Friday, 27 December 2013

Maliki’s call for making Karbala the new Muslim Qibla stirs controversy

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s statements that the Shiite holy city of Karbala must be the Qibla - the direction to which Muslims pray - has stirred controversy among Islamic scholars.

“Karbala must be the Qibla of the Islamic world because Imam Hussein [the Prophet Mohammad’s second grandson, and an important figure in Shia Islam] is buried there,” Maliki said this week, Iraqi media reported on Friday.
Saudi religious scholars described his statements as incitement to strife and a call to divide Muslims.
“This issue is already agreed upon by all Muslim scholars, both Sunni and Shiite. They all agree that the Qibla is the Ka’bah [the shrine in Mecca towards which Muslims pray],” said Nasser al-Honeini, professor of religion and general supervisor at the Center of Contemporary Thought in Saudi Arabia.
Honeini added that Maliki’s statements distort Islam because the faith does not say that Muslims should pray in the direction of tombs.
Khaled al-Mosleh, professo of jJurisprudence at the University Qassim in Saudi Arabia, described Maliki’s statements as “nonsense” and incompatible with Islamic sharia law.
“The fact that such statements were made by someone as important as the Iraqi prime minister is a catastrophe considering he’s an educated person. If he made such statements, what should we expect from uneducated men?” Mosleh told Al Arabiya News.
Maliki, a Shiite Muslim with close ties to Iran, is often accused of promoting a sectarian agenda in Iraq.
When Maliki visited the United States in October several U.S. Senators sent a letter to President Barack Obama in which they accused Maliki of favouring Shiites over Sunnis in his country.
“By too often pursuing a sectarian and authoritarian agenda, Prime Minister Maliki and his allies are disenfranchising Sunni Iraqis, marginalizing Kurdish Iraqis, and alienating the many Shia Iraqis who have a democratic, inclusive and pluralistic vision for their country,” the senators wrote.
Maliki’s failures were pushing many Sunnis “into the arms of al-Qaeda in Iraq and fueling the rise of violence, which in turn is radicalizing Shia Iraqi communities and leading many Shia militant groups to remobilize,” the senators said.
They warned the situation threatened to pitch Iraq into an all-out civil war. 

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

UK plans to silence Muslim speakers with new “anti-terror” ASBOs

The British government has revealed its new plans to silence what they regard as Muslim “hate clerics” with “anti-terror” ASBOs.

Anti-social behaviour orders known as “TEBOs” may be imposed on around 25 Muslim speakers that are thought to be causing unrest in the UK without breaking any specific laws.
The new initiative which could be implemented by April 2014 would restrict the activities of speakers and scholars. They will be prohibited from speaking at university ISOC events, Islamic study centres, mosques and other public areas.
The draconian proposals follow the government’s Extremism Task Force report to parliament which also called for Muslim charities suspected of being “fronts for extremist groups” to be shut down and internet filters to block out “extremist” websites.
David Cameron’s Extremism Task Force
Prime Minister David Cameron speaking as he revealed the plans said: “This summer we saw events that shocked the nation with the horrific killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich and murder of Mohammed Saleem in Birmingham. These tragedies were a wake-up call for government and wider society to take action to confront extremism in all its forms, whether in our communities, schools, jails, Islamic centres or universities.
“I have been absolutely clear that this is not something we should be afraid to address for fear of cultural sensitivities. We have already put in place some of the toughest terrorism prevention controls in the democraticworld, but we must work harder to defeat the radical views which lead some people to embrace violence.
“The task force I set up has proposed a broad range of measures to counter the extremist narrative. When you look at this report, you can see a very clear analysis, a very clear definition of the extremism we’re talking about … now everyone can see what it is that we need to tackle.”
He added: “There are just too many people who have been radicalised at Islamic centres, who have been incontact with extremist preachers, who have come across material on the internet who haven’t been sufficiently challenged. Some institutions have wanted to get rid of radicalisers but haven’t had the means to do so.”
The task force includes Home Secretary Theresa May, Deputy PM Nick Clegg, Minister for Faith Baroness Warsi, and advisors from the police and intelligence services.
Anjem Choudary and Haitham al Haddad
Following the murder of British soldier, Lee Rigby in Woolwich in May, it was revealed that his killers had been influenced by Anjem Choudary.
Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale were found guilty of killing the fusilier at the Old Bailey and after the verdict was announced, Choudary was reported as saying he was “very proud” of Adebolajo, refusing to condemn the murders when invited to do so on Radio 4′s Today programme.
Ironically, Choudary is not thought to be included in the list because as a former solicitor he takes care not to break the law, but the 25 possible victims are thought to include Palestinian scholar, Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad.
Haddad is one of the most prominent Muslim scholars in the UK and has been invited to speak at many British universities. Last year he was banned from speaking at the London School of Economics after Jewish students requested his event be cancelled for allegedly preaching hatred against Jews – a charge Haddad denies.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Egypt courts hear appeals of jailed female protesters

Egyptian judges began hearing appeals on Saturday of 21 women and girls handed heavy jail terms over an Islamist protest, in a case that sparked an outcry.

The 14 adult women were handed 11-year jail terms and the seven minors sentenced to juvenile detention last month, shocking even supporters of the military-installed government.

In the adult court, the 14 women were ushered into the defendants’ cage dressed in prison issue white and holding red roses.

They had scrawled the word "freedom" in black marker on their palms. 

The appeal hearing for the minors was being held in an adjacent courtroom.

They were convicted of taking part in a violent protest demanding Islamist president Mohamed Mursi’s reinstatement following his overthrow by the army in July.

There was a heavy police presence outside the court complex in the coastal city of Alexandria, where Mursi’s Islamist supporters have clashed repeatedly with opponents and security forces.

The women’s lawyer, Ahmed al-Hamrawy, told AFP he expected the courts to either acquit them or release them on bail ahead of a final ruling. Read More ...

Friday, 6 December 2013

Malaysia ruling party tightens embrace of Islam to gain support

Malaysia's ruling party, stung by an election setback in May, is burnishing its Islamic credentials, aiming to gain ground among majority ethnic Malay voters in a move that could heighten concern over growing religious intolerance in the multi-racial Southeast Asian country.

The coalition led by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) suffered its worst election result, hurt by the desertion of ethnic Chinese voters and many urban dwellers, including Muslim Malays, its traditional bedrock of support.
Ahead of the party's annual general assembly this week, Prime Minister Najib Razak shored up his support by making concessions to the party's conservative wing, rolling back his previous liberal social reforms, boosting steps to favor ethnic Malays economically and stressing UMNO's role as a protector of the Islamic faith.
That has enabled him to push forward with unpopular economic steps to tackle the country’s chronic fiscal deficit, most recently the announcement of a 15 percent rise in electricity tariffs from January.
“UMNO has been upholding Islam over tens of years, setting up Islamic universities and institutions of higher learning and establishing Islamic finance in this country,” Najib told delegates in his keynote opening address on Thursday.
“This is where the greatness of Islam is upheld.”
At the assembly, senior UMNO leaders called on the government to change the country’s constitution to specify Malaysia's official religion as Sunni Islam, reflecting growing hostility to the spread of the Shia sect of Islam. The party also invited a popular Islamic preacher to join its decision-making Supreme Council, an offer he rejected. Continue Reading ...