Italy: First Italian food halal supplier

Italy: First Italian food halal supplier

Via AKI:

Italy’s first-ever ‘halal’ supplier has opened for business in Italy’s northern city of Bologna, selling meals prepared according to Islamic principles to restaurants and canteens in Italy and abroad.

“Integration is also being able to eat as one should and to be at peace with God,” Hamza Piccardo, told Adnkronos International (AKI).

Piccardo, an Italian convert to Islam, is the director of the ‘Tre Alfieri Halal‘, which is based in Bologna, a renowned gastronomic centre.

“Our new company wants to be a triumph of integration: to combine Italy’s great cuisine and Islam’s rules without losing the flavours of the former and the spiritual rigour of the latter,” he said.

( / 22.05.2011)

Jerusalem police close alleged Hamas office

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Jerusalem police said on Sunday that they had closed an East Jerusalem community center, adding that detentions would likely be made because the organization had violated a closure order.

Police spokeswoman Luba Simmari said detectives closed the premises of the Heritage Committee in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz, which she accused of being affiliated with Hamas, the Islamist political party which controls the government in the Gaza Strip.

The party runs hundreds of community organizations in the West Bank and Gaza.

“It is the intention of the police to arrest suspects responsible for reopening it,” she told AFP. “It was run by Hamas… Hamas is forbidden to work in East Jerusalem.”

Neighbors said that the two-story building was also used for prayers.

An eyewitness said that police welded its doors shut.

Israel considers Hamas a “terrorist organization” and prohibits any activities run by the party to take place in territory it controls.

The Palestinian Authority is also prohibited from carrying out official activities.

(  / 22.05.2011)

Change Is Coming

For his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama went on and on about change. The world was looking forward to having the first black American President, which would indicate that black people have been truly accepted into society. He has even won a Nobel Peace Prize, for doing nothing whatsoever.

Back to the subject of change, his recent speech regarding the Middle East was a huge shock to the likes on Benjamin Netanyahu. The fact that he so much as recognised the 1967 borders would most likely make Netanyahu burn inside, which is interesting as he is due to speak to AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). Sadly but unsurprisingly, he refused to allow Palestine its own post within the United Nations as mentioned here. The fact that he has so much as recognised Palestine somewhat is a huge step for a nation who has watertight relations with Israel.

Funnily enough, he has finally commented on the Arab spring, though failing to mention what exactly he will do to stop civilians dying. Of course, Syria does not have oil so there is no need for military intervention there. What is also interesting is how he is now openly siding with the people protesting, albeit via words only. What his speech should have been, has been eloquently put by Robert Fisk and can be read here.

Lastly, the University of London Union (ULU) have voted to boycott Israel via the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). God willing, this shall have a huge affect on the many institutions of higher learning, which shall be positive for the Palestinians.

All of this has been while thousands of Palestinians marked the 63rd anniversary of Al Nakbah (The Catastrophe), when the Zionist terrorists forcibly removed around 700,000 Palestinians from their homes. All they did was simply march back into Palestine and indeed, many have become martyrs for justice. The Zionists have all this amazing technology and weaponry, yet they fear the powerless beast when he is awake. For all those who say political action, protesting and lobbying is not productive, ingrain these events into your mind, for today you are mistaken. By God’s will, it is only a matter of time when the injustice upon these people is removed. We must be persistent in our struggle to remove injustice, as was our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Change does not come overnight, but can take years: Our Prophet (peace be upon him) took 23 years in which to cause a total change from the darkness of oppression into the light of justice. It may not be for us to see the change but at least we can plant the seeds of change for a better tomorrow and see the plant of revolution in the afterlife. Indeed, Allah says in the Quran 16:90-

“Verily, Allah enjoins, justice and goodness, and giving (help) to kith and kin and forbids indecencies, all that is prohibited and all kinds of oppression. He admonishes you, that you may take heed.”

( / 22.05.2011)

Jihad: A Pursuit of Knowledge

Let me introduce you to 2 important Egyptians.

Meet 15 year old Omar Othman, he met Prime Minister Essam Sharaf in Cairo recently. Omar Othman is doing his masters now in Mathematics.

Meet the smartest kid in Egypt, 9 year old Mahmoud Wael Mahmoud is the talk of the town. His IQ score is that of a genius. He might join the Guinness Book of world records inshAllah. His parents are both doctors and he has two elder sisters. Part of being a genius is the atmosphere he is living in. Mahmoud wants to be either a doctor like his parents or a software programmer. Microsoft Egypt is interested in him, already.

May God help Muslims achieve ihsan (excellence) in every field of science, business and voluntary work to contribute to the progress of humanity and civilisation. The first command given, is Iqra which means read or seek knowledge.

Islam is the religion of science, knowledge, entrepreneurship and progress.

Do your scientific jihad for Islam. Dedicate your life to Islam by dedicating your life to science. Change the world with your accomplishments.

Make Muslims and Islam proud of you. Make the whole world proud of you.

Make knowledge the pursuit of your life. This is your Jihad, yes, your Jihad.

It is your Jihad as a parent to raise the most successful of children. This is your Jihad to gift the world with the best of progeny.

If you are a parent, please don’t let Islam down, please help your children achieve their full potential. You can adopt a child and help it achieve its full potential. Maybe you can help and advise parents and families around you to raise successful children.

Do everything you can to help Muslims achieve the Islamic core value of ihsan (excellence). A Muslim man or woman shouldn’t be average or mediocre. A Muslim should strive to be the best in every field of human endeavour.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believer is like rain, wherever he goes is goodness.”

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “When a man dies, his acts come to an end, except in three cases: an ongoing charity, knowledge from which people continue to benefit, and a righteous child who prays for him.”
Sahih Muslim

For some tips to parents read here.

( / 22.05.2011)

Ed van Thijn waarschuwt voor gewenningsfactor PVV

Oud-politicus Ed van Thijn is bezorgd over het gemak waarmee Nederland aan de uitspraken en standpunten van de PVV en Wilders gewend is geraakt. 

“Men vindt dat Wilders’ toon gematigd is sinds hij de VVD-CDA coalitie gedoogt, maar dat is niet juist”, stelt Van Thijn. “Hij zegt nog steeds dezelfde dingen als voorheen maar er is sprake van een gewenningsfactor.”

Daarbij wijst Van Thijn voornamelijk naar de toespraken die Wilders in het New York, Duitsland en Israel hield. “Die waren zeer beledigend voor alle moslims in de wereld.”

Ed van Thijn waarschuwt voor de gevolgen van de gewenning aan de discriminerende toon. “Ik denk aan het antisemitisme in bepaalde wijken van Amsterdam en de moslimhaat die door Nederland rondwaart. Dat laatste is door Europese antiracisme comités jaren geleden al aan
de kaak gesteld. Tegenwoordig haalt men zich daar de schouders bij op.”


Volgens de oud-burgemeester van Amsterdam hebben de VVD en het CDA de PVV salonfähig gemaakt. “Men bagatelliseert de uitspraken van de PVV om zelf niet in gewetensnood te komen. Zo wordt de partij door anderen opgetild tot een nette partij. Dat is het niet.”

Het stelselmatig blameren, etiketteren en in een hoek zetten van links Nederland vindt Van Thijn de democratie onwaardig. “Een term als linkse kerk vind ik huiveringwekkend maar kennelijk is iedereen er al aangewend. Als PVV’er Bosma schrijft dat Hitler de grondlegger van het socialisme zou zijn haalt hij het bloed onder mijn nagels vandaan.”

Andersom vindt hij de vergelijking tussen Wilders en Hitler ‘even walgelijk’. “De Tweede Wereldoorlog wordt in alle kringen misbruikt. Laten we elkaar bestrijden met de argumenten van vandaag en niet met de misdaden van gister.”

( / 22.05.2011)

International Committe of the Red Cross: Gaza – No end in sight to hardship and despair

20-05-2011 Interview

Mathilde De Riedmatten, deputy head of the ICRC’s sub-delegation in Gaza, talks about the situation in the coastal enclave and about how ordinary Gazans manage to carry on with their daily lives.

How would you describe the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip today?

The ICRC is concerned about the fact that the 1.5 million people in the Strip are unable to live a normal and dignified life. Almost no one can leave the Gaza Strip, not even to go to the West Bank, where many Gazans have family or previously had work.

Health-care facilities are suffering from the restrictions imposed by Israel on the transfer of medical equipment, building materials and many basic items needed for maintenance. Water and sanitation facilities have been under strain for many decades. The fact that they remain even barely in working order is due to the efforts of certain humanitarian organizations. Buildings that have been in need of repair for several years and the many buildings that were destroyed during the Israeli military operation in Gaza in 2008-2009 cannot be repaired or rebuilt as long as basic building materials, such as concrete, are not allowed into the Gaza Strip in meaningful quantities.

Violence claims civilian lives in the Strip on a regular basis. In recent months, many people have been killed or injured in escalating violence and sometimes even in open hostilities. Security incidents in the area between Gaza and Israel frequently result in loss of life or in destruction of property or livelihoods. We deplore the civilian casualties and continue to remind all parties that civilians must be spared the effects of the hostilities. Every feasible precaution must be taken to avoid civilian casualties.

ICRC staff constantly monitor the situation of civilians, such as farmers and rubble collectors, who have no alternative but to live and work in areas close to Israel. The area along the fence extending 300 metres into Gaza has been declared a no-go zone by the Israel Defense Forces. A far bigger area, extending nearly one kilometre into the Gaza Strip, is considered dangerous because of the Israeli military’s incursions and use of live ammunition. Whenever civilians suffer direct harm in such incidents, we document the cases and raise our concerns bilaterally and confidentially with the parties concerned.

Can you tell us more about the economic situation?

Gaza is more dependent than ever on outside aid. For young people – fully 50 per cent of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents are under 18 years of age – there is a crushing lack of prospects, and it is a constant struggle for them to maintain hope in the future.

The strict limits on imports and the almost absolute ban on exports imposed by Israel make economic recovery impossible. The unemployment rate currently stands at nearly 40 per cent. It will remain ruinously high as long as the economy fails to recover. This difficult situation exacerbates the considerable hardship already caused by the collapse of previously prosperous branches of the economy.

Over the years, access to land suitable for agriculture has been eroded by restrictions imposed in the areas near Israel and the levelling of land and destruction of trees by the Israel Defense Forces. To make matters worse, the high price or even total lack of some farm inputs such as fertilizer, pesticides, etc., and the lack of export opportunities have weighed heavily on the primary sector. In addition, many fishermen have lost their livelihood as a result of Israel reducing the area at sea within which it allows fishing to three nautical miles from Gaza’s coastline.

Because Israel retains effective control over the Gaza Strip, in particular by maintaining authority over the movement of people and goods, it must fulfil its obligations under the law of occupation and allow the civilian population to lead as normal a life as possible.

Israel eased the closure in June 2010. Has that had a positive effect on the lives of ordinary people in Gaza?

The restriction on the movement of people out of Gaza remains unchanged. The current Israeli permit system, combined with rigorous controls, means that only people in need of medical attention who fulfil strict security criteria are allowed to leave either through the Rafah crossing into Egypt or through the Erez crossing into Israel. Very few other people are allowed out of Gaza.

The entry of goods into Gaza is also still highly restricted, not only in terms of quantity but also in terms of the particular items allowed. Long delays are frequent. Some goods that are allowed in are so expensive that their availability hardly matters to the vast majority of the population, who could never afford them. Although there has been media coverage of the export of certain cash crops such as carnations and strawberries, the actual level of exports from the Gaza Strip remains close to zero. Imports of construction supplies and raw materials are still mostly banned, even though they are vital to the territory’s infrastructure and economic recovery.

Unless there is political change that results in freedom of movement for Gazans, increased imports of a variety of goods and significant exports, there will be no improvement.

How can the ICRC help mitigate the effects of the closure?

To help families make ends meet, we have developed cash-for-work programmes and launched projects that provide farmers with tools and seedlings to improve crop yields.

We are also doing what we can to make sure that injured and sick people receive proper medical attention by providing support for the emergency services of the Ministry of Health and the Palestine Red Crescent Society. The Society provides pre-hospital emergency care and counselling services alongside the many other humanitarian tasks it performs within the Gaza Strip. The ICRC also provides support for the Artificial Limb and Polio Centre, the only facility of its kind in the Gaza Strip, which treated over a thousand patients in 2010.

Our water and sanitation engineers are focusing their efforts on the treatment of wastewater. At a plant that was recently completed in Rafah, some of the treated wastewater can safely seep into and replenish the aquifer, which remains the only source of clean water in the Gaza Strip. Thanks to the latest upgrades at the plant, treated wastewater could soon be used for agricultural purposes such as irrigating trees.


Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza. Nursery. © ICRC / C. Goin / il-e-01978
June 2010. Northern Gaza Strip. Palestinian children sleep in a tent. The tent was erected after their house was destroyed during the Israeli military operation in 2008/2009. © Reuters / M. Salem
Gaza. A Palestinian woman with a photograph of a relative held in an Israeli jail. © Reuters / I. A. Mustafa
Gazan fishermen have been hard hit by restrictions on the areas in which they are allowed to fish. © ICRC / C. Goin / il-e-01979

Source: ICRC International Committee of the Red Cross

( / 22.05.2011)

Ni’lin marks 3rd anniversary of non-violent protests

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The West Bank village of Ni’lin on Friday marked its third anniversary of weekly non-violent demonstrations against Israel’s wall.

Since 2008, Israeli forces have killed five Palestinians demonstrating in Ni’lin to protest Israel’s confiscation of one third of the village’s land. Hundreds have been injured and detained from the village as soldiers violently shut down the rallies, at times using live ammunition.

In June 2008, the village was held under siege by the Israeli military and over the summer Israeli forces shot and killed a 10-year-old boy, Ahmed Moussa. At Ahmed’s funeral, Israeli soldiers shot 18-year-old Yousif Amira in the head with rubber-coated steel bullets. He fell into a coma and died in hospital.

Two villagers were killed when Ni’lin protested Israel’s war on Gaza in December 2008. Soldiers shot Arafat Khawaja, 22, in the back, and Mohammad Khawaja, 18, in the head.

US activist Tristan Anderson was left with brain injuries after an Israeli soldier shot him in the head with a tear gas canister at a protest in March 2009.

Two months later, soldiers shot Yousef Awel Sadiq Srour, 36, in the chest with live ammunition. He was pronounced dead on arrival to hospital.

On Friday, hundreds of Palestinians gathered to pray next to the separation wall, and dozens of internationals joined protesters carrying Palestinian flags to march to a gate in the wall.

Israeli forces waiting at the gate fired tear-gas canisters and sound grenades at the rally.

Ni’lin popular committee member Salah Khawaja told Ma’an that despite Israel’s military campaign against the village, the protests would continue.

“We lost five people, 700 have been injured and 150 arrested, many of them children.

“But we vow to continue and to bring more people to our strategy of non-violent resistance. We saw in Egypt what can be achieved when the people work together,” Khawaja said.

( / 22.05.2011)

Saudis show solidarity with Bahrainis

Protesters in Qatif demand the release of political prisoners

Saudi protesters have poured into the streets in the eastern city of Qatif, condemning Manama’s brutal crackdown on anti-regime demonstrators.

Expressing solidarity with Bahraini protesters, Saudi demonstrators on Friday urged the government to stop helping Manama in suppressing the uprising in the neighboring country and immediately withdraw its troops.

Since the deployment of Saudi troops in mid-March, Bahrain has launched a harsh crackdown on anti-government protesters, rounding up senior opposition figures and activists in dawn raids and arresting doctors, nurses, lawyers and journalists who voiced support for the protest movement.

Last week, Bahraini authorities announced that Saudi troops would remain in the Persian Gulf kingdom even after the state of emergency is lifted in June.

Despite, international condemnation of Saudi occupation of Bahrain, a Saudi official said, “This is the initial phase and Bahrain will get whatever assistance it needs. It’s open-ended.”

Saudi demonstrators also called for human rights reform, freedom of expression and the release of political prisoners some held without trial for more than 16 years.

Saudi Arabia’s east has been the scene of anti-government protests over the past months and authorities have arrested scores of people, including bloggers and writers, for taking part in protest rallies.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than 160 dissidents have been arrested since February as part of the Saudi government’s crackdown on anti-government protesters.

( / 21.05.2011)

Refugee ‘return rallies’ planned for June 5

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Masses of Palestinian refugees will march to Israel’s borders and ceasefire lines again on June 5, organizers of the May 15 “return rally” said.

On Sunday, 14 protesters were killed when Israeli forces opened fire on thousands of refugees trying to return to their land in Israel.

The May 15 rallies were held to mark Nakba Day, the anniversary of Palestinians’ expulsion from their homes and villages as the state of Israel was established in 1948.

Israeli soldiers shot dead 10 Palestinian refugees trying to cross Lebanon’s border into Israel. Troops shot dead four refugees trying to enter the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Hundreds were injured when Israeli forces fired tear-gas grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians rallying at Qalandiya checkpoint, which separates the occupied West Bank from Jerusalem.

Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teenager at a simultaneous protest at the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip.

The committee organizing the “return rallies” said Saturday that the May 15 protests were “just the beginning.”

In a statement, the group called on all Palestinian refugees living in exile to march peacefully to the borders of historic Palestine on June 5.

The date marks the anniversary of the 1967 war, when Israel occupied southern Lebanon, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank.

Thousands of refugees will march to the ceasefire lines in the West Bank and Gaza as well as borders with Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, the committee said.

“The Israeli occupation should remain on alert because rallies will not stop until Palestinian refugees return to Haifa, Haffa, Al-Majdal, Bi’r As-Sab and all occupied Palestinian towns,” the statement added.

The group urged Palestinian lawyers to file legal proceedings against Israeli officials for the killing of non-violent demonstrators on Nakba Day.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International called for investigations into the killings.

“In a too-familiar pattern, Israeli troops responded to stone-throwing youths with live bullets, with predictably deadly consequences,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

She added: “The evidence shows a disturbing disregard for protesters’ lives.”

Amnesty International said Israel used “excessive force, killing and maiming individuals who were not posing a threat to the lives of the soldiers or others” at the protests.

( / 21.05.2011)

Turkey threatens Israel with retaliation

Turkey pledges to take ‘necessary’ action against Israel if Tel Aviv repeats its 2010 bloodshed of Gaza-bound activists against an aid convoy, which is to head to the impoverished enclave.

On Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, “It should be known that Turkey will give the necessary response to any repeated act of provocation by Israel on the high seas,” Reuters reported.

International activists plan to deliver large quantities of humanitarian assistance to the Israel-blockaded Gaza Strip in the third week of June.

The Freedom Flotilla II, organized by a coalition of pro-Palestinian groups, most of them based in Europe, is to consist of around 15 vessels and over 1,500 activists.

The mission is named after the first Freedom Flotilla, which Israel attacked on May 31, 2010, killing nine Turkish activists and injuring around 50 others.

“Those, who believe Turkey should take certain steps to stop [the new flotilla], must first warn Israel not to repeat the human tragedy it caused last year,” Davutoglu said.

“We have shared our views about the safety of our citizens with all related parties. That was the case last year and it is not any different this time.”

Israeli military officials have, however, confirmed that preparations are underway to stop any new flotilla.

The Turkish statesman further called Tel Aviv’s four-year-old siege of Gaza, which has been depriving the 1.5-million Palestinians there of food, medicine, fuel and other necessities, ‘unlawful.’

( / 21.05.2011)