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Sharia News Watch 90

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  • Enzo Picardie
    Sharia News Watch 90 : a collection newsquotes on Sharia, for research & educational purposes only. [*] Shortcut URL:
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 14, 2003
      Sharia News Watch 90 : a collection newsquotes on Sharia, for
      research & educational purposes only. [*] Shortcut URL:

      The Sharia Newswatch provides an almost weekly update of news quotes
      on Sharia (Islamic Law) & related subjects, as appearing on the major
      news- searchengines. All editions :


      Afghan constitutional meeting delayed - 13 Dec 03
      The opening of a national constitutional assembly has been postponed
      again amid threats of violence from armed Islamic groups and concerns
      that the meeting could produce a paralyzing split between
      conservatives and reformists that would damage chances for successful
      presidential elections next year. Officials said Friday night that
      the assembly, which was set to being on Saturday, has been delayed
      until Sunday only because some of the 500 delegates have had
      difficulty reaching Kabul from remote provinces.
      it is not yet clear who will chair the assembly or how that person --
      who can set and control much of its agenda -- will be chosen.
      President Hamid Karzai reportedly wants to name a moderate former
      Afghan president, but religious conservatives are pushing for a direct
      election by the delegates, which could put someone from their ranks --
      probably Islamic factional leader Abdul Rassool Sayyaf -- in the
      powerful post.
      Afghan expert Ahmed Rashid said there were several distinct blocs,
      including one in the north seeking greater regional autonomy and
      another group of religious hard-liners seeking a stronger
      interpretation of Sharia, or Islamic law.


      [opinion] Impossible dreams? - 14 Dec 03
      The style of politics in Bangladesh, regardless of whichever party
      remains in power or in opposition, is essentially confrontational. The
      party in power uses state machinery to settle old scores of
      indignities inflicted upon it when it was in the opposition. The
      opposition repeats similar cycle of violence when it is voted to
      power. In this repeated score settling game the electorate gets the
      short shrift. What is worrying is the ferocity displayed by the
      government in "crushing" oppositional politics forgetting the fact
      that the opposition has a legitimate and constitutional right to
      criticise the government both within and outside the parliament.
      Unparliamentary language reportedly used by some members when
      parliament is in session, baring the personal life of political
      leaders is not only deplorable but may give rise to suspicion that
      such deliberate ploy is being used to keep the opposition out of
      parliament. Another worrying factor is the co-sharing of power with
      religious fundamentalists who were opposed to the independence

      In today's changed world after the events of nine-eleven one can not
      but be cautious about the possible resurgence of Islamic
      fundamentalism in Bangladesh which would attempt "to create a true
      Islamic society, not simply by imposing the sharia, but by
      establishing first an Islamic state through political action" (Neo-
      Fundamentalism -- Oliver Roy). Such attempts would be conflictual with
      the practice of Islam which Muslim Bangladeshis are enjoined by their
      religion to do. Though US State Department's International Religious
      Freedom Report 2002 observed that " religious minorities are
      disadvantaged in access to job in the government or the military and
      in political office" and that the police often are slow to assist the
      minorities who become victims of violence, yet the State Department's
      Human Rights and Democracy Record 2002-03 for South Asia has termed
      Bangladesh as a "moderate Muslim nation". Lest we forget in an
      unwitting passage to fascism we should remember that "religions have
      too often been used to justify the violation of human rights, in part
      through the hierarchical and selective use of the role of ethics and
      postponement of temporal justice to divine judgment or Karmic
      consequences. Yet the world religions have also proved a constant
      voice of critique against violation of human rights by calling for
      equality and universal compassion and love, calls which reach far
      beyond the mere protection of human rights' (Human Rights and
      Responsibilities in World Religions 2003).


      New Islamic Institute set up for civil cases - 12 Dec 03
      An informal arbitration system that has been quietly settling marital
      or business disputes in Ontario using Islamic law, or sharia, for
      several years has now become a more formal structure known as the
      Islamic Institute of Civil Justice — and a national Muslim women's
      organization is "gravely concerned" that women's rights will not be
      protected. Supporters of judicial tribunals say they reduce the need
      to go to court, are more private, speed up resolution and keep costs
      low in civil disputes. Under the system, arbitrators will be better
      trained in both Canadian law and sharia, said retired lawyer Syed
      Mumtaz Ali, who is leading the organization of the new institute.
      Muslims who choose to use the tribunals can ask the arbitrator, who
      could be a local imam, scholar or lawyer, to use either sharia or
      Canadian law to settle their differences. The arbitrators would have
      the benefit of understanding the disputing couple's language and
      cultural background. Some women have been working as mediators out of
      a Toronto mosque for several years, Ali said. The arbitrator's ruling
      is binding, provided both parties have agreed to the process and as
      long the rulings fall within Canadian law. According to Ontario's
      Arbitration Act, an arbitrator's ruling is not enforceable by a court
      of law unless it supports the principles of fairness and equality.


      New Ismaili Centre symbol of peace, brotherhood - Aga Khan


      Muslims in Indian Army Can Wear Beards, Court Rules - 15 Dec 03
      Muslims cannot be sacked from the Indian Army for wearing a beard, the
      Supreme Court said yesterday in what is seen as a landmark ruling. In
      April 1997, Haider Ali was court-martialed out of the Assam Rifles for
      having a beard. A Supreme Court bench consisting of Justice Y.K.
      Sabharwal and Justice B.N. Krishna said Ali's dismissal had been
      "unjust and unfair" and ordered his reinstatement with no loss of
      The Assam Rifles argued Muslims in the armed services were permitted
      to wear beards for short periods on religious grounds -- for instance
      in Ramadan -- but not permanently.
      The issue has exercised Indians above and beyond its significance as a
      question of individual choice because the country's religious
      communities have become increasingly polarized in the last decade.


      Baha'i faithful struggle in shadow of persecution - 13 Dec 03
      The 36-year-old Tehran resident has no university education, is banned
      from holding a fixed job, cannot own property, cannot practice his
      religion and must constantly hide his identity for fear of arrest. For
      Reza and the 300,000 other members of the Baha'i sect, there is no
      respite from unending persecution at the hands of the Shiite religious
      regime. The sect, which was founded in 19th century northern Iran as a
      breakaway from Shiite Islam, has little chance of improving its lot.
      Waves of violent repression of the Baha'is since the 1979 revolution
      have resulted in numerous arrests, imprisonments and allegations of
      torture. The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United
      States says that since 1979, more than 200 Baha'is have been killed in
      Iran and 15 have disappeared, most of them in the tumultuous early
      years following the overthrow of the shah. More recently, human rights
      groups confirmed that Rouhollah Rouhani was executed on July 21, 1998,
      in the eastern city of Mashhad after having served 9 months in
      solitary confinement, accused of converting a Shiite woman to the
      Baha'i faith. At least four Bahai's remain imprisoned for their
      religious beliefs.

      Baha'ism, a religion with more than 6 million adherents worldwide, was
      founded in the mid-19th century by Mirza Husayn Ali, who declared
      himself to be a prophet and adopted the name Baha'u'llah. He and his
      followers, known as Baha'is, quickly were seen as subversive by the
      Ottoman Empire. Baha'u'llah was exiled, first to Baghdad and then to
      Akka in Palestine, where Ottoman authorities kept him under
      imprisonment and house arrest until he died in 1892. The headquarters
      of the new religion was established near Haifa, in what is now Israel,
      where it remains. Generally well educated, Baha'is long were part of
      Iran's elite, with many top professionals and royal court officials
      among their ranks. But when the monarchy was toppled in 1979, the new
      Islamic government viewed the Baha'is as royalist stooges and Israeli
      agents and singled them out for particular persecution.


      Asia cheers Saddam capture; some talk of bin Laden - 14 Dec 03
      In Afghanistan, officials welcomed news of Saddam's capture. "It is
      positive news. It's a positive development. The capturing of Saddam
      Hussein has been one of the primary objectives of the war in Iraq,"
      said Afghan government spokesman Javid Loodin. But on the streets of
      Kabul there was some dismay. Nessar Neyazai, a resident in the
      southern town of Gardez, said: "Because Saddam is a Muslim and we are
      also Muslim people, we are very sad to hear the news about his capture
      by the Americans. "We want the international community to put him on
      trial in an Islamic court and then we will accept whatever that court
      decides about him." And there was talk in Kabul about what this meant
      for the hunt for bin Laden, for whom the U.S. military has been
      searching since it invaded Afghanistan more than two years ago.

      [Najaf] Shiite stronghold in Iraq recovers - 14 Dec 03
      Moammar, the cleric walking down the Prophet's Street, bristled at the
      notion. The clergy should be able to dismiss the president, he
      insisted. They should be the final arbiters of what violates sharia,
      or Islamic law. "Sharia is above the law," said another cleric,
      Mustafa Jabari. "Sharia is the law." With Ghaith Shukur, Jabari edits
      the magazine Holy Najaf, sponsored by Iraq's marjas. Both have served
      in the clergy for nearly a decade. Both have weathered Saddam's
      repression, and both insist their role will be greater than that
      advocated by Jamal Din. They listed the laws that would contradict
      sharia -- inheritance laws that did not generally grant male relatives
      twice as much as female relatives, interest on loans, artificial
      insemination and taxes beyond traditional religious levies. The marjas
      would decide when disputes arose. Sharia itself should be the only
      source of legislation. Anything short of that, they said, endangers
      the country's Islamic identity.


      Kudus jailed a month for polygamy - 11 Dec 03
      For practicing polygamy without the Syariah court's permission, former
      Ampang Jaya Municipal Council enforcement director Kapt (rtd) Abdul
      Kudus Ahmad, 40, was today sentenced to a month's jail and fined RM700
      [EUR 150,-]. However, Syariah Lower Court judge Abas Nordin granted
      him a stay of execution pending appeal. Abdul Kudus had on Nov 12
      pleaded guilty to marrying Nazariah Said at the Islamic Religious
      Council in Songkhla, about 5.30pm on Dec 14 last year when he was
      still married to Halimah Abdul Rahman.[New Straits - Management Times]

      Cemetery plans cause outrage - 13 Dec 03
      It is tough to find burial spots in the Klang Valley and the residents
      organising protests have taken out newspaper advertisements to try to
      stop the construction of the cemetery. The cemetery can be seen from
      nearly every apartment and is barely 20m from the children's
      playground. The residents' action is fast becoming a tale of how
      ordinary Malaysians are using politics to fight their battles. The
      people living in the condominium have enlisted the help of the main
      opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).
      Early this month, the residents noticed the beginning of clearing
      works on land adjacent to their apartments. Only when the ground had
      been levelled two weeks ago and all the trees felled was a sign
      finally put up, detailing what was being done in the preparatory works
      for the cemetery with up to 11,000 graves. 'They took one month to
      clear and bulldoze everything. At least have the courtesy to show us
      the plans first,' one resident, Mr Francis Wu, said. As soon as it
      became clear that a cemetery was coming up, some residents, including
      tenants and others who could afford to, moved out.

      Many in the more than 500 apartments, however, are owned by people
      like accountant Henry Wong, who said he put down his life savings to
      buy his apartment about five years ago. 'Now my wife is scolding me
      every day for buying it,' he said. Real estate agents say the
      apartments, which each cost more than RM300,000 [EUR 64.320,-], lost
      more than RM100,000 in value soon after the plan for the cemetery came
      out. Some government officials have accused the residents, mostly
      non-Muslims, of turning the situation into a racial and religious
      issue. The officials claimed the people living in the condominium knew
      of the plan for the cemetery when they bought their units. The
      residents responded with a legal suit claiming that there was no
      indication that a cemetery would be located next to the condominium
      when the housing project was approved in 1991.

      PAS puts faith in faith healer to win votes - 15 Dec 03
      All hoped that Datuk Harun Din, arguably Malaysia's foremost faith
      healer, could help them. 'All kinds of people seek treatment here.
      Some want to pass exams or to be rich, others want to be beautiful or
      find a cure for a sickness,' said one of his aides. Unlike bomohs -
      traditional Malay medicine men and women - Datuk Harun, a 63-year-old
      former university lecturer, is a ulama, or religious scholar,
      respected by both sides of the Umno-Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS)
      political divide.
      The focus on Datuk Harun has increased since the PAS opposition party
      acknowledged that he would be its trump card in the general election
      widely expected to be held next year. The faith healer - he does not
      like to be called bomoh as it implies that he practises the black arts
      - is the PAS information chief. PAS has not denied speculation that he
      will lead the charge against the Umno-led Barisan Nasional coalition
      running Kedah. There is also no denial he will be the menteri besar
      there if PAS wins. His popularity is such that even big companies and
      government agencies seek him out to exorcise premises of 'unclean

      Syariah courts in dire need of uniform laws, says lawyer - 13 Dec 03
      There is a dire need for a uniform Islamic family law at all the
      Syariah courts in Malaysia because Muslim litigants are facing great
      difficulties in enforcing court orders, lawyer Shamsuriah Sulaiman
      said. "The plight of the Muslims, be they female or male, is
      indescribable, especially when faced with the difficulty and
      frustration of enforcing the judgments, orders or decisions of the
      Syariah courts. "All the 14 states have their own enactments or Acts
      pertaining to Criminal Procedure, Syariah Criminal Offences Law and
      Law of Evidence. "The provisions, sections, chapters and parts are
      also different. Although a chapter or section refers to the same
      thing, the numberings are different. "The Islamic Family Laws,
      Enactments or Acts of the 14 states are also not uniform or standard,"
      she said in her paper entitled "The Administration of the Syariah Law
      Systems: Family Law Concerns and Reforms" at the Malaysian Law
      Conference yesterday.

      She said despite the preparation of a model enactment by a committee
      from the Attorney-General's Chambers, which had been agreed upon by
      the Conference of Rulers, there had been amendments made to the draft
      by various states, thus dashing hopes of having a uniform set of
      family laws. "As the Syariah courts are state courts, their
      judgments, orders and decisions are valid within the states only. "Any
      party concerned can easily evade enforcement by shifting to another
      state or jurisdiction. The Syariah court of one state has no
      jurisdiction to enforce an order or judgment given by the court of
      another state," Shamsuriah said, adding that alternatively, there must
      be legal provisions providing for reciprocal arrangements on the laws
      or enactments in all states. She said there seemed to be such
      arrangements between some of the states but they were on a voluntary
      basis and had no force of law. Shamsuriah also touched on the
      manpower shortage in the Syariah court system, where she claimed there
      was a lack of qualified and trained personnel right from clerks,
      registrars, summons servers and bailiffs to judges.


      Moroccan king bridges divide on marriage law - 15 Dec 03
      Forty-year-old King Muhammad has swung the full weight of his
      monarchical authority behind the proposals, which he has already
      outlined to parliament. Feminists had wanted polygamy outlawed, along
      with the husband's right to verbally divorce a wife without giving a
      reason. But both practices are endorsed in the Sharia. King Muhammad
      told politicians: "I cannot, as Commander of the Faithful... forbid
      what the Almighty has permitted." However, his religious role as
      Moroccan monarch allowed the king to face down conservative Islamists
      and propose changes unheard of in most Arab countries. It will become
      difficult to secure a judge's approval to take a second wife. And no
      verbal divorces will be valid until approved in court. On the street,
      most women had heard about the new law.
      Dropping its previous trenchant opposition to change, the Justice and
      Development Party (PJD), the only Islamists in the Moroccan
      parliament, gave its "firm endorsement" to the reforms. They would
      "benefit the Moroccan family and all its elements, husband, wife and
      children," said a PJD communique. Nadia Yassin, a spokeswoman for
      al-Adl wal-Ihsan (Justice and Charity) Islamist movement, also
      approved the revised proposals: "We have often stated that the text of
      the Mudawana is not sacred," she said. This new-found flexibility
      among the Islamists is a sign of the times, wrote Abubakr Jamai,
      editor of the independent weekly Le Journal Hebdomadaire.
      Some women's rights activists have reservations about how the changes
      will pan out in practice. Judges applying family law are currently all
      male; re-training has been promised. From the Islamist camp, Yassin
      said the legal changes would come up against some harsh grassroots
      realities, in the conservative and impoverished North African country
      where half the population of 30 million is illiterate. "For example,
      when the new law speaks of dividing up property acquired during a
      marriage, what possessions are the poor, the great majority of the
      population, to divide up?" she asked.
      The new law "gives the Moroccan woman back her honour," said Abd
      Allah, a taxi driver. "But women have to understand the real meaning
      of the changes, so they don't use them to rebel against their
      husbands." Moroccan women interviewed, often as outspoken as any
      western feminist, had no such misgivings. "This new law will set some
      limits to men's domination," said student Zihur Machichi.


      Kaduna teeters on balance - 12 Dec 03
      Kaduna, the ancient capital in the north of Nigeria has over the past
      four years experienced the worst religious violence in the history of
      Nigeria. Last year's riots here were sparked by an article in a local
      newspaper over the Miss World contestants raising objections from
      Muslim extremists. The article jokingly said the girls were so pretty,
      the prophet Mohammed might well have chosen a bride from among them.
      At least 200 people died in riots in Kaduna and Abuja following
      publication the article.
      Since then government has formed a committee for religious harmony and
      non-governmental organisations regularly convene conferences to
      discuss reconciliation between the two groups. Bishop Josiah Idowu
      Fearon, Anglican archbishop of Kaduna, leads the talks. He is an
      expert on Sharia laws and has a doctorate in Islamic studies. He
      believes Kaduna governor Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi has made some headway
      towards integrating the city following the crisis. "Should Sharia
      succeed in Nigeria, it would be because other states had learnt from
      Kaduna's model. The governor has ensured that Sharia only applies to
      Muslims. If a dispute arises between the two religions a magistrate is
      required to rule in court on the issue." Makarfi, however, is
      unpopular among his fellow Muslims. They call him "the Reverend"
      Makarfi and are opposed to what they refer to as his pro-Christian
      leanings. Fearon suspects Makarfi's second term of office as governor
      is largely due to Christian support from the south, since they regard
      him as a father figure who has their interests at heart.
      In Kaduna residents often discuss gradual integration, many however,
      are upset about the fact that nobody had been prosecuted for the many
      deaths and the destruction resulting from the riots. They believe the
      culprits should be held as examples and punished.

      Datti Ahmed Challenges Nigeria Medical Association On Competence
      http://allafrica.com/stories/200312120791.html [Daily Trust - Abuja]
      .. - 12 Dec 03
      The president of the Supreme Council on Sharia in Nigeria, DR Ibrahim
      Ahmed Datti has said that the recent threat by the President of
      Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) to withdraw his licence to practice
      as medical doctor was very irresponsible and foolish because the NMA
      is not in charge of medical practice in Nigeria. Dr Datti who is one
      of the old members of the association received the threat recently
      following his call to stop the polio immunisation programme in
      Northern states as a result of suspected contamination of the vaccine
      with anti-fertility steroid.
      The medical doctor said that fortunately their position at the Supreme
      Council on Sharia on the polio vaccines has been vindicated by the
      latest results of laboratory tests carried out in Abuja, Lagos and
      South Africa which, he said, all proved that the polio vaccines were
      indeed contaminated with an anti-fertility drugs. [??] He said that
      the Sharia council will soon make its official pronouncement on the
      findings of the tests conducted.
      Datti Ahmed, the president of the Kano-based Sharia (Islamic Law)
      Supreme council, said the vaccine is laced with anti-fertility drugs
      and is part of a U.S.-led conspiracy to depopulate the developing


      [Urdu Press Review] The inferno of lower courts - 12 Dec 03
      According to "Nawa-e-Waqt" (12 November 2003), a sessions judge in
      Bahawalpur, Mukhtar Khokhar, decided to fine one Niaz Rs 50 thousand
      [EUR ] and hang him for insulting the Holy Prophet PBUH. Niaz was
      sitting at a tea stall in his village when one called Baqir came and
      said "salam" to him. Niaz did not reply to the "salam" upon which he
      was reprimanded. In the argument that followed, Niaz was said to have
      offered insult. According to daily "Pakistan" the blasphemer was an
      extremely poor man whose tribe was known for its backwardness. He was
      punished because he did not answer the "salam" of a man belonging to
      the superior tribe. After the quarrel, a religious leader (mazhabi
      rahnuma) declared that he had blasphemed. The sessions judge did what
      the people wanted.
      According to "Jang" (11 November 2003), The Lahore High Court remarked
      while hearing a hudood case that the law was being abused by parents
      offended at their daughter's act of getting married without their
      consent. The case was about a lawfully married couple against whom the
      daughter's parents had registered a hudood FIR accusing the boy of
      having abducted their daughter. Some parents register an FIR under
      Zina Ordinance which is tantamount to destroying the lives of the two
      legally married individuals in the eyes of law. The police exploits
      the situation by maltreating the accused. They insult the girl who is
      married in the eyes of law but a fornicator in their eyes. The court
      advised the parents that once the children had married by their free
      will and under the law of the land they should accept the fact and not
      ruin their lives by setting the police on them.
      Daily "Jang" (13 November 2003) editorialised that after chairman
      Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Mufti Munibur Rehman asked the government to
      give the Committee the status of the Supreme Court and force everyone
      to abide by its decisions, the quarrel over the sighting of the
      Ramadan moon in 2003 had become a dispute between the Barelvis, who
      are behind Mufti Munib together with the Shia community, and the
      Deobandis in the NWFP and Karachi, who have opposed him. Mufti Munib
      had announced 28 October as the first day of Ramadan while the opposed
      Deobandi verdict was in favour of 27 October. The real problem created
      by these two dates was the determination of dates for "etekaf"
      (special vigil) and "shab qadr" (night of apportionment). Because
      Ramadan was started in Pakistan on two different dates, there would be
      much confusion on the night of "etekaf".
      According to "Khabrain" (14 November 2003), NWFP took first place as a
      killer of women in the name of honour. The NWFP killed 2044 women in
      2003. Punjab killed many but only 316 cases were registered under
      which only 50 killers were apprehended. All the women in Punjab were
      killed by their brothers. In Sindh, 411 cases were registered and most
      women were done to death in the "karo-kari" system.
      According to "Jang" (18 November 2003), a seminar on Zakat held in
      Karachi, disclosed that Zakat and Ushr were imposed in 1980 through an
      ordinance; and in 2003 a mere 2.5 million people were being helped
      with the collection. Every year, on the first day of Ramadan, banks
      deducted 2.5 percent of the money sitting in savings accounts. The
      average deduction each year comes to Rs 6 billion [EUR 85 m] which is
      distributed to the poor through 25,000 local committees. Each year,
      the poor increase in number but Zakat remains the same, which means
      that the promise behind the system has not been fulfilled. Private
      institutions that run on charity -- much of which is payment of Zakat
      by private citizens -- have done a much better job of coming to the
      help of the needy. There are scandals involved in Zakat collection.
      Each year on the advent of Ramadan, billions of rupees are moved out
      of the private accounts to avoid deductions. The citizens are
      justified in doing this because Zakat as an annual tax can be deducted
      from a day-old account. First the Shia community was exempted, but
      when the Sunnis started posing as Shias, the Supreme Court mercifully
      exempted the Sunnis as well. Zakat committees that soak up the Zakat
      money for their own maintenance are inefficient and it is insulting
      for a poor citizen to approach them each year for a handout which
      averages out at Rs 600 [EUR 8,56] per month. The ulema at the seminar
      came to the conclusion that Zakat should be left to the private
      citizen to distribute. Some ulema thought that savings accounts should
      not be subjected to deductions. One opinion was that other more
      efficient modes of poverty alleviation were suggested by Islam in
      addition to Zakat.

      [Punjab] Eye-for-eye law in Pak province - 13 Dec 03
      A Pakistani man has been sentenced to be blinded by acid after a judge
      found him guilty of doing the same to his former fiancee, court
      officials said today. Mohammad Sajid carried out an acid attack on
      Rabia Bibi in June after her parents broke off their engagement and
      gave her hand to someone else. The judge in the anti-terrorism court
      in Bahawalpur, a town located in central Punjab province, ruled that
      the convict be given a matching punishment under the Islamic law of
      "Qisas" [retribution]. The law, enforced in Pakistan during the
      military rule of General Zia-ul-Haq in 1979, says a culprit should be
      handed a similar punishment to the crime committed unless pardoned by
      the victim or the victim's family. "Acid drops will be thrown into his
      eyes in line with the Islamic laws," Mohammad Shahid, a court official
      said. Sajid confessed that he had thrown acid on Bibi's face in
      revenge for her family not keeping its promise, the court official
      said. The attack blinded and badly mutilated the girl, he added.
      Strict rulings based on Islamic justice handed out by lower courts in
      Pakistan are often overturned by higher courts.

      [NWFP] JAC protests against Hudood laws - 13 Dec 03
      The Joint Action Committee (JAC) -- a group of various civil society
      organisations -- on Friday staged a demonstration in front of the
      North West Frontier Province (NWFP) Assembly against the Hudood
      Ordinance, demanding the federal government rerepeal "the
      controversial laws." The protestors, mostly women, were wearing black
      chadors and holding buntings and banners inscribed with slogans,
      "Hudood Ordinance should be repealed immediately" and "Hudood laws not
      acceptable". The banners also bore the signatures of anti-Hudood
      Ordinance supporters. Some opposition members came out of the assembly
      to show solidarity with the protesters and signed the banners.
      Rukhshanda Naz, the resident director of the Aurat Foundation in
      Peshawar, told Daily Times there was no mention of the Hudood laws in
      the Quran. "We want to have a dialogue with the provincial government
      on the issue," she said. Ms Naz said women were being exploited
      because of this ordinance and this exploitation must come to an end."
      Jamila from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said the
      discriminatory laws in the Hudood Ordinance must be abolished.

      [NWFP] Bootlegger's paradise in "Taliban" Pakistan province -14 Dec 03
      A year after a conservative Islamic bloc swept to power in northwest
      Pakistan, clandestine alcohol sellers speak of soaring demand for
      vodka and whisky which are strictly prohibited. "Since the mullahs
      came into power we have been earning a lot of money," said one illicit
      trader in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Asking not to be
      identified, he said he was one of 15 dealers working for the largest
      bootlegging network in Peshawar, the teeming provincial capital. The
      group, he added, shifted alcohol worth $400,000 during this year's
      Islamic holiday of Eid Al-Fitr alone.
      The [MMA] coalition has enforced some changes in its first year in
      power, with the imposition in June of Islamic sharia law the most
      notable. Advertisements featuring women have been taken down, music is
      banned on public transport, the main theatre is largely mothballed
      except for Islamic events, and the local government plans a separate
      university and medical college for women. The general feeling in
      Peshawar, close to the Afghan border, appears to be that in a deeply
      conservative Muslim region the changes have had limited impact.
      But the coalition has critics who warn against complacency.
      Afrasiab Khattak, a leading human rights advocate and opposition
      politician in the province, said the coalition's policies were
      creating an environment in which extremism could flourish. "They have
      created an atmosphere that breeds intolerance," he said. "This MMA
      government has created a cultural climate that is detrimental to human
      rights and women's rights in particular."
      While people in Peshawar shrug off perceptions in the West of a
      repressive, Taliban-style government in the province, moves to set up
      small cleric-led groups with the right to dispense justice, settle
      disputes and enforce sharia law have set alarm bells ringing.
      [Provincial president] Durrani said "hasba", or "accountability"
      legislation was designed to make judicial decisions faster, and people
      had the right to challenge rulings by the new authorities in court.
      Opponents counter the "hasba" law may lead to religious police units
      that impose sharia by force if necessary. Rahimullah Yusufzai, a
      newspaper editor and leading Afghan expert, said he feared such groups
      would abuse their powers, but played down the coalition's ability to
      enforce Taliban-style rule within the province. "I don't think they
      are trying to emulate the Taliban," he said. "They claim to have come
      through a democratic election and know they have got other forces to
      deal with - intelligence, the federal government." An estimated 90
      percent of provincial revenues come from federal coffers, giving
      Islamabad leverage over the province's affairs. As for prohibition and
      other restrictions, the feeling, at least for now, is that they are
      largely symbolic -- with alcohol a case in point. "If you tell your
      kids not to do something then they will do it," remarked one of the
      bootlegger's regular clients.

      [NWFP] Editorial: The problem with local government - 15 Dec 03
      In the NWFP the MMA government had its first clash with the federal
      government over the local bodies when it started investigating
      corruption among the nazims. After the nazims announced they would
      resign en masse and thus put an end to General Musharraf's most
      important reform, the NRB sprang into action to protect that over
      which it has no jurisdiction, and the general had to issue a warning
      to the Peshawar government. Today, one of the items the MMA wishes to
      discuss under the LFO with the Jamali government is Schedule Six of
      the Constitution relating to the local bodies system. MMA leader
      Maulana Fazlur Rehman has made it clear publicly that if he could help
      it he would scrap the system. One reason for this is that the MMA MPAs
      are keener than the secular politicians to do local development
      programmes to retain their proximity to the electorate and have no
      stomach for legislation which they think has already been done in the
      Quran and all that the province needs is its enforcement though the
      Hisba Act. In Punjab, law minister Raja Busharat has expressed his
      opposition to the Police Order 2002 without which the local bodies
      can't run efficiently.

      The odds are against local government, but if it goes as an unwanted
      part of the LFO baggage, it will be a tragedy. Devolution must take
      place, even if it means that more feudal politicians get their scions
      elected as nazims as happened in 2001 too. The system is taking a
      beating but if it survives an early reversal it will be good for the


      Arafat's Mufti: No such thing as a 'Wailing Wall' - 13 Dec 03
      On the same day that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat was
      quoted as saying that he recognizes Jewish sovereignty over the
      Western Wall, his mufti, Ikremah Sabri, said on Friday that there is
      no such thing as a "Wailing Wall." In an interview last week, Arafat
      reportedly told Henry Siegman, director of the United States/Middle
      East Project of the Council on Foreign Relations and former executive
      director of the American Jewish Congress, that he accepts Jewish
      sovereignty over the Wailing Wall and over the Jewish quarter of the
      Old City.
      But the mufti, who was appointed by Arafat, told thousands of
      worshippers attending Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque that the
      Western Wall is part of the Al-Aqsa mosque and that it belongs to the
      Muslim Wakf (trust). "Seventy years ago the Committee of the League of
      Nations recognized the Al-Buraq Wall (Western Wall) as being part of
      the walls of the Al-Aqsa mosque," Sabri said. The mufti pointed out
      that non-Islamic institutions accepted at the time the fact that the
      Al-Buraq Wall was a Muslim wall and attacked those who refer to it as
      the Western Wall. Sabri's sermon was largely devoted to criticizing
      the Geneva Accord, which gives the Jews sovereignty over the Western
      Wall and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.

      Seven Israelis shot near holy site in West Bank city - 11 Dec 03
      Seven Israelis were shot and wounded, one critically, early Friday in
      Nablus as they tried to enter a disputed holy site, rescue officials
      and the military said. The extremist Jews were driving in a car near
      Joseph's Tomb, a site inside Nablus, the largest Palestinian city in
      the West Bank, when they were shot, apparently by Palestinians. The
      military sent soldiers to extricate them. Some Jews believe that the
      biblical Joseph is buried at the site, but Palestinians say it is the
      tomb of a sheik. Israeli soldiers abandoned the site at the beginning
      of the current round of violence in October 2000, and Palestinians
      ransacked and burned it. The Israeli military banned Israelis from
      entering the site, but Jews from the Breslav sect often sneak into
      Nablus to pray there.


      Fiqh Academy to Meet - 13 Dec 03
      Leading scholars attending the Islamic Fiqh Academy meeting, which
      begins here today, will focus on religious extremism, according to Dr.
      Abdullah Al-Turki, secretary-general of the Muslim World League.
      King Fahd Calls for Streamlining Fatwas - 13 Dec 03
      In a written message to the opening session of a conference of the
      Islamic Fiqh Academy in Makkah, the king said scholars must "highlight
      the dangers which extremism poses to Muslim faith and conduct," the
      Saudi Press Agency reported. Islamic scholars must join hands to
      "correct the flaws in the thinking of some Muslims through dialogue in
      seminars, conferences and via the media," said the king in the
      message, which was read out by Makkah Deputy Governor Abdullah ibn
      Dawood Al-Faiz. The academy, an affiliate of the Makkah-based Muslim
      World League (MWL), groups Islamic scholars from Muslim states. The
      seven-day meeting will discuss various issues from an Islamic

      The king urged the MWL to exert more efforts to coordinate with
      Islamic organizations worldwide to hold an emergency meeting of fiqh
      councils in order to issue unified fatwas on various issues concerning
      Muslims. "This must be one of the priorities at this time," he added.
      The scholars should use religious arguments to annul "aberrant
      fatwas," the message said in reference to religious edicts issued by
      some individuals who legitimized militancy and suicide bombings.

      The king also called on the academy to combat the practice of
      "takfir," whereby Muslim extremists declare other Muslims infidels and
      heretics, warning the practice would trigger inter-Islamic strife and
      division. Scholars should "tackle the strife caused by 'takfir' that
      is rearing its head in some Islamic societies," he said. "There is
      nothing more dangerous than the 'takfir'," he warned. "Terror
      organizations have taken advantage of the fact that some young people
      are ignorant of the true tenets of religion and enlisted them to
      engage in acts of killing and violence," the message said. Officials
      have in recent months repeatedly called to combat the "deviant
      thinking" that has led to terror in the name of Islam.
      King Fahd's message urged the scholars to provide a clear meaning for
      Islamic terms such as jihad, jamaa, dar al-harb and dar al-salam. "We
      expect that you clarify the correct meaning of these terms to serve as
      a reference for the young," he added. He also asked the scholars to
      simplify Islamic jurisprudence in a way that would be comprehensible
      to ordinary people and help them deal with contemporary issues.
      "This requires cooperation between the Fiqh academy, the colleges of
      Shariah and the jurisprudence departments in universities and research
      centers," he said and asked the MWL to coordinate between them.

      Saudi scholar recants Fatwa on militancy - 15 Dec 03
      A leading Saudi religious scholar, third in a row, supporting
      militants, has recanted and withdrawn his earlier "Fatwa" (edict),
      describing it as a grave mistake, a news report said. Sheikh Ahmad Bin
      Hamoud Al-Khalidi revoked his Fatwa in an interview telecast by the
      state-run Saudi Television. Al-Khalidi was the third scholar detained
      by Saudi authorities this year for promoting militancy, who renounced
      his support for militants and condemned terrorist attacks. He is also
      one of the three scholars arrested by Saudi authorities last May
      following the Riyadh bombings for issuing Fatwas in which he had
      declared killing of security personnel during confrontations "halal"

      Earlier, Al-Khalidi had also ruled against giving information to
      security forces relating to the 19 suspects named by Saudi Ministry of
      Interior a week before the May 12 bombing. Last month, two Saudi
      scholars including Ali Al-Khudair and Nasir Al-Fahd had recanted their
      Fatwas on the Saudi Television.


      JI reloaded - Could it happen ? - 12 Dec 03
      At Annual National Day dinners in his Nee Soon South Community Centre,
      mosque chairman Suratman Hussein would sit at 'the Muslim table', away
      from his non-Muslim friends. Neither he nor they thought anything of
      it. The seating arrangement made sense as it was easier for the
      catering companies to serve halal and non-halal food and some Muslims
      felt safer that their halal dishes were kept apart. But at this year's
      dinner, the arrangements changed. Mr Suratman agreed to dine at the
      same table with the non-Muslims, he eating his halal meal and they
      their own food. 'It must have been confusing for the caterer, but the
      message was clear enough. We all have to make that extra effort to
      reach out,' he says. 'That polite distance one used to keep from each
      other when discussing race and religion needs to be bridged,' he adds.
      Muis president Alami Musa says Muslims are on their toes now, and have
      become wary of any teaching that might deviate from the norm and even
      more so if it espouses violence. According to the White Paper on the
      arrests released earlier this year, the JI is a clandestine operation
      which preyed on and indoctrinated ordinary, unsuspecting men by
      playing on their guilt for not being 'devout Muslims'. 'But now
      people are more wary of deviationist teachings and less
      psychologically predisposed to indoctrination,' says Mr Alami. Last
      year, Muis and Pergas (Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious
      Teachers Association) launched an online directory of more than 350
      qualified Islamic teachers. These days, Muis now receives about a
      call every three days from members of the public enquiring about
      teachers from whom they are planning to take lessons. Mosques also say
      they receive similar calls.
      Muis also investigates complaints of deviationist teachings but says
      that since the arrests, none of the cases has turned out to be
      serious. It has stepped up its vetting system of visiting preachers.
      They are now asked to meet Muis officials for an interview before they
      deliver their sermons. In the past, the organisers of such talks
      only needed to submit applications about the preachers to secure
      approval. Madrasah students embarking on a religious education
      overseas are also being guided by Muis. Since last year, it has
      begun conducting pre-departure programmes and it keeps in touch with
      students while they are overseas. A source tells Insight that Muis
      is also considering posting a permanent representative in the Middle
      East to keep a watching brief on Singaporean students.


      Appeal: Training helps impoverished mothers of Sudan to survive
      .. - 12 Dec 03
      Sunlight streams through the barred windows of Port Sudan prison.
      Conditions are grim: a cramped communal cell, no beds, foul-smelling
      latrines and a pair of stern-faced female wardens. In the shadows sits
      a young woman, cradling a baby at her breast and weeping bitterly.
      A month earlier, police caught 22-year-old Mary Panasio brewing
      alcohol, a serious offence under Sudan's strict Sharia law. The judge
      threw her into the town's prison for women. Wiping away the tears, she
      says she is both guilty and innocent. Yes, she had brewed beer. But
      she was a Christian, not a Muslim. At home in Bentiu, 900 miles to
      the south, alcohol production is a time-honoured tradition. And here
      in the north, on the edge of the Red Sea, it offers a rare form of
      Thousands of women from southern Sudan have been arrested in the north
      for illegally brewing alcohol, usually with dates and yeast. Many are
      repeat offenders. In Port Sudan, Ockenden's jailhouse programme
      offers them a way out. "Alcohol is a profitable, but risky, business.
      We show the women that once they are released, there are other ways of
      making a living," says Amal Alkashif, the local programme manager.
      About 20 prisoners cram into Port Sudan's communal prison. More than
      half of them are on alcohol charges. Other inmates include a
      prostitute caught with a sailor, marijuana dealers and a woman who had
      an abortion.
      Under Ockenden's vocational training programme, the prisoners learn
      skills so they can earn money legitimately. Simple courses teach them
      how to run a tea stand, make tie-dyed T-shirts or sell cooked lunches.
      One of their lecturers was a chef from the town's sparkling new Hilton
      hotel. "Once they get out of prison, we provide grants and help them
      to get up and running," says Ms Alkashif. But a better solution is to
      keep the women out of prison in the first place.


      Officially Halal - 12 Dec 03
      The army has obtained permission from the Central Islamic Committee to
      use an official Halal seal on canned food aid it distributes to Iraqi
      villagers. Maj-Gen Narudom Thiensai said the mark would appear on
      canned deep-fried ostrich and beef, produced by the Quartermaster's
      Department. In addition, Joint Logistics assistant chief Maj-Gen
      Kittipat Sinpheng asked the public to donate clothes for distribution
      to Iraqis.


      Turkish Islamic students continue protest against headscarf ban
      .. [Turkish commercial NTV television on 11 December]
      Girl students at the Antalya [southern Turkey] Anadolu Imam- Hatip
      [religious clergy] high school who do not want to remove their
      headscarves in the school yard have been staging an action for the
      past two days against the demand to remove their headscarves. The
      meeting held by the school administration today to convince the
      students failed to yield any results.
      Commenting on the action to NTV, Tayyar Altikulac, chairman of the
      National Assembly Education Committee, said that the Islamic headdress
      issue, which is a problem in Turkey, should be resolved by the
      politicians, and particularly by the government. Altikulac pointed out
      that following the accession of the AKP [Justice and Development
      Party] to power, the public expected the Islamic headdress issue to be
      resolved. Describing the action at the Antalya school as the explosion
      of a democratic struggle, Altikulac advised the students to be
      patient. He added that the matter must be solved through a consensus
      between the AKP and the CHP [Republican People's Party].


      Police wrong to bar female officer from wearing Muslim head scarf
      http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=10652655 - 12 Dec 03
      Federal authorities say Philadelphia police wrongly barred a female
      officer from wearing a Muslim head scarf, a ruling that could lead to
      a civil rights lawsuit against the city. The local U.S. Equal
      Employment Opportunity Commission office ruled last month that the
      department appeared to have violated the rights of Kimberlie Webb, 41,
      who has been on the force for eight years. The EEOC said the
      department lacked valid reason or legal precedent in threatening to
      fire Webb after she came to work Aug. 12 wearing the dark blue hijab,
      also known as a khimar, on the top and back of her head. The city
      declined the EEOC offer of conciliation services, according to Police
      Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson. Under EEOC policy, the matter is
      then referred to the Justice Department, which could file a civil
      rights lawsuit against the city.

      Leftists Attack Borders - 12 Dec 03
      on December 2, Asa Hutchinson, the undersecretary of Homeland
      Security's Border and Transportation Security Department announced
      that the program would be terminated in order to implement a broader
      program to target all those who enter the country regardless of nation
      of origin, age or sex. This month the original program begins a
      re-registration process which is still required for previous
      registrants, however under the new program re-registration would be on
      a case by case basis. Called the US-VISIT program, the expansion of
      the registration process will require all who enter the country to
      provide "biometric identifiers" and detailed information of travel
      plans, planned places of residency and other personal information and
      be digitally photographed all of which will be entered into a national
      database. Information would be updated when the registrant leaves the
      county. The US-VISIT program is set to begin in January 2004 and be
      phased in during the course of the year coming fully online by 2005.
      "The change will allow us to focus our efforts on the implementation
      of US-VISIT while preserving our ability to interview some visitors
      when necessary," Hutchinson said in a press release announcing the
      new program. Mandatory interviews, a requirement under the previous
      system will no longer be required but red flagged cases would be
      subject to greater scrutiny.
      According to press reports Shukri Abed, spokesman for the D.C.-based
      Middle East Institute, suggested the move may have been deferential
      overture by the administration to quell growing Arab mistrust of U.S.
      policies. "Obviously, we have reached a very low point in
      Arab-American relations. (Phasing out NSEERS is) absolutely an
      improvement, but the question is if it is a tactical improvement or
      strategic improvement. (Bush administration officials) know the anger
      that prevails in the Arab world, so America has to wake up (to) that,"
      Abed told Radio Free Europe. "People are coming from the Middle East
      now very angry, and maybe we should go to the source of that anger.
      Most Arabs are very angry at the United States, and some of them take
      it to the extreme, of course, by trying to harm the United States, and
      that's what we want to avoid. [Security] should go beyond searching
      people and humiliating people. It should go to the roots of this
      problem by countering it through real aid -- socially and economically
      and politically -- to the Arab world."
      This move to expand the program is good news to those who seek to
      improve the ability of Homeland Security to weed out not only
      terrorists but those who have taken advantage of lax immigration
      enforcement, entering into the country on temporary visas with no
      intention of ever leaving. The Federation of Americans for Immigration
      Reform welcomed the program expansion so long as it meant a universal
      registration requirement for those entering our country.


      Qurban For Life Launched In Conjunction With Aidiladha - 12 Dec 03
      A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed Friday between the
      People's Mental Revolution Movement (REVO) and Muslim Aid Australia
      (MAA) through their joint venture project called "Qurban for Life
      2004" in conjunction with Hari Raya Aidiladha next year. The program
      aims to carry out qurban with the purpose of distributing the meat to
      the millions of muslims in dire need of food. REVO patron Datuk
      Hishamuddin Tun Hussein said a more proper alms programme using the
      latest technology would enable the meat slaughtered for qurban to be
      distributed to those who truly needed them throughout the world.
      "The qurban meat which is processed, cooked and canned will be given
      to those who are in dire need regardless of where they may be," he
      said at the launching of the project at the Putra Mosque, here Friday.
      Each contribution for qurban* is RM350 [EUR 75,-] which includes one
      animal (a sheep or ram) as well as administration and delivery costs
      and each sheep can approximately fit 24 cans, each weighing 340
      grammes. A sheep or ram chosen according to the conditions set by
      Islam will be reserved to be sacrificed on the Aidiladha and
      slaughtered in halal facilities in Australia. The slaughtering will be
      carried out on Feb 1, 2 and 3, 2004. The project will benefit the
      destitute from Bangladesh, Palestine, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, Ethiopia,
      Indonesia, Timor Leste, Afghanistan and Cambodia.
      * http://www.najaco.com/islam/my_notes/2002/february.htm
      In Islam, qurban is an act of worship performed by Muslims on
      specific days (10th, 11th or 12th of Zhul Hijjah in the Islamic
      calendar) whereby livestock are slaughtered and distributed for
      consumption to the poor, and friends and relatives of the performer.
      Basic conditions of slaughtering during Qurban [..]

      [*] Copyright: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 -
      http://liimirror.warwick.ac.uk/uscode/17/107.html - this material is
      distributed without profit for research and educational purposes. If
      you wish to use copyrighted material from this list for purposes that
      go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright
      owner. [USA: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html%5d
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