Islam in the News (July 2013)

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

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


Afghanistan: Girl publicly executed over adultery charges after Imam issued a fatwa for death penalty

According to local authorities in western Badghis province of Afghanistan, a Mullah Imam has been arrested by Afghan police in connection to deathpenalty of a girl in this province.

Provincial security chief Sharafuddin Sharfa said the Mullah Imam had issued a Fatwa for death penalty of an Afghan girl, who was later executedover adultery charges.

Mr. Sharaf further added that Halmia was publicly executed in Kokchial village after the Mullah issued Fatwa, accusing the girl for having illicit relations with another man.
. . .
Security chief Sharafuddin Sharaf said that the woman was executed and there was no evidence to prove her guilty, and therefore Afghan security forces have arrested the Mullah and he has been handed over to judiciary institutions.

According to Mr. Sharf the Fatwa was issued by Abdul Ghafoor earlier in April this year.

Western-backed rebels appealed to Muslims in North Caucasus to wage jihad in Russia rather than travel to Syria to fight

In a short video address dated July 30, a group of Syrian fighters has appealed to Muslims in the North Caucasus to wage jihad in Russia rather than travel to Syria to participate in the fighting there. Specifically, they refer to the recent appeal by self-styled Caucasus Emirate leader Doku Umarov to prevent the holding of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in February 2014.

The address is delivered by a wheelchair-bound fighter identified as Salakhuddin who appears to have lost both legs. He is surrounded by seven masked fighters armed with heavy machine guns and grenade launchers.

Speaking in accented Russian, Salakhuddin begins by conveying Ramadan greetings to Muslims across Russia, and specifically to Umarov, whom he refers to as “our emir." (He is wearing a black T-shirt bearing the slogan "Caucasus Emirate.")

Salakhuddin says there has been a “huge influx of volunteers” from the North Caucasus to join the armed opposition in Syria. He attributes that wave of volunteers to a widely held belief that "Syria is where you go to join the jihad."

Salakhuddin says it is understandable that Muslims from those areas of Russia where there is no jihad should share that belief, but that Muslims in the North Caucasus have an obligation to remain at home and fight there, even though conditions are far more difficult in terms of weaponry, support, and the possibility of withdrawing from the front to the rear. He cites a sura from the Koran in support of that argument.

Salakhuddin further advises North Caucasus Muslims to "fight in the lowlands if you can’t go to the mountains,"or alternatively to travel to Moscow or other Russian cities to target the enemy there, or prepare to sabotage the Winter Olympics in line with Umarov’s instructions.

He points out that jihad does not necessarily involve joining a large fighting force, and that individuals or groups of up to three fighters can inflict considerable damage if they set their minds to it. In that context, he quotes Chechen field commander Shamil Basayev's observation that "modern technology enables one man to inflict irreparable damage on the infrastructure of the enemy state."

How many fighters from the North Caucasus are fighting in Syria and who recruits them remains unclear. The Russian daily "Kommersant" claimed last week that there are 100 Chechen fighters in Syria.

Guinea: Five churches, houses of pastors, shops and properties burned or looted by Muslims in "sectarian conflict"

Judicial authorities in Guinea are investigating an outburst of deadly violence two weeks ago that left 95 people dead and 130 wounded. The murder of a suspected thief on July 14 in Koulé, a city 40 kilometres from Nzérékoré, the regional capital of Forested Guinea, has led to acts of retaliation and a wave of violence between members of Guerzé and Konianké ethnic groups.

Very quickly, the incidents became a sectarian conflict between Christians and Muslims, with the destruction of a number of Christians’ properties, including several churches.

In Nzérékoré, about five churches, four houses of pastors, and an undetermined number of shops and properties were burned or looted, witnesses told World Watch Monitor. A mosque was also reported burned and one Muslim cleric killed. In Beyla city, 150 kilometres northeast of Nzérékoré, attacks targeting Christians were particularly violent, according to a Catholic priest contacted by World Watch Monitor.

“The two Catholic and Protestant churches have all been ransacked and burned,” said the priest, identified as Fr. Joseph. “Almost all the houses and shops belonging to Christians or people affiliated with Christians, have not escaped the fury of attackers.

The offices and other buildings within the Catholic compound, including the Presbyter and the nuns’ quarters, were looted or burned.

Elsewhere in Beyla, the Center for Youth Development, an internet café, a conference room, a library and a primary school were ransacked.

The priest said a physician and Beyla’s regional deputy of health services, Dr. Tolon Loua, was killed during the violence.

He was inside of his house when the assailants arrived and set it on fire,” he said. “Badly burned, he was transported to the hospital where he was later declared dead.

An undetermined number of people remain missing. Several Christian families found refuge in military camps and surrounding villages. Churches and local NGOs are trying to place them with other families.

Similar acts of violence were reported in the neighbouring city of Moribadou, home to workers for the mining giant Rio Tinto, and in the city of Sinko. In total, some 10 churches were destroyed in that violence, which lasted nearly three days.

The violence has a strong religious dimension, said David Foromo Guilavogui, Secretary General of the Fellowship of Evangelical Students in Guinea. Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise in southeastern Guinea, he told World Watch Monitor.

The inhabitants of Forested Guinea are mainly Christians or animists. Of the country’s 10 million people, 85 per cent are Muslim. Christians represent 4 per cent and animists 11 per cent.

A number of Islamic fundamentalist groups are established in the southeast region, particularly in Beyla, a city perceived as a centre of Islam in Guinea. Beyla was one of the main cites of Wassoulou Empire, an Islamic state founded in the 17th century by Samori Touré, a military and political leader known for his opposition to the French colonial occupation. Today the city is 99 per cent Muslim, and Christians are a tiny minority of workers.

“These incidents have served as a pretext for Islamist groups to assert their opposition to the Christian presence,” Guilavogui said...

Nigeria: Pastor frees Muslim prisoners for Ramadan, but bombings continue

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

Update (July 31): Christian leaders in Kano are claiming three churches were targeted by the bombs during evening worship services, reports Morning Star News. They estimate the death toll at 45 people, largely from one Pentecostal church and nearby Christian businesses.
. . .
News of Nigeria's latest Boko Haram bombing mars an intriguing gesture of peace by a Nigerian pastor who enabled Muslim prisoners to spend Ramadan in their homes.

Yohanna Buro of Kano's Christ Evangelical and Intercessory Fellowship Ministries worked with volunteers to secure the release of 30 Muslim men and women, jailed for failure to pay fines, according to Deutsche Welle. Buro, who wants to further cooperation in the religiously divided nation, paid the fines and travel expenses for the prisoners to return home for the Islamic holy month.

"I have sought the release of my Muslim brothers, so they can fast and pray to God that peace will prevail in our country," he told Deutsche Welle.

Buro was recognized with an award organized by the Muslim Media Organization for his work.

However, Buro's positive actions toward peace were offset by bombings in a popular Christian neighborhood of Kano. The violence, widely attributed to Boko Haram extremists, killed 24 according to a hospital official speaking with USA Today. The neighborhood, Sabon Gari, houses many bars and recreational venues...

Saudi Arabia: Woman tries to end life by jumping from a bridge after being forced to marry old man

For more on forced marriage, click here.

Police said they managed to catch the woman just moments before jumping down from King Fahd Bridge in the eastern port of Dammam. “The woman told police she wanted to commit a suicide because she does not want to live any more after her father forced her to marry a much older man,” Al Saudeh Arabic language daily said without specifying the husband’s age.

Malaysia: Dog trainer arrested over video of her celebrating Eid al-Fitr with her pet dogs

Her lawyer Latheefa Koya said that Maznah Mohd Yusof, 38, was being investigated under section 298A of the Penal Code which deals with causing disharmony on grounds of religion.

Latheefa, however, said she did not know what offence Maznah, who is a dog trainer, actually committed.

She was also unsure how long Maznah would remain in custody.

“I hope to see her before they take any statements from her,” she said.

Calls to Maznah by the Star Online went unanswered.

Maznah, who is also known as Chetz, is in the middle of an social media storm after a video of her spending her Hari Raya with her dogs three years ago was uploaded on YouTube on Monday.

The 104-second clip, entitled 'Video Menghina Islam 1 Hari di Hari Raya' shows Chetz near a mosque with three dogs with the Takbir Raya (a special prayer recited during the first day of Hari Raya) playing in the background.

She is also seen washing their paws and feeding them kuih raya (raya cookies).

The video has been viewed more than 52,000 times so far until 6pm today.

It also received many comments from YouTube users who blasted her for the video...
The woman who made a controversial video celebrating Hari Raya with her pet dogs has alleged that an imam attempted to attack her in front of her house Wednesday but was restrained by the police.

"The police were in my house over the report I made when the imam arrived, and stood outside my gate shouting at me," claimed Maznah Mohd Yusof, 38, who goes by Chetz Togom, who was being questioned by Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) officials when contacted.

She said the imam had to be stopped by the police from assaulting her.

"I'm surprised that an imam can act like this," she said.

"The police have advised me to hold a press conference to explain the video. I had no intention of insulting Islam," she said.

She told The Star Online that she had made a police report on Tuesday over social media users uploading the video on YouTube and making allegations against her.

She also claimed to have received death threats via SMS...

Canada: Canadian Islamic Society of North America investigated for terror ties

A Muslim outreach group with ties to the White House is distancing itself from a Canadian organization that shares its name following revelations that the Canadian group may have funded Pakistani jihadists.

The Canadian Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) sent $280,000 to a Pakistani organization that the Canadian government says has terror ties, according to an official investigation first reported by the Star.

The Canada Revenue Agency audited ISNA-Canada’s Development Foundation (IDF) and found the charity “facilitated the transfer of resources that may have been used to support the efforts of” Pakistani separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen, as well as the extremist group’s “armed wing.”

ISNA-America, which federal prosecutors have identified as a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood “member organization,” came under scrutiny in 2009.

The latest news led ISNA-America to preemptively distance itself from the controversy.

“We at the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) are saddened and disturbed by news of alleged misappropriation of funds by our namesake organizations in Canada,” the group said in a July 26 statement that sought to “clarify” any “confusion.”

ISNA-Canada and its development foundation are separate from ISNA-America and its foundation, the group maintained.

“It is important to note that the leadership and management of both of these organizations in Canada are separate from ISNA and its IDF (a department of ISNA), registered in the United States,” the group said. “There has been no links of authority or responsibility between the United States and Canadian organizations for a few decades despite the similarity of names.”...

Syria: Shari'ah committee in a rebel-held area of Aleppo issued a fatwa deeming croissants ‘haram’

A sharia committee in a rebel-held area of Aleppo issued a fatwa deeming croissants ‘haram’ (forbidden in Islamic law) because of their “colonial” significance, pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat reported on Tuesday.

Croissants’ crescent shape celebrates European victory over Muslims, according to the fatwa (religious ruling).

Rebel-controlled areas of the Syrian city have experienced several strict fatwas recently from Islamic sharia committees. Such edicts are uncommon in Aleppo’s society, which usually adheres to moderate Islamic teachings, Asharq al-Awsat reported. A sharia committee in the city issued a fatwa on Facebook prohibiting “Muslim women wearing makeup and tight clothes that reveal physical features from going out.”

A fatwa issued by the Council of the United Judiciary, affiliated with the rebel Free Syrian Army, stipulated a year in jail for anyone not fasting during the holy month of Ramadan...

Nigeria: 28 people killed in a series of explosions targeting bars in predominantly Christian areas

Witnesses said the blasts shook a Christian neighbourhood that has previously been attacked by militants from the Islamist group Boko Haram.

The army said 12 people had been killed when explosions placed in packages were dropped in the area on Monday evening.

In March, explosions at a bus station in the city killed more than 20 people.
. . .
'Shook the whole area'

"We have had some explosions in Sabon Gari this evening," Kano state Police Commissioner Musa Daura said.

"The explosions happened at open-air beer parlours, where people were playing snooker."

Eyewitnesses say multiple blasts struck the predominantly Christian district at around 21:30 local time (20:30 GMT), in an area where people had gathered to enjoy the area's nightlife.

"After the first bomb, I threw myself into the canal (drain) to hide. There were at least three blasts, resident Kolade Ade told Associated Press news agency.

Fruit vendor Chinyere Madu told the AFP news agency she heard four explosions, which "shook the whole area".

She said she "saw one person carrying someone on his shoulders with bleeding legs".

The BBC's Yusuf Ibrahim Yakasai in Kano says that the military have cordoned off the blast site, preventing people from entering the area.

A hospital worker told our reporter he had counted 28 dead bodies; a further 15 were wounded.
. . .
The same neighbourhood has been targeted in the past by the militant Islamist Boko Haram group, which is fighting to create an Islamic state in the mainly Muslim north of Nigeria.
. . .
Since the Islamic insurgency started in 2009, more than 2,000 people have died.
. . .
In May, Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency and deployed the army to the three states to the east of Kano were the group has been most active - Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.

Syria: Prominent Italian Jesuit priest and peace activist kidnapped by western-backed rebels in city of Raqqa

Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant kidnapped father Paolo Dall'Oglio while he was walking in the city, which had fallen under the control of militant Islamist brigades, the sources in Raqqa province told Reuters. Syrian authorities expelled Dall'Oglio from the country last year after he helped victims of Assad's military crackdown from a monastery in the Anti-Lebanon mountains north of Damascus.
Al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria have killed an Italian Jesuit priest who disappeared in the east of the country late last month, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday.
. . .
The British-based monitoring group cited local activists in the city of Raqqa with close links to Dall’Oglio as saying he was killed while being held by fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
. . .
The Observatory urged all Syrian opposition forces to pressure the ISIL fighters to reveal exactly what happened to Dall’Oglio “so his killers can be held to account, and to hand over his body for burial.”...

UK: Council of Mosques chairman has criticized former county leader over animal stunning motion

Council of Mosques chairman Salim Mulla has criticised former county leader Geoff Driver for imposing his animal welfare views on the Muslim community.

He spoke out after the Tory urged the giant authority to pre-stun all animals killed for meat in school meals.

Coun Driver put a motion to this month’s county council meeting calling for this to become official policy despite the view of some Muslims that such meat was not ‘halal’ as defined under Islamic law.

He said: “This is about one issue and one issue alone, animal cruelty.”

He added that ‘80 per cent’ of halal meat was prepared in this way.

Jenny Mein, Labour leader of the county, which is responsible for school meals in Burnley, Pendle, Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Rossendale and Chorley, referred the issue to Lancashire’s scrutiny committee.

Coun Mulla, Mayor of Blackburn, said pre-stunned meat was not considered Halal by some Muslims.
. . .
Coun Driver, who put forward the motion, said: “This is not a matter about halal, it is a matter about animal cruelty.

“The process of slaughtering an animal without stunning it involves severing at least three of the four main arteries, and it dies in considerable distress...

Saudi Arabia: Court sentenced activist to seven years in jail and 600 lashes for setting up 'liberal' network and insults to Islam

"Raef Badawi has been sentenced to seven years in jail and 600 lashes," lawyer Waleed Abualkhair wrote on his Twitter account, adding that the judge ordered the closure of the website of the Saudi Liberal Network.

He said Badawi, a co-founder of the Saudi Liberal Network, was charged with criticizing the religious police, as well as calling for "religious liberalization".

A judge had referred Badawi in December to a higher court for alleged apostasy, a charge that could lead to the death penalty in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

The judge said at the time that his lower court was not qualified to deal with the case.

But the charge of apostasy was dropped on Monday, activists said.

Badawi, 35, was arrested in June last year in the Red Sea city of Jeddah for unknown reasons.

The network that he co-founded with female rights activist Suad al-Shammari, had announced May 7, 2012 a "day of liberalism" in the Muslim kingdom, calling for an end to the influence of religion on public life in Saudi Arabia.

Sharia Islamic law strictly applied in Saudi Arabia stipulates death as a punishment for apostasy, but defendants are usually given the chance to repent and escape being beheaded.

Saudi blogger Hamza Kashgari was deported in February last year from Malaysia to the kingdom and is being held in jail to face blasphemy charges over Twitter comments deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed...

India: Months after issuing fatwa against all-girl bands, Grand Mufti is caught on video listening to music at public function

The Grand Mufti of Kashmir, Bashir-ud-din Ahmad, is in the line of fire of singers’ community who want the controversial cleric to apologize for allegedly forcing young girls to disband their rock-band, Praagaash, five months ago.

Mufti Bashir was caught on tape enjoying music at a public function despite issuing fatwa calling music un-Islamic practice. The video, which has gone viral, has put the Mufti in an embarrassing situation.

“Mufti sahib is seen enjoying the music — the same activity for which he imposed ban on these girls. It is hypocrisy. We should not have restricted the girls at that time... It’s high time he apologized to those girls,” Waheed Jeelani, chairman of Kashmir Music Club, an apex body of singers and musicians, told dna.

Praagaash was disbanded in February after the Grand Mufti, who heads the self-styled supreme court of Shariat, issued a fatwa saying music is un-Islamic and asked the girls to stop their activities. “Mufti sahib is a human being and he too can enjoy music... But the decision to issue fatwa against young girls was wrong. The issue got so much hype that the girls have refused to rejoin the field. He has demolished their career,” Waheed said.

Qaiser Nizami, another noted singer who sang gazals and Sufi kalams during the function attended by the Grand Mufti, said he asked the Mufti Bashir about the fatwa and he replied that “he had opposed the way the girls were performing because it was not acceptable to the society”...

India: Hindu women dead and many injured by Muslim mobs for playing music in temple during Ramadan

On Friday July 26, 2013, Many Hindus were injured and 2 people were killed, including a Hindu women who died when Muslim mobs rioted on late Friday. Friday is the day that Muslims hold congregational prayer called Jumu’ah, usually preceded by sermons.

The violent clashes occurred in the Nagla Mal area of Meerut, a city within the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP, and is a few hours away from the capital New Delhi. It has been reported that the violence began when groups of local Muslims were upset that a Hindu temple was playing Hindu devotional songs (bhajans) and forced the loudspeaker to be shutoff while beating a few Hindu men in the temple. Police tried to control the violent mob and is looking for the rioters involved. The governing party of Uttar Pradesh during these riots is the Samajwadi party.

Religious violence and riots are not new to Uttar Pradesh and India during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan as it is a sensitive month for many in the Muslim community . In the past few years there have been similar cases where Muslim mobs have vandalized Hindu temples and injured Hindus due to hearing Hindu religious songs on route to a Mosque or if a religious procession is passing a Hindu temple that is playing music.
. . .
There are a few other details about this violent riot that took place at a Hindu temple on ‘The Indian Express’ here.

US: Police caution local religious organizations after a Muslim threatened Mormons and Catholics "would be destroyed" in the next two weeks

The man hadn't been seen in the Fort Collins area as of Sunday, and there is no immediate danger to the public, Fort Collins Police Services Sgt. Mike West told the Coloradoan.

No further details, including the man's identity, were immediately available. Threats were made in general regard to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Catholic Church; no local organizations were specifically referenced in the FCPS memo.

Rev. Steven Voss said the Archdiocese of Denver shared with him on Friday the Fort Collins Police Services memo and reading its words of caution made his "blood run cold." But between Sunday Masses at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 300 W. Mountain Ave., Voss said he's "pretty confident" he and his parishioners won't have an interaction with the man he was told was "nonviolent."

To give worshipers a sense of peace, he asked an FCPS officer to keep watch during weekend services.
. . .
Due to the nature of the threats, religious organizations are strongly encouraged to report suspicious activity to police at (970) 221-6540. Those with questions may contact Sgt. Paul Wood at (970) 224-6132 or [email protected]

Pakistan: Man kills daughter and her boyfriend after finding them together in a room in his house

For more on honor violence, click here.

A city police official said the father came to the police station following the incident and confessed to his crime. Abdur Rauf Khattak told the city police he woke up to go to the bathroom during the night when he saw a light switched on in one of the rooms. When he entered the room, he saw his 15-year-old daughter Sabina Bibi sitting with an unidentified boy. Seeing this, Khattak got furious and killed them both. Khattak said he suffocated the boy to death using a pillow and strangled his daughter using a rope. The boy was later identified as Asad Abbas, 20...

UK: PM's top Muslim peer, 72, dumps waitress, 27, day before secret wedding, all while still legally married

To his many supporters in the Conservative Party, Lord Sheikh, a close adviser to David Cameron, is the epitome of respectability and a staunch advocate of family values.

But we can reveal the 72-year-old peer became besotted with an attractive waitress 45 years his junior and travelled to her native Uzbekistan to ask for her hand, only to dump her the day before their secret wedding – all while he was still legally married.

When his wife of 25 years, Shaida, discovered the relationship, she burst into the crowded cafe where the 27-year-old woman works and launched a furious tirade against her.

Lady Sheikh is now divorcing her husband.

As the high-profile founder and chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum (CMF), Lord Sheikh’s behaviour is likely to cause deep embarrassment for Tories as they try to forge alliances with traditional Muslim voters.

The peer – who has a daughter 15 years older than the waitress – acts as Mr Cameron’s ambassador to the wider Muslim world, as well as drumming up support for the Tories in Britain.

Recently he said in an interview: ‘I joined the Conservative Party as its policies and ideologies match our own traditions and culture that are based on strong work ethics and family values.’

The young woman – who had been installed in Lord Sheikh’s luxury flat where Lord Archer is a neighbour – was turfed out later by his relatives in an angry confrontation during which she called police.

According to sources, the relationship between Lord Sheikh and the waitress began in September 2011.

A source for both Lord Sheikh and the woman stated that the relationship was always platonic.

The young woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been in the UK for a year and was enrolled at a London college. She was also waitressing at a cafe nearby.

Lord Sheikh frequently visited to buy coffee and marzipan.

A friend of the waitress said that the Tory peer was immediately attracted to the pretty, slim brunette and even gave her his House of Lords business card.

He then began dating her, taking her to some of the most expensive restaurants in London, which included those inside exclusive London hotels such as The Dorchester.

She moved into the peer’s swish apartment on Albert Embankment from February last year, leaving behind a meagre shared flat in Elephant and Castle, South London, said the source.

In February 2012, a furious Lady Sheikh – who spends most of her time at the couple’s home in Hatfield, Hertfordshire – discovered the relationship and confronted the woman at the cafe where she worked, in front of customers, say witnesses.

Lady Sheikh screamed at her, making various accusations involving the woman and Lord Sheikh.
. . .
The woman still works at the same cafe, although it has moved to a nearby street. When approached by a Mail on Sunday reporter at the cafe, she admitted knowing Lord Sheikh, then she refused to comment, saying it was a personal matter.

Told that a story would be published about their relationship, she replied: ‘I don’t care.’

A friend in London who knows her well and in whom she has confided, told The Mail on Sunday that although she was given a weekly allowance of £1,000, she eventually became tired of living at Lord Sheikh’s flat in secrecy and in August 2012 she left for Samarkand, the city in Uzbekistan where her family live.

Lord Sheikh followed her there, checking into a local hotel, said the friend. Then he visited her family, who run a ceramics business in the city.

He also asked the woman’s father for her hand in marriage, offering one kilogram of gold – worth around £30,000 – as her dowry.

The Mail on Sunday spoke to the woman’s parents in Uzbekistan, who confirmed that Lord Sheikh had visited them last year.

Her father, 63, said: ‘Yes, he was here’ before adding that the peer was older than he was. Asked if they wanted a younger man for their daughter, the father said: ‘Yes, yes.’

When asked about the marriage proposal, the woman’s mother, 57, said: ‘I must talk to my daughter at first, and only then can I talk to you. I do not want to intervene in it.

‘She did not marry him. She has got character, my daughter has got a tough character.’

Within days of Lord Sheikh’s return to the UK, Lady Sheikh applied for a divorce at Barnet County Court on August 28, 2012.

The couple then signed an Islamic divorce known as talaq at his Parliamentary office in Westminster. The document, shown to The Mail on Sunday, was witnessed by the peer’s then ‘chief of staff’, Omar Faruk.

At the same time, Lord Sheikh sought to arrange an Islamic wedding ceremony – called a nikkah – before his civil decree absolute, finalising the divorce, was granted.

A date for the nikkah was set for December 2 at Lord Sheikh’s London flat, according to our enquiries. Our enquiries also revealed that the peer asked Mr Faruk to book an imam or Muslim cleric who would carry out the nuptials.

Sheikh Abu Saeed, of the Islamic Sharia Council in Leyton, East London, confirmed that he was approached by Mr Faruk, but he refused the request because the peer was still married...

Indonesia: Shi'ites fearful of another round of forced conversions by Sunnis, call on President to ensure their religious freedom

Sampang’s persecuted Shiite Muslim minority, fearful of another round of forced conversions by Sunni Muslims, called on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to ensure their religious freedom after a forum meant to negotiate the exiled group’s homecoming placed the matter in the hands of Sunni clerics accused of inciting sectarian tensions in Madura Island.

“We reject all statements from state officials and local figures that ignore our religious freedoms and right to practice our own beliefs as Shiites,” said attorney Herstaning Ikhlas in a statement sent to the Jakarta Globe. “The reconciliation forum must give more space to grassroots dialogue and not accommodate local figures known for their hate speech.”

Sectarian violence has plagued the Sunni-majority island in recent years, culminating in an anti-Shia rampage through two villages late last year that left two dead and forced 233 Shiites into exile, first in a squalid sports center and then in subsidized apartments in Sidoarjo, East Java.

The central government has promised a solution to the island’s woes and held a meeting last week between provincial leaders and representatives from both the Shiite and Sunni communities in East Java. The Ministry of Public Housing, which will lead the reconstruction efforts, trumpeted a plan that would return the Shiites to their destroyed villages and promote infrastructure investment island-wide at the meeting’s close.

But the plan’s reliance on acceptance by local Sunni leaders has some Shiite representatives concerned.

The Minister of Public Housing, Djan Faridz, said the rebuilding and infrastructure development projects will go hand-in-hand with a push at the local level for Shiites to embrace the “right way,” or Sunni Islam, Herstaning said.

Soekarwo, the governor of East Java, supported the plan and claimed Sampang’s problems stemmed from sayings made by Shiite leader Tajul Muluk — a man later convicted of blasphemy in a trial heavily criticized by human rights groups.

Meanwhile, Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs Suryadharma Ali, who has insisted the Sampang violence was a family conflict, not a religious one, allegedly agreed with Sunni clerics’ calls for another round of conversions, Herstaning said.
. . .
Iklil Al Milal, a Shiite cleric and representative of Sampang’s community in exile, said numerous meetings with Sunni ulema from the Board of Madura Clerics (Bassra) hinged on the same assertion: that the Shiites must renounce their beliefs and convert to Sunni Islam.
. . .
More than 30 Shiites have been forced to convert to Sunni Islam on the threat of violence in Sampang...

Saudi Arabia: Police on the hunt for a 'witch' housemaid, employer claims she cast magic spell on his family

For more on witchcraft in Islam, click here.

Saudi police are searching for an Indonesian housemaid accused by her employer of casting a magic spell on all his family, causing fainting and epileptic fits to them.

The Saudi man said the maid joined his family in the capital Riyadh nearly three years ago and that she has been treated nicely by all family members.

“Recently, all family members has started to suffer from fainting and epileptic fits. After the housemaid fled, we found magic items planted in various part of our house,” the unnamed man said, quoted by Sabq Arabic language daily...

Pakistan: Grandfather killed daughter and grandchildren to protect honor of the family, after daughter married man of her own choice

For more on honor violence, click here.

The father was so vindictive he waited five years to take revenge for his ‘honour’. He was quite satisfied after taking his revenge on the grand children, who had nothing to do with their mother’s decision to marry of her own choice. He didn’t stop there either. He also killed two young men, brothers of the groom, as he held them responsible too for dishonouring his prestige.

Ms. Shahnaz Tahir, resident of Tara Singh village in Depalpur, Okara district, Punjab Province, was brutally murdered by her father and his henchmen on the night of 22nd July. Shahnaz had tied the knot with Mr. Tahir Sarwar five years ago. She eloped with Tahir, an action which brought social stigma to her family. His father vowed to kill his daughter, following a practice understood to be traditional.

Tahir, after marriage, left his home town along with his wife and lived in another city due to fear of honor killing. After five years of marriage, they decided to visit their parents, thinking that now their parents would accept them and their innocence. But when daughter and his son-in-law arrived at the house, Shahnaz’s father opened fire with weapons, and as a result Shahnaz, her husband Tahir Sarwar, and their two children, Adnan and Ramsha, and their two brothers-in-law, Mr. Zahid and Mr. Nawaz, were all killed. After the massacre Shahnaz’s father was satisfied and opted to run away with his henchmen. A case has been filed with the police and, as per usual, the investigation continues.

In the recent months, Pakistan has witnessed brutal murders of several married women in the name of honour and the state has remained a silent spectator to brutal medieval practices. This is despite Pakistan having passed a categorical law, which has made the honour killing equivalent to crime of murder. Earlier such killings were treated as a defensive crime in protection of the prestige of the family.

It is said that the tradition of honour-killing was a typical way out for landlords who did not want to divide their property, in having to give some to the in-laws of the daughter. However, with the passage of time, honour killing has also extended to marriages by choice. Rather than accepting the marriage of their daughters own choosing, the paternal family take it as a dishonor to the pride of the family and prefer to take law in their own hands. Such families know that the rule of law does not exist in Pakistan; therefore, it is better for them to kill the women, with no botheration of the law, which in a real sense has become impotent, toothless.

These types of cases are abundant and occur in every corner of Pakistan every year. The fire of revenge ends with the loss of innocent lives. The reason: marriage of own choice. Hundreds of women have been killed by their brothers, fathers, cousins and other blood relatives for exercising their rights.

A similar case became public knowledge last year when a girl chose a taxi driver as her life partner. Brutal killings were the result when Ms. Nargis from Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkha province, fell in love with a taxi driver, Mr. Ehtesham. She was tortured to death and her two children were killed by the family in honor killing. When they first found out regarding the relationship, her parents beat her cruelly and kept her locked up inside their house. One day she succeeded in eloping and married Mr. Ethesham. They signed a marriage contract and began leading a happy life. Nargis, after a long time, went to her home town to see her mother. However, she was welcomed by her family with severe anger and violence. Her family members ruthlessly beat her two minor children. Their thirst of revenge not fulfilled, they threw the infants from the roof-top of their home, and Nargis was forced to see her children’s murder. After this, she was brutally beaten to death.

But their inhuman revenge didn’t end there. A case of murder was lodged by the family of Nargis against her husband. The police arrested Mr. Ethesham and his brother and kept them inside the jail for four months, torturing them. Despite all the records disproving any involvement of Ehtesham in any murder the police forced Ehtesham’s brother to sign a statement against his brother, accepting that his brother was a suspect in this case. Later the Judge released Ethesham and his brother and ordered a new inquiry.

Every month many heart-wrenching cases make news, some are registered with the police and others not. The murder of two teenage sisters, Noor Basra and Noor Sheza, by five gunmen in Chilas, Gilgit, is one such case registered. They were killed because they danced during the rain outside their home along with other children and a video was recorded. Their dancing video was leaked in the town. Their half-brother killed the girls for restoration of family honour. A case has been registered by the brother of the girls against their step brother Khutore and four other alleged gunmen.

Similarly, in Dera Gazi Khan, a woman was stoned to death for having a mobile. This order was given by a feudal lord of the area. She was murdered in the name of honor, as having a mobile was understood here to mean dishonor for the family. Such barbaric ideas and actions still flourish in our society and our state and law enforcement departments have no problem with this.

It is an alarming situation for women of Pakistan, where killing of the women along with their children in the name of honor is treated not as an offence, but something in accord with Islamic traditions. Society is being forced to denounce marriage on the basis of choice of the couple. ‘Talibanisation’ is not only restricted to terrorist activities or bomb blasts. Its ideology against the freedom of women has seeped into society with considerable speed, and practices that have nothing to do with Islam have come to be understood as principals of Islam. Therefore, the woman’s right to choose her own life partner is being dealt with medieval violence. Women are being killed in the settlement of family debts, or are being married to aged people, or to save the property are being married to the Quran, or are being sold for money. They are being killed if they raised their voice for their rights, killed if they seek divorce from husbands, or seek to escape domestic violence. And, religion is being used against them.

Honor killings are caused by many factors of society, including feudal culture, customs, absence of a criminal justice system and fair trial, a weak judiciary, and gender bias and corruption in law enforcement agencies.

Landed aristocracy have a great influence in some areas of Pakistan where they hold jirgas (illegal judicial system for the settlement of the disputes). In jirgas, generally, decisions are taken against the women, and minor girls are exchanged to settle feuds.

In the presence of a law which makes it a criminal offence how are honour killings being allows to continue with such violence and brutality. As of yet, no one has been punished according to the law. In the absence of a proper criminal justice system and a witness protection law, the killers get good patronage of the police. By seeking legal protection from Sections 323 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC); the perpetrators (family member/relatives) not only enjoy legal impunity but social redemption as well. With the compensation through the Diyat (Section 323 of PPC), the perpetrators get impunity by law, which allows the payment of compensation to the victim for the settlement of disputes outside the court. And it is during this phase that the victims, the women, are intimidated, threatened, or abducted so they accept the meager amount as compensation, and courts remain silent spectators.

In many cases, gender biased judges force the affected women to settle the crime outside the courts. The said section of Diyat also holds a minimum compensation of Rupees 30,000, which has no value. But by the amount of compensation being kept at a minimum level, perpetrators take advantage. There is a strong demand from the civil society of Pakistan to abolish Diyat, but the state and higher judiciary take shelter behind Islamic teachings and so-called sacred norms.

If the higher judiciary, and particularly the Supreme Court, does not take notice of honour killings that punish women for choosing their life partners, society will face the worst violence in the name of religion. Courts have to ensure protection of girls under threat. Government must stop all kinds of jirgas.

India: Karnataka State Board of Wakfs request to issue orders preventing entry of women into mosque

The board, in its letter dated July 25, addressed to Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police of Hassan, has said that there is a single entrance for both men and women in the mosque and that is causing inconvenience. “Performing prayers on the mosque premises by both men and women is causing inconvenience and tension. There are no separate entrances for men and women and that is leading to the law and order problem”, the letter said. The letter has been signed by the in-charge Additional Chief Executive Officer of the board. Deputy Commissioner V. Anbukkumar told the The Hindu that his office had received the letter.

Bulgaria: Hizbullah wired almost $100,000 to two men wanted over Burgas attack that killed five Israeli tourists

Hizbullah’s armed wing wired almost $100,000 (75,000 euros) to two men wanted over a bomb attack that killed five Israeli tourists in Bulgaria last year, a local newspaper reported Friday, according to the AFP news agency.

According to the 24 Hours daily, the money was to help organize the blast at Burgas airport on the Black Sea on July 18, 2012, and to carry out reconnaissance in other countries.

The attack on the tourist bus also killed the vehicle's Bulgarian driver -- a Muslim -- and left 35 people injured. It was the deadliest attack on Israelis abroad since 2004.

Israel immediately blamed Hizbullah for the terror attack but it took until February for Sofia to make the "justified conclusion" that it agreed.

This contributed to the European Union's decision on Monday to blacklist the Lebanese Shiite group's so-called “military wing”, while leaving its political arm off the list.

The actual bomber died in the attack and has still not been identified.

Bulgaria this week named his two suspected accomplices as Australian passport-holder Maliad Farah, 32, and Canadian citizen Hassan El Hajj Hassan, 25, both Lebanese-born.

According to 24 Hours, which cited foreign intelligence services and international banks for its report, the money was wired to their Canadian and Australian bank accounts...

US: Fort Hood shooter released a statement to Fox News claiming that the U.S. military is at war with his religion

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

However, he does not directly address the shooting at the Texas Army Base in November 2009 that killed 13 and injured more than 30 others.

“My complicity was on behalf of a government that openly acknowledges that it would hate for the law of Almighty Allah to be the supreme law of the land," the 42-year-old Army psychiatrist said. Hasan then apparently asked if this was a war on Islam. "You bet it is," he said. "I participated in it.”

The statement, which begins “In the name of Almighty Allah, the most gracious and the most merciful, my name is Nidal Hasan, Major Nidal Hasan, and I would like to convey a message to the world,” runs more than six pages.

Hasan also says he regrets his years in the Army, claiming that his service was inconsistent with his religious beliefs. “I would like to begin by repenting to Almighty Allah and apologize to the (Mujahideen), the believers, and the innocent. I ask for their forgiveness and their prayers. I ask for their forgiveness for participating in the illegal and immoral aggression against Muslims, their religion and their lands,” he said.

Hasan also criticized U.S. policy in the Middle East toward the Palestinians.

While Hasan’s motivation for releasing the statement is unknown, Fox News has repeatedly requested an interview with him, with a specific focus on his alleged actions at the Fort Hood Readiness Center on Nov. 5, 2009.

It is believed to be the first lengthy statement by the Fort Hood suspect, whose court martial begins August 6. The judge in Hasan’s case recently ruled that he cannot argue as part of his defense that the shooting was an effort to protect Taliban leaders in Afghanistan – the so-called “defense of others” strategy.

George Stratton and his son -- who was wounded in the attack -- will both testify at the trial. Stratton told Fox News he is not surprised by the statement...

Pakistan: Suicide bombers on motorcycles blew themselves up outside Shi'ite mosques killing 39 people

Sectarian violence has been on the rise in nuclear-armed Pakistan, where hardline Sunni militant groups have been relentlessly attacking Shi'ites whom they see as heretics.

The first explosion took place metres away from a Shi'ite mosque near a busy market in Parachinar, capital of the tribal Kurram area. It was followed shortly afterwards by a second blast, close to another mosque in the town.

Riaz Mahsud, the top administrator of the Kurram region, said 39 people were killed and 72 wounded, adding that the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers on motorbikes.

"Some of the injured are still in critical condition and have been shifted to the main hospital in Parachinar," he said.

It was unclear which group carried out the attack and no one immediately claimed responsibility. Shi'ite Muslims make up a little over 10 percent of Pakistan's population of 180 million.

Parachinar itself is home to a significant Shi'ite community which has been previously targeted by Sunni militants.

Pakistan has suffered a spate of bombings since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was sworn in last month, underscoring the challenges he faces in taming sectarian violence as well as an escalating Taliban-linked insurgency.

Sabir Hussain, a doctor at the Agency Headquarters Hospital, earlier said 15 dead bodies and 45 people with serious wounds had been brought to his hospital.

Both explosions took place before sunset just as people flocked to the market area to buy food for their evening meals after a day of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.

US: Bosnian Muslim accused of lying about his involvement in war crimes against Serb Christians

A Bosnian immigrant living in Vermont's largest city pleaded not guilty Friday to lying to immigration authorities by denying involvement in war crimes during the conflict in Bosnia two decades ago.

Prosecutors allege Edin Sakoc, 54, was involved in war crimes against a civilian Bosnian Serb family in 1992. An indictment says he raped a Serb woman and aided in the killing of the two elderly people she was caring for and the burning of the house they were staying in.

Sakoc appeared briefly Friday in U.S. District Court in Burlington, where he was ordered to surrender his passport because he was deemed a flight risk.

Judge Christina Reiss asked Sakoc whether he had reviewed the case with his attorney. Through the interpreter, he said yes, but that "we did not talk about everything."

Authorities said Sakoc lied when he applied for refugee status and later for permanent residency and then citizenship in the United States by denying any past crimes of persecution.

Sakoc is a Bosnian Muslim and his alleged victims were Orthodox Christian Bosnian Serbs.

The Bosnian Serb family had moved from a home in the southern Bosnian municipality of Capljina to the home of a Bosnian Croat family nearby, the indictment said. Most Bosnian Serbs in the village had fled to safer areas, but a woman remained to care for two people who were too old to travel far, it said.

On or around July 9, 1992, Sakoc and an unnamed co-conspirator went to the home where the victims were staying, took the woman from the home, raped her and took her to the Dretelj prison camp, the indictment said.

Later that night or early the next day, Sakoc and the co-conspirator returned to the home, the indictment said. With help from Sakoc, the co-conspirator fatally shot the two elderly people, burned the home down and separately burned the victims' bodies.

The two-count indictment did not include charges directly tied to those alleged war crimes, but charged that Sakoc had lied three times to immigration authorities when asked if he had participated in crimes of persecution and moral turpitude: once when he applied for refugee status in the U.S. in 2001, again when he applied for permanent legal residency in 2004, and again when he applied for citizenship in 2007...

Turkey: Bird suspected of spying for Israel freed after X-ray scans reveal it was not embedded with surveillance equipment

Turkish authorities detained a bird on suspicion it was spying for Israel, but freed it after X-rays showed it was not embedded with surveillance equipment, newspapers said on Friday.

The kestrel aroused suspicion because of a metal ring on its foot carrying the words "24311 Tel Avivunia Israel", prompting residents in the village of Altinayva to hand it over to the local governor.

The bird was put in an X-ray machine at a university hospital to check for microchips or bugging devices, according to the Milliyet newspaper, which carried a front-page image of the radiogram with the title "Israeli agent"...

Nigeria: Christian girls increasingly at risk of abduction by Muslims who then force them to renounce their faith

Professor Daniel Babayi, of the Northern Christian Association of Nigeria, told Barnabas Fund that Christian girls below the age of 18 were being targeted.

The girls are held in the homes of Muslim leaders but when Christians report this to the police, they say there is nothing they can do.

"The police have become very helpless. In some instances, they are part of the conspiracy," said Professor Babayi.

Last year, militant Islamic group Boko Haram threatened to kidnap Christian women as part of "new efforts to strike fear into the Christians of the power of Islam", Barnabas reports.

Boko Haram has stated its intention to eradicate Christians from northern Nigeria and implement a strict interpretation of Sharia law across the region.

The group has repeatedly attacked Christian communities and churches, most recently killing 40 at a boarding school in Yobe state on 6 July. A dormitory was set alight in the attack and those fleeing gunned down...

Iran: Prison guards in Evin and Karaj raid cells of Christians being held there, damaging facilities and stealing personal belongings

ICC Note:

150 prison guards pulled prisoners from their cells and forcefully inspected them, confiscated what few belongs they had, and caused damage to the cells. Ward 350 of Tehran’s Evin prisoner is the site of detention for many Christians who are held for nothing more than their faith. Saeed Abedini, Farshid Fathi, Alireza Seyyedian and Mostafa Bordbar are among those held in this section of the notoriously harsh prison.

According to Mohabat News, early in the morning on July 18, 2013, one hundred and fifty prison guards in Evin prison raided ward 350, pulled prisoners from their cells, physically inspected them and began searching there. During their searching operation, the guards broke and stole prisoners' belongings. Ward 350 holds mainly political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.

According to a message Mohabat News received from inside the prison, other than political prisoners' cells, cells of Christian prisoners were raided as well. Christian prisoners held in that ward include Farshid Fathi, Mostafa Bordbar, Alireza Seyyedian and the American-Iranian pastor, Saeed Abedini. In addition to their personal belongings, prison guards damaged facilities in their cells, including cooling systems, electric wires, etc.

To carry out the attack, prison authorities in Evin prison requested support from Ghezel-Hesar prison. The operation was led by Mr. Ghobadi, Chief of Security of Evin prison. The guards used handheld scanners and also physically inspected prisoners' bodies in a disrespectful fashion.

This sort of humiliating and aggressive attack is unheard of. The guards violated the prisoners' privacy and searched their personal belongings which resulted in the loss of several items belonged to the prisoners.

It is worth mentioning that Christian prisoners in ward 350 of Evin prison are imprisoned merely for their Christian faith and no other offense. Farshid Fathi and Alireza Seyyedian were sentenced to six years in prison and Pastor Saeed Abedini was sentenced to 8 years of imprisonment. All three of these Christian prisoners are serving their sentences. The other Christian prisoner, Mostafa Bordbar, is waiting for a verdict from his trial which was held earlier. He has been held in prison for eight months now...

Denmark: Two Employees of a kebab meat retailer assaulted for selling pork

Employees of a kebab meat retailer were assaulted yesterday after a tabloid revealed that it had sold beef that contained traces of pork to numerous kebab shops.

Several young men entered the premises of Tayyib Food in the western Copenhagen suburb of Taastrup and assaulted the director and another employee. The victims had to be taken to an area A&E to be treated for their wounds.

“They just start hitting us while they shouted and screamed that we had sold them pork and that they had eaten pork because of us,” the company’s director told Ekstra Bladet.

Deputy police commissioner Brian Christensen from North Zealand Police confirmed the incident.

“A little after 2pm we received a call from the business that four or five young men had visited their office, shouted at them and assaulted two people,” Christensen told Ekstra Bladet, adding that the incident was likely directly related to Ekstra Bladet’s reporting.

Ekstra Bladet tested meat at nine kebab shops and found that four of the samples contained traces of pork. In one case more than one percent of the meat was pork.

The news shocked Denmark’s Muslim community, whose religion forbids them from eating pork, although organisation Danish Halal – which regulates food that is permitted for eating under Islamic practices – said it was not surprised by the news...

United Arab Emirates: Qur'an tutor molests 11-year-old girl while claiming he was impressed with her recitation skills

An 11-year-old girl realised that her Quran tutor's intentions were not good when he touched her inappropriately and groped her while claiming that he was impressed with her recitation skills.

The girl’s father learnt about the incident from the parents of his daughter's friend.

“I had hired MOH, 22, Bangladeshi to teach my daughter and her seven-year-old brother Quran recitation about a year-and-a-half ago. On June 5, he took advantage of that fact that my son and wife were busy elsewhere in the house and molested my daughter. I learnt that from the parents of her school friend. He tried to touch her private areas thrice but she prevented him each time. She was not aware of his immoral behaviour until he groped her,” testified the victim’s father NM, 43, Indian manager.
. . .
The girl told her friend in the school that the Quran tutor got upset and left the house as she prevented him from groping her. The Court will issue its verdict on July 31.

Israel: PM’s agreement to free terrorist caused shock and consternation among surviving family members

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s agreement to free terrorist murderers in order to bring Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas back to the negotiating table has caused shock and consternation among surviving family members.

“How is this possible? How?” demanded Mazal Karmani, whose son Ronen was kidnapped and murdered by one of the terrorists who is to be freed.

Recent high school graduates Ronen Karmani and his friend Lior Tubol were on their way to visit their girlfriends in 1990 when they were offered a ride. They never reached their destination.

Their increasingly worried families began to search the area. Soon police joined the search as well. After several days, their bodies were found in a valley in Jerusalem. They had been bound and gagged and then stabbed to death.

“He was the heart of the family in every way,” his father Eliyahu said sadly. “I’m always thinking, ‘when will I die, so that I can see my son?’ That’s how much I miss him.”

“He was my heart,” his mother said. She has been thinking about her son “for twenty-three years, every day, every second,” she said.

Both parents expressed fury and consternation at the decision to free the murderers. The same men who killed Ronen and Lior in cold blood murdered two other men as well, Eliyahu noted, and they were supposed to serve four life terms.

“Nowhere else on earth do you see this, that a person who got four life sentences plus twenty years is released before completing a single life sentence,” he charged. “Why? Based on what?”

“They murdered two helpless childen, who fought, who tried to fight them off,” Mazal added. “They bound them, tied their hands and feet and gagged them, and dragged them to the valley, and stabbed them 15, 20 times. They beat them. We found them… we found their bodies bloated in the sun.”

“How is it possible?” she demanded. “How could a person, a judge, whoever’s freeing them, free such monsters? They’ll come back and do more and more things like this in our country, they’ll kidnap soldiers, they’ll lynch people, they will destroy more and more families.”

In addition to Ronen and Lior’s killer, Abbas has demanded that Netanyahu free Issa Abd Rabo, a terrorist who murdered a young Jewish man and woman from Jerusalem in an execution-style slaying, and terrorists Abu Harabish Salam Saliman Mahmoud and Adam Ibrahim Jumaa, who burned 26-year-old school teacher Rachel Weiss to death along with her sons Netanel, 3, Rafael, 2, and Efraim, nine months. A fifth victim, David Delarosa, died from injuries sustained in an attempt to rescue the burning children.

Abbas has told U.S. officials that releasing the murderers is a “top priority” for his administration...

Australia: Sydney police station bomb linked to last year's 'Innocence of Muslims' riots

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

Officers are following a number of "very strong leads" as they investigate online threats against police that refer to the explosive device.

Counter terrorism commander Peter Dean said the threats seemed to link the bomb to last year's Islamic protests in Hyde Park. "There's a comment in the Facebook blogs and also in the email that talks about protests in Sydney so there is an assumption that there's some link there," he told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.

The hand-sized device was found in the rear car park of Campsie Police Station on Tuesday afternoon.

An inspection by the bomb squad established that the contraption contained explosives but had been constructed in a way so that it could not detonate.

Commander Dean says the device could have been deadly if it had exploded.

"If it had been constructed properly and it had detonated it would have been very dangerous to somebody standing nearby'," Commander Dean told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.

"It also could have created a shrapnel effect with objects around it like the fence and the glass windows of the station, which could have caused damage or injury."

It is not clear whether the device was specifically designed not to explode, he said.

Police are now investigating threats posted on Campsie police station's Facebook page, as well as contained in an email to a newspaper, which complain about previous police operations.

A post on the Campsie Police Station Facebook page on Tuesday made a "veiled threat about police not listening to somebody in relation to certain things".

A similar post was also made on the Facebook page of a television station, and an email sent to the Daily Telegraph and titled "bomb threat in Sydney" warned that "we have already stored the detonator with stick somewhere in a police station".

"We have detonated a bomb protesting against your killings of muslim overseas, and your unjust conviction of our brothers and your treatment of us when we protested in Sydney," the email said...

Syria: Over 100,000 killed in civil war, more than 2,000 since the start of the holy month of Ramadan

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday raised the death toll in Syria's civil war to more than 100,000, up from nearly 93,000 just over a month ago.

Ban called on the Syrian government and opposition to halt the violence in the 2 ½ year civil war, saying it is "imperative to have a peace conference in Geneva as soon as possible."

The secretary-general spoke before talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who stood nearby.

"There is no military solution to Syria," Kerry then told reporters. "There is only a political solution, and that will require leadership in order to bring people to the table."

The United States and Russia are trying to convene an international conference in Geneva, along with the United Nations, to try to agree on a transitional government based on a plan adopted in that city a year ago...
At least 2,014 people, most of them fighters on both sides, have been killed in Syria's civil war since the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan began on July 10, a watchdog told AFP on Thursday. More than 1,323 of the dead were pro- and anti-regime fighters, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding that an additional 105 of those killed were children.

Russia: Rabbi seriously wounded by an 'unidentified' shooter in North Caucasus republic of Dagestan

A rabbi was seriously wounded by an unidentified shooter in Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Dagestan on Thursday, Russia’s top investigative body said, in an attack provincial and Jewish leaders blamed on “jihadists” and “terrorists.”

Artur Isakov, 40, was wounded in the chest early Thursday while on the way to his house in the southern city of Derbent, Russia’s Investigative Committee said. He was hospitalized in a “grave condition,” it said in a website statement. Isakov’s religion is among the possible motives investigators are considering for the attack, the statement said. A medical worker at Derbent's central hospital told RIA Novosti that the rabbi is in an intensive-care unit and has been put on a ventilator to help him breathe. Neither the rabbi or his flock have been threatened recently, the website said quoting unnamed community representatives. Identifying Isakov by another first name - Ovadia, it said that he oversaw construction of a large community center in Derbent, Russia’s southernmost city that hosts a small Jewish community that arrived from Iran in the early Middle Ages.

Isakov is the second cleric attacked this year in Dagestan, according to the Kavkazky Uzel news website. In March, an imam was gunned down in the eastern village of Gubden, it said, and eight more Muslim clerics, including the head of a powerful Sufi brotherhood, were killed in Dagestan in 2012, it said.

An Islamist insurgency, once confined largely to the republic of Chechnya, has spread across the North Caucasus in recent years. Attacks on security forces, police and civilians are reported regularly in the neighboring republics of Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria.

The acting head of the republic Ramazan Abdulatipov condemned the attack on Isakov, blaming it on "extremists and terrorists."...
The shooting of a Chabad rabbi in the Russian republic of Dagestan was likely a terrorist attack by Muslim extremists, investigators said. Rabbi Artur Ovadia Isakov was shot on July 25 in Derbent, in southern Russia, “because of his religious duties, likely by Muslim extremists,” investigators said, according to a report by the Russian news site Police are searching for the perpetrators, who will be charged with attempted murder, the news site reported...

Pakistan: With Eid around the corner, sales of toy guns goes up

Four-year-old Malak Saeed may not have learned how to put on his slippers but he can quickly load rubber-ball ammunition in his 9mm toy gun and hit the target.

There are numerous other children like him who are quite adept at using toys replicating sophisticated arms and weapons readily available at shops. Malak and his friends buy theirs from a shop in Bukhari Colony – a Pashtun-majority area in SITE Town.

“I asked my father to buy a toy pistol for me this year even though I had one last Eid as well,” said Malak, grinning. “We play police-and-thief games on the streets with these guns after Eid,” he explained, standing with a group of boys of his age holding 9mm pistols, Kalashnikovs and MP-5 rifles – all made from plastic – that use rubber balls as ammunition.

“It’s a general trend developed in these areas that male children buy toy guns for Eid,” said Malak’s father, Muhammad Ishaq. “Every shopkeeper displays them openly so we have to buy them for our children.” This time, Ishaq went ahead and bought a toy gun for his little one long before Eid.

Ishaq recalled that the boom in toy guns started nearly seven years ago and now every child begins asking for a toy gun as soon as Ramazan starts. Initially, Ishaq was against buying a toy gun for a two-year-old especially since he hated guns himself but he eventually gave in when his only son insisted. “He used to cry all the time in front of his mother for this pistol. I had to bow before him and his mother.”

Guns for boys, dolls for girls

A pushcart vendor under the Bacha Khan flyover, Allah Noor, has been selling these toy guns for several years. During Ramazan, people usually buy toy guns for their boys and dolls for the girls, he told The Express Tribune...

Iraq: Militants kill 14 Shi'ite tanker-drivers after checking their identity papers at a makeshift roadblock

Militants killed 14 Shi'ite tanker-drivers after checking their identity papers at a makeshift roadblock on the main route leading north from the Iraqi capital late on Wednesday, police said. The killings took place near the town of Sulaiman Pek, 160 km (100 miles) north of Baghdad.

Bangladesh: Two girls arrested for marrying each other, threatened with life imprisonment

For more on persecution of homosexuals, click here.

Two girls were arrested in Bangladesh yesterday for marrying each other. Shibronty Roy Puja, a Hindu of 16, and Sanjida Akter, Muslim 21, had run away from the district of Pirojpur - where they both lived - on 14 July to reach Dhaka, the capital. In the country, homosexuality is illegal and punishable with imprisonment for life, as are marriages, civil partnerships and cohabitation between people of the same sex.

Sanjida gave private lessons to Shibronty. After their flight, the father of the younger girl reported his daughter missing. The police found and arrested them in Mahammadpur (Dhaka), where they had rented a house. It is at that point that the two girls confessed the truth to the agents: they were in love and were married, exchanging garlands of flowers, as required by the Hindu tradition.

In Bangladesh, people belonging to the LGBT community (Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) range between 1.6 and 4.8 million. They are not recognized and receive no form of social, religious or legal support and are often victims of persecution.

U.N. report: People in the Gulf are among the fattest in the world

Kuwait fared the worst among Gulf states, with 42.8 percent of its adult population classed as obese. This puts it in the top 10 most obese countries in the world.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are not far behind, with 35.2 percent and 33.1 percent respectively.

In the United States, often scoffed at for being a nation of fat people, 31.8 percent of people are obese. Obesity

Obesity is associated with heart disease, osteoarthritis and type 2 diabetes.

Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are all among the top 10 countries worldwide in terms of diabetes.

In Kuwait, 21.1 percent of the population suffers from the disease, according to figures from the International Diabetes Foundation published in Arabian Business.

In Qatar, obesity is the greatest factor in the increasing incidence of type 2 diabetes, medical consultant Mohsen el-Edrisi told The Peninsula this week.

“Plans are... afoot to make anti-obesity awareness studies a part of the school curriculum,” said Dr Faleh Mohamed Hussain Ali, assistant secretary-general of Qatar’s Supreme Council of Health.
. . .
Worse for women

While the global trend shows that women are more likely to be obese than men, in the Gulf and other Arab countries the disparity is much greater.

While in terms of overweight men and women are equal, often the percentage of women who are obese is twice that of men. Possible reasons for this disparity could be the culture of women staying at home, leading to a lack of exercise.

A Gallup poll in 2011 found that only 16 percent of Saudi women exercised for 30 minutes or more three times a week, compared with 27 percent of their male compatriots.


The Gallup poll showed that those who were more educated and aware of the benefits of healthy eating tended to change their habits.

The U.N. report says that while it is difficult to measure the effects of public health campaigns, nutrition education is effective at tackling obesity.

Overall spending on healthcare in the Gulf is just $1,200 per capita, compared with $5,000 in “developed countries,” according to an article in the Kipp Report, a Middle East business website...

Pakistan: Catholic nurse living in fear for declining to marry Muslim man and convert to Islam

Pakistan's small Catholic community has been shaken again by another case of violence. An influential Muslim businessman in the district of Sanghar has repeatedly threatened a Catholic nurse who has refused to marry him, filing a case against her when she became engaged to another man. Despite the threats, the situation seems under control for now. Police, which so far aided and abetted the Muslim man, has been forced to provide protection to the Catholic woman thanks to pressure from Christian groups and moderate Muslims.

It all began when Ghulam Muhammad decided he wanted to marry Nazia Masih (pictured), a Catholic nurse from Padri-Jo-Goth, Sanghar District, who works at Cheniot Hospital.

Muhammad approached her with a proposal to marry him and convert to Islam. After she turned him down, he threatened to abduct her and disfigure her with acid.

Regrettably, Muhammad has a certain reputation in the district as someone who has already abducted, raped and forcibly converted local Hindu women to Islam. Those who dared sue him for rape were in fact unable to obtain justice.

On her way home on 10 May, Nazia Masih was approached by four armed men who warned her to accept Muhammad's proposal or else. After harassing her, they drove away. Frightened, she sought help at work but hospital authorities refused.

The girl's parents decided then to anticipate her engagement to Ejaz Joseph, a local Christian, on 26 May. However, Ghulam Muhammad interrupted the ceremony accompanied by several police officers who, without evidence of any crime, tried to arrest the couple.

Luckily, after the involvement of village elders, police took her father and brother away, but released them a few hours later. Eventually, Nazia's persecutor decided to change tactic and tried to pressure Joseph with dire consequences if he do not leave the nurse.

The girl's family decided again to ask the authorities for help and filed a complaint at the police station in Sanghar. Once more, Muhammad's influence thwarted an investigation into the matter.

In fact, police told Nazia that her tormentor now claimed that she was his wife, and that a family court would have to sort things out. This in turn caused an uproar in the Christian community and among moderate Muslims. The court eventually decided not to intervene in the case of false marriage.

Still, Ghulam Muhammad did not give up and began threatening not only Nazia's relatives but also Sister Maria Khurshid, the head nun at Saint Teresa Hospital in Mir Purkhas and a close friend of Nazia. The nun called on the authorities to provide the nurse with protection, but failed even to get them to issue a warning against the Muslim man. The situation is now at an impasse.

On Saturday, Muhammad filed another complaint to get police to force Nazia to marry him...

Pakistan: Top TV cleric gives babies away on his hit prime-time show in the battle for Ramadan ratings

Aamir Liaquat Hussain has presented two abandoned babies to childless couples so far during Islam’s holy month.

His show’s heady mix of charity, piety and kitsch have made it a hit with viewers but also brought accusations that he is using religion to generate headlines.

In an episode broadcast last week, Mr Hussain stunned the studio audience by promising the gift of a baby.

“This is the beautiful girl who was thrown on pile of garbage by somebody. See how beautiful and innocent she is,” he said, showing a baby girl to the camera.

He then introduced a shell-shocked couple who were handed the baby by the head of a charity that rescues abandoned babies.
. . .
The spectacle was repeated for a second time this week.

The babies were presented by Muhammad Ramzan Chhipa, who runs the Chhipa Welfare Association.

“We have lots of babies that are just abandoned, left in the garbage or other dirty places,” he said. “Often we just find the bodies so our message that we make is to tell people to bring their babies to us, don’t just leave them.”

He declined to discuss how the couples were vetted but said they had previously approached his organisation to adopt children. Pakistan’s raucous talk shows have huge followings. Controversy is never far away.

One TV anchor was sacked after she patrolled Karachi parks, hunting down young couples on illicit rendezvous without chaperones. Another generated headlines by barging into suspected brothels.

The battle for viewers is most intense during Ramadan.

Last year Veena Malik – a model perhaps best known now for posing nude in an Indian magazine – hosted a rival show, which featured an exorcism. Another programme featured the live conversion of a Hindu to Islam.

Mr Hussain’s “Amaan Ramazan”, broadcast by Geo, is by far the most popular – despite frequent accusations that the presenter uses the show to publicise extremist causes.

In 2008 he was the host of a programme in which Muslim clerics denounced members of the minority Ahmadi sect, saying they deserved to die.

But for 12 hours a day during the month of Ramadan he prowls his studio, singing, praying or holding cookery demonstrations in a show described approvingly by some as an “Islamic version of The Price is Right”.

Prizes – ranging from tubs of cooking oil to plots of land, motorbikes and now babies – are showered on an audience drawn from Pakistan’s less fortunate...
A charismatic Muslim preacher criticised for giving out babies to childless couples live on prime-time Pakistani television denies he is crudely seeking top ratings and insists he is spreading charity.

Aamir Liaqat Hussain, one of the biggest stars on Pakistani TV, spoke to AFP as a charity involved in the process said a third baby is due to be given away in the coming days.

Hussain broadcasts a marathon 12-hour show each day during the holy month of Ramadan, watched by millions of viewers across the country.

He mesmerises his audience with celebrity interviews, game shows, by providing in-studio meals to the needy — and, on two consecutive weeks, handing out baby girls to childless couples.

But international media coverage and public criticism of the baby give-aways has seen him vigorously deny that he is pulling out all the stops to maximise ratings in a competitive Ramadan TV market.

Malaysia: Primary school administration orders non-Muslim pupils to eat meals in bathroom during the holy month of Ramadan

A decision by a primary school administration to order its non-Muslim pupils to have their meals during recess in what appears to be the school’s shower room has gone viral and angered netizens.

Photographs of the pupils having their meals in the bathroom at the Sungai Buloh school have been posted in Facebook.

It is believed the pupils had been told to do it there because it is the fasting month.

Egypt: Security Forces abandon Coptic Christians during deadly attack, four men killed, others injured, and houses destroyed

Security forces stood by and failed to intervene during a brutal attack on Coptic Christians in Luxor, Amnesty International said in a briefing published today. During the sectarian violence, security forces left six besieged men –four of whom were then killed and one hospitalized – to the mercy of an angry crowd.

In an attack lasting 18 hours on 5 July, four Coptic Christian men were killed and four others were seriously injured. An angry mob armed with metal bars, knives, tree branches and hammers attacked Christian homes and businesses in Nagah Hassan, 18 km west of Luxor, after the dead body of a Muslim man was discovered near the homes of Christian families. Despite local residents’ and religious leaders’ repeated calls for help, security forces on the scene made only half-hearted attempts to end the violence and sufficient reinforcements failed to arrive.

“It is outrageous that this attack was left to escalate unhindered in this way. Amnesty International has documented a series of cases in the past where Egypt’s security forces used unnecessary force or live fire during demonstrations, yet in this case they held back even though people’s lives were threatened,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“A thorough, impartial and independent investigation must be conducted into the events in Luxor and the grossly inadequate response of the security forces to the attack.”

The violence began at 3am, shortly after the Muslim man was found dead in the vicinity of Christian homes. His family blamed the death on a local Coptic Christian. By mid-day more than 100 Christian homes had been attacked, with scores of them looted or torched. Local residents reported calling the police and army’s hotlines throughout the day in vain. Local religious leaders also approached other security officials.

“The attack went on for 18 hours, and there was not a door on which I did not knock: police, army, local leaders, the Central Security Forces, the Governorate. Nothing was done,” said Father Barsilious, a local priest from Dab’iya...

Yemen: Sunni and Shi'ite rebels waging battle for control of mosques, sectarian face-off spilling over to the Middle East

The showdown was previously confined to the northern province of Saada, stronghold of Zaidi Ansarullah rebels who have since last year frequently clashed with supporters of the Sunni party al Islah.

Sanaa accuses Ansarullah of being backed by Shia-majority Iran.

With the start of Ramazan on July 10, frictions between the two sides have sharpened in the capital.

Salafists have been trying to seize control of a mosque led by a Zaidi imam in Sanaa, in response to a similar move by Ansarullah supporters against another mosque led by a Sunni cleric in the capital.

This has sparked clashes in which knives were used and also a bomb attack that wounded five people last week, according to witnesses and police.

And on Thursday, gunmen on a motorbike shot dead two Shias and wounded four others who were staging a sit-in protest in the capital, an Ansarullah rebel told AFP.

In a bid to ease tensions, the authorities have secured a commitment from both sides “not to use force to impose their own rites in mosques,” according to Hmoud Obad, the minister of Waqf

“In Yemen, there are no mosques for Zaidis and others for Sunnis. People have lived and prayed together for centuries, but the political polarisation taking place threatens to divide them,” he told AFP.

The rebels, who belong to the Zaidi sect of Shia, are mainly concentrated in the north and make up 25 percent of Yemen’s Sunni-majority population estimated at 25 million.

The Zaidi rebels, also known as Huthis after their late leader Abdel Malek al Huthi, rose up in 2004 against the government of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, accusing it of marginalising them politically and economically.

Thousands of people were killed in the uprising before a ceasefire was agreed in February 2010.
. . .
Zaidi rebels in late 2011 laid siege to Dar al-Hadith, an Islamic institution that trains Sunni preachers and believes in the strictest and most draconian interpretations of Islam, in Dammaj near Saada.

The action sparked months of clashes that left dozens killed in the area, where the government’s control is weak.

Nigeria: Christian cleric bailed 30 Muslims out of jail so they can fast with their families during Ramadan

Pastor Yohanna Buro and a group of volunteers have secured the release of 30 Muslim men and women from the jails of the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna so they can fast with their families during Ramadan.

The prisoners were serving jail terms because they had been unable to pay fines or bail. The Christian aid workers found the money and are also paying their travel expenses for the journey home.

Pastor Buro, who heads the Christ Evangelical and Intercessory Fellowship Ministeries, is convinced that praying and fasting can serve the cause of peace.

"I have sought the release of my Muslim brothers, so they can fast and pray to God that peace will prevail in our country," he said.

"Example to us all"

Pastor Buro and his fellow Christians want adherents of the two faiths to live together in harmony in Nigeria. In Africa's most populous country, Christians, Muslims and members of various ethnic groups are frequently in conflict with one another. There have been deaths on both sides, and churches and mosques have been destroyed. For this reason, Muslim clerics and other Kaduna residents were pleasantly surprised by the engagement shown by Pastor Buro and his supporters.

Sheikh Salihu Mai Barota, one of Kaduna's leading Muslim clerics, came to speak to the Muslims who had been released. He said that Pastor Buro's actions should be an example to all religious leaders, rulers, and those who preach on the radio and speak of peaceful co-existence. "They were all surprised that it was a Christian priest who secured the Muslims' release," he said.

On Sunday, the Muslim Media Organization arranged a meeting of representatives of all main Muslim organizations so that Pastor Buro could personally receive an award for what he had done...
Update (July 31): Christian leaders in Kano are claiming three churches were targeted by the bombs during evening worship services, reports Morning Star News. They estimate the death toll at 45 people, largely from one Pentecostal church and nearby Christian businesses.
. . .
News of Nigeria's latest Boko Haram bombing mars an intriguing gesture of peace by a Nigerian pastor who enabled Muslim prisoners to spend Ramadan in their homes.

Yohanna Buro of Kano's Christ Evangelical and Intercessory Fellowship Ministries worked with volunteers to secure the release of 30 Muslim men and women, jailed for failure to pay fines, according to Deutsche Welle. Buro, who wants to further cooperation in the religiously divided nation, paid the fines and travel expenses for the prisoners to return home for the Islamic holy month.

"I have sought the release of my Muslim brothers, so they can fast and pray to God that peace will prevail in our country," he told Deutsche Welle.

Buro was recognized with an award organized by the Muslim Media Organization for his work.

However, Buro's positive actions toward peace were offset by bombings in a popular Christian neighborhood of Kano. The violence, widely attributed to Boko Haram extremists, killed 24 according to a hospital official speaking with USA Today. The neighborhood, Sabon Gari, houses many bars and recreational venues...

Kuwait: Rights groups slam sexual harassment, torture, illegal detention and other abuses of women activists

For more on Islamic views and laws concerning women, click here.

A statement, signed by 50 Gulf rights groups and activists, said that women activists have been targeted in most of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, especially after the start of the Arab Spring uprisings.

In Bahrain, female activists have been subjected to “sexual harassment and threatened with rape besides verbal and physical abuse” after they were held for participating in peaceful protests, the statement said.

It cited the case of female activist Rehana Al Mousawi, who claimed that she was stripped naked during interrogation while in detention a few days ago.

Yemen: 11-year-old girl escapes her parents and an arranged marriage, takes to the internet to declare 'I'm not for sale'

For more on Islam and Pedophilia, click here.

In an eloquent monologue posted on YouTube, Nada Al-Ahdals says she fled to her uncle's house when her parents attempted to force her into marrying an older man for money.

"I would have had no life, no education," she says in the video, dated July 8. "Don't they have any compassion?"

"I'm better off dead. I'd rather die."

In an interview with National Yemen, Al-Ahdals says she wants to continue her education.

"I have many dreams, I don't want to be married now," she says.

Al-Ahdals, who is one of eight children, accuses her mother of arranging her marriage marriage for profit. "But I'm not an item for sale," she says. "I'm a human being and I would rather die than get married at this age."

Al-Ahdals says other children in her situation have turned to suicide...

Pakistan: Two policemen along with two other men gang rape Hindu woman after subjecting her to torture

A 20-year old Hindu woman, resident of Aadhi village in Tharparkar, alleged that two policemen posted at a local check-post barged into her house and gang-raped her along with two other men after subjecting her to torture.

The woman said that when she along with members of her family reached a local police station to get a case registered against the accused, they were pushed out of the station by the law enforcers.

When contacted, Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) Tharparkar said that both the policemen had been suspended while a probe was also launched into the matter.

France: 20 cars torched, four people detained in a second night of violence over Islamic veil ban

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

Some 20 cars have been torched and four people detained in a second night of violence in suburbs west of Paris, a result of tensions linked to authorities' handling of France's ban on Muslim face veils.

France's interior minister said Sunday that the incidents overnight targeted the town of Elancourt.

Police union official said on BFM television that about 50 assailants were involved, some firing weapons and a gasoline bomb at police.

The night before, about 250 people hurling projectiles clashed with police firing tear gas in the nearby town of Trappes in apparent protest over the enforcement of France's ban on Islamic face veils. Five people were injured and six detained in the violence, authorities said Saturday.

The interior minister urged calm and dialogue, insisting on both the need for public order and respect for France's Muslims. The incident in the town of Trappes on Friday night reflected sporadic tensions between police upholding France's strict policies of secularism and those who accuse authorities of discriminating against France's No. 2 religion.

A few garbage dumpsters in the area were torched and a bus shelter shattered in the Trappes unrest. Spent tear gas capsules lay on the road Saturday near the police station at the center of the violence.

A 14-year-old boy suffered a serious eye injury in the violence, from a projectile of unknown provenance, Prosecutor Vincent Lesclous told reporters. Four police officers were injured and six people were detained in the violence, said an official with the regional police administration. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be named due to his department's rules.

On Saturday night, fearing new violence, riot police deployed around the town, but the atmosphere appeared calm.

The Friday night violence came after a gathering of about 200-250 people to protest the arrest of a man whose wife was ticketed Thursday for wearing a face veil. The husband tried to strangle an officer who was doing the ticketing, the prosecutor said.

France has barred face veils since 2011. Proponents of the ban — which enjoyed wide public support across the political spectrum — argue the veil oppresses women and contradicts France's principles of secularism, which are enshrined in the constitution. In addition to small fines or citizenship classes for women wearing veils, the law includes a hefty 30,000 euro ($39,370) fine for anyone who forces a woman to wear one...

Iraq: Attacks on popular Ramadan hangouts part of a surge in violence that has killed more than 2,700 so far this year

Young Iraqis often spend evenings in cafes after fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but a string of bombings against the popular hangouts means doing so now carries deadly risk.

In past years, Amer Issam met friends at a Baghdad cafe after iftar, the meal that breaks the daily Ramadan fast, but he has stopped doing so out of fear for his life.

"I do not want to turn into a Facebook picture passed on by friends," he said, referring to images of young men killed in cafes shared by mourning friends or relatives on social media sites.

Iraqis often gather at cafes in the evenings during Ramadan to drink tea, smoke water pipes or play games including Mheibis, in which two teams compete to find a ring hidden in the hand of an opposing team member.

People also go to cafes to watch football matches they cannot see at home due to lengthy power cuts or lack of a subscription to the necessary satellite channel.

But deadly bombings that have struck cafes in recent weeks have kept many of the people who might have spent an evening out shut in their homes instead.

"Our business has decreased by 50 to 60 percent compared to Ramadan last year," said Anwar Mohammed, who owns a cafe in Baghdad.

"The people who used to come here to eat and to smoke now prefer to ... take their orders to their house," because "they are afraid to sit in the cafe," he said.

Ali Adnan, who lives in the Dura area of south Baghdad, also noticed a lack of cafe patrons while waiting to meet friends.

"I went to a cafe in Baghdad and I found only four people," he said.

While he waited for his friends to arrive, the four people left, leaving him alone. He soon decided to depart as well.

The attacks on cafes include a bombing earlier in July near a cafe in Baghdad in which nine people were killed and 35 were wounded, and another suicide bombing in the north Iraq city of Mosul that left six people dead and 21 wounded.

But the deadliest was in the northern city of Kirkuk, where a suicide bomber detonated explosives in a crowded cafe, killing 41 people and wounding 35.

"While people were gathered in this cafe, a fat man entered ... and we didn't hear anything except 'Allahu Akbar' [God is greatest], and then everything was destroyed," said Ahmed al-Bayati, who was wounded in the leg by the blast.

Young men had come to the cafe to play Siniyah, a game popular in Kirkuk during Ramadan that is similar to Mheibis, in which teams compete to find a ring hidden under cups, Bayati said.

"The cafe was targeted ... because it combines all the components of Kirkuk," which is home to a diverse religious and ethnic mix, said Jawdat Abdullah al-Bayati, who lost two of his brothers in the blast.

After the bombing, police told cafe owners to shutter their establishments until further notice, to prevent more such attacks.

Some Kirkuk cafes have since reopened, but with additional security measures by security forces and the cafe owners themselves.

The attacks on cafes are part of a surge in violence that has killed more than 2,700 people so far this year, striking all aspects of daily life, from mosques and markets to football fields and shops...

Report: 3,500 government-paid 'extremist' clerics in Saudi Arabia were dismissed since 2003

A 2012 U.S. government report has found that around 3,500 "extremist" clerics in Saudi Arabia were dismissed since 2003, al-Hayat newspaper reported on Sunday.

The report, which had its summary published last May, said the dismissals were carried out under a program to curb Islamic extremism.

Under a program to monitor all government-paid clerics, “the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowment, Call, and Guidance (MOIA) has removed 3,500 imams from duty since 2003,” the report stated.

“In a move to curb extremist and “absurd” fatwas, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz decreed in 2010 that only members of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars, and those whom the king permits, may issue public fatwas. This decree is still in effect,” the report added.

Toufic al-Sdiri, an official from the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Dawah and Guidance, told al-Hayat newspaper the imams were not only dismissed over their "extremist" beliefs, but also due to absences and frequent administrative violations.
. . .
The U.S. report added that the Saudi ministry had monitored online extremist websites and forums, according to al-Hayat.

The report noted that the ministry continues to monitor educational material used in religious summer camps in order to prevent the teaching of extremist ideologies to juveniles.

Hezbollah defending cannabis fields in Lebanon and Syria against rebel takeover

Hezbollah owns vast areas of thousands of acres of cannabis, both in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon and in the Alawite areas in Syria, and this, according to the Arab news website, is the main reason for their exceptional loyalty to the Assad regime this days, a loyalty that so far has cost them at least 100 casualties. The most important goal for Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is to keep those billion dollar assets from falling into rebel hands.

This explains why the Hezbollah is operating as an independent force in Syria, and has not joined the belligerent Syrian army which is loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. They have no intention of letting outsiders near their fields.

Drug processing labs are spread throughout Lebanon and Syria, and neither the Syrian nor the Lebanese army may set foot near those sites, according to Only Hezbollah fighters are guarding them.

The annual income of the Hezbollah drug distribution network is estimated at $6 billion annually. In comparison, according to the website, Iran’s annual contribution to Hezbollah are only estimated at $2 billion.

Some 1600 employees work for the distribution network, in 125 international companies. Many of them are Lebanese Palestinians, as well as Israeli Arabs...

Study: 50 million Muslims with diabetes continue to fast against the advice of healthcare professionals

Over 50 million diabetics fast during the holy month, Managing director of healthcare products company MSD Gulf, Mazen Altaruti, said. The consequences of fasting for those with Type 2 diabetes — the most common form — could be very serious.

And while Muslims with diabetes could be exempted from fasting during Ramadan, a high proportion chose to fast despite the serious health risks it could cause, he said.

“Research shows more than 50 million people with diabetes continue to fast during Ramadan against the advice of their healthcare professionals.”

Altaruti said those with Type 2 diabetes could suffer from hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels, when fasting and taking certain medications. If left untreated, this could lead to serious medical complications including loss of consciousness, convulsions and seizures, which required emergency treatment.

It was important to contact health providers for advice, he added.

Stay healthy during Ramadan

Other tips for a healthy Ramadan included quitting smoking, eating a healthy and balanced diet, regularly testing blood glucose levels two to four hours after beginning to fast, eating slowly-absorbed food such as rice, pita bread, fruit and vegetables before beginning to fast, and drinking plenty of fluids, that did not include sugar or caffeine, after fasting, he said.

The UAE has one of the highest diabetes incidence rates in the world, and the highest in the Mena region, with more than 18 per cent of the adult population suffering from the disease, according to the International Diabetes Federation. There were 827,480 cases of diabetes in the UAE last year.

More than 371 million people have diabetes worldwide, with more than 34.2 million of those living in the Mena Region. By 2030 this is expected to rise to 120.9 million.

Nigeria: Prominent Muslim tells critics “we Muslims can marry girls of any age... child marriage our right as Muslims ”

For more on Islam and Pedophilia, click here.

Asari Dokubo Defends Under-aged Marriage Law In Nigeria… “We Muslims Can Marry Girls Of Any Age”. A prominent Niger Delta Muslim, Alhaji Mujahid Abubakar Dokubo-Asari, has lashed out at critics of the moves by Nigeria’s Senate to approve under-age marriage.

Expressing his opinion on the issue this morning, Dokubo, who converted to Islam as an adult, insisted that it is the right of Muslims to marry or give out their daughters at any age they wish, adding that this is not the business of non-Muslims.

Said the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF) leader through Facebook:

“People should learn to respect other people’s sensibilities…We Muslims have the right to marry when we want or give out our daughters at any age we want. It is not your business and the law must respect our right to do so. Anything short of that is an infringement on our rights. We did not ask you to marry ladies of that age or give your daughters out in marriage at that age. Plzzzzzzzz respect our sensibilities.”

The Nigerian Senate has come under fire from outraged Nigerians and the international community after being convinced by Senator Ahmad Yarima to drop a constitutional amendment outlawing marriage to girls under 18. The former Zamfara State governor who once came under fire for marrying a girl believed to be aged 13 had argued that Islam recognises under-age marriage.
As was expected, former governor and current senator of Zamfara State Ahmed Sani Yerima reiterated his support for marrying off underage girls Saturday saying he could give out his six-year old daughter in marriage if he so wished.

Last Tuesday, the Senator successfully prevented an amendment to the second part of Section 22 of the constitution by the Senate, which dwells on affirming someone as of age once the person is married, though the person could be lower than 18 years in age.

He answered his critics in an online publication saying he did not deserve such criticisms. Here is the full statement.

Nigeria has many uncountable problems and none of them is early marriage.

As a matter of fact early marriage (is) the solution to about half of our problems.

For those who wonder if I can give my daughter(s) out in marriage at the age of 9 or 13, I tell you most honestly, I can give her out at the age of 6 if I want to and it’s not your business.

This is because I am a Muslim and I follow the example of the best of mankind, Muhammad ﺻَﻠَّﻰ ﺍﻟﻠَّﻪُ ﻋَﻠَﻴْﻪِ ﻭَﺳَﻠَّﻢَ

In Islam, marriage is not only about sex, it is about family and helping one another in achieving their goals, which is the attainment of Paradise.

In Islam, a girl can be given out in marriage as early as 6 years old, but consummation of the marriage can only be done when the girl becomes physically mature and she gives her consent to it because unlike English law, it is not permissible for a man To Molest his wife in Shari’ah Law.

So what can anybody tell me?

~ I live in a city where young girls at the age of 12 have already became serial fornicators and cannot count the number of man they’ve Were Intimate with.

~ I live in a City where primary school children disvirgin themselves behind toilets on Valentine day.

~ I live in a city where young girls flood the street at night looking for men that would give them N500 to Be Intimate with them.

~ I live in a city where parents send their daughters out overseas to prostitute and send dollars down.

~ I live in a City where Government officials pick undergraduates from Universitycar parks with Coastal Buses to wild sex parties.

~ I live in a city where abortion is so common that even a Chemist shop owner can perform abortion with just N2,500.

These are your daughters, and this should worry you and not Yerima’s private matters.

So ask me again why I support early marriage and I will slap the Jinn out of your head”.

Afghanistan: Taliban-style edict for women will not be overturned, another sign of returning conservatism as NATO forces leave

For more on Islamic views and laws concerning women, click here.

Just days after the United States launched a $200 million program to boost the role of women in Afghanistan, a senior member of the country's top religious leaders' panel said he would not intervene over a draconian edict issued by clerics in the Deh Salah region of Baghlan province.

Deh Salah, near Panshir, was a bastion of anti-Taliban sentiment prior to the ousting of the austere Islamist government by the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance in 2001.

But the eight article decree, issued late in June, bars women from leaving home without a male relative, while shutting cosmetic shops on the pretext they were being used for prostitution - an accusation residents and police reject.

"There is no way these shops could have stayed open. Shops are for business, not adultery," Enayatullah Baligh, a member of the top religious panel, the Ulema Council, and an adviser to the president, told Reuters late on Friday.

Residents of Deh Salah described the order as a "fatwa", or religious edict, although only senior clerics in Kabul should issue such a binding religious order.

But underscoring opposition to the edict, a mayor was shot dead by a teenaged shop owner while trying to enforce the order, which also barred women from clinics without a male escort, threatening unspecified "punishments" if they disobeyed.

Afghanistan has one of the world's highest infant mortality rates and more than a decade after the U.S.-backed toppling of the Taliban, it still ranks as one of the worst nations to be born a girl.

Under Taliban rule from 1996 until 2001, women were forced to wear the head-to-toe covering burqa and sometimes had fingers cut off for wearing nail varnish.

The decree, signed by a conservative cleric in the area named Zmarai, contained a warning of holy war if authorities tried to block it: "If officials do react to our demands, we will start a jihad."

There is growing fear among many people in Afghanistan that the withdrawal of NATO-led forces and efforts to reach a political agreement with the Taliban to end the 12-year-old war could undermine hard-won freedoms for women.


In the deeply conservative, male-dominated country where religion often holds more sway than legal authority, religious leaders have often been a major barrier to women obtaining the rights granted to them under the constitution.

In Deh Salah, home to about 80,000 people, most of them ethnic Tajiks rather that the majority Pashtuns, the main community from which the Taliban draw support, a cosmetic shop owner named Abdullah stood before his business - now hidden behind plywood sheeting - and said clerics were increasingly flexing their muscles.

"They want to bring back the Taliban days. If they have their way they will take control in this district and make life impossible," said Abdullah.

"We are poor people and they have closed me down. I want the government to take action or we are going to have mullahs running the place like the Taliban again," he said.

Shah Agha Andarabi, a doctor, said the rumor of prostitution and adultery in Deh Salah was without foundation and was being used as an excuse by conservative clerics to crack down on women...

Pakistan: Elders and clerics ban women from shopping alone in bazaars without a male relative

For more on Islamic views and laws concerning women, click here.

The decision was taken on Friday in the Karak district of conservative Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders the restive tribal areas along the Afghan border.

"We have decided that women will not visit bazaars without a male relative," Maulana Mirzaqeem, a cleric and tribal elder, told AFP by telephone.

"Those who will visit markets without male relatives will be handed over to police," he said.

"They spread vulgarity and spoil men's fasting in Ramadan," Mirzaqeem said, adding that the ban would be publicised using local mosques loudspeakers.

The decision had been taken due to the sanctity of the holy month, the cleric said -- it is not clear whether it will be lifted after Ramadan.

A senior government official in Karak confirmed the move.

Taliban threats and social taboos have deprived millions of women of their rights in Pakistan.

In most parts of the northwestern tribal areas women are confined to their homes and do not go shopping or work outside.

Yemen: Al-Qaeda gunmen shot and wounded man accused of being a homosexual, days after killing another one

For more on persecution of homosexuals, click here.

Mohammed Saeed, 25, was standing outside his home in Huta the capital of the southern Lahj province when a gunman shot and wounded him, the official said.

Late Monday, two militants from the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Ansar al-Sharia group, which is on the US terror list, shot dead 20-year-old Hashem al-Asmi, also in Huta, also for allegedly being "gay".

Ansar al-Sharia is the local branch of Al-Qaeda in Yemen where the network, although weakened, is still active mainly in the southern and eastern parts of the country.

On Friday suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen killed a member of the pro-army militia in a drive-by shooting in the town of Mudia, in the southern Abyan province, a police official said.

Mohammed Abbad was a member of the Popular Resistance Committees which had helped the army launch a month-long offensive in May last year against Al-Qaeda militants in Abyan.

The army, also backed by US drone attacks, managed to retake control of the country's south, of which large swathes of land had been seized by Al-Qaeda militants.

Although weakened the network still carries out hit-and-run attacks against army and police targets and occasionally assassinates members and leaders of the Popular Resistance Committees.

During their control of areas in south Yemen, the Islamist militants imposed a strict version of sharia (Islamic law) on residents, executing or lashing those they accused of various crimes. Those accused of theft had their hands severed...

Jordan: Clashes that left 3 dead, home robberies and accidents on the rise since beginning of Ramadan

Jordanians have been engaged in over 76 altercations throughout the kingdom since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, clashes that left 3 dead and dozens injured so far.

In the first 10 days of Ramadan, 3 were killed in clashes in Rusaifah, Azraq, and Jabal al Hussein in Amman in individual and group altercations, in addition to dozens injured.

In addition to fights, negative phenomena increase during the month of Ramadan, including traffic accidents, home robberies, purse snatching in public, and begging, according to security sources.

The Social Defense Department at the Ministry of Social Development arrested 26 beggars during the first week of Ramadan.

There has also been an increase in residential fires, particularly in the few hours before Iftar (fast-breaking) time, caused by misuse of cooking gas cylinders and increased electricity usage.

Other emergency incidents increase during Ramadan, including stomachaches, breathing difficulties, and digestive problems requiring medical attention as a result of overeating, medical sources note, in addition to increased medical attention needed for individuals with diabetes and high blood pressure.

3,334 medical emergencies were attended to by Civil Defense and medical cadres throughout the kingdom in the first week of Ramadan.

The month of Ramadan so far has also witnessed increased home invasions as residents are out shopping or visiting relatives, in addition to increased incidents of purse and wallet snatching in congested shopping centers, police sources reported, according to Al Ghad daily report on Saturday.

Security authorities continue to urge citizens to exercise patience and vigilance, particularly in driving in the time period right before Iftar time (sunset), and protect their homes and properties when they are out.

France: 5 injured in riots after Muslim man tries to strangle policeman who ticketed his wife for wearing the veil

About 250 people hurling projectiles clashed with police firing tear gas west of Paris, in apparent protest over enforcement of France’s ban on Islamic face veils. Five people were injured and six detained in the violence, authorities said Saturday.

The interior minister urged calm and dialogue, insisting on both the need for public order and respect for France’s Muslims. The incident in the town of Trappes on Friday night reflected sporadic tensions between police upholding France’s strict policies of secularism and those who accuse authorities of discriminating against France’s No. 2 religion.

A few garbage dumpsters in the area were torched and a bus shelter shattered in the Trappes unrest. Spent tear gas capsules lay on the road Saturday near the police station at the center of the violence.

A 14-year-old boy suffered a serious eye injury in the violence, from a projectile of unknown provenance, Prosecutor Vincent Lesclous told reporters. Four police officers were injured and six people were detained in the violence, said an official with the regional police administration.

The violence came after a gathering of about 200-250 people to protest the arrest of a man whose wife was ticketed Thursday for wearing a face veil. The husband tried to strangle an officer who was doing the ticketing, the prosecutor said.

France has barred face veils since 2011. Proponents of the ban — which enjoyed wide public support across the political spectrum — argue the veil oppresses women and contradicts France’s principles of secularism, which are enshrined in the constitution. In addition to small fines or citizenship classes for women wearing veils, the law includes a hefty 30,000 euro ($39,370) fine for anyone who forces a woman to wear one.

The law affects only a very small proportion of France’s millions of Muslims who wear the niqab, with a slit for the eyes, or the burqa, with a mesh screen for the eyes. But some Muslim groups argue the law stigmatizes moderate Muslims, too. France also bans headscarves in schools and public buildings.

The Collective Against Islamophobia in France urged Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who recently joined Muslim leaders in a fast-breaking sundown feast for holy month of Ramadan, to crack down on insults and attacks against Muslims.

Valls urged calm after the Trappes violence, and pledged to stand against “all those who attack Muslim buildings or our compatriots of Muslim faith.”

But he also came down firmly against those who attack police.

“There is no valid reason for the violence seen in Trappes,” he told reporters in the southern city of Marseille, which has seen a wave of urban unrest. “The law should be applied, and applies to everyone.”

The CCIF said in a statement that it was contacted by the veiled woman ticketed in Trappes on Thursday, and that she said the police officer yanked her by the veil and pushed her mother.

Police argue they are doing their jobs and that veiled women are breaking a well-known law.

Trappes is deploying extra riot police Saturday night to try to head off any new violence...
Some 20 cars have been torched and four people detained in a second night of violence in suburbs west of Paris, a result of tensions linked to authorities' handling of France's ban on Muslim face veils.

France's interior minister said Sunday that the incidents overnight targeted the town of Elancourt.

Police union official said on BFM television that about 50 assailants were involved, some firing weapons and a gasoline bomb at police.

The night before, about 250 people hurling projectiles clashed with police firing tear gas in the nearby town of Trappes in apparent protest over the enforcement of France's ban on Islamic face veils. Five people were injured and six detained in the violence, authorities said Saturday...

PA: Husband kills wife and stabs two of his sons over disagreement about his second wife

Police in Gaza have arrested a man suspected of stabbing his wife to death and seriously injuring two of his sons.

The man is suspected of killing his wife at their home in southern Gaza on Tuesday, and stabbing two of his sons who intervened to protect their mother.

Mother-of-10 Najah Abu Shabab, 62, was pronounced dead on arrival at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, while the sons were treated for their injuries.

Police spokesman Ayoub Abu Shaar said the suspect was arrested hours after the attack, at his home in al-Qarara village north of Khan Younis.

The victim's brother Raed Abu Shabab told Ma'an that the suspect had repeatedly abused his sister and that she had filed two police complaints over separate attacks.

Raed said the couple had fought on Tuesday before the iftar meal - the breaking of the Muslim fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

He said the suspect wanted to sell grapes and figs to pay for medical treatment for his second wife, and Najah disagreed.

The suspect then went to the home he shared with his second wife and returned with a knife that he used to stab Najah to death. He then told his children: "Now you are relieved of your mother," according to Raed...

India: Muslims riot over Qur'an burning outside a BSF camp, agents opened fire, killing four and wounding 42

A curfew has been imposed in the main cities of the State of Jammu and Kashmir after violence broke out yesterday in the district of Ramban following the burning of a copy of the Qur'an and the beating of an imam in Dadam. Four people died and 42 were injured in clashes with India's Border Security Force (BSF).

The BSF is made up special units from the Indian Armed Forces, responsible for monitoring the country's borders. Known for their violent behavior, BSF agents have often been involved in trafficking and smuggling.

According to some witnesses, members of the BSF desecrated a copy of the Qur'an and attacked an Islamic cleric. When the news spread, hundreds of people gathered near a BSF camp in Ramban. At some point, troops opened fire, injuring dozens of people and killing four.

After the clash, tensions rose further, so much so that the authorities of the Indian state decided to impose a curfew in many cities, including Srinagar, the state capital.

About a thousand Hindu pilgrims heading for the temple of Amarnath were stopped.

Today, some extremist groups have called for a strike throughout Jammu and Kashmir in protest against yesterday's violence...

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabian Airlines defends ban on Israeli and Jewish passengers

For more on anti-Semitism, click here.

The director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines, Khalid al-Melhem, responded to recent criticisms and threats to ban his airline from U.S. airports for allegedly violating federal law by "discriminating" against Israelis and Jews. He noted there is no political relationship between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Israel.

“If there is an absence of political relations between [Saudi Arabia] and any other country, we will not allow that country’s citizens into the kingdom,” Melhem told Saudi’s Al-Watan newspaper. “[Diplomatic relations] also apply to transit passengers… in case the plane is delayed, the passenger will have to enter the country; and at that point, it would be very difficult to let him into [Saudi] if there are no diplomatic relations.”

Earlier this week, New York Public Advocate Bill de Blasio condemned the Saudi airline’s decision not to allow Israelis on board and said that it was “racial discrimination.” He warned that he would work to ensure the Saudi airlines does not land in American airports.

“No city in the world has closer ties to Israel than we do, and yet Israeli citizens are being discriminated against right here at JFK [airport]. It’s not only illegal; it’s an affront to who we are,” De Blasio said in remarks carried by local media.

He added that he “will act to make sure they’re excluded from United States airports, starting with JFK” if the airline does not change its policy.

“We won’t stop with just exposing these practices. We’ll pursue this with authorities in Albany and in Washington until Israeli nationals’ rights are respected.”...

Pakistan: Hindu girls kidnapped by Muslims and forced to convert to Islam continues to be ignored by authorities

The Jihad to convert Hindu girls is continued unabated under the indifferent attitude of Pakistani authorities. In recent months, seven Hindu girls have been targeted in the conversion to Islam campaign. Of the seven, five have been abducted and converted by Muslim goons. One Hindu girl was abducted and forced to convert to Islam, but she has been subsequently recovered by the police. In one case, the attempted abduction was foiled by the passer-byes.

The Muslim abductors have also begun using new modus operandi. In one case, a Muslim man first became the 'brother' of a Hindu girl, and also observed the Rakhi Bandhan, a custom cementing the bond between brothers and sisters. Later, the same 'brother' abducted his 'sister'. After the abduction, he married her. Perhaps, as the prevailing understanding goes, he will be extra pleased with the idea that he will be rewarded after death for converting one Hindu girl to Islam.

Incidents of abduction of teenage Hindu girls are of no concern to the Sindh provincial government. And, such abductions are music to the ears of Muslim fundamentalists and powerful local elements that operate freely within and around the local administration.

According to advocate Veerji Kolhi, President of Progressive Hindu Alliance and Council for the Defense of Bonded Laborers, two Hindu sisters belonging to a low Hindu caste were abducted on 7 July 2013 by armed men from their village Kohli Vairi, located in Nangar Parka Taluka, Tharparkar District, Sindh. The girls, Ms. Tarki aged 16 years and Ms. Beena aged 14, daughters of Vanoon Kohli, were abducted by Hanif Nohri, Inayat Nohri, Majnoon Nohri , Jamal Nohri and Ismail Khoso, residents of Bado and Jud'dan villages located in the same taluka and district. They forcibly entered the house of the Kohli family in the night at 8 p.m. Mrs. Savarian Kohli, mother to the girls, was taking dinner with her children when the armed men entered her house. The abductors are alleged to be henchmen of the former chief minister of Sindh who has now joined the ruling party, the PML-N.

Mrs. Kohli fears that her daughters will be moved to another location, converted to Islam forcibly, and be killed by her abductors, as they are powerful and have great influence in the area. Demonstrators also appealed to the authorities to search the madressas for the recovery of the girls.

The Daily Awami Aawaz has recently reported that the case of Hindu Girl from Tendo Jam village who was kidnapped on the pretext of a 'love marriage' has been solved. Police have arrested a man, Mr. Mohammad Ali Machi, along with a woman, said to be his sister. There was an emotional scene in the police station as the girl, upon seeing her father Lilaram and mother Laxmibai, embraced her mother and started crying. In her statement the girl said that she came to Korti with her maternal uncle. She visited a dargah to seek blessings, after which she proceed to the Md. Ali Machi residence where she was forcibly taken to Kinri, converted to Islam, and married to Md. Ali Machi. She pleaded to be handed over to her parents. After recording the statement of the girl, the police arrested Md. Ali Machi, along with his sister Zarina. A case of kidnapping has been registered against them.

According to the Internationally Unity for Equality (IUFE), on 28June 2013, a Hindu girl Ms. Rekha was abducted by Mr. Yaseem Lashari when she was on her way home from her work place. Rekha and her mother, Naavi, work in the factory where they met with Yameen Lashari. He made Rekha his sister and Rekha tied him a Rakhi (thread cementing bond between brother and sister, tied on the Hindu festival of Raksha bandhan by a girl around the wrist of boy, making them both brother and sister). Lashari became close to the family. He often visited their home. One day Rekha didn't come back home from work and on the same day Lashari was also absent from the work place. Navvi realized that her daughter had been abducted by Yameen. She filed a case of kidnapping against Yameen Lahari. On the day of the hearing the couple came to court and Naavi tried to meet with her daughter, but Lashari did not allow them to meet and talk. He abused and insulted Navvi and told her to get out of the court. Navvi informed the police about the incident but police didn't take any action. Later, one day, Lashari informed the mother through a messenger that he and Rekha have gotten married and there is no need for her to follow them.

On April 6, six persons riding motorbikes tried to abduct a Hindu woman from a bus near Toban Shakh, in Kanri, Sindh. The bike rider stopped the passenger bus and tried to drag out a married Hindu woman, Ms. Tarri, from the bus. When they were pulling her, she cried and shouted loudly for help. Other passengers and bystanders near the bus came to her aid and the perpetrators ran away. The Hindu community tried to file a first information report at the Kinri police station, but even after 6 hours of making the complainants wait, the police refused to file a case. According to the police the incident took place outside the limits of the Kinri police station.

Jamna Kumari, a 12 year old girl, was abducted by influential persons from village Arbab Rind, located near Bhit Shah, Hyderabad. According to the father of the girl Altaf Rind, Pathan Rind, Wazir Rind along with their companions entered his house, looted cash, gold, and other value able things. After looting, the men dragged out and took away his daughter Kumari. He filed a First Investigation Report (FIR) against the criminals. The Bhit Shah police arrested the men. But after taking bribes, the police released the them. The abductor goons are said to be from a religious seminary. The whereabouts of Jamna is still unknown. Her Hindu family fears that the girl will be sold to the Taliban in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkha, after her forced conversion to Islam.

In March 2013, Ganga, 18 years of age, daughter to gold trader Ashok Kumar, was abducted at dawn from her home located Jhanjhri Street, Sarafa Bazaar, in the limits of the City Police Station, Jacobabad. Mr. Asif Ali, the son of another gold trader Bahadur Ali Surhio, converted the abducted girl to Islam and married her. The marriage ceremony took place at the Amrot Sharif shrine. An FIR was lodged by the parents of the girl against Asif Ali, Bahadur Ali Surhio, and Miran Bukhsh. This abduction occurred at the time of the election of the Hindu Panchayat, which was postponed until this incident could be resolved. A big protest was organized against the alleged abduction and forced conversion. The protestors demanded protection of Hindu girls and Hindu people. They demanded the reunion of Ganga with her family. See and

According to the Hindu Panchayat, every month around 20 girls are abducted and forcibly converted to Islam. The role of officials in the police and in the Courts is questionable in these cases. The general view is if they were to act in accordance with the laws of the country, they will lose the reward awaiting them after death for such a conversion and also that the Muslim society will retaliate against them, declaring them as infidels or agents of India.

This thinking was evident in the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Rinkle Kumari and Dr. Lata. The Court decided in favour of perpetrators hailing from a notorious seminary that abducted and converted Rinkle Kumari to Islam. The Chief Justice himself met the abductor of Rinkle Kumar during Friday prayers and congratulated him for converting a Hindu girl to Islam.

Because of the vulnerability of Hindu girls and the attitude of the Courts, the government, and the police, Hindu families have started migrating to India. Hindu families are worried about their girls, and they try to keep them inside the house. But Muslim bigots have begun attacking their homes and kidnapping the young girls from inside their houses. Hindu boys appear to be of no interest to the Muslim fundamentalists.

The Hindu community has protested that even after forcibly converting the girls to Islam and marrying the girls, the perpetrators never allow the girls to meet with their parents. In many such cases even the courts have not allowed the girls to meet their parents. In the case of Rinkle Kumari and Dr. Lata the Supreme Court did not allow such a meeting to take place for fear that the real story would be told. It is also alleged by the Hindu community that girls are sold to the Taliban after they are converted to Islam.

In the absence of fair trial, the Hindu community continues to fall prey to the 'Islamic Justice'.

Afghanistan: A bomb killed five children and a woman after it went off inside a Taliban commander's home

A bomb in eastern Afghanistan killed five children and a woman after it went off as they were playing with it inside a Taliban commander's home, an official said Friday.

The incident occurred on Thursday morning in the remote Mata Khan district, inside the house of an insurgent leader named Abdullah, said Mokhlis Afghan, a spokesman for the governor in Paktika province.

According to Afghan, the commander had assembled a roadside bomb and left it inside his home, which he shared with relatives.

It exploded when the children, aged from three to seven years, began playing with it.

Abdullah escaped arrest and is being sought by Afghan security troops, which were the intended target for the bomb, said the spokesman.

The five children belonged to Abdullah's brother and his wife, while the killed woman was his sister. The spokesman had no other details.

Turkey: Muslim charity Red Crescent to make ‘halal’ drugs with Turkish blood

A recent Turkish Red Crescent initiate is set to be turned into a factory-supported production process, making medicine out of Turkish people’s blood in order to rule out any risk of non-Islamic dietary impact, according to the organization’s head, Ahmet Lütfi Akar.

Akar told daily Hurriyet that the move could both eliminate dependence on drugs imports, as well as providing Muslim Turks with assurances that their medicine complies with their religious codes.

“For instance, if we are buying medicine from Britain, it is made out of the blood and plasma of the blood of the people of that country. We have different dietary habits from those countries. Being a Muslim nation, we do not eat pork. We don’t eat some of problematic foods, but these exist in the medicine that we import,” he said.

Akar said treatment through one’s own national production would be healthier. “We will eliminate imports, and create an opportunity to export to Islamic countries. There will be no change in the regulation of receiving blood donations; no one will be asked whether or not they eat pork. 95 percent of Turkish people already don’t eat port anyway,” he told daily Hurriyet.

Meetings with the Health Ministry have already taken place and the project is also supported by the prime minister, he said, adding that further details would be announced in detail in a month or so.

Turkish Medical Association head Özdemir Aktan, however, ruled out any chance of his association offering scientific facts to support the Red Crescent’s point...

Malaysia: Two charged with sedition and inciting religious enmity for posting photo on Facebook considered an insult to the holy month

Prosecutors on Thursday charged two Malaysians with sedition and inciting religious enmity after they posted a photograph on Facebook considered an insult to the Muslim holy month of fasting.

They face up to eight years in prison if convicted of both charges in the Muslim-majority nation.

Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee, both ethnic Chinese non-Muslims in their 20s, drew criticism when they uploaded a photograph of themselves earlier this month eating pork stew while conveying greetings to Muslims for the current fasting month of Ramadan. Pork is forbidden for Muslims.

Tan and Lee had indicated last week that the photo was meant to be humorous.

Both pleaded not guilty Thursday in a Kuala Lumpur court, which refused to allow them to remain free on bail ahead of their trial.

Malaysia’s attorney general, Abdul Gani Patail, said in a statement that authorities want them detained because “they have the potential to upload content that could stir public anger.” They were expected to be placed in separate prisons ahead of a preliminary hearing Aug. 24 to schedule trial dates.

Sedition as defined by Malaysian law includes spreading ill will among people of different races. Ethnic Malay Muslims comprise nearly two-thirds of Malaysia’s 29 million people. Ethnic Chinese, who are nearly a quarter of the population, constitute the main minority community, mainly Buddhists and Christians.

Abdul Gani said a man was abducted and beaten up by a group of men this week in a case that was believed to be linked to the photo of Tan and Lee. He did not elaborate, but Malaysian media reports have said the incident involved an ethnic Chinese man who was stripped and eventually set free after his assailants scrawled Malay-language words translated as “I insulted the religion of Islam” with ink on his chest...

Palestinian Authority TV airs anti-Semitic cartoon series portraying banishment of Jews from Al-Madina by Muslims

An animated film series about the early days of Islam, broadcast in daily installments during the month of Ramadhan by the official Palestinian Authority TV channel, depicts the Jews of Al-Madina as evil, warmongering, and power-hungry followers of the devil. The series, titled "Raids of the Prophet," was co-produced by the Egyptian Nahdat Misr for Information Technology company and by the privately-owned Saudi Jamjoom Production and Distribution company.

Click here to view excerpts from three installments, which aired on July 15-17, 2013.

Saudi Arabia: Parents are neglecting their non-fasting children during the holy month of Ramadan

Young children are not required to fast and some parents were failing to adequately feed and supervise them in the morning, MOH supervisor general of media relations and health awareness Khalid Merghalani told Arab News.

“The Ministry of Health would like to advise parents to remember their children, who are not fasting during the holy month,” Merghalani said.

“This is because parents tend to stay awake throughout the night and sleep during the day after the suhoor meal. This has resulted in some parents neglecting their younger children, who wake up during normal morning hours, leaving them unattended.”

Merghalani said young children were not expected to fast because irregular meals could damage their health...

Pakistan: Christian man violently beaten by Muslims for protecting his daughters

Insulted, threatened, beaten and humiliated: this is what happened to a Christian family in Pakistan, attacked by some Muslims, who own a brick factory. The attackers wanted to "punish" Rafique Masih, a 50 year old father, for trying to defend his daughters, harassed by the constant taunts of Muhammad Umai and Muhammad Zubair, nephews of the owner of the factory.

"This inhuman act - Rafique Masih tells AsiaNews - happened because we are poor and we had requested a loan of 70 thousand rupees (770 dollars) from the owners of the brick factory. They think that poor Christians do not deserve respect and that therefore they can do whatever they want. I may not be rich, but I will fight for justice and for the respect and the dignity of my family. "

Rafique and his wife have seven children, four girls and three boys. After his eldest daughter, Iram, 17, was yet again verbally harassed on July 10 last, the father went to tell the two young men not to bother his daughters anymore. In response, Muslims began to verbally abuse him, insulting him and his family and threatening to "teach him a lesson."

After the argument the Christian returned home, but the same evening Muhammad Umai and Muhammad Zubair appeared at his door looking to continue the argument. Mehboob Masih, 23, one of the sons opened the door, refusing to call his father. At that point the two burst into the house armed with wooden sticks and bricks and began to beat the boy and his father, who came to see what was happening.

The attackers wounded Rafique's head and broke his arm. Then they slapped and insulted his daughters, trying to drag them into the street to humiliate them. Only the intervention of some neighbors made them desist. At that point, the Muslims held the Christians in their own home, threatening to crush anyone who rushed to their aid and preventing the family from receiving medical treatment...

Indonesia: Increasing intolerance against Christians in Aceh, 17 house churches closed, including Catholic chapels

The Islamist pressures against Christian communities in Aceh "have become intolerable. Within a year, with non-existent legal pretexts, 17 house churches have been closed: these also include Catholic chapels. The islamization of the province continues , just as promised by the governor Abdullah. " It is the sense of the Annual Report published by, Protestant organization which monitors the situation of the Christian community in Indonesia.

The forced closure of places of worship and threats against Protestant congregations, says the text, "increase unabated. But this will only create tensions manipulated from the outside between the Christian and Islamic communities. The government must guarantee religious plurality and respect: or risk clashes and violence". Favor Bancin, of the Synod of the churches in Indonesia is of the same opinion, adding: "The behavior of local authorities is a potential threat to the tolerant atmosphere we see deteriorating over time."

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world and, while guaranteeing the constitutional principles of religious freedom, it is more and more often the scene of attacks and violence against minorities, whether they are Christians, Ahmadi Muslims or of other faiths. In the province of Aceh - the only one in the Archipelago - the Islamic law (sharia) applies and in many other areas the influence of the Muslim religion in the lives of citizens is becoming more radical and extreme. In addition, certain rules such as the building permit - the infamous IMB - are exploited to prevent the building or close Christian places of worship, as is the case for some time in Bogor regency, West Java, for the faithful of the Yasmin Church.

Behind this upsurge is the current governor of Aceh, Zaini Abdullah, who has spent years in exile in Sweden for his activities within the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). During his election campaign, the Islamic politician stated several times that "he would not hesitate to apply the Koranic laws in the province." And a few months after his election his words have become reality...

UAE: Norwegian woman who reported being raped in Dubai is jailed for 16 months for illicit sex outside marriage

The 25-year-old was in the United Arab Emirates on a business trip when she was raped and reported the assault to the local police.

Dubai police did not believe her, and instead took her passport and jailed her on suspicion of having had sex outside marriage.

The Norwegian woman reported the sexual assault in March this year, after which she had to spend days in a cell before she was allowed to use a telephone.

With the help of family members, the Norwegian consulate was able to negotiate a release and she has been living under the protection of the Norwegian Sailor’s Church until her sentencing this week.

'I received the harshest sentence for sex outside marriage, harshest sentence for drinking alcohol and on top of that I was found guilty of perjury,’ the woman told Verdens Gang.

‘It is a terrible situation she is in,’ said Gisle Meling, the priest at the Norwegian Sailor’s Church.

‘We are very surprised and had hoped it would go another way, but we live in a country which has a justice system which draws its conclusions with the help of Sharia law.’

She was sentenced to one year and four months in jail but as Norway has no extradition treaty with Dubai, her future is uncertain.

The young Norwegian woman's story is not unique.

Earlier this year Australian Alicia Gali, 27, spoke of how she was thrown in a Dubai jail for eight months after she reported a rape...

Yemen: 20-year-old man executed by Muslim militants for being homosexual is 34th victim of LGBT killings in country

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

Militants from the Al-Qaida linked Ansar Al Sharia islamist group have shot dead a 20-year-old they suspected of being gay in the Yemeni province of Lahj – though there is confusion over whether homosexuality is still a crime in the country.

Hashim Al Asmi was shot dead on Monday night by militants who then escaped on a motorbike.

Officials told the Washinton Post there had been 33 other gay men killed by the militant group.

Ansar Al Sharia is considered the main Al-Qaida affiliate in Yemen and is on the US’ formal list of banned terror organizations.

The Washington Post has claimed that homosexuality is not a crime in Yemeni law, but LGBT rights group ILGA states that sex between people of the same-sex is banned for both men and women, with homosexuality attracting the death penalty.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pilay condemned the country as recently as December 2011 and called on it to end the death penalty for homosexuality...

US: Music fans angry at decision to put a photo of Boston marathon bombings suspect on the cover of Rolling Stone

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

Rolling Stone readers have called for a boycott of the magazine after it featured a photo of one of the alleged Boston bombers on its cover.

Fans used to seeing musicians or actors on the front have expressed anger at the decision to use Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's picture of himself on next month's issue.

The image shows the 19-year-old unshaven with messy, curly hair above a headline saying The Bomber.

It bears a striking similarity to a front cover that featured The Doors frontman Jim Morrison.

The magazine goes on to say that it will reveal "how a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam, and became a monster".

Three people - Martin Richard, aged eight; Krystle Marie Campbell, 29, and 23-year-old Lingzi Lu - were killed in the attacks during the Boston marathon in April.

Shawn Anthony wrote on the magazine's Facebook page: "I think it's wrong to make celebrities out of these people. Why give the guy the cover of Rolling Stone? TIME gave Charles Manson the cover and all the magazines carried pictures of the Columbine shooters on the covers, too. Don't make martyrs out of these people."

James Mazzuchelli posted: "I will NEVER buy a Rolling Stone ever again. Disgraceful."

Pegeen Wotrubasaid: "It's a disgrace you would put him on your cover. Put a soldier, fireman or policeman, a runner from that day. After this comment, I am "un" liking your page."

On July 10 Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to 30 charges, including the use of weapons of mass destruction...

Ireland: Devout Muslim wanted in the US on a terrorism-related charge claims prison breached his religious rights

A Muslim man wanted in the US on a terrorism-related charge has claimed before the High Court his conditions while in Cork Prison were degrading and breached his right to practise his religion.

Ali Charaf Damache (47), an Algerian-born Irish citizen with an address at John Colwyn House, High Street, Waterford, has brought the action over his detention at Cork Prison during 2011 while awaiting trial.

He is now on remand at Cloverhill Prison pending the outcome of a US request for his extradition.

Last year, Mr Damache pleaded guilty at Waterford Circuit Court to making a menacing phone call to an American lawyer in 2010. He was sentenced to four years in jail with the final year suspended over making the phone call to Michigan-based attorney, Majed Moughni.

Due to time already served, he was released from custody but rearrested by gardaí on foot of an extradition warrant from the US where he is wanted for conspiring to provide support to terrorists.

Mr Damache claims he was subjected to insults and abuse by fellow inmates and prison staff, charges which are denied...

Saudi Arabia: Authorities restrict visas for Hajj pilgrimage over fears of deadly virus related to SARS

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

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...

Egypt: 15-year old girl subjected to violence by family after removing her hijab shoots herself to death

A 15-year old Egyptian girl who rejected her family’s pressures to wear the Islamic headscarf, known as the hijab, shot herself to death using her father’s hand gun, Egyptian media reported.

The girl, identified only as Amira , was subjected to “violence” by her family after she removed her hijab.

Preferring death to living under violence, Amira reportedly “sneaked” into her father’s room, took his gun and opened fire on herself, an investigation found, according to Youm7...

UK: Muslim banned from Britain for being a threat to national security given legal aid in a bid to win a UK passport

The extremist, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was stripped of British citizenship by Home Secretary Theresa May following evidence he had undergone terror training in Afghanistan. The man, who also has Afghan nationality, laun-ches an appeal against the ban today — funded by the TAXPAYER.
. . .
Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: “Foreigners must think we are mad. We use taxpayers’ cash to allow people who want to defeat us on the battlefield fight us in our courts.”

Egypt: Video showing supporters of ousted president beating a child at Cairo’s Ramses Square has gone viral

For news on the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi, click here.

Thousands of Islamists poured into the square after breaking their Ramadan fast on Monday seeking to organize a sit-in there, threatening to paralyze traffic in one of the busiest parts of Cairo.

Their move prompted police intervention and violent clashes throughout the night. During the clashes a boy showed up to the scene and the angry Islamists grabbed him with one of them asking him: “Who sent you here?;” “Who are you?;” “Are you with Mursi?;” and “Who are you with?.”

The horrified-looking boy was then beaten on the back of his head and then he was slapped.

When a man attempted to stop the assault, they shouted at him saying that the boy was hired by Mursi’s opponents.

“I know he is, but he’s just a child,” the young man responds. The crying boy pleads for help as several men continue to beat him.

“This isn’t merciful,” says a man approaching them.

He and others take the boy away, but it is unclear what happened to him afterwards.

At the end of the video, a protester notices that the incident is being filmed, so he tells the cameraman to film photos of Mursi instead...

Yemen: Two Muslim militants shoot dead a 20-year-old man for being a homosexual

For more on persecution of homosexuals, click here.

Two militants from an Al-Qaeda linked group shot dead a Yemeni man in the southern Lahj province, accusing him of being a homosexual, a police source said on Tuesday.

The attackers from the Ansar al-Sharia group, which is on the US terror list, opened fire at 20-year-old Hashem al-Asmi late Monday in the provincial capital of Huj, the source told AFP, adding that the gunmen fled on their motorbike after killing Asmi.

The attackers who "accused the man of being gay... belong to Ansar al-Shariah," the source said on condition of anonymity.

Ansar al-Sharia is the local branch of Al-Qaeda in Yemen where the network, although weakened, is still active mainly in the southern and eastern parts of the country.

Al-Qaeda loyalists seized large swathes of Yemen's south and east in 2011, taking advantage of a decline in central government control during an 11-month uprising that forced veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh from power...

Egypt: Four men arrested for cutting off the finger of a suspected thief at a pro-Morsi rally

Egyptian police arrested four men suspected of cutting off the finger of a civilian who supposedly attempted to steal the belongings of a protestor in a Cairo square, Egypt Independent reported on Monday, quoting the Middle East News Agency (MENA).

The square of Rabea al-Adawiya is the scene of an ongoing sit-in by the supporters of ousted president Mohammad Mursi demanding his return to power.

Security forces reportedly saw a car parked on the side of Cairo’s ring road early Monday, where four people stood next to it, while a chained passenger sat inside with serious injuries after his right thumb had been apparently cut off, MENA reported, according to Egypt Independent.

The victim told the police that the suspects beat him at Rabaa al-Adawiya before cutting his thumb off, according to the report.

The suspects said they were planning to abandon him in a deserted area as punishment, the report added.

This came amid escalating tensions between security forces and pro-Mursi supporters, who took to the streets demanding the reinstatement of the Islamist president.

Israel: Jews banned from Temple Mount one day after a Muslim mob attacked a previous group

Jewish worshippers hoping to ascend the Temple Mount in commemoration of Tisha B'Av were bitterly disappointed as, once again, police prevented them from ascending.

The hundreds of Jewish worshippers who waited Tuesday morning to enter the Temple Mount were turned away by the Jerusalem Police, who informed them that the district commander had ruled that entry to the Mount is forbidden to Jews.

The group included Members of Knesset Shuli Mualem-Rafaeli (Bayit Yehudi) and Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin (Likud). Several yeshivot (religious academies) were present as well.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement that after "security assessments" the decision was made "to close the Temple Mount to all visitors, in order to prevent disturbances."

However, it appeared that only non-Muslim visitors were included in that decision.

This latest incident comes only a day after a group of Jewish worshippers were forced off the Mount by a Muslim mob, amid claims that the police were failing to protect Jewish worshipper's at Judaism's holiest site.

It comes as a national debate rages over freedom of religion on the Temple Mount where, despite its supreme importance to Jews worldwide, Jews are subject to draconian limitations, including a ban on praying, due to the presence of an Islamic complex administered by the Waqf Islamic Trust, and threats by Islamist groups.

Religious Jews who are allowed to ascend are followed closely by Israeli police and Waqf guards to prevent them from praying, or from carrying out any other religious rituals.

Non-Jewish visitors are not subject to such restrictions.

Tisha B'Av (9th of the Hebrew month of Av) is a day of mourning which commemorates the destruction of the two Jewish Temples in Jerusalem by the Babylonian and Roman empires respectively. The Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest place, is the site of the former temples, and Jewish groups have repeatedly sought to ascend to commemorate their destruction.

After being turned away Tuesday, between 100-150 people remained at the foot of the Mount to conduct the traditional Tisha B'Av prayers.
. . .

Syria: Al-Qaeda planning to declare Islamic state in the North, after defeating the FSA

A high ranking Free Syrian Army official revealed in remarks published Tuesday that the Al-Qaeda organization was planning on declaring an Islamic state in North Syria.

“The FSA has documented information that Al-Qaeda will soon declare an Islamic state in North Syria, after defeating the FSA and controlling the border crossings with Turkey,” the unnamed official told As-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper.

The official also said that the Islamic organization “set the zero hour on the first day of Eid al-Fitr [the holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan].”

He added that the Islamists planned to target the Bab al-Hawa and Harem border crossings “in order to acquire weapons as well as finances through the smuggling of crude oil.”

The official also noted that Al-Qaeda had begun executing its plan last week.

“The execution of the plan began a week ago after the beheading of [FSA] member Fadi al-Qash and his brother in the town of Al-Dana, and then the assassination of Free Syrian Army Supreme Military Council member Kamal al-Hamami. The plan will continue with a series of assassinations targeting FSA members,” he said.

However, the high-ranking official said that after the FSA found out about Al-Qaeda’s plan, “it will seek to avoid any attack or open any new front that could weaken the rebels in the face of the regime.”

“The FSA is deploying units and checkpoints in the towns that will be targeted… so that these areas will not come under the control of the Islamic State [of Iraq and Levant].”...

Finland: Muslims lie to Human Rights Commission, claim murders by Islamophobes "who publish hate messages on their websites"

The report [published by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance] noted that although there were positive developments with respect to anti-racism efforts in Finland, the Commission still had some concerns and felt that "visible minorities continued to be at risk of racial profiling by police".

The Commission put forward a host of recommendations, including expanding the remit of the Minorities’ Ombudsman to combat discrimination based on colour, language, religion or race; expanding the mandate of the National Discrimination Tribunal to deal with immigration and multiple discrimination matters and improving the monitoring of racist acts.

The ECRI noted in its report that despite a number of cases involving hate crimes, ethnic agitation and discrimination at work, "there are still few convictions on charges of racism and/or racial discrimination, as such cases are rarely brought before the courts, although these phenomena exist in Finland."

The organisation also argued that victims often believe that complaining to the courts is ineffective. The organisation called on Finnishb authorities to ensure that local monitors closely study monitor the situation for evidence of discrimination on grounds of colour, nationality and language.

Charges of racist-motivated murders

The report also cited members of the Islamic community who claimed that racism-incited murders have taken place in Finland. The findings come as news to Finnish police and human rights activists.

“Although the Finnish authorities have informed that they are not aware of any murders committed with racist motives, representatives of the Muslim community have reported to ECRI that there have been racist murders, mainly committed by racist groups which publish hate messages on their websites,” the report stated.

Finnish police expressed surprise at the findings of the report, and noted that they had never worked on any criminal investigations concerning the death of any Muslims.

Päivi Mattila, Secretary General of the Finnish League for Human Rights told Yle that she had complete faith in the view of the Finnish authorities.

“I have the same understanding that we have not had any cases involving racist-motivated killings, and that such cases would have drawn convictions,” Mattila said.

Similarly, Mattila had not heard of any claims of racially-motivated killings from Muslims or Muslim minorities. "Rather there has been word of other types of hate crimes, which have been met with convictions,” Mattila added.

However the human rights activist said that it's important that the report did solicit information and opinions from a wide cross section of players.

“Especially when we talk about racist crimes, it would not make sense to seek feedback only from official sources. The voice of the civil society also brings healthy additional criticism,” she noted.

The wide-ranging report encouraged Finland to beef up the remit and resourcing of the Minorities' Ombudsman to bring matters before the court, including immigration cases, and to deal with complaints on grounds of skin colour, language, religion or “race”.

It also recommended that the Ombudsman for Minorities should be allowed to open local and regional branch offices.

Bangladesh: Islamist leader Ghulam Azam guilty of five charges relating to 1971 war of independence

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

Ghulam Azam was sentenced to 90 years in jail for his involvement in mass killings and rape during the war.

Supporters of Bangladesh's main Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party, which he led from 1969 until 2000, clashed with police ahead of the verdict.

It is the fifth sentence passed against current and former party leaders.

The court found Mr Azam, 90, guilty of five charges including conspiracy, incitement, planning, abetting and failing to prevent murder.

He faced more than 60 counts of crimes against humanity for his role in setting up militia groups which carried out atrocities during the war.

Mr Azam has denied the charges, which his supporters say were politically motivated.

The prosecution had been seeking the death penalty.

But the three-judge panel said that while Mr Azam deserved capital punishment, he received a prison term because of his advanced age.

Spiritual leader

The mood in Bangladesh is tense, with police on all major streets of the capital and security beefed up around the country, the BBC's Mahfuz Sadique in Dhaka says.

Before the verdict was announce, police reportedly fired rubber bullets to disperse Jamaat-e-Islam supporters protesting in Dhaka and several other cities on Monday.

Journalists were among a number of people hurt in the violence in the Dhalpur district of Dhaka, police say.

On the eve of the verdict there were sporadic clashes in different parts of the capital with reports of some injuries, he adds.

Previous verdicts for former Jamaat leaders have led to deadly protests involving party supporters.

More than 100 people have been killed since January in political violence sparked by verdicts handed down by the International Crimes Tribunal.

Pro-government groups have also taken to the streets demanding death sentences for those being tried, accusing the tribunal of being too lenient.
. . .
The exact number of people killed during Bangladesh's nine-month war of secession is unclear: official Bangladeshi figures suggest as many as three million people died, but independent researchers suggest the death toll was around 500,000.

Syria: Cleric accused the Jews of being responsible for the ongoing civil strife throughout the Middle East

The remarks were made in a sermon at the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, which aired on Syrian TV on June 28.

They were translated and posted by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

“Let us take a look at the history of mankind, which has recorded the true nature of the Jews, the slayers of prophets and violators of agreements. It shows how they have tried, since pre-Islamic times, to fragment, divide, and rip apart the Arab and Islamic nation,” claimed the preacher.

“In an effort to gain influence in the world and to realize their desires, the Jews have set two basic goals. Listen, oh Muslims, and beware of what is happening in Syria – in that land with steadfast people and leadership.

“They have two basic goals. The first is to divide the nations of the world, to pit them one against the other, and to spark war and civil strife among them. The second goal is to rip apart the nations of the world, destroying their notions, moral values, and codes, and making them stray from the path of Allah,” he said.

“That is what they did throughout the ages all over the world. Oh nation of Islam, the Jews have been tearing this nation apart for many years.

“What is happening today in this steadfast fortress [Syria], and in the Middle East in general, is nothing new. It was premeditated.

“We are a nation in slumber, a nation that does not study the books of history, and has not studied what its enemies are plotting and devising against it. They kindled the spark of civil strife in Palestine and in Afghanistan, and then in Iraq, then in Egypt, and after that, in Syria,” stated the preacher.

Israel has made it clear that it does not intervene in the affairs of neighboring countries, including Syria, but it does act when its red lines are crossed.

"We’ve established red lines regarding our interests and we maintain them. Whenever there is an explosion or attack over there, the Middle East blames us anyway,” Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said last week...

Iraq: More than 2,600 killed in Shiite/Sunni violence so far this year

Iraq has faced years of attacks by militants, but analysts say widespread discontent among members of its Sunni Arab minority, which the Shiite-led government has failed to address, has driven the spike in unrest this year. Sunday was the fourth day in a row in which more than 30 people were killed in attacks, and an average of 26 people have died per day in unrest in Iraq over the first two weeks of July.

Most senior politicians and religious leaders have remained silent about the wave of violence, though parliament speaker Osama Al Nujaifi did issue a boilerplate statement condemning the latest attacks.
. . .
The deadliest attacks struck central and south Iraq on Sunday evening.

Yemen: Eight injured in violent Ramadan dispute over microphone use at local mosque

Sana’a Mayor Abdulqader Hilal on Saturday ordered Al-Tiseer Mosque, located on Al-Zera’a Street of Sana’a, be included in the list of public endowment properties, which are managed by the Ministry of Guidance (MGI) and Endowment.

The announcement comes after eight people-including two soldiers-were injured in an armed dispute on Friday between alleged Houthi and Islah affiliates about the use of the mosque’s microphone during the Taraweeh prayer, which is held daily in Ramadan after the Isha prayer.

The source of dispute is believed to have started days earlier at the start of Ramadan when Houthis, a group of Zaidi Shiites had asked the prayer not be broadcast over the mosque’s speakers. Houthis perform the prayer but typically not in mosques, only at their homes.

This upset Islah-affiliated mosque attendees, who perform the prayer in mosques, according to several locals in the area. The two groups agreed not to use the microphone after taking their dispute to the local police department, said Mukhtar Al-Najar, who also worships at the mosque but is not affiliated with either party.

A small security force was deployed to make sure the peace agreement was kept.

But on Friday, according to several eyewitnesses, an unidentified armed group arrived in busses and began attacking those around the mosque. Gun fire is reported to have been heard for over an hour.

Two bombs were thrown during the clashes, one of which is a grenade and the other a sound bomb, according to Dr. Omar Abdulkareem, Sana’a’s Security Chief.

“Those who fired belong to both the Islah and Houthi Parties and not to one party as is rumored,” he said.

While little is still known about those involved in the incident, Abdulkareem said an investigation is underway...

Egypt: More than a hundred Christian families have fled El Arish after receiving death threats from Muslim groups

More than a hundred Christian families have fled El Arish in the Sinai after receiving death threats from Islamist groups following the fall of Mohamed Morsi. On 6 July, a 39-year-old priest, Fr Mina Haroan Abboud, was killed. On 11 July, the body of another Christian, a merchant from Sheikh Zowayd, was found decapitated. He had been kidnapped a few days before. Currently, Coptic churches in northern Sinai have cancelled all services and meetings, except for a Mass on Friday. No Christians are left in the towns of Rafah and Sheikh Zowayd.

The Sinai Peninsula has always been a home for Islamist groups, many of them linked to Hamas in Gaza. For decades, they have fought against the Egyptian army as it tried to stop weapon supplies and smuggling into the Gaza Strip. Under Morsi and the Brotherhood, the army had reduced pressure on them but now the military is back in force following the fall of Hosni Mubarak's successor.

In the few days since Morsi's removal, the Sinai has seen dozens of attacks against police stations, army checkpoints, and individual members of the Armed Forces. But attacks have also been carried out against the Christians, "guilty" of supporting Morsi's fall.

On 5 July, a Jihadist group using the name Ansar al-Shari'a in the Land of Kinaanah (i.e. Egypt) issued a statement promising to respond to the "war against Islam in Egypt," a war waged by "secularists, atheists, Mubarak loyalists, Christians, security forces and the leaders of the Egyptian Army."

In its statement, the group describes democracy as "blasphemous" in assuming one of God's prerogative and warns of impending "massacres of Muslims in Egypt".

Christians, especially Patriarch Tawadros, are accused of conniving with the army to remove Mohamed Morsi.

Coptic Patriarch Tawadros and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Mosque Ahmed al-Tayeb were present at the ceremony in which Morsi's removal was announced.

In many pro-Morsi manifestations organised recently by the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Tayeb is branded as a "traitor."

The Coptic patriarch has also been accused of betraying Egypt. Three days ago in Heliopolis, at least 2,000 young members of the Muslim Brotherhood wrote "Down with Tawadros" on the walls of a (Catholic) church during a demonstration that lasted several hours.

It is likely that the Coptic minority will be scapegoated for President Morsi's fall and the Brotherhood's loss of power.

"Tensions are high," Christian sources in Egypt told AsiaNews, also because the Brotherhood, aided by infiltrated jihadists, is planning a series of anti-Christian terrorist attacks.

Three days ago, the Christian village of Dabaaya was attacked by a group of armed men who burnt 23 houses and killed four Christians. One of them, Emile Nessim, had worked hard to collect the signatures for the Tamarod (rebel) movement that led to Morsi's fall.

On 9 July, the Mar Mina Church in Port Said was riddled with bullets by a group of unknown gunmen.

In recent days, a group of Islamists drew crosses on some shops owned by Egyptian Copts in Minya (250 km south of Cairo). People are afraid that this 'Nazi-style' gesture might be the prelude of a terrorist attack against the targeted buildings.

Philippines and MILF (The Moro Islamic Liberation Front) rebels in wealth-sharing deal

The Philippines has reached a deal with the country's largest Muslim rebel group to share wealth generated from Mindanao's natural resources.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will receive 75% of the gold, copper and other resources mined from the southern island.

It follows lengthy negotiations aimed at ending a 40-year conflict that has cost an estimated 120,000 lives.

But a rebel group not at the talks has continued attacks on the national army.

Two soldiers and five guerrillas died in an ambush by the violent break-away faction Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) on Saturday.

Disarming rebels Sunday's agreement was reached after six days of talks in Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur.

It adds details to an outline agreement - the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) - signed last October in which the Philippine government agreed to give Muslims on Mindanao more autonomy in the southern region where Muslims represent a majority in the mainly Catholic nation.

"The Parties believe that the Annex, which forms part of the FAB, will provide sufficient guidance for the crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law's provisions on wealth sharing and revenue generation for the Bangsamoro as envisioned by the FAB," said the government and MILF representatives in a joint statement.

Under the terms of the FAB:

The new autonomous region would be named Bangsamoro, after the Moros - or Moors, which was how the Spanish used to refer to the followers of Islam - living there

  • Bangsamoro's leaders would have more political and economic powers
  • Law enforcement would be transferred from the army to the Bangsamoro police in a "phased and gradual manner"
  • The needs of the region's poverty-stricken communities would be addressed
  • The deal makes it more likely the two sides will reach a final peace agreement to end a decades-old conflict, says BBC Asia analyst Michael Bristow.

But other aspects of a final peace agreement still need to be worked out, such as how to disarm the rebels and exactly how much autonomy the will get, he adds...

Tunisia: Consumption of food products skyrockets during the holy month of Ramadan

For more on the adverse effects of Islamic fasting, click here.

Tunisian consumption in food products skyrockets during the holy month, Ahmed Methlouthi director of the communication unit at the National Consumer Institute (INC) told TAP news agency.

This increase involves:

- Milk, rising to 2 liters of monthly consumption during the month of Ramadan against 0. 9 liters per person throughout the year

- Yoghurt pots went up to 12.9 per person, against 5.4 pots monthly during the rest of the year.

- Eggs are consumed at 26 per person, against 12.8 eggs per month in normal times

- Roll (baguette) 1.4 kg against 0.6 kg per month in normal times

- Oil, 1.2 liter, against 1.14 liters per month in normal times

- Meat: 1.1 kg of mutton, against 0.75 kg outside Ramadan, 0.5 kg of beef per month against 0.22 kg and 1.8 kg of poultry against 1.28 kg per month...

Iran: Women must provide sex to men at all times, says a leading cleric at a conference on family issues

A leading Iranian cleric has denounced those women who do not cater sexually to men.

Hojatolislam Hossein Dehnavi discussed the duty of women under Islam at a conference on family issues, according to Fars News Agency, a media outlet run by the Revolutionary Guards.

“One of the calamities of our society is that some women do not give authority to their husbands and this is more evident in three groups,” Dehnavi said in explaining the duties of women toward their husbands.

“The first group are those who are older than their husbands and treat their spouses like a mother would, which harms the authority of men. The second group are those who have a higher education than their husbands and because of their financial independence (they) have some attitude, which harms men’s authority.”

In referring to the third group of women, the cleric said, “One of the other duties of women in regard to their men is to take care of their men’s instinctive needs (sexual drive). Do not break their pride and (you must) be more sensitive toward them.”
. . .
“Women have to provide sex to their men anywhere and at anytime,” he said in one released video of his speeches. “Even in her mother’s house, the woman usually refuses and says it’s bad and that her mother could find out, but they should do it and so what if her mother finds out? It won’t be bad as they are not doing anything illegal.”

In another video, Dehnavi decreed that:

  • Women commit a sin if they try to “satisfy” themselves after their husbands climax.
  • It is not a sin for a man to think about another woman while having sex with his wife. “This is the kindness of God to us Muslims that thinking about sin is not a sin (and when) some men in having sex with their wives talk about other woman, this is not a sin either.”
  • If thinking of another woman during sex results in pregnancy, “then the child will be a homosexual.”

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iranian women have been subjected to the cruelest of punishments and have had their rights taken away.

Despite the promise of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Revolution, that he would allow women freedom of choice in clothing, activities and lifestyle, one of his first orders was to force all women to wear the Islamic hijab, covering their hair and their body. Makeup is banned, and women cannot be seen with anyone other than their husbands or relatives. Anyone caught disobeying the law is subjected to lashing and imprisonment.

Under the Islamic regime, women do not hold equal rights as men on inheritance and marriage and even need their husband’s permission to travel outside the country. Women who abide completely by the rules of the clerics are not immune to their cruelty either. Many women – sometimes as young as 15 – have been stoned to death on bogus charges of adultery.

Today, hundreds of female political and human rights activists and thousands of brave Iranian girls who joined their men to reject brutality and demand freedom sit in jail helpless.

Many have been raped prior to execution as the clerics believe a virgin will go to heaven so the regime wants to deny the prisoners this reward...

Nigeria: Muslim militants forced school children to strip naked, shot them point blank then set the bodies on fire

They crept up to the school under cover of darkness, armed with petrol and automatic weapons.

Most of the teachers and pupils had fled, but some students, one teacher and headmaster Adanu Haruna were still in the compound, one of many rural boarding schools in Nigeria surrounded by forest and farmland.

"They made the students line up and strip naked, then they made the ones with pubic hair lie face down on the ground," Haruna said, eyes wide with horror at describing the attack on the iron-roofed school built by British colonizers in the 1950s.

"They shot them point blank then set the bodies on fire."

The Mamudo government school, charred and smelling of scorched blood after 22 students and a teacher were killed there in the July 6 attack near Potiskum in Nigeria's northeast, was the fourth to be targeted by suspected Boko Haram militants in less than a month.

The attacks reveal much about the rebels who are fighting to revive a medieval Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria, the type of state they are seeking to establish and the impact of their efforts to do so on the African economic powerhouse.

In a video uploaded to the Internet on Saturday, Boko Haram's purported leader Abubakar Shekau denied ordering the latest killings, saying Boko Haram does not itself kill small children, but he praised attacks on Western schools.

"We fully support the attack on school in Mamudo, as well as on other schools," he said. "Western education schools are against Islam ... We will kill their teachers."

Boko Haram, a nickname which translates roughly as "Western education is sinful", formed around a decade ago as a clerical movement opposed to Western influence, which the sect's founder, Mohammed Yusuf, said was poisoning young minds against Islam.

Yet security forces and politicians were the main targets of the armed revolt it started after Yusuf's killing in a 2009 military crackdown that left 800 people dead.

Since those days Boko Haram has splintered into several factions, including some with ties to al Qaeda's Saharan wing, which analysts say operate more or less independently, despite Shekau's loose claim to authority over them.

Before June, there had been only a handful of attacks on the Western-style schools it so despises.

An offensive against the insurgents since President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in three remote northern states in May, wresting control of the far northeast from Boko Haram and pushing its fighters into hiding, has changed that...

UK: Muslims threaten to stab inmates who eat pork in front of them at one of Britain's toughest prisons

Islamic extremists threaten to stab fellow inmates who eat pork in front of them at one of Britain's toughest jails, a prisoner has claimed.

The 'long serving prisoner' at HMP Long Lartin said cooking pork at the communal kitchen is 'deemed dangerous, even a threat to your life'.

The anonymous man made the claims in a letter to prisoners' magazine Inside Time.

He claims inmates at the jail are being radicalised but the issue is not being addressed by prison bosses.

'Terror' preacher Abu Hamza and radical cleric Abu Qatada have both been held at the prison.

The inmate wrote: 'The kitchen is usually occupied by 90 per cent Muslims and we have been told if we cook pork we will be stabbed. There have been incidents here where people have been targeted and pressured and bullied into converting to Islam.

'Young Muslim men are being radicalised in here and one day they may commit acts of terrorism in this country.

'There seems to be nothing being done here to stop it and people are scared to speak out.'

The man also claimed Muslim inmates celebrated the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby at the Category A prison.

The young soldier was stabbed to death in the street in broad daylight as he returned to Woolwich Barracks on May 22.

The prisoner said when the news was broadcast on television some Muslim prisoners praised the murder.

UK: Teenage Muslim convert who vowed to bring Shari'ah law to the UK has been jailed for assault

A white Muslim convert who vowed to bring Sharia law to the UK has been jailed for six weeks for beating up a photographer.

Jordan Horner, who changed his name to ­Jamal Uddin, also laid into a car, causing £3,000 of damage.

Horner, 19, had earlier said he ­believed Osama bin Laden was a hero who had gone to heaven and that British ­soldiers should burn in hell.

He converted after being approached leaving a pub and was later seen putting up posters across East ­London “banning” alcohol.

Speaking of his previous life and friends he said: “I don’t talk to any of them now.

"I have deleted their numbers from my phone and want nothing to do with them.

“As Muslims you can’t integrate with non-believers because their way of life is completely opposite - I would rather give up my friends and family than give up on Allah.

“Why would I miss people who choose to live in such an evil way with no respect? I just feel sadness for them.”

“A year ago I was doing what teenagers do - living a bad lifestyle, drinking, smoking, seeing girls. I was getting into trouble with the police.

“Then one evening, I met a brother who said there was another path I could take in life.

"When I spoke to him he had all the answers to the problems in my life and all my concerns."...

PA: Tomb of the Patriarchs, Judaism's second holiest site, desecrated by Muslim worshippers

Jewish worshippers who arrived at the Cave of Patriarchs in Hevron after Muslim prayers on Friday were horrified to find that the site had been vandalised.

The Cave (known as Me'arat Hamakhpela in Hebrew) is usually split between Jewish and Muslim worshippers, but this past Friday it was open exclusively to Muslim worshippers in honour of Ramadan.

But when the Jewish section of the site was reopened, worshippers were horrified to find widespread desecration. Two mezuzot - cases containing Jewish holy scriptures affixed to the doorpost - had been torn off and stolen, and a third was damaged. Muslim worshippers had also thrown mud and garbage around the site, and uprooted parts of the garden outside.

Noam Arnon, a spokesperson for Hevron's Jewish community, called upon the government to take such acts of desecration "at least as seriously as the burning of carpets in a mosque" - a reference to the string of condemnations and promises of a crackdown by authorities against acts of vandalism on mosques by suspected Jewish extremists.

"After a 'Price Tag' attack everyone rushes to condemn - the government, Members of Knesset, even the Chief Rabbis - and the police promise to do 'everything in their power' to catch those responsible. The people of Hevron are waiting to see if they will react in the same way to this act of desecration."

Arnon added that such acts were commonplace, particularly during Muslim holidays.

"I can't say that we're surprised, because this kind of thing happens after every Muslim festival. But we are still hoping that justice will be done."...

Egypt: "Muslim extremists kill our priests, burn our churches and kidnap our women," a nightmare of religious hatred

The mob converging on a church on the outskirts of Cairo were armed only with sticks and stones.

But their frenzied attack on a lone, elderly Coptic priest was merciless. Father Matthew Awad had refused to reveal the whereabouts of a Muslim woman who had converted to Christianity. For this offence, he was assaulted, suffered death threats and barely escaped with his life.

Today, he is in hiding. His entire family fear for their safety. Matthew’s son, shop owner Marco Awad, cannot set foot in public after he was arrested and tortured by Egyptian police officers sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Two of his three young children are with him in a safe house while his sister, wife and four month-old-son have fled Egypt to Britain and are now staying in Brighton.

Marco, who refused to be photographed because of the risk to his life, told The Mail on Sunday from a monastery in the desert: ‘Muslim fundamentalists are killing our priests, kidnapping our women and burning our churches. Since the 2011 revolution, Coptics like me have lived in fear of our lives. I’m being forced to live apart from my family because of my faith.’

The minority Christian group are reeling after a frightening rise in religiously-motivated attacks. Last Thursday, the decapitated body of church elder Magdy Lamay Habib, 59, was found in a graveyard, six days after he was kidnapped by extremists in northern Sanai.

And priest Father Mina Aboud Sharobeel, 39, was shot dead when Islamic gunmen opened fire as he drove home from a weekly grocery shop at a market in the town of El Arish, near the Gaza border.

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood are believed to have launched the attacks because they blame Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II for backing the military’s removal of President Mohammed Morsi from power on July 3.

Christians are especially vulnerable in Sinai, where much of the population is armed and the local economy hinges on the smuggling of weapons, drugs and people. Security officials believe a local branch of Jabhat al-Nusra, the feared Islamist group that is fighting against the Syrian government, may also be operating in Sinai. As are Jihadist groups, including affiliates of Al Qaeda.

Christians saw discrimination against them escalate during Morsi’s drive for an Islamic state. Around 200,000 are said to have left for new lives in Europe, America and Canada over the past year.

Father Youssef Souby Zaky, a friend of the slain priest, reluctantly left his church in Rafa, northern Sinai, after it was ransacked and torched. He says: ‘Every Christian family abandoned the town because it was unsafe for us to live there.

‘Several churches were vandalised and set alight, threats made against our families and four priests were kidnapped in the region – three were released after ransoms were paid, but sadly one was slaughtered.

‘These hate crimes have been fuelled by extremists trying to drive us out of Sinai, perhaps even out of Egypt. My fear is that long-term enmity will be established and our national unity will crumble to dust.’

The Awad family became targets after the family of a Muslim woman objected to her conversion to Christianity last July. ‘Extremists led the attack against my father but he managed to escape,’ Marco says. ‘They threatened to kill my sister Feeby and we were forced to flee our homes.’

He took his wife Rania and their children – son David, ten, and daughter Karma, aged six – to live with the in-laws. ‘Then, four months ago, I was taken from my shop by two policemen, who said my business permit was not in order.

‘I was locked in a cell and beaten every day. They kept asking where my father and sister had gone. But my wife had been looking for me and she contacted the Egyptian Federation for Human Rights, who spoke to the right people and I was eventually freed. I was taken unconscious in a car and dumped in the middle of the countryside.’

Dr Naguib Gobraiel, head of the Human Rights Federation and also a Christian, describes what’s happening as ethnic cleansing. ‘It’s a pogrom,’ he claims. ‘I have three sons in their late 20s and they all emigrated with their families since Morsi took power. I’ve been threatened with death and my office burned three times.’

The former judge saw a big increase in false allegations made against Christians, especially teachers, after the Brotherhood were voted into power in the country’s first democratic elections a year ago.

Criminalising blasphemy was enshrined in a controversial Islamist-backed constitution passed by Mr Morsi soon after he became president. Liberal Muslim writers and activists have since been accused of insulting Islam.

But it is the country’s minority Christians – about ten per cent of the population – who bear the brunt of prosecutions and imprisonment for blasphemy.

Dr Gobraiel represented 18 of them. ‘Seventeen received three to six years in prison,’ he says. ‘They went to appeals courts, hoping for retrials or lighter sentences. But the system is biased.’

His most notorious case involved Dimyana Abdel-Nour, a woman teacher in the southern tourist city of Luxor.

The shy 24-year old was arrested and charged with insulting Islam during her classes, after three parents claimed she had expressed disgust for the religion to their ten-year-old daughters.

She spent a week in jail before being bailed for £2,000 in May and is now hiding in a church outside the city. ‘She is in a very bad way and is being protected by one of our priests,’ says Dr Gobraiel.

‘The charges are spurious, yet she was arrested and kept in custody. It was a very shocking experience and her father says she suffered a nervous breakdown.’

Meanwhile, a tense stand-off between pro-Morsi supporters and the military continues in the holy month of Ramadan – fasting has dampened any appetite for fighting.

Television producer Maha Reda believes the Brotherhood hierarchy know they have lost the battle to hold on to power – but also claims that Egypt is not ready to be a functioning democracy: ‘The army is the only solid institution that can hold our society together and stop us drifting into more chaos.’

Marco Awad hopes that is the case – but is too afraid to take a chance with his family’s safety. ‘I never thought of leaving my country but I don’t feel safe here any more,’ he says.

‘I want my children to live somewhere where being a Christian does not put a target on their backs.’

Nigeria: Head of Boko Haram supported attack on a school that killed 42 people, but did not claim responsibility for the massacre

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

"We fully support the attack on this Western education school in Mamudo," in northern Yobe state, Abubakar Shekau said in the 10-minute video message.

The video was delivered to AFP in a manner consistent with previous statements from the Islamist leader, who has been declared a global terrorist by the United States.

The early morning gun and bomb attack at a boarding school in the Mamudo district of Yobe saw assailants round up students and staff in a dormitory before throwing explosives inside and opening fire, according to witnesses.

Most of those killed were students.

In the video, Shekau described all "Western education schools" as a "plot against Islam".

He however stopped short of claiming to have ordered the attack.

"We don't attack students," he said in the Hausa language message.

Yobe state was one of three areas placed under a state of emergency in May ahead of a sweeping military offensive against Boko Haram...

Singapore: Two non-governmental organisations file police report over 'offensive' Ramadan Facebook post

Two non-governmental organisations filed a police report today over a provocative Facebook post allegedly made by two former National University of Singapore students which stirred racial sensitivities of Muslims in the country.

Kulaijaya Usahanita chairman Mazanah Mohammad Zain and Tanjung Puteri Malaysian Diabetes Association chairman made the report at the Tampoi Police Station, here, at about 1pm today.

Speaking to reporters after lodging the report, Mazanah, 56, described the act as mocking Islam and should not be done out of respect for Malaysia as a multi-racial country.

"I want the authorities to take action on them," she said...

Pakistan: Over a month after a Muslim landlord paraded three Christian women naked, a court finally takes notice

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

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.

According to the victim family's head Sadiq Masih, the male members of his family had gone out on their jobs when the attackers led by Munir entered his house.

Munir demanded Masih to produce his sons who earlier had a brawl with him over a cattle issue.

Failing to find them there, the attackers took the wives of Masih's three sons with them.

Munir and his armed men first disrobed the women and then forcibly paraded them naked in the streets.

As the women screamed and shouted for help, some elderly people of the village came out to their rescue. They put their turbans on the feet of the attackers, pleading them to leave the women.

After this, the attackers let the women go but warned the villagers and the victim family against reporting the matter to the police.

Egypt: Pro-Morsi protesters awaiting signal for ‘sexual Jihad,’ Fatwa suggests it will soon be allowed

Hardcore Muslim Brotherhood (MB) supporters are awaiting a signal to commence a campaign of 'sexual Jihad' within their sit-in camp in Cairo; which is something a Fatwa (religious edict) posted on a MB-affiliated Facebook paged suggests will soon be allowed.

The fatwa came in response to a question by a female Brotherhood supporter asking if 'sexual Jihad' is allowed in Rabea al-Adawiya Square and the rest of Egyptian squares where people have been protesting since 30 June.

The religious answer was: “Not now. Let us wait first for what will happen, may God strengthen the Mujahedeen.” “Sexual Jihad” refers the female Islamists offering their sexual services to their male counterparts so they remain motivated to continue the struggle for their cause. The fatwa prompted more than 1,400 user comments, with many responding with sarcasm and ridicule. One commentator wrote: "If there is sexual Jihad, we are ready to abandon Tahrir square and join Rabea al-Adawiya, may God destroy the Hashish camp.”

Tahrir square is where liberal anti-Mursi protesters are camping to defend the military’s decision to overthrow the Islamist president...

US: Fort Hood shooting suspect, Maj. Nidal Hasan, says Qur'an justifies killing people

Maj. Nidal Hasan, suspected of killing 13 people and wounding over 30 at a mass shooting on Nov. 5, 2009, at Fort Hood in Texas, has revealed he supports Islamic fundamentalist group the Taliban, and that he believes the Islamic holy book, the Quran, justifies killing.

The Associated Press noted that if convicted of the murders, 42-year-old Hasan, who was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by police, faces the death sentence or life in prison.

The jury for the military murder trial is currently being selected, with Hasan acting as an attorney because he has chosen to represent himself. According to AP, six Army officers were dismissed as potential jurors earlier this week after being questioned by the judge, Col. Tara A. Osborn, and prosecutors.

Separately, Hasan had asked a colonel whether his convictions that the Quran justifies killing people would prevent the colonel from being a fair juror. The colonel was among other potential jurors who said they would only consider evidence in the case.

According to AP, the FBI released emails sent by Hasan to a radical Muslim cleric, revealing his support for terrorists and his intrigue "with the idea of U.S. soldiers killing comrades in the name of Islam."

The major, who served as a psychiatrist in the army, has apparently told a military judge that what motivated his attack on Fort Hood was his belief that U.S. soldiers were about to be deployed to Afghanistan and posed an immediate threat to Taliban leaders.

UK: Teachers denied schoolboy, 10, water on the hottest day of the year to avoid upsetting Muslim pupils during Ramadan

An angry mother has accused a primary school of denying her child water on one of the hottest days of the year for fear of upsetting pupils observing Ramadan.

Kora Blagden, 32, claimed a teacher at her son Luke’s school refused to let the 10-year old drink from his water bottle because it was unfair to fasting classmates.

Many pupils at Charles Dickens Primary School, Portsmouth, Hampshire, are fasting during Ramadan, which means they refrain from taking food or water between sunrise and sunset for around 30 days, depending on the moon.

Mother-of-four Kora said: 'Just before bedtime me and my sons Luke, ten, and Alfie, eight, were talking about Ramadan as we had seen it on the news.

'Luke said to me he was told he wasn’t allowed to drink in class by his teacher.

'The reason being, a child who is fasting had a headache and the teacher said it would be unfair if the other children drank in front of the pupil.

'They normally have their bottles on their table but they were kept in a tray by the teacher.

'He went along with it but he was thirsty and didn’t want to offend the other children.

'Alfie said he was allowed to drink in the morning but not in the afternoon.

'Luke was dehydrated when he got home and drunk three glasses of water straight away.'

The teacher made the ruling on Thursday when temperatures soared to 28C.

Ms Blagden confronted deputy head Lisa Florence before lessons began today and was given a verbal apology for the incident...

Pakistan: Ahmadis killed and gravely wounded in attacks; police ask for fictional 'No Objection Certificate' to prevent them from praying

The persecution of the Ahmadis, a minority sect, by police and fundamentalist Muslim groups is continuing unabated. In the month of June, two persons from the Ahmadiyya sect were gunned downed by 'unknown killers' in Karachi and Lahore. Another Ahmadi was shot and seriously injured.

In the city of Sialkot, Punjab province, the Ahmadis were stopped from offering Friday prayers and police asked them to produce a No Objection Certificate (no such thing exists) for offering prayers. When Ahmadis went to a senior police official for help, he instead instructed Ahmadis not to observe their Friday prayers until he had spoken to the Mullahs, the Muslim fundamentalists. The authorities do not allow Ahmadis to build a place for worship, nor do they allow them to pray at home. This is the freedom to worship – Punjab style.

The Ahmadis are not allowed to call their places of prayer a mosque and if holy verses of the Quran are written on their mosques the police and the Mullahs (fundamentalists) desecrate and erase them. If any person erases such holy words he/she is accused of blasphemy by fundamentalists but, in relation to religious minorities, the Muslim fundamentalists and law enforcement agencies are allowed to erase them. This practice against the Ahmadiyya sect has been continuous over the past six months.

The Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya Pakistan, the organization of Ahmadis, has also detailed the persecution of Ahmadis that has occurred during the last six months.

A young Ahmadi shot dead: Unknown assailants killed Mr. Jawad Kareem, an Ahmadi, at his home because of his faith. Kareem, a resident of Green Town, was coming downstairs to go to meet his wife at her clinic, when unknown assailants entered his house and shot him. The bullet hit him in the chest. He was rushed to the hospital but did not survive. He had no personal vendettas against him from anyone. However, he was an active Ahmadi and had been receiving threats for some time. On hearing the noise from the attack, his elder brother, who lives on the ground floor, came out. The assailants fired a few shots in the air, and told him, "Next, it is your turn."

He is survived by his widow, three small children and brother. His youngest child is only five months old. His mother died of grief the day after Kareem was killed.

Prominent Ahmadi murdered in Karachi for his faith: Mr. Hamid Sami, 48, a chartered accountant, was shot dead in the afternoon on a busy road on June 11 2013. He left his office in Al-Hayat Chambers, M.A. Jinnah Rd., at 6:30 p.m. by car to go home. A friend and a business colleague accompanied him in the car. On the way, some unidentified men on motorcycles approached his car and opened fire. At least 6 bullets hit him on the face, hand and body, killing him on the spot. He left behind a widow, two daughters and a son.

Ahmadi gravely wounded in assault: On June 11 2013, Mr. Naveed Ahmad, son of Rasheed Ahmad, was shot by unknown assailants at 1:15 p.m. in his shop in Jhelum, Punjab, by three unknown men, who came to his shop on a motorbike. He was seriously injured and rushed to the hospital.

One of the assailants had come to Ahmad and asked for water. Ahmad provided him a glass of water. The stranger said, "It's very hot". Ahmad offered to let him come inside the shop to cool down a bit under the fan. The stranger came inside and so did two other people. The first one pointed a pistol at Ahmad. Ahmad resisted but the assailant managed to pull the trigger. The bullet hit him under his left eye and injured his jaw. Another of the men also fired at Ahmad, shooting him under his ribs and injuring a portion of his liver. The assailants fled thereafter. Ahmad was rushed to the hospital. After first-aid, he was shifted to PIMS hospital, Rawalpindi. Several bags of blood were needed to keep him alive. Eventually he became stable and is now out of danger. Mr. Naveed Ahmad is the elder brother of Mr. Laiq Ahmad, the head of the local Ahmadiyya youth organisation.

No Objection Certificate (NOC, a fictional document) required before allowing prayers: On May 31, in Pasroor, Sialkot district, Punjab, Ahmadis offered their congregational Friday prayers at the residence of the local missionary, as they do not have their own mosque. A police inspector arrived there while Ahmadis were offering their Friday prayers. He told the Ahmadis not to offer their prayers there. The Ahmadis explained their position to him. At this, the inspector demanded an NOC (though no such thing exists) for offering Friday prayers there. When he was told that there is no need for an NOC, the inspector said, "They are offering prayers in the mosques and you are offering it in a house, so you need permission. I need to enforce this in view of the law and order situation." Ahmadis then went to a senior police official for help, but he told the Ahmadis not to say their Friday prayers until he had spoken to the Mullahs. The authorities do not allow Ahmadis to build a place for worship and also do not allow them to pray at home. This is the freedom to worship – Punjab style. The Punjab is ruled by the Mian Brothers, who now complain about terrorism.

Weekly 'Lahore' office was ransacked: A religious fundamentalist, Muhammad Yaqub, filed an application with the police to register a case under the blasphemy law against the Ahmadi editor and publisher of the weekly 'Lahore' paper, along with two other persons, for the production and distribution of 'objectionable' material. He also approached a local judge to ask him to order the police to register the case. The above move was reinforced by a vigil by the Khatme Nabuwwat activists against the office of the weekly publication. In the face of this threat, the editor, Yasser Zeervi, had to stop going to his office, and the publication of the weekly paper came to a stop. On June 13 2013, at around midnight, a group of policemen, accompanied by 3 Mullahs, came to the Lahore office, broke the locks, went inside and collected some books and publications. The presence of the Mullahs with the police party is intriguing, and raises serious questions. It is now known that Mr. Hamid Hussain, an Additional Sessions Judge, ordered the police to register a case under the Ahmadi-specific clause PPC 298C. The case is registered in FIR 282/2013 in the Mazang Police Station, Lahore.

Punjab police desecrate another Ahmadiyya mosque: On June 26, two policemen and one man in civvies came to the main Ahmadiyya mosque in Shaikhupura, Punjab, and told the management that a Mulim fundamentalist, Maulvi Manzoor Vattoo, had filed an application against the Kalima (Islamic creed) written outside the Ahmadiyya mosque and demanded its removal. The management told the visitors that it was not Ahmadiyya practice to remove the Kalima and they also would not allow a private party to do so. Thereafter, four officials from the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) visited the site in the evening and repeated the mullah's demand. They were given the same reply. Then, at around 10:30 p.m., police officers arrived in two vans led by a District Superintendant of Police (DSP). An inspector and four constables came to the mosque gate, climbed a ladder and defaced the Kalima, as demanded by the cleric.

Authorities target yet another Ahmadiyya mosque: On June 14, the police came to Chak 107 RB Sharqi village and forbade local Ahmadis to proceed with the construction of their mosque. The mosque was being built inside an Ahmadi's house and was near completion. The president of the local Ahmadiyya community, Mr. Munawwar Ahmad, was called to the police station. He went there along with a few Ahmadis. The DSP and the SHO were present at the police station. They pressurized Ahmadis and obtained an undertaking from them that they would demolish the mosque by June 16. Ahmadis are trying to resolve this matter peacefully. It is noteworthy that the authorities do not allow Ahmadis to construct a place of worship. They order them to demolish mosques that are being constructed, help miscreants to attack locations where Ahmadis assemble for worship and arrest Ahmadis en masse for alleged violation of laws. This is the unfortunate reality of freedom of worship in Pakistan – for Ahmadis.

Ahmadis behind bars: The police raided the workshop of a book-binder, Syed Altaf Hussain, and arrested him, his son and his workers on February 22 2013. The charge: doing the book-binding of some Ahmadiyya publications. Syed Altaf Hussain is not an Ahmadi. Two days later, the police released four of the detainees but kept Syed Hussain in detention at Old Anarkali police station. Mr. Asmatullah, an Ahmadi, who was also implicated in the Black Arrow case, had been granted bail in that case but was not released because he was also mentioned in this. Syed Hussain (non-Ahmadi) and Asmatullah (an Ahmadi) are still behind bars. The court heard their pleas for bail but rejected them. Mr. Asmatullah has been detained since early January 2013.

Editor and printer of the daily newspaper Al-Fazl and four others incarcerated: On April 10, 2013, the police registered a case against the editor, Mr. Abdul Sami Khan, and the printer, Mr. Tahir Mehdi Imtiaz Ahmad, of the daily Al-Fazl, as well as four others, under the Anti-Terrorism Act and Ordinance XX (which is anti-Ahmadi). The latter four accused are Mr. Khalid Ashfaq, Mr. Tahir Ahmad, Mr. Faisal Ahmad and Mr. Azhar Zareef, and they were arrested in Lahore by the Islampura police. On May 7 2013, the judge granted bail to two of them, Mr. Azhar Zareef and Mr. Faisal Ahmad, and denied bail to the other two, Mr. Khalid Ashfaq and Mr. Tahir Ahmad. They remain behind bars. Lahore High Court heard their pleas for bail on June 6 2013 and rejected them.

Hate is promoted and venom is spit against Ahmadis in different religious conferences, which are held in the sacred name of Khatme Nabuwwat. In such conferences, ministers also participate in the hate campaign. The audience are provoked against Ahmadis and instigated to attack them. Anti-Ahmadiyya stickers and provocative banners are displayed in public places. As part of the hate campaign against Ahmadis, citizens are provoked to kill them through the publication of decrees of Wajibul Qatl ('must be killed'). The dissemination of anti-Ahmadiyya hate literature is constantly on the rise. The government can easily stop this but they are consciously ignoring it so that a religious fanaticism can be promoted.

Since the promulgation of the anti-Ahmadi Ordinance XX of 1984, 231 Ahmadis have been murdered because of their faith. 51 of these casualties were in Sindh, including 21 in Karachi. Most of the victims in Karachi were well-known professionals in their fields. Not a single killer of Ahmadis has ever been arrested, which shows that Pakistani authorities are colluding with the killers.

US: The United States issued a quiet warning to Egypt: Quit arresting Muslim Brotherhood, or we will freeze up aid

Muslim-Brotherhood-backed Mohammed Morsi was toppled from his presidency by Egypt’s military on July 3. Since, Muslim Brotherhood members have been rallying in Cairo, calling for his return to office.

The United States, which backed Mr. Morsi’s presidency, is continuing to provide aid to the nation, but has been watching the chaos, trying to determine the best national security strategy.

Meanwhile, the new military powers have been detaining key members of the Muslim Brotherhood, including the group’s spiritual leader and nine other leading Islamists, accusing them of inciting riots, The Associated Press reported.

The White House advised Egypt’s government to cease and desist.

“The only way this is going to work successfully for the Egyptian people is if all parties are encouraged and allowed to participate and that’s why we’ve made clear that arbitrary arrests are not anything that we can support,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said, AP reported.
. . .
The United States provides about $1.5 billion to Egypt, with $1.3 billion in direct support for the military, AP said. The Obama administration hasn’t labeled Mr. Morsi’s ouster a coup, yet. Doing so, by law, would require the aid to cease.

Saudi Arabia: The Kingdom hit by virus, asks pilgrims to wear face masks and advises sick to stay at home

Saudi Arabia, the epicenter of a new respiratory virus, is asking pilgrims coming from across the Muslim world to wear face masks in crowded places.

The list of Health Ministry recommendations carried by the Saudi Press Agency on Friday also advises the elderly, or those with chronic diseases, to postpone their pilgrimage.

The main pilgrimage season comes later this year but hundreds of thousands also visit the kingdom's holy sites during the month of Ramadan, which began this week.

Saudi Arabia announced two deaths on Sunday, bringing to 38 the number of deadly cases in the kingdom.

Pakistan: Low-rise jeans against Islamic ‘tehzeeb’; Kashmir clerics issue warning for Ramadan

The clerics in Kashmir have warned against wearing low-rise jeans during the holy month of Ramadan, saying it is against the Islamic ‘tehzeeb’.

The religious authorities are tied up in knots over the piece of clothing – low-rise jeans. A Muslim cleric said that a man wearing low-rise jeans reveals his back when he bows down to pray in a mosque, adding that the prayer remains incomplete in such clothes.

Another cleric said that covering the body from waist to the ankles is a must. Campaigns have begun on social networking sites in Srinagar against the practice of wearing revealing jeans to mosque...

Qatar: Dozens suffering from abdominal pain admitted to hospitals after overeating on the first night of Ramadan

For more on the adverse effects of Islamic fasting, click here.

“Most of the cases at the emergency room during Ramadan are gastritis. We see 10 to 15 cases of overeating every day,” a medical staff member at al-Ahli Hospital told the Arabian Business website.

The Doha hospital was in a state of emergency last year when 100 patients were admitted in the first night of Ramadan; most of them suffering from abdominal pain, dehydration or kidney problems, according to the website.

In 2011, the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC)’s emergency department recorded 7,700 of Ramadan-linked cases of illness, the report said.

Qatar has among the greatest prevalence of obesity and diabetes in the world, The New York Times cited health experts as saying.

The small oil-rich Gulf state ranked sixth globally for prevalence of obesity and had the highest rate of obesity among boys in the Middle East and North African region.

By 2015, it is predicted that 73 percent of women and 69 percent of men will be obese in Qatar.

Sweden: Muslims north of the Arctic circle risk health during Ramadan, sun never sets in summer

For more on Ramadan's relation to the North and South Poles, click here

"Kiruna is as high up as you get in Sweden, the sun never sets during this month," Ali Melhem, 45, who has lived in Kiruna for 24 years told The Local. As the fasting month is set by the moon, Ramadan usually moves about 10 days forward in the calender each year, which means this is the first summer it has proved a 24-hour dilemma for Melhem.

"When I first moved here, Ramadan was in the spring."

In attendance for the day when Ramadan would run smack bang into the near three-month stretch of never-ending sun, Shia Muslim Melhem has not remained idle in doing his research.

"My wife and I couldn't make that choice, so we've consulted mullahs from Iraq to Iran. They say we can wait to fast until the autumn," he said, adding that some Sunni Muslims in Kiruna have chosen to break their fast when the sun sets over Mecca as a solution to their dilemma. Ramadan this years started on July 9th and should last until August 7th.

"I did check if I could follow the sun times in a nearby Swedish town like Luleå or Umeå, but even fasting for 23 hours a day is a bit difficult," father-of-three Melhem said.

There is still no consensus, however, on how Muslims living in Scandinavia should observe Ramadan without jeopardizing their health, according to Omar Mustafa, president of the Islamic League in Sweden.

"Several imams and organisations have different opinions. It is up to each individual to decide, but it is not meant that you should fast around the clock. Islam provides many options," Mustafa told the media.

Ramadan is an annual observance by Muslims who are obliged to fast from dawn to sunset for a month often in summer. Many abstain from sexual relations as well as food, drink and smoking. Islam does allow some exceptions from participating in the annual fast such as pregnant women, diabetics and the elderly.

In nearby Finland it is also a problem with up to 21 hours of daylight during the summer. A compromise has been suggested by Imam Abdul Mannan, president of the Islan Society of Northern Finland...

Pakistan: Man's lips and nose cut by men who accused his family of an assault on their ‘honour’

For more on honor related violence, click here.

A case has been registered against three men identified by the victim. No one has been arrested so far.

Choti police said that 22-year-old Nasir Shah was kidnapped from his home in the rural area of Pai Gaan village along the tribal belt on Tuesday night. His family said some men had come to the house asking for Shah. They said he went out to meet them and did no return.

The family said they looked for him for several hours before police were informed.

On Wednesday morning, Shah was found lying on the roadside near his house.

His family said he was in a bad condition. His lips and nose had been cut. He was taken to district headquarters hospital, where he underwent a surgery.

Doctors treating Shah told The Express Tribune that he was in critical condition. They said he had bruises all over the body and had several broken bones.

Medical Superintendent Sibghatullah Qureshi said that Shah’s condition was being monitored closely. He said it would only be clear after 24 hours if he still needed more surgeries.

Shah’s mother, Shahida Bibi, told The Express Tribune that while Shah did not have any apparent enemies, his father Ijaz Shah had been accused by a family in the neighbourhood of helping their daughter marry a man they had not approved of. “The woman had eloped with the man to Rajanpur,” she said.

She said her husband had had nothing to do with the woman or the man.

She said she and her husband speculated that the same group was behind the attack on their son.

She said they had been threatening them with revenge “in a way they would have never imagined”. She said her husband left the area due to the threats...

Pakistan: Taliban bans men from wearing tight or see-through clothes during the holy month of Ramadan

For more on the holy month of Ramadan, click here

The Taliban group also gave local shops written warnings of $500 fine if they are found selling thin clothes that do not “properly” cover the human body.

Tailors were also threatened with kidnapping and beating should they be caught making such “un-Islamic” clothing for men.

No warnings or threats were reportedly issued for women, because most of them wear the traditional full body cover known as the burqa.

Pakistani Taliban in the area bordering Afghanistan had previously mounted a crackdown on tight and thin men’s clothing.

In 2011, a group of Taliban raided shops in the town of Wana, confiscating clothes that they saw as too thin to make respectable clothing.

“They said it was un-Islamic to wear clothes that don't properly cover the human body,” Shopkeeper Rahimullah Khan told AFP at the time...

Egypt: Attacks on Christians continues, Christian shopkeeper's headless corpse found in Sinai

A Christian shopkeeper's headless corpse was found in the Sinai Peninsula on Thursday, the second slaying of Christian there since the military deposed Egypt's Islamist president Mohammed Morsi on 3 July.

Arabic satellite TV channel al-Arabiya cited Egyptian security sources as saying that 60-year-old Magdy Habashi had been abducted last Saturday in the city of Sheikh Zweid. His remains were found in a cemetery.

A Coptic Christian priest, Mina Abboud Sharobeen, was shot dead by gunmen on 6 July in the flashpoint city al-Arish in the northern Sinai.

Investigators suspect Islamic extremists are behind the two murders.

Egypt's Christians make up around 10 percent of the country's population and have frequently been targeted by Islamists.

Islamist extremists are believed to have shot dead a 28-year-old man who ran a bar selling alcohol the centre of al-Arish in May.

The ousting of Egypt's longterm president Hosni Mubarak in a popular revolt in 2011 emboldened militant Islamists who have carried out a number of attacks in the lawless North Sinai and across the border in Israel.

Pakistan: Young woman stoned to death for having a cell phone after ruling by a Panchayat (tribal court)

Arifa, a mother of two, has been stoned to death on the orders of Panchayat (a tribal court) for possessing a cell phone. She was executed on 11 July in the district of Dera Ghazi Khan in Punjab province. The victim was stoned to death by her uncle and relatives on the orders of Panchayat after she was found to have a mobile phone.

According to media reports her uncle, cousins and other relatives threw stones and bricks at her until she died. She was buried without informing anyone. Police registered a First Information Report (FIR) against the Panchayat but no one has been arrested. She was buried in a desert far away from her village and nobody (not even her children) was allowed to participate in the funeral. Her husband is unknown.

Women are often victimized by these illegal judicial systems. This incident is a demonstration of the strong patriarchal society in Pakistan, and women are forced to remain in their clutches. Because of the absence of a proper criminal justice system, the powerful sections of society have complete impunity when they enforce their will.

The incident is a clear reflection of the total collapse of the rule of law in the country, where every section of the government has become utterly redundant in the face of tribal, feudal and religious traditions. The local police have not arrested the members of the Panchayat because the power in the area lies with the landed aristocracy.

Stoning to death is a barbaric act from a primitive society. Society is sent the message that violence is the way to deal with women and other vulnerable groups. Women's rights are negated through the use of these forms of punishment.

Pakistani society has degenerated to the point that, for a woman, keeping a cell phone has become serious crime. It is treated as a worse crime than gang rape, murder and bomb blasts, through which many people are killed on a daily basis.

The Panchayat is an illegal judicial system run by feudal lords and tribal leaders. It is common in rural areas of Punjab, where landed aristocracy and centuries old tribal traditions rule. These practices are commonly used against women so that their tribal norms remain pure and intact. The Panchayat system is so powerful that the 'independent judiciary' still has not shown the courage to declare it illegal. The Pakistani judiciary, which got its independence after a people's movement of two years, is much more involved in taking cases against elected government officials in order to keep its popularity in the media, while failing to introduce judicial reforms at the grassroots level, which has generated a society without any base on the rule of law.

What Arifa's death shows us is the real system of justice in many parts of Pakistan. Local ruling is done by feudal bodies with complete impunity. There is no enforcement of the law by the judiciary, police or any other governing institution. It is more than the absence of the rule of law; it is an airless vacuum claiming many victims, in which the police – charged with the duty of enforcing the law - are hired thugs who torture and detain people at the request of powerful parties, please see the cases of two sisters, murdered in June 2013, 25 days apart, for daring to ask the courts for justice;

In Arifa's case, it is those same corrupt police officers who are now being asked to investigate. Without serious intervention from government authorities, her case will be treated the same as far too many innocent deaths have been; uninvestigated, with complete impunity for the perpetrators.

The Panchayat, Jirga and other illegal 'judicial systems' can easily be used by grudge informers and powerful persons to obtain 'death penalties' to murder whomsoever they want to. Bizarre charges can be tried and people are executed through these systems. There is rarely any intervention by the police to stop them because the police, as mentioned above, play a particular part in the real legal system that operates in many parts of Pakistan.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) urges the parliament to legislate against the illegal tribal courts, including the Jirga, Panchayat and Bradari judicial systems. The government must immediately investigate and arrest all the members of the Panchayat for ordering the murder of a woman on the charges of possessing a cell phone. The senior police officers for the district of Dera Ghazi Khan should also be prosecuted for aiding and abetting this heinous crime and neglecting their duty to investigate this case. The upper judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court of Pakistan, must take immediate action against illegal and parallel judicial systems and the killing of innocent people.

Egypt: Imam interrogated for inciting violence against authorities in protest against the overthrow of Morsi

Prosecutors at Qalyubiya's Obour City on Wednesday have ordered a local imam be interrogated for allegedly inciting people to violently attack police officers and army soldiers in protest against the overthrow of Egypt's former Islamist president, Mohamed Morsy.

Prosecutors will hear accounts from witnesses who told Qalyubiya's security chief, Mahmoud Yousry, that the al-Rahman Mosque preacher encouraged his congregation to kill security personnel.

Morsy was removed last Wednesday after Defence Minister and army chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, issued a 48-hour ultimatum for change on the back of antionwide mass protests calling for early presidential elections.

But the president’s Islamist supporters defied the measure, describing it as a military coup against Egypt’s first, freely-elected leader.

Supporters and opponents of Morsy have engaged in bloody street clashes over the past week, leaving dozens dead.

Clashes between the army and Morsy's backers culminated in an outbreak of deadly violence Monday which left 59 people, four of them security personnel, dead outside Republican Guard House in eastern Cairo.

Several Islamist leaders have recently been referred for interrogation for allegedly fueling violence against Morsy's opponents.

Syria and Iran planning to run for a spot on the U.N. Human Rights Council

Syria and Iran are planning to run for a spot on the U.N. Human Rights Council later this year, U.N. diplomats told Reuters on Wednesday, despite criticism from watchdog groups about widespread rights abuses in both countries.

The General Assembly's annual elections for the United Nations' 47-nation Geneva-based human rights body will be held later this year in New York. There will be 14 seats available for three-year terms beginning in January 2014.

From the so-called Asia group, which includes the Middle East and Asia, seven countries - China, Iran, Jordan, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Vietnam - are vying for four seats, U.N. diplomats said on condition of anonymity.

One diplomat predicted that Syria and Iran would fail in their bids to join the U.N. rights watchdog when the 193-nation General Assembly votes in the fall, while another said the upcoming election would be a "comedy."

Hillel Neuer, the head of UN Watch, a Geneva-based advocacy group that monitors the work of the United Nations, said "countries that murder and torture their own people must not be allowed to become the world's judges on human rights.

"Because both regimes were recently elected to other U.N. human rights panels — Iran on the women's rights commission, and Syria on UNESCO's human rights committee — we cannot take anything for granted," he added.

"Syria is certainly less popular now, but Iran currently heads the largest U.N. voting bloc, the non-aligned movement," Neuer said. "We need to fight these candidacies."

Philippe Bolopion of Human Rights Watch said: "Syria's candidacy, if maintained, would be a cruel joke, but would almost certainly be met with a resounding defeat."

"Iran too falls far short of the most basic standards expected of Human Rights Council members and sticks out even in an overall disappointing pool of candidates in the Asia group, with deeply problematic contenders such as Vietnam, China or Saudi Arabia," Bolopion said.

Syria attempted to run for a seat on the rights council in 2011, but withdrew due to pressure from Western and Arab states. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and rebels are locked in an increasingly sectarian civil war that has killed as many as 100,000 people, according to U.N. figures...

Report: Widespread modern-day slavery, kidnapping, and torture trade in the Sinai desert ignored by world

For more on Islamic slavery, click here.

From the West Coast of Africa to the deserts of Sinai, Bedouin tribes are conducting a human trafficking trade on a massive scale.

According to a story by Chris Mitchell for CBN News, the trade reaps millions of dollars and deals with human misery. It could be stopped, but so far no one has dared.

"By that time I had lost sense (sensation) in both my hands," an Eritrean torture victim told CBN News.

He added, “It was a result of the accumulated torture but mainly because (both) of my wrists were tied up so tightly, (and I was) hanged up from the ceiling for three days, the blood was cut off from my hands and the flesh started to literally drip from my hands.”

Torture in the Sinai

CBN News said this man is just one victim of this widespread modern-day slavery, kidnapping, and torture trade in the Sinai desert. There are many pictures and videos of this practice on the Internet.

For this story, this Christian man from the African country of Eritrea is going by "Philip," but that's not his real name. CBN News gave him anonymity for his protection.

“In some cases, we were tortured simply because we were Christians,” he told CBN News.

“Sinai was always a place for human smuggling, but since around two years ago -- even a bit more -- it started also to be a place of human torture,” Shahar Shoham, director of Physicians for Human Rights, told CBN News.

Shorham has documented more than 1,300 cases of torture in the Sinai. Those survivors, like Philip, made it to Israel. But most of the cases of torture are not documented.

“They torture them in horrible methods, like hanging upside down from the ceiling, like using electric shocks, like burning them on their bodies,” CBN News reported Shorham said.

Kidnapped for Ransom

This story begins in Eritrea, where many like Philip fled from its brutal dictatorship. He traveled to a United Nations refugee camp in Sudan. There he was kidnapped by a Bedouin tribe.

CBN News said they transferred him -- along with many others -- through Sudan, Egypt, and all the way to the Sinai desert and their torture camps.

What happens next in these camps, CBN News said, is diabolical.

“What they make you do is call your family and ask them for the money,” CBN reported Philip said. “Usually they will do the asking. They will say, 'Either send this money or your brother will die or your father will die or your son will die.' It depends on whoever is picking up the phone.”

He added, “While you're talking to your family they would pour molten plastic on your body so that you would scream and perhaps they thought that would persuade your family to pay or collect the money faster," he said.

CBN News said the tribesmen demand what for most poor Eritrean families is an unattainable amount.

“The ransom fees can go up to $40,000 for an individual and even $50,000, and until the ransom fees (are) paid, the people will not be released,” CBN News reported Shoham said. “The financial burden on the families is devastating."

Killing a Soul

Sister Azziza is a Catholic nun from Eritrea who is based in Jerusalem. She has interviewed many of the Sinai survivors.

“People are destroyed physically (and) psychologically because of what they know they did to their family, how they are living,” Sister Azziza told CBN News.

But many do not make it out alive.

“We estimate that around 4,000 people died in the Sinai, some of them from torture,” CBN News reported Shoham said. Many who were with Philip died.

“We couldn't help them; that was the most horrible thing,” he recalled. “Some you know. You have experienced some of the harshest treatment in this world and yet they're dying and you couldn't do anything to help them. That was horrible.”

Hanged Like Christ

Yet the torture and the dying go on.

CBN News talked with a 35-year-old Eritrean woman named Segen. She is five months pregnant.

Meron Estefanos, an Eritrean human rights activist living in Sweden, arranged CBN’s conversation. The kidnappers give them cell phones so they can call their family and friends.

CBN News talked via Skype, linking Sweden, Jerusalem, and the Sinai.

CBN News said you could hear the strain in Segen's voice.

“They are asking for money every minute and they hit us and they put us -- they will make us lie down on the floor and you know their feet would be up and they would hit their feet ... with melted plastic bags,” CBN News reported Estefanos said.

“And so that way they cannot stand because they will torture their feet, and every day they hang them the way they hang Jesus Christ,” she added.

“What does she mean when they hang them like Jesus Christ?” CBN News asked.

“They hang us the way He was hanged and they take off their clothes. While they are naked they will hang them. And they will just hit them with big bats like all day for hours,” she said.

No Secret to the World

Many of the Etritreans, like Segen and Philip, are Christians. Many don't survive.

“There are around 7,000 that went through these torture camps and 4,000 that died. Those are huge numbers and I don't think that the world needs to keep quiet about that,” CBN News reported Shoham said.

Philip miraculously survived and made it to Israel where he received life-saving medical treatment.

CBN News said the location of these torture camps is no secret.

“Their location and whereabouts is known already by many high officials,” human rights activist Majed El Shafie told CBN News.

“The only way out of this problem is for the international society or the international community to put pressure on the Egyptian government to release the victims, to stop these human traffickers,” he said.

Shafie believes some of the American financial aid to Egypt could be used -- with conditions -- to help these victims.

“Every American listening to us right now -- not only Americans but anybody in the world -- can make a difference,” CBN News reported he said.

“You can contact your congressman. You can contact your senator. You can show them that you care about these issues," he added. “If you send an email, or fax or make a telephone call, he can save a life.”

Egypt: Backlash for Morsi ousting, Muslim mobs killing Christians, one hacked to death with axes, and burning houses

With a mob of Muslim extremists on their tail, the Christian businessman and his nephew climbed up on the roof and ran for their lives, jumping from building to building in their southern Egyptian village. Finally they ran out of rooftops.

Forced back onto the street, they were overwhelmed by several dozen men. The attackers hacked them with axes and beat them with clubs and tree limbs, killing Emile Naseem, 41. The nephew survived with wounds to his shoulders and head and recounted the chase to The Associated Press.

The mob's rampage through the village of Nagaa Hassan, burning dozens of Christian houses and stabbing to death three other Christians as well, came two days after the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi from power. It was no coincidence the attackers focused on Naseem and his family: He was the village's most prominent campaigner calling for Morsi's removal.

Some Christians are paying the price for their activism against Morsi and his Islamist allies in a backlash over his ouster last week.

Since then, there has been a string of attacks on Christians in provinces that are strongholds of hard-liners. In the Sinai Peninsula, where militant groups run rampant, militants gunned down a priest in a drive-by shooting as he walked in a public market.

Egypt's Christian minority, about 10 percent of the population, long shunned politics for fear of reprisals, relying on their church to make their case to those in power. That changed in the revolutionary fervor when autocrat Hosni Mubarak was toppled in 2011, as Christians started to demand a say in the country's direction.

But they took it to a new level during Morsi's year in office and the empowerment of his Islamist allies. The new Coptic Christian pope, Tawadros II, enthroned in November, openly criticized the president. He told Christians they were free to actively participate in politics and that the church will not discourage them.

"The Christians have emerged from under the robes of the clergy and will never go back," said Ezzat Ibrahim, an activist from Minya, a southern province with a large Christian community.

It was a risky gamble for a minority that has long felt vulnerable, with its most concentrated communities often living in the same rural areas where the most vehement and vocal Islamists hold sway.

During Morsi's year in office, some of his hard-line allies increasingly spoke of Christians as enemies of Islam and warned them to remember they are a minority. When the wave of protests against Morsi began on June 30, Brotherhood media depicted it as dominated by Christians - and to hard-liners, it smacked of Christians rising up against a Muslim ruler.

The worst anti-Christian backlash since Morsi's July 3 ouster was the attack in Nagaa Hassan, a dusty village on the west bank of the Nile River, not far from the most majestic ancient Egyptian archaeological sites in the city of Luxor.

The body of a Muslim villager was discovered at dawn on July 5. The cry went out around the village that Christians killed him. A mob of several hundred, led by men wearing the hallmark long beards of ultraconservative Salafis as well as more extreme movements, went on a rampage, according to witnesses and security officials speaking to the AP.

They smashed the windows and doors of Christian homes, ransacked Christian-owned stores and set them ablaze - damaging about 30 homes and stores in all. Muslim residents who tried to stop them were brushed aside, sometimes threatened with violence as well. At least a dozen Christian families took refuge in the local Church of St. John The Baptist, the church's priest, Father Vassilios, told the AP...

Syria: Western-backed rebels prevent food, medicine and babies' products reaching government-held areas

Syrian rebels fired into the air to disperse a protest by civilians in a rebel-held district of Aleppo against a blockade preventing food and medicine reaching government-held areas of the northern city, residents said on Wednesday.

Rebel fighters have stopped supplies entering western parts of Aleppo for weeks. The tactic is aimed at weakening the supply routes of President Bashar al-Assad's forces but thousands of civilians are now going hungry, residents say.

Video footage posted on the Internet on Tuesday showed dozens of civilians in the rebel-held neighborhood of Bustan al-Qasr protesting at a rebel checkpoint which prevents supplies from entering the western section of the city, home to 2 million people and held by the army.
. . .
The footage, posted by the opposition Bustan al-Qasr Information Office, showed men at the protest chanting, "the people want an end to the blockade." A rebel fighter brandishes a pistol and then a gunshot is heard as the video ends.

An opposition activist group called the Aleppo Martyrs said rebels fired at the protesters, killing one person and wounding several others. But a resident at the protest said the man was killed prior to the protest by army sniper fire as he tried the cross between rebel and government-held territory.
. . .

Rebels who now control many parts of the country are blamed for similar abuses by rights groups, including torture and harsh punishments imposed by religious courts.

Humanitarian aid organizations say their shipments have been blocked by both rebels and the army in many parts of Syria.

"We are facing challenges delivering assistance throughout the country, especially in contested areas," Jane Howard, a United Nations World Food Programme spokeswoman, said.

Howard said that WFP has tried eight times since October 2012 to deliver aid to Moadamiyeh, a suburb of Damascus that has been pummeled by air strikes and artillery.

Although the area is only five km (3 miles) from the WFP warehouse, Howard says convoys were "either turned back, did not get approval or came under fire."

In Aleppo, the WFP has delivered rations to more than 250,000 people in the weeks leading up to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"We have our fingers crossed that if Aleppo goes through a particularly difficult period, we've managed to get enough food into the city to tide people over for the next month," she said.

At the rebel checkpoint in the Aleppo neighborhood of Bustan al-Qasr, a sign displayed by rebels read: "Food, medicine, oil, babies' products, milk, vegetables, meat, bread: completely forbidden (from crossing)."...

Jordan: Abu Qatada to be allowed to preach his sermons and provide "religious guidance" to inmates

The radical Islamist cleric, who is currently remanded in custody in Muwaqqer prison outside of Amman, will be allowed to pass his time giving courses in Islam and teaching his inmates to read the Koran.

"We see no reason why he should not," a prison officer said. "If he is convicted and sentenced here then he can participate in the scheme".

In 1999, Jordanian courts convicted the cleric in his absence of a conspiracy to carry out bombings in Jordan, which resulted in successful attacks on the American School and the Jerusalem Hotel in Amman in 1998.

Initially condemning him to death, his sentence was then reduced to life imprisonment with hard labour.

While he was never convicted of any offence in Britain, his sermons were seen as a font of motivation for global jihadists. He is also accused of involvement in a failed plan known as the "millennium conspiracy" in 2000, to attack Western and Israeli targets during millennium celebrations.

In Jordan he shares a cell in Muwaqqer with 15 other detainees.
. . .
Abu Qatada's family were able to visit the prison for the first time on Wednesday. His mother, who is thought to be unwell after suffering a heart attack, saw her son for the first time in more than a decade.

The family were able to see him, though they were separated by a thick glass wall. They speak to him by phones that are attached on ether side of the walls, Tayseer Thiab, Abu Qatada's lawyer told The Telegraph.

Britain was able to deport the Islamist cleric after Jordan signed a treaty guaranteeing that Qatada would not be subjected to a trial where evidence that had been obtained through torture was used.

Part of that deal also required guarantees for the cleric's proper treatment in jail.

Muwaqqer prison, where Qatada is being held, is Jordan's best kept jail.

Indonesia: Muslims target “sinful” bars, as celebrations for the holy month of Ramadan begins

Muslims across Indonesia began celebrating the holy month of Ramadan Wednesday, with hard-liners vowing to raid “sinful” bars and police steamrolling a mountain of alcohol and porn amid rising intolerance.

Islam’s holiest month is used by hard-liners in Indonesia as an opportunity to attack nightclubs, bars and shops that openly sell alcohol, the consumption of which is against Islamic law.

There were fears the situation could be worse this year after a recent upsurge in attacks on religious minorities and non-mainstream Muslims.

Critics say hard-liners such as the notorious Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) have been emboldened by the government’s failure to crack down on them and prevent such attacks.

In the days before Ramadan, there were already reports the FPI — who led protests that forced pop star Lady Gaga to cancel a concert in Jakarta last year — had started conducting such raids.

“We will take firm action against the circulation of alcohol, naked dancing and prostitution,” Habib Idrus Algadri, head of an FPI group in Depok district outside Jakarta, was quoted as saying in a local newspaper.

He was leading a group of FPI members who confiscated bottles of alcohol from a shop at the weekend.

Habib Salim Alatas, the head of the FPI’s Jakarta branch, told AFP that 50 members would be sent out to monitor nightspots in the capital every evening.

“We will send out groups of two to three wearing civilian clothes to spy on sinful activities like the drinking of alcohol taking place around Jakarta during the Ramadan holy month,” he said.

“We will not hesitate to conduct our own raids if we see that the police and authorities are failing to do a good job.”

Authorities have also been making a show of cracking down on the illegal sale of alcohol, a popular move during Ramadan.

At the weekend police in Jakarta used a steamroller to crush thousands of bottles of homemade alcohol that was being sold in places without licenses and pornographic and pirated DVDS.

Jakarta’s public order agency (Satpol PP) urged hard-liners to refrain from conducting their own raids. The agency promised to conduct sweeps of Jakarta, targeting the 1,799 establishments subject to Ramadan regulations. Nearly 900 bars, nightclubs, massage parlors, pachinko parlors and pool halls said they would remain closed for the entire month.

The remaining establishments will only open from 8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

“I’m sure mass organizations, the public and entertainment businesses understand and respect this [policy],” Jakarta Satpol PP chief Kukuh Hadi Santoso said. “Members of the public or mass organizations can report violations to Satpol PP or Jakarta’s Tourism and Culture Agency.”

For the small number in Indonesia who drink, getting a beer during Ramadan can be a challenge as some bars only want to serve customers they know for fear of being targeted by hard-line spies.

Some stop serving alcohol, while others try to keep hard-liners away by putting blinds on their windows, serving drinks in mugs instead of glasses and asking customers to sneak in through side doors...

Australia: Major ad campaign features fabricated G. B. Shaw quote praising Muhammad, from a book that does not exist

ANTI "Islamophobia" advertisements due to screen on major free-to-air channels from today rely on a fabricated quote from Irish playwright and avowed atheist George Bernard Shaw, from a book that does not exist, according to the International Shaw Society.

The 30-second ads have been funded by the Sydney-based Mypeace organisation, which says it hopes to "build bridges" between Muslims and other Australians.

Animated with voiceovers and with quotations displayed on the screen, they feature major historical figures including Mahatma Gandhi and Shaw praising the prophet Mohammed.

The advertisements quote Shaw proclaiming the prophet Mohammed was "the saviour of humanity" in a book he is supposed to have written entitled The Genuine Islam.

But International Shaw Society treasurer Richard F Dietrich said he had compiled a complete list of Shaw's works, which did not include the book.

"I think The Genuine Islam is bogus," he said. In his writings, Shaw described the religion in a 1933 letter to Rev Ensor Walters as "ferociously intolerant".

"Mahomet rose up at the risk of his life and insulted the stones (that the Arabs worshipped) shockingly, declaring that there is only one God, Allah, the glorious and the great . . . And there was to be no nonsense about toleration," Shaw wrote.

"You accepted Allah or you had your throat cut by someone who did accept him, and who went to Paradise for having sent you to Hell."

The suggestion that Shaw may have written a book entitled The Genuine Islam has its origins in an interview between Shaw and Muslim propagandist Maulana Mohammed Abdul Aleem Siddiqui published in a Muslim periodical in January 1936.

The interview took place in Mombasa, Kenya, some time between April 10 and 20, 1935, and copies of the periodical remain.

It contains a quotation which describes Mohammed as the "saviour of humanity" and Islam as having "wonderful vitality" and "the chance to rule of Britain, nay Europe, in the next hundred years", but these are not recorded as the words of Shaw.

The quotation appears in a separate quotation box without attribution, and not in the main body of the interview.

However, the main body of the interview does feature Shaw challenging Siddiqui from a rationalist perspective.

France: Confusion over start of Ramadan, top Islamic authority and officials at leading mosque failed to agree on official start date

The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), the official Islamic representative body, had insisted that according to its calculations, Ramadan began on Tuesday.

But the theological council at the Great Mosque of Paris said the month of daytime fasting would not start until Wednesday, the same day that many Arab countries are due to begin the observance.

“The CFCM’s decision has thrown everyone into confusion,” said Hassen Farsadou, head of the Seine-Saint-Denis [northern Parisian suburbs] Union of Muslim Associations, which has called on its followers to start their Ramadan fast on Wednesday.

“A very large number of French mosques have taken the same decision,” he told FRANCE 24. According to French Muslim websites, more than 131 mosques, including the Great Mosque of Paris, had followed this lead.
. . .

French Islamic theologians who gathered Monday night at the Paris mosque put off the start by a day, saying the new moon had not been sighted.

“Mosques were calling us yesterday until 1am, the imams were in disarray," Djelloul Seddiki, the head of the mosque's theological council, told AFP.

Dalil Boubakeur, who is both the president of the CFCM and the rector of the Paris mosque, said the change in date had followed an outcry in the community that Ramadan was not starting in France on the same day as in many Muslim countries.

"The calculation was not wrong in theory, but we did not take into account the community dimension – the community had decided it would follow the Muslim countries," Boubakeur told AFP.

‘Shouldn’t have caused such a scandal’

Imam Tareq Oubrou, head of the Bordeaux mosque, told FRANCE 24 that he had chosen to tell his followers to begin their Ramadan fast on Tuesday – but added that “we chose the new method of calculating the start of Ramadan, but the disparity really shouldn’t have caused such a scandal.”

“The CFCM used a perfectly legitimate way of determining the date of the new moon,” he said. “The Turks, who have a much more modern approach to Islam than Arab countries, have been using these methods for a long time. And if we agree that prayer times have to be different from country to country, then why not also the start date of Ramadan?”...

UK: Father punished his children by making them stand and recite the Qur'an while he beat them

It was part of 'physical, psychological and emotional abuse' allegedly carried out by the 49-year-old man from Bedford on his wife and six children.

Prosecutor Beverly Cripps told Luton Crown Court: "The abuse occurred on a regular basis and became the norm at the home. It was carried out by a domineering and controlling man.

"School was a refuge for the children. They were all exemplary students, but their childhood has been marred by continuous abuse. They have been hit by belts, shoes, large heavy cooking spoons and plates.

"They have been tied to door handles, bound up and locked in their bedrooms.

"The Koran was used as a punishment. They were made to stand in front of a window, holding their Holy Book and, from time to time, were being assaulted while reading from it.

"He has spat on their food and made them eat it. He has spat in their mouths and made them swallow his spittle.

"They became prisoners in their own home. He called his daughters 'fat bitches' and the sons 'bastards'.

"He would withdraw food and turn off water in the house."

The jury of six men and six women were told that social services had a number of concerns about the wife, aged 41, and six children, now aged between 4 and 21, in the past.

They were always well turned out for school, but were never allowed new clothes and did not play with other children.

In 2011, after the mother had been to the police, the father is alleged to have persuaded one of the children to compose numerous letters on the family computer saying she wished to withdraw the allegations. The woman is then said to have been forced to sign them. As a result proceedings were dropped, said Ms Cripps.

It was in November last year after a row, when two of the children were running late for school, that the father is said to have threatened to move them. They then came forward and gave video interviews to the police.

The father - who cannot be named as this would identify the children - denies a total of 20 charges of actual bodily harm, child cruelty witness intimidation and doing an act to pervert the course of justice...

Egypt: Masked gunmen opened fire at Mar Mina Church in Port Said, no casualties were reported

Army and police squads arrived at the scene of the attack and efforts are being undertaken to identify the perpetrators.

This is the third such attack in 24 hours. Yesterday, unknown attackers assaulted Port Said's western seaport and the province's traffic police department.

A priest was killed Saturday in Masaeed in North Sinai.

The attacks come days after Egypt’s army toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsy, yielding to mass protests demanding early elections. Morsy’s Islamist supporters have protested the army's decision.

Several Jiahdist leaders have been quoted in media reports as saying they vow to fight to defend Morsy’s legitimacy.

Syria: Western-backed rebels likely behind Aleppo chemical attack, more than two dozen people were killed

Russian scientific analysis indicates a deadly projectile that hit a suburb of the Syrian city of Aleppo on March 19 contained the nerve agent sarin and was most likely fired by rebels, Russia's U.N. envoy said on Tuesday.

The incident at Khan al-Assal in the northern province of Aleppo killed more than two dozen people. Both the government and rebels have blamed each other for what they say was an attack involving chemical weapons. Both sides also deny using chemical weapons.

Russia, alongside Iran, is Syria's closest ally and chief arms supplier. The United States cast doubt on the Russian analysis and along with France called for full U.N. access to Syrian sites where chemical weapons use was suspected.

Moscow's U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said Russian experts visited the location where the projectile struck and took their own samples of material from the site. Those samples, he said, were then analyzed at a Russian laboratory certified by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

"It was established that on March 19 the rebels launched an unguided Basha'ir-3 projectile towards Khan al-Assal controlled by the government forces," he said. "The results of the analysis clearly indicate that the ordnance used in Khan al-Assal was not industrially manufactured and was filled with sarin."

"The projectile involved is not a standard one for chemical use," Churkin said. "Hexogen, utilized as an opening charge, is not utilized in standard ammunitions. Therefore, there is every reason to believe that it was armed opposition fighters who used the chemical weapons in Khan al-Assal."

Churkin said he had informed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the Russian findings. Ban is scheduled to meet Ake Sellstrom, the Swedish scientist heading a U.N. team established to investigate allegations of chemical weapon use in Syria, in New York this week.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the United States had not seen any evidence to suggest anyone other than the Syrian government "had the ability to use chemical weapons, or has used chemical weapons."

"If (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad is seriously interested in proving his assertion, and now the assertion that Russia is making, Assad should let the U.N. investigators in and Russia should use its relationship with Assad to press Assad to allow U.N. investigators in," Carney said...

Israel: Police warn Jewish children for bowing on Temple Mount to avoid angering Muslim worshipers

Hundreds of Jews visited the Temple Mount on Monday in honor of the first day of the Hebrew month of Av. On the ninth of Av, Jews will mourn the destruction of the First Temple and Second Temple which once stood on the site.

Among the visitors were 150 children. Witnesses said that the children suffered due to the strict police regulations at the site, which prohibit Jews from showing any form of religious worship on the Mount.

Several children who bowed down in respect for the holiness of the site were given a warning by nearby police officers, they said. The officers reportedly threatened to arrest the tour guides.

The group coordinated its visit in advance, but organizers said the children were forced to wait outdoors for nearly an hour before entering the holy site despite that fact.

The children were allowed to enter only after being split into three groups, they said. Police strictly enforced the separation, they added, and did not allow the groups to enter together and even told children not to talk to their friends in other groups during the visit.

Witnesses said police told them the strict separation had been imposed so that the group of children would not be large enough to draw unwanted attention – and anger – from Muslim worshipers at the site. Muslim groups have frequently expressed rage over Jewish visits to the site; in May, a group of Jewish children was banned from the holy site at the last minute as Muslim worshipers threatened riots...

Iran: Christian convert tried in the Revolutionary Court for an 'illegal gathering and participating in a house church'

Mostafa Bordbar, a Christian convert, was tried in the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. He is one of several Christain prisoners currently being held in ward 350 of Evin prison for their faith.

According to Mohabat News reporters, the trial of Mohammad Hadi (Mostafa) Bordbar was held on June 9, 2013 at branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, judged by Mr. Pir-Abbasi. Mostafa Bordbar is a resident of Rasht and was arrested on December 27, 2012.

The court announced his charges as "illegal gathering and participating in a house church". As Ms. Shima Qousheh, his lawyer and a member of Iranian Human Rights Commission says, if Mr. Bordbar is found guilty, he can be sentenced to anywhere from 2 to 10 years in prison. However, the court has not issued its final verdict yet.

Minutes before his trial, while handcuffed and in prison uniform, he was allowed to have a short visit with his fiancé and his parents. However, no one other than his lawyer was allowed to enter the court room. He is currently held in ward 350 of Evin prison where other Christian prisoners, Farshid Fathi, Saeed Abedini and Alireza Seyyedian are held as well.

Mr. Bordbar who is 27 years old, was arrested when Iranian security authorities attacked a Christian house gathering held to celebrate Christmas and the New Year.

Five years before that incident, he had also been arrested in Rasht for converting to Christianity and participating in a house church. His interrogator at the time, condemned him for "apostasy". However, he was temporarily released on bail after his case passed through all legal processes. This condemnation still remain in his record (the supporting document has been received by Mohabat News).

Judge Pir-Abbas, the judge working on Mr. Bordbar's case, is the one who sentenced Saeed Abedini, the Iranian-American pastor, to eight years in prison for "starting a house church aimed to disrupt national security".

Prior to this, three Christian prisoners, Mostafa Borbar, Farshid Fathi and Alireza Seyyedian wrote a letter to the newly elected Iranian president, Mr. Hassan Rouhani expressing their hope for religious freedom under his presidency. They wrote to him, "We hope that under your presidency we won't have to suffer for our faith in Jesus Christ and his Gospel".

In their letter to Mr. Rouhani they also wrote that, "When you take control of this respectful position, we hope that with God's help, respect and honor will return to the name of Iran and freedom will be given back to religious minorities, especially Christians".

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood posts old photos of Syrian children as victims of Egypt’s army

The Facebook page of Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) - the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood - has posted old photos of children killed in Syria as photos of children killed on Monday.

More than 50 people were killed early on Monday during a sit-in in front of Egypt's Republican Guard headquarters. The sit-in was organized by Islamist supporters of ousted president Mohammad Mursi.

The Muslim Brotherhood claimed the army opened fire at the protesters while they were holding dawn prayers. The military denied this story, showing footage of armed gunmen mixed with protesters shooting at the armed forces.

The army said the Brotherhood’s claims were part of an Islamist media campaign to tarnish the respected military institution’s image.

The Muslim Brotherhood insisted on blaming the armed forces and has called for a mass protest on Tuesday...

Turkey: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan insults black people as state media continues anti-Semitic campaign

Not sated by his anti-Semitism, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tried his hand at another form of blatant racism.

In comments made about Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the center-left and secular Republican Peoples Party (CHP), Erdoğan declared, “Kılıçdaroğlu is striving every bit he can to raise himself from the level of a black person to the level of a white man.”

The comments were made during a weekly meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Commentary Magazine, which spotted the report in Turkey’s Gazeticiler online newspaper, notes that “President Obama has described Erdoğan as one of the few leaders with whom he has developed bonds of trust,” calling into question the US’s awareness of how Erdoğan speaks for domestic consumption...

Egypt: Enraged Morsi supporters attack Christian targets after removal of President

In scattered locations across Egypt, mobs of hard-line Muslims enraged over the deposing of the country’s Islamist president this week attacked Christian homes, business and church buildings.

Angry over what they saw as a coup, the attacks came as part of massive, nationwide protests culminating in a declared “Friday of rage.”

Fewer than 12 hours after the Egyptian military announced that it had expelled Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mohamed Morsi and his cabinet members from office, reports of attacks against Christians by Morsi supporters began trickling in. The attacks picked up steam, and by Friday afternoon (July 5), the national police service notified church leaders to be on the lookout for license plate numbers of several cars that informants said terrorists had packed with explosives, a source who requested anonymity told Morning Star News. The source said police informed Christian leaders that the cars were headed toward churches in Cairo and the surrounding area looking for targets.

Christians across the country were uncertain about their future, wondering if the violence would be short-lived or whether the past week was the start of a civil war in which they would be targeted as Christians in Syria are.

“This is just the beginning,” said one Coptic Christian woman from Upper Egypt who requested anonymity for fear of her safety. “They won’t be happy until they steal everything we own and kill us all. How can anyone be full of so much hate? If I took my eyes off God, I would shrink and die.”

The first attack happened in the early morning hours of Wednesday (July 3) in the village of Delgia in Deir Mawas, Minya Governorate. Dozens of Morsi supporters attacked Al Eslah Church, a building that belongs to an evangelical congregation. They fired shots at and looted the church building, sources said; there were multiple reports that the building had been burned, though that could not be confirmed with certainty. They also attacked some Coptic-owned homes in the area.

Witnesses said the mob then moved on to a Catholic church in Delgia, St. George Church, and set aflame a guest-house where a priest lives. The mob also pelted the church building with rocks, fired weapons at it and destroyed the priest’s car, Morning Star News learned from the witnesses.

The priest was in the guest-house when it was set on fire, but he was able to make it to a hole in the roof, where a group of Muslim neighbors pulled him out and hid him from the mob. The priest suffered only superficial injuries, but the guest-house was destroyed along with several Christian-owned businesses, according to church officials.

Later the same day, a group of Islamists tried to attack the main Coptic cathedral in Qena, but the military fought them off. The group moved on to attack Christian-owned homes and businesses in the area, sources said. Also on Wednesday (July 3), a mob attacked the Church of the Holy Virgin in the coastal town of Marsa Matrouh with stones, but the military also repelled them.

“It is a miracle no one was killed in the attacks – I am really worried about my family, because they live so close to the church,” the woman from Upper Egypt told Morning Star News. “They can be attacked any time now.”

On Friday (July 5), arguably the worst attack happened in Naga Hassan village, west of Luxor. Its origins cannot be confirmed, but according to The Egypt Independent, a Muslim was killed in a fight with a Coptic Christian. In the rioting that followed, Muslim villagers went on a rampage, looting and burning Christian owned homes and businesses.

Dozens of Coptic homes were burned down, according to the Independent. Expecting more attacks, police have asked Copts in the village to leave their homes until the fighting stops, Morning Star News learned from other sources. Also attacked was the Church of the Virgin Mary in downtown Luxor, located directly across from a madrassa (Islamic school) run by Salafists, strict Sunni Muslims who pattern their practice after the earliest generations of Muslims. No one was harmed in any of the attacks, and damages were unknown.

On Sunday (June 30), millions of protestors from the Tamard or “Rebel” movement gathered in cities across Egypt demonstrating against then-President Morsi, of the Freedom and Justice Party, a political party created by the Muslim Brotherhood. The month prior, activists went throughout the country collecting signatures of people demanding his ouster and inviting them to the June 30 protest. According to the activists, they collected 22 million signatures.

The members of the group had a long list of offenses they say Morsi committed, from unilaterally issuing decrees to seize power from other branches of the government to filling appointed government positions with hard-line Islamic allies while ignoring other segments of the Egyptian population.

They also accused him of being incompetent in handling the economy. During his year in office, revenues from tourism plummeted, rolling blackouts became common, the price of food staples rose dramatically and the country began experiencing fuel shortages. During the entire month that the petition was distributed, people commonly waited three to six hours in line for gas, even in the best neighborhoods in Cairo.

At the same time, crime spiraled out of control and riots became a daily occurrence.

On Wednesday (July 3) Egypt’s military chief announced that Morsi had been deposed, and the next day Supreme Constitutional Court Chief Justice Adly Mansour was sworn in as Egypt’s interim president. Morsi was said to be under arrest.

Samia Sidhom, managing editor of the Coptic Weekly Watani, said people wanted Morsi out because he was more interested in consolidating the power of the Muslim Brotherhood than putting Egypt on a solid road to the future. The Freedom and Justice party also lied to the public in a brazen fashion on a daily basis, she added.

“Their priority was not the Egyptian people, but establishing an Islamic caliphate,” she said. “They said they would be inclusive; that they would make Egypt a prosperous country. But once they got into office, they did the exact opposite.”

Sidhom said the attacks, although horrible, were to be expected.

“Everyone was expecting they would take their revenge,” she said.

In the month leading up to the protests, when the success of the petition against Morsi became evident, his supporters and other hard-line Muslims began threatening Christians on television and in Brotherhood and Salafist-owned newspapers. When Morsi was forced from office, Islamists across the board blamed Christians, the military and “secularists.” In numerous television talk shows and religious shows, they called for Christian “blood to be spilled.”

A jihadist Website blamed Christians for Morsi’s downfall, The Washington Post reported on Friday (July 5). Stating that Muslim extremists within and outside of Egypt had called for violence, the newspaper reported that the Website announced a new group, Ansar al-Sharia in Egypt (Partisans for Sharia in Egypt), which “rejected democracy as anti-Islamic and called on Egyptian Muslims to ‘truly rise against everyone who stands in the path of implementation of the Sharia.’”

A pastor from Kasr El Dobara Evangelical Church who is politically active, Fawzi Wahib, said he is hopeful about the future, but he was more reflective about the present.

“I feel we pay the price of freedom,” he said.

Kenya: Gay, lesbian and HIV-infected Somali refugees face violent persecution should they return home

For more on persecution of homosexuals, click here.

Gay, lesbian and HIV-infected refugees from Somalia are facing persecution - and even the threat of death - should they return home.

Refugees have been under pressure to leave accommodations in Kenya, where many also face racist discrimination, after claims the country is now significantly safer than when Al-Shabaab had control of Mogadishu.

But many gay Somalis say returning is not an option for them.

"Warlords have made Somalia a death chamber for gays and lesbians," said Jamal, a Somali journalist. "It is against international law to force such groups back to Somalia, given the risks."

'It will be a massacre'

Top UN officials, among them Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have claimed, however, that the country is safe and requires its citizens to help with the reconstruction process.

But for some refugees, the reality of going back home - whether by force or voluntarily - rests somewhere between a rock and hard place.

"I have no doubt all gays, lesbians, HIV/AIDS positive people and other minorities will be killed. It will be a massacre," claimed Said Elmi, a 25-year-old taxi driver, who is fluent in kiSwahili, Kenya's national language.

"I fled Bossaso [in northern Somalia] ten years ago, when a friend informed me and my partner that we were set to be arrested and prosecuted for imitating women and committing indecent acts," revealed Elmi, who told us that his sexual orientation was, "not a secret".

Cases such as Elmi's are not isolated, but realities facing hundreds of refugees, doubly marginalised.

Another of Elmi's friends, who works as a male sex worker in Nairobi's Parklands area, said he would prefer to spend the rest of his life in a Kenyan jail than return to Somalia, and the possible "death by stoning" that awaits him there.

The risk of return

Aid workers and civil rights group privately and publicly say the level of risks, threats and hostility towards gays and lesbians has further complicated and worsened the plight of civilians in Somalia's war-torn landscapes, as well as for refugees in Kenya and their families back home.

Abdinoor Farah, a Somali refugee who has lived in Kenya for more than ten years, says armed gangs, including al-Shabaab, have publicised their intent to "enforce harsh punishments" against perpetrators of adultery and homosexuality as a means of attracting funding from religious groups and sects.

"A careful analysis of past prosecution cases has never been conducted fairly. It has been in total disregard of Sharia law," claimed the elderly Farah, formerly a teacher in Somalia. "In fact, they [the prosecutions] have been criminal and sinful acts."

Farah's colleague told the story of his son, executed in public by al-Shabaab for "acts of sodomy".

"My son was killed simply because he declined to join al-Shabaab," he said. "Nobody ever raised the matter [of his sexuality]... or complained. He was picked up from my house [and] taken into custody."

He went on to explain that he was summoned to watch the death sentence be carried out. "I did not attend. But all my neighbours witnessed his execution, carried out in an open space."
. . .
'The most infamous crime'

A cross section of Somalis and aid workers interviewed for this article said homosexuality has been widely practiced for centuries in Somalia. Despite this, armed gangs in the ascendency since the rise of former dictator Siad Barre have declared the orientation "the most infamous crime"...

Egypt: As violence erupts in Cairo, woman brutally gang raped in demonstration recounts her ordeal

She saw them running towards her as she approached Cairo’s Tahrir Square and within seconds she was surrounded.

What followed for Yasmine El-Baramawy was the most terrifying 70 minutes of her life – a prolonged, brutal rape and sexual assault by dozens of men, while a crowd looked on. And did nothing.

‘I felt hands all over my body, as they tore at my clothes like savage animals and tried to pull down my trousers,’ recalls the 30-year-old musician and composer.

More than 100 thugs also beat her with sticks and slashed at her with knives – disgusting, degrading ‘punishment’ because she dared to join the protests against former President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood party.

Yasmine was back in Tahrir Square yesterday – and once again felt that rising sense of panic as vast crowds clashed.

The two-and-a-half year battle for democracy in Egypt has witnessed a large number of women being sexually assaulted or raped – simply for daring to take a stand.

It is the shameful, untold story of an Arab Spring revolution that went off-track. And perhaps the most disturbing element is that these attacks are said to have been sanctioned by Morsi and the Brotherhood.

Egyptian civil rights activists say that at least 91 women were sexually assaulted or raped in Tahrir Square during protests, which began last Sunday.

The assailants operated in a climate of impunity – encouraged by religious zealots within the government who had called female protesters whores and who had blamed rape victims for not staying home. It is even believed that the gangs were paid by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Yasmine’s nightmare happened last November as she tried to join friends in the square to protest against Morsi’s constitutional changes, which granted him unlimited powers.

‘About 15 men rushed from the crowd and trapped me by linking hands in a circle,’ she explains.

‘It happened quickly and in such a way that I later realised it was well rehearsed. I was cornered, trapped and stripped from the waist up before I had time to recover from the shock.

‘I managed to run, but tripped and fell on my face.’

They were on her again in an instant. Despite her statuesque 5ft 9in frame, Yasmine could do nothing to stop them. The daughter of a businessman and a chemist, Yasmine is a strong, intelligent and confident young woman, who has always felt able to take care of herself. But the numbers were overwhelming.

More sets of hands than it was possible to count clawed at her, grabbing her breasts and groping inside her underwear. ‘It was as if I was in a washing machine, being pushed and pulled and grabbed,’ she says.

‘I didn’t know what was happening to me or when it would end. I thought that I would faint or die, but I still tried to fight back.’

She was dragged several hundred yards as the mob feverishly tore at her clothes. Some tried to cut them off while she desperately clung to her trousers.

‘When they couldn’t get the jeans off, they slit them at the back with a knife. I was bleeding from my face and nose, but that didn’t stop them.’

Surprisingly, her attackers were not feral kids or teenagers, but grown men ‘aged in their 20s to 40s.’ Some were well-dressed and respectable.

Yasmine adds: ‘One guy tried to French kiss me and I bit his tongue so hard it bled. He screamed in agony and started kicking me in the back as I lay on the ground.

'They tried to put me in a car, but there were so many people crowding around it that they couldn’t open the door. I ended up pinned to the bonnet as they drove a block away.’

The attack continued as the vehicle crawled along at slow speed. Some of the men whispered menacingly, ‘We are going to f*** you.’

By now Yasmine was covered with blood and excrement, having been pushed into sewage on the ground. Dozens of people had stood by watching her ordeal in the square – but none intervened.
. . .

UK: Fears of sectarian violence in London between Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims

Anti-terrorism police are investigating claims of sectarian violence between Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims after an Iraqi refugee was attacked in a suspected hate crime in central London.

Five men have been arrested following the attack, which took place in Edgware Road on 10 May after a rally against the Syrian regime, where radical cleric Anjem Choudary was a speaker.
. . .
In a second incident at the same event a Sunni man was attacked after being mistaken for a Shi'ite, according to reports. No arrests have been made.

The conflict in Syria has divided Britain's Muslims, with significant numbers travelling to the country to take part in the opposition to the regime of Bashar al Assad.

Germany: Offended Muslim student ripped up part of a graphic novel exhibit featuring artwork by notable Israeli artist

A Muslim student at the University of Duisburg-Essen in western Germany ripped up part of a graphic novel exhibit featuring artwork by notable Israeli artist and Tel Aviv resident Rutu Modan.

The female student was not identified by German media beyond her gender, reports The Jerusalem Post.

The exhibit, entitled “What Comics Can Do! Recent Trends in Graphic Fiction,” opened at the end of May in the library of the university that enrolls close to 40,000 students.

Late last month, the offended Muslim student used scissors to cut certain images from a collage including parts of Modan’s most famous graphic novel, “Exit Wounds” (called “Blutspuren” in German).

One feature of the montage related to Modan was a peace demonstration set in Israel. The collage also included a poster with the word “Shalom,” a Hebrew word signifying complete peace.

As a result of the student’s handiwork, school officials promptly closed the exhibit.

Rector Ulrich Radtke said that school officials would meet with the Muslim student and discuss what she did, notes the Post. He also said that the school may reprimand her in some way, including by instigating legal aciton.

Reviews of “Exit Wounds” are generally favorable at web retail giant Close to two dozen critics give the graphic novel an average of four-and-a-half stars.

“Set in modern-day Tel Aviv, a young man, Koby Franco, receives an urgent phone call from a female soldier,” reads the Amazon summary. “Learning that his estranged father may have been a victim of a suicide bombing in Hadera, Koby reluctantly joins the soldier in searching for clues.”

Left-wing German journalist Pascal Beucker suggested that the Muslim vandal had “an anti- Israel, if not anti-Semitic motive,” according to The Jerusalem Post.

Beucker also wrote that school officials are baffled by the incident...

Nigeria: Secondary schools have been ordered closed across north-eastern state of Yobe after massacre

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

Yobe Governor Ibrahim Gaidam condemned as "cold-blooded murder" Saturday's attack on the Mamudo boarding school.

Nigeria blamed Islamist militant group Boko Haram - which targeted two schools in the region in June - for the attack.

The group's name translates as "Western education is forbidden".

Dozens of schools have been burned in attacks by Islamists since 2010.

'Suspicious movements'

Visiting the school on Sunday, Mr Gaidam described the attackers as "callous and devoid of any shred of humanity".

He ordered the state's secondary schools to be closed until the start of the new academic term in September, to allow state and federal government officials as well as community leaders to work on ways to guarantee the safety of schools.
. . .
Yobe is one of three states where President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in May, sending thousands of troops to the area.

Eyewitnesses said some of the victims were burned alive in Saturday's attack, while others were shot as they tried to flee.

A reporter from the Associated Press found chaotic scenes at the hospital in nearby Potiskum, where traumatised parents struggled to identify their children among the charred bodies and gunshot victims.

Survivors said suspected militants arrived with containers full of fuel and set fire to the school.
. . .
More than 600 people were believed to have been killed in 2012 by Boko Haram, which is fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state in Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north.

Halalgoogling: Muslim search engine that blocks forbidden content 'according to Islamic law' launched today

For statistics concerning Muslims and pornography-related web searches, click here.

Halalgoogling’ fetches results from leading search engines such as Google and Bing and has a built-in “advanced special filtering system that blocks Haram content according to the Law of Islam”, the press release said.

According to the report, a special and unique filter system excludes forbidden content from its search results such as “pornography, nudity, gay, lesbian, bisexual, gambling, anti-Islamic content”.

According to the report, a team of ‘internet experts’ all around the world had been working for years on the project. The need for such a search engine arose with 1.5 billion Muslims around the world worrying about the content provided over the internet to their children and even themselves.

The system is being updated continuously, and has been designed to respect Muslim culture, the report stated. The new search engine hopes to be the number one search engine in the Muslim community, it added.


Halalgoogling comes up with the following system components for safe searching over the internet:

General category filtering: A filtering of overall search results amongst different categories.

Forbidden sites: A list of blacklisted websites that are not allowed to appear in the search results.

Link filtering: Removal of specific pages/links from within a website, blog or forum. Haram Keywords: A list of keywords that are not allowed to be searched.

Report button: Which allows users to identify and email Halalgoogling admin when haram content is found.

Only from Pakistan: Option to see page results from within the country exclusively.

Pakistan: Nine serial blasts in a coordinated terror attack at Buddhist temple, two monks injured

Nine serial blasts in a coordinated terror attack rocked the Mahabodhi temple complex in south central Bihar's Buddhist pilgrimage town of Bodh Gaya early on Sunday, injuring two monks.

"It is a terror attack," Union minister of state for home RPN Singh said about the blasts that took place between 5:30 and 5:58am.

Sources in the ministry of home affairs said there had been intelligence of a possible attack on the temple and Bihar was alerted last month.

The Intelligence Bureau (IB) had alerted the state that two terrorists, brothers originally from Bihar but based abroad in recent years, had entered the state to carry out terror attacks, according to an official aware about the intelligence input.

According to intelligence sources, Bodh Gaya has been in the crosshairs of Pakistan-based terrorists, who want to avenge violence against Rohingya Muslims in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar.

The police said crude explosives were used for the low-intensity blasts. No structural damage was reported to the 7th century temple, which is regarded as one of the holiest Buddhist shrines and is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Buddhists from all over the world visit the temple, which has the Bodhi tree under which Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment.

"The holy Bodhi tree is safe and there is no damage to it," said Bihar director general of police Abhayanand.

While four blasts took place inside the Mahabodhi Temple complex, three occurred at the Terega monastery, the usual abode of the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, whenever he is in town, the police said.

The Karmapa - head of the Karma Kagyu school, one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism - was not in Bodh Gaya at the time of the blasts.

A blast also took place near the base of an 80-feet-tall Buddha statue and another went off inside an empty tourist bus, bearing Uttar Pradesh registration, parked close to the temple complex. Gaya City superintendent of police Chandan Kushwaha said two live bombs were recovered from the area - one of them near the 80-ft Buddha statue - and defused.

The Centre rushed experts from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the National Security Guard (NSG) to the site of the blasts.

Arvind Singh, a member of Mahabodhi Temple Management Committee, said the injured monks - Myanmar national Vilas Ga, 30, and Tibetan Tenzing Dorjee, 50, were admitted to Magadh Medical College and Hospital
. . .
Attacks on Buddhists are rare in India but there have been tensions in the wider region recently following clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh...

Pakistan: 3 Christian boys tortured and killed by police for dating Muslim girls

April 2013 up till now three Christian boys were killed by police due to love affair with Muslim girls. Afzal Masih s/o khadam 20 years old his cousin Ifftikhar Masih S/o. Amanat Masih 20 Moran Walla Sharkpur on 29th April 2013. On 10th of June Adnan Masih S/o. Riaz Masih was also tortured by Punjab police and killed him without any written complaint.

Now yesterday Farhad Masih 16 Years old Shibli town Gulshan Ravi Lahore was arrested by the Complaint (FIR) 579/13.PPC, 380/496 A. of Sakina Bibi mother of Rabia 16 Years old. The Local Muslims try to burnt Farhad’s house and willing to loot his house.

We observed that in this cases police constable and Investigation officers miss behaving with non Muslims and abusing them as well as threaten them about the love relation with Muslim Girls.

They think ‘ that only Islam allowed Muslim male about Love affairs and married with non Muslims which is noble cause’ But it’s sin and non bail able offense if any non Muslim love with Muslim girl. Please pray for Farhad Masih’s life. Who is under investigation of S P. Iqbal town Lahore?

Yesterday evening once again local Muslims build huge protest against Christians and try to burn that street. Some Muslims announced the save way which is only to change their religion. Some of them jumped and play positive role to convert only Farhad Masih who has his own Rickshaw and own property. Due to huge pressure the S. P. Iqbal town Imtiaz Sarwar serenaded and made condition of life safety of Farhad Masih and his family. The conditions are under as.

1. Farhad Should be a Muslim. 2. He should pay 500000 (half) to his wife. 3. He should pay 2000 to his wife every month. 4. He can meet his parents but not allowed to live.

5. If he become Christian then should be killed. The parents hasn’t right to move any petition to any court.

Egypt: Al-Qaeda leader criticised devout Muslims for losing power and not uniting to implement Shari'ah

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri commented on the current events in Egypt in a video released online, in which he criticised Islamists for losing power and not uniting to implement Sharia.

“The battle isn’t over, it has just started…the Islamic nation should offer victims and sacrifices to achieve what it wants and restore power from the corrupt authority governing Egypt,” Al-Zawahiri said.

He said that the struggle in Egypt was clear, claiming that secular groups united with the church and empowered by “Mubarak’s armed forces” supported by the West waged a battle against Islamist forces in Egypt that strove to implement Sharia.

He scorned the Supreme Constitutional Court, labelling it a “secular” court.

Al-Zawahiri blamed Islamists for the current political situation, accusing them of praising the armed forces after the revolution and submitting to secular law.

“They raced to run for election on basis of a secular constitutional declaration,” he said.

He criticised Salafi groups for participating in elections after promises to the contrary, because the elections did not follow Sharia; he added that they should have united with the Muslim Brotherhood to form a strong coalition that calls for Sharia.

“They allowed enemies of Sharia and Islam to be part of the committee drafting the constitution…they didn’t agree on one candidate in presidential elections, leading the Brotherhood to ask for the help of secularists and Copts to vote for Morsi,” Al-Zawahiri stated.

Egypt: Gunmen shot dead a Coptic Christian priest in El Arish, one of several attacks in the region by Muslim insurgents

The priest, Mina Aboud Sharween, was attacked in the early afternoon while walking in the Masaeed area in El Arish. The shooting in the coastal city was one of several attacks believed to be by Islamist insurgents that included firing at four military checkpoints in the region, the sources said.
. . .
Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood has fiercely criticized Coptic Pope Tawadros, spiritual leader of Egypt's 8 million Christians, for giving his blessing to the removal of the president and attending the announcement by armed forces commander General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi suspending the constitution.

Egypt: Video shows anti-Morsi protesters thrown off building in Alexandria

Egyptian activists circulated on Saturday an online video showing what appeared to be Islamist supporters of ousted president Mohammad Mursi throwing two young men off a building during clashes in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

On Friday, clashes between opponents and supporters of Mursi flared in Egypt, killing at least 46 people nationwide, with the heaviest death toll registered in Alexandria.

The footage of the young men thrown off a building in Alexandria’s Sidi Jaber has been widely circulated.

One of the young men was killed; he was identified as Hamada Badr and activists say he was celebrating Mursi’s ouster when he came into encounter with Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

“Do you know the teen that they killed and disfigured his body and threw from the fifth floor is only 19 and four days,” Mohammed Badr, father of the killed teen, told el-Watan News in an interview published Saturday.

“All he was guilty of was that he was on the roof of the building, celebrating the ouster of Mursi. But the Brotherhood waged a war against whoever was celebrating Mursi’s departure!” Badr said.

He said during a Brotherhood protest, his son went out and threw stones at them. They reacted violently and killed his son, he said.

The video showed an Islamist carrying a black al-Qaeda flag around the building where Badr’s son was besieged.

“After throwing him, they wanted to do the same with the others, but people in the neighborhood stopped them.” Badr’s father said...

Nigeria: Muslim militants massacre 42 students and a teacher at a secondary school

Gunmen believed to be Boko Haram Islamists attacked a secondary school in Nigeria's restive northeast on Saturday, killing 42 people, many of whom were students, a medical worker and residents said Saturday.

But a military spokesman said 20 students and one teacher were killed in the dawn attack at Yobe state.

The attackers rounded up students and staff of the school and placed them in a dormitory before throwing explosives inside and opening fire, said Haliru Aliyu of Potiskum General Hospital, quoting witnesses who escaped.

"We received 42 dead bodies of students and other staff of Government Secondary School (in) Mamudo last night. Some of them had gunshot wounds," Aliyu told AFP, adding that many also had burns.

Aliyu said security personnel were combing the area around the school in search of wounded students who have fled the attack. "So far six students have been found and are now in the hospital being treated for gunshot wounds," he said.

Mamudo is some five kilometres (three miles) from Potiskum, the commercial hub of the state of Yobe, which has been a flashpoint in the Boko Haram insurgency in recent months.

A local resident who did not want to be named confirmed the attack.

"It was a gory sight. People who went to the hospital and saw the bodies shed tears," he said.

"There were 42 bodies, most of them were students. Some of them had parts of their bodies blown off and badly burnt while others had gunshot wounds."

He said the attack was believed to be a reprisal carried out by Boko Haram for the killing of 22 of the Islamist group's members during a military raid in the town of Dogon Kuka on Thursday.

A senior police officer said the students were asleep when the attackers stormed their school.

They then started "shooting sporadically and subsequently set the students' hostel ablaze".

Lieutenant Eli Lazarus, spokesman for the joint military task force in the state, said the gunmen "stormed the school around 5:30 am and began to shoot at the students from different directions".

He however, gave a different toll for the attack.

"20 students and a teacher were killed, four were critically injured in the attack and are now receiving treatment," he said. The military often underplays casualty figures in Nigeria.

Residents said the latest incident has sparked panic among students in the area and many of them have left their dormitories for home even though schools are still in session in the state.

Nigeria declared a state of emergency in three flashpoint states -- Yobe as well as Adamawa and Borno -- when it launched a major offensive against Boko Haram on May 15...
Secondary schools have been ordered closed across Nigeria's north-eastern state of Yobe after a massacre in which suspected Islamist extremists killed 22 students and torched their school.

Yobe Governor Ibrahim Gaidam condemned as "cold-blooded murder" Saturday's attack on the Mamudo boarding school.

Nigeria blamed Islamist militant group Boko Haram - which targeted two schools in the region in June - for the attack.

The group's name translates as "Western education is forbidden".

Dozens of schools have been burned in attacks by Islamists since 2010.
. . .
Eyewitnesses said some of the victims were burned alive in Saturday's attack, while others were shot as they tried to flee.

A reporter from the Associated Press found chaotic scenes at the hospital in nearby Potiskum, where traumatised parents struggled to identify their children among the charred bodies and gunshot victims.

Survivors said suspected militants arrived with containers full of fuel and set fire to the school...
The head of Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamists said he supported a July 6 attack on a school that killed 42 people, but did not claim responsibility for the massacre, in a video obtained by AFP on Saturday.

"We fully support the attack on this Western education school in Mamudo," in northern Yobe state, Abubakar Shekau said in the 10-minute video message.

The video was delivered to AFP in a manner consistent with previous statements from the Islamist leader, who has been declared a global terrorist by the United States.

The early morning gun and bomb attack at a boarding school in the Mamudo district of Yobe saw assailants round up students and staff in a dormitory before throwing explosives inside and opening fire, according to witnesses.
. . .
In the video, Shekau described all "Western education schools" as a "plot against Islam"...

Egypt: 80 sexual assaults in one day during protests, 169 counts of sexual mob crime since Sunday

Sexual assaults have been rampant during the events taking place in Egypt after and during the demonstrations to celebrate former President Morsi’s departure from power.

The Guardian is reporting that 80 instances of sexual assault took place on Wednesday while crowds celebrated the toppling of Morsi’s regime.

The incidents include sexual assaults, harassment, and rape. In Tahrir Square since Sunday, when protests against Morsi first began, there have been at least 169 counts of sexual mob crime.

The advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) received “some of the reports from the Egyptian group Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault which runs a rape hotline and tries to stop attacks.”

On Sunday alone, the group reported 46 attacks; 17 attacks occurred on Monday, and 23 on Tuesday. All the attacks occurred in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. HRW reports “Egyptian officials and political leaders across the spectrum should condemn and take immediate steps to address the horrific levels of sexual violence against women in Tahrir Square.”

Sexual assaults have become more common place since the revolution of 2011 when crowds protested for days to bring Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood into power.

The numbers in this case seem high even compared to the events from two years ago.

It’s been underreported because a lot of people are unwilling to come forward,” said Soraya Bahgat, a women’s right advocate, “and because no one wanted to disturb the sanctity of Tahrir.”

One woman, who was attacked by a mob of men described the experience saying that suddenly she found herself surrounded by men who were ripping at her clothes and touching and groping her everywhere.

“There were so many hands under my shirt and inside my pants.”

Activists believe the men in question intentionally go to the protest looking for women to assault.

Mariam Kirollos, an activist for women’s rights, says that sexual harassment is not properly defined in Egypt and that authorities don’t take the claims seriously.

“In some cases, girls filing a police report are even harassed.”...

UK: Channel fined £85,000 for Islamic scholar's 'duty to kill anyone who insulted the prophet' speech

A television channel has been hit with a large fine after broadcasting a speech by an Islamic scholar who said Muslims had "a duty to kill" anyone who insulted the prophet.

The watchdog Ofcom levied the fine, totalling £105,000, after it found DM Digital had twice breached the broadcasting code.

Ofcom's report cited a programme called Rehmatul Lil Alameen which was broadcast on October 9 2011, and which featured a live lecture which it said was "likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder".

Ofcom fined the channel £85,000 and ordered them not to repeat the broadcast...

Saudi Arabia: Activists face jail for taking food to woman who said she was imprisoned, guilty of inciting wife to defy husband's authority

Two female human rights activists are facing prison sentences in Saudi Arabia for delivering a food parcel to a woman who told them she was imprisoned in her house with her children and unable to get food.

Wajeha al-Huwaider, who has repeatedly defied Saudi laws by posting footage of herself driving on the internet, and Fawzia al-Oyouni, a women's rights activist, face 10 months in prison and a two-year travel ban after being found guilty on a sharia law charge of takhbib – incitement of a wife to defy the authority of her husband.

But campaigners argue the women have been targeted because of their human rights work, and fear that the sentences send out a chilling message to other activists who dare to criticise the repressive regime, under which women cannot drive and can only cycle in recreational areas when accompanied by a male guardian.

"These women are extremely brave and active in fighting for women's rights in Saudi Arabia, and this is a way for the Saudi authorities to silence them," said Suad Abu-Dayyeh, the Middle East and north Africa consultant for Equality Now, which is fighting for the women's release. "If they are sent to jail it sends a very clear message to defenders of human rights that they should be silent and stop their activities – not just in Saudi Arabia, but across Arab countries. These women are innocent – they should be praised for trying to help a woman in need, not imprisoned."

The women were arrested in June 2011 after going to the aid of the Canadian national Nathalie Morin, who contacted Huwaider and said her husband was away from their home in the eastern city of Dammam for a week and her supplies of food and water were running out. When they arrived they were immediately arrested and released a day later.

More than a year later, in July 2012, they were called in for further questioning. Huwaider previously said she was repeatedly asked about her involvement in the Women2Drive campaign, which lobbies for women to be allowed to drive in the kingdom. In May 2011 Huwaider and Manal al-Sharif defied Saudi law and gained international media attention by driving a car, posting widely viewed footage on YouTube. She was also asked about a women's rights protest she organised in 2006 on the King Fahd causeway and her 2009 attempt to cross to Bahrain without the approval of a male guardian.

In a statement Huwaider said: "These harsh sentences that have been imposed on us will not prevent us from pursuing [the cause that is] dictated by our Muslim faith and our humanitarian and moral duty – to help the oppressed, the deprived and the needy, and to protect the rights of women in our country, in all domains, including their right to social, political and employment empowerment, and her right to drive."

Following a trial which concluded last month the judge deemed the pair were guilty of "supporting a wife without her husband's knowledge, thereby undermining the marriage". Their appeal is to be heard on 12 July and they are asking the Saudi king, Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, for a pardon...

Afghanistan: Taliban promised to continue attacks over Ramadan, rejecting email promising a halt in violence

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the message sent in his name promising a temporary cessation of violence with next week's start of Ramadan was the latest incident in a simmering cyber war between intelligence agencies and the insurgents.

"In that mail the enemy losers have tried to influence attacks by mujahideen fighters," Mujahid said. "We strongly reject sending any such email on a stoppage of operations."

Afghan spy agency the National Directorate of Security has increasingly targeted the Taliban's sophisticated messaging network, which includes websites and email accounts, social media and spokesmen using noms de guerre.

The Taliban use Afghanistan's improving phone network to distribute anti-government messages and use Twitter to claim largely improbable successes as most foreign combat troops look to leave the country by 2014.

The Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist from 1996 to 2001, are seeking to overthrow the U.S.-backed government and end foreign occupation.

While Ramadan is usually a relatively quiet month for insurgent attacks marked mainly by the use of roadside bombs rather than direct assaults by armed fighters, Zabihullah said the month also carried extra religious significance for insurgents.

"During the holy month of Ramadan, jihad has major rewards. And mujahideen will continue to employ all their fighting techniques to mount attacks on the enemy," he said...

Pakistan: Two Muslims attack a Protestant church in Peshawar, one person killed

This morning two Islamic fundamentalists attacked a Protestant church, the Assembly of God Church, in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, shooting at a policeman on guard several times. Before they fled the scene, they took the dead officer's weapon and fired at the church. Two clergymen were inside the building at the time of the incident. Civil society groups and the Catholic Church condemned the action. Meanwhile, police have registered the incident and are in pursuit of the gunmen.

Tensions had been running high in the area after Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Kharrak said that Muslims could not be street cleaners or janitors, who are in short supplies, "only minorities could do those jobs." Minority groups reacted with outrage calling for his resignation.

Kharrak is a member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI, Pakistan Movement for justice), led by former cricket star Imran Khan.

Following this statement, the church that was attacked received threats from Islamic extremists and asked for protection from local authorities, who responded by deployed two police officers to guard the church.

This morning two fundamentalists tried to enter the church, which had two clergymen inside. They opened fire when one of police guards on duty tried to intercept them, hitting him in the neck, chest and near the heart. He died immediately.
. . .
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has long been involved in the fight against terrorism. It has been the scene of hundreds of attacks, which have claimed the lives 22,000 people in the past five years.

Indonesia: Supreme Court suspends the sale of alcoholic beverages, Muslims overjoyed

Indonesia has taken another step towards Islamisation following a Supreme Court decision to suspend a presidential decree of 1997 authorising the sale of alcoholic beverages in the country. Local authorities can now ban alcoholic beverages like wine and beer as well as soft drinks on their territory. The leaders of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which has pushed the case, are rejoicing. For them, sexual violence and adultery are due to "alcoholic beverages."

For years, the FPI has laid down the law in various parts of the archipelago, imposing rules and regulations inspired by sharia, or Islamic law, to govern conduct and impose prohibitions, including on the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

In particular, restrictions on behaviour tend to intensify on the eve of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and prayer for Muslims. In the past, several members of the group raided and attacked shops, kiosks, and market stalls that sold alcoholic beverages during Ramadan.
. . .
Now, local governments are free to ban the sale of alcohol, something that has already happened in 22 regencies and municipalities, like Depok and Indramayu in West Java.

After years of struggle and legal battles, Islamists enthusiastically welcomed the ruling. "Alcoholic drinks are closely linked to episodes of adultery," said Habib Muhammad bin Toha Assegaff, FPI chief in Tangerang.

Although Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world, its constitution recognises basic personal liberties, like religious freedom. However, in recent years, the country has become the scene of growing violence and abuse against minorities, including Christians as well as Ahmadi Muslims and other groups.
. . .
Already in some places, women are banned from riding motorbikes sideways or wearing jeans or short skirts. In some places, a special morality police has been set up, tasked with finding and punishing violators and enforcing such radical and extreme measures.

Iran: Pastor of the largest Pentecostal Church released, congregation remains closed

For earlier news on the same subject, click here.

Robert Asserian, a key leader at the Central Assemblies of God Church, was taken into custody during a worship service on May 21 as part of a wider crackdown on growing evangelical churches in the country that authorities deem dangerous for the strict Islamic nation, Christians said.

Mohabat News, an agency of Iranian Christians and activists, told Worthy News that there is "no clear information on how Pastor Asserian was released." However, "it appears that he was temporarily released on bail on July 2," they said, though the amount was not immediately revealed.

Among other conditions for his release was for him and his family to remain "silent" about their ordeal towards media, said Iranian Christians familiar with the case.

"The condition 'silence for freedom', shows that Iranian authorities want to portray actions such as releasing prisoners as human rights improvement in Iran," Mohabat News commented. "[They] do not want prisoners to speak out in contradicting this" image, the agency explained.


It was not clear whether his personal belongings were returned. "Before going to the church, authorities raided Pastor Asserian’s home where they confiscated a computer and several books," said George O. Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God in the United States.

"Then, they found Pastor Asserian at the church leading the prayer service, immediately arrested him, and announced the church’s imminent closure," ahead of the presidential elections, he said.

It remains to be seen when and if the congregation will be able to open its doors and resume its weekly Tuesday services under president-elect Hassan Rohani, Christians suggested.
. . .

Iranian Christians also want to know whether the new president will count the many Muslims who have converted to Christianity as religious minorities and include them in his promises of protection.
. . .
Despite the reported crackdown, there are believed to be at least 100,000 evangelical Christians in the country, though some church groups claim the actual figure may be several times higher.

Sudan: Muslim leader calls for decisive action against Christians, response to the growth of the Church

An Islamic leader has rebuked his government for not taking decisive action against Christians operating “boldly” in the country, typifying the disturbing response of Islamic leaders to the growth of the Church in Sudan.

On May 14, Ammar Saleh, the chairman of the Islamic Centre for Preaching and Comparative Studies, bemoaned the increase in apostasy, the growth of the Church and the alleged failure of the state to protect Islam from the double threats of Christianity and Atheism.

Saleh pointed out the disturbing decline in people’s interest in converting to Islam, stating that it was non-existent. He argued that anyone who believes there’s growth in Sudan’s Islamic faithful is “living on Mars,” drawing attention to increasing proselytizing and an exodus of Muslims to Christianity.

Taking Khartoum as a pattern of things, he pointed out that aggressive missionary work resulted in 109 “apostates” who abandoned Islam and turned to faith in Christ. He also added that cases of apostasy and atheism are on the rise, while authorities are negligent in addressing the issue. He expressed concern over the way the figures were rising in a “continuous” and “scary” fashion, especially with the presence of atheists and homosexuals.

Although Islamic law has not yet been fully implemented, Saleh derided his government for neglecting the issue of apostasy, appealing to official bodies and the community to take a stand against the “Christianization” of Sudan and find a long-term solution to the problem. He also stated that the government’s efforts to curb the rise of Christianity were timid as compared to the efforts of missionaries to lead people to Christ.

In response to his comments, Open Doors USA Spokesman, Jerry Dykstra, says, “The bad news is that he wants to put more pressure on the government and the army to crack down on the Christians there. But the good news is that many there are coming to Christ. It's been difficult for them obviously, but they are growing in numbers.”


Saleh’s derision of the government was paired with accusations against the church by Adam Mudawi, a member of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP), who claimed the NCP has information that the Orthodox Church in Ombadda is hiding a large cache of weapons. He also accused Christians of exploiting the poor by offering financial support and assistance if they convert to Christianity.

Saleh and Mudawi’s criticism of the government and accusations against the church come at a critical time in Sudan, when Sudanese Christians have seen a dramatic increase in pressure over the past few months.

In February, at least 55 Christians linked to the evangelical church in Khartoum were detained without charge. On Feb. 18, the cultural center of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church in Khartoum was raided by the National Intelligence and Security Services. Three people were arrested and several items were confiscated, including books and media equipment, according to Charisma News.

Spike in Repression

Churches are being forced to close down, foreign workers are being kicked out of the country and Christians are constantly pressurized by the government and society in all kinds of ways, so much so that the recent increase in Christian persecution in Sudan moved the country from being ranked 16th on the 2012 Open Doors World Watch List to 12th in 2013.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s (CSW) advocacy director, Andrew Johnston, says, “The recent spike in religious repression in Sudan is deeply worrying. The minister’s claims of guaranteeing freedom to worship are at odds with regular reports of Christians being harassed, arrested and, in some cases, expelled from the country at short notice.”

According to a briefing published by CSW in April 2013, Sudan has witnessed an “increase in arrests, detentions and deportations of Christians and of those suspected of having links to them, particularly in Khartoum and Omodorum, Sudan’s largest cities. There has also been a systematic targeting of members of African ethnic groups, particularly the Nuba, lending apparent credence to the notion of the resurgence of an official agenda of Islamisation and Arabisation.”

The report also stated that, “In addition to the arrests and deportations, local reports cite a media campaign warning against ‘Christianisation,'" a concern that was confirmed in Saleh’s comments at the press conference.

It is feared that Saleh’s reckless indictment of the government and public denouncement of Christianity will only fuel the rising hostility against Christians, inviting unwarranted backlashes from government and society.

The Sudanese government is called upon to respond to Saleh’s comments with wisdom and fortitude, recognizing the suffering inflicted on Christians for simply choosing their religion. Sudan is a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and it must honor its responsibility to bring an end to its campaign of harassment against the Christian community and work towards establishing a just society where people are free to choose their faith.

UK: Two teachers go on trial accused of assaulting children at a mosque in Glasgow

Riffat Rabbani, 51, and Shabir Rabbani, 59, face a series of charges dating between January 2003 and February 2011.

The charges, which include slapping children on the head and body and pulling them by the ears, are alleged to have taken place at Zia-ul-Quran, a mosque and religious school on Kenmure Street in Pollokshields.

The trial began at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Thursday.

Riffat Rabbani faces 14 charges of assault while Shabir Rabbani is accused of 11 charges of assault.

The pair deny all charges against them and the trial before sheriff Martin Jones QC continues.

UK: Warning over cousin marriages, unions between blood relatives in Pakistani community account for third of birth defects in their children

The high level of marriage between blood relatives within the Pakistani community accounts for nearly a third of birth defects in babies of Pakistani origin, a study shows.

Cousins who marry run double the risk of birth defects in their children, says the largest study of its kind in the Asian community.

The Bradford research found that up to six out of 100 babies born to parents in the city who are blood relations have birth defects, compared with three in 100 of those who have not inter-married.

The Bradford rate is more than three times the national average of just under two per cent. The findings are likely to renew controversy over what many claim is a taboo subject because of the cultural and religious issues relating to first-cousin marriages.

Ann Cryer, Labour MP for Keighley during the last Parliament, condemned cousin marriages, saying they harmed children and were arranged to keep wealth and property within families.

She said they put a strain on the NHS in areas with big Pakistani communities because many children needed treatment for often disabling genetic disorders.

Similarly, Phil Woolas, environment minister at the time, said the genetic problems had to be addressed as a ‘matter of public health’ by anyone who was supportive of the Asian community.

The new study collected data on 11,300 babies involved in the Born in Bradford project, a long-term study following the health of babies born in the city between 2007 and 2011...

Afghanistan: Gunmen shoot dead the most senior female police officer serving in Helmand province

Officials in southern Afghanistan say gunmen have shot dead the most senior female police officer serving in Helmand province.

Authorities say Lieutenant Islam Bibi was killed Thursday morning by unknown assailants while on her way to work.

Bibi was widely seen as an example of how opportunities for women have improved in Afghanistan since the repressive Taliban regime was ousted in 2001.

However, the police officer, who was 37 years old and the mother of three, received regular death threats from people who did not approve of her career, including her brother who tried to kill her three times.

Elsewhere Thursday in Helmand, officials say a roadside bomb blast has killed four girls, aged between 10 and 12...

Egypt: Reprisals against Christians after ousting of Morsi, pastor’s house and church buildings looted and burned down

Among the episodes of violence in Egypt after the overthrow of President Morsi there is also the attack against the Coptic Catholic parish of St. George, in the village of Delgia, 60 kilometers from Minya. Since Wednesday evening, July 3 groups of fanatical Islamists first looted and then burned down the pastor’s house and church group buildings. "Thank God there were no victims and injuries" says to Fides Agency the Coptic Catholic Bishop of Minya Botros Fahim Awad Hanna "but the alarm continues. The fundamentalists have closed the roads at the entrance to the village. They shout slogans against Christians, they say they want to destroy everything and now they are trying again to storm the church. The local police are helpless, I called Cairo to ask for the intervention of the army." The attack on the parish of St. George is so far the most serious incident of violence against Christians recorded in the dramatic hours experienced by the Country. But threats and intimidation against Christian communities also occur in other Egyptian places. .

Egypt: Head of army announces President Mohammed Morsi is no longer in office

Gen Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said the constitution had been suspended and the chief justice of the constitutional court would take on Mr Morsi's powers.

He said Mr Morsi had "failed to meet the demands of the Egyptian people".

Mr Morsi and at least two leaders of his Muslim Brotherhood's political wing are being held in detention, Brotherhood officials say.

Anti-Morsi protesters in Cairo gave a huge cheer in response to Gen Sisi's speech.

However, US President Barack Obama said he was "deeply concerned" by the latest turn of events and called for a swift return to civilian rule.

'Military coup'

The army's move to depose the president follows four days of mass street demonstrations against Mr Morsi - Egypt's first freely elected president - and an ultimatum issued by the military which expired on Wednesday afternoon.

TV stations belonging to Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood went off air at the end of the speech and state news agency Mena said managers at the movement's Misr25 channel had been arrested.

Security forces were also reported to have raided the Cairo offices of al-Jazeera's Egyptian television channel Mubasher Misr, arresting several workers.

Clashes have erupted in the northern city of Marsa Matrouh, with at least four people killed.

Another person was reported killed in the coastal city of Alexandria. If confirmed, this would bring the death toll from the past 24 hours to 21.

A notice went up on Mr Morsi's Facebook page denouncing the army move as a "military coup".

The statement asked Egyptian citizens - both civilians and military - to "abide by the constitution and the law and not to respond to this coup".

Two Muslim Brotherhood officials said separately that Mr Morsi had been detained by the Egyptian authorities, and that senior aide Essam el-Haddad was also among those held.

Earlier reports said security forces had imposed a travel ban on Mr Morsi and other leading figures in the Muslim Brotherhood.

'Roadmap' for the future

General Sisi said on state TV that the armed forces could not stay silent and blind to the call of the Egyptian masses...

The death toll in clashes across Egypt that followed the army’s announcement of President Morsi’s ouster has risen to 14, according to state media and local officials.

Eight people, including two members of security forces, were reported dead in the northern city of Marsa Matrouh.

Three people were killed and at least 50 wounded in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria after gunfire broke and rocks were hurled in a row between Morsi’s opponents and supporters. Among the victims was a woman stabbed in the stomach, MENA said.

The unrest also claimed three lives, including those of two policemen, in the southern Egyptian city of Minya, and some 14 people were also injured in clashes.

Dozens more were wounded in Fayoum, south of Cairo, as unidentified assailants broke into and set on fire to the local offices of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.
“Dear Mr. Obama, I’m talking to you today on behalf of a lot of Egyptians who wants to deliver a message, not only for you, [but] for all the American citizens: leave us alone. All the families in Egypt want to tell you this message: leave Egypt alone, please Mr. Obama. And stop supporting the terrorists. Stop supporting the friends of Omar Abdel Rahman, the terrorist who killed lots of Americans. Stop supporting the allies of Ayman al-Zawahiri, of Pakistan, of [the] Taliban… Mohammed Morsi was actually calling his people for violence, for blood in the streets, and these fanatics and these Islamic supporters of him are blindly following him. These Islamic people are the ones who celebrated the killing of the American Ambassador in Libya. They went in the streets and they were celebrating it. These people, who Mr. Obama is supporting, are the people who are in their prayers asking [Allah] to destroy [the] United States. Yes, these are the people that Mr. Obama is supporting. Mr. Obama, face the facts …”

Indonesia: Hundreds of Muslims staged a two-day protest against the construction of a Catholic Church

In what looks like a repeat of events in Bogor, where members of the Yasmin Church are up against local authorities, Catholics in Kranggan might see their efforts come to naught, including their application for a building permit.

They had first applied for the latter began in 2003 and met every bureaucratic request. However, protesters object that a Christian building in a Muslim area would only fuel sectarian conflict and undermine peaceful coexistence among religious groups.

During demonstrations earlier this week, extremists appealed to the authorities in Bekasi to "freeze" the application for a building permit (Izin Mendirikan Bangunan or IMB).

In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation (mostly Sunni), church construction is complicated and can take between five and 10 years before authorisation is granted by local authorities.

In this case, applicants must obtained a number of signatures from local area residents as well as the green light from the Group for Interfaith Dialogue. Oftentimes, Islamist pressures or threats are brought to bear to stop applications.

Catholic sources told AsiaNews that everything was done by the book to get IMB, which the authorities granted on 17 December 2012.

Agung Dewabrata, secretary of the Catholic organising committee, insisted that his group carried out "scrupulous work" since 2003, "without ever proselytising" among non-Catholics.

However, Muslim extremists have used accusations of proselytising and conversion over the past 30 years to target minorities and get the authorities to revoke building permits relating to places of worship, especially in the province of West Java.

According to Catholic sources, "people from other villages who have nothing to do with the church" are behind the protest in Kranggan, "not locals". Paradoxically, the same outsiders claim that there are only "two Catholics" in the whole area, something that is totally "devoid of any foundation" because there are many more Catholics...

Egypt: Pro-Morsi Muslims attack Christians for participating in protests, Coptic Christian Church set on fire

True to their vows, pro-Morsi Muslims are attacking Egypt’s Christians for participating in the anti-Morsi protests. The St. George Coptic Christian Church in a village in al-Minya, Egypt, has just been set on fire by “pro-Morsi” forces. Copts are reported to be in a state of “fear and panic.”

Days earlier, a letter was circulated in al-Minya, which has a very large Coptic population, calling on Copts not to join the protests, otherwise their “businesses, cars, homes, schools, and churches” might “catch fire.”

Thus this church attack is part of the price Egypt’s Christians had to pay to protest Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Time will only tell what other attacks Egypt’s harried Copts will pay down the line for participating in the ousting of an Islamist president.

Egypt: Sex attacks reach 'horrific' levels, 100 women assaulted in just four days during protests

Almost 100 women have been sexually assaulted in Cairo's Tahrir Square in just four days, according to Human Rights Watch.

The charity described the attacks as "rampant" and said they highlight the "failure of the government and all political parties to face up to the violence that women in Egypt experience on a daily basis".

Some of the 91 women assaulted were reportedly beaten with metal chains, chairs and sticks, while others were attacked with knives.

The assaults came as protests escalated in the square, culminating with the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi in a military coup.

Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said: "These are serious crimes that are holding women back from participating fully in the public life of Egypt at a critical point in the country's development."

Some say the attacks are staged by thugs who are abusing a lack of security and are confident of escaping prosecution.

Others claim they are organised to scare women into not joining anti-government protests.

Human Rights Watch cited figures from a hotline for victims of sexual assault and Nazra for Feminist Studies, a women's rights group...

Indonesia: Six children killed and 14 others trapped after mosque collapses during a Qur'an reading

JAKARTA: Six children were killed and 14 others trapped after a mosque in Indonesia collapsed on Tuesday during a Holy Quran reading session when a powerful earthquake struck, an official said.

“Six children were found dead under the rubble of a mosque flattened by the quake,” the head of the disaster management agency in central Aceh district, Subhan Sahara, told the reporter.

“Our search and rescue are struggling to evacuate an estimated 14 children still trapped under the rubble.

“I hope they can be found alive but the chances are very slim.” The six deaths take the confirmed toll from the 6.1-magnitude quake in Aceh province, on Sumatra island, to 11.

Dozens more have been injured by the quake, which struck at a shallow depth of just 10 kilometres, and also caused many houses to collapse. More than 300 houses and buildings were damaged across the province.

The quake struck at a depth of just 10 kilometres and was centered 55 kilometres west of the town of Bireun on the western tip of Sumatra island, the US Geological Survey said.

Five people were killed and 70 others were injured by a landslide or collapsing buildings in Bener Meriah, the worst-hit area, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency. He said two people were still missing in the landslide.

Another person was killed and 140 injured in neighboring Central Aceh district, Nugroho said.

At least 25 of the injured in Bener Meriah were hospitalised in intensive care, deputy district chief Rusli M. Saleh said.

“We are now concentrating on searching for people who may be trapped under the rubble,” Saleh said. More than 100 houses and buildings were damaged in the district, he said.

“I see many houses were damaged and their roofs fell onto some people,” said Bensu Elianita, a 22-year-old resident of Bukit Sama village in Central Aceh district. “Many people were injured, but it is difficult to evacuate them due to traffic jams.”

She said people in the village ran out of their homes in panic and screamed for help. At least two houses were totally flattened, she said, adding that the quake also caused a power failure in the village.

The quake also caused concern among officials attending a meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in Medan, the capital of neighbouring North Sumatra province. They were escorted from the second-floor meeting room by security officers.

Indonesia is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Ocean.

In 2004, a huge earthquake off Aceh triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people across Asia.

PA: Policeman admits to shooting a 70-year-old Jewish man as he waited at a hitchhiking station

The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) revealed Wednesday that a Palestinian Authority security officer was arrested several weeks ago for carrying out a terrorist attack in Samaria (Shomron).
. . .
Two of the officer’s brothers assisted him before and after the attack.

The detainees have been identified as: Iyad Adnan Mohammed Daoud, 30, of Kalkilya, who worked as a PA police officer, and his brothers Baha Adnan Mohammed Daoud, 27, and Mahmoud Adnan Mohammed Daoud, 22.

Iyad Daoud admitted to carrying out the attack. His brothers confessed to their roles in the attack as well. Baha Daoud assisted in preparing for the attack, and he and Mahmoud Daoud both helped Iyad cover his tracks after the shooting.

The Shin Bet noted that prior to his arrest by Israeli security officers, Iyad Daoud had been arrested by the PA on suspicion of involvement in the shooting in question...

Russia: Leader of an insurgency urged Muslims to use "maximum force" to prevent the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi

"I call on you, every mujahid, either in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan or on the territory of the Caucasus to use maximum force on the path of Allah to disrupt this Satanic dancing on the bones of our ancestors,"
. . .
In a video posted on, a mouthpiece for insurgents seeking an Islamist state, insurgent leader Doku Umarov said an order not to attack Russian targets outside the North Caucasushad been cancelled.

The Games are due to be held next February in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, close to the volatile and mountainous North Caucasus region in southern Russia. Putin has promised tight security at the Games, on which he has staked his reputation.

"They (Russia) plan to hold the Olympics on the bones of our ancestors, on the bones of many, many dead Muslims, buried on the territory of our land on the Black Sea, and we as mujahideen are obliged to not permit that, using any methods allowed us by the almighty Allah," Umarov said in the video.

"I call on you, every mujahid, either in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan or on the territory of the Caucasus to use maximum force on the path of Allah to disrupt this Satanic dancing on the bones of our ancestors," he said, referring to predominantly Muslim regions in Russia.

Ethnic minorities who consider the Sochi area as their homeland, and have suffered deportations and massacres, have criticized the Olympics.

On the 149th anniversary of the Circassian exile on May 21, 1864, Istanbul Circassian Association Chairman Tuguj Halis Din argued that the “genocide” implemented by Russia against the minority continues today.

Condemned the Olympics to be held at the former Circassian capital as cultural genocide, Din said, “the Olympics to be held in Sochi are an example of this. The Olympics to be held in 2014 in the ancient capital of Circassia, with the tagline 'Gateway to the Future' and efforts to market it as Russian territory, are far from being ethical. The forgetting of the Circassian name in the introduction to the Olympic stage and other efforts is a summary of the incidents in Sochi thus far, historical distortion and cultural genocide.”

Egypt: Jihadists vow to engage in armed struggle if President Mohamed Morsi is forced to step down

The brother of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who lives in Egypt, has vowed to engage in armed struggle if President Mohamed Morsy is forced to step down in response to massive protests demanding early presidential elections.

The army has given Morsy until Wednesday evening to respond to popular demands and resolve the political impasse. Morsy has stressed that he is not leaving power and, in a speech late Tuesday night, re-emphasized that he is Egypt's legitimate leader.

“We call on everyone not to be afraid or hesitate. We assure our Muslim Brothers in Egypt that we will not be losers under any circumstances,” said Mohamed al-Zawahiri, leader of the Salafi Jihadi movement.

“If the United States or its agents in Egypt make an impetuous move towards confrontation, that will surely be in our favor. We have nothing to lose,” he said. Jihadist movements will, eventually, have “the upper hand,” he said.

The Salafi Jihadi organization in Sharqiya, President Morsy's hometown, released a statement declaring "war against the Armed Forces" in support of the president. The group accused the military of turning against Morsy and siding with "the evil forces of the opposition that are affiliated with the West."...

Syria: Christian girl kidnapped and systematically married, raped and divorced 15 times, over 15 days, by western- backed rebels

ICC Note:

Troubling news continues to pour out of Syria as the war-torn country becomes a hotbed for religious extremism. Witnesses report civilians suffer immensely at the hands of rebel-imposed Shari’ah law. One, a young Christian girl from rebel-controlled Qusair, was systematically married, raped and divorced 15 times, over the course of 15 consecutive days, by zealous rebel fighters. Their actions a violent and detestable response to remarks made in April by a radical Sunni Cleric, the girl’s attackers exemplify many of the impressionable rebel fights who have taken to perpetrating a campaign of gross human rights violations against Christians and other religious minorities throughout Syria. Regrettably, signs of destabilization have sprouted across the Middle East as sectarian violence in Syria continues to exacerbate an already deteriorating human rights situation.

Mariam was a 15-year-old Christian from Qusair, a city of the governorate in Homs, 35 km south of the capital. The city, which had become a stronghold of the Syrian rebels, was reconquered by the troops of the regular army at the beginning of June. Mariam’s story—sent to Fides thanks to the report of two Catholic priests—is a sign of the brutality of the conflict and the extreme vulnerability of religious minorities. Mariam's family was in town when militants linked to the jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra conquered and occupied it.

While her family was able to escape, Mariam was taken and forced into an Islamic marriage.

Fides sources point out that, through social networks, the fatwa was widespread in Syria produced by Yasir al-Ajlawni—A Salafi sheikh of Jordanian origin, resident in Damascus—who declared lawful, for opponents of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, rape committed against "any non-Sunni Syrian woman." According to the fatwa, to capture and rape Alawi or Christian women is not contrary to the precepts of Islam.

The commander of the battalion Jabhat al-Nusra in Qusair took Mariam, married and raped her. Then he repudiated her. The next day the young woman was forced to marry another Islamic militant. He also raped her and then repudiated her. The same trend was repeated for 15 days, and Mariam was raped by 15 different men. This psychologically destabilized her and made her insane. Mariam, became mentally unstable and was eventually killed.

"These atrocities are not told by any International Commission" say to Fides two Greek-Catholic priests, Fr. Issam and Fr. Elias who have just returned to town. The two are collecting the cry's and complaints of many families. "Who will do something to protect civilians, the most vulnerable?" they ask. As reported to Fides, the two have just celebrated a Mass to consecrate again the Catholic church of St. Elias in Qusair.

The church was ransacked and desecrated by the guerrillas, and had become a logistic and residential base for rebel groups.

Saudi Arabia: An overseas Filipina worker received 100 lashes for having a child with a man who was not her husband

In an interview aired on 24 Oras on Monday, the 29-year old woman said she was lashed 100 times on the back after being convicted of immorality under the Sharia or Islamic law.

Under the Shari’ah or Islamic law, women who get pregnant out of wedlock face imprisonment or a penalty of lashes to be determined by courts.

The Filipina worker said she had to go through the pregnancy alone as she was immediately abandoned by the man who got her pregnant when he discovered she was with child.

It was only after she gave birth that authorities discovered she was unmarried.
. . .
The Filipina worker said she was sentenced to one-year imprisonment but received lashes instead as a result of being pardoned.

In 2010, another Filipina worker was sentenced to receive 100 lashes after becoming pregnant as a result of rape.

Saudi authorities ordered the lashing of the 35-year old woman who was already in prison even after she suffered a miscarriage

Pakistan: Censor Board bans film for portraying an inapt image of a Muslim girl falling in love with a Hindu man

Bollywood movie Raanjhanaa has been banned by the Central Board of Film Censors in Pakistan shortly before its scheduled release, for its ‘controversial plot’. Previously, the Censor Board also banned films including Ek Tha Tiger, G.I Joe and Agent Vinod for “anti-Pakistan” sentinements.

Chief Executive Officer of IMGC Global Entertainment Amjad Rasheed, the importer of Raanjhanaa, told The Express Tribune that he received a letter from CBFC with directives to shelve the film’s release. “The letter from CBFC states that the film portrays an inapt image of a Muslim girl [played by Sonam Kapoor] falling in love with a Hindu man and having an affair with him.”

Anand L Rai’s Raanjhanaa’s release in Pakistan was scheduled during the last week of June. Pakistani singer Shiraz Uppal has also lent his voice for the title track of the film, composed by AR Rehman...

UK: "Islamophobe" who left a suspect package – feared to be a bomb – at Liverpool mosque turns out to be a Somalian

A man arrested after a suitcase was left at Liverpool’s main mosque is actually Somalian and not Danish, as police previously stated.

Merseyside Police have just confirmed that the 22-year-old man, who was cautioned and released following the incident, is in fact from Somalia not Denmark.

Two controlled explosions were carried out after the suspect package – feared to be a bomb – was left at the Al Rahma mosque, in Mulgrave Street, Toxteth on Sunday evening.

Police held a meeting with faith leaders yesterday to update them on the investigation, and announced this morning a 22-year-old who had been arrested was spoken to about his behaviour before being cautioned.

Officers had taken away CCTV footage which showed the moment a man turned up at the mosque saying he wanted to become a Muslim.

Suspicions were aroused when, after spending about 15 minutes inside the building, he abruptly ran off, leaving a metal suitcase on the premises.

One quick-thinking worshipper dragged the suitcase out while the police were called.

Army bomb disposal experts then arrived to carry out a controlled explosion.

Police confirmed that no explosive materials were found at the scene...

Canada: Muslim converts arrested and charged in Al-Qaeda inspired terror plot targeting Canada Day party

RCMP allege John Stewart Nuttall, in his late 30s, and Amanda Marie Korody, in her late 20s, both from Surrey, B.C., built explosive devices they planned to detonate at the provincial parliament buildings as part of an attack inspired by al-Qaida ideology.

They were arrested in Abbotsford, B.C., Monday afternoon and face charges of facilitating terrorist activity, possession of an explosive device and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.

At least three devices were built from pressure cookers filled with rusty nails, washers, nuts and bolts.

"This self-radicalized behaviour was intended to create maximum impact and harm to Canadian citizens at the B.C. legislature on a national holiday," RCMP Assistant Commissioner Wayne Rideout said.

He added police were in "tight control" of the bombs as they were being constructed and the public was never at risk of being harmed by the "inert" devices.

The Mounties said the suspects trained themselves how to build weapons and had considered numerous methods and targets.

RCMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia said investigators began monitoring Nuttall and Korody in February based on information provided by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. They are both Canadian citizens who did not have contact with international terrorists, Malizia said.

Malizia added there was no evidence the pressure-cooker explosives were linked to the Boston Marathon attack, despite similar appearances.

However, A terrorism expert said it's likely the duo were converts to radical Islam and coached in the alleged plot...

UK: Channel 4 to broadcast Muslim call to prayer live every morning during Ramadan to 'provoke' viewers who associate Islam with terrorism

Channel 4 has said it will broadcast the Muslim call to prayer live every morning during Ramadan as a deliberate act of “provocation” aimed at viewers who associate Islam with terrorism and extremism.

The broadcaster, which was launched with a mission to appeal to minority audiences, will return to its controversial roots by screening a season of programmes around the Muslim period of prayer and fasting, which begins next Tuesday.

A senior Channel 4 executive defended the broadcaster’s decision to provide extensive coverage of the most significant event in the Islamic calendar by suggesting that Ramadan was of greater interest to its viewers than the “blanket coverage” given to the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation by its rivals.

Ralph Lee, head of factual programming, said that Channel 4 would become the first mainstream British television channel to broadcast the call to prayer (adhan) on a daily basis.

Writing in the Radio Times, Lee claimed: “Observing the adhan on Channel 4 will act as a nationwide tannoy system, a deliberate ‘provocation’ to all our viewers in the very real sense of the word.”
. . .
The Channel 4 News weather forecast will feature the sunrise and sunset times, to guide those fasting between those hours, and each of the daily adhans will be broadcast live on the Channel 4 website.

Lee believes the Ramadan season, which includes video diaries of British Muslims going about their lives during the 30-day period, will be a hit with younger viewers.

“No doubt Channel 4 will be criticised for focusing attention on a ‘minority’ religion but that’s what we’re here to do – provide space for the alternative and a voice to the under-represented.

“And let’s not forget that Islam is one of the few religions that’s flourishing, actually increasing in the UK. Like Channel 4’s target audience, its followers are young. It’s recently been reported that half of British Muslims are under 25.”

Lee concluded: “Nearly five per cent of the country will actively engage in Ramadan this month – can we say the same of other national events that have received blanket coverage on television such as the Queen’s coronation anniversary?”

However Channel 4 was warned not to give excessive coverage to Ramadan. Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said: “I wouldn’t object to it as at least it gives some balance to the BBC’s emphasis on Christianity but Channel 4 has to keep it in proportion.

“The percentage of Muslims in the UK is very small so few people will be interested in it. It may be a novelty and Channel 4 is good at causing a sensation. We don’t want to see any broadcaster becoming a platform for religious proselytising.”

Channel 4’s commitment was welcomed by the Muslim Council of Britain. A spokesman said: “This is a very special month for Muslims and its recognition on a mainstream channel is not only symbolic for belonging and solidarity but will hopefully help to portray a more realistic account of Islam and Muslims.”...

Turkey: Deputy Prime Minister blames Jews and other foreign agents of orchestrating recent unrest

Atalay made the comments during a visit to the Central Anatolian province of Kırıkkale on Monday.

“There are some circles that are jealous of Turkey’s growth,” Atalay said, according to a report from the Hurriyet Daily News. “They are all uniting, on one side the Jewish Diaspora. You saw the foreign media’s attitude during the Gezi Park incidents; they bought it and started broadcasting immediately, without doing an evaluation of the [case].”

The demonstrations began in late May after police used tear gas and water cannon to smash a sit-in protest in Istanbul’s Taksim Square against the removal of the adjacent Gezi public park to make way for a mall and reconstructed army barracks.

The public response quickly swelled into a tide of protests against the government across Turkey, though focused in Istanbul, that continued throughout June with violent clashes between demonstrators and riot police that killed three campaigners and one police officer.

According to Hurriyet, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed several times that an “interest rate lobby” along with world media were responsible for the spread of the riots.

A number of Turkish commentators and lower-level officials have accused Jewish groups and others of conspiring to engineer the protests and fell Erdogan.

The president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) Ronald Lauder slammed Atalay over his comments and demanded he apologize.

“It is shocking to hear from a senior Turkish government minister such despicable and totally baseless slurs. Mr. Atalay should have the decency to apologize. His remarks are an insult not only to the Jewish people but also to the many Turkish citizens who took part in the protests and who have real grievances,” said Lauder in a statement. ““I am convinced that the people of Turkey are not going to be misled by these delusory statements from their leaders. This is a Turkish issue that will be resolved, hopefully democratically and peacefully, within Turkey.”...

Commentary: As conservative Islam rises in Indonesia, polygamy and child marriages flourish

Lauren Gumbs is a human rights student at Curtin University in Perth and holds a master’s degree in Communications. She resides in East Java.

Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq, the ex-chairman of Indonesia’s Islamist-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), is currently on trial for corruption involving receipt of bribes in exchange for issuing higher beef import quotas though the agriculture ministry, which the party controls.

Luthfi also has been accused of funneling billions of rupiah to his three wives in order to launder money he received in bribes. He says his youngest was already 18 when he married her last year while she was still attending vocational school. The 51-year old Luthfi has 15 children from his marriages, presumably most from his first two wives.

PKS, which fancies itself an upholder of religious virtue, has been rocked by the twin graft scandals, first the beef and then revelation of Luthfi’s secret girl-wife and corresponding abuse of power and privilege. Even the original bribery case was mired in sex because an aide to the PKS leader was arrested in the company of a college co-ed he had paid for sex in a luxury Jakarta hotel. Rumor has it that the co-ed has been a frequent companion of many senior PKS figures.

Many men marry extra wives secretly, making exact figures on polygamous marriages hard to determine. Polygamy was legalized in 1974 under Marriage Law No. 1. Men may take up to four wives but women may not take extra husbands.

Polygamy was, however, discouraged and restricted until the end of the reign of Suharto, when Islamic organizations demanded lifts on prohibitions of Islamic practices. In 2000 after pressure from the Muslim Unity Organzation (Persis), the prohibition on public servants having more than one wife was annulled.

Polygamy is permissible under Islam, and also justified by it. Across Islamic parties, the practice is common even though it is frowned upon by large swathes of Indonesian society. Other PKS officials with multiple wives are Communications Minister Tifatul Sembiring, and party officials Didin Amaruddin, Anis Matta and Zulkieflimansyah.

In 2009, the Indonesian Women’s Solidarity group released a list of polygamous politicians just before the parliamentary and presidential elections and it briefly flared as a campaign issue. However these politicians remain buoyant in their political aspirations, with newly appointed PKS Chairman Anis Matta public about his two wives and soon-to-be 10 children.

In a climate of increasing Islamization of the public sphere and a simultaneous expansion of an educated middle class, polygamy has both its ardent supporters and indignant detractors. “There is no such thing as a polygamous marriage that benefits women,” said National Commission on Violence against Women member Andy Yentriyani.

The behavior of PKS, the largest of the country’s Islamic parties, leaves Indonesia’s human rights and development objectives sorely impoverished. Not only does corruption perpetuate unequal social and economic relations, senior PKS officials send messages that represent impractical and unsustainable family units and broader social economic relations.

A recent Jakarta Globe story quoted Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi as stating that Indonesia’s family planning programs had failed, as the 2014 Millennium Development Goals target of 2.1 births per woman was still at 2.6 in 2012. Yet polygamists demonstrate that they are above efforts to decrease excessive births, especially polygamists whose wealth indemnifies them from the concerns of the rural poor who strain to provide resources for large families.

More worryingly, Nafsiah said that child marriages are increasing, which adds to higher maternal mortality rates due to immature reproductive organs.

“Currently, instances of early marriage are increasing, and teenagers under 20 years old are sexually active,” she said.

Indonesia’s mortality rate is 17,520 cases per year, or two people per hour. Sudibyo Alimoeso, acting chief of the Family Planning Board (BKKBN), also said child marriage is a contributing factor to the number.

However the failures of the family planning board are illustrated by poorly-focused programs such as a counseling campaign to provide more information about the risks of childbirth for sexually immature women, which was only introduced in non-Islamic schools.

In order to address the problem of child marriage, maternal mortality, poverty, and gender inequality, clearly religio-cultural sources such as Islam should not be ignored, and with it the unequal patriarchal social relations it produces.

Rather than seeing such issues as sites for the formation and contest of masculinity, these behaviors have real consequences for society and for females. Luthfi and Co., with their penchant for teenagers and numerous offspring, perpetuate a cycle of inequality that results in poverty, the entrapment of women to their fertility and dependence on their husbands. This is primarily a problem for developing countries, and those in prominent political positions inadvertently exemplify detrimental traditions that stall women’s progress.

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes child marriage as a complex and longstanding practice, rooted deeply in gender inequality, tradition and poverty.

“Social pressures within a community can lead families to wed young children. For example, some cultures believe marrying girls before they reach puberty will bring blessings on families. Some societies believe that early marriage will protect young girls from sexual attacks and violence and see it as a way to insure that their daughter will not become pregnant out of wedlock and bring dishonor to the family.”

According to the WHO, child marriage is increasingly recognized as a violation of the rights of girls for significant reasons: It ends education, blocking any opportunity to gain vocational and life skills. It exposes girls to the risks of too-early pregnancy, child bearing, and motherhood before they are physically and psychologically ready. It increases their risk of intimate partner sexual violence and HIV infection.

Backwards ways of thinking about women, very young women included, the institutionalization through marriage of women’s commodification in sexual relationships, the care and maintenance by multiple females of a central male patriarch, and even the benefit of multiple wives as vessels for the disbursement of illicit funds, are perpetuated and legitimized by officials like those in PKS.

Saudi Arabia: Top Muslim scholar has urged the public to stop giving money to street beggars

Sheikh Abdul Aziz al Shaikh, the Gulf Kingdom’s Mufti (Islamic spiritual chief), said most of those who beg on the country’s streets are not really poor as they can work.

“Most of these beggars practice this negative phenomenon although they are able to work…giving them money is only encouraging them to continue begging,” he said, quoted by newspapers in the world’s largest oil exporter.

“We should be careful about such things…we need to make sure those who ask for money really deserve to be given…not every beggar should be given money.”

Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy, has been locked in a campaign against begging following a surge in their number, mostly Arab, African and Asian expatriates. More than 10,000 beggars were arrested in 2012.

Begging is strictly banned in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf oil producers on the grounds expatriates come as per job contracts.

Egypt: Dutch journalist raped by several men as millions of protestors took to the streets, 43 females suffered sexual assaults

A Dutch journalist has been raped by several men in Cairo's Tahrir Square as millions of protestors took to the streets to demand President Mohammed Morsi to step down.

The news of the attack came as the Egyptian army issued a 48-hour deadline for the deadly clashes to be resolved - so far eight people have been killed and hundreds injured.

The woman was allegedly raped 'by men who dub themselves revolutionists,' according to Egypt 25’s reporter Dina Zakaria.

The horrifying rape is reminiscent of the violence at Tahrir Square in 2011 when CBS foreign correspondent Lara Logan was beaten and sexually assaulted by a 200-strong mob.

According to Ynetnews, the state hospital issued a statement saying the women was admitted after being raped by five men several days ago.

The website reported the journalist underwent surgery and has been released.

This morning women's activists said at least 43 females, including a foreign journalist, suffered organised sexual assaults by gangs of men in recent days.

Egypt's military has given its president and his opponents a 48 hour 'last chance' to reach an agreement to 'meet the people's demands' before it intervenes in the dispute.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters massed for a second day today calling on President Mohammed Morsi to step down...

Egypt: Man repeatedly beat his wife for mocking 'Islamist' president Mohamed Morsi

Not only is Mohammed Mursi’s presidency proving divisive on Egypt’s streets, the embattled leader is also sparking marital tiffs – of the violent kind.

An Egyptian woman has had enough of her husband, who she says has repeatedly beaten her for mocking the Islamist president.

Filing for divorce this week, the 31-year-old schoolteacher, who was not named by Egyptian press, told the court that her 35-year-old partner battered her on several occasions, for speaking about the embattled Egyptian president in a “disrespectful way.”

The violence resulted in her often leaving home to stay with her parents, according to local media reports.

The husband confessed in court that his wife continually mocked Mursi.

“I cannot live with him anymore,” said the woman, as quoted by Egypt-based al-Masry al-Youm. “We’ve been fighting over this for 8 months.”

The couple has been married for 12 years.

This is not the first time that controversy over Egypt’s president has resulted in domestic violence...

See Also

  • News - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Islam in the news

External Links