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Sharia News Watch 96

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  • Enzo Picardie
    Sharia News Watch 96 : a collection newsquotes on Sharia, for research & educational purposes only. [*] Shortcut URL:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 5, 2004
      Sharia News Watch 96 : 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 :


      [Taliban] The demise of U.S. diplomacy - 03 Jan 04

      Afghanistan adopts new constitution - 05 Jan 04
      Islamic Sharia law is not specifically mentioned in the draft
      document, the BBC's Crispin Thorold reports from Kabul. But observers
      say one article could allow Sharia to be introduced by the back door.
      Sharia, the strict interpretation of Islamic law, appears to have been
      introduced by the back door. The constitution was amended to say that
      "no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred
      religion of Islam". Human-rights campaigners said the wording left all
      laws subject to interpretation by the supreme court, which has
      traditionally been controlled by strict Islamists.


      Focus on Haj insurance - 05 Jan 04
      New laws making life and health insurance compulsory for Haj pilgrims
      were highlighted at a Press briefing at Takaful International
      yesterday. The regulations were introduced last year but are only
      being enforced by the government this year. .. The insurance allows
      the families of pilgrims to receive money in the event of their deaths
      and also allows them to get treatment in Saudi Arabia in case of
      illness. The BD 7.500 [EUR 15.700,-] fee is tacked onto the
      transportation companies fees when pilgrims go in groups to Mecca.


      Dowry is unlawful in Islam by Ameer Hamzah - 05 Jan 04


      Hijab Ban Severe Blow To France's Values: ECFR - 05 Jan 04
      The European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) said Sunday,
      January4 , that forcing a Muslim woman to remove her hijab in France
      is one of the most discriminatory measures that runs in sharp contrast
      to true French values. Concluding a session on the controversial issue
      of hijab, the Council said France's anti-hijab drive extremely
      infringes upon the rights of Muslim women and down-tread their
      "Liberal secularism is not an excuse to pass stringent laws that strip
      people of their enshrined human rights, basically the freedom of
      religion. "Hijab is an obligation for Muslim women and not just a
      mere religious or political symbol, but rater a part and parcel in the
      life of a Muslim woman," it said. The Council also said that the Grand
      Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Mohammad Sayed Tantawi, should have asked
      France to respect human rights, human rights conventions and the U.N.
      Charter when touching on the issue.
      The Council has set up an ad hoc committee to address the issue with
      the bodies concerned in France. The committee includes prominent
      Muslim scholars from all over the world, notably the former
      Mauritanian justice minister Sheikh Abdullah Ould Beih, the head of
      the Islamic Organizations in Europe, Dr. Ahmad Al-Rawi, the and Dr.
      Mohammad Al-Hawarri, a top advisor to Germany's Islamic Council.

      [comment] French tussle over Muslim head scarf is positive push for
      women's rights - 05 Jan 04
      the proposed ban has also kicked loose a debate among Muslims
      everywhere. Indeed, a growing number of Muslims worldwide are coming
      forward to say the hijab is not a valid symbol either of freedom or
      Islam. "Neither the Koran, nor the hadith [the sayings of the prophet
      Muhammad] require women to wear a head scarf," says Gammal Banna, the
      Egyptian author of several works on the rights of Muslim women and
      brother of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, the influential
      radical Islamic movement with offshoots worldwide. While telling
      Agence France-Presse that he did not support the French president's
      interference in the personal choice to wear a head scarf, Mr. Banna
      noted, "The head scarf is not an obligation, but derives from an
      erroneous reading of the Koran."
      As a "symbol," the hijab says that women's bodies are sinful, that
      women really shouldn't be out in public, that there can be no innocent
      interaction between women and men, and that the obligation for
      guaranteeing public morality rests on women alone. Increasingly,
      Muslim women and their supporters - even in arch- conservative Saudi
      Arabia, where some of the most severe restrictions on women have the
      force of law - argue that extreme dress codes for women are not just
      un-Islamic, but anti- Islamic. The Koran supports their position.
      "There is no compulsion in religion," it states. A woman who wears the
      hijab out of fear acquires no merit, and the person exercising the
      compulsion is committing a sin.
      There are three sections in the Koran that deal with the issue of
      dress. The first instructs men and women to dress modestly. All people
      are to cover "that which is customarily concealed," in other words,
      what we think of as "private parts." A second passage advises the
      prophet Muhammad to "enjoin the believing women to draw their covering
      over their bosom. That is more proper, so that they will be respected
      and not molested." A third passage deals only with Muhammad's
      wives. Muhammad didn't like his younger wives to be chatted up by
      young men who didn't recognize them as members of his household. When
      fundamentalists argue that Muslim women should conceal themselves,
      remain secluded, and not interact freely with men, they refer to this
      passage, which was never intended to apply to average Muslim women:
      "Wives of the Prophet, you are not like other women. If you fear
      Allah, do not be careless in your speech, lest the lecherous should
      lust after you. Show discretion in what you say. Stay in your homes
      and do not display your beauty." Fundamentalists contend that
      unveiled women inspire lewd thoughts in men, leading them into sin.
      Islam, however, holds that no one is responsible for the sins of
      another. The Koran even tells Muslims how to deal with temptation:
      "Tell the believing men to lower their gaze, and tell the believing
      women to lower their gaze."


      From better to verse - 03 Jan 04
      The British empire had T.E. Lawrence, and the American Army has Alan
      King, a Koran-toting colonel who woos Iraqi sheiks with verses from
      the Muslim holy book.
      The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) has been slow to
      realize the importance of tribal affiliations in Iraq, earning
      criticism from political analysts and anger from Iraqis. But on Dec.
      4, the CPA approved Col. King's pet project - a council of tribal
      sheiks that will meet regularly and dispense advice to coalition
      forces. As deputy director of the newly created Office of Provincial
      Outreach, under a State Department official, he will be the liaison to
      Iraq's major tribes.
      "He's got a real knack for crossing cultural boundaries and
      establishing trust," says Brig. Gen. David Blackledge, the commanding
      general of the 352d Civil Affairs Command, which is responsible for
      civil affairs at the national level in Iraq.
      Sheik al-Shaalan was the perfect U.S. ally. A Shi'ite sheik from the
      southern town of Diwaniya, he had a good relationship with the U.S.
      State Department. But when he offered his counsel - and the loyalty of
      his 200,000-member clan - to the CPA and the military, they ignored
      his suggestions. "I noticed something among the officers: They have
      this arrogance, and this arrogance really hurts them a lot," says
      Sheik al-Shaalan, a regal 53-year-old who studied law and political
      science in London and Baghdad. "Everyone, even a small officer, thinks
      he's a big man."
      The sheiks appreciate his diligence. Sheik Adnan al-Janabi is a
      London-trained economist who heads the 750,000-member Janabi tribe.
      He's usually quite critical of American occupation forces, but he has
      nothing but praise for Col. King. "He knows a lot about the Koran,"
      Sheik al-Janabi said, smiling and fingering the string of prayer beads
      in his hands. "He tells me about verses I didn't have memorized."

      [Fallujah] U.S. forces try to break old habits of local governments
      .. - 05 Jan 04
      A few weeks ago, U.S. soldiers controlling the area west of Baghdad
      discovered a new kind of enemy when they hired 150 locals to pick up
      garbage in this unruly city of factories and mosques. When workers
      mentioned to soldiers how much they had been paid, the Army realized
      that the local official it had hired to oversee the cleanup had
      pocketed a couple thousand dollars of the workers' salaries.
      New governments are being established in each of Iraq's 18 provinces
      and in 200 to 250 municipalities, and the U.S. officials now running
      the country express hope that they will form a foundation for a
      democratic, self-sufficient Iraq. But as local leaders start to take
      limited power from occupying forces, they are clinging to long-held
      notions that the public sector works for their personal benefit, a
      value system that threatens to undermine efforts to make Iraq a model
      of democracy for the Middle East.
      More recently, Drinkwine's soldiers have tried to quell tribal warfare
      and inculcate new notions of justice. When a local man got into an
      argument with Fallujah's mayor that escalated into a fistfight, the
      mayor's bodyguard shot the man dead. In retaliation, the man's tribe
      looted the mayor's office. "We've been pushing the sheiks to sign an
      agreement saying police won't be adjudicated under tribal law," said
      Deeply religious and conservative, the city of 250,000 has the most
      mosques per capita in Iraq and prayer rooms in every restaurant. The
      few women seen in public are usually covered head-to-toe. A dozen
      powerful tribal sheiks control the city's rural outskirts of potato
      farms and date palm groves. Many Hussein loyalists live in the city,
      often in upscale neighborhoods and homes protected by gates.
      Under Hussein's regime, his Baath Party controlled the area by
      installing Fallujah's mayor and by giving money and favors to sheiks
      who controlled the outskirts. In exchange, the sheiks controlled their
      tribes. In this relationship, sheiks and neighborhood leaders sought
      favors for their people and for themselves. "They see extortion as an
      expected privilege," said Maj. Tim Watson of the 82nd Airborne
      Division. Taking control of Iraq in April, the U.S.-led coalition
      quickly set up local governing councils to help keep cities running.
      In Fallujah, the Army turned to the 13-member sheiks' council - not an
      ideal choice because of its limited membership, but an established
      group with some credibility.
      Drinkwine settled on a 45-member council, carefully balanced "so that
      no one group monopolized." Sheiks got 21 seats, professionals got 19
      and Muslim clerics got five. He's written a two-page charter for the
      new authority to adopt declaring that its purpose "is to provide a
      broad representational government of the citizens of Fallujah and to
      solve problems with the mayor's administrative staff." The council's
      first job will be to elect a new mayor to replace Raad Hussein, whom
      Watson called "a puppet of powerful sheiks." But the charter is
      hardly a declaration of independence, and not everybody is so happy
      with it. While calling for majority-rule votes, the charter also notes
      that the U.S.-led administration in Iraq can "veto any issue that is
      deemed against the laws [it] established."

      Sistani agrees little time for Iraqi polls - 04 Jan 04
      Sir Jeremy Greenstock told reporters Ayat Allah Ali al-Sistani, widely
      revered as Iraq's most influential religious leader, now agreed with
      UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's view that there was too little time
      to arrange direct elections. "Sistani is interested in direct
      elections but now understands what the secretary general has said,
      that the issue of holding direct elections on this time scale is
      impossible," Greenstock said on the sidelines of Prime Minister Tony
      Blair's surprise visit to Iraq. It was not immediately clear whether
      Greenstock had had direct contact with Sistani, who is rarely seen in
      public and seldom speaks to foreign officials.
      There were fears Shias would not back the 15 November agreement
      without Sistani's approval. If the cleric accepts its guidelines,
      Shias are likely to be more invested in the transfer process. "There
      are signs that Sistani wants to draw back from the politics of this
      and just have (his opinion) out there that elections are the right way
      to do this," Greenstock said. "We think they (Sistani's people) just
      don't realise how transparent the transfer process is going to be."

      SCIRI-affiliated Iraqi official urges Shi'is to abide by authority's
      .. [report over video by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 3 January]
      Abu-Hasan al-Amiri, secretary-general of the Badr Organization,
      affiliated with the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq
      [SCIRI], said that the Shi'is should abide by the opinion of their
      authority with regard to elections for the transitional national
      assembly. This came at a conference the Kurdish Shi'is held in Baghdad
      in solidarity with the fatwa of the Shi'i authority Ayatollah Ali
      al-Sistani regarding the conduction of general elections.

      Kurdish Islamists deny Al-Qaeda link - 31 Dec 03
      Jamaa Islamiya said US forces also arrested 22 student members of the
      party in Baghdad on December 12 for alleged ties to Ansar al-Islam, a
      radical Kurdish group which the US State Department says has loose
      links to Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda terror network. Jamaa says it has
      paid the price for an earlier association with Ansar. "We have nothing
      to do anymore with Ansar, whose teachings oppose Sharia (Islamic
      law)," said Mohammed Sinkawi, one of the 26 shura (council) members of
      Jamaa and the head of the party's Kirkuk chapter. "They are a bunch of
      fanatic youths."

      Ansar is a splinter group that broke off from Jamaa, itself a
      breakaway faction of the Islamic Union Movement, the main Kurdish
      Islamist faction in Iraq. The Islamic Union Movement's peshmergas
      (Kurdish guerrillas) waged a bitter war against Saddam Hussein's
      Baathist regime, but the movement spawned multiple factions, including
      Jamaa and Ansar, which was formally founded in the fall of 2001.
      But while Jamaa and Ansar were fellow travelers, a clear division
      emerged between the groups. "We shifted to preaching Islam and morals
      in Kurdistan but Ansar wanted to pursue armed jihad," said Sinkawi.

      No such distinction was made when US forces launched air strikes
      against Ansar's strongholds in a cluster of 16 villages near the
      Iranian border in early April during the invasion of Iraq. Jamaa's
      headquarters in Khormal, not far from Ansar's base in Biyara, was
      among the targets hit in the US strikes, according to Sinkawi.
      "We had 43 martyrs most of whom knew the Koran by heart," he said,
      adding that the proximity of Jamaa's camp to Ansar's was just a
      "coincidence". After the attack Jamaa moved its headquarters to the
      town of Ranya, north of Sulaimaniyah province, and the group's leader
      and so-called prince, Ali Bapir, met twice with coalition and
      mainstream Kurdish officials after the fall of Saddam in an effort to
      clear the "misunderstanding", according to Sinkawi.

      The third time Bapir was given a rendez-vous on July 10 in Dokan,
      north of the city of Sulaimaniyah, where he was ambushed by US forces
      and arrested along with 15 others, said Sinkawi. He said Bapir's
      whereabouts are unknown since then but that he has asked Kurdish
      leader Jalal Talabani and other council members, including Abdul Aziz
      al-Hakim and Ahmed Chalabi, to intervene to secure Bapir's release.
      Sinkawi did not disclose the number of his partisans but said Jamaa
      mobilized a major protest in Sulaimaniyah in September demanding
      Bapir's release.
      But the head of a Kirkuk-based special intelligence unit created three
      months ago by coalition forces said Bapir was a member of Ansar
      al-Islam and that his fighters had clashed previously with Talabani's
      Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. "Arresting him was the best move," said
      General Hassan Shaker al-Juburi. Sinkawi said Jamaa has thanked US
      troops for liberating Iraq from Saddam but now believes that they must
      leave Iraq. "We think their occupation must end, but we favour a
      political and peaceful process to achieve this," he said.

      Giddy days for Iraq's press - 04 Jan 04
      The new flock of newspapers are a Babel of opinions and qualities.
      There are broadsheets and tabloids, and circulations range from the
      tens of thousands to the single digits. Most are in Arabic, a handful
      in English. There are political publications produced by every party
      from Communist to Islamist, official papers published by the Coalition
      Provisional Authority and a spectrum of self- proclaimed independent
      voices writing under mastheads with such names as Constitution and
      Independent. "Before, the regime banned every other form of opinion,
      other ideas. There was only one opinion: the regime's opinion,
      Saddam's opinion," said Sadiq al-Rikabi, editor of Al-Bayan, published
      by the Islamic Daawa Party. "After the collapse of the regime, we got
      one thing at least: freedom. To say what we think. To write what we
      think. To demonstrate what we think." Under Hussein, control of the
      press extended even to nonpolitical publications such as Alif Baa,
      once a leading weekly magazine of literature and society, said staff
      reporter Abul Hussain Breesam. It was able to publish only by
      eschewing politics and regularly devoting its cover -- and frequently
      half its inside pages -- to fawning pictures of the ruler, he said.
      The market is not completely free, as Abdul Saitar al-Shalan, editor
      of Al-Mustekela (the Independent), discovered when U.S. troops raided
      his newspaper and arrested him for publishing a fatwa, or edict, by a
      prominent cleric. Al-Shalan rejected some other journalists'
      suggestions that Al-Mustekela is pro-Hussein, saying it was one of the
      first independent newspapers published after the war, had won regional
      journalism awards and had run articles about Hussein's use of torture.
      All he did by publishing the fatwa, al-Shalan said, was to include the
      opinions on the street by printing the cleric's views.


      Israeli human rights groups charges repeated abuses at military
      .. - 04 Jan 04
      The Israeli human rights group B'tselem accused soldiers at a
      checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus of repeatedly abusing
      Palestinians, and in a report released Sunday, the group charged that
      the military is ignoring its repeated appeals to investigate. Israel
      has set up dozens checkpoints around the West Bank and Gaza Strip
      during three years of fighting with the Palestinians to prevent
      suicide bombers from entering Israel. However, more than 100 suicide
      bombings have been carried out. Palestinians charge that the
      checkpoints are among Israeli travel restrictions that have decimated
      their economy and caused many severe hardships. According to B'tselem,
      in the course of four days of December, soldiers at the Sara roadblock
      shot at, beat and threatened to kill Palestinians in 10 separate
      incidents, often after they tried to sneak around the checkpoint.


      Akkad to shoot 'Saladin Al Ayyubi and the Crusades' in Jordan
      .. - 05 Jan 04
      Syrian-born Hollywood film director Moustapha Akkad was in Jordan
      recently scouting the country for locations to shoot his long awaited
      film about the 12th century Muslim hero Saladin Al Ayyubi.
      According to Akkad, [Sean] Connery was very enthusiastic about playing
      Saladin, a sultan of Egypt and Syria who defeated the Crusaders near
      Tiberias in 1187 and liberated Jerusalem, Acre and Ashkeleon. Akkad
      counts among his popular films the two epics - "The Message" and "Lion
      of the Desert" - both of which he directed. He is perhaps best known
      for his production of all eight movies in the "Halloween" horror
      series starring Jamie Lee Curtis.
      Saladin, he said, represents the real essence of Islam. This Arab
      Muslim leader protected freedom of religion and different holy places
      and is highly regarded by both Western and Eastern historians, Akkad
      stressed. "The key to reaching Western audiences and influencing them
      is by using their language and their actors," explained Akkad.
      Believing in the power of media over tanks and planes, Akkad said he
      was determined to put all his effort into the filming of this new
      epic. Akkad's journey to Hollywood and global fame began in northern
      Syria 50 years ago. .. He admitted that his aspirations were not
      shared by his community. "It was the joke of the town," he said. "My
      whole neighbourhood laughed at that idea."


      Islamic schools under scrutiny, say leaders - 05 Jan 04
      The Government is investigating Islamic schools (madrassas) suspected
      of harbouring terrorists, Muslim leaders have claimed. The Ministry of
      Education has reportedly released forms to be filled by heads of
      madrassas giving details about the schools' location, the number of
      enrolled pupils and their source of funding. The move has drawn
      protests from several Islamic organisations including the Council of
      Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK), the Chief Kadhi of Kenya Sheikh
      Hammad Kassim, the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) and the
      Lang'ata Islamic Welfare Organisation.
      [CIPK secretary-general Sheikh Muhammad] Dor said a similar exercise
      allegedly influenced by Americans had been carried out in Pakistan,
      Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, adding that Kenya was the first African
      country to be asked to do so. "We urge all madrassa heads not to
      comply with that directive since it does not come from the Kenya
      Government but from a foreign one," Dor said. Dor asked the Government
      not to interfere with madrassas as they do not operate under the
      Education Act and did not get sponsorship from the State. The Chief
      Kadhi criticised the move saying the Government should have consulted
      with Islamic leaders before issuing the directive.


      Lebanese ayatollah rebukes Egypt's top cleric for comments on head
      .. - 03 Jan 04
      Lebanon's top Muslim Shiite cleric has rebuked a top Muslim Sunni
      authority for supporting France's proposed ban on head scarves in
      schools. Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah said the grand sheik of
      Al-Azhar in Cairo should apologize to Muslims for saying that French
      Muslim school girls should respect the proposed ban on head scarves.
      "Sheik Al-Azhar harmed Islam and Muslims when he gave the French
      government a credible Islamic justification for its decision ... He is
      required to apologize to Muslims,'' Fadlallah said Friday. The
      comments were faxed to The Associated Press on Saturday.


      Ensuring pilgrims' safety - 05 Jan 04
      Malaysians going to Mecca during the current haj season have been told
      not to bring along flags and any form of literature connected to
      political parties in the country. They are also advised to stay away
      from demonstrations, should they occur, to avoid any untoward
      incident. .. Some 25,000 pilgrims from Malaysia are due to perform
      the haj in the current season.

      Civil, Syariah Law On Biotechnology Necessary- Don - 05 Jan 04
      Syariah and civil laws relating to Artificial Reproductive Technology
      are necessary to resolve socio-ethical issues arising from the
      development of this technology, Universiti Malaya Professor Dr Azizan
      Baharuddin said Monday. Dr Azizan, who is the Director of the Centre
      for Dialogue on Civilizations, said Malaysia at present did not have
      any Act or law governing biotechnology or bioethics. "In October 2001,
      the Biotechnology Policy Committee was set up to provide agreed
      guidelines taking into account the religious factor and diverse
      cultures," he said in his keynote address titled "Bioethics from the
      Islamic Perspective" at the workshop on "Understanding Biotechnology:
      Towards an Informed Ulama" here. He said even though biotechnology
      had varied uses, it still had high risks and gave rise to difficult
      issues particularly in the field of genetic engineering. Dr Azizan
      said ethical issues pertaining to technology generally included
      replacement of illness-causing genes, genetic engineering on species
      to come up with more resilient ones, getting organs to replace damaged
      ones and animal cloning to get hormones.
      Dr Azizan said there was a need to create a network of cooperation
      among ulamas, scientists, doctors, economists, policy makers,
      politicians and the media to help resolve religious and ethical issues
      relating to biotechnology. "Short courses by scientists for the ulama
      and vice versa should be held from time to time so that the latest
      issues on biotechnology can be dealt with effectively," he said.

      Illogical to use hudud law to judge whether govt is Islamic - Najib
      .. - 04 Jan 04
      UMNO Vice-President Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said it is illogical
      and unfair to use hudud law as the basis to assess whether the
      government of a country is Islamic or otherwise. He said the scope of
      an Islamic nation covered a wide area and not merely focus on
      implementing hudud law. "In Malaysia's context, all criteria have been
      fulfilled to be an Islamic government," he said when closing the
      national-level nasyid and Quran recital competition for Al-Falah
      Volunteers here Sunday.
      He said the present government had protected Islam from being
      distorted by deviant teachings. He said the government also appointed
      non-Muslims as Cabinet members to assist in the country's
      administration. "According to a famous ulama Al-Mawardi from the
      Syafie sect, we must appoint non-Muslims living in an Islamic country
      as ministers to implement policies drawn up by Muslim leaders," he
      said. Apart from having established an efficient administration
      system, Najib said the government also provided a strong defence with
      soldiers capable of protecting the country and religion from any form
      of invasion. He also said the government had instituted an organised
      zakat (tithe) collection and distribution system to enable Muslims to
      fulfil their religious obligation. He said the government had also
      introduced policies to gradually incorporate Islamic values into the
      country's administration. Najib called on Muslims to protect Islam
      with full conviction and oppose any elements that tarnished Islam's
      image. "We should avoid slandering each other, labelling fellow
      Muslims as infidels and other forms of ridicule and condemnation," he
      said. He said such things were propagated by the so-called "Islamic
      champions" who were engrossed in creating an Islamic image according
      to their own mould. The moderate approach currently being practised
      by the majority of Muslims in Malaysia should be maintained and
      expanded as the preferred way of life, he added.
      [opinion] Labels being used to silence moderate Malay commentators
      .. - 04 Jan 04
      PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat has found no
      shortage of terms to describe Malay Muslims not in tune with his
      party. .. Lately, he has started describing opponents of Pas'
      Islamic state as Jews. But after a furore in the media, he narrowed
      down his specs: it was Umno leaders who were Jews, he said. Malaysians
      in general oppose the Zionist state and the Israeili regime because of
      its atrocities against Muslims and Palestinians. Therefore, to be
      labelled a Jew is a powerful indictment of a Malay Muslim.
      Nik Aziz's supporters would dispute accusations that the Kelantan
      Menteri Besar suppresses freedom of speech. After all, didn't he
      defend national laureate Datuk Shahnon Ahmad who wrote the
      controversial book Shit, which was liberally interspersed with
      four-letter words? Did not Nik Aziz stand on the platform of free
      expression in supporting Shahnon? But Shahnon did, if many remember,
      later contest as a Pas candidate and became MP for Sik. Nik Aziz then
      said, in defence of the book, that "even God uttered vulgarity and
      swear words". Again, he showed his ability to argue his case in
      defending freedom of expression while at the same time, tried to
      silence critics by evoking God's name. But, to be fair to him, he is
      not alone and neither is he the first to use such perceptions to cow
      critics into silence. Malay society has become more religiously
      conscious over the years and religiously-qualified people are treated
      with great respect. If such religious people make a controversial
      comment, the average Malay is either intimidated or held back from
      responding. But in the days of old, when the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee's
      movies captivated Malaysians, especially Malays, social issues were
      addressed in a lighter but effective way.
      His movies addressed the realities of religion as well. He was apt in
      showing a benign face to those who wavered from the righteous path and
      painted evil shades on those who hid themselves behind Islamic
      credentials. This was clear in the many movies where the character of
      "Haji Bakhil" (Miser) was shown as the bad guy.
      If in Malay movies of old, labels such as kaki betina (womaniser),
      kaki botol (alcoholic) and tahi judi (gambler) were common in making a
      person look bad, then today, it is calling them Jews or kafir,
      especially in the political battle between Umno and Pas.

      Kuala Terengganu council issues warning on dress code - 04 Jan 04
      Owners of business premises here will be compounded up to RM 250 [EUR
      52,-] if their Muslim workers fail to comply with the proper Islamic
      dress code. The women must cover their aurat (parts of the body which,
      under Islamic teachings, cannot be exposed). A similar fine will also
      be imposed on non-Muslims who are not attired properly in keeping with
      the general dressing norms of the community. Kuala Terengganu
      Municipal Council president Dr Sulaiman Abdullah said Muslim women
      must wear the tudung (headcover).
      He said the council's enforcement personnel would soon visit the
      premises with "Islamic preachers" to advise Muslim women who failed to
      abide by the directive.
      Dr Sulaiman said non-Muslim workers were free to wear skirts, which
      extend to their knees. "Mini-skirts are not allowed and I don't think
      anyone wears this kind of attire anymore," he said, adding the
      dressing must reflect the general norms of the community.
      Muslim women will have to wear a tudong, a headscarf drawn tightly
      about the face. The traditional loosely draped Malay headscarf will be
      banned and the rules will apply to all work places.

      Terengganu Muslims face more restrictions - 29 Dec 03
      Come Thursday, shops here will be barred from selling alcoholic
      drinks, including beer, and Muslims will not be allowed to enter shops
      selling such items, The Star reported yesterday. Kuala Terengganu
      Municipal Council president Dr Sulaiman Abdullah was reported as
      saying that supermarkets could still sell such beverages, but only in
      a separate room with separate payment counters. "Notices that Muslims
      are barred from entering the room must also be prominently displayed,"
      the newspaper quoted him as saying. He added that restaurants selling
      alcoholic beverages must bar Muslims from entering.


      Crackdown in Mauritania feeds anger - 04 Jan 04
      Mauritania has long been dominated by its Arab elite, a 30 percent
      minority governing a majority of black Africans and mixed
      Mauritania, a member of the Arab League, has since broken relations
      with Iraq and, spurred on by the United States, opened full diplomatic
      ties with Israel. It remains the only Arab League nation to keep
      full-scale relations throughout three years of Israeli-Palestinian
      violence. After speakers in mosques lectured against the current Iraq
      invasion, the government, and its ties with Israel, officials decreed
      that only clerics could preach in mosques - and only on religious
      topics. They closed some Koranic schools, including a Saudi-backed
      institution with 2,000 pupils. Some Islamic charities - especially
      those receiving overseas funds - lost operating rights. Police broke
      up antiwar marches with tear gas and batons. Islamic political blocs
      remain banned. "What do we need Islamic parties for? We're already an
      Islamic nation," said a spokesman for Taya, Mohamed Ould Bellal.


      Questions And Answers On Non-Interest Or Islamic Banking Service
      http://allafrica.com/stories/200401020257.html [Vanguard] - 02 Jan 04

      Plateau Hammers Council of Ulamas - 02 Jan 04
      http://allafrica.com/stories/200401020508.html [Daily Champion]
      Plateau State Government has banned all the activities of the Council
      of Ulamas in a move aimed at averting a possible breakdown of law and
      order following fears over the return of the Mohammed Marwa-led
      Maitatsine sect.
      [Governor] Dariye, who described the council as illegal, also said it
      is irresponsible, adding that his administration will henceforth, deal
      only with the Jamataul Nasir Islamiya (JNI) on behalf of muslims.
      Also addressing journalists, Wednesday, on the issue, commissioner for
      information, Alhaji Dauda Ismaila Lamba said security operatives in
      the state have nabbed the ring leaders of the Maitatsine sect. Alhaji
      Lamba, who named six of such leaders as being part of the 179
      adherents of the sect arrested recently stressed that the unfolding
      scenario could be a dress-rehearsal of a more damaging plot by the

      [Yobe] Nigerian 'Taliban' strike again - 03 Jan 04
      About 200 members of the Muhajirun sect stormed into Yobe State's
      capital, Damaturu, early on Thursday, firing into the air, and sacked
      three police stations, local journalists reported.
      The Muhajirun are thought to be mainly middle-class Nigerian graduates
      inspired by the Taliban's vision of a Islamic state run in accordance
      with the principles of Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi current of Islam. "This
      group, which call themselves Taliban, left (the northeastern city of)
      Maiduguri three months ago and settled in an open area between Yobe
      State and the Niger Republic," the governor told Radio Kaduna.
      The clashes with the Muhajirun came amid tensions in the unruly
      highland city of Jos, further south in Plateau State, where a police
      raid against a different Islamic group last month left three dead.
      Although the Muhajirun reportedly claim allegiance to the Afghan
      Taliban's ousted leader Mullah Omar, they are not thought to have
      trained or fought in Afghanistan with his men or their Al-Qaeda
      allies. The Al-Qaeda Islamist network's fugitive leader, Saudi-born
      radical Osama bin Laden, last year named Nigeria as one of six
      "apostate states" whose secular governments ought to be overthrown by
      Muslim rebels.
      Residents said the militants had set up isolated village compounds in
      at least four places in the Yobe and Borno states, barring entry to
      non-members and only venturing out to sell handmade rope. A local
      security official, who asked not to be named, said the group may be
      related to the Maitatsine sect, a group authorities accuse of
      orchestrating religious riots across northern Nigeria in the 1980s.
      http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/news/nation/7630227.htm - 05 Jan 04
      [Ibrahim Jirigi, a state government spokesman] identified the group as
      Al-Sunna Wal Jamma, Arabic for "followers of Muhammad's teachings."
      The group has campaigned for the last two years for an Islamic state,
      and has publicly criticized officials that it saw as lax in
      implementing Islamic law. The attacks mark the first time the movement
      has been known to take up arms.

      [Zamfara] Rival Takes ANPP Chief To Sharia Court - 03 Jan 04
      The Zamfara state chairman of the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP),
      Hajiya Hassi Bakura may be sentenced to 80 strokes of cane and
      possible imprisonment, by a Sharia court if found guilty of defaming
      the character of the Gusau Local Government ANPP chairperson, Hajiya
      Halima Ibrahim. Hajiya Ibrahim dragged Bakura to the Kanwuri Sharia
      court, Gusau for allegedly saying that she was sleeping with the Gusau
      Local Government party chairman, Alhaji Abdurrahman Yargoha. When the
      case came up, the plaintiff told the court that the state party's
      chairperson is defaming her character among members of the party and
      society in general, and therefore asked for justice over the issue.


      [litt.] Mindanao 2003 - A harvest of 19 books - 03 Jan 04
      The Sharia Courts in the Philippines: Women, Men, Muslim Personal
      Laws. By Isabelita Solamo-Antonio. Published by the Pilipina Legal
      Resources Center, Inc (PLRC)


      Qatar to hold first seminar on human rights - 04 Jan 04
      The National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) will organise its first
      seminar on human rights promotion and protection on January 5-6 at the
      Ritz Carlton Hotel. The organisers said the seminar would focus on
      enhancing awareness and creating a culture of human rights among
      Qataris and expatriates in the country.
      "I call upon Qataris and expatriates to attend the seminar, as several
      important issues will be discussed, such as the political human rights
      which will be dealt by Dr Yousuf Obiedan from Qatar University. The UN
      Special Rapporteur on disability, Sheikha Hessa bint Khalifa Al Thani,
      will highlight human rights and disability, and Professor of Shariah
      and Islamic Studies at Cairo University Dr Mohammed Mustafa Younus
      will speak on mechanisms and guarantees of human rights in
      emergencies", Ali noted. According to the seminar's agenda, renowned
      Islamic scholar Dr Yousuf Al Qaradawi will speak on the second day on
      freedom in Islam. The Chairman of Palestinian Judicial Authority,
      Sheikh Tayseer Al Tamimi will speak on the role of Islamic Judiciary
      in the promotion and protection of human rights, while teacher of
      political science at Cairo University, Dr Ahmed Al Rashidi, will speak
      on human rights in Islam.


      [comment] The French War on Islam by Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi - 04 Jan 04

      Don't change Islam-based schooling, Saudis warn - 05 Jan 04
      Some 150 Saudis, including judges, university professors and a cleric
      with links to Muslim militants, have signed a document warning the
      kingdom against changing its Islam-based school curriculum. The
      warning, which was obtained by Reuters on Saturday, was signed on Jan
      1, a day after Saudi intellectuals, clerics and prominent
      personalities recommended educational reforms at the end of a
      conference held to tackle the roots of militancy.
      Saudi Arabia, along with five other Gulf countries, also agreed last
      month to amend its school books to help stamp out militancy. The
      warning criticised the proposed changes in the curriculum as American
      pressure that was aimed at 'taking the kingdom along the path of
      infidels'. 'Any omissions or mutilation of what was written by the
      Islamic scholars...contradicts the national unity the state is calling
      for, as this unity is based on our religious creed,' the statement
      said. Reformists in the ultra-conservative kingdom, the birthplace of
      Islam, criticised the warning. 'This is an attempt by hardliners who
      benefit from the status quo to keep their influence,' said one, who
      declined to be named.
      [opinion] http://www.jordantimes.com/mon/opinion/opinion1.htm
      The decision by several Arab countries to review their educational
      curricula is causing some anxieties among traditionalists and
      fundamentalists in the Arab world. Here in Jordan, Minister of
      Education Khalid Touqan has gone to great lengths to assure all
      Jordanians that the ministry's review process of school curricula is
      not instigated by external forces but rather by domestic determination
      to upgrade the scholastic excellence of the country's students. Other
      Arab states, notably Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, have also gone out of
      their way to explain to their respective peoples that there is nothing
      sinister or anti-Islamic in their reviews of school curricula.
      Accordingly, we see nothing wrong in making sure that what we are
      teaching our students is harmonious to Muslim teachings as well as
      with the legally binding treaties. The anxiety being built up on the
      distinction between terrorism and liberation is unnecessary. Armed
      struggle to free people from occupation and subjugation is an
      inalienable right. What the international norms tell us is that the
      methods of warfare used in the liberation process should comply with
      the Geneva Conventions. That's not a lot to ask for.

      Strategy Worked Out for Jamrat Crowd Control - 03 Jan 04
      Seven government departments have worked out an integrated crowd
      control strategy for the ritual stoning at Jamrat during the peak days
      of Haj, when hundreds of thousands of pilgrims cram the area.
      The stoning of pillars representing Satan in Mina by hundreds of
      thousands of faithful still poses a big challenge for the Haj
      managers. Over the past few years, hundreds of pilgrims have died in
      stampedes at Jamrat as large masses of pilgrims rush to the area often
      ignoring warnings from officials, especially the first and last day of
      stoning, Dul Hijjah 10 and12 .
      Pilgrims will be told to leave the area quickly after completing the
      stoning. Special arrangements have been made to rescue pilgrims
      trapped in stampedes or fainting as a result of overcrowding.
      The ministry has also posted health education materials on its website
      - www.moh.gov.sa - to educate pilgrims about SARS and other diseases.
      It also recommends preventive measures and issues a travel advisory.
      .. Al-Jeffri also advised pregnant women and children - two groups
      highly vulnerable to infectious diseases - to avoid pilgrimage if

      Many Saudis 'don't believe in rationale behind pre-marital check-up'
      .. - 04 Jan 04
      Saudi Arabia last week adopted legislation making it a requirement
      among marrying couples to undergo pre-marital medical check-ups to
      rule out the possibility of genetic diseases being passed on to their
      of spring. Congenital diseases such as sickle-cell anaemia, leukaemia
      and thalassaemia are rampant in the Kingdom. In the eastern and
      southern provinces, some 25 per cent of people are either carriers or
      are afflicted with these diseases. .. More than half of all deaths
      among Saudis ages 14 or younger result from congenital defects.
      Before adopting the legislation, the issue was discussed at length at
      the meeting of the Islamic scholars. After the debate, they ruled that
      medical check-ups by the partners before marriage in no way
      contradicts Islamic principles. The likelihood of passing congenital
      diseases as a result of defective or recessive genes, on to the off-
      spring increases when two relatives marry. This factor causes more
      deaths than even some epidemics diseases. Marriages within close
      family and tribes are quite normal in Saudi society. Recent studies
      show more than half of all marriages in the Kingdom occur between
      close relatives, with marriages of first cousins accounting for an
      average of more than one-third.


      [letter] Dowry and Shariah Law - 04 Jan 04


      Islam in America, part 2 - How U.S. extremists fund terror - 05 Jan 04

      [California] Teams in Muslim league change their names
      http://www.rep-am.com/nationalnews/7dmq.htm - 05 Jan 04
      After objections to team names like "Soldiers of Allah" and
      "Moujahideen" overshadowed a football tournament organized by Muslim
      youths, the players sacked most of the offending names and took to the
      field to more cheers than protests. Jewish leaders had objected to
      some of the planned names, and Muslim leaders asked the teams to
      reconsider. One member of a team called Intifada said a few of his
      friends quit because their parents were worried for their safety.
      Organizers said none of the names were meant to offend and refused to
      change some of them, including Intifada. .. The protests had little
      effect on the competition. Fourteen squads battled for a first place
      trophy during the one-day tournament. Rather than threatening, some of
      the team names - including Fantizzle Fizzle - were just silly. The
      team name Muslim Rangers was replaced on a tournament list with Irvine


      Brunei Ready to Take the Plunge into Expanding Islamic Banking
      .. - 05 Jan 04
      [Coordinator of the Centre for Islamic Banking] Dayang Hajah Salma
      binti Haji Abdul Latiff, went on to say that Brunei is ready to take
      another major step to become a regional centre for the spread of
      Islam, not only in terms of offering the basic facilities but also to
      consider having a financial Islamic market.

      [Saudi Arabia] The Source of Our Banking Problems - 05 Jan 04
      Connections can be made between the lack of local investment
      instruments, billions of private sector funds sitting idle and
      government deficits increasing annually. It is easy to see that the
      fat margins resulting from monopolies in our economy have created a
      widening disparity between rich and poor businesses. This in turn
      stifles competition with consumers ultimately paying the price in the
      form of lack of choice, poor quality or unjustifiably high prices.
      Worse yet, without healthy competition, most of our companies will
      have no chance when foreign competition enters - as is planned. So we
      have untrained unemployed Saudis and we also have highly qualified
      Saudis who cannot get business opportunities. We have billions sitting
      idle with the private sector and we have companies that lack funding
      for growth, training and hiring. Something is not right.
      To our banks, it is an alien concept that their primary function is to
      act as an intermediary, passing funds to sectors of the economy that
      need capital to increase productivity and job creation which
      translates into economic growth. Passing the money on does not mean
      parking it in each other's Treasury departments, and then on to
      Bahrain and London for a 25+ basis point margin. Placing deposits on
      the interbank market is probably the one skill area in which our
      bankers can say they are unsurpassed. How proud that makes us!
      Especially when they exercise the skill with non-interest bearing
      deposits and so capture the full spread, making themselves the envy of
      the world banking community. Our banks have the largest profit margins
      in the global banking industry. No wonder they have fought
      aggressively against any local or foreign competition.

      Our banks maintain huge and diversified deposit bases unmatched by
      equivalent loan books. Funds are lent to companies that do not need
      them. Normally, that means companies which have peaked and have become
      mature businesses throwing off plenty of cash. The impact of lending
      to already mature businesses is not job creation. The capital is used
      by the businesses to grow through acquisition, rather than through
      capital investment that provides jobs or improves productivity. (For
      example, take the recent case of a Saudi company buying over a billion
      riyals worth of shares in a bank where it is a major shareholder with
      funds borrowed from another bank in which it is also a major
      shareholder. Where is the job creation in that transaction? What gain
      in productivity did the economy experience? This example is indicative
      of our banks' lending activities.) This is a cancerous phenomenon for
      an economy. The big just keep getting bigger and the high growth
      sectors short of cash get squeezed out. Monopolies are created as
      capital becomes a barrier to entry and the benefits of competition are
      Our bankers hide behind a mixture of excuses for their incompetence.
      Some common ones are 1) blame it on the '80's bubble when big names
      borrowed and defaulted - however, then, just as now, it was the banks'
      greed and lack of skills that caused the problem; 2) blame it on their
      boards where shareholders want to control lending and funnel it to
      preferred sectors and companies; 3) blame it on the Saudi banker's
      dilemma: why bother learning how to assess credit and business risk
      when they can make outrageous profits risk-free with "no brainers"
      (e.g. lending against cash deposits); 4) blame it on the regulatory
      environment, using Shariah as the excuse for religious constraints -
      here our bankers ignore the spirit of the law while selectively
      exploiting the letter. Our banks pick and choose what part of Shariah
      they wish to apply. When trade finance transactions and "Islamic"
      products look like big money makers, the banks are the first to
      exploit the Shariah for marketing purposes. When it comes to charging
      individuals over 15 percent compound annual rates for credit card
      debts, the Shariah's teaching against usury is conveniently
      These companies run a funds deficit that is further exacerbated by the
      lack of financing sources in our economy (no mechanism available to
      issue money market instruments, bonds or equity). In contrast to the
      business sector, the consumer sector is running a funds surplus
      (savings). Anyone who doubts that should look at the banks' deposit
      base. In a functioning economy, most of the consumer sector's annual
      funds surplus is absorbed by making loans to, and equity investments
      in, business firms that seek outside funds to cover their funds
      deficits. This flow of funds from consumer to business sector is
      facilitated by "financial intermediaries." Without this flow, an
      economy chokes. By failing to act as intermediaries, our banks are
      choking our economy. Their insipid credit policies direct surplus
      funds to businesses running funds surplus. Just the opposite of what
      they are supposed to do. The premise is not complicated; banks exist
      in an economy to act as intermediaries between funds-surplus units and
      funds-deficit units. I challenge any Saudi bank to demonstrate that
      this is what they do.
      The solution? Force the banks to lend to growing sectors of the
      economy, not just to the existing fat cats. Banks should be required
      to maintain loan books wherein distribution is spread to various
      sectors and businesses. The policy of only extending risk-free secured
      loans should be outlawed. It creates an environment in which usury
      flourishes. Ultimatum time: Either the banks develop credit skills,
      acceptable risk ratios and assume the responsibilities that come with
      their licenses or we should revoke those licenses and open the sector
      to other entities, local and foreign, that will do the job right. Time
      is up for this monopoly. The days of exorbitant endless profits for
      Saudi banks at the expense of creating economic and social problems
      for the rest of us are over. Any bank shareholder not happy with this
      should sell his shares and find another monopoly to create somewhere
      else and let us get on with building a real economy. The benefits to
      us as a nation far outweigh the potential cost of defaults and upsets
      along the way. [Saud Al-Sowayel is a businessman based in Riyadh] .

      [*] 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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