Islam in the News (Pre-April 2011)

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


This page contains pre-April 2011 news articles which were not featured on the main news update page

Contents

France to become first European country to ban the burqa

A controversial burqa ban passed by the French parliament last year will go into effect Monday, making the traditionally secular country the first in the European Union to ban the wearing of the head-to-toe Islamic covering.

In defiance of critics of the ban, who say it is anti-Islamic, President Nicholas Sarkozy told French lawmakers last year the burqa is not a religious symbol.

"It's a sign of enslavement," he said. "It will not be welcome in the French Republic."

Jacques Myard, a conservative member of parliament who supports the ban, called the burqa a "shock" to French culture.

"The face is a dignity of a person. The face is your passport," he said. "So when you refuse me to see you, I am a victim.

Only a minority of Muslim women in France choose to wear the burqa, and one told ABC News she plans to continue wearing it.

"On Monday morning, I will go shopping, to the post office and city hall if necessary," said Kenza Drider, a mother of four who has become the veiled face of women opposing the new law. "I will under no circumstances stop wearing my veil."

Under the new law, women caught wearing a burqa in public will face a warning, then a $200 fine.

The consequences are even heftier for a man if he forces a woman to wear a burqa -- a $43,000 fine...

UK cafe owner wins extractor fan appeal over claims frying bacon offended Muslims

A cafe owner in Britain has won an appeal to keep her extractor fan after her neighbour complained that the smell of frying bacon offended Muslims.

Beverley Akciecek, 49, was ordered to tear down an extractor fan after a neighbour told council bosses his Muslim friends refused to visit his home because of the "foul odour".

Graham Webb-Lee said the smell made them feel "physically sick".

Akciecek and her husband Cetin, 50, who himself is a Turkish Muslim, spent months struggling to pay legal fees and worrying about the future of their business.

Now the planning inspectorate has announced that they can keep the extractor fan at the Snack Shack cafe in Stockport.

The council has been ordered to pay the entire legal bill, which could be as high as £5,000.

Geert Wilders 'hate' trial to go ahead in Amsterdam

The trial of Dutch political leader Geert Wilders on charges of inciting hatred against Muslims is to go ahead, an Amsterdam court has ruled.
. . .

Mr Wilders has described Islam as "fascist", comparing the Koran to Hitler's Mein Kampf.

In his ruling on Wednesday, Judge Marcel van Oosten said the court would pursue the charges against him for the comparisons he had made with Nazism, according to Dutch media.
. . .

The trial was adjourned until 13 April, when three experts on Islam and the Middle East will be called to give evidence.

At least 10 killed in suicide attack at Pakistan political rally

Ten people, including two policemen, were killed Wednesday when a suicide bomber on a motorbike blew himself up in northwest Pakistan, authorities said.

Another 21 people were injured, said Ejaz Ali Khan, the police chief of Swabi district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The explosion took place at a public gathering for a political party [Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam] in the province.

Only 14, Bangladeshi girl charged with adultery was lashed to death

Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl.

Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public.

Hena dropped after 70.

Bloodied and bruised, she was taken to hospital, where she died a week later.

Amazingly, an initial autopsy report cited no injuries and deemed her death a suicide. Hena's family insisted her body be exhumed. They wanted the world to know what really happened to their daughter.
Only 14, Bangladeshi girl charged with adultery was lashed to death
Farid Ahmed and Moni Basu, CNN, March 29, 2011

Medvedev Follows Lethal Attack on Islamic Separatists With Warning

MOSCOW — A day after an unusual air attack on what officials here said was a militant base in Russia’s North Caucasus region, President Dmitri A. Medvedev warned separatist fighters in the mostly Muslim region to surrender or “be destroyed.”

Speaking on the anniversary of a suicide attack on the Moscow subway that killed 40 people, Mr. Medvedev noted with regret that the Islamist militant groups almost always responsible for such lethal suicide attacks were still active, and he ordered his security services to finish them off.

“We need to do this and bring this work to an end,” he said.

Russia has been battling Islamist separatists in the North Caucasus for nearly two decades, but violence in the region occurs almost daily, and attacks in Moscow and elsewhere are not uncommon.

Mr. Medvedev said Monday’s assault on the suspected terrorist base delivered “sufficiently impressive results.”
Medvedev Follows Lethal Attack on Islamic Separatists With Warning
Michael Schwirtz and Ellen Barry, New York Times, March 29, 2011

(CAIR) Islamic group doctors video, slams city rep

Some 500 protestors gathered recently at Villa Park City Hall in Orange County, California, to show their support, and in some cases, their distaste, for a councilwoman who in February spoke out against a fundraiser hosted by a radical Muslim group.
. . .

Pauly's comments generated a popular Youtube video by CAIR, which was entitled "Hate Comes to Orange County."

Amundson contends that the protesting group portrayed on the video was not even a part of the protest at the fundraiser last month.

"The five-minute video you saw was a butchered, adulterated tape that CAIR put together.
Islamic group doctors video, slams city rep
Becky Yeh, OneNewsNow, March 28, 2011
However, Wahhaj (much like the Cordoba House imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf) is a fairly cautious man, usually managing to avoid serious PR gaffes when in public (one notable exception: in 1992, he threatened to personally burn down a gay-friendly mosque in Toronto, according to the Al Fatiha Foundation, a group that monitors anti-gay discrimination in the Muslim world).

The other speaker, Amir Abdel Malik Ali, is not cautious at all. He is arguably one of the most well-known, shameless, and unapologetic extremists in the American Muslim community. Malik-Ali vocally advocates the murder of Israeli civilians and the total destruction of the state of Israel. He supports Hamas and Hezbollah, and he openly encourages Muslims to “martyr” themselves by becoming suicide/homicide bombers.
. . .
This is the man (along with Siraj Wahhaj) who the protesters were targeting. This is the man to whom Councilwoman Pauly was referring when she spoke of “pure, unadulterated evil.” This is the context that so many on the left felt no need to inquire about.

And this is the man who CAIR didn’t want to mention in its press release.

Because the one thing that a group like CAIR doesn’t want anyone to ask is, “why invite a supporter of murder and terrorism to a simple fundraising banquet?”
CAIR “Hate Video” Goes Viral – Here Are the Facts That CAIR is Hiding
David Stein, CounterContempt, accessed March 29, 2011

Italy migrant influx intensifies on Lampedusa island

Nearly 2,000 African migrants, many of them Eritreans and Somalis, have arrived on Italy's tiny, overcrowded Lampedusa island in the past 24 hours.

It is one of the biggest migrant waves to reach Lampedusa this year.

Officials warn of a public health risk on Lampedusa, which is struggling to cope with some 7,000 migrants - more than the local population.

Boatloads of migrants arrived from war-torn Libya, for the first time in months, while others came from Tunisia.
. . .

Nearly 19,000 migrants, mostly Tunisians, have arrived on Lampedusa this year, since Tunisia's revolution in January. The island lies just 113 kilometres (70 miles) from Tunisia.

Lashkar-e-Islam founder Munir Shakir arrested

BARA [Pakistan]: The security forces arrested the founder of banned militant organisation Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) Mufti Munir Shakir in Sadda tehsil of Kurram Agency, official sources said on Sunday.

The sources said the security forces arrested him during a checking at a checkpost in lower Kurram Agency and shifted him to an unidentified location for an investigation.
. . .
Before coming to Bara, Mufti Munir Shakir, a resident of Karboogha Sharif in Hangu district, was expelled by political administration from a maddrassa in Kurram tribal region due to his extreme views against a particular sect.
. . .
Following the expulsion of Mufti Shakir, Mangal Bagh became the leader of LI and pursued the extreme views of their teacher, which forced the residents of Maidan in Tirah valley to form Ansarul Islam under cleric Qazi Mehboobul Haq who advocates moderate form of Islam.

Hundreds of people had been killed and as many injured in clashes between the two groups over the ritual differences and lust for power.
Lashkar-e-Islam founder Munir Shakir arrested
The News International, March 28, 2011

Use technology to spread message of religion: Imam of grand mosque in Mecca

The Imam of Masjid-al-Haram in Mecca, Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, on a three-day visit to India, spoke to a congregation at the Ramlila Maidan on Saturday. The programme, organised by the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, saw capacity crowd.

The Imam said the followers of Islam should use advances in technology to take the message of the religion across the world. “If the Sahabah (companions of Prophet Muhammad) had not gone about spreading the Prophet’s message, Islam would not have grown. The followers of Islam should, therefore, use the Internet and electronic media to spread the religion in the modern times,” he said.

Queensland woman tells of her jail hell in United Arab Emirates

A QUEENSLAND woman spent eight months in a United Arab Emirates jail for adultery after complaining to police about being drugged and raped by co-workers.
. . .

Warning other women against going to the UAE, Ms Gali said she endured eight months in a crowded prison room with up to 30 other women
. . .
Ms Gali said she was never warned by her UAE employers that she could be charged with adultery and face prison if she complained of being raped, without having four adult male Muslim witnesses.
. . .

Three of the men Ms Gali claimed sexually abused her were jailed, but for adultery and not rape
Queensland woman tells of her jail hell in United Arab Emirates
Kay Dibben, The Sunday Mail, March 27, 2011

Muslims Attack Christian in Egypt, Cut Off His Ear

A group of Muslims attacked Ayman Anwar Mitri, a 45 year old Christian Coptic man in the Upper Egyptian town of Qena, cutting off his ear. The Muslims claimed they were applying Sharia law because Mr. Mitri allegedly had an illicit affair with a Muslim woman. The Muslims called the police and told them "We have applied the law of Allah, now come and apply your law," according to Mr. Mitri in an interview for the Egyptian Human Rights Organization.
. . .

Mr. Mitri said that the Muslims tried to convert him to Islam, but he refused... The police came and rescued Mitri and Sabrin, who told the police the Muslims forced her to lie about the illicit relationship between her and Mitri. A police report was issued, but no arrests were made.
. . .

At first Mr. Mitri said he wanted full compensation for his losses and even wanted revenge by cutting off the ear of the Muslim who cut his ear off. However, it was reported that a "reconciliation" meeting was made in the presence of Colonel Ahmed Masood, Vice military ruler of Qena
. . .
Mr. Mitri appeared on the Coptic TV channel CTV, where he was asked about the reason he agreed to reconcile and forfeit his rights. Mitri said while sobbing "I was threatened, they threatened to kidnap the female children in our family."

Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan defends Moammar Khadafy, blasts President Obama on Libya

Controversial Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan defended Libyan strongman Moammar Khadafy during a speech on Friday in which he also blasted U.S. involvement in Libya.

The 78-year-old leader of the Chicago-based group said his pal Khadafy played an important role in the country that emerged from a colonial past. He also said America lacks the moral authority to assist rebel forces against Khadafy.
. . .
The flame-throwing Farrakhan did not address Khadafy's alleged role in the 1988 deadly bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland.
. . .
Farrakhan created another firestorm after taking to the airwaves on a Chicago radio station where he slammed the President.

"Why don't you organize a group of respected Americans and ask for a meeting with Khadafy? You can't order him to step down and get out, who the hell do you think you are?"

Stoke-on-Trent Muslim sexual abuse cleric jailed

A Muslim cleric who sexually assaulted two boys at a mosque in Stoke-on-Trent has been sentenced to 16 years in jail.

Mohammed Hanif Khan, 42, had denied charges of rape, attempted rape and sexual activity with a child.

A jury at Nottingham Crown Court found Khan, of Owler Lane, Sheffield, guilty of two counts of rape and one of sexual activity with a child.

The offences took place at the mosque on Capper Street between July and October 2009.

Khan, who was sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court, was told he will serve a minimum term of eight years.

Like the Queen

He had been the UK's first full-time Islamic minister at Dovegate Prison, near Uttoxeter.

During sentencing judge Mrs Justice Dobbs revealed he had resigned from this post over allegations he sexually harassed three female members of staff.

That showed Khan was a serious risk to the public, she said.

Justice Dobbs told Khan: "You were the imam and not only were you the boys' teacher you were the boys' guide.

"You were taken into the hearts of the community and treated like a god.

"One of the boys described you as being so big you were like the Queen.

"Your actions have had a significant effect on the community. The boys have been reviled by the community for bringing shame on the community."

Suicidal thoughts

Khan will be on the sex offenders' register for life and subject to a sex offenders' protection order.

During the trial prosecutor Tariq Bin Shakoor told the court one of the boys was often singled out by Khan after evening prayers.

The other boy was assaulted when he was an overnight guest at Khan's house, the jury heard.

Following the verdict on 1 February the family of one of Khan's victims said the boy isolated himself from friends and family and even wanted to end his life.

Gaza Strip: Four workers injured as mosque roof collapses

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Four workers were injured Saturday when the roof of a mosque collapsed in the southern Gaza Strip, medics said.

Gaza medical services spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya said the builders were constructing a new roof for the mosque when the incident happened east of Khan Younis.

The injured were transferred to Nasser Hospital, Abu Salmiya said.

UK: Extremist leader jailed for a series of sex attacks on children

A man has been jailed for a series of sex attacks on children committed while he was leader of a Muslim extremist group and a teacher at a hardline London mosque.

Ashraf Miah, 38, from Mile End, a former teacher at the East London Mosque, repeatedly molested the girls whilst they recited religious texts. The youngest victim was five and the oldest only seven.
. . .
The assaults took place over a four-year period, from 2003 to 2007, during lessons at Miah’s flat and other houses in east London. Some of the girls complained to their parents about the abuse, but were not believed.

Snaresbrook Crown Court heard that the offences came to light after one of the girls’ fathers had a change of heart and reported her case to police. More victims were traced and Miah was convicted of a total of 13 sexual assaults against five different youngsters.
. . .

“The offending was persistent, extending over a period of four years, and always involving children unlikely to be able to complain believably about what you were doing to them.
Extremist leader jailed for child abuse
Andrew Gilligan, Telegraph, January 20, 2011

Pakistan mosque shootout wounds 18 over dispute which cleric should lead holiday prayers

A shootout inside a mosque in southwestern Pakistan wounded 18 people Wednesday in a dispute over who should lead prayers for one of Islam’s most important holidays, police said.

Followers of the two rival religious leaders pulled out weapons and started shooting Wednesday morning after arguing over which one should start the prayers at a small mosque in remote Khuzdar district of Baluchistan province, police official Javed Ahmed said. The district is about 550 miles (900 kilometres) southwest of Islamabad.

Longueuil girl, 13 dies after father slapped her

A 13-year-old Longueuil girl died Saturday night as a result of injuries she sustained Wednesday when police say her 71-year-old father slapped her and she went into a coma.

Police said Mousaa Sidime, who was arrested for aggravated assault and has been detained since the incident, could now face a more serious charge when he appears in court Tuesday.

The girl, whom neighbours identified as Noutene Sidime, was found by emergency responders shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday at her family dwelling on Chambly Rd. in Old Longueuil when the elderly father called police to say he had slapped his daughter, Longueuil police Constable Mark David said.

“When we got there the girl was bleeding around her nose and she has been in a coma ever since,” David said.

Shocked neighbours Monday described the girl as a “ray of light” who played happily with their children and used to give hugs to some of the other mothers when she came home from school.

But neighbour Linda Robert said Noutene had been quieter in the last two years. Her father was demanding, Robert said, and could be heard sometimes yelling at the children or his wife. On the evening that she was struck, neighbours said her father was calling in to recite her prayers, as he often did. She was reluctant to go, as she often was, neighbours said.

“Even when she was young, she hated going in for her prayers,” Robert said.

David said police were informed Monday that the girl died in hospital about 10 p.m. Saturday.

He said it will be up to a crown prosecutor to decide if the man will face a more serious charge. He was scheduled to be arraigned on the charge of aggravated assault at Longueuil courthouse Tuesday.
Longueuil girl, 13 dies after father slapped her
René Bruemmer, The Montreal Gazette, October 11, 2010

Shame of Muslim cleric who exposed himself in Bristol park

AN imam invited from Libya to preach in Bristol has been jailed after pleading guilty to indecently exposing himself in the city centre.

Bristol magistrates heard Abrahim Ghait, a young imam celebrated for his knowledge of the Koran, exposed himself to a 28-year-old woman in Castle Park as she made her way home from the gym.

He also admitted an allegation that he showed a 12-year-old girl in the park his genitals in a separate incident.

Magistrates sent the 25-year-old, who had come to Britain on a visit to preach during the Muslim festival Ramadan, to prison for six weeks.
. . .

Ghait also visited Bristol to preach in 2007. He is one of 21 imams the UK Arabic Society, a charity, has brought to the UK from Libya in 2010 to preach.
Shame of muslim cleric who exposed himself in Bristol park
Dominic Harris, Evening Post, September 23, 2010

UK: Muslims disguised as street cleaners hatch plot to blow up the Pope

The threatened attack was foiled at the 11th hour after police raided a cleaning depot in London as the suspects prepared to start their shift yesterday.

Last night six men – all believed to be North Africans aged between 26 and 50 – were being questioned by detectives.

Five suspects were detained at the cleaning depot and the sixth was held at his home yesterday afternoon.

Searches were being carried out at 10 addresses across the capital and police seized computers, mobile phones and other items.

Pope Benedict XVI was said to have remained “totally calm” when he was informed about the threat yesterday morning.

A £1.5million ring of steel has been put in place for the first official Papal visit to Britain and security procedures were immediately reviewed but the Pontiff’s schedule continued as planned.

It is feared plotters with links to Al Qaeda planned “a double blow to the infidel” by assassinating the head of the Roman Catholic church and slaughtering hundreds of pilgrims and well-wishers.

The suspected plot was smashed after Scotland Yard officers swooped on the depot in Marylebone, central London, at 5.45am after a tip-off just hours earlier.

A security source said last night: “We had to act and arrest them. We had reasonable grounds to suspect they would carry out an attack.

“We could not take the risk that they would mount an attack on the Pope which might lead to his death and the deaths of many others.”

The suspects worked for Veolia Environmental Services, a contractor employing 650 staff to keep the streets of Westminster clean.

The depot was searched by officers from the Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command. A second business premises was also searched. Officers later carried out raids on eight residential properties in north and east London, searching for weapons, bomb-making materials, maps and other suspicious items.

The five men detained are aged 26, 27, 36, 40 and 50. At least three are believed to originate from Algeria while a fourth is thought to be a Tunisian national. A sixth man, aged 29, was arrested at a house in north London. The suspects were being detained last night at a central London police station on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

The depot where the men worked is less than a mile from Hyde Park where Pope Benedict is due to hold a prayer vigil this evening. His well-publicised route takes him along The Mall past Buckingham Palace.

Up to 85,000 worshippers have been issued special “pilgrim’s passes”, with ticket holders having to arrive up to five hours before the Pope. As street cleaners the men would have been able to move freely and inconspicuously through the crowds.

An investigation is also under way to determine if the foreign nationals had entered Britain legally and were entitled to work here.

Last night a Scotland Yard spokesman said: “As a result of the arrests policing arrangements for the Papal visit were reviewed and we are satisfied that our policing plan remains appropriate. The itinerary has not changed and there is no change to the threat level.”

He added: “The initial searches have not uncovered any hazardous items.”

Last night, Gian Paul, 31, owner of a restaurant near the cleaning depot, said: “When I arrived this morning there were tons of police with dogs.

“The cops ran in and said they were from immigration. They made them all stand up – the guy who told me said he felt like he was in a film.

“All the employees were made to put their hands on their heads. Then more police came in and took some of the workers away.

“The man who told me about this didn’t know the names of the people who were arrested.”

Dr Leith Penny, of Westminster City Council, said: “Security is of critical importance and can never be taken for granted and so our congratulations must go to the police authorities for their swift action.”

The German-born Pontiff was alerted of the threat yesterday morning, the day after his arrival in Britain for the historic four-day visit.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said: “We are totally confident in the work of the police and Scotland Yard.

“They have already said that the information that they have collected demonstrates there is no need to change anything on the programme of the Pope and the security measures.”
Muslim plot to kill Pope
John Twomey & David Pilditch, Daily Express, September 18, 2010

The sexually abused dancing boys of Afghanistan

In Afghanistan women are not allowed to dance in public, but boys can be made to dance in women's clothing - and they are often sexually abused.
. . .

The men behind the practice are often wealthy and powerful. Some of them keep several bachas (boys) and use them as status symbols - a display of their riches. The boys, who can be as young as 12, are usually orphans or from very poor families.
. . .
There have been very few attempts by the authorities to clamp down on the bachabaze tradition.

Muhammad Ibrahim, deputy Police Chief of Jowzjan province, denies that the practice continues.
. . .
According to Abdulkhabir Uchqun, an MP from northern Afghanistan, the tradition is not just alive, but steadily growing.

"Unfortunately it is the on the increase in almost every region of Afghanistan. I asked local authorities to act to stop this practice but they don't do anything," he says.

"Our officials are too ashamed to admit that it even exists."
The sexually abused dancing boys of Afghanistan
Rustam Qobil, BBC News, September 8, 2010

Senegal prostitutes look forward to Ramadan's end

Ramadan is bad news for the sex workers on the streets of Senegal, a country where 94 percent of the population is Muslim and prostitution is legal.

"It's a rough month," said 31-year-old Fatou Diop, who had taken a position on a piece of pavement just beyond the flashing lights of a nightclub in downtown Dakar. Her miniskirt was so short it barely reached beyond the top of her thighs.
. . .
Even though prostitution is legal, it is still taboo. If the police harass prostitutes — registered or not— and threaten to take them to jail, they often have no recourse but to pay a bribe.
. . .
Djiby Sow coordinates health programs at Africa Consultants International and works with local groups in Dakar that offer health services and counseling to prostitutes.

"The worst impact is during the first two weeks," he said. "People are very pious then. Business goes back up toward the end of the month."
Senegal prostitutes look forward to Ramadan's end
Associated Press, September 9, 2010

'Slaves' in impoverished Yemen still dream of freedom

Officially, slavery was abolished back in 1962 but a judge's decision to pass on the title deed of a "slave" from one master to another has blown the lid off the hidden bondage of hundreds of Yemenis.

The judge in the town of Hajja, which is home to some 300 slaves, according to residents, said he had certified the transfer only because the new owner planned to free the slave.

But his decision has triggered a campaign by local human right activists.

A 2009 report by the human rights ministry found that males and females were still enslaved in the provinces of Hudaydah and Hajja, in northwest Yemen -- the Arab world's most impoverished country.
. . .
"We are still in the process of trying to count the numbers of slaves," the coordinator of rights group Hood, Mohammed Naji Allaw, told AFP, explaining that slaves were "owned by title deeds, or inherited within families."

The news website almasdaronline earlier spoke of "500 slaves" across Yemen.

In addition to "slaves whose owner can use them however he wants," the ministry report also refers to other groups subjected to slave-like conditions, although they are not bound by documents.

One group includes "former slaves who have been officially set free, but remain at the service of their former masters, who continue to feed them but never pay them wages," the report said.

Allaw said such people are still referred to as "the slaves of such and such a family, or the slaves of such and such a tribe."

Enslaved groups are descendants of an empire which ruled Yemen in the 11th and 12th centuries, with their origins in ancient Ethiopia, across the Red Sea from Yemen. They were enslaved after their empire was defeated.

Child labour in country takes alarming turn

There was nothing new about children engaged in hazardous tasks in the country, but things have taken an alarming turn in recent times in absence comprehensive measures to protect the vulnerable child workers.
. . .

Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) conducted the second National Child Labour Survey (NCLS) in 2002-2003 showing that there were 4.9 million working children in the country. But since then neither the government nor any non-government organization has come forward to conduct any survey to explore the present situation of child labour in the country.

According to an expert, an estimated seven million child workers are involved in hazardous jobs at present with the majority working in urban areas in informal sectors like factory, transportation, battery recycling, small workshops, shoe factory and household work.
. . .

Sharfuddin, who has been working with child labour for long, said more than three million child labours have been working in the capital alone. Some 1.3 million of them are highly vulnerable in their workplaces as they are engaged in hazardous work.

Bahraini sex shop thrives in conservative Gulf

Khadija Ahmed's sex shop has survived against all odds and some particularly intense scrutiny from customs officials since it opened in Bahrain in 2008.

Ahmed's shop, a rare sight in the region, sells a wide range of lingerie, creams to delay male orgasm and sex toys out of the tiny Khadija Fashion House south of Manama, or through her website (www.khadijamall.com) to customers across the region.

A modestly dressed Ahmed in a traditional flowing black abaya and headscarf told Reuters that most of the items she sells are already available in Bahrain's fashion shops and pharmacies anyway and that she shuns some products to avoid stirring public anger.

"I don't sell vibrators for example, as this is against Islam," she said, adding that her faith banned the replication or display of sensitive parts of the body. However, other toys such as vibration rings were fine, she said.

Ahmed said she has not encountered much trouble with the public in Bahrain once she replaced lingerie in her display window with short dresses after complaints from neighbors and a nearby mosque.
Bahraini sex shop thrives in conservative Gulf
Frederik Richter, Reuters, June 9, 2010

Australia: Sydney woman strangled to death by her Islamic head dress after it got caught in a moving go-kart

A Sydney woman has died after her Islamic head dress got caught in a moving go-kart in the New South Wales town of Port Stephens.

The woman in her 20s was driving the go-kart at Bob's Farm in the town north of Newcastle when her head covering got caught in the axle and wrapped around her neck yesterday.

She suffered serious neck and throat injuries and was flown to Newcastle's John Hunter Hospital, but she died.

The owner of the track says he warned the woman it was not wise to wear the head dress.

He says the track has been operating for 10 years with an unblemished safety record.

Afghan Men Struggle With Sexual Identity, Study Finds

As if U.S. troops and diplomats didn't have enough to worry about in trying to understand Afghan culture, a new report suggests an entire region in the country is coping with a sexual identity crisis.

An unclassified study from a military research unit in southern Afghanistan details how homosexual behavior is unusually common among men in the large ethnic group known as Pashtuns -- though they seem to be in complete denial about it.

The study, obtained by Fox News, found that Pashtun men commonly have sex with other men, admire other men physically, have sexual relationships with boys and shun women both socially and sexually -- yet they completely reject the label of "homosexual." The research was conducted as part of a longstanding effort to better understand Afghan culture and improve Western interaction with the local people.

The research unit, which was attached to a Marine battalion in southern Afghanistan, acknowledged that the behavior of some Afghan men has left Western forces "frequently confused."

The report details the bizarre interactions a U.S. Army medic and her colleagues had with Afghan men in the southern province of Kandahar.

In one instance, a group of local male interpreters had contracted gonorrhea anally but refused to believe they could have contracted it sexually -- "because they were not homosexuals."

Apparently, according to the report, Pashtun men interpret the Islamic prohibition on homosexuality to mean they cannot "love" another man -- but that doesn't mean they can't use men for "sexual gratification."

The group of interpreters who had contracted gonorrhea joked in the camp that they actually got the disease by "mixing green and black tea." But since they refused to heed the medics' warnings, many of them re-contracted the disease after receiving treatment.

The U.S. army medic also told members of the research unit that she and her colleagues had to explain to a local man how to get his wife pregnant.

The report said: "When it was explained to him what was necessary, he reacted with disgust and asked, 'How could one feel desire to be with a woman, who God has made unclean, when one could be with a man, who is clean? Surely this must be wrong.'"

The Pashtun populations are concentrated in the southern and eastern parts of the country. The Human Terrain Team that conducted the research is part of a military effort to learn more about local populations.

The report also detailed a disturbing practice in which older "men of status" keep young boys on hand for sexual relationships. One of the country's favorite sayings, the report said, is "women are for children, boys are for pleasure."

The report concluded that the widespread homosexual behavior stems from several factors, including the "severe segregation" of women in the society and the "prohibitive" cost of marriage.

Though U.S. troops are commonly taught in training for Afghanistan that the "effeminate characteristics" of Pashtun men are "normal" and not an indicator of homosexuality, the report said U.S. forces should not "dismiss" the unique version of homosexuality that is actually practiced in the region "out of desire to avoid western discomfort."

Otherwise, the report said, Westerners could "risk failing to comprehend an essential social force underlying Pashtun culture."

Six-legged goat to grab eyeballs at goat exhibition

VARANASI: Call it birth defect or wish of the Almighty, a goat with six legs, four testicles and three penis will be spared from holy sacrifice on the occasion of Id-ul-Juha (Bakrid) this year.

While the black-coloured goat, barely one-year-old and weighing around 10 kg, is all set to attract attention during the goat exhibition prior to the festival, the owner of the goat has ruled out any chances of sacrifice of the unique goat on the auspicious day.

"This goat is a gift of God and the sacrifice of such a goat is not allowed in Islam," said Sher Mohammed, the owner of the goat, while talking to TOI on Sunday. "The goat can be displayed during Bakrid exhibition, but sacrifice of the goat is strictly prohibited," he added.

Saying the goat was born with six legs, four testicles and three penis a year ago, the owner adds it can walk freely and normally like other goats. "It faces problems in defecating and urinating, as discharge of urine is witnessed after frequent intervals from different penis. But still, it is a special goat that attracts attention of people," he added.

His neighbour Sarfaraz maintained that such a goat was rare in the city and had not been witnessed till date in any parts of the region. "I have seen goats with the name of Allah or the holy number 786 on their bodies, but a goat with six legs is definitely unique and special," he said.

According to district veterinary officer Dr BB Singh, such abnormalities are rare but can occur in animals during the development of their body parts. "Genetic changes or mutations can also cause such birth defects," he informed.

Pakistan's Forgotten Plight: Modern-Day Slavery

Officials at the U.S. embassy in Islamabad say at least three landlords have held as many as 170 bonded farmworkers at gunpoint on their estates in the country's southeast Sindh province since late September.
. . .

The crisis began after the workers' advocates successfully petitioned three district courts to declare as illegal the debts that the landlords were using to compel the workers into indentured servitude. Those debts average around 1,000 Pakistani rupees — roughly $12. The hostages, a third of whom are children, some as young as 4 months old, are landless peasants, known as haari in Urdu. According to Ghulam Hyder, a spokesman for Pakistan's Green Rural Development Organization, the landlords have killed one hostage already and are threatening to kill the others unless they drop the cases and return to work.
. . .
A 2004 study by the International Labour Office (ILO) estimated that there are up to a million haari families in Sindh alone, the majority living in conditions of debt bondage, which the U.N. defines as modern-day slavery. Last fall, Pakistan's Daily Times newspaper quoted the labor minister of neighboring Punjab province as saying that landlords hold millions of forced laborers in "private prisons" across the country.

While the nation's 1992 Bonded Labour System Act mandates five-year sentences for violators, Pakistani officials have yet to record a single conviction. "The police are turning a blind eye on the issue," says Hyder
Pakistan's Forgotten Plight: Modern-Day Slavery
E. Benjamin Skinner, TIME, October 27, 2009

Yemen child trafficking to increase in Ramadan

With the advent of Ramadan in just a few days, child trafficking, a trade that sometimes goes unpunished in Yemen, is expected to increase as food prices rise and parents struggle to provide for their children.

"I think during Ramadan prices rise and there is a lapse of security along the borders," Coordinator of Child Parliament Om Khalthoum said.

Almost 1,500 Yemeni children were saved by child protection centers from exploitation, abuse and deprivation that come at the hands of their traffickers or smugglers, according to Naseem Ur-Rahman of UNICEF. Yemeni children, primarily boys, are trafficked into Saudi Arabia for exploitation as beggars, street vendors and unskilled laborers.

While there are no statistics that determine how many children are trafficked on an annual basis, authorities do know that during the month of Ramadan the numbers rise. "One of the main problems is that there is a lack of reliable data," Ur-Rahman said.
. . .
There is also a need for a legal description of children trafficking specifically for sex, begging or any other action that assists or encourages children to escape from their houses to practice prostitution or any other immoral actions. Occasionally children are even maimed or crippled in order to ensure success in begging.
. . .
Despite making great strides in recent years, the government of Yemen does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Even with their latest significant efforts, the Yemeni government did not show evidence of progress in prosecuting and punishing trafficking offenders or in preventing sex trafficking over the last year, according to the US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report for 2009.

The Yemeni government reported no trafficking investigations, prosecutions, or convictions during the reporting period, and took no steps to address trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
Yemen child trafficking to increase in Ramadan
Salma Ismail, Yemen Times, August 20, 2009

Half a million African slaves are at the heart of Mauritania's presidential election

Officially, slavery has long been abolished in Mauritania, but the law has never been enforced and there are an estimated 600,000 slaves, almost one in five of the country's 3.2 million people, almost 150 years since the American civil war.

Change will come too late to heal Mrs Sayed's ruined life. But she knows that victory for Mr Boulkheir could transform the future for the daughter and grandchildren whom she had to leave behind in captivity when she finally summoned the courage to escape.

A black African of Mauritania's Haratine caste, she was born into slavery about 40 years ago - she is illiterate and has only a hazy idea of time - and grew up as the property of an Arabic-speaking Berber family, in an oasis town deep in the desert.

While her master's children went to school, she was cooking, cleaning and washing from dawn to dusk. She slept on the floor, and suffered beatings.
. . .
Slave-holding has been abolished three times, first by the country's former French overlords and then twice by different rulers of the independent state, most recently in 2007. But the law has never been enforced and no slave owner has ever been prosecuted.
. . .
Centuries of indoctrination have persuaded the Sahara's captives that slavery is religiously ordained - slaves are taught that if they run away they will be barred from heaven. As a local saying puts it: "Paradise is under your master's foot." In some remote places a runaway will still be hunted down by nomad masters.
. . .
A Berber driver, who would only give his first name, Mohammed, defended slavery. "It is our religion and custom," he said.

"Why does the international community try to stop it? The slaves are better off with their masters. This is their fate. When they leave, they starve."

Afghanistan President signs law to 'legalise' rape

Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai, has signed a law which "legalises" rape, women's groups and the United Nations warn. Critics claim the president helped rush the bill through parliament in a bid to appease Islamic fundamentalists ahead of elections in August.

In a massive blow for women's rights, the new Shia Family Law negates the need for sexual consent between married couples, tacitly approves child marriage and restricts a woman's right to leave the home, according to UN papers seen by The Independent.

"It is one of the worst bills passed by the parliament this century," fumed Shinkai Karokhail, a woman MP who campaigned against the legislation. "It is totally against women's rights. This law makes women more vulnerable."
. . .
Details of the law emerged after Mr Karzai was endorsed by Afghanistan's Supreme Court to stay in power until elections scheduled in August. Some MPs claimed President Karzai was under pressure from Iran, which maintains a close relationship with Afghanistan's Shias. The most controversial parts of the law deal explicitly with sexual relations. Article 132 requires women to obey their husband's sexual demands and stipulates that a man can expect to have sex with his wife at least "once every four nights" when travelling, unless they are ill. The law also gives men preferential inheritance rights, easier access to divorce, and priority in court.

A report by the United Nations Development Fund for Women, Unifem, warned: "Article 132 legalises the rape of a wife by her husband".

Sex case grips country amid young-brides split

An elderly conservative columnist accused of sexually abusing a minor says a girl is of age if she has reached puberty and is having periods. His comments generate a huge debate about young-brides and religious beliefs.

Hüseyin Üzmez denies having sex with a 14-year-old girl. He just defends a man’s right to marry one.

Üzmez, 76, a columnist at Turkey’s Islamist Vakit newspaper, is pleading not guilty to charges of sexually abusing a minor in a case that has gripped the country of 70 million. Since his release on bail on Oct. 28, Üzmez has publicly defended Islamic rules that permit girls to wed below the legal age of 16.

"A girl who’s reached puberty, who’s having periods, is of age, according to our beliefs," Üzmez told national television the day he got out. "And if she’s of age, she can marry."

Üzmez returns to court on Dec. 16. Whatever the eventual outcome, the case has widened the gulf between Turks promoting Islamic law and those who support the secular system put in place by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in the 1920s.
. . .

Gülsün Kanat, whose Purple Roof Foundation helps women who suffer from domestic violence, said she’s concerned about the Üzmez case because his prestige as a writer on religion backs up his comments on sexual maturity and marriage. "It gives other people the green light," she said.
Sex case grips country amid young-brides split
Hürriyet Daily, November 26, 2008

Link between child porn and Muslim terrorists discovered in police raids

A link between terrorism plots and hardcore child pornography is becoming clear after a string of police raids in Britain and across the Continent, an investigation by The Times has discovered. Images of child abuse have been found during Scotland Yard antiterrorism swoops and in big inquiries in Italy and Spain.

Secret coded messages are being embedded into child pornographic images, and paedophile websites are being exploited as a secure way of passing information between terrorists.

British security services are also aware of the trend and believe that it requires further investigation to improve understanding of terrorists’ methods and mindsets. Concerns within the Metropolitan Police led to a plan to run a pilot research project exploring the nature of the link. One source familiar with the proposal said that this could eventually lead to the training of child welfare experts to identify signs of terrorist involvement as they monitor pornographic sites.

Concerns have already been expressed at Cabinet minister level about the risk of vulnerable Muslim youths being exploited by older men.

Officers have noted that child sex abuse images have been found during investigations into some of the most advanced suspected plots. However, it is understood that the proposed research project was never implemented because the AntiTerrorism Branch was overwhelmed by the sheer number of cases it was having to deal with.

It is not clear whether the terrorists were more interested in the material for personal gratification or were drawn to child porn networks as a secure means of sending messages. In one case fewer than a dozen images were found; in another, 40,000.

British security sources confirmed that such a link had been discovered in several cases. They noted the contradiction between people supposedly devoted to theocracy and Islamic fundamentalism and their use of child pornography. “It shows that these people are very confused,” a source said. “Here they are hating Western decadence but actually making use of it and finding that they enjoy this stuff.”

Baroness Neville-Jones, Conservative security spokeswoman and former chairwoman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, said: “The information about a possible link between extremism and child pornography potentially provides useful insight into three things: the methods that extremists use to communicate; the methods they use to target vulnerable people in society; and the techniques they seek to use to conceal their online activities.” She added: “There is no doubt that these possible linkages should merit further research.”

Andrew Dismore, the Labour MP and chairman of the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, said: “This is an important development. We have to do more than just the police work. It needs child protection, criminological and psychological work. It could become a very important weapon in the fight against terrorism.” He urged researchers to review cases where terrorists had been convicted to look for this link.

The first British suspicions of a link between child sex abuse and jihadis emerged in London in 2006 when antiterrorism police in two unrelated investigations were shocked to find computerised images of hardcore child pornography. The key case that tipped off the security services to a plausible link involved the “White-chapel Rapist”, Abdul Makim Khalisadar. A former Mujahidin and a preacher at the East London Mosque, he was being examined for his links to a hardcore Islamic militant who was later convicted of terrorism. Khalisadar was never convicted of terrorist offences. The other investigation involved a young religiously observant Muslim.

The Times has learnt that a criminal investigation also found child pornography on computers after a raid in 2001 at a mosque run by an al-Qaeda recruiter in Milan. Italian police believe that the images were encoded with messages. At a forthcoming terrorism trial in Spain, the alleged mastermind of a Muslim cell has also been accused of downloading hundreds of child sex abuse pictures and videos.

UK: Devout Muslim found guilty of child cruelty after forcing 2 boys to beat themselves during religious ceremony

A devout Muslim who was found guilty of child cruelty after forcing two boys to beat themselves during a religious ceremony is due to be sentenced today.

Syed Mustafa Zaidi, 44, was found guilty of two counts of child cruelty in a British legal first last month.

The boys, aged 13 and 15, were forced to beat themselves with a zanjeer zani, an implement containing five curved blades, during a ceremony to commemorate the death of a Shia Muslim spiritual leader.

The boys both received multiple lacerations to their backs, mainly superficial, with several deeper cuts.

Zaidi, of Station Road, Eccles, Salford, also flogged himself during the ceremony at a community centre in Levenshulme, Manchester, on January 19.

The boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted they wanted to beat themselves, but not under duress and not using Zaidi's zanjeer zani.

Both boys also admitted they had flogged themselves with a smaller zanjeer zani from the age of six in Pakistan.

A 14-year-old boy, who was 13 at the time, said Zaidi told them both: "Start doing it, start doing it."

He told the jury: "We said 'we don't want to do it'."

The boy said he saw Zaidi flogging himself with the zanjeer zani before washing his blood from it and handing it to the 15-year-old boy.

He said Zaidi "kept pressuring him" and "make him do the knife thing".

A 20-minute film of the traditional Ashura ceremony, broadcast on satellite television, showed Zaidi flagellating himself until his back was bloody and cut.

Participants at the men-only event flogged themselves, while others chanted the name Husayn and beat their chests. Many cried openly.

Multiple wives will mean multiple benefits

Husbands with multiple wives have been given the go-ahead to claim extra welfare benefits following a year-long Government review, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

Even though bigamy is a crime in Britain, the decision by ministers means that polygamous marriages can now be recognised formally by the state, so long as the weddings took place in countries where the arrangement is legal.

The outcome will chiefly benefit Muslim men with more than one wife, as is permitted under Islamic law. Ministers estimate that up to a thousand polygamous partnerships exist in Britain, although they admit there is no exact record.

The decision has been condemned by the Tories, who accused the Government of offering preferential treatment to a particular group, and of setting a precedent that would lead to demands for further changes in British law.

New guidelines on income support from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) state: "Where there is a valid polygamous marriage the claimant and one spouse will be paid the couple rate ... The amount payable for each additional spouse is presently £33.65."

Income support for all of the wives may be paid directly into the husband's bank account, if the family so choose. Under the deal agreed by ministers, a husband with multiple wives may also be eligible for additional housing benefit and council tax benefit to reflect the larger property needed for his family.

The ruling could cost taxpayers millions of pounds.
. . .
Chris Grayling, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said that the decision was "completely unjustifiable".

"You are not allowed to have multiple marriages in the UK, so to have a situation where the benefits system is treating people in different ways is totally unacceptable and will serve to undermine confidence in the system.

"This sets a precedent that will lead to more demands for the culture of other countries to be reflected in UK law and the benefits system."

Mr Grayling also accused the Government of trying to keep the ruling quiet because the topic is so controversial.
Multiple wives will mean multiple benefits
Jonathan Wynne-Jones, The Telegraph, February 3, 2008

UAE father of 78 eyes new brides for century target

A one-legged Emirati father of 78 is lining up his next two wives in a bid to reach his target of 100 children by 2015, Emirates Today reported on Monday.

Daad Mohammed Murad Abdul Rahman, 60, has already had 15 brides although he has to divorce them as he goes along to remain within the legal limit of four wives at a time.

"In 2015 I will be 68 years old and will have 100 children," the local tabloid quoted Abdul Rahman as saying.

"After that I will stop marrying. I have to have at least three more marriages to hit the century."

The United Arab Emirates newspaper splashed its front page with a picture of Abdul Rahman surrounded by his children, the eldest of whom is 36 years old and the youngest of whom is 20 days old. Two of his current three wives are also pregnant.

Abdul Rahman said his large family lived in 15 houses. He supports them with his military pension and the help of the government of Ajman, one of seven emirates that comprise the UAE, which includes the Gulf trade and tourism hub of Dubai.

The child slaves of Saudi Arabia

On the wealthy streets of Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia, thousands of young child-beggars, under the auspices of ruthless gangmasters, are simply trying to survive.

Many hail from countries like Yemen which, despite bordering one of the Middle East's richest states, is a world away in terms of economic prosperity.

These children are often sold by families who are either duped into believing their offspring will get a better life or sometimes simply threatened.

Once in the country, they are likely to face beatings and are sometimes even mutilated as their Dickensian masters stoop to any low to try to improve the chances of them earning more money.
. . .
The children caught are almost entirely boys and although many come from Yemen, others come from countries such as Somalia, Sudan, Chad, Pakistan and India.

Yemen has become more involved in child trafficking since its workers were expelled from Saudi Arabia in the 1990s following the first Gulf War. Children were sent instead because Saudi authorities do not prosecute children.
The child slaves of Saudi Arabia
BBC News, March 27, 2007

Madrassas hit by sex abuse claims

A Pakistani minister has revealed hundreds of cases of alleged child sex abuse at Islamic schools, or madrassas.

There were 500 complaints this year of abuse allegedly committed by clerics, Aamer Liaquat Hussain, a minister in the religious affairs department, said.

That compares with 2,000 last year, but as yet there have been no successful prosecutions, Mr Hussain told the BBC.

The minister's revelations have sparked death threats and infuriated some religious political leaders.

Mr Hussain said he had received death threats from clerics, but that he had done his job and his conscience was clear.

The time had come for his country to face the bitter truth - the sickness of child abuse, he said.
Madrassas hit by sex abuse claims
Paul Anderson, BBC News, December 10, 2004


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