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Taliban peace talks with Afghan government 'endorsed' by Mullah Omar

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 July, 2015 - 13:21

Eid message attributed to reclusive Taliban leader expected to increase support for militants’ role in Afghan civil society, amid threat from Islamic State

A message claimed to be from Taliban leader Mullah Omar has endorsed recent talks between Taliban and Afghan government officials, saying that negotiating with the enemy is not prohibited in Islam.

The message was released on Wednesday to mark the upcoming Muslim festival of Eid, the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, and comes a week after an official government delegation met with senior members of the Taliban outside the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. The meeting was the first time in several years that the two sides have had an official sit-down. It has followed a series of informal meetings since May in China, Qatar and Norway.

Related: Afghanistan and Taliban peace talks end with promise to meet again

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Tunisian brothers text home: we are in Libya and everything’s fine

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 July, 2015 - 07:36

Ahmed and Khalifa Ben Yahia went out after iftar and never returned, along with 31 other people from their sleepy desert town in Tunisia

It has been more than a week since Abdallah Ben Yahia last saw his brothers Ahmed, 35, and Khalifa, 27.

After sharing the nightly iftar to end the Ramadan fast, Ahmed, an employee of the Tunisian air force, headed out of the home in Remada. His family assumed he had gone for a coffee and cigarette in the cafe, as usual.

Related: Tunisia gunman trained in Libya at same time as Bardo museum attackers

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Not Because It’s Easy, But Because It’s Hard

altmuslim - 14 July, 2015 - 22:52
This is Day 27 of Altmuslim’s #30Days30Writers series for Ramadan 2015. By Zainab Chaudary “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” — President John F. Kennedy, Jr. (Address at Rice University, September 12 1962) My first memory [Read More...]

Australia: Neo-Nazi Group Plans “Patriot” Rally Outside Parliament

Loon Watch - 14 July, 2015 - 21:21

Australia_NeoNazis

Members of the United Patriots Front, including Neil Erikson (middle in blue jacket) and Blair Cottrell (to his right) behind the ABC’s offices in Melbourne. Photo: Meredith O’Shea

Neo-Nazism in the guise of “patriotism” doesn’t only effect America, it also has a hold on some Aussies.

White supremacists will be rallying against “Islam” in Australia.

The Age

An anti-Islam nationalist group that has aligned itself with neo-Nazis and other far-right organizations says it will hold Australia’s biggest ever “patriot rally” at Melbourne’s Parliament House next weekend.

The group, United Patriots Front, is a breakaway of the Reclaim Australia movement and includes a man convicted of anti-Semitic harassment among its leaders.

The UPF claims solidarity with the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, which was founded by Holocaust denier Nikos Michaloliakos, who along with other party members is facing charges in his homeland of being a member of a criminal organization.

Police are investigating messages sent on social media that appear to show discussion about members “packing” (slang for bringing a weapon) at Saturday’s rally.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said investigators were checking the veracity of the messages.

About 70 members of the UPF attended a violent anti-Islam rally on the steps of the Richmond Town Hall in May, which saw scuffles break out between members and counter-protesters.

Read the entire article…

Israeli Racism on Trial in the Strange Case of Two Missing Men

A full 10 months after Ethiopian Israeli Avera Mengistu made his way into Gaza, not to be heard from since, officials have allowed his name to appear in print, and The New York Times has offered us a report that promotes Israeli spin, omitting key details and glossing over the government’s unsavory role in this strange tale.

Isabel Kershner tells us that Israeli officials, lifting a gag order on the story, announced that Mengistu and a second Israeli citizen, a Palestinian, were being held in Gaza. Officials said Mengistu crossed into Gaza voluntarily on Sept. 7, but they had nothing more to report about the other man.

Kershner’s story gives the impression that Israeli officials have been working hard to free the men, but it omits details reported in other media that suggest a far different story. These reports state that officials ignored the Ethiopian’s case until American blogger Richard Silverstein exposed the name of the missing man last month and Ethiopian-Israelis began raising the issue in street protests.

It was only then, this past week, that the government agreed to lift the gag order, which had applied to Mengistu’s family as well as news media. Family members are now saying that the government forced them to remain silent but failed to respond to their requests for information and help until recently.

An Israeli television station, Channel 10, gave weight to their claims by broadcasting a conversation between a Netanyahu aide and Mengistu’s parents. Israelis heard Lior Lotan, Netanyahu’s representative for missing persons, threaten the family members and warn them against criticizing the government’s handling of the case or blaming it on discrimination.

If they did so, he said, their son would be left “in Gaza for another year.” The recording also captures complaints by Mengistu’s father that he had written to Netanyahu several times and received no response. The prime minister, according to reports, never called the family until just before lifting the gag order.

But nothing of this appears in the Times story. Here we are told that “the news blackout regarding Mr. Mengistu had been imposed with the agreement of his family.” We also hear that Netanyahu is taking a tough line, telling Hamas he holds the party responsible for the welfare of the two men.

Kershner appears eager to counter the charges of discrimination coming from the Ethiopian community and their supporters. She repeatedly links Mengistu’s disappearance to the case of Gilad Shalit, an Askenazi Jew, who was taken captive in 2006 in Gaza and later exchanged for Palestinian prisoners. The Shalit affair “traumatized” Israeli society, she writes, and the Mengistu case threatens to “open old wounds.”

The Shalit affair followed a different route and quickly received widespread publicity in Israel, with a full-scale campaign for his release. Ethiopian-Israelis, who have been protesting government treatment this year, have noted the difference.

Kershner, however, waits until her final paragraphs before she makes brief mention of the Mengistu family’s objections to the government response. Their complaints, she implies, are part of a general “discontent” on the part of Ethiopian Israelis who have made “accusations of discrimination and police harassment.”

Kershner’s story avoids still further evidence that Netanyahu had little interest in the Mengistu case: Several officials in the Security Cabinet and the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee said after the gag order was lifted that they had never received official briefings on the affair.

It was a request from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Kershner writes, that finally led officials to lift the news blackout. Authorities had rejected previous requests, she writes, adding, “It is not clear what prompted the change.”

In fact, Kershner and others who have followed this story know why the order was rescinded: The silence was broken last month when Silverstein revealed Mengistu’s name in a Mint Press News article. Soon afterwards Ethiopian Israelis showed up on the streets wearing T-shirts with Mengistu’s name.

But the Times gives no credit to Silverstein, who had reported last October that an unnamed man was missing in Gaza. Silverstein recently revealed the name of the second missing man, Hashem al-Sayyed, who apparently disappeared April 20 from his Bedouin village in the Negev. This man’s father also complained of official negligence in his son’s case.

Kershner’s story omits the most telling details of the Mengistu case—the threats against the family, their evidence of negligence and the ignorance of high government officials—while she gives weight to officials’ statements of concern for the missing man. It is all in line with official spin.

As a result, readers are likely to remain ignorant of the full story concerning Mengistu and al-Sayyed. The actions of Netanyahu and the revelations of Israeli racism as they appear in this tale are off limits in the Times, and the curious and the caring will have to find the full story elsewhere.

Barbara Erickson


Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: Ethiopians, Gaza, Hamas, Israel, Mengistu, Netanyahu, New York Times, Palestine

#Mecca_Live – Laylat Al-Qadr

Muslim Matters - 14 July, 2015 - 13:03

by Asad Yazdani

Snapchat – an already popular app – has been gaining a lot more attention and praise lately. An app that allows people to share pictures and videos of what you are currently doing with all your friends, Snapchat (in August of 2014) added a new feature called “Live” to their already existing “Our Story” feature. With this feature, Snapchat users who are in a certain area or attending a certain event are able to submit their snaps to the event's Live Snapchat Story, where many are picked to be showcased to the rest of the world for a period of twenty-four hours after they are first put up. Snapchat is taking the world by storm by utilizing this feature across the globe, from LA to Japan, and more recently, from Mecca. Here in Mecca, Muslims from around the world are gathering to perform Umrah, a voluntary pilgrimage. It just so happens that Muslims are finding themselves near the end of Ramadan, an incredibly sacred time in which it is believed that the Qur'an was revealed during one of these last ten days. This event, known as “Laylat Al-Qadr,” is being broadcast during this Live Snapchat Story.
A_1 A_2

Naturally, this has many Muslims around the world and especially on social media very happy and excited:

B_2 B_1

 

A common theme being represented by the response is that of the beautiful unity of human beings from all walks of life that is being shown:

C_1 C_2 C_3

This Live Snapchat Story is also giving many Muslims a chance to educate some others about Islam:

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Beyond just that response, however, many self-proclaimed non-Muslims are weighing in with their opinions also. And, given the recent state of representation of Muslims in the media, we seem to be getting an overall positive response:

E_1 E_2 E_3 E_4 E_5

Even politicians are weighing in on this Live Snapchat Story:

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Representing Texas' 18th Congressional District in the US House of Representatives

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Representing Texas' 18th Congressional District in the US House of Representatives

We are seeing that technology – especially social media – is slowly finding its way into our lives more and more every day. This Mecca Live Snapchat story is truly showing the world the true power of social media as not just a platform for people to share pictures of their lunch or videos of their cats, but rather to show the true nature of a group of people – a nature that one might not find by simply going online and doing a search on Google. May Allah bless those who worked hard to get this story in motion and may He invite us all to this holy city one day; ameen.

 

 

 

 

Bio: Asad Yazdani is an American Muslim of Pakistani descent. Currently studying Engineering in San Diego, he hopes to find a way to incorporate his studies into bettering the lives of Muslims and non-Muslims around the world one day insha'Allah.

Good community relations mean young Muslims in Scotland eschew extremism | Hajra Rahim

The Guardian World news: Islam - 14 July, 2015 - 13:00
Unlike in England, there is mutual respect between the Scottish government, the Muslim communities and the police

My first emotion when I moved to London two weeks ago was not entirely excitement, I was slightly nervous. My fear in crossing the border from Scotland and coming to England largely stemmed from the UK government’s treatment of Muslims: David Cameron’s constant finger-pointing at Muslim communities for allowing Islamic extremism to happen. So I worried if I would be viewed with suspicion.

In Scotland, during Alex Salmond’s time as first minister, there always seemed to be a good relationship between Muslim communities and the government. It is estimated that there are around 75,300 Muslims (1.5% of the population) living in Scotland, compared with more than 2 million (4.8% of the population) in England and Wales.

Related: Life for British Muslims since 7/7 – abuse, suspicion and constant apologies | Mehdi Hasan

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Existential Sunday School, Ramadan Style

altmuslim - 13 July, 2015 - 23:56
This is Day 26 of Altmuslim’s #30Days30Writers series for Ramadan 2015. By AbdelRahman Murphy Pizza and basketball. Those were the solutions for my generation’s struggles of being a Muslim adolescent. Deeper questions about existence and identity were either ignored or vaguely answered. Needless to say, times have changed. As I begin my 10th year serving [Read More...]

Reflections in the Kitchen

Muslimah Media Watch - 13 July, 2015 - 15:23
Another Ramadan. It’s hard to believe there’s little over a week left. It’s been yet another blur of a month with 17 hour rozas: sehri, work, nap, make, iftaar, sleep, with prayers and reading Quran interspersed throughout the day. Repeat. It’s been another year of not making it to the evening tarawih prayers and little [Read More...]

3 Points You Need to Know About Srebrenica

Muslim Matters - 13 July, 2015 - 10:19
1. Worst massacre in Europe since WWII

bosnia

Srebrenica was the first ever UN safe area. Yet in July 1995 the worst atrocities in Europe since WWII occurred there. Over an 11-day period the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) slaughtered 8,000 Muslim fathers, sons and brothers and buried them in mass graves. They forcibly deported the women and children who were later subjected to sexual and physical violence. This highly organised brutal episode was part of the larger ethnic cleansing campaign during the Bosnian War (1992-1995) where between 20,000-50,000 women were imprisoned and raped in gyms, hotels, abandoned houses and concentration camps.

The International Court of Justice ruled that this massacre constituted genocide. Judge Fouad Riad, from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said these were “truly scenes from hell, written on the darkest pages of human history.”

Aida Civic, a Bosnian Muslim refugee woman from Srebrenica, screams as she enters a container with the remains of around 3,500 killed Bosnian Muslims, most of them from Srebrenica, in an identification centre of the Institute for missing persons in Tuzla in this December 10, 2002 file photo. Twenty years ago on July 11, 1995, towards the end of Bosnia's 1992-95 war, Bosnian Serb forces swept into the eastern Srebrenica enclave, a U.N.-designated "safe haven". There they took 8,000 Muslim men and boys and executed them in the days that followed, dumping their bodies into pits in the surrounding forests. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/Files TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY FROM THE FILES PACKAGE “SREBRENICA MASSACRE - 20TH ANNIVERSARYâ€? SEARCH “SREBRENICA MASSACREâ€? FOR ALL 15 IMAGES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Aida Civic, a Bosnian Muslim refugee woman from Srebrenica, screams as she enters a container with the remains of around 3,500 killed Bosnian Muslims, most of them from Srebrenica, in an identification centre of the Institute for missing persons in Tuzla in this December 10, 2002 file photo. Twenty years ago on July 11, 1995, towards the end of Bosnia's 1992-95 war, Bosnian Serb forces swept into the eastern Srebrenica enclave, a U.N.-designated “safe haven”. There they took 8,000 Muslim men and boys and executed them in the days that followed, dumping their bodies into pits in the surrounding forests. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/Files

2. The Context – Territorial Conflict between the Orthodox Serbs and the Muslim Bosnians (Bosniaks).

In the aftermath of WWII, 6 Balkan states including Bosnia-Herzegovina together formed the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia. After the collapse of Communism, different ethnic groups vied for independence. In the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, three groups fought over control: the Bosnian Muslims (44%), Orthodox Serbs (33%) and Catholic Croats (17%). Despite a referendum declaring Bosnia-Herzegovina an independent state that had gained international recognition, the Bosnian Serbs with outside support mobilised their military forces in order to create a land for ethnic Serbs only. War spread across the country along with ethnic cleansing of Bosniaks and Croatians. The massacre of Srebrenica was part of the war and became the predominant symbol of the conflict. It was after this brutal event NATO intervened and the war ended in 1995.

3. Why should we remember Srebrenica?

PILICA MASS GRAVE

It has been twenty years and families are still searching for their loved ones' bodies to give them a proper burial. It has been twenty years yet  justice still has not been served to the victims.[1] Only in the last few years has the Srebrenica massacre began to be memorialised in Europe.

In the words of a survivor:

“The work that Remembering Srebrenica is doing is of vital importance. We need to teach people about the genocide, particularly young people, so that they can learn to be tolerant and challenge hatred and prejudice where they see it.”

Nirha Efendic Genocide Survivor[2]

For more information on attending a memorial and resources please visit this website.

References:

Facts, figures and quotes were taken from:

http://www.srebrenica.org.uk/

http://www.history.com/topics/bosnian-genocide

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/29/world/europe/karadzic-calls-military-commander-as-witness-in-bosnia-genocide-trial.html?_r=0;

For moving pictures see http://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2015/07/20-years-since-the-srebrenica-massacre/398135/

[2] http://www.srebrenica.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/2014-Annual-Report-08-Absolute-final-for-website.pdf

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