Sharia News Watch 30
- Sharia News Watch 30 : a collection news quotes on Sharia,
for research & educational purposes only. [*]
all editions: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/shariawatch/
Chechens fear 'Wahhabi' threat 19 Dec 02
The locals blame the November 21 killings on militants they call
Wahhabis - exponents of one of Islam's most belligerent movements -
but few will admit this openly. People fear for their lives - and for
The pro-Moscow interior ministry in Grozny reports that since Russia
began its current war in Chechnya three years ago, some 30 prominent
religious figures and upwards of 200 regional and local government
officials have died at the hands of Islamic militants in the republic.
The only reason they were killed was that, at different times, they
had had contact with Russian troops.
"We are caught between a rock and a hard place," admitted the deputy
governor of one of Chechnya's municipalities, who did not want to be
named. "The Russians don't trust us as they think we collaborate with
the guerrillas. On the other hand, the Wahhabis are after us. As far
as they are concerned, we are all traitors, or kafir [Arabic for
Fundamentalist Islam first appeared in Chechnya via the Arab
volunteers who came to fight the first war of 1994-6. Around this time
the first jamaats formed, which later developed into powerful Wahhabi
Several of the Islamic radicals had fought the Soviet army in
Afghanistan and wanted to continue the struggle in Chechnya. They
included Fathi, a Chechen of Jordanian origin, and Khattab, a Saudi
who died last spring under mysterious circumstances. Khattab has since
been replaced by his deputy, known as Abu Walid, about whom little is
known. Some say that he is a Jordanian Chechen, others claim that,
like Khattab, he comes from southern Saudi Arabia.
By the spring of 1998, most Chechens were strongly opposed to the
extreme Islamists, their criminality and calls for the introduction of
the Sharia law.
Most Chechens are Sufi Muslims, whose religious practices are strongly
interwoven with old customs and the precepts of Chechen common law,
known as adat. Chechens worship their own saints - evlia - who brought
Islam to this mountainous country centuries ago.
This puts the majority of the population directly at odds with the
incomers, who have no respect for the Chechen Islamic tradition -
dismissing it as apostasy, ignorance and polytheis - while the
Wahhabis are accused in turn of being interlopers and troublemakers.
However, just as support for fundamentalist Islam had all but
vanished, a new war in 1999 and Russia's subsequent brutal tactics
against Chechen civilians have driven young people back into the arms
of Wahhabi teachings and jamaat squads.
Amnesty for illegal immigrants expected soon 24 Dec 02
A date has not yet been confirmed for the issuance of an amnesty for
illegal immigrants, however, it is expected to be announced soon, said
Matar Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs.
The amnesty will be announced at the right time, as well as the
amendments to the labour law, he said. The amendments will cover 20 to
30 articles of the labour law out of 193, he said.
Al Tayer added: "We are studying the banking insurance, the
recruitment of unskilled labourers, such as janitors, who must have a
minimum high school degree. They should at least know how to read and
write!" The minister stressed that he will not accept illiterate
labourers in the country.
He explained that there will be fundamental changes made in the labour
law regarding UAE national sponsors, and the transfer of sponsorship.
Al Tayer said that the new labour law will focus on emiratisation
because "the labour market in the country needs all its nationals to
help in the development."
Al-Azhar says Muslims need nuclear weapons to defend themselves
.. 26 Dec 02
The Fatwa Committee affiliated with Honourable Al-Azhar has emphasized
that the Muslim nation must acquire nuclear and other sophisticated
weapons to defend itself, particularly since these weapons are
available to its enemies.
Shaykh Ala al-Shanawihi, member of the Fatwa Committee, pointed out
that Islam deems it the duty of the Muslim nation to be vigilant about
the enemy [strength] to be able to make the necessary provisions
proportionate with the enemy's power, in accordance with the
Almighty's words: "Against them make ready your strength, to the
utmost of your power, including steeds of war" [Koranic verse].
Responding to a question addressed to the committee, Shaykh Al-
Shanawihi said that Allah's Prophet, may God's prayers and peace be
upon him, presented the ultimate model by readying himself for the
enemy with all available means. Consequently, if the Islamic nation
acquires less powerful weapons than those available to its enemies, it
will be faulted for negligence in that regard.
Fatwa Committee Head Shaykh Ali Abu-al-Hasan .. stressed that knowing
the enemy is a religious duty and that getting ready for the enemy is
an obligation under the shari'ah. Jurists agree that if a nation,
friendly or hostile, acquires a certain weapon, Muslims must possess
that weapon or even more powerful weapons, he said. [Al-Wafd]
[Kashmir] India claims killing nine Mujahideen 24 Dec 02
Sixteen people were wounded in a bomb attack on a bar in Rajouri, near
the Line of Control, a police spokesman said.
It was not immediately clear if there was a link between the bar
bombing and what police say are militant threats to punish anyone
defying Shariat laws, such as prohibitions on alcohol and cigarettes
and requirements for women to wear veils.
[Kashmir] KAF decries attempts to enforce dress-code 23 Dec 02
The Kashmir Aid Foundation, a Non-Government Organization working for
peace, transparency and social justice, has strongly alleged attempts
by some unknown militants to enforce the dress code in Rajouri, Poonch
Taking a strong exception of the reports arriving from rural areas of
harassment and intimidation, the Foundation appealed to the militant
leadership and separatist political organization to oppose the
Talibanization of society in the name of Islam. Foundation held a
special session of its general council to take stock of the situation
arising in the wake of threats and violence against the fair sex in
the rural areas of the Pir Panchal region.
Later, addressing the special session of the Foundation, Mir Shahid
Saleem secretary general of the Non-Governmental Organisation said
Hijab is one of important tenets of Islamic faith, and Islam enjoins
upon all believers to follow the principles of faith in the true
letter and spirit. He however explained that there was no room for
coercion in Islam. He warned militants against expanding their roles
into the private domain of the people's life. Saleem said civil
society in state has been subjected to the suppression and oppression
during the last over 12 years and people here are under the perpetual
fear and terror.They can not afford to live under the cultural
policing of the miliant organization.
Shabina Yasmeen reminded of the similar experiences under gone by the
women folk in Kashmir, last year, when a little known organization
ordered Kashmiri women to follow stringent strictures. She recalled
when there was no let up in the threat campaign for the several weeks,
in spite of the several appeals by the civil society organizations and
human rights organisations, the organization had to go off the scene
when several separatist organizations including APHC and United Jihad
Council (UJC) interfered, disowing the group responsible for causing
much inconvenience among the women folk there.
[Goa] A success story in uniform civil code 29 Dec 02
Not many people in India know, however, that a Uniform Civil Code
exists in Goa which is accepted by all communities-- Hindus,
Christians, Muslims and others.
The Goa Civil Code, collectively called Family Laws, was framed and
enforced by the Portuguese colonial rulers through various
legislations in the 19th and 20th centuries. After the liberation of
Goa in 1961, the Indian State scrapped all the colonial laws and
extended the Central laws to the territory but made the exception of
retaining the Family Laws because all the Goan communities wanted it.
In the rest of the country, the personal laws of the communities give
unequal rights to women, making them vulnerable to the whims of the
husbands and the manipulation of loopholes in the legislations by
them. The Muslim Personal Law is loaded against wives, who are often
reduced to beggary and destitution.
In contrast, the Goa code gives equal rights to men and women in
affairs of divorce, separation, share of couple's property,
succession, guardianship of children, gifts and adoption, say legal
The orthodox Islamic clergy in India made several attempts in the past
to get Goa's Civil code scrapped and the Muslim Personal Law extended
to the State. In the early 1980s, they began an agitation in the state
on the issue, taking support from a Muslim Minister in the then
However, a strong counter movement erupted, led by a young Muslim
woman called Rashida Muzawar, who was a first year student of law
whose fiery speeches against the obscurantist Mullahs began to draw
huge crowds. For almost a year, street demonstrations and mosque
congregations for and against the extension of the Shariat Law to Goa
[Tamil Nadu] HC rejects plea to declare Muslim Personal Law as illegal
.. 28 Dec 02
The Madras High Court has rejected a plea from a `divorced' Muslim
woman seeking to declare as void and unconstitutional, Sec. 2 of the
Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, in so far as it
sought to recognise and validate Taalaq-Ul-Biddart or Talaaq-I- Badal
form of divorce.
"Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Act provides for the application of
Muslim Personal Law to all questions regarding inter-alia marriage,
dissolution of marriage including Talaaq, etc. That Act is clearly a
legislation dealing with the personal law. Sec. 2 of the Act, in whole
or in part, cannot, having regard to the decisions of the Supreme
Court, be declared as void or unconstitutional by reason of any
inconsistency with the Constitution,'' a division bench comprising
Justice R Jayasimha Babu and Justice E Padmanabhan observed on Friday.
The bench was dismissing a petition from A S Parveen Akthar, a typist
in the Public Works Department. She was married to Y Md. Ismail Farook
in February, 1990. On May 1, 1991 she was intimated through her father
that Farook had pronounced Talaaq in the presence of two witnesses in
a single sitting.
Petitioner contended that Talaaq was not a mode recognised in the
Quran. The holy book provided for reconsideration and reconciliation
before recognising divorce as irrevocable. But no such opportunities
were given in her case.
The respondents contended that this form of Talaaq, though sinful, had
been recognised for a long time and that the courts had in the earlier
decisions held that this form of Talaaq, though bad in theology, was
good in law. Moreover, efforts were taken for reconciliation before
this form of Talaaq is valid, is based on a misunderstanding of the
law,'' the bench said and dismissed the petition.
Personal laws do not come under ambit of Constitution 27 Dec 02
In a significant ruling, the Madras High Court today said personal
laws did not come under the ambit of the constitution.
A divison bench, comprising Justice R Jaisimha Babu and Justice G
Padmanabhan, dismissing a petition by a Muslim divorcee to declare
Talak-ul-biddar, a form of divorce, followed by the Muslim community
as "void and unconstitutional", said the Supreme Court had already
given a ruling that personal laws could not be declared as
unconsitutional as they did not come under the constitution.
Islamic moderates, hard-liners wage battle in media 24 Dec 02
A number of local publications have recently rejected or become overly
wary of articles critical of Islam after an opinion piece by a
moderate Muslim drew condemnation and a death threats from Islamic
hardliners, two Muslim intellectuals said on Monday.
A professor at Syarief Hidayatullah State Islamic University Jakarta,
Nasaruddin Umar, said his article containing "sensitive passages" on
Islam was rejected by the media.
Written by Ulil Abshar Abdalla, who coordinates a coalition of Muslim
groups under the Liberal Islam Network (JIL), the article called for a
flexible view of the Islamic law, or sharia.
Ulil called into question various obligations under sharia, like the
jilbab (veil) or the hand amputations for thieves, suggesting that
they were not relevant to all cultures and eras.
Thus Islam, during the time of Muhammad, he explained, was one way of
interpreting the religion, and that at a different time it was
possible to interpret Islam in another way. He also stressed the
common truths with other religions, saying "I no longer look at the
form but its content."
The article drew condemnation from a Bandung-based group of Muslim
clerics called the Indonesian People's Ulama Forum (FUUI)
In August, a private television station scrapped an advertisement
promoting a moderate, diverse Islam to counter perceptions of a
violent, fundamentalist Islam that reactionary groups appear to be
promoting. The cancellations have followed pressure from Muslim
organization Majelis Mujahidin (MMI) which denounced the commercial as
an insult to Islam.
Six more Bali attack suspects named 24 Dec 02
Six more suspects were named yesterday as a result of documents seized
in the hideaway of Bali blast controller Mukhlas on December 5,
bringing to 22 the number of alleged terrorists now linked to the Bali
Documents found in Mukhlas's lair have provided police with an
unprecedented insight into JI's broad structure and its links to many
shadowy groups throughout Indonesia and Malaysia - all of which
support its broad ideology of the implementation of Sharia law and the
establishment of an Islamic state throughout southeast Asia.
"It's a loose coalition of aligned teams, some of whom are known and
some of whom are not," Mr Keelty said. "It's not a hierarchical
command and control structure that you might get with some organised
crime syndicate, or indeed the IRA.
"It's an amorphous matrix structure that has no beginning and no end
but has a lot of players who contribute to the overall ideology and
philosophy of inciting fear that they should not be following the
Bali suspect named 'Man of the Year' 28 Dec 02
An Indonesian Islamic magazine has named detained terror suspect Abu
Bakar Bashir "Man of the Year" for what it calls his steadfast
struggle to uphold Islamic law in Indonesia. Bi-weekly magazine
Sabili, one of the best-selling in Indonesia, said Bashir is an
exemplary figure who never flinched from his struggle to uphold
Islamic law, or sharia, despite persecution.
"Bashir is a person we should look up to," the magazine said in its
editorial. "If Bashir, most of whose entire life has been devoted to
upholding Islamic sharia, should be called a terrorist, being
terrorists might as well be our goal," it said.
Bashir's picture adorned the magazine's cover along with a banner
reading "Ustadz Ba'asyir. Fighting Hostile Unbelievers."
The violent fringe of Indonesia's radical Islam
An overview by Martin van Bruinessen
[Kurdistan] Kurds Doubt Fatwa Declaring Jihad Against Americans
.. 24 Dec 02
Kurdish circles were doubtful of a statement broadcast by news
agencies including a fatwa, issued by 600 Kurdish scholars during a
conference in Kirkuk, urging jihad against "American infidels".
Iraqi observers cast doubts on the statement issued Monday December23
, and say it aims at making gains for the ruling regime in Baghdad.
According to them, the statement is most likely fabricated because the
majority of Iraqi scholars are against any war on Iraq, but, at the
same time, they do not stand in one trench with the regime.
The Popular Islamic Conference organization which organized the Kirkuk
conference is a popular body established by the Iraqi regime and does
not include any of the influential scholars.
Observers are also doubtful that as many as 600 scholars have taken
part of the said conference. They argue that Iraq, as a whole, does
not have this number of scholars, including those living abroad.
According to the observers, Kurdistan has only six to seven well-known
Illegal zakat collection centre in Taman Melawati raided 23 Dec 02
Selangor religious authorities today raided an illegal zakat
collection centre in Taman Melawati and detained a staff. The centre,
operated by a company, was believed to have illegally collected some
RM1 million [EUR 250.000,-] in zakat since March this year.
The company reportedly was appointed to collect zakat in 1995 but
continued to operate even after March 19 when its services were
terminated as MAIS decided to set up its own counter in the area last
.. 24 Dec 02
Eemanii Network Sdn Bhd, the private company entrusted by the Selangor
Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) to collect zakat, has furnished
evidence of zakat deposits amounting to RM1 million, which was claimed
to be missing.
The amil who was arrested yesterday, Wan Abdullah Jusoh, had been
detained in public and Eemanii's office had been ransacked without a
warrant by scores of enforcement officers from the Selangor Islamic
Religious Department (JAIS).
Meanwhile, in SHAH ALAM, Selangor State Secretary Datuk Abdul Aziz
Mohamed Yusof confirmed that there was no misappropriation as the
company had credited all the zakat monies it collected to MAIS
although its services had been terminated.
He told a news conference that members of the public who had paid
zakat at the company's counter need not worry because their money
would be channeled to the rightful recipients by MAIS through its
legal agent, the Selangor Zakat Centre.
Don't force hudud on society, says scholar from Saudi Arabia 22 Dec 02
Hudud cannot be forced upon the people, if society is not ready for
it, a prominent ulama from Saudi Arabia said today. Prof Dr As-Sayyid
Muhammad Alawi, who is also a special religious adviser to the Saudi
Government, said hudud needed careful study and planning before it
could be implemented.
He said there must be effort to obtain feedback and to a certain
extent, approval from the authorised ulama in the ruling administration.
As-Sayyid was asked about the is-sue of hudud in Malaysia which was
widely debated after the move by the Pas-led Governments in Kelantan
and Terengganu to pass hudud enact-ments in 1993 and in July this
[Terengganu] Police chief explains why cops can't help in hudud
enforcement 24 Dec 02
The police and the Government can be dragged to court should it help
enforce the hudud law which is vague and not endorsed by the
judiciary, Terengganu police chief Senior Assistant Commissioner (I)
Othman Talib said today.
"However, the politicians have made the police a scapegoat when we
decided not to co-operate with the State Government in enforcing the
Syariah Criminal Offences (Hudud and Qisas) passed in July," he told
reporters after the Hari Raya open house at the State police contingent.
"Until this matter is cleared by the judiciary, we will not assist in
the enforcement of the hudud law. As the same time, we will also not
interfere in the enforcement of the law by officers appointed by the
Childrens' Bill Not Anti-Islamic 24 Dec 02
.. [This Day - Lagos]
It is indeed a matter of deep regret and even ironical that the
impression is being given by our elected representatives in the
National Assembly that Islamic values and ethics are contrary to, and
not synonymous with the contents of the [Children] Bill. A cursory
glance through the primary sources of the Sharia (specifically the
Qur'an and the Hadith) would reveal just how much of a misconception
and misrepresentation this position is, as the values and teachings
therein are replete with instances depicting the extent to which good
Muslims are enjoined to strive to protect the rights of children in
the society. It is doubtful, given the manner in which Islam perceives
children that these Muslim gentlemen had actually read and assimilated
the contents of the Bill.
The Islamic perception of governance views the State as being, among
other functions, a welfare entity responsible for catering for the
economic and social needs of the child, and as such, the Government
remains the primary institution accountable for promoting child
rights. Many of the rights in the Childrens Bill do exist under the
Sharia, and derive from the primary sources of the Qur'an and the
Hadith. Indeed, there remains considerable scope for utilising
Qur'anic principles to counter practices detrimental to the interests
of children, even where specific mention is not made in reference to
an actual adverse practice or tradition based on custom against children.
Childhood in Islam is characterised by the lack of formed reasoning
ability, and Islamic theory depends on both mental maturity and
physical development in determining the various stages of childhood.
Below a certain age the child is considered incapable. Thereafter,
when of 'perfect understanding', he or she can assume responsibility
and participate in legal acts. The age for the attainment of majority
differs with the varying schools of theology, and while there is doubt
over the physical signs of puberty, which under Islamic formulations
represents the end of childhood, Imam Hanifa, and some scholars of
Malik, prefer the threshold of eighteen years. Some later scholars
agree on fifteen years, while others prescribe the ages of fifteen,
sixteen or seventeen for female, and eighteen for male, as signalling
the arrival of sexual maturity.
In any case, under Islamic legal reasoning, it is the State, as the
ultimate guardian of all, that is responsible for protecting and
promoting childrens rights, so if the government determines a
particular age as the age of responsibility, our Scholars should be
the first to recognise that this is permissible, under Islamic law. At
the very least, it could be posited that using the principle of the
public good, existing social conditions merit the government pegging a
minimum age for marriage. You would find that in Egypt, as in
Malaysia, for instance, the minimum marriageable age for a female has
been fixed at eighteen for boys, and sixteen for girls, while in
Syria, it is eighteen for the male, and seventeen for the female.
Morocco has fixed eighteen for male, and fifteen for female. It is
therefore not un-Islamic for a government to fix a minimum
marriageable age in the public interest, under the Sharia.
Guardians are advised, in chapter 2:220 of the Qur'an, to keep their
interests in property, held in trust, separate from that of children
in their custody, as 'the best thing to do is what is for their good',
and this standard, like the Convention of the Rights of the Child
principle of 'the best interests of the child', applies also in
respect of guardianship concerning infants, education and
responsibility for marriage. The Bill categorically provides that the
best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration in
matters concerning children. Consequently, to educate a child on the
reality of AIDS in our lives, when the child is old enough to
appreciate the implications of reckless and immoral behaviour, and the
dangers that such careless conduct poses for the ignorant in our
society, can only be for their (and our) benefit, and not otherwise.
Indeed, there are ample authorities within the Sharia, which could be
utilised to educate children on the importance of decency, integrity,
dignity, morality and virtue in our lives, and in our communities.
Ledap Co-Ordinatior Sues Human Rights Activists for Defamation
http://allafrica.com/stories/200212290271.html 24 Dec 02
In the controversial news magazine of December 12, 2002, Chinonye was
reported to have travelled to Sweden recently, approached a widely
read Swedish newspaper and introduced himself as one of the lawyers
fighting the cause of one Amina Lawal. Amina was a young woman
condemned to be stoned to death in Nigeria by a Sharia court over
allegation of adultery recently.
Chinonye was also reported to have, through the medium, worked on the
emotions of the Swedes who raised an undisclosed amount of money for
him when he was never a member of the Nigerian human rights team
defending the poor woman in court.
Two women rights activists based in Nigeria, Hauwa Ibrahim and Sindi
Meder-Gould, were said to have granted interview to The Economist to
the effect that Chinonye was both unknown to them and the legal team
defending Amina or any case[s] where Nigerian Islamic courts have
imposed death penalty for adultery.
But in a 13-paragraph statement of claim filed at the registry of a
Lagos high court by his attorney, Mr Olawale Fapohunda, Chinonye said
that he never travelled to Sweden to solicit fund on behalf of Amina
Lawal, rather as an expert member of the Colombian mission on impunity
of the Swedish NGO Foundation for Human Rights, on invitation to speak
on a seminar on impunity. [Vanguard - Lagos]
Bauchi Govt threatens deviant Sharia court judges 24 Dec 02
The Bauchi State Government has threatened to deal accordingly with
any sharia court judge, who engages in actions capable of tarnishing
the image of the sharia.
Mu'azu, represented by works and housing commissioner, Umar Dahiru,
warned: "Any shaira court judge found abusing the ethics of his job,
would be dealt with according to laid down regulations to serve as
deterrent to others. He commended the commission for organizing the
workshop aimed at "regenerating and resuscitating the sharia in Bauchi
In his address, the chairman of the commission, Alhaji MukhtarAhmad,
said the maiden workshop was organised to assist sharia judges in the
true dispensation of justice in accordance with the legal system.
[Jigawa] Death sentence delayed for child rapist 24 Dec 02
An Islamic court in northern Nigerian state of Jigawa on Tuesday
adjourned hearing in an appeal by a man sentenced to death to a later
date. Sarimu Mohammed Baranda, 54, was sentenced to death by stoning
for raping a nine-year-old girl by a Sharia court here in May, but he
appealed the sentence on the ground that he was insane when he
committed the offence.
Baranda had initially refused to file an appeal against the death
ruling but was pressured to change his mind later by defence counsel,
claiming insanity. The prosecution objected the convict's claim of
insanity since the issue of his mental state was never raised at the
lower court where he was sentenced to death.
At the appeal hearing on Tuesday, presiding judge Isa Inuwa adjourned
the case pending the filing of a counter affidavit by the prosecution.
"We can't go on with the case without a counter affidavit from the
prosecution against this defence motion," he said.
[Kebbi] Sharia court orders amputation of man's wrist 24 Dec 02
An Upper Sharia Court in Birnin- Kebbi, Kebbi State, has ordered the
amputation of the right wrist of one Abubakar Hamidu for stealing four
motorcycles valued at N 400,000. [Eur 3.000,-]
The convict, who was alleged to have stolen the motorcycles from the
home of one businessman (names withheld) in Birnin-Kebbi in September,
was said to have made confessional statement before the court, and
sought for leniency, saying he was a first time offender.
The judge also ruled that, a girl, Jemila, found to be staying with
the convict at time of his arrest, be sent to jail for six months, in
addition to 50 strokes of the cane for idleness.
[Hebron] fiction meet fact 23 Dec 02
Fatah activists in Hebron are threatening to amputate the arms and
legs of any Palestinian involved in crime, especially thefts and
burglaries. This is the first time the secular organization, which is
the mainstream faction of the PLO, has issued such a threat.
Palestinians in Hebron, which has been under an on-again-off-again
curfew for the past 30 days, said Saturday the threat was issued
following an increased wave of crime that has hit the city in the past
"The punishment will be enforced against anyone who is found guilty,"
said a leaflet distributed in the city. "The streets of Hebron and its
suburbs, as well as the streets of all cities, villages, and refugee
camps, will soon witness people with one arm or one leg. They will be
punished in accordance with the sharia [Islamic law]. This will not be
executed unless they are convicted."
The Fatah pamphlet warned families of suspects against trying to
intervene on their behalf and said anyone who seeks to help the
criminals will be considered an accomplice. "We promise that we will
brief the families [of the suspects] about the details of the crimes
before we amputate their arms and legs," it added.
The latest warning comes amid complaints that criminals throughout the
West Bank have been exploiting the security situation to steal goods
from houses and businesses.
Al Jazeera: Hits, misses and ricochets 25 Dec 02
The so-called CNN of the Arab world, Al Jazeera wouldn't exist if it
were not for Qatar's knack at taking advantage of Saudi shortcomings.
The station, whose name means "peninsula" or "island" in reference to
its home in Qatar, was launched in 1996 a few months after the BBC's
Arabic television service closed down due to the editorial meddling of
Orbit Communications, a Saudi company and partial owner. When the
company sought to censor a documentary about executions in Saudi
Arabia, the staff walked out and the station pulled the plug.
Qatar's crown prince, who had come to power in a bloodless coup one
year before, was eager to forge an identity for his small nation that
was distinct from Saudi Arabia's. A hard-hitting Arabic satellite news
channel seemed like the perfect ticket.
With a firm commitment to editorial independence, and pledging $140
million to finance the channel for five years, the Qatari prince
courted virtually the entire staff let go by the BBC to get the
station on its feet.
Al Jazeera's editorial edginess is its mark of distinction. In the
world of straitjacketed Arab media, Al Jazeera has one of the only
free hands. Its talk shows can legitimately claim to showcase the full
range of Arab opinion - the good, the bad and the ugly - on global
affairs, and their featured debates put the sleep-inducing talking
heads on American cable shows to shame.
More than its news coverage, it is the station's commentary talk shows
which open the phones for viewers to call in and offer their candid
opinions that have drawn most attention. And it is not just the Gulf
states that are getting angry. In November, Jordan closed Al Jazeera's
news bureau in Amman after a Syrian commentator criticized Jordan's
peace treaty with Israel, describing Jordan as "an artificial entity"
populated by "a bunch of Bedouins living in an arid desert". Kuwait
also ordered Al Jazeera's bureau closed after an Islamic militant
calling an Al Jazeera phone-in program from Europe suggested that
Kuwait's ruler, Sheik Jaber al-Jaber al-Sabah, should be ousted for
agreeing to extend the vote in Kuwaiti elections to women.
The station often slants the playing field of discussion with two or
three representatives from a certain view and only one from the other.
Most of all, it soft-peddles its domestic critique.
Whereas CNN made a name for itself during the 1991 Gulf War, mostly
with broadcasts from hotel rooftops in Baghdad, Al Jazeera made a name
for itself during the US invasion of Afghanistan with footage from
far-flung mountain enclaves and bombed-out villages. And after
American networks stumbled over each other in bidding for the rights
to re-broadcast the front-line Al Jazeera footage that none of their
own correspondents were willing to get, they then broadcast the
borrowed goods with a scoffing proviso: "This footage cannot be
Putin - Russia opposes attempts to create global Islamic state
.. 22 Dec 02
Russia's fight against international terrorism in Chechnya has become
part of the world's resistance to attempts to create a global Islamic
state, said Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"They not only want to create a caliphate on the territory of Russia,
they want to create a global caliphate. I repeat, this idea is not
very different from the idea of world supremacy that Hitler and his
circle once promoted," Putin said. [Interfax News Agency]
Muslim women to get more power 26 Dec 02
Pending legislation on personal law will give Muslim women power to
fight the discrimination they suffer at the hands of men. A draft
Muslim Personal Law (MPL) is being discussed around the country and
the national Muslim Youth Movement (MYM) Gender Desk has just
concluded a conference about it entitled: Realising Muslim Personal
Law: Rights, Prospects and Challenges.
In terms of the draft, Muslims would soon have their marriages
recognised within the country's judicial system. Muslim children would
no longer be regarded as illegitimate and married couples could have
their rights implemented by force of law.
Conference participants, mostly women, called for a number of
stringent measure to be included in the bill to counter the abuse of
Muslims feel religious persecution 23 dec 02
The vast majority of British Muslims believe the U.S. and UK war on
terror is in fact a war on Islam, according to a new poll.
The poll on Monday also found most British Muslims feel the United
States and its allies have no justification for blaming Osama bin
Laden's al Qaeda network for the attacks of September 11 last year and
the Bali nightclub bombing.
Three quarters of those polled said the outcome of U.S. military
action in Afghanistan was negative while over 80 percent said the
British government should seek approval from both parliament and the
United Nations before committing British forces to an attack on Iraq.
Two in every three British Muslims regard themselves as patriotic
towards Britain while four in every five think further terror attacks
on the United States would not be justified.
However, 11 percent said such attacks would be justified and eight
percent said attacks on Britain, either by al Qaeda or similar
organisations, would also be justified.
The poll, conducted by ICM Research for the BBC, reflects a deeply
held feeling among many British Muslims that their fellow Muslims
elsewhere in the world are being victimised.
ICM asked 500 British Muslims if they agreed or disagreed with the
assertion made by U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime
Minister Tony Blair that the war against terrorism was not a war
against Islam. [Reuters]
Writer Blackballed for Being an Equal-Opportunity Offender 29 Dec 02
[Doug] Marlette is on the receiving end of an Islamist fatwa
protesting a dead-on editorial cartoon that ran last week, while his
novel is struggling against a continuing tide of opposition from
unseen but powerful forces.
Marlette's cartoon, which has prompted thousands of threatening
e-mails, depicts a man dressed in Middle-Eastern garb driving a Ryder
truck bearing a nuclear missile with the caption: "What would Mohammed
Anyone half awake understands that the cartoon plays off the "What
Would Jesus Drive" campaign against gas-guzzling SUVs and other recent
events, namely that fundamentalist Islamists have hijacked their
religion to justify murdering Americans.
Interview with Human Rights Watch representative 26 Dec 02
.. [IRINnews Asia]
Q: Elsewhere Wahhabis and other Islamic fundamentalists are often
associated with terrorism. Why are you advocating their rights in
A: In Uzbekistan, the people that are imprisoned are not terrorists.
They are not people who promote violence. They are people who have
their own Muslim beliefs and who want to express them in their own
way. However,they don't believe in violence.
In the past, there had been the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and
they were based outside of the country, and there were a couple of
incursions in 1999 into Kyrgyzstan and in 2000 into Uzbekistan.
However, it seems that the movement no longer poses any threat since
the US went into Afghanistan [in 2001]. Most of its leaders were
either killed or escaped elsewhere.
The 7,000 prisoners are either, as the government labels them Wahhabis
or Hizb ut-Tahrir [Liberation Party]. There are a few other groups
who, for example, follow Nursy, a Turkish Muslim scholar from last
century into this century.
We sort of group all those people [together] and call them independent
Muslims,but they don't promote violence. If you go to a Hizb ut-Tahrir
trial, you will find that the allegations against them are that they
distributed some leaflets or materials, that they perhaps collected
money to give to families of jailed Hizb ut-Tahrir activists, or they
were members of the Hizb ut-Tahrir and took oaths as its members.
That's the basic allegations against some 95 percent of the people in
prison. For Wahhabis, there is a similar set of allegations. They are
imprisoned for meeting others, learning and reciting the Koran in
Arabic. It will be pointed out that they were particularly pious in
terms of women and that they wore headscarfs in a way which was not
traditionally Uzbek, but fundamentalist Islamist or Arabic.
A New Guide for the Perplexed - Yemen Tries to Reintegrate Islamists
.. 24 Dec 02
According to American intelligence sources, Yemen is potentially
nourishing ground for religious fundamentalism. The country has begun
an unusual program in an effort to reintegrate Islamic militants into
To that end, Yemen has put together a three-point program, involving
not only religious instruction but also enforcement of existing law
against deviant fundamentalist teachings and, finally, a more
intensive search for solutions to Yemen's economic and social problems.
Aside from Cadi al-Hitar, only three other legal and religious
scholars were prepared to participate directly. The first round of
talks with a total of 104 prisoners, lasting a solid two months, ended
in mid-November, with 36 prisoners being released on the basis of its
outcome. A follow-up program of support and control will accompany
them to provide a further underpinning for their social and religious
To what extent is the motivation of fundamentalist fighters religious
in nature, and to what extent do social frustration and a lack of
future prospects also play a part? While he grants that poverty can
indeed be a vehicle for spreading extremist ideologies, al-Hitar
regards its contribution as secondary in the case of Islamist
extremism. He claims to have found tremendously strong faith among the
prisoners he has spoken with - coupled with a fatal inability to
properly interpret the exact words of the Koran and the Sunna (the
sayings and practices of Mohammed). There exist, for that purpose,
linguistic, legal and religious rules which can guide the application
of the original texts of Islam to the needs of practical life. But the
fundamentalists, says al-Hitar, are in some cases incapable of making
the bridge between the documents and reality, and in other cases
manipulated by misguided or unqualified religious "scholars."
Given the fixations and rigidity of the prisoners involved in the
dialogue, Cadi al-Hitar explains, the talks had to be prepared for
with great care. For example, extremist ideologies were studied in
order to prepare arguments against them, and during actual
conversation every effort was made to correct misinterpretations and
differences of opinion by referring to the original texts. But before
these religious discussions were undertaken, the theological and legal
scholars involved prepared themselves for the "discipline of
dialogue." In order to convey to the prisoners the purpose and
possibility of constructive discussion, the scholars deliberately
chose a "modest," egalitarian and mediating approach. The arguments of
the returnees were taken seriously, and their personal, often
traumatic backlog of experience was taken into account.
Muslim scholars grapple with human cloning issue 28 Dec 02
A leading Shiite Muslim cleric in Lebanon [Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein
Fadlallah], known for his more radical views, told AFP Saturday it was
not for religious scholars but for scientists to decide whether
cloning is beneficial.
In a religious decree or fatwa issued on December 12, the
Egyptian-Qatari Muslim theologian Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi said Islam
prohibited cloning because it contradicts the "diversity of creation".
However, Qaradawi said Islam would not oppose the use of cloning to
produce healthy body parts or organs needed to save a sick individual.
Qaradawi added that cloning animals was also permitted if it brought a
"real benefit" to humans and did not hurt or harm the animal in any way.
Prior to Friday's stunning revelation from Florida, Cairo's Al-Azhar
University, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, was unequivocal
saying "human cloning is prohibited and we must oppose it and prevent
it by all means". It can lead to "disfigurations and monstrosities,"
the statement from the university's Center of Islamic Research said,
released earlier this year.
Counting Change 22 Dec 02
Non-Muslims, especially regulators, often find it difficult to
understand why the sector doesn't have uniform Sharia standards.
They're right to be perplexed. Although Islam has four main schools of
law that can differ in their interpretations, they are all unanimous
on the basics relating to financial and investment principles. Yet
most Muslim countries can't agree among - or within - themselves on a
set of codified laws.
Simply because they lack the political will, and because of petty
nationalisms, the process of change is agonizingly slow. Kuwait is
only now debating a draft Islamic-banking law, which has been on the
back burner for more than three years because the central bank and
Parliament couldn't agree on a definition of an Islamic bank. In
Pakistan the future of interest-based banking has swung back and forth
over the years, depending on who was in power. President Pervez
Musharraf has sacked judges who wished to arbitrarily Islamicize the
banking sector and has now adopted a dual banking system. Saudi Arabia
is perhaps the weakest link in the chain. Despite the fact that Sharia
is the law of the land, the kingdom doesn't have any Islamic-banking
law. Why? Because if the Saudis put one on the books, it would be a
tacit acknowledgment of the existence of interest-based banking, which
is unconstitutionaland rampant.
[Arab] Banks perform well amid regional uncertainties 27 Dec 02
With a few exceptions in Bahrain and in Egypt's public sector banks,
2001 and the first half of 2002 showed Arab banks reporting higher
profits despite the cloud of uncertainty hovering over the region.
Declining domestic interest rates, in line with the drop in dollar
rates, enabled most Arab banks to reduce their funding costs at a
quicker pace than the decline in lending rates. Oil prices remained
high supporting strong economic growth in the Gulf region. Jordan
continued on its high growth path and Lebanon benefited from the
inflow of capital and regional tourism after Sept. 11. Arab banks
expanded their lending as reflected in higher loan to deposit ratios
with many emphasizing retail lending in the region's new
The disclosed nonperforming loans of some of the large Arab banks were
among the highest in the world, with Egypt's Arab African
International Bank recording 23 percent of its loan book as
nonperforming last year. The second highest among the region's larger
banks was Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait at 22 percent, followed by the First
Gulf Bank of the UAE at 21 percent. The nonperforming loans ratio for
Fransabank of Lebanon was 19 percent, Oman International Bank 18.7
percent and Doha Bank 14.7 percent.
The establishment of Consumer Credit Bureaus in Arab countries could
help banks better manage their asset quality.
The linking of most Arab currencies to the dollar has led domestic
interest rates to follow US rates downward. While rates were moving
lower, banks were able to widen spreads by reducing their cost of
funding faster than their lending rates. The cost of deposits for Arab
banks has fallen sharply over the past 12 months with average rates on
deposits dropping to around 3 percent recently from double that level
in late 2000. But when rates stay low they will start impacting banks'
bottom line. Successful hedging to fixed-interest rates can be used to
delay the hit. However, in an environment where noninterest bearing
deposits or low interest paid on retail customer deposit accounts form
a relatively high proportion of banks' liabilities, while the major
cost of funding comes mainly from the expense of maintaining branch
networks, banks' profits will be affected.
Banks in Kuwait and Bahrain have been more successful in developing
noninterest revenues, while most other Arab banks continue to depend
on interest income.
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