Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Jamadiul-Awwal / Jamadiul-Akhir 1423 H
August 2002
Volume 15-08 No:188

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News From Islamic World


" Halal Food Bill passed in California
Israeli goods face boycott
UAE ranks third in Human Development Index
French objection to headscarf
New private weekly hits Syrian streets
One-fifth Saudi marriages end in divorce
U.S. Muslims reach out to Refugees


" Halal Food Bill passed in California

Halal Food Bill Passed in CaliforniaLos Angeles: The state of California passed the “ Halal Food Bill” on July 8. Governor Gray Davis signed the Bill making it mandatory for the restaurants and all other manufacturers of food, drugs and cosmetics to declare the ingredients labelled as ‘Halal’ products. Non-halal products can no longer be sold as ‘halal’ in stores. California is the fourth state after New Jersey, Minnesota and Illinois to enact such a law. California is one of the largest state in the US with nearly 25 million population. Muslims are nearly one million. New York, Texas and Virginia are considering such a Bill. The Bill was enacted following introduction of the Bill by state senator William Campbell. The Act is different from the ‘Kosher’ food Act for Jews whereby the Jewish community can demand ‘Kosher’ food. The American Muslim advocacy organisation and the Council for American-Islamic Relations has welcomed the Bill. Council spokesperson Sabiha Khan hoped that the legislation will enable wider participation of Muslims in life and development of the United States.

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Israeli goods face boycott

London: Israeli goods and companies are increasingly facing boycott in Asian, African and Arab countries. Top-most among the boycotted companies are Coca-Cola, Nestle, Mark and Spencer, Johnson and Johnson, Burger King, Starbucks Shop and Kentucky Fried Chicken. According to Africa Analysis, the companies that deal with Israel in a major way too are being targeted for boycott. Nestle is one such company which produces Nescafe, Kit-kat chocolates, Perrier, Nido Carnation and Smarties. Nestle is though based in Switzerland, has invested in a major way in Israel. Africa Analysis says the goods produced by Israel are identified by their bar codes which start with 729 while American goods’ bar codes start from 00 to 09. Several American companies have lost 20 to 50 per cent sales of the goods in these countries. Some British stores also removed goods of Israeli origin, but later started putting labels about the country of origin.

A Worker packs bottles of Zamzam Cola at factory...

A Worker packs bottles of Zamzam Cola at a factory in Tehran recently. Zamzam Cola has new business in the Gulf and plans to enter even more markets. A campaign that has been going on for months across the Arab and Muslim world urging people to boycott American Products to punish the United States for its perceived bias towards Israel, has Cola lovers and others looking for Non-American Alternatives.

Zamzam Cola has new business in the Gulf and plans to enter even more markets. A campaign that has been going on for months across the Arab and Muslim world urging people to boycott American products to punish the United States for its perceived bias towards Israel, has Cola lovers and others looking for non-American alternatives.

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UAE ranks third in Human Development Index

Dubai: United Arab Emirates ranked third among the Arab states and 46th among 173 nations in the Human Development Index (HDI), according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Human Development Report for 2002. Bahrain, which was ranked 39th in the Report, topped the list of Arab states, followed by Kuwait, while Qatar ranked fourth. Libya ranked 64th, Saudi Arabia 71st, Lebanon 75th, Oman 78th, Tunisia 97th, Jordan 99th, Algeria 106th, Syria 108th, Egypt 115th, Morocco 123rd, Sudan 139th and Yemen 144th. The UN agency’s 2002 Human Development Report retained Norway on top of its annually-updated ranking of 173 nations according to their levels of human development based on freedom, development and education, among other factors. Many countries in eastern and central Europe and in sub-Saharan Africa are a lot worse off compared to 10 years ago, it said. In East Asia, China climbed 14 places to 96th position in the UNDP ranking. Malaysia was up 12 notches to 59th spot and Singapore and South Korea rose eight places to 25th and 27th respectively.

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French objection to headscarf

London: A Judo team of British kids returned home without playing from France after it was told that a Muslim girl participant will have to take off her headscarf in order to be able to participate in matches in France. The British team from Willesden in London was to participate in a friendly tournament against local clubs in Houilles, north-west of Paris recently. There were 72 participants. The French raised an objection against the headscarf sported by Zainab Ibrahim who, it was said, played with the headscarf in Britain. The French host Gilles Limouzin told the British monthly, The Muslim News that the objection was not on the basis of religion, but because the headscarf may strangle the girl. But he had no reply to offer when he was told that Zainab played Judo in Britain with headscarf on. The refusal annoyed the Brtish team and all team mates decided to call off the visit and those who had already won the medals (Judo is played individually), returned them to the hosts. (Till then, 31 medals had been won by the British). Zainab's mother, Berniece Holtom who accompanied her was angry at the French decision, but was impressed with the British support. Zainab's coach Christine Elsdale said she was 'bewildered' at the French decision.

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New private weekly hits Syrian streets

Damascus: A new political weekly, free from Syrian state control hit the newsstands recently. But Abiad wa Asswad (White and Black), owned by Bilal Turkmani, son of armed forces commander Hassan Turkmani, followed the government line, though the tone was slightly more liberal than the state-controlled press. Billed as “a political, economic and cultural weekly,” aimed at becoming the choice of the Arab family, its contents included a review of President Bashar al-Assad’s first two years in power. Editor Ayman Dakr said that the weekly, whose first run totalled 10,000 copies would be priced in euros when sold abroad. Apart from Abiad wa Asswad, two other privately-owned publications have appeared, the economic paper, Al-Iqtissadiya and the satirical Addomari.

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One-fifth Saudi marriages end in divorce

Jeddah: Nearly one-fifth marriages in Saudi Arabia ended up in divorces during 2000-2001. According to Al-Bilad daily, 81,576 marriages were registered during this period in the country. But Shariat courts settled 16,725 divorce cases during the same period. Fifty five per cent divorces were attributed to polygamy. These conclusions are drawn from Prof. Muhammad Saif’s survey. Prof Saif teaches Sociology at the King Saud University of Riyadh. The survey said divorces occurred within three years of marriage. Most divorced women were married at less than 20 years of age. Greater age disparity was cited as the major reason for divorces.

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U.S. Muslims reach out to Refugees

Chicago: At a conference last fortnight, sponsored by the Islamic Society of North America, Muslim leaders discussed improving the outreach to refugees from Muslim countries, (about 60 per cent of all refugees in the US) who had difficulty adjusting to American life. Most Muslim refugees in the US (mostly from Bosnia and Kosova) are currently assisted by the US govt. agencies, non-profit agencies, and Evangelical and Catholic faith-based groups. Although the need has been identified for Islamic outreach, early relief efforts by Muslim charities have been thwarted by the federal government because of suspected terrorist financing. However, awareness is seen as part of the solution. “The Muslims in America have not realised the magnitude of the problem of the refugees,” said assistant professor at the University of Chicago, Abdul Basit. “Most Muslims are unaware of this.”.

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