suicide after learning that the girl he was engaged to was like his sister as she was fed by his mother when she was a baby,” the Arabic language daily said.

Many people in conservative Saudi Arabia and other Moslem countries believe a baby breastfed by a woman not his mother is considered like her own child, hence he or she can not marry one of that family members.

Pakistan: Man shoots dead his teenage sister after he suspected she was having an affair

Ismail Khan told the police he had gone with his wife to attend a relative’s funeral and left his daughter, 15-year-old Soneela, and her younger brother at home in the village.

During their absence, Ismail’s elder son Chanzeb, who lives on his own in the same area, caught his sister talking on the phone while he was visiting his parent’s house.

Chanzeb lost his temper over this incident and opened fire on Soneela with his 30-bore pistol. She died on the spot.

According to Ismail, the accused had suspected his sister of having an affair but Ismail could not confirm whether the allegation against his daughter was true. Chanzeb fled after killing his sister.

Kenya: Armed Muslim youths held mosque under siege for two hours, conducted their prayers before leaving

Hundreds of Muslim youths yesterday invaded Sakina mosque in Majengo, Mombasa and ejected imams from the pulpit.

The youths from the controversial Masjid Musa were armed with knives. They stormed into the Sakina mosque before the Friday Dhuhr prayers.

They held the Sakina mosque under siege for two hours during and conducted their prayers before leaving.

Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya organizing secretary Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa and another Imam were injured after they were roughed up by the rowdy youths.

CIPK chairman Sheikh Mohammed Idris was chased away from the mosque. The youth accused them of betraying the Muslim faithful by working with government security agencies to ‘eliminate’ fellow clerics.

Police said Sheikh Khalifa was conducting prayers when youth chanting ‘Allahu Akbar!’ raided the mosque. The Sheikh was rescued and whisked away from mosque.

The Masjid Musa is widely viewed as a centre of Islamist radicalization due its association with assassinated preachers Sheikh Aboud Rogo and Sheikh Ibrahim Ismael.

Sheikh Ismael and Sheikh Rogo were both killed in Mombasa in the last year in similar drive-by shootings by unknown gunmen. Police have denied any involvement in their killings.

Police say the mosque has ties with al Shabaab and is used to radicalize Muslim youths.

According to intelligence reports, some of the youths were Al Shabaab recruits who have returned from Somalia.

The youth vowed to introduce Jihad sermons at all mosques in Mombasa and "deal decisively" with Muslim leaders working with state agencies.

“They were making a statement that they are Mujaheddin ready to fight for Islam at all levels and those seen as traitors will have to surrender the mosque leadership to them or tbe killed,” said intelligence sources.

Sheikh Idris told journalists that the youth promised on Thursday evening to forcefully conduct radical preaching at the mosque.

He said they alerted the police but the police could do little as the Masjid Musa youth had mingled with other faithful going into the mosque for prayers at around 12.30pm yesterday.

“When chaos erupted inside the mosque, police officers watched helplessly from outside since they could not enter the mosque. Luckily youths from the mosque managed to rescue Sheikh Khalifa,” said Sheikh Idris. He said Sheikh Khalifa’s injuries are minor.

Sheikh Idris said they are now fearing for their lives. He denied that they are working with the state agencies to eliminate fellow Muslims.

Mombasa police county commander Robert Kitur said they were tipped about plans to disrupt the Friday prayers...

India: Local journalist beaten up by members of a Muslim group for helping an aged Muslim woman

A reporter of local eveninger Karavali Ale was beaten up by members of a Muslim fundamentalist group on Thursday morning at Kolnad near Vittla, about 40 km from here, for helping an aged Muslim woman build a house for herself.

VT Prasad has been hospitalised for severe injuries and internal bleeding.

According to police, 35 men suspected to be from Karnataka Forum for Dignity (KFD) attacked the reporter near his house, beating him up with clubs and sticks and dragged him to a distance of 100 metres before they dumped him.

The group tried to prevent him from being taken to hospital, blocking the road leading to Kolnad. When the ambulance arrived, they surrounded the vehicle and tried to drag him out. A strong crowd of locals intervened and shifted him to Mangalore hospital, where his condition is stated to be critical, but stable.

Prasad helped an old Muslim woman who was living alone in abject poverty. He collected donations from local residents and helped her build a small house on a piece of land she owned. Twice, men claiming to be KFD members intimidated him and warned him against helping Muslim women.

Saudi Arabia: Authorities offer ‘jihadist’ prisoners freedom if they agree to fight in Syria against government

The Guardian published an article late November stating that the Saudi authorities have been offering to release the prisoners if they accept to cooperate in Syria and Lebanon with al-Qaeda-linked groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The article said the “Saudi dictatorship,” along with Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and the Israeli regime, has also made a close alliance with the military rulers in Egypt.

Saudi Arabia has been the main supplier of weapons and funds to the militants in Syria.

According to a recent report by the French daily Le Figaro, the weapons used by the militants in Syria are initially purchased by Saudi Arabia from black markets in Ukraine and Bulgaria. The arms, which include Israeli missiles, are then transferred to a number of cells on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus...

Syria: Western-backed rebels break in to Orthodox convent in Christian village, take nuns hostage

Anti-regime jihadist militia have entered the Saint Tecla Orthodox convent in the Christian village of Maalula, 60 kilometers north of Damascus, SANA state news agency reported Monday.

Local sources said terrorists broke into the convent, taking Mother Superior Pelagia Sayyaf and other nuns hostage, SANA reported.

The National Observatory for Human Rights in Syria confirmed rebels have retaken Maalula but made no mention of hostage-taking in the convent.

Nuns at Saint Tecla Orthodox convent were forcibly evacuated, but it is not clear whether they were taken hostage after jihadist rebels seized the village of Maalula north of Damascus on Monday, the Apostolic Nuncio to Damascus, Monsignor Mario Zenari, told ANSA. The Nuncio cited sources in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

Jihadists first seized the Christian village in September, damaging its churches. Expelled by loyalist and Christian militias, they took up positions in nearby hills, keeping the village center under sniper fire...
A Syrian MP has urged the world's nations and Pope Francis to stop "crimes against humanity" in the historic Christian town of Maalula, which activists said was captured by rebels on Monday.

"The true crime against humanity in Syria is in Maalula," Christian MP Maria Saddeh told Adnkronos International (AKI), a day after the United Nations implicated Syria's authoritarian president Bashar al-Assad in war crimes.

"Sixteen nuns have been kidnapped, civilians are being killed and a monastery and 60 houses were burnt down yesterday," said Saddeh, who was elected to parliament as an independent.

"A massacre in taking place and the West cannot look on. Nations and the Pope must intervene."

"Maalula is a global symbol of Christianity, part of Syrian and world heritage, where Aramaic is still spoken, where there are churches, monasteries and early Christian archaeological sites," she stressed.

Syrian rebels including the Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front and other jihadist groups overran Maalula north of Damascus after after five days of intense fighting, UK-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday.

The Observatory claimed that at least 126,000 people have died in the two and a half year conflict between rebels and pro-Assad forces.

Saddeh accused "extremist groups who want to create an Islamic Caliphate" of unleashing "targeted attacks" on Syria's Christians in the conflict as part of a plan to remove the religious minority from the Middle East region.

She called on the international community to "put pressure on those states that support terrorism, above all Saudi Arabia, but also on France".

Rebels abducted 12 Syrian and Lebanese Orthodox nuns from their convent in Maalula on on Monday after moving into the town, Vatican Radio reported, citing Mario Zenari, the Holy See's nunzio or envoy to Syria.

The Vatican was "closely following the case of the Maalula nuns held hostage by Islamists in Syria," its spokesman Federico Lombardi said on Tuesday.
Rebels took a dozen Syrian and Lebanese nuns from Maalula to a nearby area under rebel control after capturing the historic Christian town late Monday, but it was not immediately clear whether the nuns had been kidnapped or moved for their own safety.

"Syrian army forces have started arriving in the Maalula area to restore security, after hundreds of rebels sowed chaos in the city, which they entered through the mountains, and kidnapped 12 Syrian and Lebanese nuns to take them to Yabrud," a rebel town northeast of Maalula, said Al-Watan.

"The terrorists want to use them as human shields," it added.
. . .
Al-Watan's report comes a day after the mother superior of Saydnaya convent in Damascus province, Fibronia Nabhan, said she had spoken with her Maalula counterpart, who confirmed the nuns were in Yabrud.

Maalula mother superior Pelagia Sayyaf said "she and the 11 other nuns, accompanied by three young maids, were comfortably installed in a house in Yabrud and no one was bothering them," Nabhan said.
. . .
Maalula has long been a symbol of the long Christian presence in Syria. Its residents are some of the few left in the world who speak Aramaic, the language that Jesus Christ is believed to have spoken.

US: Mosque takes over former Wheaton Illinois church, city's first Islamic institution

A mosque recently moved into a former church building on the northeast side of Wheaton, becoming what is believed to be the city's first Islamic institution.

In late August, the Islamic Center of Wheaton bought and moved into the 26,193-square-foot former First Assembly of God Church at 900 E. Geneva Road, at the southwest corner of Geneva Road and President Street. Records show that, through a bank trust, the Islamic Center of Wheaton paid $3.15 million for the church and its 7.08-acre property.

Mosque spokesman Abraham Antar said he and his fellow congregants are excited about their new home, which he said is Wheaton's first Muslim community.

"Wheaton is a city of faith, and we're very privileged to be able to establish an Islamic community for Wheaton and especially for the western suburbs," he said. "There are a lot of Muslims in Wheaton and the surrounding towns. It's unfortunate for the (First Assembly of God) church that they lost their opportunity to stay there."

Antar also said Islamic Center of Wheaton leaders are looking forward to getting to know other religious institutions in the area.

"This is a beautiful location, and one of the great attractions is that it gives us an opportunity as an Islamic organization to really connect with other churches," he said. "It really presents us with an opportunity to really bridge the relationship with all congregations within the area. We haven't really started yet, but we would like to."

Antar said about 700 to 800 men and women have been worshiping at the mosque each Friday.

"Everybody seems really happy with this place," he said.

In recent years, the one-story Wheaton church building had been on the market as the church had fallen on hard times. The church, at one point, even proposed a dense, multifamily housing development on the property. In 2011, the church's lender, State Bank of Illinois, initiated foreclosure proceedings. The bank then took title to the property in September 2012 at a sheriff's sale, and the bank sold the property to the mosque. The First Assembly of God stopped holding services and moved out of the building in January, local officials said...

Norway: Specialist abattoir has slaughtered the country's first ever halal reindeer meat

Harry Dyrstad last week slaughtered 100 animals according to halal rules, inviting members of the Islamic Council to accompany his mobile slaughterhouse out to the herds surrounding his small meat-processing plant in Steinkjer, north of Trondheim.

"We had the idea one and a half years ago," Dyrstad told The Local. "We spoke to someone who had some contacts in Dubai, and he said that if you want to sell reindeer meat, it has to be halal, so we had to try."

Dyrstad also aims to cure some of the meat as a halal alternative to ham, which he hopes to sell to muslims in Norway.

"We got some information that we could produce some ham from the reindeer, so the children can have ham on their bread," he said.

Mehtab Afsar, General Secretary of the Islamic Council of Norway and one of those who oversaw the slaughter, said he was looking forward to tasting reindeer for the first time.

"This is a brand new halal product that Muslims have not had access to before. I am told that this is a very good meat, but I've never tasted it myself," he told the Adresseavisen newspaper...

Syria: Western-backed rebels clear all signs of Christianity from a church, turn it into an office for themselves

Pictures have emerged on the internet and social media showing Al-Qaeda’s ‘Raqqa bureau’ set by the terrorist group of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS) in the historic church of Raqqa, Al-Alam reported.

Websites close to militants say all the exterior and interior symbols and signs showing the building is church have been cleared.

Many churches and mosques have been destroyed by militants in different towns and villages in Syria.

Al-Qaeda-linked groups found Raqqa, broken and torn following offensives launched by Syria militants and it has been months since they made it their home and imposed hardline laws on residents.

The ISIL first came into town on May 15, and swiftly executed men they accused of working for the government.

At first, they seemed a rebel group and a better-organized alternative to the rebels who occupied the city earlier but failed to bring governance or peace for months.

A broader agenda slowly emerged afterwards and began to gather pace each week with Al-Qaeda getting more power and more extreme.

Every couple of days the Al-Qaeda rulers put "Bayanaat" or rulings on town walls, many limiting women's rights -- to walk alone, to style or show their hair.

Other edicts come by word of mouth -- no smoking, no cameras. Behind them are often foreign militants
. . .
The extremist groups are attracting more militants from around the world to the war that has taken more than 100,000 lives since it started in March 2011.

Indonesia: Hundreds of Muslims attack Protestant community during prayer service

A group of extremists belonging to the Islamic Defenders Front attacked and disrupted the Sunday services of the Tandemn Huria Kristen Batak Protestant ( Hkbp ) community in the city of Binjai , the Indonesian province of North Sumatra . hundreds of faithful of the local Christian community had to abandon their church - official and recognized - and close traditional weekend services early because of the threats made by the fundamentalists. The faithful returned to their homes, escorted by police in riot gear.

Eyewitnesses reported that the assault yesterday morning against the Protestant Christian community was led by hundreds of FPI members, supported by some local Islamist groups . The assailants shouted loudly that the "church" is not legal , the authorities in the area, according to the extremists , have not take any decision on the legitimacy of any " activities of worship " in the building .

The Islamists attack comes in conjunction with the decision by local authorities, who must determine whether the place of Christian worship is or is not valid. The case is still pending and the surprise extremist attack could be aimed at putting pressure on judge.

Nasir Ahmad , FPI coordinator, said that the interruption of the Hkbp function had the "support " of the political authorities, as previously insured during a special meeting on 27 November 2013. During the meeting they discussed the issue with the leaders of Binjai . The Islamists claim that the "church" is not legal , because the case " is still pending in court " and has not received the approval of the local population . Zainnudin Purba, an MP for Binjai , points the finger at the local administration which has been unable to make a decision on the matter for more than five years.

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world (86 % profess Islam) and, while maintaining the constitutional principle of basic personal freedoms (including religious) , it is increasingly becoming a theater of violence and abuse against minorities . Christians make up 5.7% of the population; Catholics just over 3 %, 1.8 % are Hindu and 3.4% of other religions. The province of Aceh applies Islamic law and many other areas are becoming more radical and extreme the application of the Muslim religion in the lives of citizens.

In this context, the FPI has played a leading role in a broad campaign of 'Islamisation'. In a number of places, its members have used violence to impose Sharia-inspired rules and regulations, such as a ban on alcoholic beverages and the prohibition of certain sexual mores. The group, which is opposed by most Indonesians, has also been accused of blocking church construction, using violence to achieve this goal. Since 2000, it has also been blamed in connection with a series of terror attacks that targeted the US Embassy as well as bars, nightclubs, and private clubs, especially during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting and prayer.

Iraq: Security officials advise cafe owners on how to stop a suicide bomber

As violence in Iraq has worsened with attacks hitting a wider array of targets, security officials have held an unusual seminar for cafe owners- how to stop a suicide bomber.

From employing private security guards to reducing the number of open entrances, officials gave tips on spotting and deterring militants, hoping to curb the country's worst wave of violence since 2008.

Shootings and bombings have struck all manner of targets in Baghdad and elsewhere, but cafes- where football-mad Iraqis often gather to watch the latest European games- have been badly hit.

Nearly 50 cafes have been bombed nationwide since unrest surged in April 25 in Baghdad alone. The most recent- a suicide bombing in the southwestern neighbourhood of Bayaa- killed 15 people on November 21.

"The security situation faced by cafes means they should appoint one or two guards and close all but one entrance to control the flow of people and stop terrorists who wear explosives belts and want to kill people in cold blood," said Major General Saad Jaafar, deputy chief of Baghdad's security command centre.

Jaafar also suggested that cafe proprietors instal security cameras...

Libya: Two Egyptian Christians robbed, beaten and killed by Muslims when they refused to convert to Islam

The Morning Star News reported that Waleed Saad Shaker, 25, and Nash’at Shenouda Ishaq, 27, Coptic Christians from Egypt living in Libya, were surrounded by a group of militant Muslims in northeastern Libya’s Derna District, in what initially seemed like an armed robbery. After taking their belongings and beating them, the group demanded that the two men recite the shahada, the Islamic conversation declaration. When the men refused, the extremists tied them up and shot them.

A shepherd found the men in the desert later that day. They were taken to the hospital, where Shaker was pronounced dead on arrival. Ishaq survived long enough to provide details about the attack to family members. No arrests have been made.

Ishaq was married with two children, while Shaker supported his parents, two sisters, and a disabled brother.

“His family is emotionally devastated,” said Gamel Saleem, a cousin of Shaker. “And he was the only financial support they had.”

That incident marked the third time in a two-week period that Coptic Christians were robbed and killed in the Derna District.

According to World News Group, other instances of forced conversion of non-Muslims have been reported recently in Nigeria, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and the Central African Republic.

Islam expert Raymond Ibrahim wrote that forced conversion has ample historical precedent in Islam, with instances reported from 1522.

“Left undisclosed, Muslims will have no incentive to address it,” Ibrahim wrote in a recent article about the need for such events to be widely shared. “But if it becomes better exposed in the West, and if Muslim governments and peoples become embarrassed by it, perhaps they'll begin respecting minority rights a little more.”

In October The Independent wrote about the rising number of cases of forced Islamic conversions in British prisons, calling the prisons a “breeding ground for extremism.”

Egyptian Christians living in Libya had been largely untroubled by persecution in recent years, despite the fact that religious freedom was technically not allowed under former Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi. Since the 2011 Libyan Revolution and fall of Gaddafi, however, Islamists filled the power vacuum in certain places, and persecution of non-Muslims has rapidly increased.

Syria: 13-year-old Moroccan boy fights alongside al-Qaeda militants in their war against the Syrian government

Syria militants have recently published photos of Osama al-Sha'ara, a thirteen-year-old Moroccan boy who is in Syria with his father and brothers to fight and overthrow Syrian government.

According to the Moroccan sources, Osama al-Sha'ara, accompanying his father, took part in clashes in the northern Moroccan city of Tangier before entering Syria.

Ahmed al-Sha'ara, Osama’s father, who was a drug smuggler, entered Syria by the help of Salafist groups via Netherlands and Turkey.

Hassan al-Haddad, a Moroccan social activist and newspaper reporter, said that numerous Moroccan children have been sent to Syria through various ways, including European countries.
. . .
According to the reports, 600 Moroccan militants have been killed in Syria since the conflict erupted in 2011.

Germany: Convert urges Muslims to join the jihad in Syria and establish an Islamic Caliphate system to rule the world

The convert is one of thousands of foreign jihadists coming to Syria to join the rebels fighting President Bashar Assad's regime. Just recently a German convert to Islam and former player on the German national soccer team was killed after he joined the fighting in Syria.

In the Da'ash video German convert "Abu Osama," a name he picked because he "loves Osama bin Laden," speaks in German, exhorting Muslims worldwide to come to Syria and establish a caliphate to impose Islamic law on the entire globe.

The video can be seen here:
. . .
Abu Osama's words, which mirror the video message of an American convert jihadist who recently called for Islamic global domination, reveal some of the ideological indoctrination being pushed by Al Qaeda in the West.

He begins saying contemplation about the goal of life and the purpose of Creation led him to Islam, adding "I am a German Muslim, and you too can consider the goal of life and submit to Allah like I did."

Abu Osama then attacks secular politicians for making human laws rather than following religious law, saying "we kill the heads of the heretics and their followers to spread world justice and to implement the law of Allah."

His message then gets personal as he says "I am not speaking to the infidels, my words are directed at the Muslims. Are you happy with your life in Germany? Do you go to night clubs and have girlfriends? Get married...and you won't need prostitution. Get married, Allah allowed marrying 4 wives."

Osama then calls for global jihad, saying "my brothers and sisters, come to...fight in jihad, since jihad is an active commandment on every Muslim. ...Donate money (to jihad)."

The German convert closes saying "we love death and we will win here."

While a Geneva peace conference has been called for January 22, prospects are in question as many of the opposition forces refuse to join the talks and Assad refuses to step down as part of a transition in government.

The Syrian war, now into its third year, has left over 120,000 dead, including 11,000 children. It has also created 2.2 million Syrian refugees, half of which are children whose future prospects are dim due to low school attendance and child labor.
"German Muslim Convert in Jihad Propaganda Video" (archived)
Dalit Halevi and Ari Yashar, Israel National News, December 1, 2013,

Pakistan: Shi'ite convert's headless body found at home, head found on display at a bridge in Karachi

The severed head of a retired civilian employee of the Pakistan Navy, who was converted Shia Muslim, whose beheaded body was found in Buffer Zone on Thursday, was found by the police on Friday from the Sohrab Goth flyover.

Saleem Raza Qaimkhani was killed by Deobandi terrorists of ASWJ-TTP inside his house in Sector 16-4 in Buffer Zone. The police also found a Panaflex sheet along with the head on Friday. “This is revenge of the Rawalpindi incident,” said SHO Ejaz Lodhi.

Taimuria SHO Aijaz Lodhi said the victim, 40-year-old Saleem Raza, was a faith healer who had earlier served as an employee of the Pakistan Navy’s civil department.

His headless body was found at his house in KBR Society, Sector 16/A of Buffer Zone.

The police officer said the killers slaughtered Raza at his house and took his head away, which they later put on display at the bridge. When the police reached the crime scene, they were puzzled and horrified to see the mutilated body with the head missing.

“The brutal manner in which the victim was murdered and then his head was cut off so that it could be displayed at a bridge, the crime seems to be motivated by revenge or some other grudge,” the police officer said.

When the head was found, the police aired a message about the discovery on its control system. Soon the Taimuria police confirmed that the head belonged to Raza.

The beheading of a body usually has a symbolic meaning – revenge, punishment or sending out a message to others.

Taliban and their wings in cities have beheaded hundreds of citizens including security officials across the country.

Egypt fleshes out new constitution enforcing Shari'ah law, military powers and privileges

If adopted, the charter will be put to a popular referendum early next year in the first milestone of the military-installed government's transition roadmap.

This is set to be followed by presidential and parliamentary elections in mid-2014.

On Saturday's first day of voting the 50-member panel approved 138 of the 247 articles of the draft charter.

Those articles included one stipulating that Islamic sharia law will be the main source of legislation, as was also the case during the regime of toppled ruler Hosni Mubarak.

The other main article approved was one forbidding the formation of religious parties or parties based on religious grounds. On Sunday, articles 204 and 234 are set to be the focus.

These concern the Egyptian military which led the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July after millions of people called for his resignation after just one year in office.

Article 204 says that "no civilian can be tried by military judges, except for crimes of direct attacks on armed forces, military installations and military personnel".

Secular artists have demonstrated against the provision, saying it could be applied to protesters, journalists and dissidents. Activists and rights groups say that the draft charter also fails to curb the powers and privileges of the military.

Article 234 stipulates that the defence minister be appointed in agreement with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, although panel spokesman Mohammed Salmawy told AFP this clause will apply only for the first two presidential terms.

The draft constitution also ensures that the military's budget remains beyond civilian scrutiny.

Media reaction on Sunday to the new constitution was generally positive.

"Constitution on its way," said a headline in the independent newspaper Al-Masry Al-Yom, while Al-Watan said: "Sweeping vote on future Constitution."

The interim authorities suspended the previous constitution written under Morsi's presidency after his removal on July 3. That charter was drafted by a 100-member panel that was dominated by his Islamist allies.

The current panel includes representatives from civil society, political parties, institutions such as the army and police, and the Coptic church.

It includes just two Islamists, neither of whom is from Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood which won a series of polls after Mubarak's ouster.

The Brotherhood has been the target of a sweeping crackdown since August 14 that has seen more than 1,000 people killed and thousands more arrested.

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