Sunday, 27 February 2011

Supreme Court to hear case of detained Muslim

Supreme_CourtHandcuffed and marched through Washington's Dulles International Airport in his Muslim clothing, the man with the long beard could only imagine what people were thinking. That scene unfolded in March 2003, a year and a half after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. One of the four planes hijacked in 2001 took off from Dulles. "I could only assume that they thought I was a terrorist," Abdullah al-Kidd recalled in an interview with The Associated Press.Kidd called his airport arrest "one of the most, if not the most, humiliating experiences of my life."
Over the next 16 days he would be strip-searched repeatedly, left naked in a jail cell and shower for more than 90 minutes in view of other men and women, and kept with people who had been convicted of violent crimes.

In the midst of Kidd's detention, FBI Director Robert Mueller testified to Congress about recent major successes against terrorism. No. 1 on Mueller's list was the capture of professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

No. 2 was the arrest of Kidd, a Kansas-born convert to Islam who was not charged with a crime.

Eight years later, the Supreme Court is weighing whether Kidd's arrest and detention violated the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures. The court, which will hear arguments Wednesday, also is being asked to decide whether former Attorney General John Ashcroft can be held personally liable for his role in setting the policy that led to Kidd's arrest.

Kidd, now 38, was one of about 70 men, almost all Muslims, who were arrested and held in the years after Sept. 11 under a federal law meant to compel reluctant witnesses to testify.

The material witness law has existed in some form since 1789. But after Sept. 11, Kidd argues in his lawsuit, federal authorities began using it to hold someone suspected of ties to terrorism even when they had insufficient evidence that the person had committed a crime.

Islamic revolution gets Muslims out of lethargy

Islamic_Revolution“The Islamic revolution that was established by the leadership of Imam Khomeini (RA) was based on Islamic rules and got Muslims out of lethargy,” said the Faculty Member of the Institute of Islamic culture and Thought, Hojjatol Islam Mohammad Javad Roudgar. He underlined,” The revolution enhanced people’s consideration for dignity and little by little lead them to Islamic awakening.” “The view points of Imam Khomeini were so effective in helping people to find their identity,” Hojjatol Islam Roudgar said and went on,” Today Muslims propose new ideas in the modern world.” Faculty Member of the Institute of Islamic Culture and Thought pointed to the issue of unity among Muslims and its importance as underlined, “The Islamic revolution played an important role in making unity in the Islamic world.”
“Muslim scholars in Al-Azhar University and other universities in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan came up with this idea that the Islamic revolution showed Muslims new dimension for understanding Islamic concepts,” said Hojjatol Islam Roudgar adding that these elites and scholars had learnt how they should stand against the arrogant world.
“The presence of the Head of the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought, Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Taskhiri and his attempts for making proximity among Muslims neutralize conspiracies hatched by Islam enemies.

Spy war threatens Pakistan-US ties

Spy_war_threatens_PakistanFour weeks into the Raymond Davisaffair, an ongoing and very public spat between the ISI and the CIA threatens to engulf the fraught relationship between Washington and Islamabad.Partners in the war on militancy, the two spy agencies have never had an easy relationship. But ties hit a new low after the revelation that Davis was part of a clandestine CIA network operating in Pakistani cities. “We feel betrayed by the CIA operations behind our back,” said an ISI official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
ISI officials claim more than 50 CIA agents are still active in the country and are involved in intensive intelligence gathering without the knowledge of the ISI. “The Davis affair is just a tip of the iceberg,” commented one senor official.

The tensions were further set to escalate in recent days when the ISI prepared a statement — held back from publication at the last moment — in which the agency accused the CIA of being ‘arrogant’ and not showing ‘respect to the host country’.

The unprecedented riposte was meant to counter a comment made by an unidentified CIA official to an American newspaper that the ISI had suspended its cooperation.

However, repeated telephone contacts between CIA chief Leon Panetta and his Pakistani counterpart, Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha, in the past week helped prevent a complete breakdown in the relationship.

The meeting last week in Oman between General Kayani and the top US military leadership also helped lower tensions. Although the Oman meeting had been long planned to review the situation in Afghanistan, discussions also focused on the fallout of the detention of the CIA contractor on the relations between the two allies.

According to some high-level sources, the meeting showed the determination of both sides not to let the Davis affair bring down the strategic ties between the two countries. “Sanity has prevailed,” claimed an ISI official.

Relations between the ISI and the CIA, rebuilt after 9/11, have been close in some areas, but a deep mistrust on both sides has remained. “It was a dysfunctional marriage at best,” conceded a Pakistani official.

In recent months, the tensions had once again escalated. A summons issued against Gen Pasha to appear in a New York court in connection with a private lawsuit centring on the Mumbai attacks was followed by the unmasking of the identity of the CIA station chief in Islamabad, forcing him to leave Pakistan.

But even before, for at least the past couple of years, some Pakistani newspapers have been publishing stories leaked by the ISI regarding the influx of US security contractors in large numbers. “They have to dismantle those networks if they really want our cooperation,” said an ISI official. “We have warned them that they cannot do things behind our backs.”

At present, there are some indications Washington is increasingly looking towards the Pakistani military leadership to help resolve the Davis affair. A possible reason is a feeling in Washington that the civilian government here is too weak and unpopular to deliver on the Davis issue.

Further complicating the issue, however, are the divergences between the civil and military leaderships in Pakistan. The military and the ISI now publicly criticise the civilian government’s decision to relax visa policies, a move that has led, according to the military, to scores of undercover US intelligence officials entering the country.

An ISI official claimed that 400 visa applications were processed by Pakistan’s embassy in Washington over a single weekend after the government on July 14, 2010, removed the requirement for intelligence vetting.

But some senior government officials privately blame the ISI for trying to instigate public opinion on the Davis issue.

The multiple power centres in the country has been a major reason for the Davis affair becoming a politically volatile issue, making it more difficult to find a diplomatic solution.

After an initial tough position, the Obama administration seemed willing to step back and negotiate an out of court settlement that would have included a public apology for the incident, the promise of a criminal investigation into the killings under US laws and the payment of compensation to the families of the victims.

But now, four weeks into the crisis, a resolution appears as distant as ever. Privately American diplomats believe it may take months for the Davis issue to be resolved.

“And it will take years to repair the damage the issue has done to Pak-US relations,” said an American diplomat.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Controversial Imam to Speak at University of Central Florida Sparks Protests

imamasirajwahhajStudents at the University of Central Florida are protesting the expected appearance of a controversial imam speaking at the university as part of Islam Awareness Month.
Imam Siraj Wahhaj -- who was an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a character witness for Abdel Rahman, known as the Blind Sheik -- was invited by the Muslim Student Association to dispel misconceptions about the Islamic faith,But his appearence, scheduled Friday evening, has sparked controversy at UCF --a public university part of the State University System of Florida.
“I’m all for free speech but when I started reading about him, as a conservative, some of his rhetoric can be very dangerous,” said Jonathon Little, Chairman of the College Republicans at UCF.

Wahhaj is an African American convert to Islam and imam of the Masjid Al-Taqwa mosque in Brooklyn, New York. He denounced the World Trade Center terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 but his critics say he remains neutral about Usama Bin Laden and his role in the attacks, MyFoxOrlando reports.  

The Muslim Student Association defended its move saying in a statement: “The members of the Muslim Student Association are excited about or future speaker during Islam Awareness Month. Imam Siraj Wahhaj has a long record of being a positive force in our community and has made frequent college visits to encourage all students to live positive lives. We think that once you get a chance to hear his message, you will agree that he is a good choice as our speaker for this important month.”

The Muslim Student Association received $6,500 from the university towards Islam Awareness Month, yet it remains unclear if any of that is being used for the imam's visit. Any student-run group can apply for this type of funding, MyFoxOrlando reports.

The university itself says it supports free speech but does not endorse a speaker’s background or comments.

Some students have said they will go and hear what he has to say. Others say they plan to protest.

Davis’s family arrives in Pakistan

Daviss_family_arrives_in_PakistanRaymond Davis’s alleged family reached Pakistan between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, The alleged family that arrived at Allama Iqbal International Airport included a woman, two men and three children. They were escorted out of the airport under high security arrangements and were taken to an unidentified location. The vehicles that were carrying Davis’s alleged family had false number plates, DawnNews reported.
The name of one of the men and the woman, listed in their traveling documents, were as Randy Field and Beth Page, claimed sources.
According to sources, two individuals with similar names had previously been deployed in Pakistan, as USAID employees.
The US Embassy and the Pakistani officials have not yet accepted nor rejected any claims.

Apple Gets Back to Basics in Mac OS X Lion

Apple_MacBookApple on Thursday gave us another sneak peek at what's in store for the next major release of Mac OS X, dubbed Lion, due out this summer. Between the iOS-inspired features we saw in the first Lion preview in October and the new features the company revealed today, it's clearer than ever that Apple isn't merely getting Back to the Mac. With Lion, Apple is getting back to basics, making significant changes and adding new features that are all focused on making the Mac easier to use and more accessible to both new and longtime users.Apple has always touted the Mac as the "computer for the rest of us," wearing its reputation on its shoulder for designing intuitive interfaces and great experiences. But there have always been parts of Mac OS X where those claims just don't hold up. Remember the last time you tried to explain to your parents or non-technical friends how to download and install Firefox from a Disk Image--or for that matter, what a Disk Image even is? With the meteoric rise of iOS and the iPad changing our perception of the personal computer, Mac OS X can sometimes look downright Windows-y by comparison.

Lion is designed to fix that.

4G iPhone won’t arrive until 2012 according to analyst

iphoneIt’s the year 2011, 4G is the “in” thing and everybody seems to be hopping onto the bandwagon this year. Well, everybody except Apple. According to an analyst from Telecom Pragmatics, Sam Greenholtz, the iPhone 5 that will be launching later this year, will not pack any LTE radios and that the iPhone 6 (which will be released in 2012) will be the one supporting LTE instead. According to another analyst, when Apple locked down the specs for the iPhone 5, they didn’t expect this level of hardware competition. Sounds like a reasonable explanation, but if past iPhone models are of any reference to how Apple designs their phones – the exclusion of 4G this year might have been done on purpose. Well, the year is still young and you can expect a lot more iPhone 5 rumors to surface before we actually get the real deal, so stay tuned and we’ll keep you posted.

World leaders seek action against Qadhafi over crackdown

world_leadersWorld leaders studied punitive measures to take against Moamer Qadhafi on Thursday as the Libyan strongman’s crackdown against opponents grew more desperate. The UN Security Council will meet again Friday to discuss the crisis and USPresident Barack Obama has already discussed possible measures with France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy and the British and Italian Prime ministers David Cameron and Silvio Berlusconi. Diplomats said they are studying a possible no-fly zone over Libya, as well as a travel ban and assets freeze against the Qadhafi family amid mounting concern over the growing death toll.
“All options are on the table. We are not ruling anything out,” a Western diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The 15-nation council is determined to show international anger after Qadhafi rejected calls from Obama, other heads of state and the Security Council itself for a halt to the violence, diplomats said.

But they noted that sanctions are unlikely to be announced or agreed by Friday’s meeting, when UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will address UN envoys.

Ban has already expressed outrage over Qadhafi’s actions and warned of international action against those responsible for the violence.

Obama and Sarkozy, who spoke by phone, renewed their call for an end to the “continuing brutal and bloody repression and to the threatening statements of the Libyan leadership,” the French presidency said.

“The two presidents reiterated their demand for an immediate halt to the use of force against the civilian population.”

In a separate conversation, Obama and the British prime minister promised to “coordinate on possible multilateral measures on Libya,” Cameron’s office said in a statement.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Religion News Coverage Doubled, Focused On Islam Controversies In 2010

ReligionIslam dominated religion news coverage in 2010, a year that also saw religion reporting double to 2 percent of all news, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
The so-called "Ground Zero mosque" and threat of Quran burning from a Florida pastor helped bring coverage of Islam and related controversies to 40 percent of all religion news last year.
From 2009 to 2010, religion-related reporting increased from 1 percent to 2 percent of all news coverage in the U.S. media. And for the first time since 2007, when Pew began tracking such coverage, neither the Catholic Church nor religion's role in American politics were the most reported topic


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