Monday 29 December 2008

Israel strangling Gazans to death while the world looks on

Holocaust in Gaza - Carlos Latuff's Cartoons

Robert Fisk rightly says in The Independent: We've got so used to the carnage of the Middle East that we don't care any more – providing we don't offend the Israelis. It's not clear how many of the Gaza dead are civilians, but the response of the Bush administration, not to mention the pusillanimous reaction of Gordon Brown, reaffirm for Arabs what they have known for decades: however they struggle against their antagonists, the West will take Israel's side. As usual, the bloodbath was the fault of the Arabs – who, as we all know, only understand force.

By last night, the exchange rate stood at 296 Palestinians dead for one dead Israeli. Back in 2006, it was 10 Lebanese dead for one Israeli dead. This weekend was the most inflationary exchange rate in a single day since – the 1973 Middle East War? The 1967 Six Day War? The 1956 Suez War? The 1948 Independence/Nakba War? It's obscene, a gruesome game – which Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defence Minister, unconsciously admitted when he spoke this weekend to Fox TV. "Our intention is to totally change the rules of the game," Barak said.

Yes, Israel deserves security. But these bloodbaths will not bring it. Not since 1948 have air raids protected Israel. Israel has bombed Lebanon thousands of times since 1975 and not one has eliminated "terrorism". So what was the reaction last night? The Israelis threaten ground attacks. Hamas waits for another battle. Our Western politicians crouch in their funk holes. And somewhere to the east – in a cave? a basement? on a mountainside? – a well-known man in a turban smiles.

Johann Hari, also writing in the Independent rightly points out: To understand how frightening it is to be a Gazan this morning, you need to have stood in that small slab of concrete by the Mediterranean and smelled the claustrophobia. The Gaza Strip is smaller than the Isle of Wight but it is crammed with 1.5 million people who can never leave. They live out their lives on top of each other, jobless and hungry, in vast, sagging tower blocks. From the top floor, you can often see the borders of their world: the Mediterranean, and Israeli barbed wire. When bombs begin to fall – as they are doing now with more deadly force than at any time since 1967 – there is nowhere to hide.

Ordinary Palestinians were horrified by this, and by the fetid corruption of their own Fatah leaders, so they voted for Hamas. It certainly wouldn't have been my choice – an Islamist party is antithetical to all my convictions - but we have to be honest. It was a free and democratic election, and it was not a rejection of a two-state solution. The most detailed polling of Palestinians, by the University of Maryland, found that 72 per cent want a two-state solution on the 1967 borders, while fewer than 20 per cent want to reclaim the whole of historic Palestine. So, partly in response to this pressure, Hamas offered Israel a long, long ceasefire and a de facto acceptance of two states, if only Israel would return to its legal borders.

Rather than seize this opportunity and test Hamas's sincerity, the Israeli government reacted by punishing the entire civilian population. It announced that it was blockading the Gaza Strip in order to "pressure" its people to reverse the democratic process. The Israelis surrounded the Strip and refused to let anyone or anything out. They let in a small trickle of food, fuel and medicine – but not enough for survival. Weisglass quipped that the Gazans were being "put on a diet". According to Oxfam, only 137 trucks of food were allowed into Gaza last month to feed 1.5 million people. The United Nations says poverty has reached an "unprecedented level." When I was last in besieged Gaza, I saw hospitals turning away the sick because their machinery and medicine was running out. I met hungry children stumbling around the streets, scavenging for food.

It was in this context – under a collective punishment designed to topple a democracy – that some forces within Gaza did something immoral: they fired Qassam rockets indiscriminately at Israeli cities. These rockets have killed 16 Israeli citizens. This is abhorrent: targeting civilians is always murder. But it is hypocritical for the Israeli government to claim now to speak out for the safety of civilians when it has been terrorising civilians as a matter of state policy.

According to latest estimates more than 300 people have died, mostly young children and teenagers. People are also dying needlessly because of power blackouts 12 hours of the day and medicines in short supplies. Meanwhile Israel has continued bombing for the second day running. Maybe people are scared in condemning Israel because they can always play the magic word called "Anti-Semitism".

The initial reaction from Britain and the United States will have been interpreted in Israel as weak. Neither Gordon Brown nor the Foreign Office called on Israel to halt its bombing raids as the Palestinian death toll rose. But a Downing Street spokesman called on the "Gazan militants" to "cease all rocket attacks on Israel immediately".

There have been protests throughout the world but the common man's voice is never enough. In Europe protests took place in Paris, London and many other cities. As usual Israel has stopped neutral observers from entering Gaza. Reminds me of what Mugabe has been doing in Zimbabwe. According to Islam Online, Gaza Strip has turned into a mass grave. Lets hope that Israel does not build another Museum of tolerance on it.

Quotes of the day:

"I was at work. Someone from the hospital called and said they had found my son," said Marwan Abu Rabia, 44, a plumber. "I went straight to the hospital and found him lying on the floor outside the morgue. There were too many bodies. It looked like a massacre."

Mohammad Jahjouh, 21, lay on a hospital bed with cuts to his legs and side. He was injured late on Saturday night when an Israeli missile struck a mosque close to the hospital. "I thought I was dead but then I started to move my hands and legs and I screamed for help," he said. He was carried into the hospital. "It's unjust, unfair and aggression. After this huge number of casualties it would be a sign of weakness for us to ask for a ceasefire."

Protesters burned Israeli flags and fired AK-47s in the air at demonstrations across Iraq. "We have been waiting for an action from Arab leaders for almost 60 years," said Jaleel al-Qasus, the Palestinian envoy to Iraq, at a protest in the Baladiyat district of Baghdad. "Our efforts have been in vain."

Dr Haidar Eid, a Gazan academic who saw the bodies and children with amputated limbs, told Haaretz journalist Amira Hass: "To pick a time like this, 11:30 [AM], to bomb in the hearts of cities, this is terrible. This choice was intended to cause as large a massacre as possible." The targets were not the training camps of Hamas's military wing, which were empty when the jets struck, but rather police stations. The raids were intended to destroy the infrastructure on which Hamas builds its administrative as much as its military hold over Gaza. But that means killing policemen, not just the militants who assemble and fire the rockets. Presumably it also means targeting judges, officials, and doctors too.

"I was having my dinner when I heard the missile's whistle," a helpless Abu-Fatahi told from his bed at Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City. In just seconds, the missile hit his family's house in the Dir Al-Balah City, razing it to the ground. "I flew in the sky and then I found myself lying on the floor at our neighbors' house," he recalled the harrowing moments with tears flashing in his eyes. Abu-Fatahi can't remember what happened next. He woke up with head injuries. It was later that he knew that all his 15 family members who were in the house were also hospitalized.

It is hell and chaos, says Fikr. Gaza has experienced severe attacks before, but nothing on this scale. Hundreds of anxious and terrified people are searching hospital wards and the bodies to find sons, daughters, relatives. When a family member is identified among the dead, the family is told that they must bring their dead relative away – there is simply no space, and more dead and injured are still arriving.

There are people without their legs in very severe pain. The doctors and nurses were trying to give them painkillers and to keep them alive. Patients are lying there knowing they've lost their legs. Some were asking God if they could die. They were in a terrible psychological state.

The Bush administration began its tenure with Palestinians being massacred and it ends with Israel committing one of its largest massacres yet in a 60-year history of occupying Palestinian land. Bush's final visit to the country he chose to occupy ended with an educated secular Shiite Iraqi throwing his shoes at him, expressing the feelings of the entire Arab world save its dictators who have imprudently attached themselves to a hated American regime.

People are in it for drinking

According to military sources, around 1m litres (1.8m pints) of beer were shipped to German troops stationed in Afghanistan last year, as well as almost 70,000 litres of wine and sekt, a German sparkling wine.

The figures suggest that the 3,600 German soldiers based in Afghanistan as part of Nato's ISAF reconstruction mission, are each consuming around 278 litres of beer a year each, about 490 pints, as well as 128 standard measures of wine. The figures are set to rise by around 10% this year as troop numbers also increase.

The admission has shocked a country that has never had much time for the Afghan mission. Newspaper reports under headlines such as Drink for the Fatherland and Bundeswehr Boozers have suggested that alcohol is the only way of keeping soldiers onside at a time when it is becoming ever harder to recruit them.

According to another research in UK:

More than 10 million people are drinking more than they should, the Government's spending watchdog warned today. According to the National Audit Office (NAO), 31 per cent of men and 20 per cent of women regularly drink above recommended levels, putting their health at risk.

Hospital admissions for alcohol-related liver disease, mental health disorders linked to alcohol and acute intoxication doubled in the 11 years between 1995-96 and 2006-07, while the number of deaths from alcohol-related causes doubled to 8,758 between 1991 and 2006, the NAO said.

It said that in England, 7.6m people (18 per cent of the adult population) were drinking at "hazardous" levels and a further 2.9m (7 per cent) were showing evidence of harm to their health, including 1.1m adults with alcohol dependency.

This alcohol addiction is one of the main reasons alcohol has been prohibited in Islam. Allah says in the Qur'an:

The Holy Quran, 2.219: They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say: "In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit." They ask thee how much they are to spend; Say: "What is beyond your needs." Thus doth Allah Make clear to you His Signs: In order that ye may consider.

The Holy Quran, 5.90: O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination,- of Satan's handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper.

The Holy Quran, 5.91: Satan's plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from prayer: will ye not then abstain?

More information on this topic can be found here.

Sunday 28 December 2008

Israel continues slaughtering the innocent...

An injured Palestinian is helped from the rubble following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah

More than 271 people (mostly innocent) have been killed in the latest installment of Israeli War Crimes. More than 700 people have been injured in this latest aggression.

Said Masri, 57, told Associated Press that he had sent his nine-year-old son out to buy cigarettes minutes before the air strike and could not now find him. "May I burn like the cigarettes, may Israel burn," he wailed.

"Where are my sons?" screamed Um Ibrahim as she ran hysterically looking for her little kids. She lives near a security compound Israeli planes pounded to the ground on Saturday.

Bombs targeting a Hamas security force building badly damaged an adjacent school, and several children were injured. We heard of many other targets around the Gaza Strip. It reminds me of the "shock and awe" campaign the Allies launched over Baghdad in 2003. But shock and awe did not bring stability or peace.

The United Nations Security Council urged an immediate halt to all military activities in the Gaza Strip and called for the humanitarian crisis faced by Gaza's 1.5 million residents to be addressed.

Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, rejected the Israeli government's claims that the air raids were in self-defence. "This is a bloodbath, the bloodiest bloodbath since 1967," he told Al Jazeera. "This is an attack on the civilian population of Gaza."

I think this is very calculated move from Israel. First the people of Gaza were starved, then the borders were just opened to pass basic essential supplies. Then came the missiles which actually hit some of the fuel tankers and petrol stations to cause maximum damage. They also hit a mosque maybe challenging Allah. The current Bush administration are oblivious to the suffering of Palestinians and have already blamed Hamas for this tragedy. IMHO, without offending anyone, it would be like saying that after 9/11 tragedy, Bush administration was responsible for that and none of the blame lied with the perpetrators of the crime.

Fortunately the world is not as blind as the Bush administration and has 'requested' Israel to stop the Holocaust in Gaza.

'Crappers' to bring luck

From left: A traditional Catalonian caganer, Spanish Princess Letizia, US President George W. Bush and Pope Benedict XVI.

A Caganer is a little statue found in Catalonia, in neighbouring areas with Catalan culture such as Andorra, and in other parts of Spain, Portugal and Italy.

In Catalonia, as well as in the rest of Spain and in most of Italy and Southern France, traditional Christmas decorations consist of a large model of the city of Bethlehem, similar to the Nativity scenes of the English-speaking world but encompassing the entire city rather than just the typical manger scene. The caganer is a particular feature of modern Catalan nativity scenes, and is also found in other parts of Spain and southwestern Europe, including Salamanca.

Accompanying Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the Shepherds and company, the caganer is often tucked away in a corner of the model, typically nowhere near the manger scene. There is a good reason for his obscure position in the display, for "caganer" translates from Catalan to English as "pooper", and that is exactly what this little statue is doing — defecating.

Catalans create Christmas Nativity scenes using models and hide the figures in them before inviting friends to find the figures. Catalans believe the "caganer", by creating faeces, fertilises the earth and brings prosperity and luck for the coming year.

Wednesday 24 December 2008

'Museum of Intolerance' in Jerusalem

On Oct. 29, two years after mediation began in Israeli courts, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s "Museum of Tolerance" could build on a Muslim cemetery, called Mamilla, in Jerusalem

The Mamilla Cemetery is a Muslim holy burial site where close disciples of Prophet Muhammad and Salah-El-Deen are buried there. It is dated back to the 7th century and remains a religious, historical and archeological treasure. The numerous mausoleums and graves are still visible. In 1948, Israel took control of the cemetery and prevented the Muslims from burying their dead there and forbade the Islamic authorities (Waqf) from maintaining the grounds. In 1964, the Israeli occupation government declared the grounds "abandoned" and ”deconsecrated"- a concept that does not exist in Judaism nor Islam. The fact that the cemetery was an Islamic Waqf (endowment for religious use) did not deter the Israeli seller.

The Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Mohammad Hussein called it an "outrage" and "disrespectful of the dead."

SWC founder and head Marvin Hier called the cemetery, "derelict land."

The planned museum "is one of the largest educational and cultural projects ever undertaken, one that will become a centerpiece in the city’s cultural life," the Center’s website said. "It is not just another museum about the past, but a unique institution that will focus on issues of human dignity and responsibility and seek to promote unity and respect among Jews and between people of all faiths."

Critics counter that the project is disrespectful to the religious rights of Muslims. They say such a project wouldn’t be allowed over a Jewish cemetery.

According to a fact sheet put out by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the ultra-Orthodox Jewish group Atra Kadisha have, in the past, successfully "stopped multi-million dollar road construction plans" and other projects to protect Jewish graves.

Jewish scholars and organizations have also come out against the planned museum. Former deputy-mayor of Jerusalem Meron Benvenisti, in an op-ed headlined "The Hypocrisy Of Tolerance" in the Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz, wrote "Throughout Israel there are hundreds of sites that were once Muslim graveyards, whose remains are still evident at a few dozen of them. The rest have vanished... The Muslim cemeteries' condition is so outrageous that if it existed in another civilized state it would raise a public storm."

Munira Syeda, head of the Los Angeles CAIR chapter, said building on the cemetery goes against what the museum is supposed to be about.

The center claims that the property the museum will be built on – which was given to the Wiesenthal Center by the Israel Lands Administration in 2000, according to the SWC’s fact sheet – has been unused for decades and isn’t sacred.

The fact sheet the center uses to back their claims relies heavily on the court’s ruling and claims that the site is in fact "Mundras," or that it lost its sanctity. A Sharia court made the Mundras classification, on July 7, 1964, according to a 2006 statement from the Wiesenthal Center, which states that the future site isn’t on the cemetery, but on an adjacent car park built in 1960.

CAIR counters in its fact sheet that the Sharia court was handpicked by the Israeli government, and was not trusted by Palestinian Muslims, and that the car park was itself built over a portion of the cemetery.

"The Center claims the cemetery has not been in use for 50 years," the group said. "That is understandable because hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee as refugees and abandon their properties."

During the 1948 war, 800,000 Palestinians were expelled from their land, the property left behind placed under government authority and classified "absentee property."

According to Israel professor Uri Davis in his book, "Apartheid Israel," the Absentee Property Law of 1950 served to guarantee "a demographic majority of the Jewish tribes in the territories under its control."

It’s under this law that the land was given to the Center, according to CAIR.

"Unfortunately, the Center refuses to acknowledge these grave atrocities against Palestinians," Syeda said.

Over the course of the past three decades, the Simon Wiesenthal Center brand has been enhanced by its Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, but recent developments in Israel have begun to tarnish the institution’s reputation.

Does Jerusalem really need another tourist attraction in the heart of its small downtown, whose infrastructure is already overtaxed, where parking is already next to impossible, and where increased traffic in the proximity of the Old City walls presents yet another threat to the foundations of the greatest treasures the Eternal City has to offer?

Does the center of a city already blessed with beautiful venues and world-class museums really need yet another conference center, theater and museum complex competing for a limited number of congresses and a circumscribed revenue pool? Is there no alternative site in the Jerusalem corridor for such an ambitious campus that might be more environmentally and visitor friendly? Could not such a project built near the Kennedy Memorial on the city’s outskirts perhaps resurrect a stunning monument that was once a mecca for American pilgrims and that has since fallen into shameful neglect and disrepair?

Can a museum that plans to display exhibits that portray “Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbors” hold itself up as a beacon of coexistence when the next three years of its construction are likely to be marred by protests and demonstrations?

Can a city whose fabric is so intertwined with symbolism afford to be home to a museum built with Diaspora money on the site of Muslim graves, even as Israeli tour guides invoke the specter of Arab desecrations of Jewish graves on the Mount of Olives?

Can a museum under the mantle of the Simon Wiesenthal Center stand up to comparisons with efforts in Europe to erect modern buildings on land that was once Jewish cemeteries or concentration camps? Imagine that kind of outcry!

Jerusalem is too fragile a place for a flamboyant building, however well-intentioned, that creates ill will among a significant sector of the population that shows no signs of accepting it. As one call to action put it: “The legal battle has been lost… we must move on to the political battle.” Is a so-called Museum of Tolerance worth turning the Holy City into a battleground once again, in the 21st century?

Instead of such a grandiose scheme, let the center invite Arab architects to collaborate in designing a tasteful Garden of Tolerance on the disputed site, as an extension of the existing belt of green that is Independence Park.

What will the museum people say when visitors ask them why of all places in Jerusalem did they establish their tabernacle on the land of a Muslim cemetery and nowhere else? What will their explanation be when visitors wonder why the museum embarked on its brotherhood project in a clash with the Muslims?

With regard to concerns that this institution is liable to fan harsh protests, the High Court of Justice says, rightly, that we must not cave in to violence. But from the public perspective the problem is different: An institution for tolerance that chooses a location so that it will become a permanent source of friction, even nonviolent friction, is grotesque. If this institution is established, it will be a civic, Jewish and moral disgrace. Presumably, Muslims who have self-respect and respect for their heritage will not participate in its activities and Jews of integrity and common sense will never set foot in it.

Tuesday 23 December 2008

Islamophobic 'Daily Express' apologises to Inayat Bunglawala

Absolutely fantastic news from Engage.

Well done to Inayat for taking the Daily Express to court on their brazen libel. It just shows how devious and desperate the toilet paper tabloids are to print anti-Muslim stories, whether its blatantly false news stories that show Muslims and Islam in a negative light or an outrageous front page spread that takes the quote of a prominent Muslim completely out of context nothing is beneath the tabloid scum. However as Inayat correctly points out in his commentisfree piece he could take action because he was mentioned by name however the press remains at liberty to slander and libel the entire Muslim community and their faith and so further demonise us.

Also check out grueling apology from Daily Express: made my day!

Monday 22 December 2008

Pagans mark winter solstice, Qur'an c ondems them

Drumbeats, songs and quiet reflection greeted the winter solstice and launched the festival of Yule, marking the ancient New Year and the start of longer days and shorter nights.

More than 2,000 people gathered from 5am at Stonehenge, some in Druid robes or with Pagan garlands – later borrowed by Christianity with the Christmas tree and mistletoe. But most were there – and at other sites such as Castlerigg stone circle in the Lake District – to escape commercialism and ringing tills.

Ceremonies were brief and simple at all the sites, with activity at Castlerigg centring on Phoebe Coffey, five, and her two-year-old sister Ada, whose parents had hidden presents overnight by the 38 stones. Clutching five of the gold-wrapped packages, while mist streamed from the surrounding Skiddaw, Blencathra and Helvellyn mountains, Phoebe said: "They've been left for us by the solstice fairy."

The pagans and polytheists on the have no compulsion to lead a virtuous life in accordance with the precepts of a revealed Book. According to Islam, they worship false gods in derogation of the All Merciful Creator. They have been described as “unclean”, as the Islamic view regards some of their rituals and practices to be bordered on the obscene or the morally repulsive.

No other scripture is more vehement in denouncing kufr (disbelief, which is denial of the righteous truth) in all its forms, than the Qur’an. It is full of verses, which challenge disbelief of every color and shade.

Surah 45, verse 23 says:

*{Then seest thou such a one as takes as his god his own vain desire? God has, knowing [him as such], left him astray, and sealed his hearing and his heart [and understanding], and put a cover on his sight. Who, then, will guide him after God [has withdrawn guidance]? Will ye not then receive admonition?}*

This verse obviously refers to a person who worships his own vain desires as a believer would worship God; and it means that he has no god but his own lust and selfishness. Sometimes, this may describe an atheist or an agnostic. This can even be a one who identifies himself to be a Muslim, but enslavers himself within his own desires and whim.

Another example is Surah 45, verse 24:

*{And they say: "What is there but our life in this world? We shall die and we live, and nothing but time can destroy us." But of that they have no knowledge: they merely conjecture.}*

Here the reference is to persons who deny everything, except their own immediate experience of life in this world. They say there is nothing but the passage of time. But, God says that they have no knowledge, so they are simply resorting to pure conjecture. In the language of contemporary discourse, we may call them empiricists or positivists or simply materialists. In fact, we have a good number of words to refer to different shades of disbelief, as we have words for different shades of belief too.

In fact, the Qur’an uses two important words to refer to forms of disbelief: kufr (usually translated ‘disbelief’) and shirk (worship of false gods; often translated ‘polytheism’). It also uses the word, nifaq (hypocrisy), with reference to those who claim to be believers, but live like non-believers, or are really non-believers deep in their hearts.

If we analyze the mindset of the atheists, the agnostics, the positivists and all other materialists, we can see one common factor: They are usually after what they imagine to be useful, profitable or helpful in their lives.

They tend to deny God, since ‘a non-existent God’ is not useful. In the Qur’anic terminology, these are really ‘mushrikun’ (worshippers of false gods). Because, though they claim to be ‘freethinkers’, atheists or agnostics, are guided by the philosophy that is of their false gods. Thus, they are really worshippers of false gods.

In modern times, we rarely meet idolaters like the worshippers of the Golden Calf, whom Prophet Moses challenged. Today’s idols are far more subtle. For instance, we see among people a passion for ‘pleasure’ and ‘fun’ that take up a lot of their time and energies. The icons of sports or fashion, pop music or movies are “worshipped” by their devotees with “religious passion”.

False worship and moral corruption have always gone hand in hand. The most worldly and idolatrous ages of human history have also been the most immoral and corrupt. Both the Bible and the Qur’an narrate stories of such generations of the past. God commands us not only to eschew worship of idols and false gods, but also to give up all immorality and perversity.

The message of the Qur’an is clear. It strongly castigates all kinds of disbelief, no matter where it exists or what it calls itself. The primary duty of Muslims towards all humans [irrespective of their beliefs and practices] is to call them peacefully, wisely and logically to the way of God.

The Qur’an guides the Muslims how they should call others to the worship of Allah Almighty. They are asked to do this through peaceful means, through diplomacy. You can read this in Surah 16, verse 125:

*{Invite [all] to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His path, and who receive guidance}*

If the people do not listen to the words of da`wah (invitation to God), Muslims are not to resort to force or violent means. This is because the Qur’an clearly and categorically prohibits the use of force or coercion in the matter of religion. You can find this clearly stated in Surah 2, verse 256:

*{Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error.}*

As envisaged by the Holy Qur’an, the role of Muslims in the world is to be a model community dedicated to the service of mankind. They are commanded to establish all that is good and forbid all that is evil. Surah 3, verse 110 says:

*{Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in God…}*

For the above reason, Muslims cannot be unjust or oppressive. They have to prove to the world how peace and harmony can be established here. This should be through living peacefully and serving as a model for others.

Via: Islam Online

Saturday 20 December 2008

When will the desperate dictators learn

The dictators often feel that their rule will last forever, they will never be held accountable, people will remember and praise them forever. Unfortunately this is not the case.

Spain's former dictator General Francisco Franco was finally knocked off his pedestal yesterday as workmen removed the last public monument to him on the mainland from a square in the northern port city of Santander. The statue was around for 44 years with Franco dead for 36 years. Sure people in Spain will consider it a good riddance.

We saw a similar thing in case of Saddam who installed his own statues everywhere in Iraq probably thinking that his rule and legacy will last forever. Unfortunately for him, people took lot of delight in bringing his statues down.

And we should not forget the despo called Niyazov from Turkmenistan who suffered a similar fate and is now confined to the book of ancient Turkmenistan history.

Now Mugabe is doing something similar in Zimbabwe and he thinks that the country belongs to him and his rule will last forever. Meanwhile people are dying due to cholera, aids, malnutrition, etc.

We should all remember Allah's wise words:

[But those will prosper who purify themselves, glorify the name of their Lord, and (lift their hearts) in Prayer. Nay (behold), you prefer the life of this world; but the Hereafter is better and more enduring. And this is in the Books of the earliest (Revelations), the Books of Abraham and Moses.] (Al-A`la 87:14-19)

There is also a hadith that prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) mentioned:

My Lord gave me nine (bits of) advice and I give them to you. He advised me:

- To be sincere whether in private or in public

- To do justice whether in anger or in happiness

- To be moderate whether in riches or in poverty

- To join (in relations) with those who (try) to cut me off

- To give to those who deprive me

- To forgive those who do wrong to me

- That my silence be thoughtful

- That my speech be mindful (of Allah)

- That my vision be to take admonition. (Reported by Razeen)

Keeping track of Israeli War Crimes

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Friday 19 December 2008

The day Alhambra was destroyed...again

The fabulous Alhambra fortress in Granada, jewel of Islamic architecture in Europe, has been swindled out of millions of euros by a ticket scam, allegedly hatched by its doorkeepers, travel agencies, a tour guide and a branch of a major bank.

Spain's most spectacular tourist landmark was almost brought to its knees by an €8m (£7m) fraud, criminal investigators reported at the weekend. Up to 50 people are implicated in the scam, which involved 800,000 faked or unauthorised entry tickets doled out over three years in a process described by investigators as "anarchic and uncontrollable".

The Alhambra, the medieval symbol of Muslim rule in Spain with its breathtaking beauty and spectacular hilltop setting, has attracted visitors for centuries. The American writer Washington Irving lived within its ruins to write Tales of the Alhambra in 1829. Bill Clinton visited in 1997 to share with Hillary and Chelsea what he remembered from his student days as "the world's most beautiful sunset". And Salman Rushdie's epic novel The Moor's Last Sigh, ends with a paean to "the glory of the Moors, their triumphant masterpiece ... Europe's Red Fort".

An estimated three million people visit the Alhambra every year. But not all receipts were finding their way into its coffers. The fraud has reportedly plunged the institution into a crisis bordering bankruptcy.

Members of the Alhambra's staff, a senior guide and the BBVA bank are accused of selling tickets to unauthorised travel agents, or dishing them out indiscriminately. As a result, ordinary visitors who had reserved supposedly time-and-date restricted tickets months ahead found the Alhambra's filigree-arched chambers, its pleasure courts and water gardens crammed with tourists whose numbers far exceeded the permitted maximum.

Similar thing seems to have happened earlier as well:

A COURT in Granada has heard how up to 800 people illegally passed through the entrance to the Alhambra every 30 minutes.

A year-long judicial investigation into claims of illicit ticket sales for the 14th century Islamic palace found 10,000 counterfeit admissions were passed on to unsuspecting tourists.

Magistrates in Granada were told some tickets were sold twice in a bid to cram more visitors into the Alhambra - Spain’s most popular tourist attraction. Management company Patronato de la Alhambra believes up to 38 of its employees financially benefited from this scam.

The investigation also claims cashiers at bank BBVA sold up to 70 tickets at a time to one person although the maximum individual allocation is only five.

A total of 46 people were arrested between December 2005 and February this year. All deny any wrongdoing.

Sunday 14 December 2008

Germany's biggest and newest mosque: Merkez mosque

It has a 34-metre minaret and a dome-shaped ceiling handpainted with floral patterns and verses from the Qur'an. Its crowning glory is a golden chandelier engraved with 99 epithets for Allah, and there is seating for 2,000 worshippers.

Germany's biggest mosque in the Ruhr valley city of Duisburg in what leaders of Germany's 3 million Muslims have described as a watershed moment, bringing mosques out of the backyards and alleys and into the middle of urban life.

The multimillion-euro Merkez mosque in the working-class district of Marxloh, which was financed by private and public money, will transform the lives of the city's Muslims. Their previous meeting place was the rundown canteen of a former mining company.

People hold on signs 'Made in Marxloh' in front of the newly built Merkez mosque in Duisburg October 26, 2008. Marxloh is a district of Duisburg, where most of Turkish people live. The Merkez mosque is the biggest mosque in Germany.

Pedestrians pass by the Merkez mosque at its official opening ceremony on October 26, 2008 in Duisburg, Germany. Germany's biggest mosque, situated in the industrial area of Duisburg-Marxloh offers room for 1200 believers.

Believers pray in the newly built Merkez mosque in Duisburg October 26, 2008.

A member of the Muslim community prays stand inside Germany's biggest mosque at its official opening ceremony on October 26, 2008 in Duisburg, Germany.

A member of the Muslim community prays inside Germany's biggest mosque at its official opening ceremony on October 26, 2008 in Duisburg, Germany.

Do Muslims really support terrorism?

After the latest terrorist outrage in Mumbai (Bombay), we received quite a few emails asking why we do these terrorist acts and why we support terrorism. There were also emails informing us that we are going to hell, etc, etc.

Believe it or not we Muslims hate the terrorists as much as the people who are victims of terrorism. Muslim organisations do condemn terrorism and find no joy in innocent being killed. In Mumbai, the Muslims marched against these terrorists as well and burned an effigy of what they said represents terrorism.

Yet we see again and again that some Muslims are willing to go ahead and kill people in the name of Islam.

Quran which is the same worldwide and followed by every Muslim regardless of their sect or beliefs clearly state that "Whosoever kills an innocent human being, it shall be as if one has killed all humankind, and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if one has saved the life of all humankind. - Al-Ma'idah 5:32" and in another verse Allah says, "…take not life, which God hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom. - Al-An`am 6: 151"

Muslims must remember that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) laid out ethics of war and in that he clearly stated that "Do not kill any old person, any child or any woman. (Reported by Abu Dawud); Do not kill the monks in monasteries (Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal)" Also during a war, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) saw the corpse of a woman lying on the ground and observed: "She was not fighting. How then she came to be killed?"

Muslims have to find out these people among themselves who are willing to disobey Allah and the Prophet (pbuh) and the non-Muslims should try and understand that we Muslims are ourselves victims of terrorism and rather than questioning us, work with us to root out this problem.