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August 2009
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The Muslim World

Shoura passes bill on domestic helps' Rights
Jeddah:
In an effort to standardize employer-employee relations in the Kingdom, the Shoura Council has passed a bill pertaining to domestic workers' rights. The Council, however, deleted a clause in the draft bill stipulating that the domestic workers should not be asked to work between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. On the other hand, the bill cautions employers not to demand the workers to undertake chores that were not mentioned in the work contract or to send them to work for someone else.
A worker should get nine hours of rest every day; he or she should not be asked to do a job that is injurious to health or damaging to honor, and he or she should be provided with suitable accommodation and allowed breaks for entertainment, prayer and food. The bill also specified that the worker should respect Islam, Saudi customs and traditions.
Charity Society saves broken Marriages
Jeddah:
About half of family disputes that reached Jeddah's courts last year were resolved by the Mawaddah Center in Jeddah. “According to statistics compiled by the center, it handled 4,179 family disputes out of a total of 10,549 cases that were registered at various courts in the city,” said Anas Zaraah, deputy chairman of the Charity Society for Marriage Assistance and Family Counseling.

The Mawaddah Center, which was founded in 2004, is a charitable organization working to settle family disputes amicably. Its branches have been permitted to operate in Jeddah's General Court and the Marriage Court since 2005. Zaraah said the center's branch at the General Court was instrumental in reconciling 872 couples and separating 487 couples.

The Mawaddah branch at the Marriage Court received 2,623 cases out of which 794 were settled and 1,433 couples were divorced. Experts at the center are of the view that most family disputes were the result of interference by relatives.
Sufi base in South Africa to aid Youth
Johannesburg:
The new African headquarters of an India-based Sufi spiritual foundation hopes to aid youth who are increasingly being afflicted by substance abuse. The foundation was opened here by Hazrat Syed Muhammad Jilani Ashraf.

"Through my 15 years of travelling through the continent of Africa and the world, I have found an increasing concern for youth, irrespective of religious affiliation, being affected by drug and substance abuse," Jilani said. "At our dargah (shrine of a Muslim saint) in Kichocha, we have developed alternative Sufi methods to reaffirm moral values and spirituality in youth in a three-month programme," he added.
US Imams, Rabbis teach Ecumenism
Imams and rabbis from across Europe are touring interfaith centers in the US to learn from the track record of success of their American counte-rparts in fostering inter-religious dialogue and Muslim-Jewish relations. "Our success in America has given us the faith and confidence to reach out to Europe," says Sayyid Mohammad Sayeed, national director of interfaith and community alliances for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), one of the three hosts for the tour. "We need them to witness first hand what we are doing. I have been working towards this all my life," he added. Twenty eight imams and rabbis from 10 European countries will be part of the tour.


Britons seek justice in Shari`ah Courts
London:
More non-Muslim Britons are resorting to Shari`ah courts to find speedy justice instead of the long wrangling of regular courts, the Times reported. It cited the case of a non-Muslim who took his Muslim business partner to the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT) last month to sort out a dispute over the profits of their car fleet company. "He claimed that there had been an oral agreement between the pair," Freed Chedie, a spokesman for Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siqqiqi, a barrister who set up MAT in 2007, told the Times. Shari`ah courts, in addition to tackling Muslim personal affairs disputes also resolve commercial matters. They operate in London, Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester and Warwickshire.
US Bingo Mogul funds Jewish Settlements
American millionaire and bingo and gambling magnate, Irving Moskowitz has dedicated tens of millions of dollars for the building of Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, including Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem).

"Moskowitz is taking millions from the poorest town in California and sending it to the settlements," Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, one of the Jewish religious leaders in California, has told The Guardian.
Rabbi Beliak calculates that Moskowitz has given Jewish settlers well over £100 million, beginning with the construction 20 years ago of 133 houses on land confiscated from Palestinians.


Adulterous Saudi princess gets asylum in UK
London:
A Saudi princess who got pregnant during an affair with a British man has been granted asylum in the UK after she claimed she could face death penalty if she returned home. A British court granted refugee status to the young woman, who is married to a member of the Saudi royal family, after she told the judge her adultery made her liable to death by stoning under the Shariah law in Saudi Arabia.
Muslim woman leads World Science Journalists
London:
Dr. Nadia El-Awady was acclaimed president, following tradition that a science journalist representing the host country of the next World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) should lead the federation as it elected a new board during its General Assembly held during the World Conference of Science Journalists in London, recently.

Dr. Awady, past president and founding member of the Arab Science Journalists Association has been serving as board treasurer of the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) since 2007 and was the first Muslim elected as a member of the WFSJ board.

The World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) announced that the Arab Science Journalists' Association won the bid jointly with the American National Association of Science Writers to host the next conference in Cairo, Egypt, in 2011.
Egypt's mosques fight sexual Harassment
Cairo:
Egypt has finally decided to fight the rising phenomenon of sexual harassment on its streets, choosing mosques as the launching pad of its war against stalkers. "Harassment has reached very dangerous levels," said Sheikh Saad al-Takky, a senior Ministry of Religious Endowments. "The Ministry, which is responsible for mosques and places of prayer, has distributed a booklet about sexual harassment in what appears to be a new bid to curb sexual harassment which continues to claim new victims on the crowded streets of Egypt.

The 35-page booklet contains important definitions about harassment and an analysis of the reasons why this phenomenon has risen in the largely conservative Egyptian society. Mosque imams would start to read out the contents of the new booklet before and after prayers with the aim of warning worshippers against the dangers of harassment. Some of the imams said they would specify whole sermons for harassment and its consequences, especially before the Friday prayer. "Mosques are the most appropriate places for fighting this phenomenon," believes Sheikh Ahmed Hashim, the imam of a small mosque in the crowded residential district of Shubra, west of Cairo. (islamonline.net)


Israel removes Nakba from school Books
Ramallah:
The Israeli government has decided to remove references to what Palestinians call the “catastrophe” of Israel's creation from textbooks for Arab school children. The term “Al-Nakba,” is used by Palestinians to describe the founding of Israel in a war when some 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes. The phrase remains contentious six decades after Israel was founded.

“No other country in the world, in its official curriculum, would treat the fact of its founding as a catastrophe,” Education Minister Gideon Saar told Israel's Parliament, last month. Israeli Arab lawmaker Hana Sweid accused the government of “Nakba denial.”
“It's a major attack on the identity of the Palestinian Arab citizens of the state of Israel, on their memories and their adherence to their identity,” he said.
Teachers will be free to discuss the personal and national tragedies that befell Palestinians during the war, said Saar, who represents the hard-line governing Likud Party. But textbooks will be revised to remove the term, he added.
Russian schools get Religion
Moscow:
Formerly atheist, currently secular Russia is embarking on the first national plan to teach major religions in its schools, blunting opposition, by offering a secular ethics course as an alternative.
“I have made a decision to support both these ideas: teaching the basics of religious culture and secular ethics in Russian schools,” Russian President Medvedev said unveiling the plan. Medvedev said next spring, a pilot project would offer some 250,000 pre-teen students at about 20 percent of Russian schools the choice of classes in their own religion.

They will be offered the choice of studying in Russia's four federally recognized religions – dominant Russian Orthodox, Islam, Buddhism or Judaism - as well as a course in comparative religion.


Iranians barred from Swedish Universities
Sweden:
Iranian nationals have been banned from Swedish university programmes with ties to nuclear and missile technologies, following a warning from the country's Säpo security service. So far two Swedish institutions – The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm and Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg have decided to turn away applicants from Iran.

“For us it means that we don't accept Iranian citizens to our masters programme in nuclear technology,” said Chalmers spokesperson Magnus Myrén.

The restrictions also affect students from North Korea, but according to Säpo there are only a handful of North Koreans studying in Sweden.

The measure comes as part of a 2007 European Union regulation connected to a 2006 United Nations resolution authorising sanctions on Iran.
Court rules on Abyei
The Hague:
The International Court of Arbitration redrew the borders of Sudan's disputed Abyei region, a ruling welcomed by Khartoum and the semi-autonomous south government. "The tribunal urges the parties to begin immediate discussions with a view to reaching an agreement to promptly appoint a survey team to demarcate the Abyei area as defined by the tribunal," ICA presiding arbitrator Pierre-Marie told a televised press conference. He said the five-member panel decided not to abide by the Abyei borders proposed after the 2005 peace deal between the north and the south, which the Khartoum government had rejected.

Abyei, often called the "Kashmir" of Sudan, was a flashpoint during a 22-year-long conflict between north and south. The borders of the region, with its rich oil reserves and grazing lands that are coveted by both sides, were outlined by an international panel after the 2005 peace deal.