Sunday, August 20, 2006

Why are "fundamentalist Muslims" being asked to "clear off" in Australia?

Fundamentalist Muslims Told To Get Out Of Australia

Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia, as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks.

A day after a group of mainstream Muslim leaders pledged loyalty to Australia and her Queen at a special meeting with Prime Minister John Howard, he and his Ministers made it clear that extremists would face a crackdown. Treasurer Peter Costello, seen as heir apparent to Howard, hinted that some radical clerics could be asked to leave the country if they did not accept that Australia was a secular state, and its laws were made by parliament.

"If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you," he said on national television.

"I'd be saying to clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing people in Australia: One the Australian law and another the Islamic law that is false. If you can't agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy, and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country, which practices it, perhaps, then, that's a better option," Costello said.

Asked whether he meant radical clerics would be forced to leave, he said those with dual citizenship could possibly be asked to move to the other country. Education Minister Brendan Nelson later told reporters that Muslims who did not want to accept local values should "clear off." Basically people who don't want to be Australians, and who don't want to live by Australian values and understand them, well then, they can basically "clear off", he said.

Separately, Howard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation's mosques.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Why are the activities of "a group of preachers" being monitored by security services?

Inside the Islamic group accused by MI5 and FBI
Paul Lewis, (read the complete article at The Guardian )
Saturday August 19, 2006
Thousands of young Muslim men are attending meetings in east London every week run by a fundamentalist Islamic movement believed by western intelligence agencies to be used as a fertile recruiting ground by extremists.
Tablighi Jamaat, whose activities are being monitored by the security services, holds the tightly guarded meetings on an industrial estate close to the area where some of the suspects in last week's terror raids were arrested.
This week it emerged that at least seven of the 23 suspects under arrest on suspicion of involvement in the plot to blow up transatlantic airliners may have participated in Tablighi events.
The organisation - influenced by a branch of Saudi Arabian Islam known as Wahhabism - has already been linked to two of the July 7 suicide bombers who attended a Tablighi mosque at the organisation's headquarters in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. The jailed shoe bomber Richard Reid is also known to have attended Tablighi meetings.
Until now, the leaders of Tablighi Jamaat - which means "group of preachers" - have refused to open their doors to outsiders, shrouding the organisation in mystery.
Tablighi enthusiasts say that the organisation, founded by a scholar in India in the 1920s, has no involvement with terrorism and simply encourages Muslims to follow the example of the prophet and proselytise the teachings of the Qur'an. As one sympathetic imam put it, they were the "Jehovah's Witnesses of Islam".

PS: Interesting to see yesterday's Letters to the Editor: Let's not demonise our fellow citizens Friday August 18, 2006 that includes this letter:

"When you refer to Tablighi Jamaat as "an Islamic group linked by western intelligence to terrorism" (Brother says detainee went to camp run by Islamic sect, August 16), you should also have pointed out it is a huge worldwide missionary movement - socially conservative, but avowedly non-political - whose annual meeting in Bangladesh attracted 4 million attendees this January, and is the second largest gathering in the Muslim world after the annual hajj to Mecca. That a very small number of its followers may have subsequently embraced terrorism should not blind us to the fact that its inclusion in America's list of terrorist organisations is misleading."
Andy Worthington

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Is the West waking up to Islam?

The West Wakes Up to Islam
That morning Mr. Smith got up a little earlier than usual. There was something unfamiliar in the air, it definitely did not sound like a normal Monday morning. He went over to the window and drew back the curtains. He could not believe his eyes.
There in front of him, instead of the familiar row of houses he was used to, was an encampment of richly decorated tents and pavilions. A group of turbaned horsemen riding beautifully caparisoned steeds galloped into view, shouting in a guttural language to each other. They were waving curved scimitars and their leader had flung over his saddle two severed heads tied together by the hair. He threw them down on the ground, laughing as he did so and two black slaves appeared with a silver salver to place them on. The men dismounted and a bevy of flimsily veiled, giggling slave girls gathered to escort each to one of the tents. Meanwhile in the distance the sun could be seen glinting on the domes and minarets and arches of a distant city, and between the tents and the city palm trees were swaying in the breeze. 'Goodness me! I've woken up to Islam,' said Mr. Smith to himself.
This ridiculous caricature, or one similar to it, is unfortunately, courtesy of the Crusades via Hollywood, more or less the picture that most people have at the back of their minds when Islam is mentioned and unfortunately the Muslims here and elsewhere have so far been able to do little to dissipate this view in the public consciousness. Islam is viewed at best as an exotic import, something foreign, something from somewhere else and it is vital to address this misconception before it can be seen for what it really is.
Islam is in fact nothing other than the best way to worship God - that one God who everyone in their heart of hearts and their hours of greatest need knows to be there; the one who created and sustains the Universe and everything in it and beyond it. When I became a Muslim, it was not because I wanted to put on fancy dress or change my nationality. It was because I knew and had always known inside myself that God existed and wanted to do something about it. I was looking for an outward form to correspond to an inner awareness that things were not what they superficially appeared to be and that there must be a way of living my life in such a way that my daily existence would complement and confirm what I knew inside myself to be true.
I will finish by translating the verses from the Qur'an which were recited before I started. They were taken significantly from Surat ar-Rum which might be translated 'Christendom' in English:
"Corruption has appeared in both land and sea because of what people's own hands have brought about so that they may taste something of what they have done so that hopefully they will turn back.
So set your face firmly towards the Deen, as a pure natural believer, Allah's natural pattern on which He made mankind. There is no changing Allah's creation. That is the true Deen – but most people do not know it – turning towards Him. Have fear of Him and establish the prayer. Do not be among those who associate others with Him."
"So set your face firmly towards the True Religion, before a Day comes from Allah which cannot be turned back. On that Day they will be split up. Those who were rejected the Truth will find that their rejection was against themselves. Those who did right were making the way easy for themselves; so that He can repay with His bounty those who had iman and did right actions. He certainly does not love those who reject the Truth."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

What is Abdul Sattar Edhi doing in Beirut?

I Knew I Would Have to Be in Lebanon, Says Edhi

By Siraj Wahab, Arab News

“I just can’t sit back and watch humanity suffer,” said Abdul Sattar Edhi, the Pakistani philanthropist and humanitarian, during a telephone interview with Arab News from the Lebanese capital.
JEDDAH, 9 August 2006 — As people streamed out of Lebanon fleeing Israeli aggression, Pakistani philanthropist and humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi did exactly the opposite, getting to Beirut from Karachi as fast as he could.

via SunniSister

Monday, August 07, 2006

Who would think of taking hair gel to Beirut?

5 August 2006
There's a certain war reporting chic in Beirut, to be observed at all times.
Not shaving gives you a "war beard" and colleagues will tear the mickey out of you for trying to look macho.
Having an Apocalypse Now-style cut-off sleeved press photographer's jacket is unforgivable, as is donning anything remotely military.
Any dirt, dust, scuffs or marks of any kind on your clothes looks like you are trying too hard to look like you've been in the zone.
The same goes for ruffled hair, mucky shoes, carrying too many bags with you or even a specially-designed water bottle like the ones soldiers and cowboys carry.
I have seen all of these things being worn by members of the press in recent days. All of them have been ridiculed.
With this in mind the British press in Beirut collectively looks itself over in the morning to check for any deviations from the rules.
Shirt sleeves and T-shirts are okay - after all it is boiling here during the day and you don't want to overheat.
Shorts are just massively disallowed - not just because we are in the The Middle East and it might cause offence but, well, they just look stupid. Always.
Jeans are very good, as are light-weight Chinos, even though they are impractical as they look dirty after an hour in the dusty streets.
Though practical, hiking boots are borderline as they may look a little military and you will raise a few eyebrows from the photographers.
The best footwear for safe passage through the minefield of mickey takes you have to step through every day is a pair of trainers.
But you have to be careful even then as some SAS-types at the embassy wear trainers and you definitely don't want to be caught emulating them.
So, armed with a plastic bottle of Perrier - non military and straight off the shop shelf - clean-shaven, dressed in jeans,a sleeved shirt and wearing trainers, I stepped out of the lift yesterday carrying a small notebook and a pen.
So far no mistakes.
Then a photographer from a British broadsheet screamed at me: "Take that ******* war pouch off."
I was carrying a moneybelt - practical you might think but apparently an unforgivable crime. Wallets that can be stolen easily are the fashion.
My shame only lasted five minutes as we drove around Beirut hoping to find the site of the previous night's Israeli bombardment.
And there he was - the full Monty!
A photographer was taking pictures in the middle of the road sporting all of the above, including the war beard, dirty combat trousers, sleeveless fishing jacket, belts, carabiners, webbing, desert boots, water bottles and loads of khaki bags.
I was off the hook.
But every day you live on a war-fashion knife-edge, trying to look as casual and as un-warlike as possible.
I have just got returned from trying to arrange a story with some gentlemen from the Hezbollah organisation.
They are the only locals you see wearing shades who stand guard over bomb sites, briefy barring you, then allowing you in after ten minutes after speaking into a walkie-talkie that may not even work.
After showering and changing for dinner I bumped into Daily Mirror photographer James Vellacott who suggested I put some gel in my hair as I looked too business-like and needed to be more scruffy.
Who would think of taking hair gel to Beirut?
You can't win!
From The Mirror's BeirutBlog by Chris Hughes

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Where can one get minute by minute updates on the aggression against Lebanon?

This blog has the latest updates, courtesy Samidoun