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Sharia News Watch 109 - dd. 11 Mar 04

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  • Enzo Picardie
    Sharia News Watch 109 : a collection newsquotes on Sharia, for research & educational purposes only. [*] Shortcut URL:
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 11, 2004
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      Sharia News Watch 109 : a collection newsquotes on Sharia, for
      research & educational purposes only. [*] Shortcut URL:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/shariawatch/message/109

      The Sharia Newswatch provides a regular update of news quotes
      on Sharia (Islamic Law) & Islamic news, as appearing on the major
      news searchengines.
      All editions : http://groups.yahoo.com/group/shariawatch/
      RSS-feed : http://radio.weblogs.com/0130256/rss.xml

      ALGERIA

      El Harrach imam assassinated in possible "terrorist" attack
      http://beta.yellowbrix.com/pages/beta/Story.nsp?story_id=48288874
      .. [newspaper El Watan web site on 11 March]
      The imam, according to a security source, had led the dhuhr [midday]
      prayer. The terrorist lead, which has not been eliminated, has not,
      for the time being, been formally established. The imam, who took two
      bullets, one to his head and the other in his left arm, was admitted
      in a comatose state to Zemirli Hospital. After having been admitted to
      the reanimation room, the imam succumbed to his wounds early yesterday
      evening. The case was handed over to the criminal brigade of the
      Province of Algiers Judicial Police Service [SWPJ] to determine the
      motive for the act, it was reported by Algiers Province security
      agencies.

      BAHRAIN

      MP wants strict application of Sharia in Bahrain - 08 Mar 04
      http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=113161
      ..
      An Islamist member of the Bahraini Parliament intends to propose the
      introduction of Islamic Sharia castigations, including amputating the
      hands of thieves, to the kingdom's criminal code in an attempt to
      confront what he described as "the surreal rise" in crime. MP Jassim
      Al Saidi claims Bahrain's secular code is "too soft to stop the recent
      upsurge in all sorts of crimes." Criminals are being "encouraged" by
      lenient punishments, he told Gulf News at the House of Deputies
      yesterday. A leading Bahraini human rights activist however rejected
      the proposal saying the idea itself is "bizarre."
      ..
      "Islam has addressed this issue long time ago," said Al Saidi, "The
      thieve should get his hand cut off. I assure you others will get the
      lesson." Al Saidi is a controversial figure whose focus on religious
      issues has been widely criticised in Bahrain, a multi-cultural society
      where most people lead a Western-style life. Last year, he, a long
      with another Islamist MP, Sheikh Ali Matter, introduced a motion to
      allow soldiers and policemen to grow their beards. He also got the
      Parliament tied for a day to debate the issue of allowing fully veiled
      women to drive.

      Hard work prepares women for top jobs - 08 Mar 04
      http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/Articles.asp?Article=76084&Sn=BNEW
      ..
      "It was not an easy job coming up all the way to be one among the six
      Shura Council members selected from thousands of women." Dr Haffadh,
      who has held various responsible positions at the Health Ministry and
      is currently chairwoman of the health, population and environment
      committee at the Supreme Council for Women, believes women have to
      fight for their rights and independence. "As long as women are quiet
      nothing will come to them on their own. We have to fight for our
      rights and achieve them. That is where the true success of women
      lies," said Dr Haffadh. She said the enthusiasm of Bahraini women for
      more education was a good starting point from which to improve their
      status. "But the women must put more effort into participating in the
      Bahrain labour force. Only 26 per cent of Bahraini women are working
      at present and the rest of the workforce are men.
      ..
      Dr Haffadh said a lot more effort was needed from the government side
      to enforce family law in Bahrain and consequently reduce the number of
      divorces. "We don't have family law in Bahrain and we mainly depend on
      the Sharia Law. The law by itself is good," she continued. "But since
      they are not translated into articles it is left to the clergymen to
      interpret - and clergymen are also human beings. "We trust them but it
      is again human interpretation. So it is a must that we have a written
      law.
      ..
      Dr Haffadh said children have to be prepared to face reality once they
      had reached a marriageable age. "There is no sex education and also we
      do not have enough organisations to support couples with their
      problems. "Even if we do, most couples are not aware of it. Such
      things should be given more publicity."

      BANGLADESH

      [comment] Alternative dispute resolution - 10 Mar 04
      http://www.thedailystar.net/2004/03/10/d40310020234.htm
      ..
      We agree fully with chief justice Syed JR Mudassir Husain who opined
      that Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) being cheaper and speedier
      than the traditional justice system, can largely mitigate the
      sufferings of the poor population. Those who fall victim to fatwa in
      rural Bangladesh could also be saved. There is no doubt that over the
      years the rising expenses of legal system, inordinate delays in the
      disposal of cases and the huge backlog have not only shaken the
      confidence of people in the judiciary, but also encouraged arbitrary
      justice like the so-called shalish [traditional local arbitration].And
      that's where we failed to meet the demand for justice.
      ..
      Building awareness at the community level on conflict or dispute
      resolution and creation of regular corps of trained and efficient
      mediators/neutrals' upon whom the judges or the disputing parties can
      rely for this process are pivotal to the establishment of such a
      system. It will also be a clear move away from the arbitrary, vested
      interest group-sponsored derailment of justice. Mostly the tiffs or
      complaints from smaller causes snowball into long-drawn-out conflicts
      that contribute to the mounting backlog of cases. This problem can be
      addressed through the alternate dispute resolution method.

      Milad - Not an Islamic Paradigm But a Serenade to Muhammad - 07 Mar 04
      http://www.bangladesh-web.com/view.php?hidDate=2004-03-07&hidType=FEA
      ..
      The lyrics of Milad, when sung in a melodious Arabic tune, might fill
      our hearts with unfathomed respect for Prophet Muhammad. Presumably,
      our illiteracy (most of us) of Arabic language, happened to be a
      blessing in disguise. While we perform the Milad ritual with holiness
      in mind, we know nothing about what we are saying. If the Imam,
      leading the Milad ceremony, ever knew that his wordings tantamount to
      assuming Muhammad as a girl and falling in love with him, perhaps he
      would, immediately, perform thousands of other prayers to wash out the
      sin (if any) he has committed. Frankly speaking, a number of Milad
      wordings are suggestive of amorous expressions of a man to his lover.
      For instance: "O Mohammed, my love. You are the bride of my beating
      heart. Your face brings happiness. Your prettiness is unparalleled.
      You are a healing drink for our hearts. You are the light of our
      bosom", and a host of others. How this ritual, dedicated to
      serenading Prophet Muhammad, crept into Indian brand of Islam? There
      is no easy answer but the composition, grammar and word choice
      indicate its origin in Indian subcontinent. It is more so when the
      expression "Maulana Muhammad", could not be traced in any country
      other than the [Indian] subcontinent.
      ..
      Here comes the genius of Aliya Madrassa [constituted by the British in
      1780]. It tamed the essence of Islam by clipping its wings after
      altering many of its creeds. Since the Madrassa was administered by
      the Christian missionaries, it helped popularize the idea that Islam
      was nothing but a dream of Muhammad himself. Consequently, Islam was
      named after Muhammad and was called "Mohamadan" religion, just as the
      followers of Jesus are known as "Christians", after the name of the
      Christ.
      ..
      Though the term "milad" means a birth and by extension "birthday", but
      milad has a different religious stigma for the Muslims of India,
      Pakistan and Bangladesh. They perform Milad for the prevention of
      cholera, passing exams, getting a new job, having son's circumcision,
      performing a marriage and the list goes on and on. In fact the Milad
      is embedded as an Islamic hymn, dedicated to Muhammed with the
      compelling feelings as the Christians do for Jesus. The wordings of
      the Milad is still puzzling. Perhaps some love stories, composed by
      the not-so-popular ones, lingered a couple of years and then the book
      got smudged and dusted. The page of the book that enshrined an erotic
      line - "You are the bride of my beating heart" lost its appeal after a
      while. Naturally, nostalgia thins out with the age of the beholder.
      ..
      In fact, some of the expressions of the Milad are highly offensive
      when viewed from the Koranic verses that demand "all praises are for
      God." Apart from the contradiction with the Koranic guidance, some of
      the lyrics of the Milad are suggestive of a lustful serenade to
      prophet Muhammad. In fact the Milad is an obscenity and a ridiculous
      entertainment involving Muhammad.

      Being skeptical of the anomaly of this ritual, occurring only in the
      Indian subcontinent, I got hold of the Arabic text of the Milad and
      had it translated by some Syrians who are scholars in Arabic. The
      comments of the translators are not all that palatable. According to
      them the wordings of this poem could have never been chosen by an
      Arab. It appears to have been composed by one whose mother tongue was
      not Arabic. It contains offensive words and they are not befitting for
      the reverence and decorum maintained by the Muslims for their
      Prophets. The beauty of a full moon, i.e. a moon of 14 days, is used
      in Arabic culture for the erotic expression of the beauty of a pretty
      girl. In composing this poem, perhaps a non-Arabic person plagiarized
      an old Arabic poem of amorous courtship of a man to a woman.

      I have presented the translated and transliterated version of the
      Milad for the readers' perusal. [..]
      ..
      Incidentally, a class of Islamic 'mullahs' (clerics) were produced by
      Aliya Madrassa who were dedicated to advising the Muslims to devote
      their times on religious rituals alone. Learning English was
      vehemently discouraged amongst the Muslim. They came up with the
      sermon that this world is merely a temporary shelter for our onward
      journey to hereafter. Consequently, this dogma kept the Muslims far
      away from the political and administrative arena during the early
      British rule.

      EGYPT

      Egyptian cleric approves marriage via matchmaking agencies
      http://www.brunei-online.com/bb/tue/mar9w14.htm - 09 Mar 04
      ..
      Egypt's Grand Mufti Sheikh Ali Gomaa issued a decree Sunday approving
      marriages arranged by matchmaking agencies, including those operating
      on the Internet, as long as women's families were informed. "It is
      legal under Islamic law to get married through firms that specialise
      in marriages on condition correct information is given" on the
      suitors, Sheikh Ali told Egypt's state-run Middle East News Agency.
      ..
      However, the decree banned the use of "centres which have a purely
      commercial aim or which encourage young women to meet suitors alone
      and without their parents' knowledge." Matchmaking agencies, including
      those on the Internet, have proliferated in Egypt in the last few
      years, with some offering their services to Egyptians living overseas.

      INDIA

      Muslims excommunicated for supporting national anthem - 10 Mar 04
      http://beta.yellowbrix.com/pages/beta/Story.nsp?story_id=48237243
      .. [Indian news agency PTI]
      Fifty-four pro-BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] Muslims were
      excommunicated and their marriages nullified by a local mufti after
      they reportedly expressed the view that singing of India's national
      song Vande Mataram was not un-Islamic, a fatwa which has sent ripples
      in the community in this northern Indian town [Agra in Uttar Pradesh].
      ..
      It was wrong for Muslims to sing Vande Mataram, the mufti said, adding
      those advocating the song were deviating from the religion. The fatwa
      also nullifies the wedding of those excommunicated. Muslims who made
      statements in favour of the national song should offer prayers to
      renew their faith in Islam and remarry according to Islamic rites, he
      said. Among those excommunicated were Mutwallis (Masjid [mosque]
      heads) of the Loha Mandi and Shaheed Nagar mosques, where a group of
      pro- BJP Muslims had said that the song praised the motherland and did
      not mask any religious sentiments. Of the 54 persons who were
      excommunicated, 13 had asked for forgiveness.

      INDONESIA

      ban on public kissing as part of public morality crackdown
      http://www.cbc.ca/cp/world/040309/w030940.html - 09 Mar 04
      ..
      A proposed bill before parliament would ban kissing on the lips and
      making love in public places. Erotic dancing, public exposure of
      private body parts and "performing in, organizing or watching sex
      shows" would also become crimes, said Aisyah Hamid Baidlawi, who heads
      a house committee on pornography. "The bill aims to protect people
      from exploitation and promote morality and ethics," he said Tuesday.
      The proposal has been discussed since 2001 and nothing has come of it
      so far. Baidlawi declined to predict when or whether he thought it
      would become law.

      IRAN

      Shiite Young Folks Interpret Islam In A Fun Way - 10 Mar 04
      http://beta.yellowbrix.com/pages/beta/Story.nsp?story_id=48261358
      .. [Global Information Network]
      The holy month of Moharram, marked by ritual mourning, has highlighted
      a rift between official religious doctrine and young people who make
      up the large majority of this Shiite Islamic republic's population.
      Contrary to the uniform and austere religion promoted by the state,
      young Iranians increasingly have turned to individual interpretations
      that allow them, for example, to express themselves through Western
      fashions and popular music. The specific forms of expression and the
      energy with which young people pursue them might be unique to the
      current generation, but its members recognize that the act of
      balancing state doctrine with individual conscience is not new.
      ..
      The nouveau-riche area [Tehran] is named for the sculpture that
      dominates it, a structure consisting of a hollow trunk, a metal heart
      and a headscarf, and designed to symbolize an archetypal Islamic
      mother. The neighbourhood, like the rest of Iran, has been observing
      Moharram. .. "My friends and I lament and beat our chests gently
      during the first ten days of the mourning month of Moharram and listen
      to rhythmic lamentations while we go riding in our cars," said Amin,
      speaking in his French-style decorated dinning room.
      ..
      As some tell it, young men who beat themselves on the chest and young
      women who wear trendy dresses and muted makeup are drawn to the
      processions increasingly by a desire to be seen and to be found
      appealing. "By avoiding eye-catching makeup during these days I intend
      to show my tribute to the Karbala tragedy and Imam Hussain's martyrdom
      but at the same time I am on the trail of the parade to see and to be
      seen. What is wrong with that?" said Farideh Agahi, 20, a student at
      Tehran Azad University, in the capital's affluent northern district.
      Over the years, new musical instruments, fashions, rhythms and
      eulogies have been incorporated into the mourning ceremonies in
      Tehran. "Many things, such as drums, flutes and synthesizers, today
      are common but were unthinkable ten or 12 years ago," said shopkeeper
      Ali Hassani, 60. Western couture is a relative newcomer, and it stands
      in stark contrast to Mader roundabout's sculpture, which serves as a
      constant reminder of acceptable dress for Muslim women. "For the first
      time, the new middle class mourning fashion almost spontaneously
      popped up in the aftermath of the Sep.11 tragedy," said Nader
      Forghani, 35, who runs a boutique featuring the latest Italian and
      French fashions on the northern side of the roundabout. Since then, it
      has become common for the neighbourhood's middle- class residents to
      descend on the roundabout for a candlelight vigil to mark the tenth of
      Moharram, Nader said.
      ..
      Local media reported that vigilantes attacked participants in the
      Ashura candlelight vigil with iron bars and heavy chains. Some of Amin
      Mazaheri's friends were among the victims.
      ..
      Sociologist Karamat Azimi, 60, said the vigilantes had misjudged the
      situation. "Before the Islamic revolution, middle class and educated
      people used to convert covertly and overtly to different schools of
      thought such as Marxism, even various Islamic or Protestant Christian
      denominations. But nowadays, they try to individualize the official
      version of Islam," Azimi said.

      IRAQ

      Iraq's Al-Sistani Criticizes Constitution - 08 Mar 04
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-3836429,00.html
      ..
      Iraq's top Shiite cleric criticized the nation's newly signed interim
      constitution on Monday, saying it will not have legitimacy until it is
      approved by an elected body.
      ..
      "Any law prepared for the transitional period will not gain legitimacy
      except after it is endorsed by an elected national assembly,''
      al-Sistani said in a fatwa, or religious ruling, released on his Web
      site.

      [comment] Iraq Navigates Between Islam and Democracy - 07 Mar 04
      http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/07/weekinreview/07sach.html?ex=1079326800
      ..
      The role of Islam in governing Iraq is likely to remain a potential
      deal-breaker, not only now in discussions of a transitional "basic
      law" but also in a year or so, when Iraqis hope to elect
      representatives to write a permanent constitution. Excluding Islam
      entirely is widely considered impossible. Many Iraqi political figures
      said that such a decision would probably doom the constitutional
      exercise, leaving its authors open to accusations of kowtowing to
      foreign influence and risking a definitive rift with the Shiite
      majority. But accepting Shariah, or Islamic law, could raise other
      problems. If the will of the majority is respected only to the extent
      that it conforms to Islamic law, the public's will can be thwarted by
      any non-elected "guardian" of religion, noted Sohrab Behdad, an
      Iranian-American who writes frequently on Islamic issues. "What is
      Islamic may not be preferred by the majority, and what is preferred by
      the majority may not be Islamic," said Professor Behdad, who teaches
      economics at Denison University in Ohio. "What if the majority decides
      to legalize consumption of alcohol?"
      ..
      "Once you include Islam, you can never change it," said Adel Darwish,
      a London-based writer specializing in the Middle East. "You run the
      risk that anyone challenging this concept will be accused of blasphemy
      and will have a fatwa hanging over their head."
      ..
      In practice, however, merging constitutionally enshrined religious
      power with existing civil and criminal law has been difficult. The
      courts simply haven't known how to do it. "In all cases it turned out
      to be a mostly symbolic point, because when it came to the actual
      implementation. the courts said, We cannot be asked to reconcile this
      discrepancy between the enacted law and the aspirations stated in the
      constitution," said Khaled Abou el Fadl, an expert on Islamic law who
      is a visiting professor at Yale University. "On a rhetorical bombastic
      level, you have people shouting, 'Islam, Islam,' " he added. "But when
      it comes to nuts and bolts, it plays a very small role except in
      family law."

      The structure of a future government will also be part of a new
      constitution, and that is where religion could play a major role. But
      Ayatollah Sistani and many other prominent Iraqi Shiite leaders have
      said they do not want an Iranian-style constitution that
      institutionalizes the clergy as the country's ultimate political
      power. They envision, instead, a government in which religious
      authorities are given a formal role as advisers or consultants to the
      justice system, a system more in line with the mainstream school of
      Shiite political thinking in Iraq. "We will not have institutions
      within a state," said Faleh A. Jabar, a senior fellow at the Institute
      of Peace in Washington and the author of several books on Iraq's
      Shiites. "Religious institutions will be there, but only in the sense
      that Sistani is an institution."
      ..
      http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04067/281671.stm - 07 Mar 04
      ..
      Sistani's Najaf-based sons and Qom-based son-in-law conduct the
      day-to-day operations of his foundation's properties, which include a
      successful Internet service provider that employs 66 workers and
      operates sites like Sistani.org and the home page for Iran's
      conservative Council of Guardians.

      KENYA

      Demo over Kadhi's courts - 09 Mar 04
      http://www.eastandard.net/headlines/news09030418.htm
      ..
      Over 300 Christian religious leaders yesterday demonstrated outside
      the Bomas of Kenya following the inclusion of Kadhi's courts in the
      Zero Draft. This was also as the delegates rejected a motion seeking
      to make Kenya a Christian State. The group, led by retired
      Presbyterian moderator, Jesse Kamau, were stopped by security
      officials from storming the venue of the National Constitutional
      Conference to present a memorandum to the delegates.
      ..
      "We hereby demand an immediate and unqualified apology from PLO
      Lumumba to the Christian community and the leaders he insulted by his
      utterances broadcast on the electronic media," they stated. The
      leaders, operating under the banner of the Kenya Church, accused
      Lumumba of stoking religious fires. They further accused the CKRC of
      having "an elaborate and deliberate agenda" behind the entrenchment of
      Kadhi's courts into the Constitution.
      ..
      The vowed to resist the entrenchment of the courts in the new
      Constitution. "We wish to state categorically that we shall not accept
      anything beyond this in the Constitution," they said. The clerics
      wondered why the issue did not feature in the Bomas consensus group
      recommendations. They said they had handled the debate on the courts
      with tolerance and understanding, wondering why the review commission
      had discarded their views.

      KUWAIT

      Adel Imam reprimands Kuwaiti Islamists for wrongfully banning his play
      http://albawaba.com/headlines/TheNews.php3?sid=272353 - 11 Mar 04
      ..
      Egyptian comedian-actor Adel Imam has held a press conference in Qatar
      at the Doha Festival, where his famous play "The Bodyguard" is being
      featured, that extreme Islamists (referred to as Birds of Darkness)
      were behind the banning of his play in Kuwait a few weeks ago. Adel
      stressed that he was extremely disappointed when he was notified that
      his play was banned by the Birds of Darkness, not understanding what
      reasons or objections they may have against the play. According to the
      Safir daily, Adel added that he could not understand how some Lebanese
      singers like Nancy Ajram, Haifa Wahbi and the like can without any
      problem perform in Kuwait and his simple play be banned and regarded
      as inappropriate. Adel stressed that he always abides by Censorship
      standards and ethics and his play does not offend in anyway. The actor
      noted that his play was shown in Jordan, Syria, and other Arab
      countries without facing any problems. Adel revealed that he believes
      one of the main reasons his play was banned in Kuwait is due to the
      fact that he had recently held a quarrel with a female Kuwaiti
      Censorship member. During his quarrel he was accused of being a
      politician, but he denied the matter stressing that he was able to
      make the entire Arab nation laugh and cheer them up, unlike the
      malfunctioning Association of Arab Universities, which has achieved
      nothing.

      MALAYSIA

      Role of Islam dominates Malaysian election - 07 Mar 04
      http://www.reuters.com/locales/newsArticle.jsp;?type=worldNews&locale=en_IN=
      &storyID=4512466
      ..
      The role of Islam looks set to dominate Malaysian elections like never
      before in the country's 46-year history, as a row brewed over an
      Islamist opposition leader's promises of heaven to Muslim voters.*
      ..
      "This is an issue that we have to face. We cannot put it aside,"
      [prime minister] Abdullah, himself the son of a respected Islamic
      scholar, told reporters after a political rally in the southwestern
      state of Malacca. "We have to have answers, explanations for the
      people. Otherwise, there will be views and edicts that are unsuitable,
      that will influence Muslims, if left unanswered," he said, a day after
      meeting with 2,000 ulama, Muslim scholars, in Putrajaya, the country's
      new administrative capital.
      ..
      The large Chinese and Indian minorities, who make up around one-third
      of Malaysia's population, can do little more than look on as UMNO does
      battle with PAS. PAS spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat was quoted by
      the Star newspaper on Saturday as saying that the Koran states that
      "those who rally behind Islam are also those who want to live under
      divine laws laid down by Allah". "And naturally, they will go to
      heaven for choosing an Islamic party, while those who support
      un-Islamic parties will logically go to hell," he said.
      ..
      Lim Kit Siang, a veteran leader of the largely Chinese opposition
      Democratic Action Party was alarmed by the contest between UMNO and
      PAS to prove their Islamic credentials. "When I was in parliament for
      30 years, from 1969 to 1999, I never heard anyone talk about an
      Islamic state. The term was never used because the mainstream
      nation-building agenda was for a secular democracy with Islam as the
      official religion," Lim told Reuters. He feared either side could use
      the election result as a mandate to pursue a religious agenda, even
      though he believed Abdullah personally stood for an Islamic way of
      life without an Islamic state.
      ..
      * Malaysian Islamic leader promises heaven - 06 Mar 04
      http://newsobserver.com/24hour/world/story/1188350p-8152563c.html
      ..
      "It is stated in the Quran that those who rally behind Islam are also
      those who want to live under divine laws laid down by Allah," Nik Aziz
      was quoted as saying in The Star newspaper. "And naturally, they will
      go to heaven for choosing an Islamic party, while those who support
      un-Islamic parties will logically go to hell." Anuar Bukhary, Nik
      Aziz's press secretary, told The Ass. Press the quotes were accurate.

      Woman: There's no room for violence - 08 Mar 04
      http://www.emedia.com.my/Current_News/NST/Monday/Features/20040308074658/Ar=
      ticle/indexb_html
      ..
      [Women's Development Collective executive director Maria Chin
      Abdullah] said marital rape was still not considered a crime in
      Malaysia. "A wife is expected to submit. So, it is very difficult in
      practice for a woman to prove that sexual assault has occurred unless
      she can demonstrate serious injury. "Otherwise, she has to produce
      four credible witnesses under syariah law. This is often near
      impossible as in most rape cases, there are seldom any third-party
      witnesses," she explained. The passing of the hudud laws in Terengganu
      in 2002 further discourages the reporting of rape cases. The section
      on rape states that "a woman who reports she has been raped will be
      charged with qaraf (slanderous accusation) and flogged 80 lashes if
      she is unable to prove the rape".
      ..
      "A rape victim is afraid of being stigmatised as 'spoilt', dirty or
      impure. If she is married, she fears her marriage will be jeopardised.
      Which is why victims remain silent." She added that there is also a
      tendency for society to blame the victim, that she was gullible, too
      friendly or sexily dressed. "Does this warrant a person to commit
      rape? The point to stress is that no one deserves to be raped."
      ..
      Domestic violence has long been, and is still, considered a private
      matter by society, said Maria. "Society" encompasses relatives,
      neighbours, the community and the Government. "The Domestic Violence
      Act provides little protection still to abused women as there are
      legal loopholes. There's still a need to monitor its implementation
      and impact on abused women. There is still reluctance to report
      domestic violence because a woman feels a need to keep her marriage,
      or for the sake of her children, she stays on and suffers the abuse,"
      she explained. The 2001 Annual Report of the Women's Crisis Centre
      said that of the 67 domestic violence cases seen by WCC, only 10
      applied for the Interim Protection Order.

      MOROCCO

      Islamic affairs minister redefines Ulema role - 06 Mar 04
      http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/040306/2004030620.html
      ..
      Morocco's Minister of Habous and Islamic Affairs, Ahmed Taoufiq, said
      the Ulema (Islamic scholars) need to re-define their traditional
      mission and apprehend their role in the respect of Morocco's
      democratic choices and as a religious duty that is part of the respect
      of the community will while abiding by the goals of the sharia
      (Islamic law). The official told ulema at a lecture marking the
      opening of the cultural season of 1425 (hejira year) at the "Dar
      Al-hadith Al-Hassania" school this new approach will frustrate
      superficial and shortsighted attitudes of those who deliberately or
      unintentionally make a misinterpretation of Islam.

      He further argued that Ulema's new role will spare the nation the
      hazards of discord, in keeping with the tradition of predecessors who,
      in their books and thought, produced evidence to the pertinence of the
      Sunna (Prophet's tradition) prescriptions and their ability to fathom
      temporal realities. Democracy, he went on, also requires that
      Itijtihad (jurisprudence) be restored in its tolerant dimension toward
      pluralism and diversity and that Islamic scholars accommodate the
      divergence of viewpoints and of behaviors, even divergence on
      religious issues while respecting the country's laws and priorities
      and the collectivity interests. He also urged Ulema to integrate the
      principle of freedom as a synonymous of democracy, which, beyond its
      collective dimension, also implies individual freedoms.
      ..
      While Ulema used to apprehend their role within a specific field and
      sparse initiatives, they are presently integrated in the "Amir Al
      Muminine" institution [commander of the faithfull], that entitles them
      to act within a comprehensive vision through the higher council and
      regional councils of Ulema and to harmonize their efforts, through
      their contribution in an experience for the success of which the moral
      support of Ulema is essential, the lecturer explained.

      NETHERLANDS

      Dutch Agency Says Young Muslims Recruited For 'Jihad' - 10 Mar 04
      http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/001119.php
      ..
      Young Dutch Muslims are being recruited for armed terrorism missions
      against Western targets, the Dutch secret service said Wednesday.
      In a note to parliament, the agency known by its Dutch acronym AIVD
      repeated its November 2002 warning that recruits are active in the
      Netherlands. "It's known that some stayed in a training camp. Others
      are involved in supporting Islamic terrorism-related activities like
      arranging money and passports," the agency said. "Still others are in
      turn trying to win over other potential recruits."
      ..
      "In the past year and a half, there was a noticeable decrease in the
      age of the group of young men susceptible to recruitment," the AIVD
      said. "In some groups of young Muslims, the wish to take part in jihad
      appears to be part of youth culture." The agency said that some
      Islamic-interest Web sites frequented by young men appeared to be
      "fascinated with violence." "It definitely can't be ruled out that
      some of these youths just want to make an impression on their peers
      with radical behavior and statements," the AIVD said. The agency also
      added that it had "established that some Muslim women, too, foster
      sympathetic feelings for the violent Islamic struggle. However, they
      don't play a prominent role in recruiting, as far as is known."

      NIGERIA

      [Kano] Playing with polio - 08 Mar 04
      http://www.iht.com/articles/509044.html
      ..
      All vaccination campaigns are notoriously vulnerable to a few
      holdouts, and Nigeria's recalcitrance is endangering the global effort
      to wipe out polio, a campaign universally endorsed by Muslims outside
      of Nigeria. The local clerics' protest [Kano] appears to be a
      political maneuver aimed at turning public opinion against Nigeria's
      federal government. World Islamic leaders have joined forces with
      Nigerian health officials to answer the clerics' wrongheaded charges.
      The Organization of Islamic Conference passed a resolution supporting
      polio vaccination, and the mufti of Cairo issued a pro-vaccination
      fatwa. It is hoped that in the next campaign, at the end of March,
      vaccination will be nationwide.

      Kano ready to enforce sharia rule - 08 Mar 04
      http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?art_id=qw1078734601294N262
      ..
      The government of northern Nigeria's biggest city - part sprawling
      warren of mudbrick neighbourhoods, part modern trading centre -
      insists it is finally getting ready to get serious about the
      application of Islamic sharia law, just over three years after
      millions of cheering Muslims celebrated its return.
      ..
      This past week's case should be a minor incident in an unruly yet
      conservative city, but in reality it marks a significant shift, Sule
      said; the unlucky drunk's prosecution was overseen by Nigeria's
      federal police force, acting in co-operation with Kano State's
      Islamist vigilante force, the Hisba. Once a gang of street toughs
      loosely organised by the mosques to enforce Islamic morals, the Hisba
      has been brought under Shekarau's wing as a paid arm of law
      enforcement; reporting un-Islamic activity to the police for
      punishment. Kano's Christian minority could be the next to suffer
      their wrath. For although sharia is not meant to apply to non-Muslims,
      Sule [Kano State's spokesperson] says that the state is determined to
      enforce the law banning the sale of alcohol, whether it be in the
      crowded beer parlours of Kano's Christian ghetto, Sabon Gari, or in
      the high-class hotels serving expatriate traders and the political
      elite.
      ..
      Christians from southern Nigeria's Igbo ethnic group, stack crates
      ready for their return to the Kronenbourg brewery in Kaduna for
      refilling. Behind the trucks, thousands more crates stand in
      warehouses ready for departure; thousands more than the small
      Christian community could ever empty on its own. For, while Igbo
      traders play sharia's rules to their comparative advantage, the Muslim
      Hausa are their best customers, locals admitted.
      ..
      even some Muslim leaders fear that this time the authorities could
      push their zeal too far and trigger violent unrest, in part because of
      the rising influence of Saudi-funded ultraconservative Wahhabi Muslims
      in the government. "They need to send them packing, because of the
      dangers and distress they bring among Muslims, which could explode
      into violence," said Sheik Musalqasiyuni Nasir Kabara, one of the
      local leaders of the moderate Qadiriyya sect, part of the Sufi mystic
      tradition in Islam. "We abhor alcohol, on that the sects converge,
      there's no doubt about that," he said. "The point of difference is how
      to go about solving the problem of the sale of beer. The beers are
      largely drunk by Muslims." .. he warned, Kano has fallen under the
      rule of hardliners determined to force a confrontation. The result, he
      fears, will be bloody: "Whatever Wahabbis are involved in,
      historically it's all about violence and causing trouble, look at what
      happened in Afghanistan."

      OMAN

      Sultan Shows Support For Equal Status For Women - 09 Mar 04
      http://beta.yellowbrix.com/pages/beta/Story.nsp?story_id=48189939
      ..
      According to "Oman Observer", Sultan Qaboos issued Royal Decree No
      28/2004, appointing Dr Rawyah bint Saud bin Ahmed al Busaidiyah, as
      Minister of Higher Education. This Royal Decree culminates Omani
      women's progress within the context of the renaissance and paves the
      way for further contribution to the march of national development.
      Statistics show that Omani women in the civil service sector account
      for 31 per cent of the total personnel. They occupied 19 per cent of
      public vocations which do not come under the civil service system.
      Eighteen per cent of the private sector employees who are registered
      at the Public Authority for Social Insurance are women and 56 per cent
      of teaching staff posts at government schools are occupied by women.
      Girls represent 49 per cent of students in the general education
      system. In the Higher Education, female students make 61 per cent of
      students studying at Education Colleges, 26 per cent at the Sharia and
      Law College while at the Sultan Qaboos University girls make 55 per
      cent of students admitted at the diploma level, 50 per cent of
      students at the degree level and 35 per cent of students admitted for
      postgraduate studies.

      PHILIPPINES

      16 Shari'a judges appointed by Arroyo - 10 Mar 04
      http://www.mb.com.ph/MAIN200403114539.html
      ..
      President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has appointed 16 new judges of the
      Shari'a Circuit Courts in Mindanao as part of her commitment in
      addressing the needs of Muslim Filipinos.
      ..
      "Arroyo has shown again her concern and respect for the Islam religion
      by appointing qualified candidates for Shari'a courts vacancies, not
      only in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao , but also in
      Christian areas," Datumanong said. Three of the judges are assigned in
      Shari'a Circuit Courts in Pagadian City, Tacurong City, and Kidapawan
      City, all outside Muslim Mindanao. He said Mrs. Arroyo also made
      history when she became the first Philippine President to have an
      Islamic festival, Eid'l Fitr, declared as national holiday last year.
      ..
      "This is unprecendented, actually, being the first time all vacancies
      of the Shari'a Muslim courts were filled up by the President,"
      Ampatuan said. .. Arroyo earlier ordered Datumanong and Hussin to
      search for the best qualified bets for Shari'a judges from the
      300-strong pool of Shari'a counselors-at-law since 1983.

      New edict okays family planning for RP Muslims - 10 Mar 04
      http://www.mb.com.ph/PROV200403104466.html
      ..
      Grand Mufti Dr. Ali Mohammad Juma'ah, the highest Islamic religious
      authority of Egypt's revered Al-Azhar University, has endorsed family
      planning, including the use of oral contraceptives, to Muslims in the
      Philippines. The endorsement was secured this year by Cotabato City-
      based Darul Iftah (House of Decree) head Mufti Omar Pasigan when he
      led a delegation of Muslim and non-Muslim religious leaders to Cairo,
      Egypt last Jan. 10. Before the endorsement which Pasigan's group
      considers as a "fatwa" (ruling or decree), family planning,
      particularly the use of condom, intra-uterine device, etc., and oral
      contraceptives or pills, was shunned by Muslim-Filipino couples for
      being un-Islamic.
      ..
      "The goal of the DoH-ARMM's RS program is not to limit the number of
      children of Muslim families, but it is intended to introduce to them
      healthy practices, such as spacing of children," Pandi said, noting
      that ARMM has the highest infant mortality rate. He added that Egypt
      and Indonesia, both Muslim countries, also allow family planning.
      ..
      Ustadhz Mohammad Pasigan, one of the members of the Egypt-delegation
      sponsored by the USAID, said Juma'ah opposed calling it as fatwa.
      However, "we are still calling it as such, a fatwa," Ustadhz Pasigan
      said.

      SAUDI ARABIA

      Hajj: Different Colours, One Mission [Daily Trust - Abuja] - 10 Mar 04
      http://allafrica.com/stories/200403100756.html

      [Mansour Al-Nogaidan] The Jihadi Who Kept Asking Why - 07 Mar 04
      http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/07/magazine/07SAUDIS.html?ex=1079326800
      [..]

      Saudi scholar 'bans' US-backed channel - 08 Mar 04
      http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/8F5D69C8-E38C-41C0-882E-DE88D7A39E8C=
      .htm
      ..
      In a fatwa published on Monday, Shaikh Ibrahim bin Nasir al-Kudhairi
      said the channel was haram (forbidden) and a source of corruption.
      A judge at the grand Islamic court in Riyadh, al-Kudhairi printed his
      religious ruling in al-Hayat newspaper. He claims Alhurra is intended
      to "fight Islam … and support American hegemony", branding the staff
      who worked at it as "agents in the pay of America".
      ..
      "It seeks an Arab audience in order to weaken and control them" and
      wages "an intellectual war is currently being waged to rub out the
      Arab identity and Muslim religion". The Broadcasting Board of
      Governors' Middle East Committee supervises Alhurra which is financed
      by the US Congress. The channel was launched to improve the image of
      the United States in the Middle East. It also intends to rival popular
      Arabic-language stations such as Qatar's al-Jazeera and Dubai-based
      al-Arabiya.

      Jeddah Dispatch - Queer Sheik - 05 Mar 04
      http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?pt=F4bD483qZPViqE1CyQTDkh==
      ..
      In recent months, however, Jeddah's malls have become meeting places
      for another group: homosexuals. Gay Saudi men now cruise certain malls
      and supermarkets, openly making passes at each other, and one street
      in Jeddah is said to have the most traffic accidents in the city
      because it is the most popular place for Saudi drivers to pick up gay
      Filipinos, who strut their stuff on the sidewalk in tight jeans and
      cut-off t-shirts. (Filipinos are one of the larger groups of foreign
      workers in Saudi Arabia.) Meanwhile, gay and lesbian discos,
      gay-friendly coffee shops, and even gayoriented Internet chat rooms
      are now flourishing in some Saudi cities; in the chat rooms, gay and
      lesbian Saudis discuss the best places to meet people for one-night
      stands.
      ..
      in some Saudi cities, the authorities have started to look the other
      way. In part, the government has realized that the thousands of Saudis
      who have recently returned from the United States because of stricter
      visa policies, and who are relatively liberal-minded, are unwilling to
      countenance such harsh anti-gay policies.
      ..
      Slightly freer to cover gay and lesbian issues, the Jeddah-based daily
      newspaper Okaz recently reported that lesbianism was "endemic" among
      schoolgirls, in an article that revealed salacious details of lesbian
      sex in school bathrooms. Despite the Okaz report, Ibrahim bin Abdullah
      bin Ghaith, head of the religious police, told reporters he would not
      send enforcers to investigate schools for lesbians--perhaps because of
      pressure from higher officials.
      ..
      According to several gay Saudis, the number of gay-themed Saudi
      websites has exploded in recent months. Some of these sites are still
      blocked, but software to avoid the blocks is easily purchased in local
      markets. Most sites exist for one reason only: to facilitate meet-ups.
      ..
      The Jeddah gay community also frequents malls, supermarkets,
      restaurants, and a disco catering to gay men, whose existence is an
      open secret. One Jeddah restaurant now features young Filipinos
      plastered in makeup and obviously taking hormones, possibly in
      preparation for a sex-change operation. At a disco north of Jeddah
      city, gay men gather each week to drink beer (which is also officially
      prohibited), dance together to Western music, and introduce their
      partners to friends. Many of the disco-goers are young returnees from
      the United States, but there are also older Saudi businessmen who have
      lived in the kingdom for years. One evening, the disco even featured
      two Saudi drag queens, who made a dramatic entrance onto the floor.
      Without an official complaint from the government or from Saudi
      citizens, the religious police will not raid the disco.

      SPAIN

      Al-Qaeda linked group responsible for Madrid bombings - 11 Mar 04
      http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/001123.php
      ..
      The jihadist website Jihad Unspun is saying that a hitherto unknown
      radical Muslim group, the Lions of Al-Mufridoon, is claiming
      responsibility for the train bombings in Madrid that have killed over
      190. The major media is blaming the attacks on the Basque separatist
      group ETA.

      TUNESIA

      Women's Rights - 10 Mar 04
      http://www.reveiltunisien.org/article.php3?id_article=1042
      Country Profile: http://www.iifhr.com/Country%20Profiles/Tunisia.htm

      TURKMENISTAN

      State Interfereing In Religious Life Of Ethnic Uzbeks - 11 Mar 04
      http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/rights/articles/eav031004.shtml
      ..
      [Igor Rota, news agency Forum 18] .. says that over the past year, the
      Turkmen government has replaced ethnic Uzbek imam-hatybs, or mosque
      leaders, with ethnic Turkmens in all of the main mosques of the
      Dashoguz region -- even though ethnic Uzbeks make up more than half
      the local population. "Historically, in the Soviet times for example,
      most imam-hatybs in this region were [Uzbeks]. But now most of [them]
      are Turkmen. This is a problem because local Uzbeks complained that
      Turkmen imams have no good education and prefer that imam-hatybs [are]
      Uzbeks," Rotar said. Rotar notes that ethnic Uzbek imam-hatybs have
      been sacked from their jobs in all three active mosques in the town of
      Dashoguz. In the Kunya-Urgench district of Dashoguz, Uzbek imam-hatybs
      have been forbidden from serving at ancient sites and three cemeteries
      -- Ashig-Aidyn, Ibrahim-adam, and the so-called "cemetery of 3,360
      saints" -- which are revered by Muslims.

      UK

      Fears as young Muslims 'opt out' - 07 Mar 04
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3539535.stm [Sunday's Five Live Report]
      ..
      [Navid Akhtar is a practicing Muslim deeply concerned about a growing
      trend among his contemporaries toward a separatist ideology that turns
      its back on Britain].
      ..
      Young Muslims are opting out. They've renounced the Islam of their
      immigrant parents and feel disillusioned with a society that they
      perceive as racist. Many are turning their backs on democracy and
      Britain. And they are finding a new identity in a brand of Islam that
      is radical and intolerant. Out of 1.8 million Muslims living in
      Britain today, the highest proportion have their roots in Bangladesh
      and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Both these groups came to Britain
      as economic migrants from rural villages. Settling into Britain has
      not been an easy experience and many feel excluded from the
      mainstream. The worst hit are the young, who find themselves at odds
      with their parents' insular Asian culture and a Britain they believe
      is hostile towards them. Many young Muslims, confused about their
      identity, have turned to their faith to provide answers and stumbled
      upon what they call "pure Islam".
      ..
      Pure Islam has claimed the mantle of being the only real Islam as
      practised at the time of the Prophet Mohammed and his companions.
      It regards the Islam that came from the Indian subcontinent as
      corrupted and polluted by "cultural" values such as music. In
      particular, pure Islam rejects any new developments in Islamic
      thinking, and refuses to understand that Muslims living in the West
      face a unique set of challenges. This has led to a split within the
      British Muslim community, creating a belief amongst many young people
      that there is no compromise between Islam and life in the West.
      ..
      The major failure has been the inability to produce imams and scholars
      who speak English and understand the issues and problems that the
      second generation are going through. Chair of the Dudley Muslim
      Association Khurshid Ahmed told the programme: "I'm quite ashamed to
      admit that the leadership within the Muslim community, not just in
      Dudley, but nationally have let our young people down. "The quality of
      education provided in our mosques has not been very adequate. "We have
      not been able to connect sufficiently with our young people and that
      has led them to being a lot more alienated from their own families and
      from the community. "

      Headache for Howard as whistleblower blows top - 11 Mar 04
      http://news.scotsman.com/uk.cfm?id=280922004
      ..
      A bid by Michael Howard [opposition] to embarrass the Prime Minister,
      Tony Blair, over a civil-service whistleblower backfired yesterday
      after the man was exposed as holding offensive views about Muslims.
      In rambling tirades posted on a BBC website, Steve Moxon, who revealed
      that checks on eastern European immigrants were being waived, argued
      that Islamic fundamentalists "eventually will have to be silenced by
      nuclear weapons".

      USA

      Muslims see new opposition to building mosques since 9/11 - 09 Mar 04
      http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2004-03-08-mosque-opposition_x.htm

      WORLD REGIONS

      Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition - 26 Feb 04
      http://www.islamonline.net/english/Contemporary/2004/02/Article02.shtml
      Essays by Western Muslim Scholars [book review]

      FINANCE

      Inslamic Finance: Commitments to maintain in Murabaha transactions
      http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=113402

      Islamic insurance can confuse many - 09 Mar 04
      http://www.zawya.com/story.cfm?id=ZAWYA20040302131027

      'Give Islamic finance space to develop', expert urges - 09 Mar 04
      http://www.ameinfo.com/news/Detailed/35984.html
      ..
      Professor [Rodney] Wilson, co-author of a new book on Islamic finance
      issues, raised issues concerning the extent of government and central
      bank support for Islamic finance which had not been discussed before
      at the Dubai forum.
      ..
      Bahrain is the most pro-active state in the region in terms of laying
      the groundwork for Islamic finance, according to Professor Wilson. The
      Bahrain Monetary Agency is highly supportive, there are 27 Islamic
      banks on the island with assets of $4 billion, it has six Islamic
      takaful insurance companies and over $1.5 billion has been raised
      through sovereign sukuk issues. "Kuwait and Jordan are particularly
      supportive. Kuwait passed a new Islamic banking law last year while a
      special law has governed Jordan Islamic Bank since the 1970s. There is
      encouragement in the UAE and Qatar," said Professor Wilson.
      In Qatar Islamic banks account for one quarter of deposits. There are
      three major institutions, Dubai and Abu Dhabi Islamic Banks and the
      national Bank of Sharjah in the UAE. Saudi Arabia gives limited
      support at Government level but the Kingdom boasts many private
      successes. There is an absence of Islamic banking laws in Saudi
      Arabia and there are no government sukuk securities. However, Al Rajhi
      is the largest Islamic bank in the world, over 25 per cent of bank
      deposits in Saudi Arabia are Islamic (including 17 per cent of
      conventional bank deposits) and the country has the world's largest
      Islamic mutual fund industry. Professor Wilson said that Oman, Libya
      and Syria remaine 'hesitant'.

      [Kuwait] Gulf Investment House announces second property sale
      http://www.ameinfo.com/news/Detailed/35876.html - 08 Mar 04
      ..
      Gulf Investment House announces second property sale of the Bunyan
      Fund at a 30 per cent gain. Gulf Investment House (GIH), a
      Kuwait-based investment company, announced today the sale of the
      Summit at Carlsbad (Carlsbad), located in southern California at a 30
      per cent gain. This makes Carlsbad the second sale in the Bunyan Fund,
      launched by GIH in 2001, to post double-digit gains, following Truman
      Park's 90% gain at the end of last year. The Bunyan Fund is the first
      Sharia compliant international real estate fund that has begun to
      realize and capture gains through the successful implementation of
      exit plans within the specified investment holding period.
      ..
      In terms of the market, the barriers to entry for construction of
      multi-family apartments were exceptionally high in the City of
      Carlsbad. The value of permit-approved land increased significantly
      over the past two years, driving the land value of the Carlsbad
      project to attractive levels.
      ..
      'Now that the Bunyan Fund has sold half of its assets, our efforts
      will remain centered on evaluating potential exit opportunities for
      the remaining two assets of the Fund.'

      Ghana to adopt principles of Islamic Banking - 06 Mar 04
      http://www.angolapress-angop.ao/noticia-e.asp?ID=235334
      ..
      Vice President Aliu Aliu Mahama of Ghana on Friday tasked financial
      institutions in the country to consider adopting some of the
      principles of Islamic Banking to assist the private sector to be
      vibrant. Opening the first seminar on Islamic Banking and Financing in
      Accra, Mahama said high interest rates charged by conventional banks
      were inimical to the growth of businesses. Developing countries such
      as Ghana therefore have to be more ingenious in designing measures to
      assist their economies to grow, he observed.

      Guidance Financial Group launches Islamic securities program in the US
      http://beta.yellowbrix.com/pages/beta/Story.nsp?story_id=48170788
      ..
      Guidance Financial Group, an international Islamic financial services
      company, announces the launch of the Guidance Fixed Income Fund to
      American customers. The Fund will hold securities that are backed by
      Shariah-compliant real estate finance assets. The securities will be
      issued and guaranteed by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation

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