Military police clash with imams demanding Al-Azhar independence

Egypt’s military police on Sunday prevented a rally organized by mosque imams calling for the independence of Al-Azhar as well as investigations into charges of corruption leveled against the Ministry of Endowments, an eyewitness said.

The same eyewitness said that members of the military police prevented the imams from reaching the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and assaulted them with fists and electric batons. Clashes resulted between the two sides.

Nearly 1000 imams and preachers organized a rally on Sunday, which began outside the Nour Mosque in Abbassiya and marched towards SCAF. The imams had gathered at the mosque in the morning, and a delegation of ten imams headed to SCAF. They were told, however, that the issue would be discussed at a later date. The imams then consulted with each other and decided to head to SCAF once more, stressing that this was the second time in which the SCAF failed to fulfill promises of addressing their demands.

The imams demanded that the law concerning the position of Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh be changed to require elections and for the Endowments Ministry to be annexed to Al-Azhar to enable the latter to become self sufficient. Former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser had decided in 1961 to change Al-Azhar’s laws so that its Grand Sheikh would be appointed by the president rather than elected. Nasser had also put Al-Azhar’s budget under state control.

( / 13.03.2011)

Agnostic-turned-Muslim pushes for Tennessee mosque

September 13, 2010

Camie Ayash was raised in Brooklyn, the daughter of an agnostic nurse and a New York City cop with a skeptic’s approach to religion.

She is the last person one might expect to be pushing to build a mosque in middle Tennessee.

“My dad was always telling me to compare this with that, to read everything I could and find the discrepancies,” she said. “He would stay up into the night reading the Old Testament, the King James Bible, the Torah and look up translations of the Quran, pointing out conflicting statements within the same book.

“Question everything, decide with an independent, open mind, and be strong when you do,” said Ayash, now 32. “I was always like, ‘OK, Dad, fine.’ But now get it. I seriously get it.”

Earlier this year, she and her husband of 15 years, a Kuwaiti Muslim, announced plans to build an Islamic center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a city of about 100,000 people 35 miles southeast of Nashville. The city has a burgeoning Middle East refugee community, many from Iraq.

For decades, a single mosque had served Murfreesboro, but its congregation has surpassed 1,000 worshippers. Ayash and her husband, a successful car dealership owner, thought it was time to expand. The new 52,000-square-foot structure would house a mosque, gym, playground, cemetery, walking paths and a meeting center.

Backlash was immediate.

The Islamic center was going to be too vast, some complained, and it would jam traffic on a nearby two-way road. Hostility grew as the summer dragged on. A woman stood at a public meeting and said Muslims were “trying to kill us,” The (Nashville) Tennessean newspaper reported. Marchers gathered at the construction site with signs saying “MOSQUE LEADERS SUPPORT KILLING CONVERTS.”

Then, in late August, equipment at the site was torched, and federal agents began an arson investigation. A plywood sign announcing the new center was spray-painted “Not welcome.” Another sign went up, but a vandal destroyed that, too.

Shortly after the blaze, Ayash and others hoping to build the site were standing at the mosque site. She and others heard gunshots and called the sheriff’s department. The Tennessean reported that moments after the shots, a vehicle drove by with its horn blasting “Dixie.”

“That was it for me,” said Ayash. “That really scared me.”

When Ayash came to Murfreesboro more than 10 years ago, she was not a Muslim. She felt no need to convert; her husband had never pressed her.

She always recalled what her father said. Read, seek, ask questions. “It was never an automatic — get married, believe this religion,” she said. “Belief, faith in God is more complicated than that.”

She remembers the summer, as hot as this one, that she was at home and picked up the Quran. Nothing big, nothing major. She had read it off and on for years. Except this time, she kept reading.

“I don’t want to insult the experience by saying that it was like a light going on, but I did just sit there, digesting it for hours, taking it in, understanding it like it was speaking to me,” she said. “I’m not sure I have words to tell you why.”

When her husband got home from work, she went to him like an excited child. “I want to convert!” she announced.

“He kind of laughed and asked, ‘Camie, are you serious? You don’t have to do that,'” she recalled.

A proper conversion ceremony happened. There was no “poof!” to it, just that she felt slightly altered, which is to say, calmer. For years, she wasn’t active at the mosque. She didn’t cover her hair with the traditional hijab.

Another summer came.

“One day I was sitting on our balcony with another woman, a Muslim who covered her hair with the hijab,” she said. “Someone came to visit and looked at her and said, ‘Assalamu alaikum.’ Then the guy turned to me and said, ‘Hey, how you doing?’

“I thought, ‘Wait a second!’ I’m Muslim. Doesn’t that guy know that?”

She began wearing a head scarf, and her practice of Islam deepened.

Another city, another mosque battle

Murfreesboro has become yet another city in America reflecting an apparent visceral mistrust between the nation’s increasingly visible Muslim population and those who see all Muslims in the context of radical Islam.

The tension is most visible in New York City, where opponents are fighting the construction of an Islamic center and mosque near ground zero.

But similar battles are going on in California, where a planned mosque in Riverside County prompted heated protests. Among the comments from residents in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, about a planned mosque: “I know they’ll say there’s the violent or jihad Muslims and there’s the peaceful Muslims, [but] to me it doesn’t make a difference because their goal is to wipe out Christianity around the world.”

And elsewhere in Tennessee, two other proposed Islamic centers have stoked controversy. A Crusaders’ cross was spray-painted on the side of a Nashville mosque, accompanied by, “Muslims go home.” In Williamson County, plans to build a mosque were recently quashed after residents complained a turn lane into the building would be too costly.

Laurie Cardoza-Moore lives in Williamson County. She is leading opposition to the Murfreesboro mosque with a group called Proclaiming Justice to the Nations whose Web site describes its mission statement: “to educate Christians about their Biblical responsibility to stand with their Jewish brethren and defend the State of Israel.”

Ayash said the two have never met, but that she’d be interested in talking to Cardoza-Moore face to face. “I’d love to answer any of her questions and have a civil discussion,” said Ayash.

Cardoza-Moore has appeared on CNN and on televangelist Pat Robertson’s show, “The 700 Club,” arguing that the Murfreesboro mosque is a front for terrorists and an attempt by Muslims to push out Bible and Christian book publishers who do business in the town.

“You have Christian music headquartered here,” Cardoza-Moore said on “The 700 Club.” “The radical Islamic extremists have stated that they are still fighting the Crusaders, and they see this as the capital of the Crusaders.”

Robertson singled out Murfreesboro on his show.

“You mark my word, if they start [to] bring thousands and thousands of Muslims into the relatively rural area, the next thing you know, they’re going to be taking over the city council. Then they’re going to be having an ordinance that — that calls for the public prayer five times a day,” Robertson has said.

Hearing that is especially difficult for Dr. Essam Fathy, a physical therapist who has lived in Murfreesboro for 30 years. He is on the board of the new mosque.

“There were a lot of Muslims here years ago as there are now, and we have all lived in peace for years,” he said. “But something lately has changed in my town. I’ve never seen aggression like this. It’s reached an absurdity that I just don’t know how to react to anymore.

“I hear people say things to me, just out and about, rumors about how we’re going to build a terrorist training camp, that’s what the gym will be used for.”

Fathy talks in exasperated tones. “I just want you to understand,” he said. “I want everyone to understand that we don’t want to argue with anyone. I want Murfreesboro back the way it was, which was actually a very nice place to live.”

Ayash recalled wearing her hijab around town, running errands, shopping for groceries.

“Back then, I felt so proud to put it on,” she said. “Now I’m afraid. If I wear this, am I a target?”

Ayash said she gets at least one threatening phone call or voicemail a week about the mosque. The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department has stepped up patrols near the mosque.

“What do you do in this situation? I’m a mother, I’m a wife. There are times when I feel defeated, like I should back down just to protect my family,” she said.

“My parents think it’s sad what’s going on.

“If they taught me to look around, to challenge people, ask more questions, I guess I’d ask the people here in Murfreesboro, ‘Is this how you treat your neighbors?'”

( / 13.03.2011)

Tientallen gewonden bij betoging tegen Marokkaanse overheid

Tientallen mensen hebben deels zware verwondingen opgelopen na een betoging zondag in de Marokkaanse stad Casablanca, zo hebben een journalist van het Franse persbureau AFP en andere ooggetuigen vastgesteld.

Dat gebeurde toen de Marokkaanse politie wou binnendringen in de zetel van de PSU, een linkse partij, waar de demonstranten hun toevlucht hadden gezocht.

De betoging zelf, waar een lans werd gebroken voor politieke hervormingen, was vreedzaam verlopen tot de politie ze met geweld ontbond. Daarop zochten tientallen betogers hun toevlucht in het gebouw van de Parti Socialiste Unifié (PSU).

Een poging van de politie om het gebouw te bestormen mislukte wegens heftig verzet van de demonstranten. Volgens een getuige werden zelfs een zwangere vrouw en tienermeisjes door de ordehandhavers hardhandig aangepakt.

( / 13.03.2011)

Four Principles for a Noble Character

It is not imagined that one can have noble character except if it is founded upon four pillars:

The First: Sabr (Patience)
The Second: ‘Iffah (Chastity)
The Third: Shujaa’ah (Courage)
The Fourth: ‘Adl (Justice)

Patience inspires him to be tolerant, control his anger, endure the harms that he receives from others, to be forbearing and deliberate in his decisions. It motivates him to be gentle and not to be rash or hasty.

Chastity inspires him to avoid every imprudent characteristic, whether in statement or action, and encourages him to have a sense of modesty and integrity which is the epitome of all good. It prevents him from fornication, stinginess, lying, backbiting and spreading tales to cause separation and discord between the people.

Courage inspires him to have a sense of self esteem, to emphasize high and noble manners and to make it apart of his natural disposition. It also encourages him to exert himself and to be generous, which is in essence, true courage and it leads to strong will and self determination. It encourages him to distance himself from his ardent lowly desires, to control his anger, and to be forbearing because by such, he can control his temper, take it by the reins and curb his violent and destructive behavior just as the Messenger (salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said:

“The Strong is not the one who can wrestle his opponent to the ground but rather the strong is the one who can control himself when he gets angry.” [Agreed upon]
«ليس الشديد بالصرعة ، إنما الشديد الذي يملك نفسه عند الغضب» متفق عليه

This is true genuine courage and it is the sole trait that the slave utilizes to conquer his opponent.

Justice encourages him to be impartial in his behavior with people and to be moderate between the two extremes of negligence and extremism. It motivates him to be generous and kind; which is the middle course between absolute degradation and arrogance, and to make this a part of his disposition and makeup. It encourages him to be courageous; which is the middle course between cowardice and imprudence, and to be forbearing; which is the middle course between extreme unnecessary anger and ignominy.

These four virtuous characteristics are the axis and provenance of all noble manners and the foundation of all repugnant and ignominious characteristics are built upon four pillars:

The First: Jahl (Ignorance)
The Second: Dhulm (Oppression)
The Third: Shahwah (following ones lowly desires)
The Fourth: Ghadab (Anger)

Ignorance allows him to view good in the form of evil and evil in the form of good, and to consider that which is complete to be incomplete and that which is incomplete to be complete.

Oppression causes him to put things in places which are not appropriate for them, so he gets angry when it’s time to be happy and he is happy when it’s time to be angry. He is ignorant and hasty when it’s time to be deliberate and deliberate when it’s time to be hasty, he is stingy when it is time to be generous and generous when it’s time to be stingy. He is weak when it is time to be courageous and assume responsibility, and he assumes responsibility when it is time to take a step back (and let someone else undertake the initiative). He is gentle and lenient when it is time to be harsh and firm and he is harsh and firm when it is time to be lenient. He is humble when it is time to be superior and arrogant when it is time to be humble.

Following (his) lowly desires encourages him to be diligent in obtaining that which the soul ardently desires, to be stingy and greedy. It encourages him to adorn himself with all types of despicable and imprudent characteristics.

Anger incites him to be arrogant, jealous, envious, to hold enmity of others and to be imprudent and shameless.

The foundation of these four repugnant and blameworthy characteristics; are two pillars:

Either extreme self ignominy,
Or extreme self pride.

3-Libyan rebels says Gaddafi forces fight each other

Gunfight between security force units at Misrata: rebels

* Government spokesman says reports of mutiny are “rubbish”

* Resident says city calm by nightfall (updates with quote from resident)

By Mariam Karouny

DJERBA, Tunisia, March 13 (Reuters) – An assault on Libya’s rebel-held city of Misrata was stalled on Sunday by renewed fighting between members of Muammar Gaddafi’s security forces, rebels said, but the government denied reports of a mutiny.

Residents said fighting broke out on Saturday after some units of the Libyan leader’s force refused to attack Misrata, Libya’s third-biggest city and the only place in the west of the country still openly defying Gaddafi’s rule.

The reports of a mutiny could not be verified because Libyan authorities have not allowed reporters access to the city of 300,000 which is 200 km (130 miles) east of the capital.

“From the early morning they (the security forces) are fighting among each other. We hear the fighting,” Mohammed, one of the rebel fighters, told Reuters by telephone on Sunday.

“This division between them came to us from God. Just when we thought the end was coming, this happened. Now we are waiting to see what will happen.”


Asked about reports of a mutiny in Misrata, government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said: “This is rubbish. It is not true.”

“The army has surrounded the centre of Misrata. They are in the city. Tribal elders are talking to them (the rebels) to surrender,” he said in Tripoli.

Misrata residents said they could hear the sound of heavy fighting from a military airfield to the south of the town, where pro-Gaddafi forces have been based.

They said there were no clashes between rebels and security forces on Sunday. By nightfall, the city was calm, even though fearful locals said they were bracing for a government assault.

“It’s quiet, the streets are empty, but we are expecting an attack at any moment,” said Mohammed, a resident, adding there was a shortage of emergency medical supplies in the city.

Earlier Gemal, a rebel spokesman, said that during fighting between Gaddafi’s forces a house and a shop had been hit by shelling. He did not know whether there were any casualties.

He said during the day shops had opened as normal, adding: “Of course there is tension as everybody is waiting to see what will happen.”

Reports of a mutiny in Misrata, though unconfirmed, will raise questions about the ability of Gaddafi’s security forces to press an offensive in the country’s east, where the rebels have their biggest stronghold.

Residents had said the main force preparing to attack Misrata was the 32nd Brigade. This is commanded by Gaddafi’s son Khamis and, according to military analysts, is the best trained and equipped force available to the Libyan leader.

Gaddafi, in power for four decades, lost control over large swathes of the oil exporting country last month in a revolt against his rule that took some of its inspiration from uprisings in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt.

But in the past week, the momentum has shifted back towards Gaddafi. His forces crushed a rebellion in Zawiyah, 50 km west of Tripoli, and drove the rebels in the east out of the oil towns of Ras Lanuf and Brega.

( / 13.03.2011)

Al Jazeera staffer killed in Libya

Cameraman Ali Hassan Al Jaber was returning to eastern city of Benghazi from filing report when he was shot and killed.

An Al Jazeera cameraman has been killed in what appears to have been an ambush near the rebel-held city of Benghazi in eastern Libya.

Ali Hassan Al Jaber was returning to Benghazi from a nearby town after filing a report from an opposition protest when unknown fighters opened fire on a car he and his colleagues were travelling in.

Two people including Al Jaber were shot. Al Jaber was rushed to hospital, but did not survive.

Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley, reporting from Benghazi, said Al Jaber was hit by three shots and was wounded through the heart.

“This is an extension of the campaign against Al Jazeera, and Al Jazeera Arabic particularly – because everyone here watch Al Jazeera Arabic. Their work has been heroic, and it has been a great shock to lose a colleague.”

‘Cowardly crime’

Wadah Khanfar, the director-general of Al Jazeera, said the network “will not remain silent” and will pursue those behind the ambush through legal channels.

He said that the killing came after “an unprecedented campaign” against the network by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Wadah Khanfar said Al Jazeera will not remain silent in the wake of Al Jaber’s killing

“Al Jazeera condemns the cowardly crime, which comes as part of the Libyan regime’s malicious campaign targeting Al Jazeera and its staff,” the network said in a statement.

“Al Jazeera reiterates the assault cannot dent its resolve to continue its mission, professionally enlightening the public of the unfolding events in Libya and elsewhere.

“Al Jazeera stresses it will relentlessly prosecute and bring to justice all perpetrators and their accomplices.”

Al Jaber, a Qatari national, was born in 1955 and received his bachelor and master’s degrees in cinematography from the Academy of Arts in Cairo. He was the director of CNBC Arabiya TV bureau in Qatar.

He also served as a supervisor in the National Olympic Committee between 2002 and 2005 and held the office of Head of Filming Section in Qatar Television for more than 20 years.

During his tenure, he produced a number of documentaries including one on Qatar and another on Kuwait entitled “Plight and Tribulation”.

His death marks the first report of a journalist killed in the current conflict in Libya.

( / 12.03.2011)

Arabische Liga vraagt om no-flyzone Libië

CAÏRO – De Arabische Liga heeft de Veiligheidsraad van de Verenigde Naties gevraagd een no-flyzone boven Libië in te stellen. De 22 landen tellende organisatie – waarvan de ministers van buitenlandse zaken zaterdag spoedoverleg voerden – kan de zone niet zelf instellen, maar goedkeuring betekent de regionale steun die de Verenigde Staten en andere westerse mogendheden nodig zeggen te hebben om het vliegverbod door te voeren.

De opstandelingen die de Libische leider Moammar Kadhafi proberen af te zetten hebben ook om de no-flyzone gevraagd. Door een vliegverbod worden ze beschermd tegen luchtaanvallen door de regeringstroepen.

Volgens de Amerikaanse regering heeft een no-flyzone echter weinig impact en de internationale gemeenschap is dan ook nog verdeeld over de kwestie.

In een verklaring vraagt de Arabische Liga ‘de Verenigde Naties hun verantwoordelijkheid te nemen door een no-flyzone boven Libië in te stellen’. (AP)

( / 12.03.2011)

Tienduizenden straat op in Bahrein

1   20:17 uur

© epa

MANAMAH – Tienduizenden mensen zijn zaterdag de straat opgegaan in de Bahreinse stad Safriya. Ze demonstreerden bij een van de paleizen van de koning, een dag nadat een poging om bij een ander paleis te demonstreren op niets uitliep door hard politieoptreden.

De naar schatting meer dan dertigduizend betogers riepen leuzen tegen het regime van koning Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. Volgens getuigen was er dit keer nauwelijks politie op de been.

De sjiitische meerderheid eist meer macht van de heersende soennitische minderheid. De sjiieten klagen over discriminatie door de soennitische machthebbers. (ANP)

( / 12.03.2011)

Yemen police fire on protests, 6 killed

SANAA, Yemen – Yemeni security forces killed six people Saturday and wounded hundreds in the second day of a harsh crackdown on anti-government protests, witnesses said. One of the dead was a 15-year-old student.

The assault with gunfire and tear gas was the toughest yet by the Yemeni government in a month of protests aimed at unseating President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for 32 years.

The violence began with a pre-dawn raid on a central square in the capital, Sanaa, where thousands of pro-democracy protesters have been camped out.

Doctors and eyewitnesses said security troops surrounded the square with police cars and armored personnel carriers shortly after midnight and began calling on protesters through loudspeakers to go home. At 5 a.m., security forces stormed in, firing live and ammunition tear gas.

One protester died from a bullet to the head, which may have come from a sniper on the rooftop of a nearby building, witnesses said. Abdelwahed al-Juneid, a volunteer doctor working with the protesters, said around 250 people were wounded.

“We were performing dawn prayers when we were surprised by a sudden hail of bullets and tear gas,” said Walid Hassan, a 25-year-old activist. “The protesters began throwing rocks at security … it was total mayhem, a real battlefield.”

A few hours later, another protester was shot dead in a nearby street. Eyewitnesses said he was also killed by a sniper, but that could not be independently confirmed. Security officials did not have any immediate comment.

In the city of Dar Saad in the southern province of Aden, police used live fire and tear gas to disperse a crowd of several thousand, killing three demonstrators, a local activist and a hospital official said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the tense situation.

The hospital official said all the dead were all shot in the head. Eleven other protesters were wounded, he said.

The activist said the protesters later marched to the local police station, demanding that the shooter be handed over. Then they burned down the police station, the witness said.

In the port city of Mukalla in the southeastern province of Hadramout, a 15-year-old student was shot dead when security troops opened fire on protesters. Twelve people were wounded in similar violence in Yemen’s southern province of Taiz.

Saleh, an ally in the Obama administration’s fight against al-Qaida, appeared to be one of the Arab leaders most threatened by the regional unrest inspired by pro-democracy revolts in Egypt and Tunisia. Demonstrators are demanding jobs and greater political freedoms. Saleh has tried to calm protesters by proposing that the government create a new constitution guaranteeing the independence of parliament and the judiciary — but protesters have said it’s too little, too late.

Saturday’s raid on the Sanaa square came after Yemen’s largest demonstrations in a month Friday were met by police gunfire that injured at least six protesters.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in Yemen’s four largest provinces, ripping down and burning Saleh’s portraits in Sheikh Othman, the most populated district in the southern port city of Aden, witnesses said. In the capital, thousands of women participated in demonstrations — a startling move in a deeply tribal society where women are expected to stay out of sight.

By Friday evening, protesters in Sanaa had expanded the area of their sit-in encampment, further angering authorities and leading to clashes with plainclothes security men. Protesters said the men were carrying sticks, knives and iron rods. Four protesters were injured, witnesses said.

Yemen was chaotic even before the demonstrations began, with a resurgent al-Qaida, a separatist movement in the south and a sporadic Shiite rebellion in the north vexing the government, which has little control outside major urban areas.

( / 11.03.2011)