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Action on verdict not possible for 10 years: Swami Agnivesh

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 01 October 2010 | Posted in

New Delhi: Hindu spiritual leader Swami Agnivesh Thursday said implementation of the Allahabad High Court judgment on the Ayodhya land dispute is not possible for the next 10 years and that is why none of the parties is celebrating.

"The central government won't be able to do anything for the next 8-10 years as the Sunni Wakf Board will approach the Supreme Court. Till then, peace shall prevail," Swami Agnivesh told IANS.

The Allahabad High Court Thursday ruled that the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was built after demolishing a temple on the site way back in 1528, and that the spot where a makeshift temple was built after razing the mosque in 1992 was indeed where Hindu god Ram was born.

"The whole question was mixed up with aspects like historical position of land, issue of faith, building of temple and mosque. The judgment itself has thrown multi-faced questions in front of the people of the country. Therefore, there is no celebration by any party," he said.

The Lucknow bench of the high court also ruled that the land around the disputed site should be divided into three parts -- one for Hindus, another for Muslims and the third for Nirmohi Akhara, a Hindu sect and an original litigant in the case.

"I appeal to the people to rise above narrow legalistic considerations of land ownership. It is a great opportunity for all communities to come together to turn this critical judgment into an historic opportunity to forge unity," he added.

(Courtesy: IANS, September 30, 2010)

No temple was demolished for mosque: Justice S.U. Khan

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in

Lucknow: Justice S.U. Khan of the Allahabad High Court in his Ayodhya judgment Thursday said that no temple was demolished for building the Babri mosque and it was constructed over the ruins of temples.

The other two judges on the bench were of the view that the Babri mosque was constructed after demolition of a Hindu temple.

Justice Khan in his observation said that for a very long time till the construction of the mosque it was believed by Hindus that somewhere in a very large area, of which the premises in dispute is a very small part, the birth place of Lord Ram was situated.

"However, the belief did not relate to any specified small area, within that bigger area, specifically the premises in dispute," he said.

"It was very very unique and absolutely unprecedented situation that inside the boundary wall and compound of the mosque, Hindu religious places were there which were actually being worshipped along with offerings of namaz by Muslims in the mosque," he said.

Some of key observations were:

* The disputed structure was constructed as mosque by or under orders of Mughal emperor Babar.

* It is not proved by direct evidence that the premises in dispute, including the constructed portion, belonged to Babar or the person who constructed the mosque or under whose orders it was constructed.

* No temple was demolished for constructing the mosque.

* Mosque was constructed over the ruins of temples which were lying there since a very long time before the construction of mosque and some material thereof was used in construction of the mosque.

* After some time of construction of the mosque, Hindus started identifying the premises in dispute as the exact birth place of Lord Ram or a place wherein exact birth place was situated.

* Both the parties have failed to prove commencement of their title hence by virtue of Section 110 Evidence Act both are held to be joint title holders on the basis of joint possession.

* For some decades before 1949, Hindus started treating/believing the place beneath the central dome of the mosque (where at present a make sift temple stands) to be the exact birth place of Lord Ram.

* Much before 1855, Ram Chabutra and Seeta Rasoi had come into existence and Hindus were worshipping in the same.

* For the sake of convenience both Muslims and Hindus were using and occupying different portions of the premises in dispute, still it did not amount to formal partition. Both continued to be in joint possession of the entire premises.

(Courtesy: IANS, September 30, 2010)

No proof mosque was built in Babar's reign: Justice Sudhir Agarwal

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in

Lucknow: Justice Sudhir Agarwal, one of the three judges who delivered the Ayodhya judgment, in his order differed with his colleague Justice S.U. Khan that the mosque at the disputed site was built in the reign of Mughal emperor Babar.

"The disputed structure was always treated, considered and believed to be a mosque and practised by Mohammedans for worship accordingly. However, it has not been proved that it was built during the reign of Babar," said Justice Agarwal.

He observed that the area covered under the central dome of the disputed structure is the birth place of Lord Ram as per faith and belief of Hindus.

"It is declared that the area covered by the central dome of the three domed structure belong to plaintiffs (Suit-5) and shall not be obstructed or interfered in any manner by the defendants," he said in his order.

Some key observations of Justice Agarwal are:

* The area within the inner courtyard belongs to members of both the communities, Hindus (here plaintiffs, Suit-5) and Muslims since it was being used by both since decades and centuries.

* The disputed structure was always treated, considered and believed to be a mosque and practised by Mohammedans for worship accordingly. However, it has not been proved that it was built during the reign of Babar in 1528.

* In the absence of any otherwise pleadings and material it is difficult to hold as to when and by whom the disputed structure was constructed. But it is clear that it was constructed before the visit of missionary Joseph Tieffenthaler in Oudh area between 1766-71.

* The building in dispute was constructed after demolition of non-Islamic religious structure - a Hindu temple.

* The idols were kept under the central dome of the disputed structure in the night of Dec 22-23, 1949.

* The area covered by the structures, namely, Ram Chabutra, Sita Rasoi and Bhandar, in the outer courtyard is declared in the share of Nirmohi Akhara.

* The open area within the outer courtyard shall be shared by Nirmohi Akhara and plaintiffs (Suit-5) since it has been generally used by the Hindu people for worship at both places.

* The land which is available with the Government of India acquired under Ayodhya Act 1993 shall be made available to the concerned parties in such a manner so that all the three parties may utilise the area to which they are entitled to, by having separate entry and exit for people without disturbing each others rights.

(Courtesy: IANS, September 30, 2010)

Bihar Election: 9 Muslims in JD-U’s 1st list of 54 candidates

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in

Patna: Amidst much speculation JD-U, the main ally in the ruling NDA alliance in Bihar, yesterday announced the name of 54 candidates for first two phases. The party has tried to give shares to all the sections of the society including Muslims.

The party has tried to beat its rivals -- Congress and RJD-- by fielding 9 Muslims, 12 Yadavs, 4 Rajputs, 3 Brahmins, 3 Bhumihars and 9 women.

The party which is contesting Assembly elections in alliance with BJP has got 26 seats out of total 47 seats where polling will be held in the first phase on 21st Oct. and 28 out of total 45 seats which will go to poll in second phase on 24th Oct.

While the party has denied tickets to its two sitting MLAs--Manzar Alam and Dilkeshwar Kamat--, it has fielded 12 new faces. Besides, five candidates who joined the party recently after leaving other parties have also been given tickets.

Outgoing Bihar Assembly had two Muslim MLAs of the JD(U) --Shahid Ali Khan from Pupri and Manzar Alam from Jokihat. While Shahid Ali Khan has been allotted ticket from Sursand, the new name of his constituency, Manzar Alam has been replaced by Sarfaraj Alam, the son of former Union Minister Mohammad Taslimuddin, who joined the party just last week.

Now pressure is all on RJD to give good representation to Muslims as JD-U gave followed by Congress. Perhaps this is the reason RJD is yet to release its 1st list of the candidates.

JD-U Muslim candidates

Phase-1

1. Sarfaraj Alam from Jokihat
2. Mohammad Masbar Alam from Bahadurganj
3. Muzahid Alam- from Kochadhaman
4. Mohammad Siddiqui from Balrampur

Phase-2

1. Sahid Ali Khan from Sursand
2. Sarfuddin from Sheohar
3. Faisal Rahman from Dhaka
4. Izhar Ahmad from Gauraboram
5. Asaraf Hussain from Darbhanga (rural)

(Courtesy: TwoCircles.net)

Islam? What’s that doing in our kids’ textbooks?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in

The following editorial appeared Tuesday, September 28, 2010 in the Los Angeles Times:

From the state that brought you the notion that Thomas Jefferson wasn’t an important Founding Father, and that the interning of 100,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II had nothing to do with racism, comes another attempt to insert personal prejudice into public school textbooks. This time, the Texas Board of Education is trying to limit references to Islam.

Textbooks nationwide have been twisted, dumbed down and flattened into such boring tomes that it’s no wonder most students can’t abide them. The public education establishment’s concerns about political correctness have resulted in books written more to avoid hurting feelings than to inform and challenge.

California is one of the worst offenders, with its requirements that the elderly, disabled and minority groups be shown in a positive light and be given proportional representation.

But that’s not as troubling as the latest doings in Texas, whose school board on Friday decided that references to Islam in the state’s textbooks must be reduced. It’s bad enough that the board — which has made a point of opening meetings with Christian prayers and voicing its belief that government should be run according to Christian beliefs — tampered with history earlier this year by ordering publishers to downplay the role of Jefferson because he coined the phrase “separation of church and state.”

No one could accuse the school board of following in Jefferson’s footsteps. It’s particularly odious to see a government agency, especially one responsible for educating children, single out a religion and seek to diminish its status in world history. The new resolution comes from an apparent misreading of a textbook, one section of which contains more references to Islam than to Christianity. But there are other sections in the book that mention Christianity extensively.

Given the board’s history of setting a “Christian” agenda, its attack on a single religion could be challenged in court.

Whether the Texas school board likes it or not, the United States’ interaction with Islam has broadened and deepened in recent years. Today’s students will need to understand and deal with these changes as they mature and enter the workforce and civic life. The school board has done a disservice to a major world religion and its followers — and to Texas’ students.

British Police offer apology to Muslims for spy cameras

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

London: The British police on Thursday (September 30, 2010) apologized for a counterterrorism program that featured surveillance cameras that were installed in predominantly Muslim neighborhoods. Police officials said that even though the cameras had never been switched on, the initiative had damaged trust and caused anger in the community.

Under the program, more than 200 closed-circuit television cameras and license plate recognition devices were placed in parts of the city of Birmingham in central England. The effort was conceived in 2007 after a series of terrorist plots were uncovered in Birmingham.

Residents complained that they had not been consulted about the program, and civil liberties groups protested that the measures were heavy-handed.

Protests from human rights groups led the police to decide not to begin using the cameras after they had been installed. Some have been covered with plastic bags to reassure people that the cameras are not in use.

In 2006, the police and intelligence agencies uncovered a plot in Birmingham to kidnap and behead a British soldier. The accused ringleader, Parviz Khan, was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

The city was also the site of the first arrest in Britain of a terrorism suspect who the authorities said was inspired by Al Qaeda; the suspect, Moinul Abedin, was detained in 2000 and later jailed after the security services uncovered a bomb factory in his home.

An independent review conducted by the Thames Valley Police, in southern England, criticized the police in central England for the camera program. The review found “little evidence of thought being given to compliance with the legal or regulatory framework” before the television cameras were installed.

There were 218 cameras in all, and they were placed in two mostly Muslim residential neighborhoods in Birmingham that had been associated in the past with Islamic extremism.

The West Midlands Police constable, Chris Sims, said that the authorities had made a mistake in not considering the impact of the cameras’ intrusion into people’s privacy.

(Courtesy: The New York Times)

Netherlands to ban the burqa, says anti-Islam MP

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in

The Hague: The Netherlands will ban the burqa under measures agreed in a pact to form a minority coalition government, anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders, whose party is part of the deal, announced on Thursday.

"A new wind will blow in The Netherlands," declared Wilders, standing alongside the leaders of the pro-business VVD party and the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) that will form the minority government.

In addition to the measures agreed by the three parties, the number of immigrants who enter The Netherlands will be halved, Wilders told journalists in The Hague as the agreement was announced.

"There will also be a burqa ban," said the controversial politician, who is to go on trial in Amsterdam next Monday for inciting hatred against Muslims.

"We want the Islamisation to be stopped," he said. Wilders -- who campaigns for a ban on Muslim immigration and wants to end the building of new mosques and tax Muslim head scarves -- had a say in the plan's immigration policies in return for supporting its austerity measures.

The "freedom and responsibility" plan seeks to cut government spending by 18 billion euros (USD 24 billion) by 2015.

It proposes cutting The Netherlands' contribution to the European Union by one billion euros and shaving a billion euros off development cooperation and 1.2 billion off health care costs.

It also wants to reduce the number of MPs from 150 to 100 and the number of senators from 75 to 50.

The longest chapter of the accord -- seven of its 46 pages -- is however devoted to immigration.

It proposes stricter conditions for granting asylum and making it harder for the partners and children of immigrant workers to move to The Netherlands. It also wants integration examinations to become harder.

CDA party members, deeply divided over cooperation with Wilders, have yet to approve the new accord which will be debated at a party congress on Saturday.

If they do, the CDA's 21 MPs must put their final stamp on the deal before Queen Beatrix can give presumed prime minister-in-waiting Mark Rutte, the VVD leader, the go-ahead to form his cabinet.

(Courtesy: The Times of India)

Internet addiction breaking up families

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in

By Diana Al-Jassem

Jeddah: Women living in Saudi Arabia are complaining about chilly relationships with their husbands because the men spend ages online.

These women claim their husbands are addicted to the Internet, especially chat rooms and social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Although there are men who use the Internet for work purposes, they tend to fall into a minority.

Most women have started feeling that the Internet has taken the place of second wives. The ability to access websites and e-mails from an ever increasing number of devices, including mobile phones, have only added to the women’s anger.

For many men, it has become a new pastime to establish friendships with women via Facebook, Twitter and instant messenger programs, among others.

Srab Al-Safadi, a Jordanian housewife and mother of five, complained about the long hours that her husband spends on the Internet.

“My husband is unemployed, he has a lot of free time, but he never spends it with me or his children. In the past, he was using the Internet to search for jobs, but recently he stopped.”

“One year ago, I discovered that my husband was married to a Palestinian woman. When I asked him how this happened, and how he found this woman, he said he met her on Facebook.”

Al-Safadi questioned whether his use of the Internet at home was such a good use of money. “I asked him several times to disconnect the service from our home, especially as he had no job. The service costs SR300 monthly. Such money could be used for other essentials,” said Al-Safadi.

Certainly, cell phones and the Internet have become a part of people’s daily lives.

“Men are more likely to use the Internet than women. There are so many men that have become addicted to the Web. They believe that it is convenient to do anything and everything on the Internet,” said Buthina bin Shaaban, a Tunisian housewife and mother of one girl.

“In the past it used to be that the person would have to leave his home for everyday things such as talking to friends, shopping and banking. But now he can even contact his girlfriend from the comfort of his home.”

Some men find the Internet an escape from their boring everyday routine.

“My life became boring and each day is a copy of the previous day. I prefer to spend long hours on Facebook and instant messaging programs with a large number of friends,” said Mu’ath Ali, a Syrian father of four.

“Those friends are both men and women. Why should I have friendships only with men? Using the Internet allows me to interact with female friends without crossing the line.”

Suhila Al-Sheikh, a Saudi teacher and mother of three, complained about her experience trying to curb her husband’s online addiction.

“My husband has been addicted to the Internet since he was a student at university in the late 90s,” she said.

“I was unable to understand what he was doing online. For me it was impossible to monitor him or stop him. Recently, after the wide expansion of the Internet, I understand better what he has been doing.”

She said her husband uses the Internet to look for friendships with women. He even has friendships with teenage girls.

“Recently, my husband met the girl he was in love with before our marriage. He met her on LinkedIn.”

(Courtesy: Arab News)

Birth pangs of Saudi theater

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in

By Omaima Al-Fardan

Jeddah: It is not a distant possibility that women in Jeddah may be able to watch theatrical shows which, until recently were limited to students of King Abdulaziz University (KAU).

This was stated by the dean of students’ affairs in the university, Dr. Abdullah Mahraji, while talking to Arab News about the drama activities in the university in line with women’s theatrical shows which were recently held in a number of cities in the Kingdom.

“The theatrical activities in KAU are not limited to male students only as some people claim. We cannot say the theatrical activities are gender-based,” he said.

Mahraji said the university’s women students participate in the heritage club and in the university’s various events.

“We are inviting women from outside to attend the female theatrical activities in the university,” he said.

On the other hand, stage director Osman Fallatah played down the idea of a special theater for women.

“This idea will not bear fruits in the absence of serious studies to activate the theater,” he said.

The director said seeking the help of actresses from neighboring Gulf countries in theatrical activities here and the lack of well-written plays are indicators that the birth of a serious theatrical movement in the Kingdom is not in the foreseeable future.

“We should have an active theater before we classify them into masculine or feminine theater,” he added.

Meanwhile, dramatists, who preferred not to be named, criticized the reluctance of the Ministry of Culture and Information to sponsor the theatrical movement in the Kingdom and said in the light of this, the movement is left for societies of culture and arts all over the Kingdom.

They also questioned if these societies were able to adopt the female theater within their various committees.

Arab News took their question to Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture and Information for Cultural Affairs Abdullah Al-Jasir.

He said the theatrical activities are the responsibility of the society of stage actors and the societies of culture and arts. “The ministry sponsors some male and female plays during our national events,” Al-Jasir added.

(Courtesy: Arab News)

Ayodhya Verdict: Musings of a Now Hardened Agnostic

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in

By Yoginder Sikand

As neither a Hindu nor a Muslim, but, rather, now a hardened agnostic who suspects there is an invisible force behind the universe but is fully distrustful of all religions, I could not be bothered in the least if a temple or a mosque or a profane structure—or, indeed, nothing at all—is now to occupy the disputed spot in Ayodhya. As far as I know, the force that I want to believe exists and pervades the entire universe and beyond is supremely indifferent to who the new owners of the contested spot are to be. This force knows no distinction of religion, caste, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, and so on and so forth. For all I care, you can smear your head with ash and fall flat in front of the toy-like idols that now stand on the disputed spot and mumble mantras in incomprehensible Sanskrit, or you can don a skull-cap and bend and bow while muttering phrases in Arabic of which you understand not a word if the mosque that once stood on the spot is reconstructed. The universal force I sort of suspect exists is, I know, supremely unaffected by what you do on that measly bit of earth.

That said, I must confess that the judgment of the Allahabad High Court on the Ayodhya imbroglio struck me as deeply disturbing, to put it very mildly. Numerous critics have argued that the Court appears to have accepted the claims of Hindus who share the RSS vision of the world as normative and historically valid, and to have been guided by these possibly wholly untenable claims in making whatever decision it did. That this logic bodes ill for the future of secular democracy in India is a complete understatement. As a friend of mine, a fellow agnostic, brilliantly expressing my own reaction to the judgment, quipped, ‘Are we now to be governed by Hindu shariah?’

At the same time, however, I must also confess my immense relief at the Court turning down the claims of the Sunni Waqf Board, not because I believe that the Board’s stance is wholly without any merit at all, but, rather, simply because had the Court favoured the Board (which is what many of my Muslim friends had rather naively expected) it would certainly have provoked Hindu hordes into unleashing yet another massive reign of terror against hapless Muslims all across the country. Had the Board been declared as the rightful owners of the contested site, rebuilding the Babri Masjid, which is what the Board has been demanding all along, would inevitably have had to entail demolishing the make-shift temple that was hurriedly set up on its ruins in 1992. And that would certainly have been at once pounced upon by Hindu fanatics as an excuse to whip up anti-Muslim violence on a scale hitherto completely unprecedented.

This is why I think the move on the part of some Muslim outfits (who never tire of falsely claiming to represent all the Muslims of India—this being as horrendous a lie as the Hindutvawadis’ claim that they speak for all Hindus)—to approach the Supreme Court for redress is, I believe, sheer idiocy. Supposing the Supreme Court overturns the Allahabad High Court’s ruling and decides that ownership of the contested space in Ayodhya be granted entirely to the Sunni Waqf Board, as the Board hopes it will. What then? Is it at all conceivable that the Board can actually begin building a mosque on the disputed spot, even if this—miraculously, for there can be no other way—does not involve tearing down the make-shift temple that presently stands there? The spot, the mullahs and the other ignoramuses in the Board and the Babri Masjid Action Committee must surely know, is not somewhere on the outskirts of Mecca-Medina or in the hills of Tora-Bora in Afghanistan, where the task could have been easily accomplished and no opposition would have been brooked. I dare say that not a single of the self-styled Muslim leaders spearheading the movement for rebuilding the Babri mosque would, for all their foolhardy, rabble-rousing rhetoric, be so bold as to venture even a hundred miles from Ayodhya leading a team of zealous ‘mujahideen’ to restore the mosque even if the Supreme Court were to rule in the Board’s favour. Not one of them would, I bet, are so eager for martyrdom. The tryst with houris that they believe are promised to shaheeds can wait for a bit more, I am sure they feel.

To come back to the High Court’s judgment, although, as I said, I find it, to put it mildly, disappointing in a very fundamental sense and cannot help disagree with the logic that informs it, its recommendation that the contested space be shared by Hindus and Muslims (although disproportionately) is, I must admit, hugely compelling and entirely welcome—simply for the symbolism of it. I have absolutely no idea as to how the two are going to arrange for this to actually happen. I suspect this will not be at all easy, particularly given the Hindutva fanatics’ dreams of constructing what they repeatedly term as a ‘ really grand temple’ on the spot, a prospect that would not exactly inspire Muslims with confidence to build, and worship in, a mosque in its shadow. But, anyhow, as far as I am concerned, as I said at the outset, while some Hindus and Muslims will continue to believe that occupying that particular piece of ground in Ayodhya and knocking their heads on it in prayer is of immense, indeed cosmic, significance, I am confident that the force that pervades everything knows otherwise.

[Yoginder Sikand works with the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion at the National Law School, Bangalore. He can be contacted at ysikand@yahoo.com]

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