Tunisian’s mufti supports possible face-veil ban

The Mufti’s stance, which is considered as a religious edict, comes three days after the Interior Ministry said it was taking strict measures against women wearing the niqab.

Sheikh Hamda Saeed, Tunisia’s mufti, has declared his support of banning the face-covering niqab garment on security grounds, three days after the Interior Ministry said it was taking strict measures against women wearing the veil, news agency UPI reported.

Sheikh Saeed told reporters on Monday that sect community leaders had the right to limit things that are permissible if they find this to be in the best interests of the nation.

The Mufti’s stance, which is considered as a religious edict, comes three days after an announcement from the Interior Ministry that it will apply strict measures against any person who dons a niqab, in a move aiming at dealing with the growing terror threat, and to prevent wanted criminals wearing it to avoid being identified at security checkpoints.

“The Ministry of Interior will strictly control every person wearing a niqab within the framework of the law,” the ministry said in a press release.

Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddo has repeatedly stated that a number of wanted persons use the niqab as a disguise, but said that a total ban against the garment would be a political decision not within the Ministry’s mandate.

He noted that the niqab has become increasingly popular in the past three years, since the collapse of the former Tunisian President Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali’s regime in 2011.

(Source / 17.02.2014)

Thousands lay Hebron man to rest

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Thousands of mourners participated in the funeral procession of Mohammad Mustafa Hasan Shahin al-Darabee who was delivered Sunday to his family by Israel at Tarqumia checkpoint 12 years after his death.

Monday’s procession began with a military march from al-Ahli hospital to his family home, then to Dura educational center before ending in Abu al-Ashoosh cemetery where he was laid to rest.

His father, Mustafa, said that “This day is considered a happy one, and a victory to all Palestinians.

He added that Israelis stepped on Mustafa’s coffin during the delivery, pointing to footprints.

His mother, Halima, said that feeling of joy overcomes all her grief after waiting for the moment to bury her son for 12 years.

(Source / 17.02.2014)

Israel and Palestine: Shifting paradigms

It’s time for Israelis and Palestinians to reconsider how they view the conflict and their own aspirations.

Israel doesn’t like parallels being drawn between it and the South African apartheid system, writes Derhally
“I knew that people expected me to harbour anger towards whites,” Nelson Mandela wrote in the Long Walk to Freedom, recalling the morning after his release from 27 years in jail. “But I had none. In prison, my anger towards whites decreased, but my hatred for the system grew. I wanted South Africa to see that I loved even my enemies while I hated the system that turned us against one another.”

The late South African president chose the path of truth, justice and reconciliation. Just as blacks and whites drafted a new constitution for a united South Africa so too can Israelis and Palestinians if they choose to live as equal citizens of one state. Segregation would end, political prisoners released, Palestinian refugees in exile allowed to return, loss and dispossession addressed through compensation, a truth and reconciliation commission formed, democratic elections held. Talk of existentialism and boycotts will be irrelevant.

Given these grim realities, and in the face of ethical and legal obligations, it’s not by chance that countries and private enterprises are divesting from Israeli companies. PGGM, the largest Dutch pension fund, divested from Israel’s five biggest banks last month because of their involvement in financing illegal settlements. Norway’s sovereign fund followed suit, blacklisting two Israeli companies because of their involvement in settlement construction.


A transformational point

Israel doesn’t like the parallels being drawn between it and the South African apartheid system. But equivalences exist. Israel has in place a formal system that undeniably privileges Israeli Jews while it legalises discrimination against Palestinians (Christian and Muslim) through dozens of checkpoints, segregated roads, arbitrary arrests, house demolitions, land confiscations, collective punishment and forced deportation. Israeli legislation bansPalestinians (and no other ethnic group) from living in Israel after marrying an Israeli citizen.

Just as South Africa was at a transformational point when apartheid ended and Mandela gained his freedom, Israel today in the face of a growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, is also at an important juncture. Nearly 66 years after Palestinians were forced out of their homes and 20 years after the Oslo Declaration of Principles was signed, there is little one can point to that shows any measure of success from the so-called peace process.

Since the 1993 Oslo agreement, Israel has paid lip service to the two-state solution, using the cover of “peace talks” to pursue a policy of containment that manages the conflict while in tandem spearheading an expansionary settlement agenda. The settlement enterprise with its segregated roads, security checkpoints, eight-metre wall that is double the size of the Berlin wall (projected to reach 403 miles), contravenes the spirit of peace talks and coexistence. Settlements are an intrinsic and systematic tool of every Israeli government to establish a fait-accompli on the ground that accentuates the marginalisation of Palestinians.

In violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention the number of Israeli settlers across the West Bank has surged from 262,500 in 1993 to more than 520,000, with more than 200,000 in East Jerusalem (the intended capital of a Palestinian state), according to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Earlier this month, Israel announced further settlement construction in occupied Palestinian land, even as US Secretary of State John Kerry presses on with a controversial and flawed peace deal that would, according to the Israeli media, leave 80 percent of Israel settlers in place and negate the rights of Palestinian refugees.

While Israel’s economy has thrived in tandem with the growth of settlements, Palestinian lives have regressed. The Palestinian Authority which loses about $300 million a year in fiscal revenue retained by Israel is constantly cash-strapped, unable to pay the wages of civil servants, dependent on donations from international organisations and pledges from countries that seldom materialise or are partially met.

About 36 percent of the West Bank’s 2.9 million Palestinians suffer from clinical depression, higher than rates in the US, the UK, China and Australia, according to Mohammad M. Herzallah, founder of the Palestinian Neuroscience Initiative and a doctoral candidate at Rutgers University.

Meanwhile, nearly 2 million Palestinians in Gaza remain under siege, in one of the most densely populated strips of land in the world with 50 percent youth unemployment.

Given these grim realities, and in the face of ethical and legal obligations, it’s not by chance that countries and private enterprises are divesting from Israeli companies. PGGM, the largest Dutch pension fund,divested from Israel’s five biggest banks last month because of their involvement in financing illegal settlements. Norway’s sovereign fund followed suit, blacklisting two Israeli companies because of their involvement in settlement construction. Danske Bank, Denmark’s biggest bank, has also divested fromIsrael’s largest lender Bank Hapoalim.

An outcry that forced actress Scarlett Johansson to give up her ambassadorial role with the Oxfam international charity over her involvement with Israel’s Sodastream company, which operates in the occupied West Bank, cast light on the moral implications of doing business in illegally annexed land.

As in South Africa, more entities will come to refuse doing business with Israel, trade relations will deteriorate and as the rand was undermined, confidence in the shekel too will erode. Military occupations just aren’t palatable.

The BDS movement “is approaching the turning point…in which the civic action from below will meet the official policies of governments and parliaments from above, and sanctions against Israel will become a fait accompli”, Avraham Burg, a former speaker of Israel’s Knesset assembly, wrote in Haaretz this month. Israel “will remain helpless when confronted by a civil rebellion that moves the discourse from who’s stronger/tougher/more resilient to a discourse on rights and values”, he added.

The two-state solution still viable?

The clock is ticking. Just as the apartheid regime in South Africa had a choice, so too does Israel. President F. W. de Klerk once thought the solution in South Africa would be separate states for blacks and whites. He realised however that was not tenable and took unilateral moves recognising the African National Congress, releasing Mandela from prison and held elections.

There was a time that a two-state solution may have worked. By virtue of Israel’s doing, the realities on the ground make it increasingly unlikely. A secular democratic state, however, for both peoples is not a mirage. It requires sacrifice and compromise, foremost that both people forego their obsession with nationalism and its illusions, in exchange for a stake in one nation as equal citizens. That ultimately will be instrumental to true reconciliation among Israelis and Palestinians. Inherently, it is the fundamental reason why “peace talks” have been unfruitful.

It’s time for a real paradigm shift in the way Israelis and Palestinians think about the conflict, their aspirations and a lasting solution. More than being an idealistic aspiration, a one-state solution for two people is the realistic choice.

The alternative won’t just mean more violence, but also a far larger and different intifada or uprising than the previous two Israel suppressed militarily. It will extend beyond its geography and cast Israel into isolation, ostracising it as a pariah state so long as apartheid continues. No injustice can last forever.

(Source / 17.02.2014)

In Egypt, a Chasm Grows Between Young and Old

“The referendum was an alarm bell for them,” Shady el-Ghazaly Harb said of the government’s reaction to low youth turnout.
CAIRO — Shady el-Ghazaly Harb says he has given up trying to help the military-backed government address its worries about losing the support of young Egyptians.

After attending three meetings about the issue at the presidential palace in recent weeks, Mr. Ghazaly Harb, a 35-year-old political organizer, rejected the latest invitation because, he said, the authorities have not heeded advice to stop arresting so many young people, or at least to alleviate the grim conditions in the jails where they are held. Instead, the police arrested scores more, including friends of his who were involved in organizing the Arab Spring uprising here.

“A lot of youth groups are saying, ‘We cannot come and sit with you like this while our colleagues are behind bars — we cannot find this ethical,’ ” said Mr. Ghazaly Harb, who played a prominent role in the 2011 uprising against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak and then campaigned for the removal of Mr. Mubarak’s Islamist successor, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Field Marshal Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, left, met with the Russian President Vladimir V. Putin in Moscow on Thursday.

A growing number of young Egyptians say the government’s heavy-handed crackdown on any opposition is widening a generation gap, which poses a longer-term threat to stability.

Three out of four Egyptians are under 40, and more than two out of three are under 35. With the government’s most important leader, Field Marshal Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, retracing the 60-year-old footsteps of former President Gamal Abdel Nasser — even flying to Moscow last week to try to restart arms deals that were last seen at the height of the Cold War — young bloggers and activists are complaining that they feel caught in a time warp.

They are lashing out at their parents’ whole generation, which presided over three decades of economic, cultural and political stagnation and now seems to be repudiating the 2011 uprising for interrupting that stasis.

“Egypt is facing the tragedy of an entire generation incapable and unqualified to deal with their plight,” Mahmoud Salem, a 32-year-old blogger known as Sandmonkey, wrote last month in a widely circulated post.

Even Egyptian popular culture is stuck in a decades-old rut, he argued: People are still laughing at the clownish comedian Adel Imam, now 73; still listening to the pop heartthrob Amr Diab, now 53; and still admiring retouched magazine photographs of the glamorous actress Yousra, now 58.

“The very idea of ‘Islamic rule’ and even ‘military coups’ are from the 1980s,” he wrote, calling the current establishment “a generation holding on to the 1980s as tenaciously as a playboy holds on to his youth.”

The frustrations of young Egyptians propelled the protests that led to the ousters of Mr. Mubarak in 2011 and Mr. Morsi in 2013. Their disaffection came into focus last month when young voters were conspicuously absent from a referendum on a revised constitution.

The referendum, presented as a show of support for the military takeover, was the first time in a half-dozen national votes over the last three years that young voters did not flood to the polls. Their low turnout set off a public debate about their disaffection, even as the police continued to use deadly force in crackdowns against young people — Islamists, liberals or left-leaning — for staging anti-government protests. Sixty-two protesters were killed in clashes with security forces on Jan. 25, the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising, while a mostly older crowd gathered in Tahrir Square to celebrate Field Marshal Sisi, who is 59.

“Gray hairs in the queues, black hairs in the graves,” is the epigram making the rounds among both liberal and Islamist activists, contrasting the referendum voters supporting the new government installed by Field Marshal Sisi with the protesters opposing it.

“Youth make up the majority, but the elders are still in control of everything,” Alaa al-Aswany, 56, a novelist and critic who is supportive of the military takeover, warned last week in a column urging the government to listen to the young. For three years, he wrote, “their elders” mocked the youth “and then realized they were right when it was too late.”

In an interview, Khaled Abdel-Aziz, the 55-year-old minister of youth, argued that the Egyptian news media had overstated the trend. He blamed Islamists trying to rekindle their protests, new political forces who fear a return of the old Mubarak elite and young politicians seeking positions or influence in the new government.

“It was exaggerated, until it became a subject addressed by everyone who works in the media,” he said.

Even so, top government officials made it clear that they were concerned during several meetings with young activists. “The referendum was an alarm bell for them,” said Mr. Ghazaly Harb, whose three meetings on the subject included one with the interim president, Adly Mansour, who is 68. “They say there is a gap between the current regime and the youth, and they want to understand why is there this gap, and how to get over it,” he said.

Mr. Mansour specifically asked the youth leaders in the meeting, “Where is the problem, and what is the reason the youth were absent like that?” said Susan Herfy, 39, of the Justice Party.

Younger Egyptians say they grew up hearing advice from their parents to keep their mouths shut and avoid challenging their leaders: “Cowardice is the master of morals,” they would say, or “walk by the wall” to avoid attention.

But starting about 10 years ago, members of the younger generation in Egypt began to rebel against the stultifying stability of Mr. Mubarak’s 30-year rule. They found new ways to express themselves through the Internet, thronged to the “Kifaya” movement against Mr. Mubarak’s monopoly on power and formed their own grass-roots organizations, like the April 6 Youth Movement.

Many saw the Tahrir Square sit-in of 2011 as their generation’s Woodstock, and the overthrow of Mr. Mubarak as their mark on history. “It was a struggle against our parents,” said Mina Fayek, an activist and a blogger. “We used to joke it was easier to stand in front of tanks and bullets than to convince your parents to let you go to Tahrir Square to protest.”

In his column, Mr. Aswany marveled that “a generation of youth emerged that was like a mutation.”

“Fathers who feared entering police stations gave birth to children whom we saw stand without flinching or retreating in front of armored vehicles shooting them,” he wrote.

Supporters of the 2013 military takeover, though, have often smeared the young activists as a “fifth column” conspiring with foreign powers to undermine security or provide cover to Islamist “terrorists.”

“It is not a youth revolution, and it has never been a youth revolution,” Ibrahim Eissa, a 48-year-old pro-military talk show host, declared recently. Addressing an “excited young man who went to a protest and calls himself a revolutionary,“ Mr. Eissa said: “You mistake chaos for revolution. You mistake destruction for revolution. You are an idiot who doesn’t understand!”

Several of the best-known youth leaders, including Alaa Abd el-Fattah, a pioneer dissident blogger, and Ahmed Maher, a founder of the April 6 group, are now behind bars. Critics like Mr. Eissa infuriate other young activists.

“Their generation was silent for 60 years, and when we have paid the price in blood for them to have the right to say something, they turn around and call us traitors,” said Ahmad Abd Allah, 34, a spokesman for the April 6 group.

Islamists say that a generation gap is widening in the Muslim Brotherhood as well, with young members blaming their elders for bungling their chance to rule. Speaking on the condition of anonymity because they do not want to be seen breaking ranks in a time of crisis, several young Islamists with relatives in jail said President Morsi and his contemporaries bore the blame for exposing the Brotherhood to a bloody crackdown.

Mr. Morsi and the older generation were suspicious of non-Islamists, and sought to go it alone on a gradual “political path” that avoided direct confrontation with the institutions of the police state, said Hamza Sarawy, 22, a spokesman for the Brotherhood-sponsored Anti-Coup Alliance who worked in the Morsi administration. But younger Brotherhood members preferred “a revolutionary path” of collaborating with more liberal groups to take on the old institutions. “The youth of the Muslim Brotherhood has a different mind-set,” he said.

Mr. Abdel-Aziz, the youth minister, said the government was struggling to create some kind of committee or commission that could speak for young people. “It is good luck that the youth did not have much to do with the government over the last three years,” he said, because “it would have stigmatized them.”

Mr. Salem, the blogger, suggested that given the country’s demographics, perhaps it should be the other way around. “Would you like to join the elderly committee?” he wrote. “It is a nice title, isn’t it? Like the youth committee.”

(Source / 17.02.2014)

Israel boycott supporters are anti-Semites, Netanyahu says


  • netanyahu-concerned-internal.jpg

    Jan. 12, 2014: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

JERUSALEM –  It is time Israel fought back against those who boycott the Jewish state, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, dubbing them “anti-Semites.”

The comments come as concerns grow in Israel over a Palestinian-led movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions —knows by its acronym, BDS. The boycott has been growing recently, mainly in Europe, where some businesses and pension funds have cut investments or trade with Israeli firms they say are connected to West Bank settlements.

Speaking to a group of visiting Jewish-American leaders, Netanyahu said it is time for Israel to “delegitimize the delegitimizers.”

“In the past anti-Semites boycotted Jewish businesses and today they call for the boycott of the Jewish state, and by the way, only the Jewish state,” Netanyahu said. “I think that it is important that the boycotters be exposed for what they are, they are classical anti-Semites in modern garb,” Netanyahu said.

Many Israelis say the boycott has strong anti-Semitic connotations and is meant to delegitimize the Jewish state as a whole and not merely a pressure tactic against its policies toward the Palestinians.

For many Israelis, the boycott conjures up dark images of the Nazi boycott prior and during WWII when Jewish academics were kicked out of universities and Jewish businesses were vandalized and boycotted.

BDS activists say they promote different objectives, with some focusing on a boycott of the settlements and others saying everything Israeli must be shunned until there is a peace deal. BDS supporters argue that Israel will withdraw from war-won lands only if it has a price to pay. Israeli leaders dismiss such claims, pointing to their willingness to negotiate a land-for-peace deal with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu said Israeli is fighting BDS by exposing the boycotters and with its booming high-tech sector which is a big attraction for leaders and investors worldwide.

After years of brushing off boycott threats as a tool of fringe extremists, Israel seems to have become genuinely worried in recent months.

Israel’s finance minister Yair Lapid has said that the country could suffer economically from a costly boycott if peace talks with the Palestinians fail.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is brokering negotiations with the Palestinians, has warned that Israel could find itself increasingly targeted by a boycott if it fails to reach a peace deal.

(Source / 17.02.2014)

Poor Hygiene, Overcrowding in Israeli Prison

80 Palestinian prisoners, held in Nafha prison, have complained about the ill-conditioned ward No. 3, which houses bugs and mice.

Palestinians held in an Israeli prison reciting Quran (israelnationalnews.com)
Palestinians held in an Israeli prison reciting Quran

A lawyer for Prisoners’ Club society, recently delegated to the check on the prisoners, said in a statement, “Nafha prison Ward No. 3 has a poor hygiene, with insects and mice spreading out”, according to Al Ray.

He explained that being close to a police canine facility has got the section inviting insects, adding that a prisoner’s ear has been lately bitten by rats.

Ward 3 is overcrowded, with ten prisoners currently being held in each single room; floors are damaged and wastewater floods into the rooms; beds are rife with moths as a result of the high humidity, according to the statement.

5,200 Palestinians are held in Israeli jails, according to the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs.

(Source / 17.02.2014)

Israel to close 30 Palestinian schools

Israel to close 30 Palestinian schools

Israel aims to close thirty Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem.

Thirty private schools in East Jerussalem face closure unless they can pay a fine of a million dollars, which has imposed by the Israeli authorities.

The Israeli Education Ministry fined dozens of Palestinian schools last year and threatened to shut down the schools if they would not pay the fines.

In September 2013, Israel also cut support for Palestinian teachers. Israel said that the punishment arises from tax payments which have not been paid by the Palestinian schools.

The schools have been struggling to pay salaries after the cuts. Parents and students now fear that they will not be able to find a new school to go next year.


The executive of Quds Arab al-Furqan School, Sayil Mohammed Ali, said that the main reason for closing schools was the Palestinian curriculum.

Mohammed Ali said that the Palestinian schools do not use books published by Israel, and instead use books published by the Palestinian Authority.

“Israel aims to seize our schools and give an education that serves in line with Israeli interests. If we do not pay the fines, 30 schools will be closed next year,” he added.

Al-Furqan primary school must find a million of dollars to prevent the shutting down. The school management now await a helping hand for their school.

(Source / 17.02.2014)

Palestinians seek UN heritage status for ancient village

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Palestinian officials have filed an urgent request with UNESCO to receive World Heritage status for a West Bank village whose ancient terraces are under threat from the Israeli separation barrier.

The request to put the agricultural community of Battir on the UN cultural agency’s list of protected sites was filed earlier this month, a village official said on Sunday.

“We applied 15 days ago and we heard today that they have accepted (to consider) our application,” said Mahmud Abu Arab, a member of Battir’s village council.

“They will send a delegation to check the area,” he told AFP, without saying when the visit would take place.

Battir was added to UNESCO’s tentative list in 2012, and the UN body will vote on the application to upgrade its status in June.

Battir, which straddles the Green Line just south of Jerusalem, is famous for its ancient terraces and Roman-era irrigation system which is still used by the villagers for their crops.

But the village has come under threat from Israeli plans to erect part of the West Bank separation barrier there, which experts say will irretrievably damage the water system.

The Palestinians won membership in UNESCO in October 2011 and quickly moved to submit a number of sites for recognition, including an emergency application for Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity which was approved in June the following year, despite Israeli objections.

Battir residents are currently locked in a high-profile court battle to change the route of the barrier, which is being led by Friends of the Earth Middle East and supported by Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority.

(Source / 17.02.2014)

Defensive Nature of Jihad in Islam

Open Quran with Green Shiny Cloth

By Abu Amina Elias for FaithinAllah.org

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Jihad is a comprehensive term in Islam that refers to any effort given toward a good cause, whether it is an act of worship or charity or service. However, warfare in defense of Islam and the oppressed is called jihad because it takes a great deal of effort and sacrifice.

Allah has legislated warfare as a reaction towards those who initiate aggression against the Muslim community, but He has forbidden transgression, terrorism, and conversion to Islam by force.

Allah said:

وَقَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ

Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Verily, Allah does not love transgressors.

Surah Al-Baqarah 2:190

Ibn Abbas, the foremost interpreter of the Quran among the Prophet’s companions, defined transgression as attacking non-combatants or whoever desires peace with Muslims.

Ibn Abbas said:

لَا تَقْتُلُوا النِّسَاءَ وَلَا الصِّبْيَانَ وَلَا الشَّيْخَ الْكَبِيرَ وَلَا مَنْ أَلْقَى إِلَيْكُمُ السَّلَمَ وَكَفَ يَدَهُ فَإِنْ فَعَلْتُمْ هَذَا فَقَدَ اعْتَدَيْتُمْ

Do not kill women, or children, or old men, or whoever comes to you with peace and he restrains his hand from fighting, for if you did that you would certainly have transgressed.

Source: Tafseer At-Tabari 2:190

Likewise, Al-Baydawi defined transgression as initiating hostilities, attacking peaceful people, or otherwise committing atrocities we would call war crimes.

Al-Baydawi said:

وَلاَ تَعْتَدُواْ بابتداء القتال أو بقتال المعاهد أو المفاجأة به من غير دعوة أو المثلة أو قتل من نهيتم عن قتله

Do not transgress (2:190) means by initiating the fighting, or by fighting those protected by a peace treaty, or by fighting those who never received the call to Islam, or to commit mutilation, or to kill whomever it has been forbidden to kill.

Source: Tafseer Al-Baydawi 2:190

Therefore, it is forbidden in Islam to attack people on the basis of their religion. Anti-Muslim and Muslim extremists both argue that Islam permits aggression against people only because they follow another religion, but this is one of the worst slanders against Islam by which they support their unjust campaigns of violence. Rather, Islam is the religion of peace that seeks peace with all of humanity.

Allah said:

وَإِن جَنَحُوا لِلسَّلْمِ فَاجْنَحْ لَهَا وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ

If the enemy inclines to peace, then incline to it also and rely upon Allah. Verily, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing.

Surah Al-Anfal 8:61

Ali ibn Abu Talib reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

إِنَّهُ سَيَكُونُ بَعْدِي اخْتِلَافٌ أَوْ أَمْرٌ فَإِنْ اسْتَطَعْتَ أَنْ تَكُونَ السِّلْمَ فَافْعَل

Verily, after me there will be conflicts or affairs, so if you are able to end them in peace then do so.

Source: Musnad Ahmad 697, Grade: Sahih

The Prophet described the leader of the Muslim army as a shield, not a sword, behind which the Muslims are defended from the aggression of others.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

إِنَّمَا الْإِمَامُ جُنَّةٌ يُقَاتَلُ مِنْ وَرَائِهِ وَيُتَّقَى بِهِ

Verily, the leader is only a shield behind whom they fight and he protects them.

Source: Sahih Muslim 1841, Grade: Sahih

When people looked at the face of the Prophet, they saw the light of guidance and kindness shining from his face as bright as the moon. They did not describe his face as cold and stern like a sword.

Abu Ishaq reported: A man asked Al-Bara, “Was the face of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, like a sword?” Al-Bara said:

لَا مِثْلَ الْقَمَرِ

No, it was like the moon.

Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 3636, Grade: Sahih

Furthermore, the Prophet liked people to have names that glorify Allah, His Messengers, and His Mercy. He disliked for people to have names that glorify war and aggression.

Abu Wahb Al-Jushami reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

تَسَمَّوْا بِأَسْمَاءِ الْأَنْبِيَاءِ وَأَحَبُّ الْأَسْمَاءِ إِلَى اللَّهِ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ وَعَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ وَأَصْدَقُهَا حَارِثٌ وَهَمَّامٌ وَأَقْبَحُهَا حَرْبٌ وَمُرَّةُ

Name yourselves with the names of the prophets. The most beloved names to Allah are Abdullah, the servant of Allah, and Abdur Rahman, the servant of the Merciful. The ugliest names are the names of war and bitterness.

Source: Sunan Abu Dawud 4950, Grade: Sahih

In fact, it is prohibited for a Muslim not only to commit aggression but even to desire hostilities in his heart. In other words, the prohibition of aggression exists not only with an outward legal component but also with an inward spiritual component.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

‏لاَ تَمَنَّوْا لِقَاءَ الْعَدُوِّ فَإِذَا لَقِيتُمُوهُمْ فَاصْبِرُوا

Do not wish to meet the enemy, but if you meet them then be steadfast.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 2863, Grade: Sahih

Allah describes the companions as being filled with tranquility when they met their aggressors on the battlefield. In contrast, the idolaters were filled with rage, anger, and zeal for their tribes and their idols.

Allah said:

إِذْ جَعَلَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فِي قُلُوبِهِمُ الْحَمِيَّةَ حَمِيَّةَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ فَأَنزَلَ اللَّهُ سَكِينَتَهُ عَلَىٰ رَسُولِهِ وَعَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَأَلْزَمَهُمْ كَلِمَةَ التَّقْوَىٰ وَكَانُوا أَحَقَّ بِهَا وَأَهْلَهَا

When those who disbelieved had put into their hearts zealotry, the zealotry of the time of ignorance, but Allah sent down His tranquility upon His Messenger and upon the believers and imposed upon them the word of righteousness, for they were more deserving and worthy of it.

Surah Al-Fath 48:26

Thus, it is not in the character of a Muslim to fight for the sake of anger, hatred, or zeal. The Prophet only fought to defend the community. He never attacked peaceful people and he never forced anyone to enter Islam.

Ibn Al-Qayyim said:

وَلَمْ يُكْرِهْ أَحَدًا قَطُّ عَلَى الدِّينِ وَإِنَّمَا كَانَ يُقَاتِلُ مَنْ يُحَارِبُهُ وَيُقَاتِلُهُ وَأَمَّا مَنْ سَالَمَهُ وَهَادَنَهُ فَلَمْ يُقَاتِلْهُ وَلَمْ يُكْرِهْهُ عَلَى الدُّخُولِ فِي دِينِهِ

The Prophet never forced the religion upon anyone, but rather he only fought those who waged war against him and fought him first. As for those who made peace with him or conducted a truce, then he never fought them and he never compelled them to enter his religion.

Source: Hidayat Al-Hayara 237

Indeed, it is only permissible to fight as a means of defense against aggression and to protect the rights of the weak and the oppressed.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.

(Source / 17.02.2014)

Palestinian mother of 7, bombings survivor, documents Israeli war crimes


Reuters / Mohammed Salem
To mark the fifth anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, an Israeli military campaign against the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian women’s organization has published a book with details of the deaths of children and women in 89 Palestinian families.

Much of the credit for the publication goes to Ibtisam Saymah, a fragile mother of seven and a member of the human rights group Women of Palestine. She survived the bombings, collected dozens of stories and wrote a book entitled The Zionist Targeting of Palestinian Families during the 2009 Al-Furqan War. She proved stronger than cancer, which she contracted when she tumbled around fuming rubble, inhaling vapors of white phosphorus and depleted uranium.

“One day after the end of the war, we [Women for Palestine] decided to make a documentary film about the targeting of the Palestinian families. When we started interviewing the families, we noticed that the number of the targeted families and martyrs was very big; therefore, one film was not enough to make the world aware of the Palestinian suffering. So I thought it is better to document the story of each family and to document each moment in the war in a book,” Saymah told me the book came about.


AFP Photo / Mahmoud Zayyat  

The result of 11 months of hard work, this is the first report in English that details the circumstances, the names and ages of babies, children, teenagers, women and seniors from the 89 families. This is the first documentary evidence of the 22-day massacre that began at Christmastime, on December 27, 2008.

Here are some of the stories.

On the first day of the war Manal Ahmed Daban, 37, lost two of her daughters, Hanan, 15, and Jasmin, 16, who were returning home from school.

On Day 2 five children from the Ba’alusha family were killed. A rocket hit a mosque in a refugee camp in Jabalia, killing Tahreer, 18, Ikram, 15, Samar, 13, Dina, 8, and Jawaher, 4. Their father Anwar, 38, was wounded in the head, their mother Samira, 35, was wounded in the face, their daughter Samah, 17, and Iman, 10, were wounded in the legs, and only Baraa, who had barely turned one month old, was safe and sound.

On January 1, 2009, 16 members of the Rayan family were killed in an air raid at 2:40pm that hit their home near the mosque in the refugee camp in Jabalia. Eleven of the 16 were children aged between one and 16. The rest were four of their mothers and their father, Nizar Rayan, the only person targeted by Israel. There are now only his mother and his 22-year-old brother.

On January 3, 29 members of the Samuni family were shot dead by Israeli soldiers in the Zaituna community. The Samuni family has been cooperating with the Israeli settlers for three generations and none of them were part of any parties or groups.

They were killed at close range in their home and in the yard, they were killed when they attempted to escape and carry away the wounded, they were ordered to undress and forced into rooms and yards where they were shot dead. They were killed when they came out with a white flag. Then their houses were shelled and fired at by tanks to cover up the traces of the atrocities. Among those dead was a baby who had not even turned one, a two-year-old, a five-year-old, two six-year-olds, a nine-year-old, an 11-year-old, two 13-year-olds, a 14-year-old and an 80-year-old senior.

This book should be an incredible eye-opener, both to Americans who don’t object to their taxes being sent as aid to Israel, and to Israel’s population, which is kept in dark about what their army does for the sake of their ‘security’.


Ibtisam Saymah. Photo by Nadezhda KevorkovaIbtisam Saymah.

Paradoxically, the Israeli people, taking pride in being the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’, are kept ignorant of their army’s moves. The Israeli have put up with the fact that most of the information is classified, media debates are banned and everyone who is not enthusiastic about it is called an anti-Semite. As a result, in a display of totalitarian-driven thinking, the Israelis support war crimes by their own army, back collective punishment for the Palestinians and approve mass killings of children. The massacre in 2008 was approved of by 94 percent of Israeli non-Arab citizens.

According to the Israeli propaganda, the casualties among children, seniors and women is something invented by the Palestinians while precision strikes by the Israeli Defense Forces only target terrorists.

Today this book reveals the names and circumstances of a campaign where Israel was ‘threatened’ by the children, women and seniors of 89 Palestinian families.

Ibtisam Saymah says she started to work on the book the day after the air raids were over. That proved to be a challenge for her team.

“It was difficult and dangerous to go to the borderline. The Israeli soldiers were very close to us. They saw us and our equipment (cameras and headsets). They were targeting the journalists in that war to prevent them from spreading the truth to the outside world. This is why there were many journalist martyrs. When we were filming and interviewing the families, the Israeli warplanes were hovering over our heads. However, we were not scared because we are no more important than those who were martyred on this land,” Saymah says.

The Arab-language version was published 2009 on the first anniversary of the tragic events. In the spring of 2010, when I managed to get inside the Gaza Strip living under an Israeli blockade, it was the first book on the life of Palestinians. The ruins of war were around me and it was hard to believe that anyone would be able to do such a painstaking job as putting together all the bits and pieces into one heart-rending story.


Reuters / Ammar Awad  

I was lucky then to meet its author, Dr Ibtisam Saymah, a large-than-life character. She presented this book to me and told me it was crucial to have it translated into English, because the world was unaware of that massacre, blockade, or bombings.

To be honest, the very idea sounded highly unlikely – how can you translate a book in a place lacking basic water, power or fuel supplies, suffering from a shortage of drugs, food and, generally, any basic necessities.

Teaming up with a photographer, a journalist and a taxi driver, they set out on a journey from one devastated Gaza town to another, defying the constant threat coming from Israeli fighters and drones. House by house, tent by tent, hospital by hospital, they went round the war-torn region to jot down stories and film whatever they could on video.

If you’ve never been in Gaza Strip, it would be hard for you to understand that what we consider to be routine for a journalist back home, is heroism there.

Take any basic stuff, like notepads. Made of thick grey paper, manually cut and bound, notepads in Gaza look like they came from the 19th century. The materials to produce them have been smuggled through the tunnels because Israel considers them to be a security threat. The same applies to batteries, cameras, video, pens, pencils, gasoline, power and water.


Those of the Samuni family who survived, in front of a placard with their killed relatives. Photo by Nadezhda KevorkovaThose of the Samuni family who survived, in front of a placard with their killed relatives.

“Living in Gaza is so hard now,” Saymah says. “We are expecting a war every day. The Israeli warplanes target a building or an empty land or some people every day especially at night when people are sleeping, so little kids feel scared. This atmosphere scares the people of Gaza, they should be prepared all the time for a coming war.”

She says, they got used to the siege, but since the Egyptian army destroyed the tunnels that were providing Gaza with medicine and food it became much harder.

“Everyone is suffering now in Gaza especially the ill people. People are suffering because they cannot provide food and medicine for their children.”

Ibtisam and her team took a great effort to record the names of those who suffered from the bombings. This is not as simple as it might seem since Muslim women often keep their maiden names. Many have turned up to be treated in different hospitals. Some were lucky to be transported abroad for treatment. Some hid in their relatives’ homes.

Amid ruins and blockade, it then took them several months to analyze the data and embark on putting together a catalog of martyrs to their nation.

In addition to her seven children, Ibtisam has a husband and parents. It seems unbelievable, but she showed me their photos. It was in the middle of her painstaking work when she was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. Doctors in Gaza have long warned that depleted uranium, white phosphorus and other forms of Israeli weaponry are the primary cause of monstrous diseases.

But there is no equipment in Gaza to diagnose or treat them. Luckily, Ibtisam was taken to a foreign clinic and saved. Ibtisam never parted with her laptop. After each course of chemotherapy she plugged it in to resume her work. She is now finalizing her second book on the November war of 2012 and is doing a study on what it is like to be a Palestinian woman, chronicling their stories since 1948.

(Source / 17.02.2014)