Around the Muslim
World with CCN
Fears grow over realty
Dubai: Fears over
widespread job losses are creating panic in Dubai's
property market as developers and brokers are laying off
hundreds of staff as part of cost-cutting measures due
to the slowdown in sales.
On Wednesday, a number of banks suspended lending to
expatriate employees of leading real estate companies,
fearing large-scale layoffs as personal loan
applications multiply daily.
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Obama claimed as relative
by 8,000 Beduins tribesmen in northern Israel
November 13 (ANI): As many as 8,000 Beduin tribesmen in
northern Israel claim that they are related to U.S.
President-elect Barack Obama by blood.
A spokesman for the tribe
in Galilee claims that they have proof of their
connection with Obama, though he has yet to reveal any
We knew about it years
ago but we were afraid to talk about it because we didnt
want to influence the election, Times Online quoted
Abdul Rahman Sheikh Abdullah, a 53-year-old local
council member, as telling the small Beduin village of
Bir al-Maksour in the Israeli region of Galilee.
We wrote a letter to him
explaining the family connection, he said.
representatives have not replied to Sheikh Abdullahs
letter, the latter is still in a mood to celebrate.
He has been handing out
sweets and huge dishes of baklava traditional
honey-sweetened pastries to all and sundry.
He is even contemplating
organising a large party next week, which will see a
dozen goats slaughtered to feed the village.
Sheikh Abdullah revealed
that it was his 95-year-old mother who first spotted the
connection, after seeing Obama on TV.
He said that his mother
noted that Obama resembled one of the African migrant
workers who used to be employed by rich sheikhs in the
fertile north of British Mandate Palestine in the 1930s.
He said that the Africans
would sometimes marry local Beduin girls and start
families, but would frequently return home after several
According to him, one of
such men was a relative of Barack Obama's Kenyan
Sheikh Abdullah insisted that he was in possession of
papers and pictures to back up his claim.
He, however, added that
he had promised his mother not to divulge the papers and
pictures until he had presented them to Obama, something
he hoped would happen once his relative was in the White
We want to send a
delegation to congratulate him, and we know well get an
answer soon, he said.
[CCN Editor] Even
the Irish, it would appear, have
staked their claim to Obama -
if the chorus "O'Leary, O'Riley, O'Hare and
O'Hara, there's no one as Irish as Barack Obama" is to
Jordan queen gets YouTube
award for fighting stereotypes
Jordan's Queen Rania will
accept an award from Internet video-sharing website
YouTube for her efforts to help prevent Muslims and
Arabs from being stereotyped, her office said on
"It is a pleasure to accept the first YouTube Visionary
Award in this spirit," the queen was quoted as saying in
"YouTube encourages us to be active participants in a
global conversation, making our voices heard, giving us
the power to broadcast ourselves, increasing knowledge
of each other, breaking down the barriers between us
clip by clip."
In April, Rania, the wife of King Abdullah II, launched
her own Internet channel on YouTube in a bid to
encourage young people to help address the issue of
"To date, the channel has generated nearly three million
video views and received more than 43,000 messages from
users around the world," the queen's office said.
The statement quoted YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley as
saying that Rania "sets the standard for breaking down
stereotypes and her YouTube videos are nothing short of
She will "accept this honour in recognition of her
efforts to rid the world of the stereotypes and
misconceptions associated with Arab and Muslim
communities," her office said.
Last year, the queen told an annual economic forum in
the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah that Muslims should
reject extremism if they want to be taken seriously by
"We are right to question Western governments when their
actions only make it easier for radicals to recruit new
followers. But our moral authority depends on our
willingness to reject the voices of extremism and
violence in our midst," she said.
"Battling begums" agree
Two former Bangladesh
prime ministers, Sheikh Hasina (pictured left)
and Begum Khaleda Zia (pictured right), have
agreed to meet ahead of next month's elections, aides
said, ending over 15 years of frosty silence between
Hossain Zillur Rahman, an adviser (minister) to the
army-backed interim government, said authorities were
ready to take any measure to arrange talks between the
battling begums, as they are known at home.
A begum (in Bangladesh) is a Muslim woman of rank.
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A Bone in America`s
Even before the voting
began, Israeli politicians and pundits were asking: Will
an Obama Administration be good for Israel? “Be good for
Israel” is our code for “Will the US allow us to keep
our settlements and continue to support our efforts to
prevent negotiations with the Palestinians from ever
bearing fruit?” For Americans the question should be:
Will the Obama Administration understand that without
addressing Palestinian needs it will not be able to
disentangle itself from its broader Middle Eastern
imbroglios, rejoin the community of nations and rescue
conflict should be of central concern to Americans, near
the top of the new Administration’s agenda. It may not
be the bloodiest conflict in the world – its minor when
compared to Iraq – but it is emblematic to Muslims and
to peoples the world over of American hostility and
belligerence. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not
merely a localized one between two squabbling tribes. It
lies at the epicenter of global instability. Go where
you may in the world and you will encounter the same
phenomenon: a sense that the suffering of the
Palestinians represents all that is wrong in an
Read the rest.....
World heads call for
World leaders have called
for religious tolerance at a UN conference sponsored by
Saudi Arabia, a country where only a strict form of
Islam is allowed.
The meeting at UN headquarters in New York, gathering 80
countries including some 20 heads of state, was billed
as a chance to heal religious and cultural divisions
sometimes referred to as the "clash of civilisations".
King Abdullah called for "peace and harmony", describing
terrorism as the enemy "of every religion and every
But anger over the Israeli-Arab conflict, as well as
resentment at Western economic and social policies, soon
surfaced, reflecting tensions lurking behind the talk of
In his speech, Israeli President Shimon Peres made a
veiled attack on Iran, while Jordan's King Abdullah II
said the biggest hurdle to religious peace was failure
to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
More than a dozen heads of state were due to speak,
including US President George W Bush on Thursday. He was
represented on Wednesday by Secretary of State
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Bush "welcomes
the opportunity to have this event, and he believes that
the king of Saudi Arabia has recognised that they have a
long way to go and that he is trying to take some steps
to get there."
In the opening speech, the president of the UN General
Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, lashed out at
Western morals and warned the world desperately needs to
learn the positive lessons of religion.
D'Escoto, a Catholic priest, said all religions promoted
"social responsibility", but that the world has "become
contaminated by the spirit of selfishness and
His attack on the "unbridled greed" of the "dominant"
Western culture was likely to strike a chord among many
leaders at the conference.
Jordan's King Abdullah II also criticised Western
policy, saying "ignorance" had subjected Islam to
"Millions of people, especially young people, question
whether the West means what it says about equality,
respect and universal justice. Meanwhile, extremists -
Muslim, Christian and Jewish - are thriving on the
doubts and divisions," he said.
Peres said Muslims and Jews were getting closer to
But he issued a thinly veiled attack on arch foe Iran,
saying: "There are those in our region who sow hatred
... those who seek to wipe out other people."
Neither d'Escoto nor any of the Muslim leaders mentioned
what many in European countries and the United States
see as the dire lack of religious and social freedom in
most Islamic states.
Critics in the run-up to the conference have homed in on
Saudi King Abdullah's role, questioning whether the
leader of the rigid Wahhabi sect of Islam was the right
person to promote inter-faith relations.
"There is no religious freedom in Saudi Arabia, yet the
kingdom asks the world to listen to its message of
religious tolerance," Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle
East director at Human Rights Watch, said ahead of the
However, Peres welcomed the king's initiative as
Wahhabism is an ultra-orthodox form of Islam. Under
Saudi rule, other Islamic sects and other religions are
either restricted or banned altogether in public.
King Abdullah pushed for the conference as a follow-up
to efforts at promoting inter-faith dialogue in the
World Conference on Dialogue held last July in Madrid.
The Madrid declaration was noted for its call for an
international agreement on fighting the root causes of
This time it is not clear whether the session will end
with a UN resolution or a lower-grade declaration, said
Enrique Yeves, spokesman for d'Escoto. "They are still
negotiating among themselves," he said.
Diplomatic sources said there was no chance of a
resolution and perhaps not even of a declaration because
of splits between countries on the nature of the problem
in religion and politics.
One source said Saudi Arabia had proposed a text
unacceptable to European countries because of a
reference to the "mocking of religious symbols", an
issue deeply offensive to Saudis, but seen as a free
speech matter in many Western states.
Special treatment for
Hajj pilgrims on Sri Lankan Airlines
SriLankan Airlines is
providing extra special treatment during this Hajj
pilgrimage season for passengers on its flights to
Jeddah, the gateway to the Muslim holy city of Makkah.
This includes a choice of special meals on both
scheduled and chartered flights to Jeddah, SriLankan
operates to Jeddah on every Tuesdays and Fridays.
In addition, a special 60-minute documentary on the
performance of Hajj is being screened on board during
the month of November and December on all Colombo to
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Maldives Makes new
Mr. Mohamed Nasheed,
who took power officially in the capital, Male, is a
41-year-old is a rising star in Asia, where he has been
compared to Nelson Mandela.
Before taking office the
President asked Maldivians to move forward without
rancour or retribution - an astonishing call, given that
Mr Nasheed had gone to jail 23 times, been tortured and
spent 18 months in solitary confinement.
The Maldives is one of the few Muslim nations to make a
relatively peaceful transition from autocracy to
democracy. The Gayoom "sultanate" was an iron-fisted
regime that ran the police, army and courts and which
banned rival parties.
Public flogging, banishment to island gulags and torture
were routinely used to suppress dissent and the fledging
pro-democracy movement. Mr Gayoom was "elected"
president six times in 30 years - but never faced an
opponent. However, public pressure grew and last year he
conceded that democracy was inevitable.
Read the rest.....
Millions gather for World
Tableeghi ijtema in Bhopal
Bhopal: Eintkhedi near
Bhopal was the location for millions of Muslims gathered
here recently on the occasion of 61st World Tableeghi
Considered one of the biggest religious gatherings, it
attracted Muslims from all over India and many from
overseas. Muslims from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia,
Philippines, South Africa, UK, USA, Malaysia, Indonesia
were also there to attend this religious gathering.
The gathering listened to lectures from Islamic scholars
and are urged to live a life of piety and emphasis on
preparation for the life hereafter. The three day
gathering ended in a dua that asked for peace and
blessings for the world.
About 400 couples also got married in this gathering
where nikaah was performed by elders of the Tableeghi
More about the Tableeghi Jamaat
Finding Islam on a
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Italian Mosque Football
MILAN — An Islamic center in the northern city of
Milan has organized a multi-faith football league that
saw eight Muslim and non-Muslim squads vying for the
"We called it the
Multi-Faith Tournament," Ali Abu Shwaima, the head of
the Islamic Center.
Eight teams from across the northern province of
Lombardy competed in the one-day competition, organized
by the Islamic center as part of celebrations marking
the 20th anniversary of its Al-Rahman mosque, the first
ever built in Italy.
Some of the teams represented local mosques in the
region and others represented a number of Catholic
One team had Muslim and non-Muslim players.
The matches were played in Milan stadium, which the city
council dedicated for the event free of charge.
A Muslim team from the city of Turin snatched the title
and Al-Rahman Cup, named after the mosque.
"We also gave all the players copies of the Qur'an
translated into Italian," said Abu Shwaima.
Italy has a Muslim population of some 1.2 million,
including 20,000 reverts, according to unofficial
The Milan Muslim leader said the event, which lasted
from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. was a great success, citing an
extensive media coverage by Italy’s state broadcasting
He also noted the impressive turnout of attendants and
participants, both Muslims and non-Muslims.
"It proved once again that religion and sports can be
factors of unity rather than division in the society."
Abu Shwaima says they had invited representatives from
the mainstream media and figures in society to the
ten-day birthday gala, which began on October 16.
"The Western media negative portraying of our Muslim
community and our mosques made us keen to invite them in
to see for themselves."
The far-right, anti-immigrant Northern League party has
recently tabled a draft law that would effectively block
the construction of mosques in Italy.
Last November, former deputy Education Minister Mariella
Mazzetto angered Muslims after parading a pig on the
site of a planned mosque in the northern city of Padua.
"We wanted to show them that mosques have a positive
role in society and are venues for dialogue and
tolerance," s Abu Shwaima.
Al-Rahman mosque opened its doors for the public during
the ten-day celebration.
A number of prominent Muslim speakers, including
renowned Swiss scholar Tariq Ramadan, addressed
visitors, while an exhibition of paintings by Muslim
artists went on show.
Abu Shwaima, who is also president of the Union of
Islamic Communities of Italy (UCOII), believes that such
events help clear misconceptions about the Muslim
"Breaking down these ice walls is not an easy task.
"But eventually, the negative image will go and the real
bright image of Italian Muslims will stay."
[CCN Editor] With
the Saturday League kicking of yesterday, can the Al
Farooq Cup be too far in the offing?
Europe's First Woman Imam
PARIS — A mosque in
southern Belgium has named a female Muslim professor to
the post of imam, the first such a move in the
northwestern European country.
"Hawaria Fattah has been granted the rank of imam,"
Abdel-Jalel Al-Hajaji, the curator of Al-Sahaba Mosque
in the southern city of Verviers said.
"It is the first move of its kind in Belgium and
Chosen along with two male imams, Fattah, a mother of
three, will supervise the preaching activities for women
at the mosque.
"But she will not deliver
the sermon of the Friday prayers or lead the prayers,"
"Her role will focus on supervising the preaching and
guidance activities for women at the mosque."
Read the rest.....
Thousands attend opening
of new mosque in Germany
GERMANY: One of Germany's
largest mosques with room for 1,200 was inaugurated
Sunday in the western city of Duisburg with none of the
recriminations that have soured a mosque building plan
in nearby Cologne.
Christian leaders spoke at the ceremonial opening and
the City of
Duisburg Philharmonic Orchestra played as well as
Police, who estimate that some 6,000 people attended
Sunday's ceremony, said there were no protests.
Ruettgers, affirmed the
right of 3.3 million Muslims in Germany to build mosques
as big as they liked.
"We need more mosques in this country, not in inner
courtyards, but visible and recognizable ones," he said.
Read the rest.....
The opening of Germany's biggest mosque
Sunday is intended to help break down barriers between
Turks and Germans and ease sometimes strained community
relations, politicians and Muslims said on Sunday.
About 8,000 people joined celebrations in the Marxloh
suburb of the industrial north-western city of Duisburg
to mark the opening of the Merkez mosque, with its
34-metre high minaret and room for 1,200 worshippers.
In contrast to openings of mosques elsewhere in Germany,
notably one in Berlin earlier this month which drew
heavy protests from local residents, the ceremony went
off with no demonstrations.
Instead, buoyed by a festive atmosphere, Muslims and
Christians ate donor kebabs, drank tea and chatted
"We have nothing to hide so it is time to say goodbye to
our mosques which were hidden in backyards," said Mehmet
Ozay, head of the Ditib Turkish-Islamic Union in Marxloh,
at the opening ceremony.
Read the rest.....
Sweden's new Halal-TV
A new programme launched
recently by Sveriges Television (SVT) featuring three
young Swedish Muslim women has sparked a heated debate
about cultural norms and integration.
In addition to Awad, a
lawyer, Halal-TV also features 22-year-old doctor-to-be
Dalia Azzam Kassem and 25-year-old dental hygienist
Khadiga El Khabiry, all of whom were born in Sweden, but
who have roots in different countries in the Middle East
and North Africa.
The show is meant to show how the three women view their
Swedish homeland through the lens of their Muslim
beliefs. SvD described Halal-TV as a “road trip” through
Swedish society, with the three lead figures at the
wheel which ultimately is meant to help deconstruct the
often monolithic view of Muslims held by many Swedes.
In one of the segments,
Awad and El Khabiry refuse to shake the hand of
Aftonbladet newspaper columnist Carl Hamilton, electing
instead to greet the guest by putting their hands on
their chests, leaving Hamilton’s extended hand hanging
in the air and prompting a sharp exchange.
“I’m sorry, you ought to shake my hand,” said Hamilton,
according to a transcript published in the Expressen
“That’s something I decide,” replied El Khabiry.
“No, I don’t think so!” Hamilton shot back.
Read the rest.....
[CCN Editor] To shake or not to shake! Therein
lies the rub!
Mosque awarded on
WORSHIPPERS have been celebrating a triumph after being
crowned the second best mosque in the country on
Broadfield Mosque landed
second place in a prestigious competition, Britain's
Model Mosque 2008, on Islam Channel on Sky TV.
Hundreds of Muslim places
of worship across the country were shown on the show,
which was broadcast every Saturday, and were subject to
a public vote, and a final judgement from a panel of
Each mosque was judged
purely on its sense of community and ability to provide
strong religious practice, ensuring that the size and
architecture of the building did not count.
In first place was
Leeds Grand Mosque in Yorkshire, who won a £50,000
prize, but Broadfield followed closely behind with a
Chairman of Broadfield
Mosque Arif Syed said he is over the moon to be
recognised nationally. He said: "We are delighted to be
a runner up and we feel like we have put Crawley on the
"It is a great shame we
did not win the £50,000 prize, as we were going to make
massive changes to the building and make it look even
better, but the best mosque won at the end of the day.
Still, what a great achievement."
The ultimate aim of Model
Mosque is to improve standards within UK mosques. The
show has nothing to do with the size, layout or
architecture of a mosque. It has everything to do with
the services the mosque provides for its local community
and how well the mosque manages relations with the local
London Muslim Conf.
thousands from all around the world, Europe's largest
Muslim event opened in Britain on Saturday, October 25,
with the focus of promoting multiculturalism.
"Global Peace and Unity conference is by far the largest
event of its kind in Europe and may be in the West as a
whole," GPU Chairman Mohamed Ali told IslamOnline.net.
The two-day conference, held at Excel Conference and
Exhibition Center, brings together luminaries and
celebrity guests from around the world.
Leading among attendees are Danish Imam Abdul Wahid
Pedersen, American Muslim scholar Yusuf Estes and
British Muslim singer Yusuf Islam.
Also attending British Secretary of Justice Jack Straw,
Muslim MP Shahid Malik and Lord Nazir Ahmed.
"We at the GPU do strive every year to have some
addition, at spiritual level we are having one of the
Imams of the holy mosque and the muezzin of prophet's
mosque, and of course the Kiswah (curtains) of the
Ka`bah, and the two models of the two holy mosques,"
"We are also expanding on awards especially friends of
Islam awards and education awards."
The conference is organized by the free-to-air, English
language, Islamic-focused Islam Channel for the fourth
Themed "Working Towards A Multi-cultural Society", this
year's conference aims to promote peaceful coexistence
between Muslims and non-Muslims.
"It has a yearly theme this year being towards a
multicultural society," Ali told IOL.
Organizers seek to make the conference a platform for an
effective dialogue with non-Muslims.
A number of major interfaith groups have been invited to
address the conference on promoting dialogue and
building bridges across faiths, communities and
"Our aim is always to build confidence among our Muslim
Ummah and to be proud being Muslims," he said.
"We also want to engage with the wider society in a
The Muslim population in Britain is estimated at nearly
"The Muslim community, so rich and diverse in itself,
makes an enormously valuable contribution to our
society," Straw said in a statement ahead of GUP
"Those of us who are not Muslims but have the privilege
of knowing and working with Muslims can testify to that.
"This event is a great opportunity to demonstrate this
contribution, whilst challenging stereotypes and
reasserting shared values. It is through unity that we
will achieve peace."
Catholic-Muslim forum to open at Vatican
The Vatican's first-ever
Catholic-Muslim forum kicks off, two years after Pope
Benedict XVI sparked outrage among Muslims for a speech
seen as linking Islam with violence.
The three-day forum opens "a new chapter in the long
history" of dialogue between the two faiths, the head of
the Catholic delegation, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran,
told the French Catholic daily La Croix.
Benedict will meet with the delegations on Thursday.
The Muslim side is led by the mufti of Bosnia, Mustafa
Ceric, whose spokesman Yahya Pallavicini told AFP the
delegates "represent no state and no ideological
The delegation includes Swiss intellectual Tariq
Ramadan, an outspoken and controversial Muslim figure in
Europe, along with Aref Ali Nayed of the Islamic Centre
of Strategic Studies in Amman, Jordan, and Iranian
ayatollah Seyyed Mustafa Manegheg Damad.
Several women in the delegation include Ingrid Mary
Mattson, a professor of Islamic studies at the Hartford
(Connecticut) Seminary in the United States.
Read the rest.....