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39Sharia News Watch 40

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  • Enzo Picardie
    Mar 6, 2003
      Sharia News Watch 40 : a collection news quotes on Sharia,
      for research & educational purposes only. [*]
      Subscribe: shariawatch-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
      all editions: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/shariawatch/


      With Iraq Looming, Karzai Competes For U.S. Attention 28 Feb 03
      the government-funded U.S. Commission on International Religious
      Freedom this week sent a letter to Bush alerting him to a possible
      return to Taliban-like conditions in Afghanistan.

      The letter cited what it called "disturbing reports" that an extreme
      interpretation of Islamic law, or sharia, is being cultivated and that
      the Taliban's former "religious police" and notorious Ministry for the
      Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice have reemerged in "a
      gentler guise."

      The letter said "on-the-spot-beatings" have been reported as well as
      other coercive measures to make Afghans follow strict religious
      practices and force women to conform to stringent codes of dress,
      movement and behavior. It also drew attention to reports of blasphemy
      charges being hurled at reformers, particularly women, and reports of
      torture of prisoners and of maltreatment of returning refugees.

      The commission's president, Felice Gaer, said in an interview with
      RFE/RL that senior judicial officials in Afghanistan have endorsed the
      idea of severe punishments such as amputations, as well as public
      death threats to recalcitrant non-Muslims.


      Sharjah to build Dh 60m court complex 02 Mar 03
      The Ministry of Public Works and Housing will build a one-stop court
      and prosecution complex in Sharjah at a total cost of Dh 60 million.
      [EUR 15 Mill.] Faud Bukhash, Director of the Ministry's Building
      Design Department, told Gulf News yesterday that the ministry started
      construction last month and work is expected to be completed by the
      beginning of 2004.

      The design is modern in style with Islamic architecture to match the
      design in all the government departments in Sharjah. The complex will
      have in its premises the civil court, appeal court, Al Sharia, Public
      Prosecution, Appeals Prosecution, the Justice Department headquarters,
      the Administrative Affairs and the IT Department.

      Spanking for girls who beat up school counsellor 03 Mar 03
      The case of two schoolgirls who beat up a school counsellor has been
      settled with a spanking for the two offenders. The head of their tribe
      stepped in and punished the girls in front of the whole school during
      morning assembly... and honour was restored.

      The original incident occurred at a preparatory school. School sources
      said the head of the tribe beat them in front of the school because
      they had attacked the counsellor in front of the school. He also asked
      all the teachers and administrative staff to attend the assembly. The
      head told the counsellor, who belongs to another tribe, that she could
      "extract her right" from the UAE national sisters, but she did not.

      The case was referred to the Sharia Court. The incident at the
      assembly followed a deal brokered by the two sides. The deal also
      required relatives of the national counsellor to watch the tribal head
      beat the girls.


      AIMPLB to accept SC decision on Ayodhya 03 Mar 03
      The 17th All India Muslim Law Board (AIMPLB) conference held in Munger
      in Bihar says Muslims will accept the final Supreme Court verdict on
      the Ayodhya dispute even if that judgment goes against the Babri
      Masjid. The Supreme Court will pass a judgment on the Ayodhya
      dispute on March 6 and Muslims are concerned because they want an end
      to the dispute in the interests of all.
      Amidst concerns over growing Hindu fundamentalism, a few Muslim
      clerics demanded Muslims to fight the trishul distribution amongst
      Hindus. But the conference condemned such urges for confrontation and
      moderates prevailed.


      [Aceh] Egyptian 'Hafiz"Invited to Teach NAD People 01 Mar 03
      The Provincial Administration of Nangroe Aceh Darussalam (NAD) will
      invite a well known Egyptian "hafiz" (an Islamic religious teacher who
      can memorize the whole verses of Holy Qur'an) to teach young Moslems
      in the province.

      Rusli Mohammad, Head of NAD's Socio-Religious Affairs Bureau, told the
      press here Friday the decision to invite the Egyptian religious
      teacher is partly aimed at coping with the crisis in the religious
      education in the province during the last several years.

      Rusli Mohammad said that being Moslems living in what had been
      popularly referred to as "the Veranda of Mecca", the NAD people should
      be more familiar with various aspects of Islamic teachings which had
      been adopted as part of the positive law in the province.

      [Aceh] Indon minister opens `moderate' sharia court 05 Mar 03
      Alyasa Abubakar, who heads the sharia office in Aceh, said Tuesday's
      event was purely ceremonial and issues concerning sharia police,
      sharia prosecutors and details of verdicts and punishments had still
      to be determined by religious decrees.

      National Supreme Court Chief Judge Bagir Manan swore in the head of
      the sharia court at provincial level and at each of the province's 16
      districts and four municipalities.
      But despite such reassurances, emerging developments point to stricter
      enforcement of Islamic laws and a tightening curb on a number of
      activities that are regarded as normal in most parts of Indonesia.

      A list of possible new laws includes a ban against drinking alcohol
      and on selling tobacco products or food items during the daytime for
      the duration of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. Unmarried men and
      women, if caught together in private, could be penalised under the new

      A number of observers in Jakarta also expressed some concerns about
      the protection of women's rights in cases of divorce, child custody or
      inheritance situations.

      [Sumatra] Sultanate gets new sultan after 182 years 05 Mar 03
      The Council of the Palembang Customary Community installed here on
      Tuesday Raden Muhammad Syafei Prabu Diraja as Sultan of Palembang
      Darussalam with the title of Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin III after the
      throne was vacant for 182 years, Antara reported.
      "The role of the sultanate which I will have will not be the same as
      Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II, as I will only be a customary leader
      because Palembang is now controlled by the Republic of Indonesia."


      Iranians arrested for net dating 03 Mar 03
      Dozens of young Iranians have been detained for "unlawful actions"
      after using a website to arrange dates, officials say. A militia
      commander said 68 men and women were arrested in the capital Tehran,
      according to a report by Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency.
      The Basij militia also detained the operators of the dating website.
      this is the first time an operation against internet users has been
      reported. General Ahmad Rouzbehani told Irna: "Some people were using
      an internet site to allow girls and boys to talk and arrange meetings
      in a place in north Tehran where they had illegal relations."
      Computers, satellite dishes and CDs were also seized in a series of
      raids prompted by tip-offs to the morality police
      Most people use net cafes to go online as there are only a handful of
      internet service providers in the country. Internet chat rooms provide
      a way for youngsters to talk freely about taboo subjects such as sex.

      Over the past year, there has been a big rise in the number of Persian
      weblogs, online journals where cyber-diarists let the world in on
      their lives. There are more than 1,200 Persian blogs, which focus
      largely on social rather than political issues, such as the opposite
      sex, music and films.


      [Opinion] How they bear false witness against Islam 02 Mar 03
      Does the constitutional proposal aim to make Kenya a Sharia state? It
      is true that Sharia has been abused by some Islamic states. But if you
      knew its real secular Qur'anic import, you would welcome it with both
      arms. The fact, however, is that there is no such plan. The aim is
      only to make the Chief Kadhi's court – which is confined to family
      matters – more shipshape to handle such cases more effectively.
      Yet, as usual, the unspoken lie is even more poignant. It is claimed
      that our statutory law, being "non-religious", is the ideal, whereas
      its Islamic sidebar, being "religious", is the aberration.

      Utter nonsense! For our statutory law is also nothing but religious –
      the English Protestant's right of every individual to appeal directly
      to his god without the officious meddling of a hierarchy of Catholic
      priests. The law is merely the juridical expression of the cult of
      this individual and his property. The individual pervades all the
      Christo-capitalist injunctions about tenure, appropriation, exchange,
      marriage, family, inheritance and crime. The Church thus rules us –
      all the way from the living room to the High Court. Yet – in its usual
      imperviousness to injustice – it seeks to deny the Muslims even the
      little legal autonomy they enjoy at home!


      Hezbollah said trying to forge image of Islamic moderate 24 Feb 03
      By opening up to Western audiences and calling for a reconsideration
      of Islamic rhetoric and principles, Hezbollah is attempting to
      reintroduce itself as a representative of a moderate Islam of the
      future, distant from the atavism and political agendas of other
      fundamentalist groups. In a recent speech he gave in the Al-Biqa
      [region] last week, the party's secretary-general, Sayyid Hasan
      Nasrallah, said that it was unacceptable to make "generalizations and
      categorizations which would involve millions of Europeans who preceded
      the Islamic world in rejecting a war waged against it".
      [Hezbollah's commander in the south, Nabil Qawuq] added that while at
      the political level Hezbollah is a Shi'i party, the party is very
      representative of the demands and longings of all Arabs. "The
      representation of the party and of the Sayyid (Hasan Nasrallah) goes
      beyond the Shi'i community and expands to include Muslims of both
      sects across the Arab world," Qawuq said. [The Daily Star]


      Appellate courts to move to Putrajaya 05 Mar 03
      Apart from the move to Putrajaya, [Federal Court chief registrar]
      Abdul Wahab said there were a host of new court projects lined up for
      this year. One was the construction of the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex
      in Jalan Duta. This complex, which would house 30 High Courts, 26
      Sessions Courts and 21 magistrate's courts, was expected to be
      completed by the end of 2005.

      He said the Jalan Duta Courts Complex was one of the 16 new courthouse
      complexes to take off this year. The others include the construction
      of courthouses in Kuala Kerai, Kelantan, additional building for Kota
      Baru court, Alor Star courts complex, new courthouse buildings for
      Petaling Jaya, Kuala Selangor, Baling, Tangkak, Maran Kuala Kubu Baru
      and Sarikei and Beaufort in East Malaysia.

      Meanwhile, the construction of courts for Seremban, Selayang,
      Sandakan, Kudat and Lahad Datu were underway. Abdul Wahab said the
      country was still short of 16 High Court judges as there were now only
      41 High Court judges and four judicial commissioners. The Federal
      Constitution says there should be 57 judges.

      Strengthening dakwah with technology 03 Mar 03
      .. [New Straits Times - Management]
      The notion of techno-daie, in essence meaning preachers utilising
      technology for dakwah [religious education & proselytization], has
      been agreed upon as being something of great importance for Islam in
      this new century.
      One of the reasons identified as the factor behind the high price is
      the lack of competition in producing technology-based Islamic
      products. It has been suggested that there is a need to create
      competition in this area so that these products can be made more

      This brings us to the issue of increasing the volume of Islamic
      products utilising technology. As mentioned earlier, there is an
      abundance of Islamic materials and resources that could be used.
      However most of these materials and resources are marketed in their
      traditional forms, that is in printed version.


      AEL against Israel, for multiculturalism 03 Mar 03
      The Dutch branch of the controversial [Belgian]Arab European League
      (AEL), which was officially launched at the weekend, immediately
      landed itself in hot water by announcing it wants "the State of Israel
      to be dismantled". The programme of the AEL-NL also calls for the
      closure of drugs-selling coffee shops and abolition of prostitution in
      the Netherlands.
      The league also demands that Islamic holidays become public holidays
      in the Netherlands and that Turkish and Moroccan can be chosen as A
      and O level examination subjects in schools, newspaper NRC Handelsblad
      reported. The AEL-NL describes itself a democratic and Islamic party.
      It is against (Islamic) Sharia law, which operates in Muslim states
      such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, parts of Sudan and in Taliban-controlled
      AEL-NL leader Jawad countered that [Dutch Liberal Party leader] Zalm
      should have reacted as speedily when VVD MP Ayaan Hirschi Ali said the
      prophet Mohammed was a pervert and a tyrant. Jawad added that he also
      understood why Moroccan youths want to see American soldiers shipped
      back to the US "in plastic bags". "Those kids see the war against Iraq
      as a war against Islam," he says. The Dutch AEL branch has 300
      members, mostly Moroccan students who have Dutch nationality.


      how Nigerian fraudsters steal millions from western banks 02 Mar 03
      Nigeria has more Muslims than any other country in sub-Saharan Africa
      but US and UK officials have tended to play down the idea that the
      country is a conduit for Islamic terrorist funds. Muslims dominate in
      the north of the country, where a dozen states have introduced a
      severe form of sharia law. But the harsh rules and religious tensions
      are usually seen as part of a power struggle with the civilian
      administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, elected in 1999, and
      not part of any wider agenda. Even so, says Glen Colvin, US Secret
      Service attache in London: "The potential for association with
      terrorist groups is still being explored."
      the culture of venality established by four decades of corrupt rule,
      both civilian and military, following independence in 1960. Indeed,
      the civil service is viewed as one of the most direct routes to wealth
      in a country where the government controls access to the main
      money-making industry, oil. The private sector, meanwhile, is stunted
      after years of autocracy and economic isolation. Even young, educated
      people have difficulty finding jobs, tempting them to turn to crime.

      Critical condition - Sharia crisis 01 Feb 03
      Obasanjo's critics say he has utterly failed to deal with the crisis
      sparked by the adoption of sharia first by the remote northern state
      of Zamfara in January 2000. He has so far refused to challenge sharia
      in the courts with the argument that its amputations and stonings
      amount to cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the constitution.
      Obasanjo recently said only that he would weep if a death sentence
      were carried out against Amina Lawal, a single woman who was sentenced
      to stoning for having sex out of wedlock.

      While northern governors have shrewdly employed sharia as a telling
      weapon against Obasanjo, a born again Christian, and a flag around
      which they can rally, many impoverished residents of the north hoped
      it would bring them good schools, clean water, and an end to
      prostitution and corruption.
      Religious, ethnic and political violence has continued to spiral out
      of control, claiming as many as ten thousand lives since Obasanjo
      took office. [The World Today]

      Democracy, Women's Rights And Sharia Law 29 Jan 03
      .. [This Day - Lagos]
      The implementation of Sharia Penal Codes in northern Nigeria since
      1999 is flawed in several respects. Firstly, it does not adequately
      protect the rights of women. Therefore abuse, violence and
      discrimination against women go unpunished as they are wrongly
      considered to be socially acceptable. In addition, the testimony of
      women is devalued and treated as that of a minor or person without
      necessary legal capacity. Often, these biases and attitudes also
      affect judges and therefore the judgment of the Sharia Courts.

      In the last two years, three major cases that have violated women's
      rights have attracted international and public condemnation. In Safiya
      Tungartudu Hussein's case for instance, the question of gender bias
      has been raised on the following grounds:Her pregnancy constituted the
      main evidence against her, but no scientific efforts were made to
      establish or disprove the paternity of the child. Two, the onus of
      pivot of adultery was just pregnancy. Three, the man named in the case
      was allowed to go free after denying responsibility for the pregnancy.

      These points alone suggest that the thinking of the court and
      supporters of sharia is that only women can be guilty of the
      'offences' of adultery or fornication. What happens then, in the case
      of seduction of minors, or rape?
      Democratically minded Muslim activists have also adjudged the
      pronouncement as a misapplication of sharia law, as a result of
      ignorance on the part of the women, the judge and those that supported
      the sentence.
      Some Islamic scholars go further and believe that under the sharia law
      every person irrespective of country of origin, religion, race, sex,
      status, age or colour has basic human rights that should be respected.
      These rights include: the rights to life, right to justice, right to
      equality, right to be free from discrimination, right to freedom from
      slavery, respect for the chastity of women, right to freedom from
      want, right to security of life and property, right to personal
      liberty, right to freedom of expression, and equality before the law.

      Dr. M. T. Ladan has argued for example, that there are some specific
      rights to women because of their "special responsibilities and status
      in the eye of Islam". These rights are the right to equality in
      status, worth and value, right to education, right to own and dispose
      of property, right to inheritance and dower i.e. a dead man's estate
      or part of his estate inherited by his widow, right to maintenance,
      right to custody of children and right to obtain divorce.

      Nevertheless, rights campaigners, Islamic modernists and feminists
      believe that there are two important principles in the Quran which
      clearly establish gender differences:

      Notion of quwama (the authority or guardianship that men can exercise
      individually or collectively over women); notion relegating women to
      private spheres of life.The notion of quwama is reflected in several
      verses of Surah 4.34 (Al Nisa). It is also worthy of note that this
      surah deals with several issues regarding family law, especially
      marriage, repudiation and inheritance. For instance it is argued that
      polygamy is forbidden for women (Al Nisa verse 33) while it is allowed
      for men. Even though this has taken a new dimension in some countries,
      the verse endorsing polygamy (Quran 4.3) has been read by modern
      scholars as being applicable only to the man who believes that he will
      be able to love and relate to more than one wife equitably, including
      financial maintenance if applicable. This is however subject to the
      conscience of the man. As we know, ethics, morality and the law in all
      countries and all religions have established that many men and women
      have no conscience. In certain countries, modern legal reforms have
      positively insisted that a man must prove to the court his ability to
      maintain several wives equitably before entering into a second marriage.
      On the second notion of exclusion of women from political
      participation, Caliph Abu Bakri has read a hadith to mean or to have
      an effect that "a nation which places its affairs in the hands of a
      woman shall never prosper", Al-Bukhari, Hadith No. 4425. Some scholars
      have argued however that some of these criticisms are a product of
      custom and have no relationship to the law. Several Muslim countries
      such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia have elected women leaders.

      One of the issues regarding gender bias is that of women as witnesses.
      Quran 2: 282 appears to allow the testimony of women in only civil
      matters and even then, two women are considered the equivalent of a
      single male witness. However in criminal procedure, certain
      interpretations believe that women are not acceptable as credible
      witnesses. The Nigeria constitution is supreme. Chapter 4 of the 1999
      constitution dwells on fundamental human rights, which include rights
      to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Section 38, 1999).
      However, federal legislation does not specifically uphold the rights
      of women in areas where custom or religion violate their
      constitutional rights. These inconsistencies and ambiguities in the
      constitution create the space for the violation of women's rights.

      [Kaduna] A Tribute to Bala Miller 02 Mar 03
      I called Uncle Bala again over a year ago after the Kaduna Sharia-
      riot. He was a devastated man. The riot had damaged his nightclub,
      crippled nightlife in Kaduna and ruined the peace and amity of the
      town. "For once," Uncle Bala said to me, "I wish I was not one of
      these (Hausa) people. Only animals would behave this way, waking up
      one day and killing your neighbours of years who had done nothing to
      you. They have ruined my business," he lamented. In all probability,
      Uncle Bala did not recover from that shattering experience and his
      death may be a consequence of it. Nigeria always kills its own best.


      [MMA] Will the mullahs come marching in? 06 Mar 03
      In the last five months, the MMA has adopted a calibrated approach. It
      is content with going slow on the enforcement of the sharia, has urged
      equal rights to minorities and expressed willingness to settle the
      Kashmir issue through peaceful dialogue. It has kept in check the
      personal differences of its allies, who have realised the benefits of
      sticking together. It is also polishing its policies on economy,
      banking, international business transactions, foreign debt,
      unemployment, agriculture, sectarianism and foreign policy.
      The MMA only has to avoid alienating the public with its conservative
      views on implementing the sharia, bans and restrictions etc. A liberal
      MMA would draw in its favour those fence-sitters who have lost faith
      in both the military and the mainstream parties, who see religion as a
      panacea for all problems.
      The MMA has fared well so far in many ways. It has passed the litmus
      test by making the Majlis work. As a conglomeration of six parties, it
      includes parties of both the Shia and Sunni sects and the Barelvi and
      Deobandi schools of thought. Musharraf's plan to pitch the MMA against
      the Pakistan People's Party and others did not work totally.
      In Sind, it secured the support of the people by focusing on domestic
      issues such as health, education, other civic concerns and most
      importantly bhatta (extortion).
      The MMA enjoys a huge cadre support that can't be matched by other
      parties. In the recent elections, the MMA received the support of some
      6,000 madaris in Pakistan, including 2,333 of the Deobandi school of
      thought, 1,625 of the Barelvi, 224 of the Ahl Hadith and 163 of the
      Shia sects.

      U.N. Asks Pakistan to Review Laws Against Women 26 Feb 03
      The head of the U.N. human rights agency [Sergio Vieira de Mello] said
      Wednesday he had asked Pakistan to review laws that discriminate
      against women, particularly those which make them vulnerable to
      violent crimes and murder.
      Each year hundreds of women are killed in Pakistan for offences deemed
      to offend family honor, which can range from adultery to marrying
      without family consent or failing to bring in an adequate dowry.

      Police generally do not seriously pursue such killings. Hundreds more
      women die each year in domestic violence and proving a rape case under
      traditional Sharia law requires the offence to have been witnessed by
      four adult Muslim males.
      the powerful religious right in predominantly Muslim Pakistan has
      always strongly resisted any attempt to change Islamic laws.
      "I have expressed my preoccupation with laws that discriminate against
      women and make it more difficult to prosecute certain types of crimes
      such as honor killings," de Mello said.
      At the same news conference, de Mello reiterated his call for respect
      for human rights in the campaign against terror that followed the
      September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. "The rise of the
      phenomenon of vilifying Islam is particularly disturbing, as are
      practices such as racial profiling," he said.

      The United States has upset residents of many Muslim countries by
      imposing strict immigration and registration rules in the wake of
      September 11, which Washington blamed on the al Qaeda network of Osama
      bin Laden. Critics say the rules are tantamount to racial profiling of

      Six posts of judges vacant in [Federal] Shariat Court 03 Mar 03
      Six out of eight posts of judges of the Federal Shariat Court are
      lying vacant resulting in non-hearing of important cases. The court is
      also without a permanent chief justice. The previous chief justice of
      the court, Justice Fazal Ilahi Khan had retired after completing his
      three years term two months back following which Justice Ijaz Yousaf
      was appointed acting chief justice.

      Under the Federal Shariat Court rules a Shariat petition could only be
      heard by a bench of three judges or more, whereas presently only two
      judges have been functioning in the court. Similarly, appeals against
      verdicts of the sessions court in cases of capital punishment and
      amputation of limbs could only be heard by a bench consisting of not
      less than three judges.

      Under Article 203C, sub-clause 2 of the Constitution, the Shariat
      court shall consist of not more than eight Muslim judges including the
      chief justice, to be appointed by the President of Pakistan.
      Legal circles are of the opinion that the government would appoint
      such judges in the Shariat court who could deliver favourable
      judgments in important Shariat petitions like the one pertaining to
      "Riba" pending before the court.

      Chairman, Voice of Prisoners, Noor Alam Khan advocate claimed that
      there are various important cases pending in the Shariat court. He
      added that a petition challenging the Qisas and Diyat Law has been
      pending since 1997. Moreover, he added one of his case about death
      penalty to a juvenile offender in Peshawar was also pending in the
      court. He added that the delay in filling these vacancies had been
      creating doubts in mind of legal circles and even judges of the
      superior courts.

      Mr Khan claimed that in past the Shariat court was used as a dumping
      place for the judges of the superior courts who were not favourable to
      the government. It was in the historic March 1996 verdict of the
      Supreme Court, he added, that the court ruled that no judge of the
      high court including its chief justice should be transferred to the
      Shariat court without his consent.

      'Over 50pc women in Pakistan deprived of their rights' 02 Mar 03
      Over half of the women population living in Pakistan are deprived of
      their rights, said Fariha Razzak Haroon, a journalist and member
      provincial assembly at a workshop held to celebrate "International
      Women's Day" by Karachi Women's Peace Committee at Arts Council of
      Pakistan on Saturday.
      Fariha Razzak Haroon said that every year workshops and seminars were
      conducted where women's related problems were discussed but nothing
      was done. "We are still standing where we were ten years ago," she

      Talking about the issue of karokari (honor killings), she said that
      thousands of nameless and faceless women have been killed under this
      inhumane practice. She expressed her views about the minister who
      recently advocated this practice openly and yet no action had been
      taken against him. She asked the population welfare minister what she
      had done as a woman representative in the cabinet to control this
      [Actress Zaiba Bakhtiar] talked about her struggle as a divorcee,
      whose two-year old child was taken away from her. Other topics
      discussed during the seminar were Zina and Hudood Ordinance.

      Army likely to be called out for security on Ashura 05 Mar 03
      Police sources said even though it was very sensitive to maintain law
      and order situation during Muharram-ul-Haram, as only one incident
      could spread violence throughout the country.

      DIG Tariq Jameel said that total 239 Imambargahs and some 3,113
      mosques were situated in the city out of which some 165 Imambargahs
      and 250 mosques had been declared sensitive. Majority of these mosques
      was declared sensitive for the fact that they were situated at the
      route of Muharram's processions.

      During 10 days of Muharram, the DIG said, some 2,937 Majalis would be
      held and some 967 processions would be brought out in the metropolis.
      Police would have to deal with every event which would take place in
      the city during Muharram, he added. He said the security of Majalis
      and giving protection to the Ulema and important figures of all sects
      was the prime responsibility of police and in this regard every town
      had prepared its contingency plan.
      Interior-Task force to check cyber crimes 27 Feb 03
      Federal Minister for Interior and Narcotics Faisal Saleh Hayat has
      that law and order would be ensured in the country during the month of
      Muharam and in this regard peace committee are also being formed.
      Addressing a seminar on the cyber security here Tuesday, he said these
      peace bodies will comprise political and religious leaders in line
      with the government endeavors to take steps to ensure the sanctity of
      .. 24 Feb 03
      Militant Sunni Muslims have often committed violent acts during the
      month of Muharram, when Shiite Muslims mourn the death of Hussain, the
      grandson of Islam's Prophet Muhammad.
      Most of Pakistan's 140 million people are Sunni Muslims, who live in
      peace with their Shiite Muslim brethren. However, violent groups from
      both sects have emerged in recent years and routinely clash. Most of
      the victims of the sectarian violence have been Shiites.


      Supreme Court Rejects Hijab Complaint 05 Mar 03
      Russia's Supreme Court on Wednesday, March 5, upheld a ban on Muslim
      women wearing the traditional Islamic headscarf on identity
      photographs, rejecting a complaint by residents of the central
      republic of Tatarstan.
      [The women from Tatarstan] told the court that under the Islamic
      sharia (law), a Muslim woman must wear clothes covering her entire
      body except for the face and hands and it is sinful for anyone apart
      from her husband and close relatives to see her without a headscarf.

      The women said the interior ministry rules violated their rights as
      any police officer could ask them to remove their headscarves while
      checking their passports if they were bareheaded on the passport

      Interior ministry officials told the court that a woman wearing a
      headscarf in their passport photograph would make it difficult to
      identify her because her ears, forehead and neck would be covered.
      "The Koran is not a source of law in Russia. Our country is secular.
      None of the religions can play a dominant role," Irina Bochinkova from
      the interior ministry said.


      Haj Watch

      300 lashings for Aussie 04 Mar 03
      Robert Thomas, 55, a long-term resident of Saudi Arabia, was arrested
      in June last year and jailed for a theft committed by his wife, a
      Filipino nurse who was caught stealing hospital equipment for her own
      country. .. He was sentenced to 16 months' jail and 300 lashings.
      That sentence was currently being carried out in fortnightly blocks,
      with Mr Thomas being beaten 50 times every two weeks with a cane.
      When Lorna refused to confess to the crime, Mr Thomas was found guilty
      by association under the country's strict Sharia law, which dictates a
      husband is legally aware of any crime committed by his wife.
      "The judge said that he was sure I did not steal but I must have known
      (of the crime) as Lorna was my wife and (a) husband always knows what
      his wife is doing," Mr Thomas wrote in a letter to his daughter Sarah
      Prisoners and guards gathered to see the flogging. "Because he is a
      non-Muslim, he gets a huge crowd when he is being flogged because
      everybody wants to see a non-Muslim getting lashed."


      Bumpy start to fresh Sudan talks on disputed areas 05 Mar 03
      The talks, which may offer the best chance yet of ending 20 years of
      conflict that has killed an estimated two million people, will cover
      disputed areas, some rich in oil, which both parties claim.

      The contested areas of Abyei, Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile,
      have been part of north Sudan since independence from Britain in 1956,
      but the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) says they are
      marginalised, like the rest of the south.

      SPLA spokesman Samson Kwaje told Reuters they were demanding self-rule
      and a waiver on Islamic law for the disputed regions, now under their
      control. Similar status was granted to rebel-held southern Sudan under
      a truce reached last year.


      Islamic courts said handling major judiciary affairs in Mogadishu
      .. [BBC Monitoring Africa] 08 Feb 03
      Changes effected recently in the judicial system of Banaadir Region
      [Mogadishu and its environs] have affected administrative process and
      court procedures in Mogadishu.

      Court activities in the region seem to have gone down since the
      sacking of the former regional courts chairman, Shaykh Ali Deere, who
      has not yet handed over the office. Most of the court cases considered
      to be major issues are now handled by Islamic courts, which have
      resumed their operations recently... [HornAfrik Online]


      [KwaZulu-Natal] 'Criminals have become ruthless' 03 Mar 03
      Zulu monarch Goodwill Zwelithini says society can't be faulted for
      calling for a "sharia-type" criminal justice system to deal with high
      levels of crime in the country. "No one is safe any more - not even
      members of the royal family. Criminals these days have become so
      ruthless that they will not hesitate to murder someone for a
      cellphone." Referring to the harsh justice of Muslim sharia law, said
      the king he could understand society's need to punish criminals.


      Murdered in the name of honour 02 Mar 03
      Wolverhampton-born Anita, 22, was strangled to death in front of her
      young child. .. There was no indication the killing was sexually or
      racially motivated and there were no signs of a break in or struggle.
      it was only last week that details emerged of how Mrs Gindha had
      refused an arranged marriage years earlier. This prompted her to flee
      her home in Glasgow and marry Mr Rahl in Wolverhampton in September
      2000. Now her calculated murder appears to bear the clinical
      hallmarks of a socalled "honour killing" - an ancient tribal ritual
      which originated in Asia but is now increasingly claiming victims on
      our own doorstep.

      Mrs Gindha's death comes only weeks after tragic bride-to-be Saida
      Bibi, 21, was stabbed to death at her home in Alum Rock, Birmingham,
      on her wed-ding day. She too had earlier refused an arranged marriage,
      opting instead to wed her "first real love" which enraged her
      37-year-old cousin Rafaquat Hussain, now wanted by police for murder.
      It is understood Hussain, believed to have fled to Pakistan, had
      wanted pretty dressmaker Saida to marry one of his own relatives.
      Though most honour killings in the Asian community are carried out by
      Sikhs and Muslims, the brutal practice precede both religions and is
      instead a cultural trait of the indigenous tribes of north west India
      and Pakistan.

      Most religions' authorities condemn the practice but it continues
      throughout the world where both communities have settled. Women are
      considered property of the males and tradition dictates they are
      married by arrangement between the families. They are seen to embody
      the honour of the men to who they belong and males are cast in the
      role of protectors. If this protection is violated a male loses
      "gharart" or honour and his "iz-zat" or standing in society is diminished.
      According to the Home Office incidents of forced marriages and
      resultant honour killings are on the increase and the phenomenon has
      led to the creation of a specialist police unit. But as Detective
      Superintendent Peter Ship, who is leading the hunt for Mrs Gindha's
      killer, noted: "If we look at white families there is a lot of killing
      to do with family disputes, so I think the label honour killing means
      very little in itself."

      UK FSA Expects First Islamic Bank Application Soon 02 Mar 03
      The U.K. Financial Services Authority is expecting soon to receive the
      first application from Middle Eastern interests for an Islamic bank to
      serve the domestic Moslem community of around 1.8 million there,
      F.S.A. chairman Howard Davies said Sunday.
      The F.S.A. is particularly interested in establishing a link with
      Bahrain, the hub of Islamic banks in the Middle East. "There is a
      quite bit of interest in the U.K. in setting up an Islamic bank to be
      as a bridge to Islamic institutions in the Middle East, and also to
      serve the Islamic community in the U.K.," Davies said.

      Davies said most Islamic banking activities in Britain are conducted
      by wealthy individuals or large institutions, but as yet there are no
      retail or commercial Islamic banks to serve common individuals. He
      expected that any new Islamic bank would provide mortgages, current
      account and other consumer products in the banking credit area to fill
      a gap in the market for Moslem residents. U.K. Moslems represent
      around 340,000 households, with total savings of around GBP1 billion,
      he said.


      Muslims' Commitment to Principled Investing Gives Rise to Advisory
      Specialty 05 Mar 03
      When Registered Rep magazine decided to do an article on Muslim
      investing principles, its New York staff looked around the United
      States for brokers knowledgeable about that narrowest of specialties.
      "We found it's an exceedingly complicated field," said David
      Geracioti, editor of the magazine that goes to 93,000 brokers. "And we
      found that all roads led to Toledo."
      Some mutual funds adhere to the Shari'ah principles, also known as
      halal, an Islamic word meaning permissible. Some of Ms. Mansour's
      clients, with assets ranging up to $3 million, prefer institutional
      accounts handled by a variety of money managers who are instructed to
      avoid certain types of stocks that would run afoul of Islamic laws.

      The size of the market is somewhat mysterious: Estimates of the United
      States' Muslim population range from 4 million to 7 million, with
      large concentrations in the Detroit and Toledo areas.
      Islamic mutual funds quadrupled since the mid-1990s to a total of 105
      by March 2002, with total assets of $3.3 billion, according to the
      most recent report by Failaka International, Inc., a research firm in
      St. Cloud, Minn.

      Failaka listed six U.S.-based fund families managing 15 funds. Their
      larger holdings tend to be oil giants like ExxonMobil, BP Amoco, and
      ChevronTexaco; technologies such as Cisco and Intel; pharmaceuticals
      like Pfizer; consumer-products manufacturers such as Procter & Gamble;
      and a variety of health-care, energy, retail, and basic-materials
      companies. Absent are hotels that serve alcohol and pork and that
      house casinos; entertainment companies (especially those whose
      offerings include material considered pornographic); defense
      companies; and firms that have debt-heavy balance sheets.


      WHO Chief Hails As Milestone Anti-Tobacco Treaty 01 Mar 03
      In a fatwa (Islamic ruling) to IslamOnline.net, Mufti Ibrahim Desai
      said, "It is a universally accepted that smoking has many serious
      health and life hazards amongst which is lung cancer. These hazards
      affect not only the smoker himself but those around him as well.

      "Shari`ah has stressed the importance of being in good health to the
      extent that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, even advised
      Muslims in all ages to strike a balance in eating and drinking so as
      to evade any harmful effects on the health."

      Although "smoking did not exist in the time of the Prophet, peace and
      blessings be upon him," Mufti Desai said, "but our great religion of
      Islam has laid down general principles from which many laws are
      derived. From these principles, Muslim scholars have come to the
      conclusion that smoking is prohibited (Haram)."


      Are Islamic Hedge Funds Gaining Momentum? 02 Mar 03
      It therefore seems curious that the $200 billion or so Islamic finance
      industry is also trying to develop such products as Shariah-compliant
      hedge funds. Conventional derivatives such as options, futures, and
      short-selling are proscribed in Islamic banking because they involve
      riba (interest), gharar (uncertainty), and speculation. Of course,
      financial innovation or engineering is not the monopoly of the
      conventional banking sector. Islamic finance is only too aware that
      product innovation is currently a poor relation, and therefore many
      Islamic financial institutions are cooperating with conventional
      institutions in developing value-added products for liquidity
      management; bonds, project and structured finance, leasing, and
      investment funds.

      But are Islamic hedge funds possible? Judging by recent announcements
      in the sector it seems so, although these revelations have either been
      long on hype and short on substance, or at best exploratory.

      At a recent Islamic banking conference in Dubai, Dr. Mohammed Khalfan
      ibn Kharbash, the UAE minister of state for finance & industry who is
      also the chairman of the Dubai Islamic Bank, the oldest commercial
      Islamic bank in the world, warned that "highly engineered finance is
      not necessarily sound finance. Islamic financiers must be aware of the
      dangers of creative accounting, creative structuring and of
      over-engineering contracts for the sake of raising margins rather than
      efficiency gains. Innovation must be a genuine response to investor
      needs that reaches Shariah compliance and not simply unnecessary
      layering of products. If the Islamic finance industry is to embrace
      the new mind-set that has hit the global investment community, it must
      embrace the underlying investor needs that created it." In January
      this year, Shariah Funds Inc., a division of Meyer Capital Partners, a
      US-based investment management firm, claimed that it is "the first
      Islamic fund of hedge funds." The fund was to have been unveiled at
      the Dubai conference, but the promoters failed to show up. Shariah
      Funds Inc., according to the promoters, will allow hedge fund managers
      to use options and short selling in their portfolio management
      compliant with Shariah investment principles.

      Shariah Funds Inc. CEO & President Eric Meyer is coy about how exactly
      this would work and which underlying Islamic financial structures it
      is based upon. More worryingly, Meyer's assertion that the Islamic
      hedge fund market could be worth trillions of dollars is more to do
      with hype and betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the global
      Islamic finance industry.

      The fund hopes to raise $500 million of starting capital, with no cap
      on assets under management, and liquidity provisions will follow
      standard fund of fund restrictions. The aim is to run the Islamic
      hedge fund like an index, monitoring stocks which are
      Shariah-compliant and can therefore be included in the underlying
      funds' portfolios on an on-going basis. How this will be done needs
      some explanation, and some say convincing. There are currently only
      two Islamic index funds and they have failed to make an impact in this
      niche sector.

      Shariah Funds Inc. has one of the senior Shariah advisory boards in
      the business, including Sheikh Nizam Yaquby of Bahrain and Shaikh
      Yusuf Talal de Lorenzo of the US. A third advisor is from Saudi
      Arabia. Yet, Shariah Funds Inc. hitherto could not find a way in
      giving structural substance to its claims that it has perfected a
      Shariah-compliant hedge fund product. No-one expects Meyer and his
      colleagues to give proprietary information, but at least a basic
      outline of the product would have gone some way toward keeping the
      cynics at bay and enhancing the credibility of the product.

      Contrast this approach to that of Yusuf Khayat, senior vice president
      at Jeddah-based SEDCO (Saudi Economic Development Company), who not
      only confirmed that the company — in conjunction with its investment
      advisor Permal Investment Management Services and its Shariah advisory
      board — is in the process of developing an Islamic hedge fund product,
      but also opened "the black box" by revealing how this might be
      possible by basically using the Salam contract to synthesize forwards
      and futures based on stocks where the price of the shares are
      determined and paid up-front, and the shares to be delivered at an
      agreed future date.

      [Dow Jones] Islamic Market Titans offer 28 Feb 03
      Islamic investment options expanded this week, as Dow Jones Indexes
      announced it was to introduce four new blue-chip indexes to its
      Islamic market. Dow Jones has introduced the global Dow Jones Islamic
      Market Titans 100, as well as three Islamic indexes specific to the
      US, European and Asia/Pacific markets. To be eligible for the Islamic
      Market Titans 100, stocks are screened on the basis of their industry
      type as well as financial ratios. Companies involved with alcohol,
      tobacco, pork-related products, financial services, weapons and
      entertainment are excluded. Telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and
      oil are allowed, however. [Irish Times]

      Bahrain postpones Islamic issue 02 Mar 03
      Bahrain has postponed the sale of a controversial USD 250m Islamic
      bond to fund construction of a Formula One racetrack and power plant
      until May, reported Bloomberg. Central Bank sources said they did not
      want to clash with a USD 500 m government bond sale. Islamic bonds
      have enjoyed a strong uptake in Bahrain with last week's USD 80m
      offering three times oversubscribed.

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