Category Archives: Islam

Tunisians jailed for Facebook cartoons of Prophet Mohammad

Reuters | Apr 5, 2012

By Tarek Amara

TUNIS | Two young Tunisians have been sentenced to seven years in prison for posting cartoons of the prophet Mohammad on Facebook, in a case that has fueled allegations the country’s new Islamist leaders are gagging free speech.

The two men had posted depictions of the prophet naked on the social networking site, the justice ministry said, inflaming sensitivities in a country where Muslim values have taken on a bigger role since a revolution last year.

“They were sentenced … to seven years in prison for violation of morality, and disturbing public order,” said Chokri Nefti, a justice ministry spokesman.

One of the two, Jabeur Mejri is in jail while the second, Ghazi Beji, is still being sought by police and was sentenced in absentia.

The sentence was handed down on March 28 but was not reported until Thursday, when bloggers started posting information about the case on the Internet.

“The sentences are very heavy and severe, even if these young people were at fault,” one Tunisian blogger, Nebil Zagdoud, told Reuters.

“This decision is aimed at silencing freedom of expression even on the Internet. Prosecutions for offending morals are a proxy for this government to gag everyone.”

Tunisia electrified the Arab world in January last year when protests forced its autocratic president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, to flee the country. In their first democratic election, Tunisians elected a government led by moderate Islamists.

The revolution also brought tension between conservative Muslims who believe their faith should have a bigger role in public life, and secularists who say freedom of expression and women’s’ rights are now under attack.

The government says it has a duty to defend standards of public decency but its secularist opponents accuse it of using the justice system to crack down on anyone who does not fall into line with religious orthodoxy.

The head of a private television station, Nessma, is awaiting trial on blasphemy charges after his channel broadcast “Persepolis,” an award-winning animated film that includes a depiction of Allah.

In February, Nassredine Ben Saida, the publisher of a tabloid newspaper, was jailed for eight days and fined after he printed a picture of a German-Tunisian footballer and his naked girlfriend on the front page.

Pork Eating Knights Templar Crusader Patch Huge Hit With Troops In Afghanistan | Mar 16, 2012

by Robert Johnson

With tensions at an all time high in Afghanistan following the Koran burnings, the urination video, and the killing of 16 civilians, attention is now falling on a long line of “Infidel” apparel and gear.

Exhausted from how they feel they’re being perceived, troops have taken to wearing patches and carrying items that label themselves infidels, and offer translation in local dialect.

In the Muslim world an infidel means literally “one without faith” who rejects the central teachings of Islam. tracked down Clayton Montgomery at Mil-Spec Monkey, a large online seller of infidel gear, who says his most popular item by far is the “Pork Eating Crusader Patch.”

The patch includes an image of a knight in a Crusade’s tunic, eating what appears to be a large ham hock, and lest there be any confusion — a translation in Arabic.

They haven’t gone unnoticed. The website Muslim Awakening, posts a picture of what appears to be a German soldier with the patch adhered to his combat uniform.

Other items are more subtle.

There is the Infidel Zippo advertised as: “This one is small enough to hold some personal meaning and not be in-your-face to everyone you meet. It’s perfect for pulling out at just the right moment to get the full effect.”


Islamic states, Africans walk out on UN gay panel

MSNBC | Mar 7, 2012

By Robert Evans

GENEVA — Brushing aside high-level U.N. appeals for cooperation to halt murder and violence against gays and lesbians around the globe, Muslim and Arab countries on Wednesday stalked out of a Human Rights Council panel to tackle the issue.

Speaking before the walkout for the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Pakistan described homosexuality as “licentious behavior” while African group leader Senegal said it was not covered by global human rights accords.

Nigeria – where gay rights groups say there have been many attacks on male and female homosexuals – declared none of its citizens was at risk of violence because of sexual orientation or gender identity before it too left the chamber.

And Mauritania, for the Arab group, all of whose members are also in the OIC, said attempts to impose “the controversial topic of sexual orientation” would undermine discussion in the council of all genuine human rights problems.

The walkout, which diplomats said not all countries in the Islamic and African groups joined, was the first by three major blocs in the 47-member council, which has been dominated until recently by a caucus of developing countries and their allies.

It came after United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay told the session that gays and lesbians should be protected by all governments.

“We see a pattern of violence and discrimination directed at people just because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender,” Ban said in a video message to the panel, chaired by African group dissenter South Africa.

“This is a monumental tragedy for those affected — and a stain on our collective conscience. It is also a violation of international law. You, as members of the Human Rights Council, must respond,” the U.N. chief declared.

Islamic and most African countries have long kept discussion of what the U.N. dubs “sexual orientation and gender identity” out of the council but a strong drive by the United States and South Africa brought it onto the agenda last June.

With a developing country bloc in the body eroding, Latin American countries like Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay joined in to push through a narrow vote to mandate Wednesday’s panel and the High Commissioner’s report.

Pillay, once a South African high court judge, told the session her life under apartheid had taught her that “ignorance and bigotry” could only be overcome by education and frank discussion among people with different views.

In her report she detailed the often fatal abuse – she labeled it “homophobia” – homosexuals faced around the globe ranging from mob killing for males, multiple rape of lesbians “to cure them” and torture in public and private jails.

The report said 76 countries among the U.N.’s 192 members had laws  homosexual behavior. At least five – in particular Iran – provide for the death penalty while efforts are under way in Uganda to introduce the same punishment.

“I know some will resist what we are saying,” said Pillay, who earlier this week was accused by Egypt in the council of promoting homosexuality by pressing on with the report despite the objections of Islamic countries.

In a clear reference to Islamic and African countries, she said some states would argue that homosexuality or bisexuality “conflict with local cultural or traditional values, or with religious teachings, or run counter to public opinion”.

But while they were free to hold their opinions, she declared, “That is as far as it goes. The balance between tradition and culture, on the one hand, and universal human rights on the other, must be struck in favor of rights.”

US burning of Koran was intentional, Afghan investigator says

Supporters of Pakistan Islamic party Islami Jamiat-e-Tulba burn a mock of US flag as they shout slogans during a protest against the alleged ‘Koran burning’ by the US troops, in Multan, Pakistan, 02 March 2012. . EPA/MK CHAUDHARY | Mar 5, 2012

Kabul – The burning of the Koran at a US military base in Afghanistan was intentional, a member of the Afghan investigating team told dpa Monday.

‘We believe it is intentional,’ said Maulavi Khaliqdad, a member of the panel established by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

‘If they burnt one or two copies, then we could have said it could have been a mistake. But they took hundreds of such books to burn. Everyone knew those were religious books.’

News that US soldiers in Bagram airbase north of Kabul had burnt copies of religious books including the Muslim scriptures, the Koran, last month caused violent protests nationwide.

International military officials apologized and said it was ‘unintentional.’ US President Barack Obama also sent a written apology to Karzai.

But despite apologies and calls for calm by Karzai, more than 30 protesters were killed in the ensuing violence.

Six US soldiers were also killed in apparent revenge attacks by their Afghan allies, including two US military advisers who were murdered inside the fortified Interior Ministry building.

Khaliqdad said the team’s finding that the burning was intentional has been presented to Karzai and parliament.

‘It is impossible if you collect that many books from a library … Someone is responsible for this,’ he said. ‘We cannot accept that they say it was a mistake.’

‘A mistake is when someone does something without any knowledge or when someone is unaware,’ said Khaliqdad, who is also a member of religious Ulema Council of Islamic scholars and mullahs.

Khaliqdad said a senior Afghan army officer had asked the US military staff where the books were being taken before they were burnt.

‘And they told him that the books were being taken to storage,’ he said. ‘But instead they were burnt.’

It is not exactly known if any or how many books were burnt but the construction workers rescued 216 copies of religious books, of which 48 were Korans, his investigation team found.

After the labourers objected, the US soldiers returned with the rest of books without throwing them in the fire, according to the investigation.

Khaliqdad said the team looked at the books in the storage that were set aside for burning and found nothing with extremist messages written on them, as suggested by some NATO officials.

‘We saw different types of religious books including the Koran. Many were new and did not have anything written in them. We saw some where the prisoners had written the dates they were arrested on and the topic of holy passage from the Koran and the page number,’ he said.

‘There were no secret messages, no political messages … There were no books related to the Taliban or al Qaeda. These were books that are taught by the Ulema everywhere,’ Khaliqdad said.

Khaliqdad also said similar books that were set aside for burning were found in the prison library.

‘The Afghan national army has a religious department there. The US military did not discuss this with anyone (before burning them),’ Khaliqdad said.

He said the team had recommended punishment for those who were involved in the Koran burning.

‘This is a crime and you can not convince people with an apology when a crime is done,’ he said.

‘We want the punishment for those who were involved in this. They should be punished according to law.’

The head of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan last week also asked that the United States should take disciplinary action against the perpetrators.

Earlier, Karzai had also called on the US to put the perpetrators on trial and punish them.

Separate investigations on the Koran burning incident are ongoing, led by NATO and Afghan authorities. Many officials fear a new round of violent protests could erupt following the findings of the investigation teams.

Afghan woman to be freed from jail after agreeing to marry rapist

Half the women in Afghan jails have been imprisoned for ‘moral crimes’. Photograph: Emilio Morenatti/AP

President intervenes in case of 19-year-old woman who has spent two years in jail after reporting rape by a relative | Dec 1, 2011

by Jeremy Kelly in Kabul

An Afghan woman jailed for adultery after she was raped by a relative is set to be freed – but only after agreeing to marry the man who attacked her.

The case, which has highlighted the plight of Afghan women jailed for so-called moral crimes, was to be the subject of a documentary film funded by the European Union – until diplomats censored it out of fear for the woman’s welfare, and for their relations with the Afghan government.

But the decision not to broadcast the film, unintentionally led to a storm of publicity that has resulted in the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, intervening in the case of the 19-year-old woman, named Gulnaz.

Karzai, who will soon head to an international conference on Afghanistan in Bonn to seek financial support from foreign donors, ordered Gulnaz to be released on condition that she and her attacker agree to mediation.

In a statement released on Thursday night, the presidential palace said Gulnaz would be released after she agreed to become the second wife of her rapist – a prospect that supporters say she had dreaded.

In Afghan culture, marrying the father of a child born out of wedlock is seen as a way of “legitimising” the child, even in cases involving rape.


New York Times says rape is an Afghan custom

The documentary’s British director, Clementine Malpas, said Gulnaz’s decision would have been made under duress. “She has told me that the rapist had destroyed her life because no one else would marry her after what happened to her,” Malpas said. “She feels like she has no other option than to marry him and it’s the only way to bring peace between her and his family.

“I know she wants honour but I also know she doesn’t want to marry this man. And of course I am worried about what the future holds for her because of this decision.”

In Malpas’s film Gulnaz says she would never forgive her attacker but adds that she would consider marrying him. “I don’t want people to call her (her daughter) a bastard and abuse my brothers. My brothers won’t have honour in our society until he marries me,” she says.

Gulnaz was jailed for 12 years for adultery after she reported being raped by a cousin by marriage in an attack that left her pregnant. As the case became publicised, the sentence was reduced to three years. She has spent the past two and a half years in jail, during which time she gave birth to a daughter. Malpas, 30, had spent months following Gulnaz’s case after being commissioned by the EU to make a documentary on women’s rights in Afghanistan.

News of Gulnaz’s ordeal prompted an American lawyer to launch a petition, which attracted more than 6,000 signatures demanding her release. This helped prompt the meeting between Karzai and senior figures in the Afghan justice system, including the head of the supreme court, the justice minister and the attorney general.

The attorney general and justice minister visited both Gulnaz and her attacker in their jails to seek their approval for the union.

Gulnaz’s lawyer, Kimberley Motley, said: “My concern is that an illiterate woman, in the face of high-level government officials, all men I believe, would be a very intimidating situation for her.”

Motley and Malpas and other supporters had arranged for Gulnaz to be taken to a safehouse if she was released unconditionally.

The case is far from unique. Roughly half of the country’s 600 adult female prison inmates have been imprisoned for similar “offences”.

Heather Barr, Human Rights Watch’s Afghanistan researcher, who has spent the past month visiting female prisoners for an upcoming report on “moral crimes”, welcomed the release of Gulnaz and said she hoped there was a review of all the cases of female prisoners.

“There are hundreds of women in this situation and it is well overdue to look at the injustices done to them,” she said.

“I have interviewed 58 of them in the past month and have heard the same types of stories of forced marriages, beatings, sexual assaults, and when they flee these abuses and report them, they are locked up.”Barr agreed it was possible that the Karzai administration had been encouraged to look at some of the serious human rights problems that remain in Afghanistan in the runup to Monday’s Bonn conference, and hoped it would remain on the agenda once that concludes. The European Union, which has remained largely silent in the face of mounting publicity about the case said it was delighted about news of Gulnaz’s release.

The European Union’s ambassador and special representative to Afghanistan, Vygaudas Usackas, said: “Her case has served to highlight the plight of Afghan women, who, 10 years after the overthrow of the Taliban regime, often continue to suffer in unimaginable conditions, deprived of even the most basic human rights.

“Highlighting and improving the lives of Afghan women is one of the most important tasks of the EU’s mission in Afghanistan.”

Emerging vote winner Muslim Brotherhood says it won’t impose Islamic values on Egyptians

Associated Press | Dec 3, 2011

CAIRO — Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, emerging as the biggest winner in the first round of parliamentary elections, sought Saturday to reassure Egyptians that it would not sacrifice personal freedoms in promoting Islamic law.

The deputy head of the Brotherhood’s new political party, Essam el-Erian, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that the group is not interested in imposing Islamic values on Egypt, home to a sizable Christian minority and others who object to being subject to strict Islamic codes.

“We represent a moderate and fair party,” el-Erian said of his Freedom and Justice Party. “We want to apply the basics of Shariah law in a fair way that respects human rights and personal rights,” he said, referring to Islamic law.

The comments were the clearest indication that the Brotherhood was distancing itself from the ultraconservative Islamist Nour Party, which appears to have won the second-largest share of votes in the election’s first phase.


The Masonic Origins of The Muslim Brotherhood

The Nour Party espouses a strict interpretation of Islam similar to that of Saudi Arabia, where the sexes are segregated and women must be veiled and are barred from driving.

Egypt’s election commission has released few official results from the voting on Monday and Tuesday. But preliminary counts have been leaked by judges and individual political groups showing both parties could together control a majority of seats in the lower house of parliament if they did form an alliance.

The Brotherhood recently denied in a statement that it seeks to form an alliance with the Nour Party in parliament, calling it “premature and mere media speculation.”

On Saturday, el-Erian made it clear that the Brotherhood does not share Nour’s more hard-line aspirations to strictly enforce Islamic codes in Egyptians’ daily lives.

“We respect all people in their choice of religion and life,” he said.

Another major check on such an agenda is the council of generals who have run the country since President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in February. The military council, accused by Egypt’s protest movement of stalling a transition to civilian and democratic rule, is seeking to limit the powers of the next parliament and maintain close oversight over the drafting of a new constitution.

Egypt already uses Shariah law as the basis for legislation, however Egyptian laws remain largely secular as Shariah does not cover all aspects of modern life.

On its English-language Twitter account, the Brotherhood said that its priorities were to fix Egypt’s economy and improve the lives of ordinary Egyptians, “not to change (the) face of Egypt into (an) Islamic state.”

El-Erian urged the Brotherhood’s political rivals to accept the election results.

“We all believe that our success as Egyptians toward democracy is a real success and we want everyone to accept this democratic system. This is the guarantee for stability,” he said.

For decades, Mubarak’s regime suppressed the Brotherhood, which was politically banned but managed to establish a vast network of activists and charities offering free food and medical services throughout the country’s impoverished neighborhoods and villages.

It is the best organized of Egypt’s post-Mubarak political forces.

The vote for parliament’s lower house is taking place over three stages, with 18 provinces in Egypt yet to vote.

Meanwhile, the swearing-in of a new temporary Cabinet was delayed on Saturday due to disagreements over key posts, including over who will lead the ministry in charge of internal security.

An official in the Interior Ministry said several high-ranking security officials have been named as possible replacements but that some have turned down the offer.

Protesters have also strongly objected to the nominations put forward by newly appointed Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri, who served in the same position under ousted President Hosni Mubarak from 1996 to 1999.

The country’s ruling military general, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, appointed el-Ganzouri as a new interim prime minister last month after the previous premier’s government resigned in the wake of a police crackdown on protesters that killed over 40 people.

The interim Cabinet will serve until after the parliamentary elections finish in March. A new government is to be formed after the legislature is seated.

Activist Hussein Hammouda, a retired police brigadier, is among those opposed to the names being considered for the Interior Minister post and says someone from outside the police force should be chosen instead.

Protesters in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egypt’s protests, released a statement saying they would continue their sit-in while allowing traffic to resume normally in the area.

There were tens of thousands of protesters in the square in the days leading up to the elections, but numbers have dwindled to several hundred since then. Protesters demanding el-Ganzouri be replaced as prime minister said they will keep up another sit-in outside the Cabinet headquarters.

Libya’s liberation: interim ruler unveils more radical than expected plans for Islamic law

Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council Photo: AP

Libya’s interim leader outlined more radical plans to introduce Islamic law than expected as he declared the official liberation of the country.

Telegraph | Oct 23, 2011

By Richard Spencer

Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council and de fact president, had already declared that Libyan laws in future would have Sharia, the Islamic code, as its “basic source”.

But that formulation can be interpreted in many ways – it was also the basis of Egypt’s largely secular constitution under President Hosni Mubarak, and remains so after his fall.

Mr Abdul-Jalil went further, specifically lifting immediately, by decree, one law from Col. Gaddafi’s era that he said was in conflict with Sharia – that banning polygamy.

In a blow to those who hoped to see Libya’s economy integrate further into the western world, he announced that in future bank regulations would ban the charging of interest, in line with Sharia. “Interest creates disease and hatred among people,” he said.

Gulf states like the United Arab Emirates, and other Muslim countries, have pioneered the development of Sharia-compliant banks which charge fees rather than interest for loans but they normally run alongside western-style banks.

In the first instance, interest on low-value loans would be waived altogether, he said.

Libya is already the most conservative state in north Africa, banning the sale of alcohol. Mr Abdul-Jalil’s decision – made in advance of the introduction of any democratic process – will please the Islamists who have played a strong role in opposition to Col Gaddafi’s rule and in the uprising but worry the many young liberal Libyans who, while usually observant Muslims, take their political cues from the West.