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January 2009
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The Muslim World

European Media Islamic Network Launched
Madrid
Over 40 people from across Europe launched the European Media Islamic Network (EMIN) in Madrid, Spain on November 15. The network was launched “to share and enhance the individual resources and provide both Muslims and the rest of the society a better vision of Islam,” said Mansur Escudero, an organiser of the network. The proposals for the establishment of a European network of media organisations dealing with the Muslim communities was the brain child of webislam.com and saphirnews.com, the largest Spanish and French Muslim websites respectively. EMIN will seek to coordinate participating organisations and help promote their common interests, without undermining the identity, language, and character of individual members.

The network is also aimed at giving a voice to the Muslim community in Europe to help protect the civil rights of Muslims and to encourage understanding within the European society. The founding members of EMIN discussed the possibility of creating a pan-European website and the creation of a European Muslim news agency.


Islam does not Support Terrorism
Arafat:
Saudi Arabia's grand cleric indicated that militants do not have any connection with Islam and called for the Muslim world to unite in the face of terrorism to preserve stability. “Islam does not support terrorism in any form and strictly prohibits shedding blood of innocents,” Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz Al Sheikh said in his Haj sermon at Nimra Mosque addressed to about three million pilgrims in Arafat.

“The world must criminalise terrorism, we must be cautious of terrorism and fight hostile criminal gangs that destroy countries and people,” the grand mufti said, adding the family of Islam must “form a barrier in front of anyone who threatens its security and stability.”
Sheikh said the global financial crisis stemmed from ignoring God's rules and allowing 'riba' or usury, prohibited in Islam. “Today we watch as this financial crisis enfolds and some companies and banks go bankrupt. This is the result of ignoring God's rules,” he said, adding, “Muslims must abide by God's rules, and build their economies accordingly.”

Urging Muslim youth to strengthen their relationship with Islam, the grand mufti warned that 'some forces' were trying to change their thoughts.

“These forces are trying their best to unveil Muslim women, promote drugs in Muslim societies and misinterpret Islam's teachings to distance Muslims from their religion,” he said, adding that practising Islamic teachings was the only way for Muslims to succeed in this world and the hereafter.


Imams, Rabbis in Joint Anti-Terror Pledge
Paris:
A group of imams and rabbis pledged to work together to denounce terrorism and promote understanding between their two faiths, though they remained divided over the Palestinian cause. "We want to take back the word of God that extremists stole from us,” said Alain Michel, head of the Geneva-based Hommes de Parole Association.

The World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace, a private group set up in 2005, named a committee to issue joint responses to acts of terror by either side, as a sign that people of faith rejected such violence unconditionally. "Now we will speak out, we will condemn violence and terrorism," said Michel. "We've finished letting the one or two percent of extremists claim to speak in our name and in the name of God."

Eighty-five delegates from Israel, the Palestinian territories, Arab countries, Europe and North America took part in the three-day talks, co-organised in tandem with UNESWCO.
Senegalese President and President of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Abdoulaye Wade and UNESCO Director-General, Koichiro Matsuura showed up for the opening session at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The Congress has held two previous meetings, in Brussels in 2005 and Seville in 2006. The conference, attended by imams, rabbis and religious experts including Christians, adds to efforts to build up networks of faith leaders who join ranks to condemn religious tensions.


Faith Presbyterian in Franklin doubles as Islamic Prayer Center
Franklin:
Each Sunday, children gather in the fellowship hall at Faith Presbyterian Church to ponder the lessons of Christianity, among them, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Now the church is setting a real-life example for the kids, by opening its Sunday school space to its Muslim neighbors for two of their five daily prayers. Faith Presbyterian becomes the third satellite prayer center for area Muslims who wish to pray communally but may not be able to get across town to one of the four area mosques. The other prayer sites are at Waukesha Memorial Hospital and the Muslim Student Center on Milwaukee's east side. "We're very grateful to the church," said Ajaz Qhavi, a Franklin physician and Muslim who worked with church officials on behalf of the Islamic Center of Milwaukee.
Faith Presbyterian's pastor, the Rev. Deb Bergeson-Graham, welcomed the visitors as an opportunity for the congregation to live their Christian faith.

"I think we're doing this, not because of what they believe, but because of what we believe," said Bergeson-Graham. "It's what Christ would have us do."

About 150 Muslim families live within a two-mile radius of the church at 3800 W. Rawson Ave., according to Qhavi. Muslims can gather at Faith Presbyterian for the dawn and night prayers Monday through Friday. The Islamic Center is paying a nominal rental fee to cover church expenses.

"We didn't want this to be about profit-making," said Franklin Municipal Judge Fred Klimetz, who sits on the church's governing Session. Faith Presbyterian isn't the first church to open its doors to Milwaukee-area Muslims. Before the Islamic Center purchased its building in 1982, it conducted its Friday congregational prayers in the basement of Kenwood United Methodist Church near the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said Islamic Society of Milwaukee President Othman Atta.