PARIS : Dr. Muhammad Al-Bishari, the Chairman of the General Federation of French Muslims, has said that five million Muslims in France can make a positive effect on elections. Two million Muslims are French voters. These have definitely had an influence on elections in any city that has a population of more than 100,000, he said, adding that even the election of France’s incumbent President Jacques Chirac was influenced by a margin of 2.7 per cent by French Muslims. Muslims have also influenced the legislative elections in France, in which they had a decisive vote in over 150 constituencies.
Dr. Bishari said some of the challenges that Muslims are facing in France emanate from the obstinacy of the authorities on some issues, such as the issue of the Hijab, or the refusal of some officials in some small towns to allow the construction of a mosque or Islamic school. Then there is the question of the lack of a sufficient number of Islamic educational organizations, Islamic cemeteries, the problem of Halal slaughtering of animals, co-existence between Muslims with their compatriots in a secular society, and such matters, he said.
Dr. Bishari said the General Federation of French Muslims was founded in 1985, and has since been busy in spreading the word of Islam in the country, bearing in mind that the second and third generation of ethnic Frenchmen would not even think of returning to their countries of origin. For this reason, it has been found necessary, he said, to set up something that would protect such people from being completely assimilated in main stream modern French life. Dawah work is therefore being carried out to guide such people toward the maintenance of the bonds of relationships with their kith and kin.
“But,” said Dr. Bishari, “we have refused to allow France or its mosques to be used as instruments of the problems that are to be found in some Muslim countries, and we have opened a dialogue with all.”
WASHINGTON D.C.: The Georgetown University's Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding has decided to institute a study on role and contribution of Muslims to the American public life. It will be carried over three years with a fund of $ 1.25 million. Dr. Zahid Bukhari is the principal investigator of the project. It proposes to publish a volume on the scholarly work, prepare a comprehensive website as a search engine and facilitate intra-community dialogue through focus groups. Prof John L Esposito is the Director of the Center. Besides Bukhari, Prof. Suleyman S. Nyang is also on the five-member Board of Advisors.
According to a press release received by the Islamic voice, the need for the study arose because the Muslim community in the US is witnessing a transition from the period of hesitation, alienation and identity crisis to one of participation in the voluntary life of the larger society. n
KUWAIT : Sudan reopened its embassy in Kuwait recently, marking an official end to a nine - year rift caused during the Gulf crisis following Iraq’s invasion of the country. Sudan’s Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail, who visited Kuwait , raised his country’s flag on a temporary embassy building. He also laid the cornerstone for a permnent building . sudan’s diplomatic mission was shut after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which sparked the 1991 Gulf War. The Kuwaiti Embassy in Sudan remained open, operated by a charge de’affaires.
GAZA : Members of the Islamic High Commission in Palestine have informed eight embassies of European and Asian governments that the Aqsa Mosque is threatened, and that the Israeli Government is interfering in the affairs of the mosque, while the Jewish settlers violate its sanctity.
Attending the meeting was Sheikh Ikrima Sabriy, the Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine, and Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, Director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs, Sheikh Taysir Al-Timimiy, and representatives from the British, French, Spanish, Turkish Dutch, Italian, Norwegian and Indian embassies.
Sheikh Ikrima Sabriy said Israeli Courts are trying to make it possible for the Jews to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and added, “We refuse to accept any ruling made by Israeli Courts that allow the Jews to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque and pray therein, because that would infringe upon its sanctity and injure the feelings of Muslims all over the world.”
MOSTAR: Work has started on repairing the Nazir Agha Mosque which was badly damaged during the recent war, and comes in the framework of the reconstruction of Mostar which was destroyed during the Serbian aggression against Bosnia-Herzegovina. The mosque was originally built in 1551 AD on the western bank of the Niritiya River in Mostar.
In another development, the new plan for Mostar has been approved, and under it the cultural relics that exist in the divided city would be carefully preserved, and training would be given to specialists who work in solving the real problems of day to day living in Bosnia. The newsletter published by the Center for Research in Islamic History, Art and Culture, in Istanbul, Turkey, says that among the most important activities which the center has organized for the success of this project is the government’s support in the adoption of one system for the repair of landmarks in the whole of the Bosnia-Herzegovina, adding that Mostar is just an experimental model. Other activities include the preparation of an economic climate that is conducive to the projects and the reconstruction of the center for documentation of the architectural heritage.
PRISTINA: The Saudi Joint Committee for the Relief of Kosovars has identified that 150 mosques out of the 300 in Kosova have been destroyed. Eng. Wail Al-Juleidan of the Joint Committee said that each mosque was in a different stage of disrepair. The Committee is preparing Dawah workers in the region. He said it cost $ 300 per month to sponsor one Dawah worker.
Juleidan said it is important that there should be a Muslim presence in Kosova, and also a center for translation that would translate books and other publications into the local languages. He also pointed out the need for refurbishing the local libraries with books and other reference material, since all these have been looted by the Serb aggressors. Another requirement, said Juleidan, is the presence of the Islam media, adding that the need is really great, besides that of spiritual guidance.
ROTTERDAM: A mosque will be built in the city of Rotterdam in Holland. An agreement has been reached between the Islamic Center of Rotterdam and the Al-Maktum Charitable Foundation, as represented by Sheikh Mirza Al-Sayegh, the President of the foundation. Observers of the agreement say that the projected mosque would not only be the largest in Holland, but would also be of superb and eye-catching architectural design.
Holland contains a substantial Muslim community, composed mainly of North African Arabs, yet the Muslims do not have proper places for worshipping. The few little places that are available for the purpose have been described by the President of the Islamic Center, Sheikh Alhadi Ahmed Ali, as inadequate and lacking in hygiene and other health services. IINA correspondent in Holland learnt that according to the blue prints of the proposed mosque, it will not only be made up of the prayer area, but also a large library of Arabic, Dutch and English books. The Al-Maktum Charitable Foundation concerns itself mainly with activities in Europe, and among its prominent activity was its charitable work in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
BISHKEK: The head of the Religious Enlightenment and Analysis section of the Committee for Religious Affairs, in the newly independent republic of Kirghizia, Salamat Drosonbev, has warned of heightened missionary activities. He said that Christian missionaries were taking advantage of the people’s ignorance about their own religion and the prevailing economic hardships to convert them to Christianity, and have so far succeeded in converting 3,000 such people.
He said in Kirghizia there are now six judges, three Muftis, a religious affairs ministry, 300 religious organizations that are registered with the Ministry of Justice.
Drosonbev said that the missionaries who exceeded their bounds have been taken to court, and three US Congressmen have sent a protest memo against this action.
Salamat said when Kirghizia gained its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991 there was a perceptible Islamic awakening that resulted in the spread of enlightenment everywhere, adding that whereas during the Soviet era there were only 40 mosques in Kirghizia, there are now 2000 of them. He said the meanings of the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s Traditions havebeen translated into the local language, and presently Sheikh Sabir Dospol is in the process of translating the other religious books. He said Turkey’s Ministry of Endowments has presented them with a translation of the Prophet’s Seerah and illustrated prayer books. Salamat said the Department of Religious Endowments has opened a Shari’a College in Osen, in which 60 students are studying.
He said some scholars have set up the Omar bin Al-Khattab Institute in which there are now 300 male and 100 female students studying.
AJMAN: The Gulf Medical college (GMC) which opened in Ajman last year by an NRI offering a five year MBBS course will soon develop into a full-fledged university in the near future offering courses in dentistry, nursing, physiotherapy, in addition to several courses in engineering, a press release said. However, in the new academic year starting in October, a four year course in bachelor of dental science (BDS ) will commence. The BDS programmed which will initially admit 50 students will be conducted on the Dental College premises of the GMC. A free dental clinic is also planned to open in October. According to Thumbay Moideen, founder president of the GMC from Mangalore in Karnataka, the curriculum for the MBBS and BDS courses is based on the general guidelines and norms laid down by the Ministry of Higher Education in the UAE. The college will also follow guidelines recommended by the “Consortium of Medical Institutions for Reform of Medical Education”.
DUBAI: Two Arab cities are set to earn places on the list of modern architectural marvels with the opening of the world’s tallest hotel in Dubai this year and the fifth highest office tower in Riyadh next year. Soaring skyward from a man-made concrete island, the striking Burj Al Arab (Arabian tower) hotel measures 321 metres in height. Owned by Dubai’s ruling family, it is scheduled to open in November. It has 66 storey, all - suite hotel. Riyadh’s Al Faisaliah Tower is a 30 storey futuristic complex located on 5,000 square metres site between Olaya Road and King Fahd Expressway. Its owner, King Faisal Foundation, will use the profits for its cultural, educational, research and philanthropic projects. A record of 5,000 telephone lines are being provided to the complex.
DUBAI : The United Arab Emirates has been ranked 43rd in a United Nations report on the quality of life in 174 countries. The report ranks countries and territories on a human development index based on real income, life expectancy and educational standard. Researchers with the UN Development programme examined income, education, life expectancy and health care in assessing the quality of life in the 174 countries.
The report divided the countries into three categories based on the rich and poor quality of life. Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE are in first category having attained a high standard in human development.
Stipends for Muslim Scientists
ISLAMABAD: A joint venture costing dollar 150,000 has been undertaken for the development of science and technology in the OIC countries, including Pakistan.
The program has been initiated by International Foundation for Science (IFS) based in Stockholm and Commission for Scientific Development (COMSTECH), said Prof. Atta-ur- Rehman, Coordinator General, COMSTECH.
Addressing the launching ceremony of Scientific Literature Search Service here recently, at Pakistan Academy of Sciences, he said under the program small research grants, up to a maximum dollar 12,000 each will be awarded on a competitive basis to young promising scientists in the Islamic world. Pakistan president Mohammad Rafiq Tarar inaugurated the service earlier.
Databases on 5000 Science Journals: The COMSTECH Scientific Literature Service has been initiated from electronic databases, which are considered one of the largest and most substantial multi-disciplinary databases. It covers over five thousand important scientific journals. The grant is to be used for laboratory and field equipment, supplies, local travel, literature and daily labour. The IFS Scientific Advisory Committees would be responsible for the final screening of grant applications.
Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman further said COMSTECH-IFS has awarded 24 research projects from 13 OIC member states during 1999.
He said COMSTECH in conjunction with the Islamic Development Bank has identified four priority fields (1) Human Resource Development (2) Textile Technology, (3) Tissue Culture Technology and (4) Biofertilizers in which the Islamic Development Bank is expected to provide funds.
The inaugural ceremony was attended by several scientists including Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan. It was addressed by Prof. Atta-ur-Rehman, Dr. Mohammad Ali Mahesar, Director Literature Search Service and Dr. Anwar Nasim, Adviser Science, COMSTECH. A COMSTECH-COMSATS Center of Information Technology is being established in Karachi.
By Rafid Shoaib
GLASGOW : The first Muslim school in Scotland will open its doors in the first week of August.
The Scotsman said the Islamic academy will use the premises of a former government school in Glasgow, and will start with two classes for the young ones, and will then be progressively expanded.
The school’s managing committee, said the daily, has advertised for teachers, but on condition that they be Muslims and adept in the Arabic language, as well as being knowledgeable in Islamic jurisprudence. The Scotsman said the academy’s name is “Iqra Academy” and will be getting agovernment grant annually, apart from the donations that it has been receiving from Asian businessmen, to the tune of Sterling Pounds 300,000.
SACRAMENTO: Every Muslim prisoner in California has the right to attend traditional prayer services, a federal judge ruled last month, according to The Sacramento Bee weekly. “Freedom of religion doesn’t end at the prison gate, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton made clear in an order in which he held the state Department of Corrections in contempt.
“Karlton demanded that the agency ensure that every Muslim inmate in California be permitted to attend Jumah (Friday) prayer services at midday.
“Karlton’s order comes in a 1995 case in which Ernest Fenelon, a California Medical Facility inmate, sued for the right to attend the Friday services, generally held between noon and 1 p.m.
WASHINGTON : Islamic and Arab organizations in the United States have demanded that the practice of blacklisting some Muslims and Arabs in the country should be stopped.
The organizations held a conference to protest the motion put forward by a member of the US Senate, Gephard, for the withdrawal of he name of one of the Muslim leaders who was proposed for membership of the National Committee for Terrorism Affairs. The withdrawal was the result of pressure that had been brought to bear by Jewish quarters.
The Islamic and Arab organization declared their support for his nomination to the committee.
BRUSSELS: The recently formed Muslim Council of Belgium has elected Noureddin Jamjoom as its president. It was a direct ballot election and was done on the advice of the Belgian government. The Belgian Government had always maintained that it could not provide some of its services to the Muslim community in the country because there was no single body that represented them and which could speak on their behalf. Noureddin Jamjoom is a well-known Muslim figure in Belgium, and his deep knowledge of Islam and Fiqh are well recognized.
MANCHESTER: British daily The Guardian has apologised for an article in which prominent human rights activist and British solicitor Makbool Javaid had been described as a supporter of terrorist activities of Osama Bin Laden. The article was published after Makbool was included on race affairs panel of constituted by British Home Secretary Jack Straw. The Guardian’s article was based on a letter by the Jewish lobby in which it had alleged that Makbool supported the activities of Osama Bin Laden.
The Guardian in its apology said, “We wish to make it clear that Mr. Javaid Makbool is a not a supporter of Osama Bin Laden and has never had any contact with him.”
Javaid is chairman of Society of Muslim Lawyers and former principal legal officer of the Commission for Racial Equality.
JAKARTA: At least 500 Indonesian youths grouped in the Islamic Defence Front (LFPI) staged a rally in front of the Jakarta Police headquarters here last month, demanding that the police take serious steps in combating gambling and pornography. “We are asking the police to eliminate all kinds of gambling activities and take strict measures against mass media which perpetrate pornography,” said LFPI field commander, Abdurrahman Anwar.
He said the group is also asking the police and the armed forces to investigate all violent actions committed against Islam and the Muslims.
Cairo, (IINA): In a controversial move the Academy of Islamic Research at Al-Azhar in Egypt has approved the appearance of representations of the Prophet’s Companions in film and television presentations, except the ten (the ashara mubashara) who have been declared as among those who will enter Paradise. Another exception is the appearance of representations of the members of the Prophet’s household, known as Ahl-al-Bayt. The academy had issued an edict in 1977 forbidding the appearance of representations of any Companion.
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: For the first time in Israel’s history, an Arab Israeli will sit on parliament’s sensitive defence and foreign affairs committee, Israeli radio reported. Taleb Al Sana, a Bedouin member of parliament from the biggest Arab party in the legislature, said he had been approached to join the prestigious panel, which oversees Israel’s intelligence and security agencies. The chances that I will be a member of the Knesset defence and foreign affairs committee are good. It now depends on the vote in my party, said Sana, whose United Arab List has five members among the Knesset’s 120 seats.
LONDON: Only 1.6 per cent of the top 3,000 jobs in England are occupied by the members of ethnic minorities, informed the Jack Cunningham, the Minister for the cabinet office in a chat with The Muslim News. Cunningham told the newspaper that the government would increase the number of ethnic minorities in senior grades in the civil service. He said “the White Hall (the British government) is not just a white dominated area. He admitted that women were not fairly represented in the senior grades any more than people of ethnic minorities are. What is needed was a cultural change in the civil service.” He said the ethnic minorities lose out on promotions as they are usually decided after work in pubs. “You won’t find Asian women going into pubs after work and therefore they feel excluded,” he explained.
KHARTOUM: Sudanese President Omar Al Beshir inaugurated the country’s first private sector oil refinery in the Khartoum suburb of Al Shajarah. Concorp refinery is owned by Sudanese businessman Mohammed Abdullah Jar Al Nabi who in 1992 bought concessions of the American oil company Chevron in Sudan. The refinery which cost $ 15 million, will refine 10,000 barrels per day, producing an annual 80,000 tonnes of naphtha, 62,000 tonnes of kerosene, 127,000 tonnes of gasoline and 163,000 tones of the fuel oil.
DHAKA: Bangladesh's state oil and gas company, Petrobangla, expects to produce nearly 250 million cubic feet of gas per day from new wells to meet country's growing natural gas demand to fuel power plants, a report said. Petrobangla was developing six wells, three each in Habibganj and Rahhidpur gas fields in the northeeast, with a $ 200 million aid from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. "Drilling will be completed by December and it will add 200 million cubic feet of gas to the national grid," said a report from the Ministry of Petroleum.
Petrobangla is currently producing 195 million cubic feet gas from Habibganj and 85 million cubic feet from Rashidpur fields, which a total of three trillion to four trillion cubic feet of gas reserves.
KUWAIT: The Kuwait Computer Society is planning to organise a conference on the future of the Internet on November 20 this year. The 3-day conference will discuss the evolution and impact of Internet on every aspect of the society. It will also explore the prospects of e-commerce and analyse if this activity could become a source of revenue for the state.
CAIRO: The Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Egypt has decided to publish an encyclopaedia of the Prophet's Traditions and Sayings, in view of the vicious attacks by some elements on them. The secretary of the council, Abdul Sabur Marzouq, has said that the new method that will be used in preparing the encyclopaedia will include all the ramifications of a given Hadith and its particular references.
DUABI : The UAE Plans to set up an integrated hospital in Petrovitsa in Kosova to provide medical aid to returning refugees. Colonel Obaid Salem Al Kutbi, commander of the UAE relief mission in Albania said .
He said plan for the hospital, which will offer the latest in medical technology - telemedicine - was being studied by the UAE Armed Forces.
DOHA (QARAR): The 9th Islamic summit of the Organization of Islamic conference would be held here sometime next year, said IINA.