Volume 15-06 No:174
New York: (iviews.com): The United Nations’ Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution in April expressing its deep concern regarding the stereotyping of, particularly Islam, as a faith that has been “wrongly associated with human-rights violations and with terrorism.”
Although the language of the draft resolution appeared unthreatening as it used such general terms as “human rights, social harmony, and religious and cultural diversity,” the measure narrowly passed with 15 members choosing to vote against it, and 9 others abstaining. Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Belgium voted against the resolution, saying that they objected to the favouritism of Islam. The EU was concerned about the overall approach taken in this resolution. “This resolution stressed one religion above all others,” the Belgian representative said. It further clarified, “the concept of defamation could easily be abused by extremists to censure all debates on religious freedom.”
While religious rights are guaranteed by the constitution in most European countries, a rise of anti-immigrant sentiment and subsequently anti-Muslim sentiment has been on the rise, most notably in Germany and France. Both countries also voted against the resolution. India, although abstaining from the vote, “shared the concern that Islam was frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism.” Yet India’s representative at the 57th Session of the Commission on Human Rights justified his country’s abstention, saying that “terrorism had no religion” and that “some quarters were using the issue to perpetuate their own agenda.”
Surprisingly, Russia, whose military policy in areas such as Muslim majority Chechnya has often been described as inhumane and brutal, voted in favour of the resolution. Observers say Russia’s strong economic interests in many Muslim and Arab countries most likely contributed to its vote in favour of the resolution.
The United States and Canada, two countries that are home to millions of Muslims, both rejected the resolution.
In a vague statement read at the time of the vote, Canada’s representative said: “[It is] troubling the degree to which questions of racism and questions of religious intolerance were mixed in that resolution in such a way that did not promote a greater understanding of the relationship between the two issues, rather confused them.”
The US vote coincided with the appointment of Bishop J. Delano Ellis as an advisor to a congressional panel on faith-based issues. Known for his disparaging remarks about Islam as “at best false” and at worst “bloody and dangerous”, has increased American Muslims concerns about issues of civil rights in the US.
The vote also comes at a time when American Muslims are still disproportionately targeted by so-called anti-terrorism laws such as the secret evidence provision that is used during immigration hearings. The law allows prosecutors to withhold evidence against the defendant, a practice widely criticized as unconstitutional. Some saw the resolution on Islam as being anti-Israeli because it was also grouped with other resolutions, which mainly condemned Israel’s violation of human rights against the Palestinians, the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and Israel’s actions in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights
(Ramzy Baroud is free-lance writer living in Seattle, Washington.)
New York: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz has turned down an invitation from the US Government to visit Washington when he visits Canada in June, according to a New York Times report quoted by the IINA.
This is regarded as the strongest stand taken by a Saudi leader with regard to the US policy of siding with Israel and its withdrawal from involvement in the peace process, as well as the daily aggression committed by Israel against the Palestinian people and the destruction of their homes and properties.
Prince Abdullah is known for his strong stances concerning Islamic and Arab causes, particularly their rights, the IINA said.
Dubai: Arab women scientists, Dr. Amaal Mohamadein Ahamad of Egypt and Dr. Chantal Faraa of Lebanon were conferred “L’Oreal-Unesco Fellowships Award 2001" in recognition of their outstanding research in their respective scientific fields. The ceremony was held in Dubai. Dr. Amaal was given the award for her research on the elaboration of simple tests to gauge seawater pollution using shells. This branch of science is called ‘Ecotoxicology’.
Dr Faraa was honoured for her work on identification of genes responsible for embryo development with the aim of identifying and preventing genetic and hereditary disorders due to chromosomal re-arrangement. Also present at the ceremony yesterday was a nominee for the 2000 award, Samira Ibrahim Islam of Saudi Arabia, the first Saudi woman to obtain Bachelor and Ph.D degrees and also the first Saudi woman to become a professor of pharmacology. She is also the first to introduce formal university education for girls in the Kingdom and the first woman vice dean in a Saudi university.
The annual L’Oreal Awards for Women in Science was instituted in 1999 and is given to five women every year. It carries $20,000 each, while 10 young women scientists are presented the Unesco Fellowship awards of $10,000 each to encourage the scientific careers of young women researchers in five continents.
Meanwhile, Professor Islam who also addressed the gathering said there was big need for more women in the developing countries to pursue careers in science. According to Professor Samira Islam, “more than half a million women around the globe died of complications in their pregnancy. Of these 90 per cent are from the developing countries. She attributed the high death rate to lack of good health services and scientific progress. She urged the women, particularly from the region to come forward and cooperate in improving their life styles through health and medical research.
Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia’s Islamic opposition party is opening up to give women a bigger say in its forthcoming annual assembly, its leader said last month. For the first time women would sit as delegates at the Parti Islam SeMalaysia’s (PAS) general assembly from June 1-3 at its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, said PAS president Fadzil Noor.
“We have never blocked women from entering politics but previously there was limited space and no women delegates were elected by the divisions,” Fadzil told a Western news agency.
“We have now expanded and our women members are increasing, so we are opening up and letting them have more say in the party.” Hatta Ramli, a PAS central committee member, said at least 10 divisions have elected women as delegates to this year’s meeting.
“The whole party is changing into a more open party and the women are making their presence felt ... this is a good process and it will help us grow stronger,” he said. PAS has more than 700,000 members and at least half of them are women, he added.
PAS gained popularity in the November 1999 general election, when it more than trebled its parliamentary seats to 27. It captured the eastern state of Terengganu, and maintained control over neighbouring Kelantan.
Anger over the sacking and jailing of ex-deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim helped split the ethnic Malay vote, at the expense of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).
Dubai : Rare Islamic artifacts from the collections of the Sultan of Brunei and collections from India and Pakistan will be on display at the first International Islamic Expo scheduled to open in Brunei on August 1. Ahmad Bukhari, Chief Executive of the Islamic Expo Organising Committee told the press in Abu Dhabi recently that the exhibition, a brain-child of the Sultan of Brunei, was being organised to revitalise the Ummah’s excellence in knowledge through collection of Islamic arts, science, Fiqh and other related aspects, disseminating the collected data to the Muslims all over the world.
The Expo organised by the Brunei’s State Mufti’s Office will be featuring three events: An Islamic heritage exhibition in which several Muslim countries will be participating, a trade fair where Islamic trade and commercial products will be exhibited and a conference session where prominent Islamic scholars and intellectuals will be presenting papers dealing with references to the Malay region.
Dato Ahmad said that to promote the event the organising committee had held roadshows in London, Frankfurt, China, Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore, Pakistan and India.
Riyadh : Arabia is barring access to another 200,000 Internet sites within the next two months, a Saudi newspaper Iqtisadiyah reported recently. It quoted IT sources as saying that the forthcoming ban would double the number of sites users cannot access.
The move is part of the kingdom’s drive to censor media that the government deems immoral or un-Islamic. “This censorship is necessary to prevent users from seeing illegal sites,” the newspaper said, without giving details.
Saudi Arabia, which introduced access to the Internet in 1999, also bans the consumption of alcohol and forbids women from driving. The state telecommunications authority is the nation’s only Internet provider.
Arlington, Texas: The American Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS) will hold it regional conference in Dallas on June 22-23, 2001 on “Muslim Contribution to Human civilization”. With Inaugural Session at Dallas Central Mosque on June 22, four panels will be held on June 23 at Midway Christian Church - 11101 Midway Road, Dallas. The panels will discuss “Muslim Contribution to Philosophy and civil society; political system; economic system, medicine and architecture”. 14 Scholars from all over America will participate. An exhibition of books and photographs will be held. For further details, access www.geocities.com/syedahsani2000/ahsani.html Papers are welcome till October 30 for publication in proceedings titled:
The New Millennium; Islamic Alternative. They can be sent to: Syed Ahsani, Conference Chair, 210 Parkmead CT, Arlington, Texas, 76014; Email: email@example.comPhone/fax: 817-472-0648
Riyadh, IINA: The Riyadh-based Muslim World Council for Disability and Rehabilitation, is preparing a directory of disability rehabilitation centers in the Muslim world. Founded in 1996, it works in the field of disability and the rehabilitation of the disabled, including the elderly, in the Arab and the Muslim world.
The founder and head of the Council, Dr. Muhammad bin Humud Al-Tureigy, told IINA that the Council was a voluntary organization, concerned with studies, research, and planning for the disabled and the elderly. He said the Council has held specialized conferences in Indonesia, New Zealand and Saudi Arabia, and the latest one was held in Sudan in February this year. The Council has its own regular Arabic newsletter called World of Disability, plus an English magazine called Arab Health.
Berlin, IINA: The Supreme Council of Muslims in Germany has condemned the explosion in a mosque in Cologne last month. A statement from the council said that this was clear indication of the dangerous escalation, in which mosques are being violated and Muslims in Germany are discriminated against.
Last February saw another attack on a mosque in the same city. The council has appealed to the German Government to seek and punish those responsible for these acts. There are four million Muslims in Germany, most of them ethnic Turks, with a sprinkling of Arabs and Bosnians.
Teheran, IINA: The Islamic Big-8, namely Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, Nigeria, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Bangladesh (the most densely populated Islamic countries) have set up their own Internet website, which has a rich database, and also has links to other websites of the individual Islamic nations.
The data contained in the website include the products of each country, the experts and consultants in each, the contractors, and a lot of other useful data and information.
The objective of this website is to facilitate the exchange of data and information between the countries, and that way facilitate trade exchanges between them, and also bring about increased scientific and technological cooperation between them.
The website’s URL is: www.d8net.org
Kuwait City: Kuwait’s Cabinet on May 6 backed a draft law that would allow women to join the state’s police force. The Cabinet plans to adopt the decree at its next meeting and send it for approval by the state’s ruler, Emir Sheikh Jaber al- Ahmad al-Sabah, the statement sent to news agencies said.
The Emir issued a decree granting women full political rights in May 1999, after dissolving parliament for an election, but the parliament elected two months later rejected the decree.
A similar draft law enabling women to vote and stand for election was backed by the government and liberal MPs but was defeated in parliament by just two votes after tribal politicians joined forces to kill it.
Kuwaiti women are considered the most emancipated in the Gulf Arab region. They head diplomatic missions, run businesses, hold senior posts and help steer the vital oil sector. But, in the only Gulf Arab state with an elected parliament, they cannot vote. Half the 825,000 Kuwaiti population are women, but voting rights are limited to some 113,000 Kuwaiti men.
Jakarta, IINA: At least 3,000 packages food aid donated by Kuwait for refugees from Poso, Central Sulawesi, in Indonesia, have decayed due to delayed distribution. The contents of the packages included rice, milk, dates and green peas.
The original number of packages that arrived were 19,800, most of which volunteers from the Khairat and Aysah Islamic organizations had distributed. It is therefore thought likely that it was the lack of volunteers in Poso that caused the aid to remain undistributed, though it was received over six months ago.
The number of refugees in Poso is reportedly 18,850, and this includes the latest arrivals, following renewed clashes in Poso earlier this month.
Bandar Seri Begawan: The Sultan of Brunei, Hassan Bolkiah, has instructed his officials to improve and strengthen the country’s economic management on the lines of the Islamic Shari’a, and to do everything to avoid interest, avoid forbidden foods. He also urged them to work towards reducing the budgetary shortfall, to rationalize expenditure, and to increase the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
The Sultan has also agreed to convert the Brunei Development Bank into an Islamic bank, making it the third of its type in the country. Brunei is an Islamic country, situated near both Malaysia and Indonesia, and has an area of 5,765 square kilometers, with a total population of 336,000. The capital is Bandar Seri Begawan. The official language is Malay. It is the richest Islamic country, because of its oil wealth and the small size of its population.
Jakarta, IINA: A new English-language journal Kultur: The Indonesia Journal of Muslim Cultures, has been launched here. It is being published by the Center of Language and Culture, at the State Institute for Islamic Studies.
The aim of the journal is to stimulate Islamic thought in the field of culture in Indonesia. Journal’s editorial board consists of scholars from Indonesia, Sorbonne University in France (Prof. Muhammad Arkoun), Melbourne University, Australia (Prof. M. C. Rocklefs), Hamburg University, Germany (Prof. Olaf Schumann), and Boston University, USA (Prof. Robert W. Hefner).
Cairo, IINA: The Islamic Delegations City, a facility for foreign students of Al-Azhar University has completed the construction of four new premises, at a cost of four million Egyptian Pounds. Egyptian businessmen donated the cost.
The head of the central managing committee of the city, Sheikh Farhaat Al-Manjy, told IINA that two of the buildings are for boys and the other two are for girls, each of which has a capacity to accommodate 150.
Cairo, IINA: Egyptian Ministry for Endowments will hold an international Islamic Conference on “Renewal of Islamic Thought,” specifically in view of the many challenges of globalization and the prevailing international thinking.
Twenty leading thinkers would present their papers. The Preparatory Committee is headed by Egypt’s Minister of Endowments.
Granada (Spain): An exhibition known as “The Brilliance of the Umayyads,” is being held here from May 3 and will continue till September 30. Its main focus would be the arts and crafts from the era of the Umayyads in Andalus (the Muslim Spain).
Falmboyant ultra nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s party proposes to introduce a draft bill in Duma (Russian Parliament) allowing men to have multiple wives if they can support their families. “If a healthy, strong and handsome man can feed two or more families, why shouldn’t he?” He told the Moscow Times.
Recent figures show Russia’s population is falling by half a million people annually, and the decline is speeding up. The WHO projects that if current trends persist there will be just 130 million Russians in 2015, down from 145 million now. The causes for population plunge include a post-Soviet surge in deaths due to accidents, disease, civic unrest, drug addiction and alcoholism.
“Ten per cent of the male population in Russia can provide for several families. This means millions of Russian women will obtain their legal status as wives and not feel abandoned by their husbands”, the Moscow Times said quoting him. Fred Weir in The Times of India, Bangalore
Afghans blasted them. The Jews want them removed. The statues form the eye of the storm. The fact is religious fanaticism is breeding hatred everywhere.
The Madam Tussaud New York Wax Museum has rejected the plea by orthodox Jews to remove the life size wax statue of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from the display. The plea was made by Jewish member of the state senate David Haikund and was supported by state governor George Pattaki and former New York Mayor Roudolf Guiliani together with 55 former members. A branch of London’s original Tussaud Museum, the New York Museum refused to remove the statue saying that the decision to mould Arafat into wax was regardless of his religious or political beliefs. The Tussaud Museum displays the wax statues of important world leaders, heroes and celebrities. It was established 200 years ago.
Daily Inquilab, Mumbai, May 18, 2001