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Every small step can lead to a giant leap

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 24 April 2013 | Posted in , , , ,

The efficacy of inter-faith dialogue truly lies in the way we reach out to our immediate neighbours — as the likes of Reverend Poobalan have shown

By Tariq A. Al Maeena

There are many today who are critical of the highly-acclaimed inter-faith dialogue forums being sponsored at the state level in various parts of the world. Critics argue that these forums have simply become a gathering place for representatives of various religions and faiths who meet, nod their heads or indulge in yawning during long sessions and then return to their homes without anything of substance being achieved that would help foster better understanding between the faiths. A lot of money and publicity is spent on these symposiums and yet the cycle of suspicion and mistrust continues in many parts of the world. While the original concept of bringing people from various faiths to a discussion table was a good one, detractors charge that what is talked about and agreed to at such events is hardly ever put into action.

There are individuals, on the other hand, not encumbered by the heralded inter-faith forums, who actually make a difference. In Aberdeen, Scotland, one such recent show of reverence to other faiths should have made people sit up and take note that such good things can indeed happen — and not necessarily through forums or symposiums.

A Christian church became the first of its kind in the UK to share its premises with people of a different faith. St John’s Episcopal Church opened its doors to Muslims. It now welcomes hundreds of Muslims who perform their obligatory prayers five times a day inside the church building as the nearby mosque is too small to handle the congregation, forcing many to pray outside often in extreme elements.

Rev. Isaac Poobalan, who is the minister of St Johns Church, offered a part of the church hall to the Imam of Shah Mustafa Jam’i Masjid mosque, who soon led his Muslim congregation to prayers in the main chapel.

In explaining his decision, Rev. Poobalan said he would not be a true and faithful Christian if he did not offer to help his neighbouring worshippers with their lack of space for worship. He said: “Praying is never wrong. My job is to encourage people to pray. The mosque was so full at times, there would be people outside in the wind and rain praying. I knew I couldn’t just let this happen — because I would be abandoning what the Bible teaches us about how we should treat our neighbours.”

These sights prompted him to act, although there was some resistance from a few of the churchgoers. “When I spoke to people at the church about the situation, someone actually said to me this was not our problem, but I had seen it with my own eyes, so it was a problem. They were out there praying and the snow came on for the first time in the winter. It was really hard to watch. When they were praying, they had their hands and feet exposed and they were sitting on the pavement, which is very rough. You could even see them breathing because it was so cold and I think when I saw that, the visual impact was such that I just couldn’t walk past.”

The Reverend continued: “It felt wrong, mainly because the church is next door, it’s a big building and it remains empty on a Friday at lunchtime, which is when they need the place the most as that’s when they are at their busiest. We had something we could offer and they were just standing out in the cold and I said to my congregation — we need to do something!”

Reverend Poobalan was also keen to foster better understanding between Christians and Muslims in the neighbourhood. He said: “It’s a move that is so basic and fundamental. It has nothing to do with religion — it’s all based on human need. The religious divide shouldn’t divide us as people. However, I anticipated there would be some opposition as it was strange and new and there was some natural anxiety in the beginning. But once people realised that there was more commonality between us, their anxiety slowly dissipated.”

He concludes: “I certainly hope, wish and pray that this will help relations between the two religions. When I spoke to the Imam, there was some hesitation on their part too, because this had never been done before. But they took us up on the offer and it has been a positive relationship.”

The Imam of the mosque, Shaikh Ahmad Magharbi said: “What happens here is special and there should be no problem repeating this across the country. The relationship is friendly and respectful.”

The Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney, Dr Robert Gillies, added: “It would be good to think we can change the world. Most of us most of the time feel we can’t so don’t bother. But sometimes, someone has a vision we can do something of global significance on a local scale. This is what is happening between St John’s and the mosque in its grounds. Everyone can do something locally and if more were to do so then something big might just begin to happen globally.”
It was such a brave individual step in a Scottish city and devoid of much of the fanfare that accompanies state-sponsored inter-faith forums! It is such acts by persons of various faiths that will most certainly help heal the rift widened by misunderstanding and suspicion. God bless Reverend Isaac Poobalan.

[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)

Is the Islamic finance industry ready for social media?

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

By Rushdi Siddiqui

Social marketing eliminates the middlemen, providing brands the unique opportunity to have a direct relationship with their customers. — Bryan Weiner.

Today, it seems Islamic finance is still stuck at a hard-copy of stage communication (faxes) when the financial world has moved on to Facebook, Twitter, blogging, etc.

Many Islamic financial institutions have Web sites, but how often is it updated beyond awards won? How many Islamic banks, takaful operators, Shariah consulting firms, industry bodies, etc, are on Facebook? Yet, the youth — its future clients — in many Muslim countries with Islamic finance are on Facebook.

What about the cross-sell of Islamic finance to non-Muslims as an ethical alternative? These potential customers are an important cluster of social media and they are continuously looking for offerings aligned with their values.

Several Islamic financial institutions have Twitter accounts, unsure how many of their (retail) clients are on Twitter. Do these institutions believe SMS, Internet and mobile banking is the “social media” connection to their clients?

Maybe the culture of social media is lacking in, say, the GCC. But we saw how effectively social media was utilised during the Arab Spring.

Fear

Is there a fear of technology among Islamic financial institutions? The fear of hackers stealing from customer accounts and identity theft? They have heard about horror stories on hacking from US- and EU-based banks with allegedly better (read, more expensive) firewalls.
Is there fear that social media connectivity will raise the level of transparency to conventional benchmarks standards and with accountability to follow? Put differently, will social media result in enhanced governance? It is not a bad thing in this post-credit crisis environment where companies are rewarded via a stable stock price and rave reviews for transparency and governance.

Is there fear that “bad news” concerning Islamic financial institutions will spread like wildfire if (deeply) connected to social media? It will spread anyway as news organisation coverage is supplemented by bloggers and tweeters in real time.

Resources

Is it a lack of resource issue in having, say, a “chief social media officer”? It would appear that Islamic financial institutions have not looked at public relations and outreach as an investment in their brand, but, rather, a cost of doing business.

Brand-building goes towards commitment to not only clients and staff, but long-term growth of the institution, including eventual cross-border expansion and future clients. Furthermore, during challenging market cycles, the message to the community, whose attention has become shorter, is the confidence inspiring “business as usual”.

Guidance

The Thomson Reuters Islamic Finance Gateway, or IFG, may just provide a guidance for Islamic financial institutions on understanding about the benefits of social media connectivity. It comes down to market intelligence, and the market place is the best source of “knowledge that powers” market movements. The community connectivity function of the IFG comes down to insights by industry experts making sense of the information overload, communicating about important sign posts on the road ahead and allowing community to interface with experts on a secure platform.

LinkedIn, Twitter

At the behest of colleagues, I joined LinkedIn about a year ago to connect with like-minded colleagues globally to share ideas and articles. Outside of unsolicited endorsement of people I have connected with, but, not worked with, it has been a pleasant experience, especially reading leadership articles.

Furthermore, I started tweeting a few months ago, initially on Islamic finance and the halal industry, but have expanded to issues related to Muslims, Islam, Muslim countries, etc. It has been a fulfilling experience and I should have joined much earlier. Why?

1. Tweeting forces one to convey their message in 140 characters, becomes very important in today’s world of short-attention span and information overload. Islamic financial institutions should be able to convey thought leadership within these constraints.

2. Twitter brings news in real time from multiple eyes, hence, it’s a multiple “op-ed” of the market place on the subject matter. The raw news provides more colour than polished sound-bites.

3. Twitter has allowed me to follow the likes of global leaders like His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and his comments in real time. He first tweeted about Dubai being a hub for an Islamic economy a few months ago.

Conclusion

Shaikh Mohammed’s tweets, at the time of writing this, on the performance of UAE government standards should encourage Islamic financial institutions to engage and embrace the social media to not only connect, but also to report developments.

[Rushdi Siddiqui is co-founder and managing director of Azka Capital, a private equity advisory firm focused on halal industry initiatives, and an advisor to Thomson Reuters on Islamic finance and the halal industry.]

(Courtesy: Khaleej Times)

eMerchant Academy chairman Shakir Ali with “Awards for Excellence” in two categories for 2013

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 17 April 2013 | Posted in , , , , , ,

IMO News Service

Hyderabad: Mr. Shakir Ali, the Chairman of e-Merchant Academy and MD, eMerchant Digital Solutions has been facilitated with prestigious “Awards for Excellence” by Dr. GVG Krishnamurthy, former chief election commissioner.

The valedictory function was organized by a globally recognized voluntary organization “Friendship Forum of India” and the award function was a part of national level seminar on “Economic Growth and National Unity” held on 7th April 2013 at Indian International Center, C.D. Deshmukh Memorial Auditorium in New Delhi.

The function was attended by union ministers, state ministers, intellectuals, and industrialists from all over the country where selected prominent VIPs and entities were facilitated with Gold Medal and certificate of Excellence for their contribution in social, cultural, and economic domains on the national level.

Mr.Shakir Ali has been awarded certificate and gold medal for “BHARAT EXCELLENCE AWARD” and “RAJIV GANDHI ARCH FOR EXCELLENCE AWARD” for his special contribution in digital media marketing in Andhra Pradesh and achieving greater excellence in service industry that enhances Indian image in different ways. The drive of eMerchant Academy to train and equip small and medium scale industries for economic growth and business expansion has been recognized as an effort for national cause which is enriching digital India and taking it to the next level. The decision has been made by the selection committee of Friendship Forum of India after detailed and systematic analysis of all the nominations under given criteria. It truly comes as an exciting moment for Mr. Shakir Ali who feels greatly honored for his contributions in the industry and its recognition on a national platform.

This Award for Excellence aims at recognizing, promoting, and sharing professional, educational, industrial, and personal achievements of people of Indian origin and brings them to a common platform where they can exchange their views and move towards national and international friendship. The forum organizes conferences, seminars, and exhibitions and enjoys active involvement of Indian experts from diverse fields like economists, journalists, socialists, industrialists, scholars, engineering experts, member of parliaments, and retired judges as well. The awards are meant to inspire the next wave of national contributors and innovators who can add value to society and empower others to create a better future.

Coining Mr. Shakir Ali for the award bestows much deserved honor to him for bringing qualitative impact, new opportunities, engagement into continuous innovations, and a high degree of accountability in his work area. With a great history of awards and honors in different fields, finally Mr. Shakir has proved himself a man of stuff who is bringing a difference in digital world through his continuous innovative endeavors. Enriching digital marketing industry with an out-of-the-box approach and enabling corporate houses and SMEs run their own digital marketing campaigns, Mr. Shakir has added a new dimension to the IT service industry where quality of service runs ahead of profitability. This award is a true value for the struggle and hardship he has endured and the gradual achievements he has harvested over a long time.

On this touching moment, Mr. Shakir feels exhilarated as well as motivated to serve the industry and country with more such acts that really brings a difference at social and economic level. He really appreciates and expresses his gratitude towards the initiative of Friendship Forum of India in his words--“Being a part of this Seminar really evokes the Indian out of us and makes us mingle with each other to share ideas and inspirations and bring more creative and progressive changes in the field we are working.” Getting a laudable name and honor on such a high level is really a commendable achievement on part of Mr. Shakir Ali.

For more information visit www.emerchantdigital.com or call Jeevan at +91-9550980199/ 9849256286

Collective effort needed for AMU Kishanganj

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

By Manzar Imam

Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi: Human Chain, a newly-formed registered society has been growing in strength and making its worth felt. Although the present team of the society has been socially active for long, but that has been on individual front. Their collective effort began with forming of a pressure group to demand early land acquisition, fund allocation and establishment of a centre of Aligarh Muslim University at Kishanganj, Bihar under AMU Coordination Committee. The Committee, formed three years ago, still retains its name. However, an active group of the independent individuals with a vision to bring change in society and demand justice and equal treatment to the people of one of the highly marginalized regions of Bihar commonly referred to as Seemanchal, envisaged Human Chain.

This well-educated, technology-savvy group has tried to draw attention of the government authorities to some important issues confronting the people of the region.

Manzar Imam adressing the meet
It is in this backdrop that Human Chain convened a meeting of media persons on the topic of “The Role of journalists in development of society” here at the Scholar School auditorium at Abul Fazl Enclave, Jamia Nagar on Wednesday, 10 April, 2013. Over a dozen journalists associated with different newspapers and websites along with some people associated with radio and multi-media attended the symposium. Most of them largely commended Human Chain’s effort and spoke about the obstacles and duplicity of the government about AMU Kishanganj.

Mohammad Aslam Alig, chairman of the society lambasted the government for not taking the AMU Kishanganj issue seriously. As media has deep penetration in every sphere of society he termed the role of the media inevitable for raising the issue of AMU. He said that there was high politics involved and discriminatory treatment meted out to the people of Seemanchal.
Mumtaz Alam, national bureau chief of Muslimmirror.com stressed the need for more Muslim media professionals in the language press and said that media reports pressurize governments to take action. He lamented Muslim media’s negativity and said, “There are hardly any Muslim media that bring out stories of development”. Most of them write about emotional issues, added he.

Maulana Mutiur Rahman Madani, chairman of Kishanganj-based Tauheed Educational Trust spoke about the educational need of the Seemanchal region. Ali Raza Siddiqui, bureau chief of Urdu daily Qaumi Tanzeem appealed Muslim youngsters to join media as agents of social change.

Manzar Imam, Special Correspondent of the IndianMuslimObserver.com spoke about the need for collective struggle for AMU Kishanganj. Speaking about regional bias and governmental negligence to Seemanchal and especially the Purnea Commissionerate, Imam, who is also founder member of Banat Education & Welfare Society, Bhopal and Director, Public Relations, Anjuman Foundation, Gaya said that every Commissionerate of Bihar had at least one university, some even had more than two univerisities, whereas the Purnea Commissionerate did not have a single State or Central university. He further said that there were very less number of colleges in the entire Commissionerate and held both the State and Central Governments accountable for the poor literacy rate of the region. Journalists need to take into consideration the hopes, aspirations, needs and requirements of the society, he said adding that media’s role in that respect therefore must be positive.

Senior journalist Abid Anwar called journalism the medium of awareness and said that issues would not be resolved unless there was awareness about them. He called to develop internal strength of the society in order for the authorities to pay heed to its need. He also called in question the role of individuals for corrupt practices which made fairness a difficult task. He said that the Seemanchal area faced both economic and mental backwardness which was further exploited for lack of leadership.

Abdul Qadir Shams Qasmi of the Sahara group lauded the Human Chain for its efforts in highlighting some of the important issues faced by people of the region and said that there was need for more than one university in Seemanchal. Shams Ramzi of Hamara Samaj stressed the need for at least sectarian harmony among different Muslim groups as unity among them seems to be impossible.

Mumtaz Alam Rizwi, Delhi bureau chief of Urdu daily Inquilab spoke about the importance of belief, passion, courage and commitment that a journalist had to have while reporting.
Dr. Khalid Mubashshir of Human Chain had a crucial role to convene this journalists’ meeting which was coordinated by Mohammad Mudassir Alam, associated with the Times of India. Mohd Mujahid Akhter, Tarique Sufyan and others of Human Chain, Dr. Tauqir Rahi of NCPUL, Syed Zubair Ahmad, Editor of Muslimmirror.com, Nakshab Manwi of IBN.com, Khisal Mehdi of Inquilab, Iftikhar Uz Zaman of All India Radio, Mohammed Anas of the Sunday Guardian, Shah Jahan Azmi and others were present.

[Manzar Imam, a Delhi-based Journalist, is Special Correspondent of IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be reached at manzarkhalil@gmail.com]

81 girls’ Nikah solemnised under Madhya Pradesh Mukhyamantri Kanyadan Yojna

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

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: At a function Nikahs of 81 Muslim girls were solemnised at Nasrullahganj in Sehore district of Madhya Pradesh on Monday under the Madhya Pradesh Mukhyamantri Kanyadan (Nikah) Yojna. The Nikahs were solemnised by Qazi Amanullah Khan from Bhopal solemnised.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan blessed the newly wedded Muslim couples after the Nikah ceremony. Speaking on the occasion Chouhan said that objective of his life is to bring happiness in the eyes and smile on the face of every person.

Describing himself as maternal uncle of brides, Chief Minister Chouhan said that it is marriage ceremony of his nieces in which he extends heartiest and whole-hearted greetings to the guests. He said that Madhya Pradesh government is functioning with the spirit of respect to all religions. The government will leave no stone unturned to ensure welfare of minorities.

Blessing newly wed couples, Chouhan wished them a happy married life. He exhorted those present on the occasion not to discriminate between sons and daughters. He said that the government is committed to bring all sections of society to mainstream of development.

State Forest Development Corporation Chairman Guru Prasad Sharma, MARFED Chairman Ramakant Bhargava and other public representatives were present on the occasion.

[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]

Khurshid opens parliamentary course for Arab officials

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid Monday inaugurated a course on parliamentary processes and procedures to be attended by 14 officials from seven Arabic-speaking countries.

Officials from Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia will attend the course, officials said.

"The Arab Spring had ushered in a fresh wave of democracy in the countries of the Middle-East, which has necessitated the process of institution-building and manpower training so as to effectively run the representative bodies in those countries," said Khurshid.

He hoped the programme would help the participants to understand the intricacies of practices and procedures of the Indian parliament.

Under an initiative taken by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, the Special Training Programme is being organised by the Bureau for Parliamentary Studies and Training April 15 to 26.

(Courtesy: IANS, April 15, 2013)

An Open Letter To All Political Parties Of Pakistan

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

To,

The representatives of the Political Parties of Pakistan,

We would like to offer our respect to you for your continuous efforts towards building a people's government in Pakistan. In fact, in spite of various tide and ebbs in the long span of time and in various sectors, internal and external, Pakistan with its government always stood and proved itself a nation that is truly based on courage and desires of people and for the welfare of people and coming generations.

In the wake of recent election campaigning, all of you must be occupied with delivering manifestos and speeches, provisions and promises to the people. Like India, Pakistan also has many political parties with specific agendas that try to represent the voice of the people. But there is one appeal that we wish to make to all of you.

We all know that Pakistan and India parted ways 65 years ago to move on separate paths promising peace and development to people. But the very beginning was a painful one. Sadly, we have all grown up hearing those stories of pain, hatred and inhumanity that accompanied the partition. We, who had not experienced them, also feels the "pain" because these stories were internalised and we all consider ourselves as "victims" and there is a competition on who was a bigger victim. But truth is that it was humanity devoid of any religion or faith that had succumbed to the madness and politics. However, what is more painful is that we have not learnt from our past. Infact, we tried to re-iterate them through more wars and hate speeches. This happened on both sides, who started it, it doesn't really matter anymore but the sad truth is, hatred remains.

Sadly, the recent election campaigning have also witnessed elements of ‘glorifying’ the hatred with India through various attempts by some political parties and its members. Though, ofcourse there are people and even parties who do not support this but they are not quite effective before media and probably none of them narrated anything positive about bilateral relationship.

We, a group of people from both sides of the border who dream of peace and friendship between India and Pakistan, request you to represent the true desire of people on both sides. The true desire is of peace, harmony and development. On both sides, all people want is bread, peace and land. We do not think that people on both sides desire for war. We do not think that they desire that the money of the Government to be spent on warfare than on development projects as both the countries have failed to cater to all sections of the society. We do not think that an average pakistani care more about hatred with India than about the social injustice in his country. This is the same for an Indian. We think that both have their own problems so why would they want a new and major issue? Also, if "we" really want hatred then why is there so much of respect for Saadat Hassan Manto, Mehdi Hasan, Gulzar sahab? Why do we all explicitly wish to travel to each other's country? Where is the hatred when there is a news that someone from India has come and everyone wants to have a glimpse and chat? Who really wants war? and more importantly, why?

Regardless of believers in Allah, Ishwar, God or in none, we are all human beings who are also entitled to a just and dignified life, a promise of the state. Though the elections (should) focus on internal agenda of Pakistan, it also states the relation with the neighboring country. We feel that developing and strengthening a healthy relationship with India is not only a moral obligation but also required in view of Geo politics. The two nations together can achieve more than individually. Both countries should focus more on bilateral relations. After all these 65 years of hatred, the political parties should become mature that friendship with India is not only important in view of desires of common people of both sides, but also in view of benefits of people of both sides and an important agenda in making a national government.

Aaghaz-e-Dosti requests you to recognize the freedom of hearts, desires of minds and light of future. We appeal to you to build the election strategy in view of better relations with India.

Aaghaz-e-Dosti
for Peace and Friendship between India and Pakistan
aaghazedosti@gmail.com
Visit http://aaghazedosti.wordpress.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/aaghazedosti/

[Email received on Monday, Aprilm15, 2013]

Tears of Muslims in divided Sri Lanka

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

By looking the other way, Rajapaksa’s government is giving radical Buddhist elements a free hand to terrorise minorities and increase racial tension

By Tariq A.Al Maeena

The undercurrent of racial tensions sweeping through Sri Lanka is gaining momentum. Unchecked and unrestrained by a government appearing to give in to their divisive demands, the terrorist Buddhist group, the Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force), is threatening to turn the island into a bloody battlefield.

The Muslims targeted by this fanatical element are not the only minority being subjected to acts of violence. Christians on the island are also under attack. The authorities are turning a blind eye and the mainstream media chooses to ignore this rising peril. Recently, two churches were attacked by the radical elements of the BBS, and two others forced to shut down due to pressure from these fanatics.

On March 9 in Batticaloa, BBS rogues burned down a church in the middle of the night. On March 17, a mob led by Buddhist monks barged into the Brethren Church in Agalawatte and threatened them into stopping the services.

On the same day, in another part of the country, four monks along with a cameraman went to the Margaya Fellowship Church at Sevanapitiya in Polonnaruwa. They accused the pastor of converting Buddhists and ordered him to shut down the ministry. The police arrived not long after and ‘advised’ the pastor to pay heed to their demands.

At Suriyaweva in Ambilipitiya, monks entered a house church and demanded that the meetings be stopped as they were not registered with the local authorities. On the same day in Weeraketiya, a house church was ransacked.

On March 10, the Assembly of God Church at Kottawa was visited by monks and the police who ordered the pastor to stop the meetings as they had not obtained permission from the local authority. A few days later, the Pentecostal Assemblies Church at Kottawa was visited by a mob led by monks who told them to stop the meetings as they had not obtained permission from the local authority. Another Pentecostal church in Galle was subjected to similar demands and threats.

Subjugation

Last week, a BBS mob led by monks went to the Gethsemane Church in Hikkaduwa and threatened them to stop the meetings. A pastor working in Agnukolapallssa was also threatened with physical assault. The police simply asked him to stop the services. These are all facts gleaned from those who have been subjected to this racial tension in Sri Lanka. Buoyed by their success in the halal food certification issue, the radical Buddhist group seems intent on subjugating the island’s minorities into oblivion.

The Muslims, Tamils and Christians along with sensible Sinhalese Buddhists all have reasons to be alarmed. The government is playing politics by not reacting while the situation threatens to get out of hand. It will certainly not be a good thing for the country. So far, the minorities have been very restrained in reacting to these acts of personal transgression against their beliefs. The Muslims, in particular, are very disturbed by the attacks of these unruly Buddhists, who have been targeting their practices and beliefs.

Factual events of Buddhists chasing Muslim women and tearing off their clothes have been recorded and reported to the police. Their religion has been slurred and subjected to ridicule through crude drawings and posters. Their mosques have been attacked and burned. Their shops and business have been raided, and the BBS is warning off all customers from patronising their establishments.

Shocking rhetoric

As one Sri Lankan charged: “Disgraceful and distasteful anti-Muslim rhetoric is being ‘dished out’ by more than 25 anti-Muslim websites. The Sri Lanka government is fully aware of all these sites and the provocative and insulting posts ranging from insulting our Creator, our Prophet (PBUH), our Holy Book, etc but [it] just ‘looks the other way.”

Another Sri Lankan from whom I borrowed the title for my column had this to say: “I am an 83-year-old Muslim, and my physical condition is such as to make me unable to move or travel to Makkah. While all this is happening against the Muslims of my country, the Arabs are supplying oil, and also giving aid. If we do not get the support of the Arabs and Muslims, what are we going to say when we stand before Allah. My tears have not ceased since these attacks started in our country. I am old now, but what are we going to leave for the next generation of our fellow Sri Lankans? Your brother Ismaeel.”

The government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa is playing a dangerous game by not forcefully putting an end to this tide of racial tensions. Sri Lanka is becoming an unsafe place to visit for business or pleasure as any moment now, the island could become engulfed in another chapter of bloody racial violence.

Arab and Muslim countries must take decisive measures for the protection of all of the island’s minorities from these radical elements. It is increasingly apparent that the Sri Lankan government is unwilling to do so.

[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)

Family Cult prevails again in Pakistan elections

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

By Abbas Kassar

Hyderabad: Despite applying article 61.62 and 63 of constitution of Pakistan the winning horses in election 2013 so far surfced on political scene belong to same family. It has remained political tradition of both India and Pakistan that the family rules once rules for ever. If in India the families that are elected to parliament always belong to Gandhis, Yadavs, Jaffers, Chowdhrys, Pandeys, Patels, Raos, Kamalnaths, Shaikhs, Tiwarys, Vermas, Shukla, Chatterjis and like, here in Pakistan members of same families are elected whenever polls take place.

Apart from Pakistan Peoples Party and Muslim League (Nawaz) even new parties like Tehrik Insaf of Imran Khan have given tickets to those who were members of past parliament like Shah Mahmood Qureshi (former PPP ) and Makhdoom Javed Hashmi (former ML(N). Tehrik Insaf and religious parties like Jamat Islami, Jamiat Ulema Islam, Jamiat Ulema Pakistan, Brelvis and Deobandis all are constesting elections, but seems they will have have little impression with few of seats they get here and there. Nawaz Sharif family has fielded 8 candidates including himself, his brother Shahbaz Sharif (past CM of Punjab), Begum Marium Nawaz Sharif, Hamza Sharif and Captain Safdar, son in law of Nawaz Shaif. Chowdhrys of Gujerat have also feilded half dozen of their family memers including Chowdhry Shaujat (prime minister in Gen. Mushrraf rule), Pervez Illahi along with his son Munis Illahi, Wajahet Hussain, Major Tahir Sadiq, Anwer Cheema.

Two former prime minsiters Yousuf Raza Gillani and Raja Pervez Ashraf have been disqualified, but their sons Moosa Gilani, Abdul Qadir Gilani and brother Ahmed Mujtaba Gilani are in the field. Former CM of Balochistan Aslam Raisani is again contesting with his brother Lashkari Raisani who is candidate of rival Nawaz League. In Sindh, the sword of disqualification is hanging on PPP president Makhdoom Amin Fahim, but he has fielded his two sons Makhdoom Jameel Zaman and Makdoom Khalil Zaman as well his brother Makhdoom Rafiq Zaman. Mehr family members always find their ways to power corridors. In 2008 elections, Mehr brothers were elected on Muslim League Quaid ticket and this time they have been given tickets by Pakistan Peoples Party in two districts of the province Shikarpur and Ghotki. In Nawabshsh members of Shah family, in Nosheroferoz district Jatois and in Thatta Shirazis are again in the electoral field.

The literacy rate in Pakistan, especially in Sindh, is too low as 10,000 schools remained closed during the whole ternure of past PPP govt and school buildings were used by these very parliamentarians as their animal barns and Otaqs (rest houses). With 70% people living in rural villages where 90% of them being illiterate and farm works employed by Waderas the politically influenced village chiefs, sardars and feudal lords, people have no option but to vote for candidates belonging to landlord family or to be ejected from villages and farmlands. The landlords in Sindh and Punjab maintain theri private armies and patronise crimes of kidnapping for ransom, murders, killing women and men under honor killing, extortion and land grabbing. In such a situation, a poor villager or small town deweller dare not to risk his and his family life by refusing vote to landlords Jakhranis, Khosos in Jaccobabad, Magsis and Chandios in Lakana and Tando Allahyar and Arbabs in Thar. The aim of all this discussion is that there might be no or very slight change in politics of Pakistan as the families who are ruling the country since creation are again tipped to find their ways to parliament.

However, there might be a slight change in big cities like Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta and Faisalabad. The residents of these cities happen to be more educated than those in the villages. The religious parties have got influence in big cities and they may get some seats. The preformance of past ruling Pakistan Peoples Party Parliament is rated as poor during its 5 year term the only count where the party is doomed to fail in big cities as well in central Punjab which with 57% of population has more than half of parliamentary seats.

In Punjab, past provincial government of Shahbaz Sharif younger brother of Nawaz Sharif has spent much more on the development and welfare of citizens in comparison to PPP govt in Sindh which is accused of compromising interest of 40 million Sindhi speaking people by introducing dual local bodies system one for cities and the other for small towns, shutting eyes on target killings in Karachi where in last year more than 2000 people were made target of it. PPP headed by president Asif Ali Zardari is also accused of selling coastal islands along Karachi to US investors that has angered Sindhi people too much and all the nationalist parties of Sindh have formed 10 party alliance against PPP to fight elections one to one on every seat though the new alliance is headed by Pir Pagaro, the grandson of Pir, who had fought war of independence against English and was arrested and hanged in 1943, four years before the creation of Pakistan.

[Abbas Kassar is a Jounalist in Hyderabad, Pakistan and presently working as bureau chief of daily Messenger Karachi and Lahore Times ( online), a member of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and European Journalism Center. He can be reached at kassar_hyd@yahoo.com;kassarabbas@lycos.com and 92 3453585137]

Faulted for malicious spin doctoring

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

By Tariq A. Al-Maeena

Some 160 million Indian Muslims live in that country. It is a significant number, one that boasts of being the third largest Muslim population in the world. They remain a minority though, making up 13.5 percent of the total population of 1.2 billion. For the most part, they have been living in harmony with Indians of other faiths, and protected by a somewhat fragile secular democracy.

But all has not been well lately. The Indian media is contributing to the polarization and marginalization of India’s Muslim population, and worst yet, "demonizing" them. That is the charge of a respected former chief minister who also was a chief justice and a state governor.

Currently heading the post of chairman of the Press Council of India, Markandey Katju, a pandit Hindu, last week flayed the Indian media for "demonizing the Muslim community through irresponsible journalism". At a symposium arranged by a statewide English daily on ‘Reporting Terror: How Sensitive is the media?’ Mr. Katju took the podium to express his explicit accusations.

“Whenever a bomb blast occurs or such incident takes place, within an hour or so many TV channels start showing that an email or SMS has come from the Indian Mujahideen, JeM or Harkatuljihad-e-Islam, or some Muslim name, claiming responsibility.

“An email or SMS can be sent by any mischievous person. But when your start screening this on TV and next day in print, the certain message you — the media — are sending is that all Muslims are terrorists and they have nothing to do except to throw bombs....You are demonizing the entire Muslim community and promoting communalism," he charged.

Continuing along the same theme, he said, “Is this the responsible behavior of the media? I think it is a totally irresponsible behavior which is promoting communalism in the country. I have raised voice against this, but they said I am suppressing the media.” Katju warned that the media should stick to ethics. “Do you have the freedom to spread communalism? You will be stopped from doing devilish things. I am a strong fighter for media's freedom but I will not allow you to do such devilish things. You will have to have responsibility in the national interest.” His charges stem from a growing belief that the feeling of injustice among Muslims is rapidly increasing within Indian society and that there is discrimination against them in many sectors because of their faith. “Unfortunately, Muslims are discriminated in getting jobs, banks loans and there is a sense of great injustice", Katju stated. “The cause of terrorism is injustice. Abolishment of poverty and discrimination will help in checking terrorism.”

Markandey Katju is known for his controversial views. But in the words of the former Assistant Solicitor General of India Amarendra Sharan who had nothing but praise for the man and who declared, “You can criticize his views, but you can't criticize the man. His integrity is unimpeachable.” A well-known jurist, Fali Nariman, added that Katju is “a person who doesn't merely pretend to support human rights but lives it every moment of his life.”

With such impeccable credentials his is a voice of reason and one to pay heed to. He had recently requested the Prime Minister to amend the Press Council Act. “The amendments were sought with regard to bringing the electronic media under the purview of media council and for providing some powers to take action,” he said, emphasizing that the regulations were meant to serve as a fair watchdog and not take control over media. “But in exceptional circumstances, definite action needs to be taken,” he admitted, plainly indicating that unsupported and biased reporting would be dealt with.

During the symposium, he also said that "an NGO which will work to secure justice for those unjustly languishing in jails, particularly from minority communities, will be launched in Delhi on April 15. The NGO — Court of Last Resort — will be headed by noted lawyer Fali S. Nariman with himself being its chief patron."

He concluded by adding that “Time has come...this organization is absolutely necessary. This forum will have branches in all districts. We need to have a large team of youths, students, lawyers...because injustice is meted out in large scale in this country."

As India moves to the polls, there will be growing attempts to continue polarizing the minorities for ballot gains. India’s secular frame may get damaged beyond recovery if those intent on this malicious path of division enjoy success. Divisive political parties such as the BJP will definitely bring such an India to harms way.

Responsible Indians must diligently heed Mr. Katju’s call and avoid being prejudiced by a biased and distorted media campaign against the Muslim minority, or be seduced in political rallies calling for the same. The road ahead will be fraught with danger for all Indians if such a message prevails.

[The writer can be contacted at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena.]

(Courtesy: Saudi Gazette)

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