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British DJ sentenced to year in Tunisian jail for Muslim call to prayer remix

The Guardian World news: Islam - 7 April, 2017 - 13:41

Berlin-based Dax J who left Tunisia after incident was charged with public indecency and offending public morality

A British DJ has been sentenced to a year in jail by a Tunisian court after he played a remix recording of the Muslim call to prayer in a nightclub.

The London-born Dax J, who left Tunisia after last weekend’s incident, was charged with public indecency and offending public morality, said Ylyes Miladi, a spokesman of a court in the town of Grombalia.

Related: Tunisian nightclub shut down over Muslim call to prayer remix

Related: Emel Mathlouthi: ‘It’s important to be out there as a creative woman from a Muslim culture'

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Theresa May Didn’t “Refuse” Saudi Leaders On Hijab Headscarf

Loon Watch - 6 April, 2017 - 19:01

Theresa May, the conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom did not make some “bold feminist” stand against the Saudi leadership by not donning the hijab or headscarf when she visited the kingdom. May, was simply dressing as many other female leaders have while visiting Saudi Arabia. (h/t: MEND community)

Theresa May has worn the hijab when visiting mosques in the UK:

All of this stupidity obscures the real problems in the UK-Saudi relationship: the carte blanche support the UK gives to Saudi Arabia in terms of military sales and diplomatic cover as it pummels Yemen and aides transnational “Salafi-jihadi” organizations.

On Ubuntu ditching Unity

Indigo Jo Blogs - 6 April, 2017 - 17:58

An older version of the Ubuntu logoYesterday Canonical, the company which develops the Linux distribution Ubuntu, for a long time the most popular distribution (or ‘distro’) and the basis for Linux Mint, possibly the most popular distro at the moment, announced that it was to cease development of Unity, its main desktop shell, in favour of GNOME, which was its default until 2011 but became impracticable because of major changes in the way it operated and a major decline in its reliability. 2011 was when I started to go off Linux in a big way and switched back to Macs towards the end of that year. I have mixed feelings about the end of Unity’s development: it was developed out of absolute necessity and kept Ubuntu usable when GNOME was not and provided an elegant desktop with some Mac-derived features. However, the whole purpose of Unity was to provide a common interface between desktops, tablets and phones, and Ubuntu remained glued to the desktop; the platform never became popular on mobile devices.

I was a regular Ubuntu user until 2011; I had two PCs (a Dell desktop and a laptop) and I always had Ubuntu running on one and another, usually SUSE, running on the other (I never found Fedora reliable enough after it stopped being Red Hat Linux, and the new installer for version 18 ruined it completely for me). I did most of my everyday activities, including blogging, web surfing, emailing, photo management and even some word-processing, on it. Its main desktop was GNOME 2 which by then had become quite stable and elegant, and Ubuntu applied its own theme which is still in use on Unity. Linux desktop themes back then used a structure of widgets including menu bars, actual menus, system trays, clocks and so on, and the user could easily reposition them as they saw fit. Although it did support 3D effects (the sort that had been standard on the Mac since the early OS X days), it didn’t rely on them. While I’m sure there were some hardware items that did not work, it detected most of my hardware, such as the wifi, without any intervention from me.

GNOME 3 basically ripped up the rule book. It looked totally different from GNOME 2 and heavily relied on 3D effects, and even if you had the right hardware, it sometimes refused to start, telling you “something has gone wrong”. I found the new look harder on the eye, although the default colours and background could be changed, but customising everything was more complicated in early GNOME 3 than in GNOME 2, and some of it could not be done through the usual “options” app (people had to develop additional options apps) and some required altering scripts manually. It was so dreadful that there were three separate desktop projects spawned at that time: MATE (a continuation of the old GNOME 2 desktop, with all the old apps renamed), Cinnamon (a more conventional desktop based on the same toolkit, which was used by Mint although available on other distros) and Unity, which ensured some continuity from the old environment for Ubuntu users in terms of look and feel, while adding its own dock (GNOME 3 also has a dock) and a menu bar at the top of the screen which carries the current application’s menu, similar to how it works on a Mac, though the dock was rather less versatile (adding options to the dock menu had to be done with scripts; on a Mac, it can be done within the program itself). Unity also ditched menus for finding applications, requiring the user to search (the so-called “heads-up display”); this was often quicker, requiring two or three keypresses to find what you wanted, as long as the app was in the database and had the right tags and so on. And while the “Unity” of the name referred to the ‘convergence’ of the desktop and mobile platforms, it also provided a common look and feel for Linux desktop apps which used different toolkits which came with their own themes.

The result of all the changes was that the desktop that had been a well-regarded standard on Linux up until 2011 came to be used by only a minority after that. The new desktops were intended to bridge the gap between desktops and smaller-format devices, such as “netbooks” (basically small laptops, which were briefly popular in the late 2000s), tablets and even phones, which were being hailed as the computing devices of the future and perhaps a place where Linux could thrive, which it had not done on the desktop. The only problem was that iOS and Android were already well-established by 2011 and its competitors were failing: Blackberry, Meego, even Windows Phone. The idea that minority open-source desktops that lacked serious applications could even gain a significant foothold on the tablet or phone environment, much less compete with Android or iOS, seemed far-fetched even in 2011. The changes were greeted with anger by long-term users in the Linux community press; one letter I read in Linux User and Developer demanded “who are the ‘they’ that keep coming up with these stupid ideas?” and the magazine itself criticised the “developer knows best” attitude that had taken root. Meanwhile, the Mac offered a Unix-based platform with more and better applications than Linux had, with a bloated but free software development suite and access to all the Unix tools. I can’t have been the only Linux user who could afford to, and wasn’t bothered by the fact that it wasn’t all ‘free’ or open source, who moved to the Mac at that time.

Currently, I use OS X almost exclusively on my laptop and desktop (I also have an iPad and and Android phone), and occasionally I use OpenSUSE Linux (which runs KDE Plasma 5, not GNOME or Unity) on my Mac desktop, almost always for programming and a bit of web browsing, emailing etc on the side. I haven’t used GNOME 3 in ages, and when I ran Mint briefly on this machine, the Cinnamon desktop kept crashing. It’s tempting not to care about the end of Unity, but there is a place for an operating system which is entirely open-source, not just based-on as is the case with Mac OS, and Unity was not perfect but its concepts were interesting, it was fairly stable, it was familiar for long-time users and fairly easy to learn for the newcomers. It will be interesting to see how Ubuntu maintains its look and feel after it adopts GNOME 3. Perhaps GNOME 3 has come on in leaps and bounds since 2011; it ought to have done, and to be fair, GNOME 2 was slow when first released, but improved greatly by version 2.4 (the second maintenance release, of which there were many). If it hasn’t, making it Ubuntu’s main desktop and abandoning Unity will be suicide for Ubuntu’s desktop release. It should have been expected that not all the GNOME 3 spin-offs would survive, but I neither expected nor hoped that this would be the first one to fall.

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Indian Muslims – Looking Ahead

Muslim Matters - 6 April, 2017 - 07:57

If you want to be successful, you must respect one rule: never lie to yourself.  

~ Paulo Coelho

UP elections are over and the results are out. They are surprising for some of us who have become used to living our lives in slumber. But for those who had their eyes open, the result in UP was neither unexpected nor sudden. It is the result of 90 years of dedicated effort by countless people who will remain unknown but whose effort bore fruit beyond their dreams. We Muslims on the other hand, remained content with complaining and begging. The world changed but we remained stuck in a world that no longer exists. UP election result was (or should be) enough to wake us from the deepest slumber so that we learn to deal with the new world in which we find ourselves. Unless we do that, the results will be far worse than what we may imagine.

So, what must be done now that we are faced with this fait accompli?

The principles of resilience are three:

  1. Face the brutal facts without mincing words or looking through rose tinted glasses.
  2. Identify critical areas of impact and work on them. Not everything is equally important.
  3. Make necessary changes no matter how painful.

This is the framework which I am going to try to follow.

The Brutal Facts

BJP won a landslide victory. All the analysts were wrong. More than being divided, the Muslim presence in politics and the way it was portrayed to others, resulted in the Hindu vote getting consolidated behind the BJP. Muslims have become the bogeyman of Indian politics and it appears that the mere presence of a Muslim candidate is enough to bring out the worst fantasies in the minds of others. That none of this is based on fact is not important. Rumors don’t need facts to thrive. I am not going to make a long list of all that is wrong with the situation of Muslims today. I think we have the intelligence to see that. I will suffice to say that if we don’t wake up and do what needs to be done, no matter how painful, we are going to enter an era of darkness that none of us has faced in living memory. Our fate is quite literally in our own hands.

The truth is not difficult to see but difficult to swallow.

~ Mirza Yawar Baig

Muslims must understand that their development and future in the country is not restricted to government largesse or elections. It is in our hands and depends on the overall sentiment about us as people, as neighbors, as fellow citizens. Today all this is at an all-time low. I don’t say that this is entirely our fault. A lot of it is the result of systematic propaganda against Islam and Muslims which our neighbors believed. However, our inward looking and exclusionist stances have facilitated the misunderstandings and stereotypes. When people don’t know you personally it is easy to believe the worst about you. This has happened to us and this must change.

Elections apart, we simply have to win the hearts of the person on the street, the person next door and the person sitting next to us at work. If we do that well, then the sentiment will protect us from those who seek to harm us. We need to be seen as beneficial for all people. Incidentally this is what Allahﷻ described us and our mission – selected for the benefit of people. We need to therefore redefine how we look at ourselves vis-à-vis others and decide what we need to do to change the negative image into a positive one.

“In order to change an existing paradigm, you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete.”     ~ R. Buckminster Fuller

All change is painful. Drastic change is even more painful. But the most painful is annihilation. That is what must be remembered when we want to complain about what I am about to propose. Annihilation, not literally but in every other way as productive, influential and important citizens of the country. We are facing a future where when the words of the Constitution are spoken, “We the people of India”, 200 million citizens will not be included in the term, ‘We the people.’ Once again, if that comes to pass, it will be with our active or tacit agreement. Nobody to blame but ourselves.

I believe that there are three areas we must address urgently.

  1. Societal impact
  2. Approach to religion
  3. Political presence
  4. Changes for Societal Impact

Become beneficial and be seen as beneficial. The way to the heart is through the belly as they say. This means that people need to feel and taste the goodness of anything to believe it. Words are cheap and today we are looking at a society that has become intensely cynical and has no trust in anyone’s words. Action speaks; not just louder than words but it is the only thing that speaks. People don’t care what you say until they see what you do. The change must come within our community. We must shed our exclusivist image and communicate with others (non-Muslims). Talk to your neighbors, colleagues, customers. Just talk. Not talk theology but just normal everyday talk. Help them even if they don’t help you. Be good to them even if they are not. Greet them in their terms and thank them for any service; for example, thank the taxi driver, the bus driver, check-in and check-out person, the waiter, the doorman, anyone. Thanking increases blessing and changes hearts. This must be done such that people change their perception about us.

I know this is difficult especially in a society that has become very polarized and Muslims are denied housing and jobs. It is difficult but that is why it is even more critical to do it. As for polarizing society, it is good to remind ourselves that we are equally responsible for it with less justification because polarization is suicide for a minority, yet we did it and allowed it to happen. That is the reason we must change this perception by being genuine and approaching our fellow countrymen and women with love, respect, openness and acceptance. It is critically important to give this message to our children who mirror what they hear at home. Listening to the young ones of all communities tells you a sorry tale about the kind of psychological conditioning that is taking place in our homes. All of us, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Esai (Christian) – remember the song?? Today these are empty words. I weep when I recall my own childhood when a friend was simply a friend. His name wasn’t a flag to his caste. We lived in each other’s homes, ate each other’s food, called each other’s parents, Amma, Mataji, Dadji, Papa, Baba. Where did we lose it all?

 

 

When the truth must be spoken, silence is culpable.

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

We must set up a fund to create the following institutions open to everyone:

Legal Aid Cell
  1. Establish Legal Aid Cells in every city and take up cases of all those who need legal aid – not only Muslims
  2. Make a list of cases that need to be tackled in order of priority and ease of winning
  3. Make Law a primary study focus for students
  4. Ensure that no attack on anyone goes unchallenged
  5. Because injustice to one is injustice to all
Focus on education
  1. Set up high quality English medium schools which teach vocational skills
  2. Open them to everyone – not only Muslims
  3. Make it compulsory for every child to go to these schools until the high school level
  4. Make madrassas only for higher education – graduation and above. Not for primary and secondary education
  5. Make every child a potential entrepreneur
Employment
  1. Set up a Zero Interest Venture Capital Fund and an Advisory Council to help startups
  2. Open both to everyone – not only Muslims
  3. Send our youth into the army and police both at officer and serviceman levels. This will inculcate discipline and a sense of belonging to the nation, both of which are missing today
  4. Teaching, judiciary, journalism and media are professions of choice
  5. Zero unemployment is possible with entrepreneurship
Social Development Fund
  1. Set up a Social Development Fund to help anyone in need – not only Muslims
  2. Focus on prisoners who need bail, hospital expenses, clean water, sewage, housing, vocational education, entrepreneurial development, orphans, widows
  3. Focus on women’s economic and educational development to ensure empowerment of women
  4. Demonstrate the real face of Islam to the world of helping everyone to be well
Funding for all the above
  1. Central collection of Zakat Funds.
  2. Capitalizing of Awqaf (Religious endowments).
  3. Voluntary contribution of Rs.100 per person per month.
  4. Additional charitable donations.
  5. Approach to religion
Change our ways

The change must begin within us, individually, within our families and within our community. We need to clean up our lives of all forms of disobedience of Allahﷻ and ensure that we spread goodness all around us. Islam doesn’t distinguish between Muslim and non-Muslim when it comes to justice or welfare. Neither must we. Our presence must be seen as a blessing in the community we live in, our cities and villages. This message must be spread by all of us in our different capacities. The major share of this lies on the Ulama who have access to the Friday congregations. Their message must be about distinguishing ourselves through service, bringing hearts together and against every form of divisive thought, ideology and message. We need to root out the social evils that our society is plagued with, chief among them being alcoholism, gambling and ostentation. Our ostentatious weddings are a case in point. To celebrate weddings the way we do when our own people are as poor and deprived as they are is immoral and criminal. To participate in such functions is to aid and abet the crime. These are destroying us at all levels and must be forcibly stopped if persuasion doesn’t work.

We must not only consciously not propagate differences and divisiveness but we must forcefully do the opposite. Preach and promote by word and action, inclusiveness, acceptance and brotherhood. Universal brotherhood, because that is the way of Islam. Universal brotherhood is a message that is unique to Islam. That and mercy and forgiveness from one person to another. These two must be revived urgently because our lives are currently desolated and deprived of both. Today, let alone preaching divisiveness with respect to non-Muslims, we preach it with respect to Muslims who don’t belong to our particular cult, juristic order (Madhab), culture or region. This is completely Haraam. It is not in the scope of this article to quote from the Qur’an and Sunnah to prove my statement but there are plenty of lectures of mine with all references that you can listen to.

Secondly on the national front the following actions must be taken with respect to our Madrassas and the AIMPLB. Our Madrassas are a symbol of great dedication but very poor quality. The result is that graduates are maladjusted and incapable of being productive members of society and are looked down upon and treated with disdain. To change this, we need to change what we teach and how we do it.

Madrassa Education

Set up a Central Madrassa Board to ensure the following:

  1. All Madrassa teachers must be qualified to teach & have a teaching degree. Our Madrassas are perhaps the only schools where teachers need not be trained to teach. This is so incredibly insane that I feel ashamed to write it.
  2. Corporal punishment to be banned and punishable if practiced.
  3. Madrassas only for higher (college) education. Not earlier.
  4. Centralized curriculum, syllabus and examination system. Present curriculum and syllabi to be redesigned to make them current, relevant and effective. Please see my paper on this.
  5. Centralized management of funds by the Madrassa Board so that funds can be allotted to those who need them and not be squandered by those who happen to have the ability to raise them.
  6. Transparency in all matters and merit being the only consideration.
  7. Establish the Maktab system to educate children in Islam. This is very successfully practiced in South Africa, the UK and elsewhere and can be replicated in India.
AIMPLB
  1. AIMPLB to abolish triple Talaq and not oppose UCC. Let the government introduce the UCC which will be debated nationally in which we can also participate. No need to say anything until then. The image of being regressive must be changed.
  2. AIMPLB membership must be democratized and operations made much more efficient and relevant.
  3. AIMPLB to be the sole dispenser of Fatwas on any matter. All random Fatwa dispensers to be stopped.
  4. No knee jerk reactions and no working in slow motion.
Subsidies & Reservations
  1. Demand that the Hajj Subsidy be abolished. It is a subsidy to Air India, not to Muslims. Refuse to take it.
  2. Hajj is not Fardh on anyone who can’t afford it. We don’t need to give our detractors another stick to beat us with.
  3. Any travel agent can get us better fares than Air India.
  4. Demand that Hajj Committee be abolished. It gives little benefit and with the removal of the Hajj Subsidy its purpose will vanish.
  5. Ditto for all Reservations. We don’t need them. Nobody respects beggars. We need to become self-sufficient. Reservations have never solved anyone’s problems and they won’t solve ours. They are yet one more stick for our detractors to beat with.
Political presence- Leave politics as contestants

UP elections have proved that as things stand Muslim presence in politics as contestants only serves to drive everyone into the arms of the Hindutva brigade. Their absence will enable those who stand for principles instead of caste to have a voice to try to steer Indian politics away from a purely caste-based contest. This may sound drastic but I believe our situation today has reached such a desperate state that we need to consider drastic changes. Like invasive surgery and chemotherapy despite the pain and evil after effects become acceptable when life is at stake, I believe we have reached a stage today where our survival as viable, functioning members of society as Citizens of India seems to be at stake.

As I mentioned earlier, it appears that in the future, when the words of the Constitution are spoken, ‘We the people of India’, somehow 200 million citizens will not be included in this definition. So, we should not stand for election any more at least for a five-year period. If you are not there, you can’t become the bogey man. Muslims must break out of it. We must reject all extremist talk and ideas. Polarization may help some individuals but it is suicide for the community. We must partner and cooperate with all those who stand for justice, human rights, dignity and solidarity of the nation.

Conclusion

I believe the time has come for Indian Muslims to rethink their very existence in this country. We are Indians by choice. We love our country and want to contribute to its development. Therefore, it is time to stop living in isolation and start participating in every aspect of life in our country as CONTRIBUTORS. Not merely whine and complain about negative things that happen to us but do nothing positive to help others. Nobody can harm us – unless we allow it. All this will take time and effort. All this will be painful at least to some. All this needs serious investment of funds. But without it, we will cease to exist as relevant and significant members of this society.

The writing is on the wall. The choice is ours.

 

Mirza Yawar Baig President, Yawar Baig & Associates, lives in Hyderabad and can be reached at yawar@yawarbaig.com

Hindutva Activists Care More About Cows Than Humans

Loon Watch - 5 April, 2017 - 22:00

Hindutva “art”

Is India now a nation that reveres cows more than it does human beings? In India you can be killed on the allegation that you are eating or selling cows. Ironically enough India is also the largest exporter of beef in the world.

A Muslim man has died in western India after he was attacked by hundreds of Hindu cow protection vigilantes, the latest attack in a spate of mob killings in the name of the revered animal.

Police said on Wednesday that Pehlu Khan, 55, had died in hospital two days after a group attacked his cattle truck on a road in Alwar in the desert state of Rajasthan.

Gangs of “cow protectors” have been implicated in killing at least 10 people in the past two years as the welfare of the animal has become an increasingly charged issue in Indian politics.

Cows are revered by most of India’s majority Hindu community and beef consumption is permitted in only eight of the country’s 29 states and territories.

Read the entire article

Hindutva, is a Hindu nationalist movement with various strains of thought and political tendencies that was formed to impose a Hindu Rashtra (state) across India.

Myanmar Demolishes 200 Year Old Rohingya Mosque

Loon Watch - 5 April, 2017 - 21:39

Rohingya news sites, activists and social media users have been sharing reports that a landmark Rohingya mosque that is over 200 years old and predates British colonialism was demolished by Myanmar’s military. The state of Myanmar has systematically demolished Rohingya historic sites since the 1940s.

Buthidaung — A 200-year old historical mosque in Buthidaung Township was bulldozed by the Myanmar military on April 3, 2017.

It was located at the village of ‘Lawei Dek’ in Buthidaung and was built even before the British before the British occupation of Arakan, according to the local folklore.

“During the British time, there existed shops and bazaar at the both sides of the road nearby the Masjid. It was known as ‘Botoli Bazaar.’ The mosque was closed by the authorities only in the mid-1990s.

“But yesterday, the military from a battalion from a battalion nearby ‘Lawei Dek’ arrived with a bulldozer and razed the mosque,” said an elderly Rohingya man in Buthidaung.

Although the Myanmar government claims of putting its best efforts to end the crisis in the Arakan state, the Rohingya people are suffering from the persecution at all fronts including restrictions to freedom of worship. Majority of their places of worships have officially remained closed since June 2012.

Different Myanmar regimes throughout history have involved in systematic demolitions of the Rohingya historical monuments.

 [Edited by M.S. Anwar]

Who are the Rohingya?

The Rohingya suffered for decades under a brutal military regime in Myanmar, and now despite a “democratically” elected civilian government headed by so-called “human rights icon” Aung San Suu Kyi, the “slow-burning” genocide (as one Burmese scholar described it several years ago) has accelerated.

From October 2016 until February 2017, the Myanmar military conducted a horrific “clearance operation” targeting the Rohingya that displaced nearly 100,000. Reports and action alerts by rights groups, Rohingya activists and media organizations have been sounding the alarm to war crimes and ‘crimes against humanity’ for years now. These calls while gaining some attention have failed to garner the requisite awareness in proportion to the magnitude of the issue; it often gets swept under the carpet.

The UN recently published the most damning and devastating report on the Myanmar military’s crimes against Rohingya that I have ever read. The response has been one of categorical dismay from many who were unaware of the Rohingya cause.

Spy or die

Electronic Intifada - 5 April, 2017 - 21:21
Israeli permit regime leaves Palestinians seeking medical treatment vulnerable to blackmail.

Islam set to become world's largest religion by 2075, study suggests

The Guardian World news: Islam - 5 April, 2017 - 18:48

Data analysis finds population with no religion will shrink while number of Muslims and Christians is expected to grow

The number of babies born to Muslims is expected to overtake those born to Christians within two decades, making Islam the world’s largest religion by 2075, according to new analysis of data by the Pew Research Center.

People with no religious affiliation are set to shrink as a proportion of the world’s population as a result of their declining birthrate and growing numbers of Muslims and Christians.

Related: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: no Muslim family can accept birth control

Related: Why have four children when you could have seven? Family planning in Niger

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Muslim man dies in India after attack by Hindu 'cow protectors'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 5 April, 2017 - 14:42

Police say 55-year-old died two days after mob targeted his cattle truck in latest in spate of killings in name of sacred animal

A Muslim man has died in western India after he was attacked by hundreds of Hindu cow protection vigilantes, the latest attack in a spate of mob killings in the name of the revered animal.

Police said on Wednesday that Pehlu Khan, 55, had died in hospital two days after a group attacked his cattle truck on a road in Alwar in the desert state of Rajasthan.

Related: On patrol with the Hindu vigilantes who would kill to protect India's cows

Related: Inside the Indian village where a mob killed a man for eating beef

Related: Cow slaughter to be punishable by life sentence in Gujarat

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