Narendra Modi -- A Man of half truths

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 13 April 2013 | Posted in , , , ,

By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

Ahmedabad: With Narendra Modi emphasizing that the Gujarat model of development was a success because of empowerment of women at Ficci women wing at Delhi. Why did he not speak for Muslim women's plight? Is Zakia Jaffri not a woman and is she not fighting justice precisely because Narendra Modi is denying her justice. Is Kausar Bi not a woman, who was brutally murdered and whose killers were defended till the end by Narendra Modi and his government? Was Ishrat Jahan not a girl who deserved justice, but who was brutally killed in an encounter? And it was Narendra Modi and his government who defended those who were responsible for brutalising, maiming and killing helpless Muslims during 2002 riots.

In 2004, when Narendra Modi saw his state's female foeticide numbers based on the 2001 census, he got goose bumps. But Modi, who peppered his nationally televised address with references to "small initiatives" he had taken to help empower women, skipped the fact that Gujarat's sex ratio dropped further under him, from 918 in 2001 to 915 in 2011.

The four-time chief minister who is being seen as the face of the BJP ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections may have succeeded in making his state friendlier than most others for investment, and for private enterprise.

But by most parameters, women in the state have not had it easier than counterparts in the rest of India, suggesting that Modi's anecdotes of Jasuben the pizzeria owner who apparently gave Pizza Hut a run for its money and the women behind the Amul milk cooperative revolution, may be more exceptions than pointers to a deeper trend.

From their birth, through schooling and university, and even in the workforce and in leadership positions, women in Gujarat have not seen much -- if any -- improvement under Modi, even slipping on certain indicators during his tenure.

Women's safety is an exception. Gujarat is traditionally a safer state for women than most, and the rate of crimes against women has remained consistent at about 1.4% under Modi.Nationally, India's sex ratio rose just barely, from 933 to 940, between 2001 and 2011. But only Bihar and Jammu Kashmir, and the union territories of Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli that abut Gujarat saw an actual decline in their sex ratio, apart from Gujarat.In school, girls in Gujarat have a poorer gender parity index in enrolment than the national average.

Nationally, 94 girls are enrolled in elementary and in secondary school, for every 100 boys. In Gujarat, the numbers drop to 88 girls in elementary classes, and 84 in secondary school.
University Grants Commission offers a post-graduate scholarship for the single girl child, open to all girls who meet a basic set of criteria.Only 18 eligible girls applied - and won the scholarship - from Gujarat in 2012 out of a national total of 2419, much less than other major states like Andhra Pradesh (161), Karnataka (143), Kerala (577), Tamil Nadu (456), Maharashtra (60) and West Bengal (706).Women in Gujarat do not have it easier at the workplace either.

Nationally, women constituted 19.9% of the organised workforce according to labour ministry data.In Gujarat, this fraction has persistently hovered between 13% and 15% over the past decade.In his speech to FICCI women on Monday, Modi also spoke about the absence of women in leadership roles, with the power to make decisions and affect policies.But the Gujarat chief minister's own council of ministers has 2 women out of 19 members.

That's a worse ratio than the already poor 9 women in 74 member council headed by a Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who Modi loves to mock as weak and ineffective.

Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhwadia alleged that Chief Minister Narendra Modi was misleading the people on women's condition in the state where he has shown insensitivity towards the crime against women.

Commenting on Mr Modi's address before the ladies wing of FICCI in New Delhi \Mr Modhwadia said Mr Modi feigned emotions while referring to the female foeticide only to impress the women members of FICCI, but his own state has witnessed a rise in the instances of female foeticide.

He said the Chief Minister has shown crass insensitivity towards the crimes against women including a rape in Viramgam, mass suicide due to the harassment by BJP leaders in Rajkot. 'He has failed to utter a single word condemning the mass sucide or the crimes against women in the state,' Mr Modhwadia said.

He said the Chief Minister has also lied when he claimed that his government passed the bill providing for 50 per cent reservation to women in local self-government bodies in the state.
The bill was returned by the Governor because it also provides for the punishment to those who do not use their franchise in the elections of local bodies. Since the bill seeks to make voting compulsory has been mired in controversy, the state Congress had urged the Modi government to table a separate bill for women's reservation in local bodies.

[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]

Provisions of RTI Act should not be misused: Dr. Samdani

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

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: “Right to information Act is meant for the weaker sections of the society especially dalits, minorities and the backward classes of the country. It is very beneficial for them and due to this Act the poor and backward sections of the society are in a position to get more and more information and become aware of their status in the society”.

The above observation was made by chief guest Dr. Shakeel Samdani of Department Of Law, Aligarh Muslim University, while speaking in a workshop on Right to Information Act, 2005. The Workshop was organised by Aligarh College of Education and Aligarh College of Engineering and Management, Chherat, Aligarh, a Press release said.

Dr. Samdani reportedly said that India is a democratic country and in democracy every citizen has a right to know that how and where the public money is being spent by public representatives and government officers. Whether this money is being used properly or misused by them? By just spending Rs.10 a citizen can obtain information worth millions of rupees. This is a revolutionary Act of 21st century and it should be used and respected by everyone living in this country, he added.

He further said that due to this Act many scams are being unearthed and corrupt persons are being exposed. The days are not far off when the corrupt people will be exposed fully.
While discussing the weaknesses of the RTI Act, Dr. Samdani said that in addition to public authority the Act should cover private bodies also, because in the era of globalisation and privatisation the private sector is also playing a significant role in our country. He said that some dishonest and corrupt people are trying to misuse the provisions of RTI Act posing themselves as RTI activists and harassing and blackmailing dedicated and honest officers. This should be curbed by the concerned authorities. He explained in detail various provisions of the Act and their impact on public authorities. He appealed to the audience to use the provisions of this Act for needy persons and start undertaking social work.

Prof. M. Muqimuddin, the director of the college, said that in future also such type of activities will be organised by the college and he thanked Dr. Samdani for his brilliant and excellent lecture. The workshop was conducted by Syed Umair and Dr. Serajuddin welcomed the guests. Dr. Abida Ghaffar, the principal of Aligarh College of Education, proposed vote of thanks. Dr. M. S. Khan, Dr. Dharmendra Sharma, Dr. Chhabi, Naqvi, Sufiya Anjum, Pooja Gupta, Surendar Kumar, Wasim Ahmad, Mohammad Subhan, etc. participated, the release added.

[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]

Stop persecution of Rohingya Muslims, Break the silence: Muslim organizations to international community & human rights organizations

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

Muslim organizations including Jamaat-e-Islami Hind protest against killings of Rohingya Muslims near Myanmar Embassy in Delhi

IMO News Service

New Delhi: Indian Muslim organizations and human rights bodies demonstrated near Myanmar Embassy in the capital on 9th April 2013 against the non- stop violation of human rights, atrocities and inhuman cruel activities meted out on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

Indian Muslim organisations and civil society under the banner of an umbrella body of Muslim organisations All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM) today condemned the Burmese government in the strongest terms for its inaction and collaboration to stop violence against, and expulsion of, its minority Rohingya population in the Rakhine [Arakan] state.

The demonstration was planned in front of Myanmar Embassy in Chankyapuri Delhi but Delhi police stopped Muslim leaders and protesters at Teen Morti Marg, near Chankyapuri police station. Therefore, protesters were forced to express their protest merely in front of Chankyapuri police station near embassy, instead of Myanmar Embassy.

“We wanted to hold a symbolic protest outside Myanmar Embassy, but the Delhi Police which is infamous for its goondaism and its special cell which has earned global notoriety for fake killings and encounters, have forced us to protest here,” said Dr. Zafrul Islam Khan, president, All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat and condemned the Delhi Police for not allowing them to demonstrate outside the embassy.

“We want to tell the world that Muslims in India are not silent, they know how Rohingya Muslims are the most oppressed community of the world, their citizenship has been snatched through a law which asks Rohingya Muslims to prove their citizenship since 1832. I have written a letter to Myanmar Ambassador that if that law is applied to all communities in Myanmar, the entire country would be empty, as hardly anyone would prove their citizenship,” Dr. Khan, who is also Editor of English fortnightly The Milli Gazette.

“Roghinyas are stateless community, they can’t get education and job, and even passport, over five lakh Rohingya Muslims are living outside the country. Buddhist monks are leading killer mobs,” he said while addressing the demonstrators.

“The persecution of Rohingyas started way back in the 1960s. In 1982, under a strange “law” they were stripped of their Burmese citizenship unless they proved that their ancestors live in Burma way back in 1832. No such law exists anywhere in the world and most Burmese will lose their citizenship if is applied to all in Burma. Rohingyas have lived in that part of Burma continuously for around a thousand years and have ruled the area for centuries. As a result of this persecution and maintaining curfew-like situation in Rohingya towns and villages, close to a million have forces since to flee to the neighbouring countries especially Bangladesh. The current wave of persecution and ethnic cleansing spearheaded by Buddhist monks started in February last year when murder, destruction and torching of thousands of houses and community facilities and expulsion of Rohingyas from their villages started with the connivance of the Burmese government. An estimated 150,000 Rohingyas have since fled their country taking refuge in Bangladesh, India, Thailand and Malaysia where they are living in pitiful conditions. Many have died while attempting to flee in small boats.”

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s all India secretary Mohammad Ahmad said, “we find it highly disappointing that supporters of the on-going democracy process in Myanmar, led by the Nobel Laureate Ang San SuuKyi, have refused to stand for these hapless citizens of Burma. We condemn the inaction by the Myanmar government and ask upon our own government as well as the international organisations and governments of all freedom-loving nations to stand by the Rohingya people in their hour of need and pressurise the Mayanmar junta to mend its ways and apply to the Rohingyas same principles which are applicable to our citizens of Burma and hasten to repatriate the Rohingya refugees who have fled their villages and towns and compensate them adequately to enable them to start their lives once again with honour and dignity and punish the Buddhisht supremacists whose intolerance is turning Burma into a pariah state in the world.”

Addressing the gathering, SQR Ilyas, General Secretary of Welfare Party of India said Myanmar is becoming a Palestine for Rohingya Muslims. “As Palestinians have been removed from their homes and forced to migrate, Rohingya Muslims are also being uprooted, they are being killed and their homes demolished,” said Dr. Ilyas.

He expressed sorrow at the silence of Muslim nations over the plight of Rohingya Muslims. “It is really sad that 52 Muslim countries are not speaking on the issue, they are not pressing the United Nations to pass even resolutions.” He asked Indian Government to respond to the tragedy as the victims will ultimately migrate to India as it is neighboring country. “India should press Myanmar government to stop atrocities against Rohingya Muslims,” demanded Dr. Ilyas.
National Coordinator of Association for Protection of Civil Rights, Akhlaque Ahmed termed the violence in Myanmar as the worst case of human rights violation. He criticized world bodies of human rights for remaining tightlipped over the plight of Rohingya Muslims.

He also expressed anguish over the silent of Myanmar’s democratic activist Aung San Suu Kyi on this issue.

Markazi Jamiat-e-Ahle Hadees leader Shees Taimi also condemned and expressed support for suppressed Rohingya Muslim minority. Students Islamic Organisation of India all India secretary Khaliquz Zafar all expressed his views and condemned the so called champions of human rights who are silent over the violation.

Senior AMU alumni demand healthcare and modern schools facilities in most neglected Okhla minority cluster in Delhi

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

By Parwez Mohammad & Mohammad Aslam

Okhla (New Delhi): A group of senior alumni of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) based in Delhi region has demanded that the Ministry of Family Welfare and Human Resources Development Ministry, Government of India, take effective steps to set up a well equipped central hospital and two central schools in the most neglected Okhla minority cluster in the very backyard of corridor of power in Delhi.

The Okhla minority cluster has a dense population of more than 1 million, and is without any basic facilities of healthcare and good school education. This neglect despite the fact that healthcare and education are a very high priority sectors for the Government of India.

There are enough UP Government land available in their neighbourhood, and if the Govt. of India is sincere then both the ministry can write a letter to UP Govt to transfer this land for these vital services. Any available govt land in any neighbour of a population has a right to demand for the very basic services. These vast tracts of available land within the irrigation ministry of UP Govt have no use for any irrigation department purpose and this is matter of willingness for the Central Govt of Delhi to demand this land for their optimal use.

The Group of AMU has taken a responsibility to further pressurise the Govt of the day in UP to transfer to the both the ministry once the ministries will write a formal letter to the Govt of UP with full plan of utilization of lands for the purpose of creating health and education infrastructure. The majority of the population of this Okhla region is the lower middle class rural migrants from UP and there is no reason for denying this legitimate demands by the Central Govt in Delhi to provide these basic facilities for the migrants population of the UP.

This group of AMU Alumni is going to meet Health and Family Welfare Minister Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad and Minister of Human Resource Mr. M. M. Pallam Raju soon to place these formal demands with clear time-line for implementation and would like to invite both these minister to visit this region to understand the worst conditions of the people living without basic health and education infrastructure facilities.

This group of AMU Alumni has firm view that younger generation of Muslim Indians are only concerned about Modern Education, Health, Employment and Rule of Law and we are no way interested to invest all our energy in Babri Mosque, Personal Law, Triple Talaque and Urdu etc.

[Parwez Mohammad and Mohammad Aslam can be contacted at parwez.mohammad@gmail.com]

‘Stop Islamization of America’ campaign makes no sense: U.S. authorities

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

The founders of a campaign geared at preventing “Islamization” in America are pressing on, this week, with a court battle after their campaign trademark was rejected by U.S. authorities.

The group, named the Freedom of Defense Initiative (FDI), is partly headed by U.S anti-Islam campaigner Pamela Geller. The group was told that their “Stop Islamization of America” campaign makes no literal sense.

“‘Islamization’ means converting to Islam or ‘to make Islamic,’” the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said in a statement rejecting the FDI’s application, as reported by the U.S.-based WND website on Tuesday.

The statement also refuted the group’s stated aim to stop the alleged process of ‘Islamization’ in the country.

“‘Stop’ would be understood to mean that action must be taken to cease, or put an end to, converting or making people in America conform to Islam,” and therefore the trademark would “disparage Muslims and links them to terrorism,” the ruling said.

The aim of the group’s campaign is to “foster and provide an understanding of how to prevent Shariah-based tyranny and Islamist terrorism,” according to the FDI.

Now, the American Freedom Law Center is appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeal, on behalf of Geller, after the trademark application was rejected.

Geller is known primarily for her criticism of Islam and opposition to Muslim activities and causes. She opposed the proposed construction of an Islamic community center near ground zero, the former site of the World Trade Center.

Last December, Geller unveiled her group’s latest anti-Islam subway ad, which included the phrase: “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers,” quoting a snippet translated from the Koran, alongside an image of the World Trade Center twin towers burning on Sept. 11, 2001.

(Courtesy: Al Arabiya)

Exploring life as a Muslim woman

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

By India Stoughton

Beirut: As everything gradually moves online – from reading and shopping to watching television and talking to friends and family – the art world is keeping in step.

While physical exhibitions, museums and art fairs still play a major role when it comes to visual art, other art forms are arguably more suited to online presentation, which allows access to a far wider audience than would ever have been thought possible two decades ago.

Launched last month in honor of International Women’s Day, “Muslima” is an online exhibition of fine art, photography and writing from women around the globe, exploring what it means to be a Muslim woman in today’s world.

Curated by California-based novelist, artist and activist Samina Ali and organized and hosted by the online International Museum of Women, “Muslima” aims to encourage cross-cultural dialogue about Muslim women, to break down barriers, to challenge stereotypes and to encourage understanding.

“All too often, Muslim women are held back by negative attitudes,” Ali explained in an email interview from the U.S. “In the West, those are negative stereotypes of Muslim women: they’re considered illiterate, backward, powerless.

“In some parts of Muslim-majority countries,” she continued, “Muslim women also suffer from negative attitudes that diminish them and limit their power: they aren’t allowed to drive, or they can’t pursue an education, or they are subjected to anti-women laws that are said to be based in Islam but have no basis whatsoever in Islam. The purpose of this exhibition is to show the realities of Muslim women’s lives. ... But – and this is very important – with complexity.”

The exhibition title, chosen by Ali, conveys the inclusive ethos behind the exhibition. “In Arabic, muslima is used to indicate a woman who believes in God and upholds God’s values,” she explains in her curator’s statement, “such as prayer, charity, fasting, kindness and mercy. In the way I’ve written muslima here, it’s singular: one female. This is intentional.

“In a world that’s grown accustomed to denying the rich diversity of Muslim women’s thoughts and contributions,” she continues, “of erasing their complex differences and reducing them into an easy stereotype of an oppressed group, into lesser human beings, this exhibition title highlights the singular form of muslima in order to celebrate the unique passions and accomplishments of each and every Muslim woman who contributes.”

Ali said that according to the Quran, which refers to prophets such as Jesus, Abraham and Moses as Muslims, the term muslima applied to “anyone who believes in a higher power and advances good in the world.”

Ali spent two years putting together the exhibition, contacting prominent Muslim women, most active in promoting women’s rights, to invite them to participate. “It’s been an all-consuming, at times overwhelming, process,” she says.

“There are so many different components to this exhibition: interviews of leading reformers like Dr. Shirin Ebadi and Sima Samar and Zainah Anwar. Then we feature art in all genres: fiction, poetry, essay, photography, painting, multimedia, film, documentary, song.”

The “Muslima” team is accepting submissions from artists around the world until April 15, whether male or female, Muslim or non-Muslim, as long as they tackle the topic of what being a Muslim woman means on an individual and societal level. Each submission must relate to one of eight topics – power, leadership, appearance, myths, generations, faith, change and connection.

To date, the online gallery includes work by Lebanese painter Helen Zughaib, Palestinian artist Laila Shawa, Iranian painter Samira Abbassy, Italian sculptor, video artist and photographer Maimouna Guerressi, among many others.

Alongside the artwork are essays by women who are more comfortable expressing themselves in words than images, as well as a series of Q&As Ali conducted with Muslim women who are pioneers in their fields.

“Most of the women I’ve interviewed are women who are not artists themselves,” says Ali.
“They can’t speak to their reality through their painting or photography or fiction. But these women are doing the hard, necessary work of reforming laws and countries and attitudes. ... I wanted to bring their voices into this exhibition, unfiltered.”

Among the women Ali interviewed are Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian lawyer who became the first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, as well as Maria Bashir, currently Afghanistan’s only female prosecutor general, who has risked her life to educate local women and fight high levels of violence against women in Afghan society.

A democratic exhibition, in the sense that it is open to anybody – providing they have internet access – “Muslima” places work by newcomers alongside pieces by famous artists such as Shawa, who also discusses her “Walls of Gaza” series in an interview with Ali.

“This is not an exhibition for the elite,” Ali stresses. “Any woman, no matter her economic status, no matter where she lives, in a village in India or the heart of London, has an important story to share.

“By being virtual, the museum is providing a global platform where all women can engage in a dialogue across race, culture, religion, and economics. Only by fully engaging all women can we make a difference.”

You can visit “Muslima” online at http://muslima.imow.org.

(Courtesy: The Daily Star, Lebanon)

The BBC’s warped sense of impartiality

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

Its reporting of the circumstances surrounding activist Corrie’s death was not an honest mistake by a cub reporter, but a conscious decision by a supposedly reputable news organisation to suppress the truth

By Tariq A.Al Maeena

When it comes to editorial guidelines and impartiality, the BBC claims to follow a straight path in its standards. The BBC Trust claims that “ensuring the impartiality of the BBC is a key priority for the Trust; it is essential to its independence that the BBC retains the public’s trust as an impartial purveyor of news and programming”.

It goes on to claim that “the BBC is required to deliver duly impartial news by the Royal Charter and Agreement and to treat controversial subjects with due impartiality. The Trust is committed to making sure that the BBC fulfils this obligation”. The need to be “duly accurate” in reporting is also emphasised.

But does the BBC deliver what it claims? Not so, and specifically when it is in the area of reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What really challenges the credibility of this news service is its consistent denial of the distortion and fabrication of facts in the face of hard evidence.

In repeated instances such bias interspersed in short news or video clips have often gone unchallenged, but blatant bias cannot always and easily be dismissed.

In a BBC Radio 4 World at One programme last year, following the judgment by the Israeli courts on the intentional killing of Rachel Corrie as being her own doing, the BBC radio reporter, in interviews with Corrie’s father and Mark Regev, the spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, manipulated facts and added untruths to support the Israeli court judgment.

Corrie, a US citizen who was born in 1979 in the state of Washington, had come to Rafah in the Gaza strip in early 2003 to witness first-hand the brutality of the Israeli occupation. In her last emails to her family, Corrie spoke of her brief experiences.

“I spent a lot of time writing about the disappointment of discovering, somewhat first-hand, the degree of evil of which we are still capable,” she wrote.

A peace activist, she was a witness to the calculated bulldozing of Palestinian homes to make way for illegal Israeli colonies. In speaking about the displaced Palestinians, she added, “I should at least mention that I am also discovering a degree of strength and of basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances — which I also haven’t seen before. I think the word is dignity.

“I am just beginning to learn, about the ability of people to organise against all odds, and to resist against all odds.”

However, all that came to an end on March 16, 2003, when at the age of 23, she was run down and crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer as she stood before it in defiance of the Israeli intention to demolish more Palestinian homes.

In an investigation that took a few days to conclude — and did not take into account recorded statements of eyewitnesses — an Israeli court deemed her death as accidental, saying that “the death of Ms Corrie was not caused as a result of a direct action by the bulldozer or by its running her over, but rather by a hard object, most probably a slab of concrete which was moved or slid down while the mound of earth which she was standing behind was moved”.
Eyewitnesses rejected the judgment immediately. Nicholas Porter Durie, an activist who was at the scene, declared: “She slipped and fell to the ground in front of the bulldozer, which notwithstanding continued its steady pace.”

Eyewitness account

Joseph Carr, another westerner who witnessed the cold blooded killing, said: “The bulldozer driver and co-operator could clearly see her. Despite this, the driver continued forward, which caused her to fall back. He continued forward, and she tried to scoot back, but was quickly pulled underneath the bulldozer.”

In that Corrie died by an Israeli bulldozer is no denying. And in that she was actively trying to prevent the demolishing of Palestinian homes is another undeniable fact.

But getting back to the BBC. In diabolical spin doctoring, the radio reporter Martha Kierney tried to casually dismiss her death by commenting that, “Clearly, Rachel Corrie was one of the casualties of what happened that day, and I know Israeli soldiers died too”.

Fabricated information, period! There were no Israeli deaths that day. In fact, the opposite was true. Several Palestinians and the one American had lost their lives to Israeli forces on that particular day.

As Amena Saleem, a network watchdog active in keeping a close eye on the UK media’s coverage of Palestine stated, “The extent to which the BBC is prepared to misreport on the Israeli occupation has been made clear once again. A new ruling by the BBC Trust has defended the corporation’s coverage of the Rachel Corrie case, even though it falsely implied that the unarmed activist was in some way responsible for the deaths of Israeli soldiers.

In denial

“Kearney chose not to mention these Palestinian fatalities at all — instead, she decided to invent some Israeli army deaths. By doing so, she altered the actual reality and created a false impression for her audience that Corrie’s actions had resulted in the deaths of Israeli soldiers.”

This was not an honest mistake by an apprentice reporter from some poor underdeveloped country with meagre resources. This was something from a supposedly reputable news organisation, but yet they continued to justify the fabrication.

A statement released by the BBC stated that, “By referring in her question to the deaths of Israeli soldiers, Martha Kearney was trying to keep the interview focused on the central point of her question — the destruction of Palestinian homes rather than allow the interview to move on to the issue of wider violence”, was yet another attempt to brush off the telling of lies through the crafty manipulation of the truth.

I am sorry, BBC. Your lame explanations simply do not wash. This is one viewer who will no longer tune in to your ‘impartial’ news services.

[Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. You can follow him at www.twitter.com/@talmaeena]

(Courtesy: Gulf News)

Malaysia slated to be global hub for syariah finance

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

Kuching: The global Islamic banking and finance industry is on a strong growth path with worldwide assets in Shariah compliance growing four times from 0.5 per cent to two per cent of the world economy after the financial crisis.

Malaysia today is the world’s third largest market for Islamic banking, takaful and sukuk. The country’s Islamic capital market tripled in size to a value of RM1.05 over the past decade.
In comparison, other large Muslim countries are still at an early stage of growth.

According to intelligence group Inside Investors, global share of Islamic banking assets in Malaysia was expected to increase from eight per cent in 2009 to 13 per cent in 2020, and the global share of takaful contribution was expected to increase from 11 per cent to 20 per cent in 2020.

At least one Islamic financial institution in Malaysia should enter the global top ten by asset size list by 2020 noted Inside Investors.

The Malaysian government is also encouraging Developmental Financial Institutiuons (DFIs), which it has set up to drive the venture capital and private equity sector, to gradually shift towards ‘Islamic finance first’ whenever possible.

This policy will be implemented in a manner that will not prevent DFIs from fulfilling their developmental obligations.

As of November 2011, 89 per cent of the securities listed in Bursa Malaysia were Shariah compliant and represented around two thirds of Malaysia’s market capitalisation. A total of 839 out of 946 securities listed were syariah compliant, it explained.

Malaysia also aspires to become a centre of excellence for Islamic finance research, development and education.

The business intelligence group explained that several human capital development institution including the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance, the International syariah Research Academy for Islamic Finance and the Asian Institute of Finance had already been established.

Investments into research and education on Islamic finance will be continued, with a focus on new product development, Islamic finance higher education institution and academies as well as award programmes.

(Courtesy: Borneo Post Online)

Islamic Financial System in Turkey

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Economic growth in 2013 is forecast to accelerate to 4 percent according to the World Bank’s Turkey Regular Economic Brief issued January 2013, but prospects for sustained growth over the medium-term depend on accelerating structural reforms the international lender cautions. The brief analyzing of Turkey’s recent economic developments, prospects, and risks is highlighting significant improvement in external imbalances. On the flip side the current account deficit remains high.

In another word Turkey remains dependent on short-term financing. Turkey’s rapid growth and development over the last decade is one of the success stories of the global economy. Turkey’s GDP has tripled in US$ terms in that time. Today, Turkey is an upper-middle-income country with a population of 75 million and a gross domestic product of US$785 billion. It is the Government’s stated intention that Turkey becomes one of the world’s 10 largest economies by 2023, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic. While the economic outlook for 2013 has moderately improved, Turkey’s mediumterm challenge is to increase productivity and competitiveness and reduce the reliance on foreign savings to make growth less volatile and more sustainable.

Islamic financial system in Economic Outlook

The recent Ernst & Young’s report on the Islamic finance sector says Turkish participation banks have expanded every year at an average of 19 percent and their commercial volume reached $1.3 billion in 2011.

Currently, all of the banks in Turkey that offer interest-free services to their customers hold 5 percent of the total banking market at a size of $31 billion, and the report expects Turkey will increase the size of its participation banks to over $100 billion by 2023. This will be triple time more than now and the country could possibly have more potential in developing Islamic finance sector by offering more variety of new Islamic financial instruments to foreign demand. The main question is when the current account deficit of Turkey remains high and the country is dependent on short-term financing what is the role of Islamic financial instruments in this period? We could mention although the general outlook of the Islamic finance sector looks promising in turkey but in some experts look the country fails to reach its actual potential in the this sector. Improving the Islamic finance system ideally based on Islamic Economic philosophy might be possibly one the best way to reduce the risk in particular systemic risk among the financial institutions.

Turkey needs to find out the weight of Paper economy and real economy in the whole system and their contributions in recent economic developments. We believe although the economic outlook for 2013 is still promising, risk management of the core financial system, managing the trigger points in case of systemic failure, still remain as main challenges which development of Islamic financial system could be remain as remedies to part of these risks.

(Courtesy: Global Islamic Finance Magazine)

The Mosque of Al-Azhar

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By Idris Tawfiq

Al-Azhar, ‘The Resplendent’. is one of the most famous and venerable Islamic institutions in the world. Its very name shows the esteem and the honour in which Al-Azhar is held by Muslims. Greater than any one man or group of men, for one thousand years when Al-Azhar spoke Muslims listened. Through the centuries, generations of scholars have looked to Al-Azhar for authentic teaching and for the standard of learning for which Islam became famous. Even those who were not Muslim looked with admiration at Al-Azhar.

Built around the year 970, when Gawhar al-Siqili enclosed the Fatimid city of al-Qahira, the teaching Mosque of Al-Azhar was given the status of a university in 988, by the Caliph al-Aziz. It is remarkable, isn't it, that at the same time that London was little more than a settlement of mud and brick dwellings, the Islamic civilisation was a gem of mediaeval culture and learning, with libraries and universities, as well as paved streets and public gardens.

The original Al-Azhar Mosque was less than 6000 square metres, with a central courtyard of just over 1630 square metres. It was built as a congregational mosque, in other words, so that the whole community of Muslims could gather together to pray on a Friday.

The Mosque today is a mixture of architectural styles, reflecting the frequent enlargements of the Mosque over the last thousand years, and especially in the latter half of the eighteenth century, when Al-Azhar was enlarged by the influential Ottoman janissary officer, Abd al-Rahman Katkhuda.

Then, as now, you entered Al-Azhar through the Barbers' Gate, where students had their heads shaved prior to taking up their studies in Islamic Law and Qur'anic Studies. This was not only a sign of humility, but an eminently hygienic practice. The Prayer Hall, which now measures over 4000 square metres, has nine rows of columns, 140 in total, and 90 of them are said to be very ancient, having been brought from other monuments. To the right of the central courtyard is a fourteenth century madrassa, with a beautiful mihrab (or pulpit) and a riwaq, where free lodgings were provided for students.

To the east, blind students, famous throughout the Muslim world for their religious fervour and devotion, memorised the holy Qur'an.

It is remarkable that the followers of Prophet Muhammed, (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who could neither read nor write, should have created such a splendid centre of worship and learning as Al-Azhar. It is worth noting, too, that so many of those followers, renowned scholars though they may have been, remained simple men, whose sole aim was the worship of Allah alone.

Their studies and their scholarship throughout the centuries have left a legacy today which includes a library of almost 100,000 books and in 2005 the Al-Azhar online document archive was launched, which will eventually give access to all 42,000 manuscripts in the library.
Such is a brief survey of Al-Azhar Mosque.

In recent years the university of Al-Azhar has grown to enormous proportions and now has hundreds of thousands of students and many teaching faculties all over Egypt, studying in all disciplines and a variety of languages. Many of the students hope that their studies will help them to make Egypt a better place and help them to make the real message of Islam known in the world.

In a world that is very complex, the twenty-first century needs men and women who can speak to the world about Islam in a language it understands.

At the present time Islam and the West look upon each other with suspicious eyes. It will need devoted and devout followers of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) to dispel those misconceptions. The Qur’an tells them how they will do this:

O ye who believe! Put not yourselves forward before Allah and His Messenger; But fear Allah, for Allah is He Who hears and knows all things. 49:1

Resolving the world's conflicts, or engaging in constructive dialogue with others, needs more than just talk. We need to start here and now, today.

For those visitors to Egypt who haven’t yet paid a visit to Al-Azhar Mosque it is easy to do so, perhaps combined with their visit to Khan Al Khalili. Doing so will be their small contribution to building bridges between cultures and peoples. Inshallah, the reception they receive will be worthy of what Muslims can do.

The beautiful Mosque of Al-Azhar can teach the whole world about Islam, but only if we allow it to.

Egypt and the rest of the world will only learn how beautiful and sweet Islam really is when we show them how good Muslims behave.

[British Muslim writer, Idris Tawfiq, teaches at Al-Azhar University and is the author of nine books about Islam. You can visit his website at www.idristawfiq.com, join him on Facebook at Idris Tawfiq Page and listen to his Radio Show, “A Life in Question,” on Sundays at 11pm on Radio Cairo 95.4 FM.]

(Courtesy: The Egyptian Gazette)

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