On 27th anniversary police cane-charge Bhopal Gas Tragedy survivors blocking trains; 10 injured, vehicles torched

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 05 December 2011 | Posted in , , , ,

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The agony of the survivors of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the world’s worst industrial catastrophe, who have been suffering silently for the last over two-and-a-half decades aggravated further on the 27th anniversary of the ghastly accident when police rained canes on the protesters, lobbed tear-gas shells and fired in the air to disperse them from blocking train traffic on the busy New Delhi-Chennai and New Delhi-Mumbai route.

While tens of thousands of the survivors and victims of the Bhopal tragedy came out their homes at about 11 am (IST) to take part in the “Rail Roko” (Train Blockade) agitation on the call given by five NGOs working for their welfare 10 of them were injured, some grievously, and were hospitalized Eight others were arrested and send to jail but were later on let off in the evening.

The “Rail Roko” stir was called off after the representatives of the five NGOs met the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister who reportedly assured to concede all their demands including submission of correct figures of deaths and injuries in the gas disaster in the curative petition in the Supreme Court. He said he would write to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, supporting the survivors’ demands.

Balkrishna Namdeo of Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha said: "We have given January 3, 2012 deadline to the chief minister to give correct figures before the Supreme Court or else survivors would again stop trains".

The “Rail Roko” was organized at four points from Nishatpura to Barkhedi railway crossing in the city which was otherwise peaceful as the survivors squatted on the tracks and some even lay down on it. However, at Barkhedi crossing near Aishbagh Stadium police first snatched the mike of the Public Address system fitted in an auto-rickshaw from announcements were being made for the survivors to maintain peace. Thereafter, the policemen started to drag the elderly women survivors in order to clear the rail rack and cane-charged them mercilessly.

Seeing this the youth amongst the protestors became wild and took to stone pelting immediately and indulged in arson. While the road metal (80 mm stones) lying in abundance on the rail tracks came handy for the youth to shower the police with it which had to make a tactical retreat. Bhopal District Collector Nikunj Shrivastava, City Superintendent of Police (CSP) HN Guru were injured in the heavy stone pelting. In the melee that ensued four police vehicles and a number of two wheelers were torched by the survivors to express their ire. A police jeep and an OB van of ETV news channel were also damaged in the stone pelting.

It was for the first time in the last 27 years of the gas tragedy that such an untoward incident took place where the survivors were cane-charged, tear-gassed by the police who even fired in the air. However, talking to media persons Collector Nikunj Srivastava said that some anti-social elements got mixed with the agitators and they pelted stones at policemen. “We lathi-charged them and fired in air too to disperse them", he added.

The representatives of five organizations viz. Ms Rashida Bi of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Nawab Khan of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Balkrishna Namdeo of Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Satinath Sarangi & Ms Rachna Dhingra Bhopal Group for Information & Action and Ms Safreen Khan Children Against Dow Carbide had jointly given call for the “Rail Roko” stir.

According to West Central Railway Divisional Railway Manager, (DRM), Ghanshyam Singh said the traffic was disrupted on the Delhi-Chennai route. Many trains were stranded at Vidisha, Itarsi and Habibganj stations due to the agitation.

When this Correspondent visited the Bhopal railway station in the afternoon it wore a deserted look where 12722 Hazrat Nizamuddin-Hyderabad Express stood stranded. Late in the evening the train traffic resumed and was slowly limping to normalcy. When asked whether they had taken any precautionary steps, Bhopal station manager A.S. Yadav told this Correspondent that it was the duty of state government to tackle the law and order issue as gas survivors had already announced their programme.

Five NGOs working for the welfare of the survivors had announced more than a month earlier to stage indefinite “Rail Roko” on December 3 to draw the Central and the Madhya Pradesh State Government’s attention to the plight of the victims and their long pending demands of adequate compensation and rehabilitation.

According to Ms Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information & Action, an NGO working for survivors, this protest was against both the 2012 London Olympics organizers, who have taken the sponsorship of Dow Chemical, the owner of killer Union Carbide factory, and the government indifference towards gas victims”.

Ms Dhingra said as placard-waving protestors attempted to block trains traveling to and from the Bhopal railway station, police baton-charged the crowd, which then responded by pelting stones at the officers.

She said that the “Rail Roko” was a desperate last attempt to get the Indian government to publish the true figures of deaths and injuries attributable to the 1984 gas disaster. It is well recognized the numbers of victims were vastly underrated.

Ms Dhingra said the $470 million 1989 settlement between Union Carbide and the Indian government was based on those figures, consequently the compensation available to victims was pitifully inadequate.

That settlement was not, as Union Carbide’s alter ego Dow Chemical (they merged into one operation in 2001) claims “full and final”. It was reopened by the Supreme Court in 1991 when criminal charges were reinstated against the Union Carbide. The present government has gone back to the Supreme Court with a “curative petition” to seek additional compensation from the company on the basis of what we now, 27 years later, know to be the scale of the human toll, she added.

She revealed that while welcoming the curative petition, the survivors are frustrated because the government is still not publishing the true figures. For example the curative petition counts 5295 deaths, but the government’s own figures, obtained from the Indian Council of Medical Research, (ICMR), and other government bodies, put the true death toll at 22,917, she further added.

Meanwhile, after seeing the situation taking a violent turn Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan met the representatives of the NGOs and assured that appeal will be reiterated for compensation in death category in cases where kin of gas victims dying of permanent or temporary disability are not being provided compensation in death category, but under seriously injured category. He will make an appeal to the Prime Minister in this connection. He informed that he had also made an appeal to the Prime Minister in this connection earlier also and will reiterate this appeal again. He told the representatives of gas victims that if they wish they can also join the delegation led by him during the meeting with the Prime Minister.

The Chief Minister said that setting up a special court will also be considered for speedy disposal of pending court cases of gas victims. On the insistence of Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group for Information & Action, the Chief Minister reportedly assured to order an impartial investigation into Saturday's violent incident.

Chouhan said this during meeting with representatives of gas victims at his residence here today. Chouhan said that he has been striving to ensure that gas victims of every category get maximum compensation and these efforts will continue in future also.

Chief Minister Chouhan said that a team of experts will be constituted to assess damage to population and environment due to gas leak. Demand of more compensation will also be made on its basis. He informed that the project aiming at benefiting gas victims will be redesigned.

The gas victims' representatives who called on Chief Minister Chouhan separately included Abdul Jabbar, Shahid Noor, Pramod, Ms Manju, Ms Premlata Chowdhry and Satinath Sarangi.

On the other hand hundreds of survivors in a rally led by activist Abdul Jabbar, convenor of Bhopal gas Peedit Mahila Udhyog Sangathan, marched from Yaadgar-e-Shahjahani Park to Kamla Park and handed over a memorandum to a sub-divisional magistrate enlisting four demands which included also adequate compensation to the gas victims. Before the start of the rally a public meeting was held at the Yaadgar-e-Shahjahani wherein social activists from Japan Yoichi TANI and from Canada Ms Catarina also participated.

The survivors were administered an oath by Abdul Jabbar wherein they pledged to continue the struggle till their last of breath so that the people of Bhopal who were victims of the tragedy could get justice and another Bhopal does not take place again.

Meanwhile, expressing grief over the 27th anniversary of Bhopal gas tragedy, Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav said this incident has left an indelible mark on the hearts of Bhopal's residents. It cannot be forgotten or erased from their memories. He said that such an incident should not be repeated anywhere in the world. He expressed satisfaction on what the State Government is doing for gas victims' relief and rehabilitation effectively. It is the only way of alleviating pains of gas-affected families, he added.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, MP Kailash Joshi, Urban Administration Minister Babulal Gaur, Home Minister Umashankar Gupta, Bhopal Mayor Mrs. Krishna Gaur, MLA Mr. Dhruv Narayan Singh, Bhopal Municipal Corporation Chairman Kailash Mishra and Chief Secretary Avani Vaish were also present at the all-religion prayer.

On the occasion, representatives of various religions recited their respective scriptures for the peace of those who died in the gas tragedy. They included Dr. Shivdutt Shastri, Syed Mohammad Kazmi Fazili, Gyani Dilip Singh Ji, Fr. Anand Mutungal, Pujya Bhante Shakya Putra Sagar and Bal Brahmachari Atmanand Ji. All the people paid floral tributes to the symbol of gas tragedy. A two-minute silence was also observed on the occasion for peace of the departed souls.

Meanwhile, Ajay Singh, Congress leader of the Opposition in Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha, has bitterly criticized the Bharatiya Janata Party ruled state government for the police atrocity on the survivors of the gas tragedy. He said that the police action and the district administration role has added one more black chapter in the tragedy which occurred 27 years ago.

Singh said: “I said during the no-confidence motion debate in the legislative Assembly and on many other occasions that the present government has utterly failed to maintain law and order in the state”. The survivors’ organization had more than a month back announced their plan of “Rail Roko” but the district and police administration kept sleeping and took no precautionary step to avert the untoward incident.

It may be recalled here that 40 tones of methyl isocyanate, (MIC – a highly volatile toxic chemical), gas spewed from the pesticide plant – owned by Union Carbide India Limited, (UCIL), a subsidiary of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), USA – in the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984. The gas leak killed 3,000 people instantly and more than 25,000 over the years and inflicting grievous injuries on countless others. Many were deformed for life and many children born with the toxic effect are sick and with congenital malformations. It also affected 100,000 people that night and estimates are that more than 500,000 continue to suffer till date.

[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

Bhopal Gas Tragedy survivors to set fire replica of London Olympic stadium to unwrap ‘Dow Olympics’

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 02 December 2011 | Posted in , , , ,

Indefinite ‘Train Blockade’ from 3rd Dec. to mark 27th Anniversary

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: A replica of the 2012 London Olympic stadium proposed to be “wrapped” by Dow Chemical will be set on fire to unwrap “Dow Olympics” on the eve of observance of the 27th Anniversary of the December 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the world’s worst industrial disaster which killed thousands of people, here on December 2.

Addressing a joint press conference five NGOs (Non-Government organizations) working for the welfare of the survivors of the Union Carbide gas leak in Bhopal, the state capital of central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, announced their plans of observing the 27th Anniversary of the continuing disaster. They said this year their main target is Dow Chemical Company that took over Union Carbide in 2001 and continues to evade civil, criminal and environmental liabilities in Bhopal.

The survivors’ organizations demanded that the Indian government oppose the sponsorship of London Olympics 2012 by Dow Chemical and make the company pay adequate sums for the death and injuries caused by the Union Carbide disaster.

The organizations said that there will be a rally of the survivors and their supporters from Bharat Talkies crossing to Union Carbide’s abandoned factory on December 2nd starting at noon. National Olympians M/s Ashok Dhyanchand, Syed Jalaluddin Rizvi, Sameer Daad and a member of the London Assembly, Mr. Navin Shah will be part of the rally. A replica of the London Olympic stadium proposed to be “wrapped” by Dow Chemical will be taken with the rally.

The 27th Anniversary rally will end in a public meeting in front of the Union Carbide factory where the wrap will be set on fire to unwrap “Dow Olympics”. Chairman of the London Olympics organizing committee Lord Sebastian Coe will be burnt in effigy as a mouthpiece of Dow Chemical.

On 3rd December the organizations will be stopping all trains passing through Bhopal in support of their demand for adequate compensation from Union Carbide and Dow Chemical. They will be protesting against the downplaying of the figures of death and extent of injuries caused to the victims by the central and state governments in the soon to be heard Curative Petition in the Supreme Court of India.

The “Rail Roko” (train blockade) agitation will be peaceful and will continue till the governments agree to present correct information on damage caused by the Bhopal disaster, the organizations said.

The organizations have earlier organized rallies and a citywide shut down demanding that the Indian government ask for 8.1 billion dollars instead of 1.2 billion dollars from Dow and Union Carbide. The organizations charged the government with colluding with the American multinationals and selling out the victims.

The organizations said that while the government is doing its best to protect the interests of the American corporations, it remains apathetic towards the medical care and social, economic and environmental rehabilitation of the victims of the gas disaster and those poisoned due to Union Carbide’s recklessly dumped hazardous wastes. They called for national and international pressure to be brought upon both the Indian government and Dow Chemical to stop the disasters in Bhopal.

Survivors pointed out that figures of exposure related deaths and injuries in the curative petition filed by the Central and the Madhya Pradesh Government are without any basis and are not consistent with the actual damage caused by the disaster. The government’s curative petition mentions a figure of 5,295 deaths caused by the disaster which happens to be one fourth of the figures of death reported by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in its epidemiological report published in 2004. Likewise the government’s report presents the ridiculously low figure of 42 persons with injuries of utmost severity whereas as per the ICMR report this number is well above 33,000.

The representatives of five organizations viz. Ms Rashida Bi of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Nawab Khan of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Balkrishna Namdeo of Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Satinath Sarangi & Ms Rachna Dhingra Bhopal Group for Information & Action and Ms Safreen Khan Children Against Dow Carbide jointly addressed the joint Press conference.

Meanwhile, members of the Sambhavna Trust, which is providing free medical care to survivors of the Gas Disaster for the last 15 years, are organising various programmes on the occasion of the 27th anniversary of the disaster on December 2.

According to the Sambhavna trust members they would be creating awareness on the health and healthcare of people affected by this gas disaster and groundwater contamination as well as on the chemical hazards in the city. They said that on December 2, they will take part in the survivors' rally with a poster exhibition and street plays. On the same evening, the members will pay homage to the persons killed by the gas disaster by holding a candlelight vigil.

While speaking on the specialties of the Sambhavna Clinic, pediatrician Dr. Mohammad Waseem said that at Sambhavna, survivors are provided appropriate treatment through Allopathic, Ayurvedic and Yoga systems of healthcare. He said Sambhavna was the only healthcare facility in the city that exclusively provided for gas victims and those poisoned by chemicals from Union Carbide's recklessly dumped hazardous waste.

Dr. Waseem said that treatment protocols for over a dozen most common symptom complexes among the victims of Union Carbide's poisons have been developed at Sambhavna. He said that through Ayurveda and Panchakarma (herbal detoxification procedures) incurable illnesses such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and paralysis are treated successfully at Sambhavna.

He stated that a large part of the Ayurvedic medicines prescribed at their clinic are produced at the clinic itself using methods outlined in ancient texts. The herbs needed to manufacture the medicines are grown in the clinic garden without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.

Dr. Waseem said that the Sambhavna Clinic is fully computerised to constantly improve treatment and health monitoring facilities. He said that the community health workers of Sambhavna carry out screening for cervical cancers, control of TB and malaria and health education with the participation of community health volunteers.

It may be recalled here that 40 tones of methyl isocyanate, (MIC – a highly volatile toxic chemical), gas spewed from the pesticide plant – owned by Union Carbide India Limited, (UCIL), a subsidiary of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), USA – in the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984. The gas leak killed 3,000 people instantly and more than 25,000 over the years and inflicting grievous injuries on countless others. Many were deformed for life and many children born with the toxic effect are sick and with congenital malformations. It also affected 100,000 people that night and estimates are that more than 500,000 continue to suffer till date.

[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

Climatic Crimes: Durban Talks to Halt Climate Change?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

By Dr. Abdul Ruff

Green gas emissions cause devastating change in climatic h behavior, negatively affecting the lives on the earth. USA, China and India are the leading climatic criminal states guilty of serious climatic crimes against humanity over years. The GST wars initiated by global state terrorist nations under the banner of NATO terror syndicate led by USA-UK terror twins have further accelerated the process of climatic change.

G20 keeps meeting at various places discuss the issue and disperse but they conclude secret arms-deals as well as on economic-military contribution for the ongoing illegal terror wars in Islamic world on fake pretexts.

But the climatic behavior continues to be atrocious day by day.

Once again, perhaps as a mere formality, the delegates from over 190 countries are in Durban for a two-week conference beginning on 28 November. They hope to break deadlocks on how to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants.

Climate change will be a central theme for the 20,000 national officials, lobbyists, scientists and advocates gathering under U.N. auspices in the coastal city of Durban on Nov. 28. Their two weeks of negotiations will end with a meeting of government ministers from more than 100 countries.

The immediate focus is the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 agreement requiring 37 industrialized countries to slash carbon emissions to 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. Each country has a binding target and faces penalties for falling short. The U.S., then and now the world's largest polluter per capita, refused to join Kyoto because it imposed no obligations on countries like China, which has since surpassed the U.S. in overall emissions. Now, with the Kyoto pact's expiry date looming, poor countries want the signatories to accept further reductions in a second commitment period up to at least 2017. "The Kyoto Protocol is a cornerstone of the climate change regime," and a second commitment period "is the central priority for Durban," says Jorge Arguello of Argentina, the chairman of the developing countries' negotiating bloc known as G77 plus China.

As delegates gather in South Africa to plot the next “big push” against climate change, Western regimes are saying it's time to move beyond traditional distinctions between industrial and developing countries and get China and other growing economies to accept legally binding curbs on greenhouse gases. But with growing consensus, wealthy countries are saying they cannot give further pledges unless all others — or at least the major developing countries — accept commitments themselves that are equally binding.

The division of the globe into two unequal parts was embedded in the first climate convention adopted in 1992. At that time China was struggling to liberalize its economy, India was just opening its borders to international commerce, South Africa was breaking out of the apartheid era, and Brazil — the host of the Earth Summit where the convention was adopted — was an economic shambles with inflation topping 1,100 percent that year.

It's an old debate that has been intensifying with the rapid growth of economies like those of China, India and some in Latin America and the wealth as well as high carbon emissions they generate.

Christiana Figueres, head of the UN climate secretariat says she expects governments to make a long-delayed decision on whether industrial countries should make further commitments to reduce emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases. She says that "it's a tall order for governments to face this," but that they show no interest in yet another delay and a decision on extending emission reduction commitments under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol has been postponed for two years. Previous commitments expire next year.

The European Union is bringing a proposal to Durban calling for a timetable for everyone to make these commitments by 2015. Separately, Norway and Australia set out a six-page proposal for all governments to adopt a phased process of scaling down emissions. Japan, Canada and Russia, three key countries in the Kyoto deal, announced last year they will not sign up to a second commitment period. Russia has submitted a proposal calling for a review and periodic amendments to the criteria for being judged rich or poor under Kyoto's legal prescriptions.

The European commissioner on climate policies Connie Hedegaard said they need to discuss whether they can continue to divide the world in the traditional thinking of the North and the South, where the North has to commit to a binding form whereas the South will only have to commit in a voluntary form. The EU dismisses the poor countries' argument that, "you created the problem, now you fix it." Hedegaard says the EU is responsible for just 11 percent of global emissions, and it can't solve global warming without the help of those emitting the other 89 percent.

The industrial countries — the US chief among them — have long questioned whether those definitions of rich and poor, drawn up 20 years ago, should still apply. That was one reason why the US backed out of the Kyoto Protocol. America says it is a world leader in producing wind and solar energy as well and has closed thousands of outdated and heavily polluting power plants, replacing many with cleaner-burning coal plants. USA claims that its fuel efficiency standard already surpasses the 35 miles per gallon (14.7 kilometers per liter) for passenger cars that the US regime hopes to reach in 2016. And so the stalemate continues leading up to Durban.

China, the world's top greenhouse gas emitter, said it would push at the climate talks for an extension of the Kyoto Protocol, which requires rich nations to reduce their emissions. Beijing's top climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua also called on wealthy nations to hammer out a funding mechanism to help developing countries implement efforts to address global warming at the Durban meeting. But he said China would only take on commitments "appropriate to our stage of development", reiterating Beijing's long-held view that poorer countries should not be required to make binding commitments on emissions.

China has always said that developed nations, with their long history of industrialization, should take responsibility for climate change. Developed nations... must according to the Kyoto Protocol commit to a first commitment period and a second commitment period on reduction targets. "Developing nations, after receiving funds and technology, should adopt active amelioration actions."

Canada, Japan and Russia have already refused to sign on for a second commitment period, objecting to the lack of legal constraints on the world's biggest carbon polluters. But the lack of binding constraints over emerging economies like China and India and the refusal of the United States to join the protocol have gravely weakened efforts to address the issue, especially after the near collapse of climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009.

China perhaps is doing all it could, and had in 2009 committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per unit of gross national product by between 40 and 45 percent by 2020 compared with 2005 emissions.

Europe says it can accept a continuation, provided China and the US show they are serious about major cuts in the coming years. "There is a view from the international community that China is the number one emitter of carbon dioxide and its emissions are growing rapidly," Xie said, referring to the main greenhouse gas that causes global warming. "This assessment is correct, China's current emissions of greenhouse gases are very huge, and the increase is very rapid. This is a fact." But he conceded that China's overall emissions would increase during the period to 2020 and China is adopting active measures to reduce the speed of increase of greenhouse gases in an effort to reach a peak of carbon dioxide emissions at an early date. He refused to predict when China's greenhouse gas emissions would peak.

The first commitment period expires at the end of 2012. The emission-reduction plan for developed countries in the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol should be made clear as soon as possible.

Some Observations

USA, China and India are the top nations guilty of emissions causing speedy change in climatic conditions. Despite their swelling national bank accounts, China, India, South Africa and others say they are still battling poverty and that tens of millions of their people lack electricity or running water. To accept legal equality with wealthy countries would jeopardize their status as developing societies — even though few countries are doing more than China to rein in the growth of their emissions.

Everyone agrees that the few wealthy nations have the primary responsibility for reducing carbon emissions, since it was their industries that pumped carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for 200 years. Climate scientists say the accumulation of CO2 traps the Earth's heat, is already changing some weather patterns and agricultural conditions, and is heightening risks of devastating sea level rise.

Serious discussions are going on behind the scenes over the European timetable plan, although it was not clear this week if an agreement was possible in Durban. China privately is showing more flexibility than in public. Christiana Figueres says the North-South divide over historical responsibility still has more weight than the forward-looking approach of respective capabilities. If no deal can be concluded, Figueres said last month, a patchwork of interim arrangements may be needed to keep negotiations alive.

World leaders would assemble, talks, eat and drink heavily even during the deliberations, take group photos, shake their dirty hands and disperse.

Unfortunately, the world leaders have not really felt the urgency to arrest the impending climactic disaster by undertaking steps to contain the emissions to the atmosphere. Nor do they realize their criminal folly in escalating illegal wars in Islamic world for energy resources which in tun have further crippled the climatic conditions.

[Dr. Abdul Ruff is Specialist on State Terrorism. He is Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs (CIA). He is former university Teacher, Analyst in International Affairs and an Expert on Middle East. He can be contacted at abdulruff@ymail.com]

Does Islam Advocate Hatred?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

How can you claim Islam is a peaceful religion when there are verses in the Qur'an commanding Muslims to fight? Islam is the only religion that advocates hatred!

By Heba Raouf Ezzat

If you want to find negative statements in any book you will. If you want to understand the words in the Qur’an referring to jihad (struggle including fighting) as allowing Muslims to retaliate when attacked, you will do so. If you want to say: “No ... these are the main principles of Islam”, you will say that as well!

Read for example: And why should ye not fight in the cause of God and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: "Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!" (Surah 4 Verse 75)

This is a call of Islam to help and rescue ANY oppressed people, not only Muslims. This is where jihad is a tool of liberating the oppressed, without even asking them to convert to Islam. For example, this is what Islam did in Egypt, where we have here a substantial Coptic minority. No Holocaust erased them and nobody forced them to convert. On the other hand, Muslims were thrown out of Andalusia (Spain) along with Jews, to keep Europe "Christian".

In the Old Testament you can find very odd verses reflecting the behavior of prophets, as well as words of God that illustrate Him in conflict with man!

Here, the question is how one reads the text, any text and in what context it is put. "Knowledge and power" as the French postmodern philosopher Foucault said!

Please, allow me to ask – for I have just sent back a reply to a Zionist Christian who believes that Palestinians should be killed and then the Jews will endure torture and killing, so that Christ would come back and the Kingdom of God would return.

Is Islam really the religion that advocates hatred? Sir, where in the Qur’an do you find that Muslims are the “chosen” people? Where in the Qur’an are they allowed to kill innocent people?

Actually the call for jihad is basically what is called now "humanitarian intervention" or the retaliation vis a vis aggression. Even if it is mentioned that some Jews and Christians will not accept the message of Islam it nevertheless stated that "among them are true believers".

Well, did Qur’an say lies about Christians? Please check history books about the crusades and you can tell that there was aggression in the name of Jesus indeed!

Yet again, we do not hate Christians or Jews. We simply hate injustice when committed by anyone, who ever he is. In the Qur’an it is also said that Muslims might sometimes fight Muslims and it is stated what should be done in such case.

Qur’an is not a book of Utopia. It is a book of life, real life, real politics, real society and real people. It deals with real human nature, whether good or bad. Simultaneously, it tries to change people to become more morally responsible and ethically conscious. In Islam, especially in the tradition of the prophet, you can find values and ethics that are very much like Christian ethics, preached by Jesus - peace be upon him.

See for example: Michael Hart's book that rated the most 100 influential people in world history ranking Muhammad as No. 1: The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History.

(Courtesy: OnIslam.net)

UK: Islamic schools flourish to meet demand

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

Demand for Islamic education in England is growing fast and schools – official and unofficial – are springing up to meet it. Now some local authorities are concerned that there is insufficient regulation

By Fran Abrams

At about eight o'clock on a dull autumnal morning, a mother is preparing breakfast for her young son in the kitchen of an unassuming private house on a little modern estate in Leicester. The doorbell rings. Outside, a series of people carriers and estate cars are rolling up one by one; out of them tumbling a succession of children in twos and threes, all in traditional Islamic dress.

By 8.30, 26 children – some of them only just old enough for school, some almost grown – are sitting in tight rows on the floor of a little inner room, reciting morning prayers in Arabic and in English. By 9.30, the conservatory has become an infant classroom, the dining room has been taken over by the juniors and in the living room, year 7 and 8 girls are preparing to spread their geography projects across the laminate flooring.

By now, the mother has vanished – she doesn't want her name or address to be used, she says, because already families are turning up at odd hours asking to look round the "school" – and Fatima D'Oyen, director of Manara Education, has taken charge with her small team of staff.

There's no doubting that the Manara academy is a most unusual educational institution. But it's also part of a national trend. Although the number of Islamic schools is still small – around 140 at the latest count, just 12 of them state-funded – it is growing fast. About 60 of these schools have opened in the last 10 years; several in the last couple of months. And the demand from parents seems to be huge – one school in Birmingham recently attracted 1,500 applications for just 60 places. At least five Islamic schools have recently applied to be free schools, although so far only one has been approved.

Manara is one of two Islamic schools that have opened in Leicester this autumn – although in its case, the word "school" can only be used loosely. Manara operates just three mornings a week, and its pupils are registered as home-educated.

Because Manara operates on a part-time basis, it does not need to register with the Department for Education as a school. But the rise in the number of Islamic schools has raised some concerns. Leicester City Council has called for national guidance to ensure that parents who send their children to "flexi schools" like Manara can be sure the staff have criminal record checks and their buildings are safe. And in some areas, full-time schools have opened without registration – meaning that there are no checks on the suitability of their staff or the quality of their curriculum.

D'Oyen aims to open a fully registered, full-time school next year. Until recently, she was the headteacher of another Muslim school in Leicester, but left earlier this year – and decided to start her own school. She quickly found that the formalities required were much more cumbersome than in her native US, where she had previously helped to set up an Islamic school in New Mexico.

"The Department for Education wanted everything done six months in advance; they wanted a plan of the building, they wanted to come and inspect," she says. "They wanted to see our curriculum plans in detail – a lot of rigmarole. And we wanted to be open in September. So legally we are a private tuition service – like a supplementary school, but during the day."

Despite its unconventional setting – D'Oyen was invited to tea with the family who live here and seized on the idea that the house could be turned into a school – the children seem contented and the curriculum varied. Manara is experimenting with Montessori teaching methods, and religious education includes moral and personal discussions as well as study of the Qur'an. The time spent by many children learning the Qur'an at madrasas – often 10 hours a week or more – can rob them of their childhood, D'Oyen believes, and she hopes to provide a more humane alternative. The pupils will learn about gardening and alternative technologies, and have access to the garden, which is used as an outdoor classroom.

"We'd like to teach a long morning, which would include some Islamic education, and then in the afternoons children would have more choice of activities – arts, crafts, PE," D'Oyen says. "We want the children to have creativity in their lives, and to follow some of their interests."

She foresees no problems at all in finding pupils – another Islamic school in Leicester already has five applications for each place. The demand from Muslim parents for an education outside the mainstream is growing, she says.

Others in the Muslim world agree with her. Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, founder of the Muslim Institute thinktank, says there is a growing feeling among Muslim parents that mainstream schools are not serving their children well: "If schools are focused on raising standards and on ensuring that there is discipline, I think most people are happy with that," he says. "But more and more parents are concerned about the quality of education, and about discipline."

Yet in some areas, situations have arisen that have caused concern. A headteacher in the north of England, who asked not to be identified, described how an Islamic school had opened up two years ago without permission opposite her own primary school. "It operated for about six months without registration, and then it was forced to close. It didn't take long before it was registered and reopened again," she says. "Some lovely ladies came to see me and they invited me and my deputy to see what was happening there. But I have to say I found the whole thing very worrying indeed – it's just so divisive." She had been trained as an Ofsted inspector, she said, and did not believe that the school would have been allowed to operate in the state sector. Its buildings, even after renovation, were unsuitable, she said, and its curriculum was too narrow, with every lesson being linked in some way to the Qur'an or the life of the Prophet Muhammad.

The Association of Muslim Schools, set up 20 years ago to support a then-tiny band of institutions, acknowledges that in response to a growing demand for Islamic education, a number of full-time schools have opened without proper formalities.

"The Department for Education is in constant contact with us, and they do tell us if someone's operating without registration," says Shazad Mohammed, the director of the association. "Then we visit to stress the importance of registering – the local authorities have to know where the children are, for safeguarding purposes. We strongly discourage this – it is illegal to operate without registration."

But it is hardly surprising that there should be some breaches, he adds – the UK has two and a half million Muslims, and the number is rising fast. The majority are aged between 13 and 25. One highly regarded Muslim school, the Al-Hijrah school in Birmingham, has introduced a lottery system to allocate places because up to 25 parents are competing for each one.

In Leicester, the city council says it is anticipating a rise in the number of "flexi schools" like Manara, and it has asked the government to address the issue. "It is anticipated that this form of education may become more common, and the local authority has asked that the Department for Education consider producing national guidance for parents and providers around the quality of provision, including criminal record checks, health and safety and planning permission," it said in a statement.

The DfE welcomed Leicester's commitment to working with home educators, but did not respond to requests for a comment on whether there should be more regulation of the sector.

But for Fatima D'Oyen, the road ahead seems clear. Leicester's home education inspector paid her a visit this month, and was apparently impressed. Attempts to regulate the sector further would be counterproductive, she argues. "My perspective is that 95% of parents can be trusted to do what is best for their children," she says. "I don't believe it is either possible or desirable to try to regulate, especially if the desire to do so comes from racism or misplaced paternalism. The reality is that most Muslims setting up or working at Islamic schools, whether part-time, full-time, supplementary or otherwise, do so out of a sense of altruism and wanting to help children get a good education."

(Courtesy: The Guardian, UK)

Plans to develop Shariah interbank market

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

By Sanjeevi Jayasuriya

The Shariah interbank market will be developed in Sri Lanka to position the country to become a regional player. The possibilities are being looked at to raise a Shariah bond and negotiations are taking place at present.

The Sri Lankan banking industry landscape needs to be changed to incorporate better practices. Hence, Shariah is a concept that could be adopted by any customer not only Muslims, we need to promote this banking model, Wealth Lanka Management Chairman Mangala Boyagoda said.

“We will combine our exclusive strengths to introduce specialized Shariah linked financial instruments, incorporating true Shariah principles to the local market for the benefit of not only for Muslim brethren, but also for the country at large,” he said.
Islamic finance specialist Al Tayseer Advisory Services (Al Tayseer), a part of International Al Tayseer Group, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Wealth Lanka Management (Pvt) Ltd, a local consultancy firm to jointly develop Shariah linked financial instruments for the local market by pooling their individual expertise. Many banks and financial institutions are experiencing increased demand for Shariah linked products and this demand is expected to grow further. As such, our focus will be to develop short and medium-term Shariah based financial instruments for banks, finance companies, leasing companies, corporate entities as well as the government,” he said.

“We are confident that entering into this new venture is both timely and appropriate. The launch of the venture would help support the government endeavours as well as offer alternative and innovative financial products in line with Shariah principles. In the backdrop of the dawn of peace and the government’s commitment to develop capital markets will have positive impact on the venture, Boyagoda said. The Shariah concept is different from commercial banking and there is a need to educate and train the public to gain benefit. The country’s Shariah banking will be developed according to the Malaysian model and discussions are underway with two banks to develop a road map, Al Tayseer Director Edwin Das said.

“Al Tayseer has identified Sri Lanka as an emerging market for Islamic finance. We have much to offer for the country’s business community in terms of Islamic banking advisory, consultancy, training, legal and compliance, regulatory framework and policies,” he said.

(Courtesy: Daily News, Sri Lanka)

US University installs Foot Baths For Muslims

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

Boston University Acknowledges Growing Population

Boston: As the nation's Muslim population grows, so does debate over religious accommodation.

In Boston, one university has taken steps to help Muslim students maintain an important ritual: bathing before prayer.

At the center for English Language and Orientation at Boston University students come from all over the world to master English. The largest group is Muslims.

"We have to pray five times, and every five times we have to wash," said student Reeema Alashgar.

It's a ritual that includes washing the feet.

"Using our bathroom ended up being a messy situation with a lot of water on the floor," said Center director Margot Veldivia.

So when the center upgraded the bathrooms they installed ritual foot baths.

"The students have been very grateful. They didn't ask for this but rather we understood the tradition and how necessary it was in their daily lives," she said.

"I was amazed. Before we used to have to use the sink" said student Omar Biyari.

Across the country a number of universities, including the University of Michigan in Dearborn and George Washington University in Washington D.C., have installed foot baths.

So have two airports, the Indianapolis Airport and KCI Airport in Kansas City, Missouri. In each case the move came with some degree of resistance.

Former Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called the foot baths at the University of Michigan an "accommodation we're making to one religion at the expense of the others." He called it "un-American."

Muslim prayer rooms and foot baths are also inside B.U.'s student union. Most students we spoke to welcomed the extra effort. Others questioned sharing a religious ritual in a public bathroom.

"In a public place, not everyone shares the same religions and beliefs," said one student.

"We don't look at it like that. This is a large population," said Veldivia. "We are dedicated to the students in global harmony. They count. That's what we're here for," she said.

Some of the foot baths in other states were built using public funds. The American Civil Liberties Union generally objects to public money being used for religious structures. But they don't take issue with the foot baths because, they say, anyone can use them.

OPINION: Strong partnership awaits American and Muslim world

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

By Fakhruddin Ahmed

Pew Research Center’s 2009 demographic survey revealed that 23 percent of the world’s population (1.57 billion people) is Muslim. They’re spread among 173 nations, 50 with Muslim majorities. Millions more live in non-Muslim India, Europe, China and Russia. Contrary to popular belief, Arabs constitute only 20 percent of the world’s Muslim population; nearly 50 percent of Muslims are South Asians.

Islam encompasses all ethnicities and culinary, linguistic and cultural traditions. The House of Islam is far from monolithic. Religion aside, a Muslim from Kazakhstan and one from Indonesia have very little in common.

As the youngest monotheistic faith, Islam attracted converts from existing religions. In South Asia, where Islam took root in the home of two peaceful ancient religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, Islam is moderate and the Muslims are tolerant.

In the Middle East, where Islam originated, frequent clashes with Christians, Jews, and more recently, Western colonial powers, have engendered less tolerance and more extremism.

The religious experience of Muslims varies from laissez-faire in the Balkans to ultra-conservative in the Gulf states. The pace of Americanization of Muslim immigrants depends on the orthodoxy of Islam practiced in their native lands. Exposure to “madrassas” that emphasize rote memorization rather than thorough comprehension of the Quran, or subscription to aberrant theologies that condone violence in Islam’s name, translate to slower integration.

America’s pluralistic culture and independent judiciary exert a moderating influence on incoming immigrants. For example, without bribes, nothing gets done in many Muslim countries. When Muslims see that bribing is a crime in America, they are ecstatic!
Even in Muslim democracies, the masses are skeptical of the judicial system, which favors the powerful. Once they realize that justice is blind in America — that even a president can be impeached for lying under oath — their confidence in America soars, as does their proclivity toward moderation.

Moderation will reign in the Muslim world once popular upheaval triggers the domino-like fall of the remaining unsavory dictators. The turbulence of the Arab Spring will spawn the flowering of democracy, satisfying Muslims’ yearning for democracies like Turkey over theocracies like Iran.

Since human predilection is to judge others by their race and religion, Muslims inside America must proactively educate and reassure average Americans about themselves and Islam.

Recently, a congregation of elderly Jews visited an Islamic center in New Jersey. After two hours of interfaith dialogue, one of the visitors whispered to a host: “You have no idea how many minds you have changed today. We visited your mosque with trepidation, expecting to see bin Laden posters plastered on the walls and weapons stockpiled everywhere!”

When the same center applied for expansion of its parking facilities and the neighbors objected vociferously, the township mayor advised the mosque leadership to invite their neighbors to an open house. Addressing the meeting of the zoning board after the open house, a representative of the neighbors said they had found the mosque members to be decent citizens and were withdrawing their objections.

These incidents highlight the challenges confronting Muslim Americans as they navigate the treacherous waters of anti-Muslim hysteria. Muslims must reverse their penchant for sequestering themselves and invite their neighbors to their homes, visit churches and synagogues and become politically involved in issues that affect all citizens.

Muslims must remember that the Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Chinese and Japanese (through internment) also suffered pangs of assimilation. Muslims have the advantage of protection by anti-discrimination laws since enacted to safeguard minorities.

Muslims fervently pray that the current populist rage against and scapegoating of Muslims triggered by the economic downturn, and the Tea Party Republicans’ use of Muslim-baiting as a wedge issue to enhance their electoral prospects in the 2012 presidential election, will subside once the economy improves and the election is over.

Islam-bashers may rage, but Muslim Americans are not going “gentle into that good night.” It is estimated that, by 2025, Muslims will constitute 30 percent of the world’s population. It does not behoove America to antagonize nearly one-third of humanity, who occupy huge swaths of land from the Far East, through South and Central Asia and the Middle East, to North and sub-Saharan Africa, and who want to befriend America.

Historically, Muslims and America have been allies. Most Muslims sided with America during the Cold War and helped America expel Saddam Hussein’s troops from Kuwait in 1991. America helped the Afghans oust the Soviets from Afghanistan (1980s), and rescued the Bosnians (1995) and the Kosovars (1999) from the pogrom of the Serbs.

Truthfulness, neighborliness, generosity and accountability are virtues Islam preaches and America practices. Culturally and religiously, Muslims and America are natural allies who can forge a formidable partnership. Muslim Americans can be America’s ambassadors and conduits to the Muslim world.

Islamophobes cite the worst acts of Muslim terrorism, such as 9/11, and project them to be the true face of Islam. Non-Muslim Americans must not be swayed into believing that their fellow Muslim citizens are peculiar and aberrant creatures. Instead, they should regard them as assets who can advance America’s vital interests in the burgeoning cultural, religious, non-Western superpower of the future, the Muslim world.

[Fakhruddin Ahmed, D.Phil., is a Rhodes scholar. Originally from Bangladesh, he lives in West Windsor.]

(Courtesy: NJ.com)

Pakistan lacks competent leader to change its destiny: Scholar and historian Nasim Yousaf

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

“In Pakistan, there is not yet a single political leader who can change the destiny of the people.”

IMO News Service

Allama Mashriqi
Islamabad: Nasim Yousaf, a well-known intellectual, scholar and historian, has lamented that his country the Islamic Repubic of Pakitan lacks competent leader who can change the destiny of this embattled nation. Expressing grave concerns about the future of Pakistan, Nasim Yousaf in a press release to Indian Muslim Observer said, “In Pakistan, there is not yet a single political leader who can change the destiny of the people. Pakistan has been led, governed, and controlled by a certain category of people – those who are near- sighted, selfish, or highly corrupt. If such leadership continues, it would be wishful thinking to imagine Pakistan moving forward!” He said that those who are talking of a bright future for the country are giving false hopes to the public. According to him, Pakistan desperately needs a leader like Allama Mashriqi (Founder of the Khaksar Tehrik). The legendary Allama Mashriqi served his nation with the utmost devotion and sought no monetary gains or public office.

Mr. Yousaf regretted that mainstream Pakistanis are unaware of what constitutes real leadership. He felt that this deficiency has resulted in Pakistanis continuing to elect insincere or corrupt politicians. According to him, dishonest leadership is the main reason that Pakistan ranks far behind even other nations that achieved independence around the same time. In the nearly sixty-five years since Pakistan’s independence, many countries around the world have been able to achieve rapid growth. Mr. Yousaf stated, “In my travels to various Asian countries, including China and South Korea, I was flabbergasted by their pace of development and progress. Additionally, Germany, which was torn apart in World War II, has reemerged as a world power.” These countries’ progress demonstrates that this amount of time is sufficient for a nation to rise.

Mr. Yousaf felt that politics in Pakistan has unfortunately become a means to make money, gain power, and advance selfish agendas, rather than a means to serve the people. He lamented that “corruption has seeped into Pakistani society; this disease has converted Pakistan into a seriously sick patient, one whose hopes of progress are dim unless cured.” Mr. Yousaf suggested that the time has come for people to demand that their leaders adopt the life of a common man, much like the respected Allama Mashriqi did. The masses must “discard those leaders who live in luxury while the nation lives in poverty and who keep their assets or bank accounts outside Pakistan.” He urged the print and electronic media to play its role in finding sincere leaders and not promoting corrupt individuals.

He regretted that television and talk shows mostly provided a platform for leaders who were either incapable or insincere. He felt that television channels must provide equal opportunity to all parties, regardless of their size.

Mr. Yousaf said that if Pakistanis want to produce genuine leaders and reformers like Mashriqi, his simple and uncontaminated life and times need to be highlighted as an example for the nation and future generations to learn from. In Mr. Yousaf’s words, “Pakistan’s destiny will not change unless the nation gets a visionary, self-sacrificing and competent leader like the great Allama.”

Nasim Yousaf (grandson of Allama Mashriqi) is the author of many books and articles on Allama Mashriqi and the Khaksar Tehrik. His works have been published in “Harvard Asia Quarterly” and “World History Encyclopedia” (USA), and he has presented papers in scholarly conferences in the USA. His forthcoming book entitled “Mahatma Gandhi & My Grandfather, Allama Mashriqi” uncovers many hidden realities behind the freedom of the Indian sub-continent.

American University of Sharjah Students develop device that generates power from mechanical energy

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

Sharjah, UAE: Students at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) have developed an award winning power generation system using piezoelectric technology to produce sustainable electricity by harnessing mechanical energy, acoustic noise and ultrasonic waves.

By capturing mechanical energy, noise and sound vibrations from situations where noise would otherwise be wasted, the students propose to capture this energy and convert it to electricity by using piezoelectric technology.

Piezoelectric technology is a specific kind of material that generates voltage upon the application of pressure from movement or vibrations. The piezoelectric compound is harnessed by extracting material from natural properties like silicone from sand or using crystal properties mixed with components like titanium to capture vibrations produced from movement.

“People are developing solar power, wind and geothermal energy and biofuels, so we thought why not do something unique in an area nobody is working on,” said Arsalan Mohammad, undergraduate electric engineering student at AUS. “It was worth looking into places where a lot of mechanical energy or noise is wasted like footsteps on a pavement or noise in football stadiums.”

He added that mechanical vibrations through the road could also be captured as well as ultrasonic sound from places such as large aquariums. Animals produce a lot of ultrasonic sounds which humans cannot hear but can be tapped.

Capturing energy

A way to harness energy from cars would be to place piezoelectric devices in speed bumps on the roads.

“Whenever a car goes over the bump it generates vibrations and from that vibration we store the energy,” Dr Yousuf Al Assaf, Dean of the Engineering College at AUS.

“Once the energy accumulates you could light the street with it because the movement is there anyway so this way you save energy as well as the electric grid.”

Another application of the piezoelectric technology, Al Assaf said, could be to place a small device in people’s shoes to capture the energy they create while walking. “Walking generates energy so if it’s stored, you can use it to charge a small electric device like a mobile phone, because you are moving anyway.”

Mohammad along with the rest of his team: Mohammad Ajmal, Danial Ahmad and Mohammad Ateeq were awarded by the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) for their innovation. IET is a globally recognised professional society for the engineering and technology community.

As youth growing up in the 21st century the students were motivated by the global drive to develop alternative forms of renewable and sustainable energy. “If we as youth don’t take the steps right now to contribute to the development of alternative energy we would be limiting ourselves,” said Mohammad. “Now is the time for youth to step up and put forth their innovative ideas because we are currently in the development stage of this field so we’ve got options.”

Team member, Ajmal believes that the students’ applications for their power generation device could also be used to enhance the quality of life for people living in poverty.

Piezoelectric technology

Piezoelectric technology is a specific kind of material that generates voltage upon the application of pressure from movement or vibrations. Crystals which acquire a charge when compressed, twisted or distorted are said to be piezoelectric. When you apply pressure on certain crystalline materials like quartz, Rochelle salt and certain ceramics you get a charge separation within the crystal and a voltage across the crystal that is sometimes extremely high.

For example, in a lighter, the popping noise you hear is a little spring-loaded hammer hitting a crystal and generating thousands of volts across the faces of the crystal. This electrical potential can be harnessed in various ways.

(Courtesy: EdArabia)

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