Archive for the ‘ British Muslims ’ Category

Death Sentence in Slaying of Pakistani Governor

By Salman Masood for The New York Times

A court on Saturday sentenced to death an elite police guard who assassinated a leading secular politician he had been charged with protecting, a slaying that sent shockwaves throughout Pakistan and was seen as a clear marker of the growing religious intolerance and extremism in the country.

The news made international headlines not just because of the prominence of the politician killed, Salman Taseer, but because the killer was celebrated by many in Pakistan, including lawyers who showered him with rose petals and garlands at a court appearance.

Judge Syed Pervez Ali Shah announced the sentence for the guard, Malik Mumtaz Qadri, in an antiterrorism court at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. “Nobody can be given a license to kill on any pretext,” the judge was quoted as saying after the conclusion of the trial, which was held under tight security.

The ruling was unusual in Pakistan; frightened justices in recent years have been cowed into releasing Islamic militants or letting them off with light sentences. The judgment was especially noteworthy in such a high-profile case against a man whose popularity only grew with his confession and defense of the killing on religious grounds.

Mr. Taseer was the governor of Punjab Province and one of the country’s most outspoken opponents of the country’s controversial blasphemy laws, which mandate a death sentence for anyone convicted of insulting Islam.

Liberals and rights activists were encouraged by the verdict, but noted that it could be overturned in appeals that can drag on for years.

“Today’s judgment is a positive development whereby norms of justice have prevailed,” said Raza Rumi, a political analyst and columnist in the eastern city of Lahore. “Pakistan cannot be allowed to become a vigilante society, and the state — its judges and prosecutors — need to uphold the law.”

No matter what happens with the case, however, Mr. Taseer’s death cast a pall over discussions of the blasphemy laws — which had become something of a test case for broader debate of how religion and politics mix in Pakistan. That trend continued Saturday. The usually voluble Pakistani press dutifully covered the story, but news broadcasts were mainly devoid of the normal commentary or debate.

“Local media’s muted coverage of the sentence is reflective of the fear factor and the polarization within the society which includes media personnel,” Mr. Rumi said.

Mr. Qadri, 26, was convicted of murder and committing an act of terrorism, and was handed two life sentences.

No date for the execution has been announced, and Mr. Qadri has a right to appeal within seven days. Raja Shuja-ur-Rahman, a lawyer for Mr. Qadri, told the DAWN television channel that an appeal would be filed.

Mr. Qadri killed Mr. Taseer in a hail of bullets on Jan. 4, shooting at close range as Mr. Taseer was getting into his car.

Mr. Taseer, a businessman and a liberal politician, had emerged as a leader in a fight against the blasphemy law, which rights groups say has been used to persecute minorities, especially Christians.

The law was introduced in the 1980s under the military dictatorship of Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq as part of a policy of promoting Islam to unite Pakistan’s deeply fractious society.

Mr. Qadri was hailed as a hero by Islamist lawyers, several mainstream politicians and religious leaders.

On Saturday, dozens of supporters of Mr. Qadri gathered outside the jail and chanted slogans against the sentence, while the judge slipped out a back door.

“We will free you! We will die for you!” 20-year-old Mohamemd Aslam was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. Others yelled: “Long live Qadri, long live Qadri!”

“By punishing one Mumtaz Qadri, you will produce a thousand Mumtaz Qadris!” shouted another man.

The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, to which Mr. Taseer belonged, has been accused of distancing itself from the cause of repealing the blasphemy law since the assassination.

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Park 51 Photo Exhibit Features American Children From All Over The World

BY Jessica Jenkins for Groundswell

NYChildren, a new photo exhibit at the Park51 community center in downtown Manhattan highlights the diversity of American identity by featuring New York City children from all parts of the world. A slideshow in the New York Times highlights a dozen portraits from the NYChildren exhibit. The photographer, Danny Goldfield, says he was inspired by a 2004 encounter with the brother of Balbir Singh Sodhi, the Sikh man who was murdered at his Mesa, Arizona gas station on September 15, 2001. That encounter led Mr. Goldstein to think about what constitutes American identity, and his project to photograph a child from each country of the world. So far Mr. Goldstein has photographed children from 171 different countries, all living in New York City.

It’s been a year since the Park51 community center was besieged by Islamophobic attacks from across the nation for its proximity to Ground Zero. Park51 has since scaled back its plans to build a new community center and mosque in Lower Manhattan but nevertheless has continued to offer events and faith services to the local community in its existing building. On its website, Park51 says about the exhibition: “We live in a world with far too much fear and misunderstanding. This exhibition is about finding the courage to meet and get to know neighbors to build trust and friendship.” We can’t think of a better way to set a tone of resilience, tolerance and hope.

Amir Khan Gets Invited to The White House

By Araiz Baqi for Sportspulse

Amir Khan, the British professional boxer of Pakistani descent, has been invited to the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States, also known as the White house, for a dinner, along with other Muslim sportsmen, on the eve of the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities in New York.

The currently unified IBF and WBA World Light Welterweight Champion was invited to attend the dinner by the United States Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. The event will take place on September 10. “Amir was invited there by Mrs Clinton,” a source revealed. “He will be among a group of the most prominent Muslim sportsmen in America, and as Amir is now based in the US, that offer was extended to him.”

The Irony is that IBF and WBA champion have become frustrated with the lengthy delays he has to face whenever he travels to the States. There are seven levels of security at the, with seven being the highest, and Amir comes in at full seven.

When on vacation, Amir almost everytime visits Pakistan, and most recently, he visited Egypt and Saudi Arabia (All Muslim Countries). ‘All these things are taken into account by US Homeland Security. The Khan family are kept in a holding area until the green light is given from Washington DC, as all the checks that are made.’ – reports dailymail.

The Organizers of the event have yet to confirm whether President Barack Obama will be present at the event or not. If the President attends the ceremony, Amir might find a smoother passage on future entries to the United States.

Khan, Currently rated as the best boxer in the Light Welterweight division, has made his fans, especially Pakistanis, proud after getting the invitation for the dinner. After all, in this world of racism, hatred, and diversity, who eould expect a Pakistani to get invited to the White house…

After returning from pilgrimage last week in the holy month of Ramadan, Khan will fight in the United States most likely against Mexican legend Erik Morales. He will leave the White House on Sept 11 and go on to Las Vegas, where one of his rivals, Victor Ortiz, defends the World Boxing Council welterweight title against Floyd Mayweather Jnr.

Eid ul-Fitr 2011

Memorial for Noor Inayat Khan, SOE Agent and Daughter of Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan

As Reported by The Sufi Times

This past New Years Day would have marked the 96th birthday of Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan, an Indian muslim woman who was shot dead in a Nazi concentration camp in September 1944, after being the first female radio operator to infiltrate occupied France.

Her courage and self-sacrifice during World War II are to be honoured by a memorial which has been proposed to be raised in London’s Bloomsbury area next year. It will be the first war memorial in Britain either for a Muslim or an Asian woman.

The project has the support of 34 Members of Parliament and a number of prominent British Asians, including human rights activist Shami Chakrabarti and film director Gurinder Chadha, OBE. Permission has been granted by London University and the local authority to build a sculpture in Gordon Square. A sculptor has already been commissioned and the organisers now need to raise £60,000 to complete the project, of which about £25,000 has already been raised.

Noor Inayat Khan was the daughter of acclaimed Sufi teacher and musician, Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882 – 1927), who was one of the first people to bring Sufi teachings to the modern Western world. He established the “Sufi Order in the West”, which survives in various forms to this day and has followers around the world.

Hazrat Inayat Khan’s great-grandfather was Tipu Sultan, a king of Mysore who ruled during the time of the East India compay and who had died in battle against the Duke of Wellington in 1799. Hazrat Inayat Khan had been initiated into the Suhrawardiyya, Qadiriyya and Naqshbandi tariqas, but his primary initiation was from Shaykh Muhammed Abu Hashim Madani into the Nizamiya branch of the Chishti order (named after Shaykh Nizamuddin Auliya, died 1325).

Being an accomplished musician, Hazrat Inayat Khan went to America to tour with a group of musicians, playing mainly traditional court music on his veena and singing. During this time, he attracted a number of students to Sufism and met his wife, Ora Meena Ray Baker, an American from New Mexico who was of English-Irish-Scottish descent. They had their first child, Noor, in Moscow (1914), where Inayat Khan had gone to perform. Three more children were to follow: Vilayat (1916), Hidayat (1917) and Khair-un-Nisa (1919).

When Noor was four years old the family moved to Paris. Noor grew up in an environment steeped in Sufi teachings. Her father established a Sufi centre and regularly held Sufi meditation meetings with a growing number of students, lectured widely and authored a number of books.

Noor went on to study at the Sorbonne, and in her mid-20’s became an author of children’s stories. At the outbreak of war Noor’s family returned to her motherland and they moved into rooms in Bloomsbury Square in London. The site of the memorial which is to built in her name is, therefore, very appropriate.

Both Noor and her brother Vilayat decided they would do something to help the Allied Forces in their efforts against the Nazi threat. Vilayat joined the RAF (Royal Air Force) and trained as a pilot, whilst Noor joined the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force). Because of her fluent French, she was given a position in the new Special Operations Executive (SOE) of the British Secret Service. The SOE was desperately looking for radio operators who could be positioned in enemy territory to send back intelligence by wireless.

Her recruiters were not at first convinced of her suitability for the role. One of them noted, “Not overburdened with brains but has worked hard and shown keenness, apart from some dislike of [the] security side of the course. She has an unstable and temperamental personality and it is very doubtful whether she is really suited to work in the field.”

But in June 1943, she became the first female SOE agent to be parachuted into enemy occupied territory in France. According to Sir Colin Gubbins, head of the SOE, she had “occupied the principal and most dangerous post in France”. As a radio operator she was on the front line of intelligence operations, a dangerous role not for the faint-hearted. She was once stopped by the Gestapo whilst cycling with her radio equipment, but managed to convince them that it was a cinema projector.

However, it eventually transpired that the French resistance group she had been sent to help had already been infiltrated by Nazi agents and within weeks of her arrival hundreds of operatives had been arrested and shot.

Noor turned down the opportunity to return to Britain, choosing to remain behind as the SOE’s only radio contact in or near Paris. She was given a life-expectancy of three weeks, but survived for three months.

But then she was betrayed by Renée Garry, the sister of one of her French Resistance colleagues. The reason for this betrayal is not clear. Some reports say Garry was jealous of Noor’s role as an SOE agent, others say she was jealous of her beauty. In any case, she was seized by the German Gestapo and taken to a concentration camp in Pflozheim. Here she was routinely tortured for weeks, but refused to give up any information to her interrogators.

On 11 September 1944, Noor, together with three other female SOE colleagues, were taken by cars to the concentration camp in Dachau, arriving in the dark. During the night, they were tortured again. Early on the morning of September 12, they were marched out to the dog kennels, forced to kneel two by two and each was shot in the back of the head. Their bodies were incinerated in Dachau’s infamous ovens. Her last words before she died were ‘liberte’.

Shrabani Basu is Noor Inayat Khan’s biographer and founder of the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust. She spent eight years researching Noor’s life from war archives and family records, and has more recently been involved in the planning of the new memorial. Basu remarked, “I feel it is very important that what she did should not be allowed to fade from memory, particularly living in the times that we do. Here was a young Muslim woman who gave her life for this country and for the fight against those who wanted to destroy the Jewish race. She was an icon for the bond that exists between Britain and India but also between people who fought for what they believed to be right.”

Of the SOE’s 55 female agents, 13 died in action or at the hands of the Nazis. One of those killed (Violette Szabo) and one who survived (Odette Hallowes) have had popular movies made about their lives.

The initial unfavourable assessment made by Noor’s recruiters was in stark contrast to the note that her commander and head the SOE’s French section, Maurice Buckmaster, later made of her: “A most brave and touchingly keen girl. She was determined to do her bit to hit the Germans and, poor girl, she has.”

In France, Noor is already widely recognized as a war hero. There are two memorials for her, and a ceremony is held each year.

In 1975, a commemoration plaque was installed at the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, by the State of Massachusetts. It displays Noor’s name and the names of the three others who were executed with her on September 12th 1944.

To this day, nothing has been built in Britain to commemorate the life of this Indian Sufi Muslim woman who courageously sacrificed her life for freedom and the British contribution to the war against Fascism. It is hoped that the proposed memorial will be built to redress this oversight.

Amir Khan on George Lopez

Here is a video of Amir Khan on the George Lopez show after the win against Zab Judah.

Norway Suspect Wanted European Anti-Muslim Crusade

As Reported by The Associated Press

The man blamed for killing at least 93 people during terrorist attacks on Norway’s government headquarters and an island retreat for young people wanted to trigger an anti-Muslim revolution in Norwegian society, his lawyer said Sunday.

A chief surgeon treating the wounded from Friday’s mass shooting, meanwhile, said he believes the attacker used special “dum-dum” bullets that cause massive internal injuries. The doctor told The Associated Press that the killer’s chosen ammo “exploded inside the body.”

The manifesto that 32-year-old suspect Anders Behring Breivik published online ranted against Muslim immigration to Europe and vowed revenge on those “indigenous Europeans” whom he deemed had betrayed their heritage. The document said they would be punished for their “treasonous acts.”

Police said they were analyzing the approximately 1,500-page document. They said it was published Friday shortly before the back-to-back bomb and gun attacks.

Breivik’s lawyer, Geir Lippestad, said his client wrote the document alone. While police said they were investigating reports of a second assailant on the island, the lawyer said Breivik claims no one helped him.

The treatise detailed plans to acquire firearms and explosives, and even appeared to describe a test explosion: “BOOM! The detonation was successful!!!” It ends with a note dated 12:51 p.m. on July 22: “I believe this will be my last entry.”

That day, a bomb killed seven people in downtown Oslo and, about 90 minutes later, a gunman began opening fire on about 600 young people at a retreat on Utoya Island. Police said the death toll in the shooting rose by one Sunday to 86.

That brings total fatalities to 93, with more than 90 wounded. People remain missing at both scenes. Police have not released the names of any victims.

Authorities revealed Sunday that one of the attacker’s first victims on the island was an off-duty police officer who had been hired by the camp directors to provide private security in his spare time. Oslo Police Union Chairman Sigve Bolstad declined to identify the victim.

That detail sheds new light on the confusion many survivors described during the 90-minute massacre. The attacker arrived dressed as a policeman, and some campers were killed when they approached the killer thinking he was there to save them.

Dr. Colin Poole, head of surgery at Ringriket Hospital in Honefoss northwest of Oslo, told The Associated Press the gunman used special bullets designed to disintegrate inside the body and cause maximum internal damage. Poole said surgeons treating 16 gunshot victims have recovered no full bullets.

“These bullets more or less exploded inside the body,” Poole said. “It’s caused us all kinds of extra problems in dealing with the wounds they cause, with very strange trajectories.”

Ballistics experts say the so-called “dum-dum” bullets also are lighter in weight and can be fired with greater accuracy over varying distances. They commonly are used by air marshals and hunters of small animals. Such characteristics potentially would have allowed the gunman to carry more ammunition and fire his weapons at varying targets without adjusting his sights.

Officials at the lakeside scene of the island shooting spent Sunday continuing to account for the dead.

Six hearses pulled up at the shoreline as orange-jacketed Red Cross searchers on small boats slowly explored the extensive shoreline.

Body parts remain inside the Oslo building, which housed the prime minister’s office. In a chilling allusion to the fact that the tragedy could have even been greater, police said Sunday that Breivik still had “a considerable amount” of ammunition for both his guns — a pistol and an automatic rifle — when he surrendered.

Police and his lawyer have said that Breivik confessed to the twin attacks, but denied criminal responsibility for a day that shook peaceful Norway to its core and was the deadliest ever in peacetime. Breivik has been charged with terrorism and will be arraigned Monday.

Lippestad said his client has asked for an open court hearing “because he wants to explain himself.”

Police Chief Sveinung Sponheim said a forensics expert from Interpol was joining the investigation Sunday.

European security officials said they were aware of increased Internet chatter from individuals claiming they belonged to the Knights Templar group that Breivik describes, in fantastical terms, in the manifesto. They said they were still investigating claims that Breivik, and other far-right individuals, attended a London meeting of the group in 2002. The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the investigation.

The officials would not confirm whether they had identified Breivik as a potential threat.

As authorities pursued the suspect’s motives, Oslo mourned the victims. Norway’s King Harald V and his wife Queen Sonja and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg crowded into Oslo Cathedral, where the pews were packed, and people spilled into the plaza outside. The area was strewn with flowers and candles, and people who could not fit inside the grand church huddled under umbrellas amid drizzling rain.

The king and queen both wiped tears from their eyes during the service themed on “sorrow and hope.”

Afterward, people sobbed and hugged one another in the streets. Many lingered over the flowers and candles. The royal couple and prime minister later visited the site of the bombing in Oslo. The royals then visited shooting survivors at Ringriket Hospital.

The attacker picked targets linked to Norway’s left-wing Labor Party. Breivik’s manifesto pilloried the political correctness of liberals and warned that their work would end in the colonization of Europe by Muslims.

Such fears may derive, at least in part, from the fact that Norway has grown increasingly multicultural in recent years as the prosperous Nordic nation has opened its arms to thousands of conflict refugees from Pakistan, Iraq and Somalia. The annual Labor Party retreat — which the prime minister, Stoltenberg, fondly remembers attending in his own youth — reflected the country’s changing demographics as the children of immigrants have grown increasingly involved in Labor politics.

The assaults have rattled Norway, home to the Nobel Prize for Peace and where the average policeman patrolling in the streets doesn’t carry a firearm. Norwegians pride themselves on the openness of their society and cherish the idea of free expression.

“He wanted a change in society and, from his perspective, he needed to force through a revolution,” Lippestad, the lawyer, told public broadcaster NRK. “He wished to attack society and the structure of society.”

Lippestad said Breivik spent years writing the manifesto titled “2083 – A European Declaration of Independence.” It was signed “Andrew Berwick.” The document later explained that 2083 was to be the year when European government would be overthrown en masse.

Sponheim, the police chief, said there was no indication whether Breivik had selected his targets or fired randomly on the island. The manifesto vowed revenge on those it accused of betraying Europe.

“We, the free indigenous peoples of Europe, hereby declare a pre-emptive war on all cultural Marxist/multiculturalist elites of Western Europe. … We know who you are, where you live and we are coming for you,” the document said. “We are in the process of flagging every single multculturalist traitor in Western Europe. You will be punished for your treasonous acts against Europe and Europeans.”

The use of an anglicized pseudonym could be explained by a passage in the manifesto describing the founding, in April 2002 in London, of a group he calls a new Knights Templar. The Knights Templar was a medieval order created to protect Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land after the First Crusade in the 11th century.

A 12-minute video clip posted on YouTube with the same title as the manifesto featured symbolic imagery of the Knights Templar and crusader kings as well as slides suggesting Europe is being overrun by Muslims.

Police could not confirm whether Breivik posted the video, which also featured photographs of him dressed in a formal military uniform and in a wet suit pointing an assault rifle.

The video contained a series of slides that accused left-wing politicians in Europe of allowing Muslims to overrun the continent. One image showed the BBC’s logo with the “C” changed into an Islamic crescent. Another referenced the former Soviet Union, declaring that the end result of the left’s actions would be an “EUSSR.”

In London, the leader of Ramadhan Foundation, one of Britain’s largest Muslim groups, said mosques are being extra vigilant in the wake of the attacks. Mohammed Shafiq told The AP he was talking to European Muslim leaders and British police about the need to increase security.

The last 100 pages of the manifesto apparently lay out details of Breivik’s social and personal life, including his steroid use and an intention to solicit prostitutes in the days before the attack.

Also Sunday, police carried out raids in an Oslo neighborhood seeking explosives. Police spokesman Henning Holtaas said no explosives were found and no one was arrested.

Police said the bomb used in the Oslo blast was a mixture of fertilizer and fuel similar to what home-grown U.S. terrorists used to blow up a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

A farm supply store said Saturday they had alerted police that Breivik bought six metric tons of fertilizer, a popular terrorist component for car bombs.

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