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January 27, 2014

Tunisia approves new constitution

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Tunisia approves new constitution

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Monday, January 27, 2014

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Mehdi Jomaa, the interim Prime Minister of Tunisia.
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The Tunisian National Assembly approved a new constitution yesterday, a step towards running elections in the country. A new cabinet has been appointed by the Prime Minister, Mehdi Jomaa.

Mustapha Ben Jafar, speaker of the National Assembly, welcomed the constitution’s passage: “This constitution was the dream of Tunisians, this constitution is proof of the revival of the revolution, this constitution creates a democratic civil nation”.

The constitution recognises Islam as the religion of Tunisia but also includes provisions guaranteeing freedom of conscience and equality between men and women. The struggle between Islamism and secularism has been a recurring theme in Tunisian politics since the Arab Spring uprising three years ago: as in Egypt, Salafists have sought to push the country towards embracing sharia law and other hard-line Islamist policies. Last year, the ruling Ennahda party agreed to step down after their political opponents said their government had not done enough to seek justice for the assassination of opposition politicians by Islamist militants.

Mehdi Jomaa, the interim prime minister, appointed a new finance minister — the economist Hakim Ben Hammouda, formerly of the African Development Bank — and a new foreign minister — Mongi Hamdi, formerly an official for the United Nations.



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October 9, 2012

On the campaign trail, September 2012

On the campaign trail, September 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

On the campaign trail, September 2012

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The following is the eleventh in a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2012 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after a brief mention of some of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: Wikinews chronicles three of the lesser-known speakers at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, a controversial pastor and write-in candidate talks to Wikinews about the unrest in the Middle East, and the ballot-qualified American Third Position Party (A3P) presidential nominee travels to Iran to meet President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Summary

September opened with the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. On the convention’s first night, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro delivered the keynote address, the first Hispanic-American to do so. He discussed the communitarian spirit of the United States and reflected on how his mother “fought hard for civil rights so that instead of a mop, I could hold this microphone.” The speech was compared to Barack Obama’s keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and garnered speculation that he would seek higher political office. First Lady Michelle Obama also spoke that night, discussing her husband on a personal level. On the second day, a ruckus ensued as Democrats moved to re-include “God” and support of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital in the party’s official platform after removal of the items drew criticism leading up to the convention. That night, women’s health advocate Sandra Fluke and Massachusetts U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren each spoke before former President Bill Clinton took the stage to deliver a lengthy, policy-filled speech. In it, Clinton defended Obama’s economic policies, arguing that no previous president, including himself, could have fostered complete recovery this soon in the same economic climate. He concluded that the election was ultimately a choice between the “winner-take-all, you’re-on-your-own society” of the Republicans and the “we’re-all-in-this-together society” of Obama. On the final night, Vice president Joe Biden spoke before President Obama addressed the convention to officially accept the party’s nomination. In his acceptance speech, Obama asked voters to allow his administration to “finish what we started”, arguing “it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades” and Republicans offer only policies that have previously failed.

Castro delivers the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Image: DemConvention2012.

Foreign policy emerged as a major campaign issue after the U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya came under attack on September 11, resulting in the deaths of four Americans including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. Allegedly, the attacks were the result of protests against a YouTube video trailer for the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims, which the Obama administration condemned in the aftermath of the attacks. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticized President Obama for the response, arguing he “was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt, instead of condemning their actions.” An Obama spokesman expressed “shock” at Romney’s response, accusing him of “launch[ing] a political attack”. Shortly thereafter, Romney also criticized Obama for being unable to find time to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Obama then had an hour-long phone conversation with Netanyahu. Later in the month, Netanyahu appeared before the United Nations General Assembly with a cartoon of a bomb, voiced his concerns that Iran would attain enough enriched uranium to make a bomb by the summer of 2013, and called on the world to act. Obama and Romney each spoke with Netanyahu. Each candidate expressed similar sentiment in favor of further sanctions against Iran.

In mid-September, Romney received negative publicity after the magazine Mother Jones released a video of a fundraiser at which Romney alleged, “there are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what … [because they] are dependent upon government”. He then said his “job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan distanced himself from the remarks, which he labeled as “inelegant”. Obama remarked in response, “We don’t want an inside job in Washington, we want change in Washington…It can’t happen if you write off half the nation before you even took office.” The Romney campaign hoped to shift focus from the video to newly-emerged 1998 footage of Obama in which he advocates redistribution of wealth. Additionally, Romney released his 2011 tax returns, as promised earlier in the year. The returns showed he paid $1.95 million out of the $13.7 million he earned on investments. However, less positive news continued for the campaign as September came to a close. Paul Ryan received boos while discussing the proposed repeal of Obamacare during a speech before an AARP forum, which President Obama also addressed. Plus, Obama increased his lead in the polls with Gallup showing a six point Obama advantage, 50 percent to 44 percent in a September 26 poll, up from the 46 percent to 46 percent tie prior to the publication of the Romney video.

Nevertheless, Obama was not the only candidate rising in the polls at the end of September. Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, rose to six percent support in a late September Reason-Rupe poll, up from the 4.3 percent showing earlier in a JZ Analytics poll. The Johnson campaign also increased activity. With the presidential debates looming, the campaign filed suit against the Commission for Presidential Debates, alleging anti-trust practices for denying access to third party candidates. With many polls still excluding Johnson at the end of September, Obama led Romney 48.7 to 44.6 in the September 30 RealClearPolitics polling average.

Lesser-known DNC speakers discuss their experience

While San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, women’s health advocate Sandra Fluke, and Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren all formally introduced themselves to the national audience at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, they were not the only figures to do so. Small business owner Bill Butcher, firefighter Doug Stern, and mother Stacey Lihn were among the “everyday people” the party invited to address the convention and the nation. Wikinews reached out to these three to learn more about their DNC experience and the process of the convention.

Port City Brewing Company owner Bill Butcher.
Image: Bill Butcher.

Butcher, owner of Port City Brewing in Alexandria, Virginia, says he received the invitation after the Democratic Party found him online while searching for someone who had started a small business during the administration and benefited from its policies. Butcher was able to establish Port City Brewing after obtaining a loan through the SBA loan program, part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (The Stimulus).

In preparation for his speech, Butcher worked with Obama speechwriters and rehearsed the morning before. Though he admits to being nervous, he discovered that fellow speakers backstage felt similarly. To break the ice, Butcher opened his speech with a joke, apologizing to the audience for not handing out free beer. He then turned to policy, defending Obama as “a president who’s on my side … [who has] kept middle class taxes low…[and] has fought for small-business owners”. According to Butcher, the speech was received positively, even among his Republican friends, who felt it “cool” that their buddy had addressed the DNC.

Fire fighter Doug Stern.
Image: Doug Stern.

Like Butcher, Stern, a firefighter and member of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), also received bipartisan praise for his speech. As a union advocate for the repeal of Ohio SB 5, which limited the collective bargaining rights of Ohio‘s public employees, Stern feels the party selected him due to his visibility. Because he received word of the invitation just days before the event, Stern did not have much time to prepare. Rather, he viewed YouTube videos of Presidents Obama, Clinton, and Ronald Reagan to find the right style for delivery. Nevertheless, according to Stern, the best input came from his twelve-year-old son, who advised him that delivering a DNC speech was not such a big deal, since “you give speeches all the time.”

In the speech, Stern introduced himself as a former Republican, but held that as a member of the middle class and as a public employee, the “party left people like me.” He applauded the Obama administration for continuing federal grants to fire fighters, and characterized Obama as someone who “respects middle-class workers like me and my family.” Fellow fire fighters, including those of different political stripes, commended Stern on his remarks, and about a week after the speech, Stern met President Obama in Cincinnati, where he received congratulations. Despite the recognition from his peers and presidential praise, the reception of Stern’s son was paramount. While watching a line from the speech replayed on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the 12-year-old admitted to his father that despite his previous comments, speaking at the DNC was “pretty cool.”

Stacey Lihn with her daughter Zoe at the Democratic National Convention.
Image: Caleb Lihn.

Similarly, for Lihn, the night held a special significance due to her family. Lihn, a mother of two daughters one of whom, Zoe, suffers from a congenital heart defect, previously worked with the Obama campaign in March to produce a video documenting how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) had helped her family pay for her daughter’s medical expenses. Looking for someone to discuss health care reform at the convention, the video’s producer called Lihn and invited her to speak.

Like Butcher, she rehearsed her speech in the morning prior, finding this to be more emotional than the actual delivery itself. In the heartfelt speech delivered with her husband and daughter onstage, Lihn articulated her appreciation of Obamacare and the fear that the election of Mitt Romney and possible repeal of Obamacare would prevent needed care for her daughter. After the speech, Lihn embraced First Lady Michelle Obama in what she fondly recalls as “a genuine hug — mother to mother.” Others appreciated the speech as well. Ed Pilkington of The Guardian wrote that it was not only “one of the most moving moments of the Democratic national convention … [but] possibly of the entire 2012 presidential race”.

For Lihn, despite the acclaim, she was simply speaking as one of many: “Our story is but one of thousands and I knew that, standing up on stage speaking, that I was speaking for all of the parents who’ve walked in my shoes. I felt the strength of the many babies born with Zoe’s heart condition who weren’t as fortunate as she and passed away before the age of two. I support the ACA [Affordable Care Act] and will continue to do so for those whose voices cannot be heard.”

Wikinews interviews write-in candidate connected to Middle East turmoil

Pastor Terry Jones in March 2011.
Image: Mark Taylor.

Wikinews caught up with Dove World Outreach Center pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida. Jones, a write-in candidate for president, is best known for his anti-Islamic activism, which has sparked protests across the Muslim world.

Jones leads an anti-Islam march in Washington, DC.
Image: Mark Taylor.

Jones first gained notice in 2010, after threatening to burn a Koran at Ground Zero on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The announcement prompted protests in the Middle East, causing President Obama to request that Jones not partake in the activity. He obliged, but later burned a Koran in March 2011, leading to violent protests in Afghanistan including an attack on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Mazar-i-Sharif, which killed at least 30 people.

Recently, Jones has received mention for promoting the film Innocence of Muslims, whose trailer allegedly inflamed riots in Egypt and Libya on September 11 due to its portrayal of Muhammad. During the riots, the American embassies in the two nations were breached, leading to the deaths of four Americans in Libya, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Jones told The Daily Caller he had remained in contact with the film’s director Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who was jailed September 28 on charges of violating probation. Jones’s involvement with the film has led to warrants for his arrest in Egypt, where authorities want to try him for insults to Islam, spreading lies, and harming national unity. Death is a possible penalty for such offenses. Nevertheless, Jones holds that Egypt “would definitely be better advised to put Muhammad on trial.”

With Wikinews, Jones discusses ballot access, the Innocence of Muslims, and how he would handle the riots in Egypt and Libya as president.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngIn which states have you attempted to gain ballot access?

Pastor Jones: Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Alabama, Oregon, Iowa, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wyoming

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat are your thoughts on the film trailer for the movie Innocence of Muslims? Should the filmmaker bear any responsibility for the anti-American protests across the Muslim world?

Pastor Jones: According to many Islamic experts that I have talked to, and the studies that I have done myself, the trailer is very accurate. Muhammad led a very perverted life and a very violent life. On his deathbed in 632, he gave the command to his followers to cleanse the Arabian Peninsula of all unbelievers. That is what Islam has been doing for the last fourteen hundred years, killing, murdering and raping anyone that dares to have a different opinion or follow a different religion.
Absolutely not. In fact, what we have done is we have again demonstrated that Islam in its roots, in its foundation is a violent religion. The Koran is a very violent book. It promotes violence. As I said, Muhammad led a very violent life. In the last ten years of his life he had seventy-eight raids on other villages where he killed innocent people, civilians. It was not even an act of war. It was simply genocide. It was simply the killing of anyone who disagreed with him. It is the time that America and the world stands up and sees the dangers of Islam, the dangers of radical Islam.
As far as we are concerned, as far as our efforts are concerned, we are going to continue to press forward. We are going to continue to raise an awareness of the dangers of radical Islam. The western world must stop appeasing Islam or Islam will continue its acts of terror.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat is your response to President Obama’s reaction to the protests and attacks on the U.S. embassies? Was Governor Romney’s criticism of that reaction appropriate? If you were president, how would you respond to the events?

Pastor Jones: President Obama is an absolute disaster. As president, he bears some of the responsibility for what is going on right now in the Islamic world. President Obama has shown himself to be pro-Islam, pro-Muslim Brotherhood. Since the Muslim Brotherhood has taken over in Egypt, situations for minorities and Christians have gotten much, much worse. We know that President Obama favors Islam. He appeases Islam. He has welcomed CAIR into the White House. CAIR is nothing more than a suit-and-tie terrorist organization. President Obama and his appeasing of Islam has only given them a green light, opened up the door for them to feel as though they can attack our embassies and feel that absolutely nothing will be done. Even now as he has spent $70,000 of American taxpayers’ money to run ads in Pakistan appeasing the Islamic radical community, he definitely bears a responsibility.
Governor Romney, or anyone’s criticism, of President Obama’s presidency concerning Islam, his economic policies, and many of his policies whether it is immigration or same-sex marriage are indeed justified.
If I were president, my response would be much harsher to the Islamic community. I believe that we should close our embassies in Muslim and Koran controlled countries immediately. We should pull our people out of those countries. We in the west must realize that Islam is not compatible with western society. It is not compatible with western thinking because Islam is missing the basic elements of a free western society. Those elements are freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. Islam has continued to prove over and over and over again that it does not tolerate any criticism of Muhammad, the Koran, or Sharia. It has absolutely no tolerance of any other religion. Because of its past history and the past fruits of the religion, Islam and western society cannot coexist. This is why we should close all embassies in Koran and Islam controlled and dominated countries.

A3P nominee meets with the President of Iran

Filmmaker Merlin Miller, the presidential nominee of the American Third Position Party (A3P), attended a film festival in Tehran, Iran early in September, during which he spoke to an audience that included Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. After the speech, Ahmadinejad invited Miller to a private meeting, which lasted about twenty minutes. This was the first time a U.S. presidential candidate met with Ahmadinejad, a controversial figure who has called for the dissolution of Israel, questioned the validity of the Holocaust, and spurred Iran’s nuclear program, which the U.S. and Israel allege is not for peaceful purposes.

Merlin Miller shakes hands with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Image: Merlin Miller.

In contrast to such allegations, Miller tells Wikinews that his impression of Ahmadinejad was as “a humble man who deeply cares about promoting truths and the best for his people — including peace.” During the meeting, he gave Ahmadinejad a copy of his 2001 film Jericho and his book Our Vision for America. According to Miller, Ahmadinejad wanted it to be communicated to the American people that “Globalists and Zionists falsely portray Iran, as they seek conflict between nations” and that Iran actually desires peace. Miller says that though Ahmadinejad probably did not know much about the specific A3P presidential campaign and platform, he was “aware of the how Zionist interests control our two major political parties” and “was intrigued that alternative voices in America are starting to challenge the injustices of our current political system and the propaganda of our mainstream media.”

The A3P, which was founded in 2010, is among those “alternative voices”. Its program calls for a tougher approach to crime, economic nationalism, higher education standards, environmentalism, strengthening of the family unit, a non-interventionist foreign policy, opposition to “third world” immigration, border security, and preservation of “white identity”.

Critics such as the Southern Poverty Law Center accuse the A3P of being a white supremacist organization, a charge that Miller denies. Miller appeared on Iran’s Press TV, and discussed the use of the term on his Wikipedia profile, which he claimed to have unsuccessfully attempted to change. He argued that the label likely stemmed from his “criticism of Zionism, of Jewish control of [the U.S.] media, [and] of [the U.S.] foreign policy, which is Israel first”.

Miller and the A3P have attained ballot access in Tennessee, New Jersey, and Colorado, and have additionally qualified for write-in status in Maryland and West Virginia.


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January 23, 2012

Wikinews Shorts: January 23, 2012

Wikinews Shorts: January 23, 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: January 23, 2012

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A compilation of brief news reports for Monday, January 23, 2012.

If you believe any of these stories deserves more in-depth coverage, feel free to write a full article on the issues raised.

Western show of unity in the Strait of Hormuz on the eve of further anti-Iran sanctions

A six-strong flotilla of United States, French, and British warships, centered around the USS Abraham Lincoln, has sailed through the Strait of Hormuz. The move comes on the eve of an expected embargo on the import of Iranian oil by the European Union, and an Iranian threat to close the straits to international shipping.

Thirty five percent of the world’s supply of crude oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz.

Libyan deputy leader resigns over protests

Abdul Hafiz Ghoga, the vice-chair of Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) resigned following protests in Benghazi on Saturday. Talking to Al Jazeera on Sunday he said, “[m]y resignation is for the benefit of the nation and is required at this stage.”

A human rights lawyer, Ghoga became the focus of discontent over the prominence of former Gaddafi loyalists on the NTC, the pace of reform and the belief that Benghazi was sidelined in the political process.



Nigeria death toll set to rise

The confirmed death toll of 178 in co-ordinated attacks against Nigerian government targets in Kano on Friday, with police and soldiers amongst the many dead and wounded, is expected to rise.

Attacks by Boko Haram, who seek to create an Islamic state, are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with fears the group aims to provoke a civil war between Nigeria’s Muslim north and Christian south.


Economy not Sharia will be the focus of Egypt’s new Islamic government

Improving the economy and fighting poverty, not legislating to create a Muslim state, will be the Muslim Brotherhood‘s agenda when they form Egypt’s first post-Mubarak government today. “We can’t talk about implementing Islamic Shariah law when the country is experiencing such devastating economic problems,” said Mohammed Gouda, a party policymaker and economics committee member.

Islamists form a majority in the new assembly with the Muslim Brotherhood winning 46% of seats and the conservative Al-Nour Party 23%.


UK unemployment increases to 2.68m as profit warnings increase

The UK‘s unemployment rate has reached 8.4% — 2.685 million people — according to data released by the Office of National Statistics. The figure reflects the quarter ending last November and is a 0.3% increase on the previous quarter.

Unemployment amongst younger people now stands at 22.3% — 1.043 million people, and the number of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance has now reached 1.6 million; in December, 1,200 new claimants began receiving unemployment benefits.

Profit warnings from firms within the UK have increased from 51 in the third quarter to 88 in the fourth, say Ernst & Young. The nation saw 206 firms issue 278 warnings profits were not as high as initially expected.

Three years after British retailer Woolworths collapsed, 24,000 who lost their jobs as a result have won a fight for compensation; each will receive 60 days’ pay, a total payout of £67.8 million and averaging £2,800 per person.





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September 25, 2011

Saudi Arabian women gain right to vote, run in elections

Saudi Arabian women gain right to vote, run in elections

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

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King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has announced women will be allowed to vote in the country and run for municipal elections there. The modifications will apply from 2012.

Abdullah made this announcement at the start of a new Shura Council term. In a speech, the king said “we refuse to marginalise women in society in all roles that comply with sharia” and so made the decision “to involve women in the Shura Council as members, starting from next term”. Abdullah clarified that female adults “will be able to run as candidates in the municipal election and will even have a right to vote.” Such changes are to be put in place “according to Islamic principles,” he said. Muslim women, he continued, “must not be marginalised in opinion or advice”.

Activists have sought women’s right to vote in Saudi Arabia for years. As it stands, women in Saudi Arabia cannot drive, nor travel without male permission, based on Sunni Islam principles.



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February 23, 2010

Female lawyers to be granted court access in Saudi Arabia

Female lawyers to be granted court access in Saudi Arabia

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

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A Saudi Arabian woman wearing traditional ḥijāb.
Image: Walter Callens.

Female lawyers in Saudi Arabia may soon be granted limited court access for the first time. Mohammed al-Issa, the justice minister, said that the law was part of King Abdullah’s ongoing reform to Saudi Arabia’s judicial system. The law would allow female lawyers to represent other women at family-related cases, including marriage, divorce, and child custody.

Saudi women that are educated in law are currently permitted to work in the female section of government and court offices. Positions of higher authority are reserved for the opposite sex. The Saudi government is also building specialized “personal status” or family courts where female lawyers will be permitted to practice.

Women rights are strictly defined by Islamic Sharia law in Saudi Arabia. Employment and educational opportunities are dependent on a system of male guardianship. For example, a female under the age of 45 must gain the approval of a male before traveling.

According to the BBC, the law and other minor changes are steps in the direction of easing restrictions placed on Saudi women.



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September 22, 2009

Militants bomb school in northwestern Pakistan

Militants bomb school in northwestern Pakistan

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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Police in northwestern Pakistan said that suspected Taliban militants have blown up a primary school that educated girls on Tuesday.

Northwest Pakistan
Image: Morwen.

Officials say there were no casualties in the blast, which occurred on the outskirts the city of Peshawar, because the school was closed for the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“The school building, which consisted of three rooms was destroyed in the blast,” said Hamdullah Khan, a local police official. He said that the explosion was likely caused by a timed explosive device.

Al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked militants who oppose the education of women have destroyed hundreds of girls’ schools across the country. Almost 200 schools were destroyed in the Swat valley after a two-year campaign to enforce sharia law was made by Maulana Fazaullah, a radical Islam cleric.

Cquote1.svg “The school building, which consisted of three rooms was destroyed in the blast.” Cquote2.svg

—Hamdullah Khan, police official

On Monday, police killed a suicide bomber trying to assassinate a regional education minister in the country’s northwestern regions.

In other violence, Pakistani security forces say they have arrested eleven suspected militants, including three Afghanis, during security operations in Malakand and Swat districts. In a statement released Tuesday, officials say they also found four inter-linked tunnels and bomb-proof bunkers during a separate search operation near Swat’s Biakand area.



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December 15, 2008

Somali parliament rejects president\’s dismissal of prime minister

Somali parliament rejects president’s dismissal of prime minister

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Somalia’s parliament overwhelmingly voted Monday to keep Nur Hassan Hussein as their prime minister, blocking President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed’s attempt at dismissing the prime minister and his “corrupt, inefficient” government.

President Yusuf announced his motion to dismiss Hussein on Sunday, saying his government was “unable to perform its duties” in matters such as dealing with the Islamic militants who have taken over most of the country. The latest dispute between the two involved efforts to reconcile with the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), the country’s main opposition group. The UN-sponsored peace process has been decried by Yusuf as dealing with terrorists.

Hussein countered that the president had no authority to strip the prime minister of his post, and that the transitional federal charter required the approval of parliament for such an action. “The president was speaking in his usual personal capacity, contrary to the rules and regulations,” Hussein said prior to the special parliamentary session in Baidoa.

Despite Yusuf’s hope that the parliament would endorse his decision, members of parliament were strongly supportive of Hussein’s government, with 143 members recognizing the government’s legitimacy, 20 rejecting its legitimacy and 7 abstaining. “Therefore the government of Hassan Hussein is legitimate,” said Aden Mohamed Nur, the parliamentary speaker.

Hussein, whom Yusuf appointed little more than a year ago after the resignation of Ali Mohamed Gedi, had previously survived a vote of no confidence in September, when he faced accusations of embezzling state funds.

“The only obstacle in front of my government was the president,” Hussein told members of parliament after the vote, “and since I have the confidence of the MPs I hope it will be effective henceforth.” Yusuf had no immediate comment on the vote, but he had previously stated he would comply with parliament’s decision if they chose to block his dismissal.

The relationship between the president and prime minister has grown increasingly strained over the issue of Islamic militancy. Yusuf has blamed the prime minister for the instability plaguing the politically fragile state, while Hussein has accused the president of trying to “sabotage” peace efforts between the transitional government and the ARS. Fighting between the Islamic opposition and Somali-backed troops from Ethiopia, the African Union, and the UN has killed thousands of Somalis and displaced millions.

Jean Ping, chairman of the African Union Commission, said the dispute within the transitional government has the potential of undermining efforts for “further reconciliation, peace, and stability in Somalia.” The UN also issued a statement condemning the dispute, and demonstrators gathered in the streets of Mogadishu to denounce the president’s move.

Although moderate Islamists from the ARS have agreed to enter into reconciliation talks, hardliner insurgents have rejected the attempts at peace and continue to take over towns in the central and northern regions of Somalia. Since the fall of the Islamic Courts Union, organizations like Al-Shabaab have become leading insurgent groups. A spokesman for Al-Shabaab told reporters on Sunday that they intend to impose Sharia law on all of Somalia, and that a peace deal would never be accepted.



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May 3, 2008

Multifaith council commends Malaysian politician\’s comments on conversion to Islam

Multifaith council commends Malaysian politician’s comments on conversion to Islam

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Saturday, May 3, 2008

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The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism issued a statement Friday praising comments made Wednesday by Malaysian politician Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan on conversion to Islam. Malaysian Consultative Council president Datuk A. Vaithilingam said that Ong’s views are shared by Malaysians from all religious faiths in the country.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Image: Daniel Berthold.

“Conversion to Islam should not be abused as a means to evade one’s legal obligations to one’s family. A person’s conversion to another religion should not cause pain and suffering for other members of the family,” said Vaithilingam. He asked state and federal government authorities to take necessary steps to fix loopholes in the law, so that Malaysians could freely practice religion in the country.

Cquote1.svg Conversion to Islam should not be abused as a means to evade one’s legal obligations to one’s family. Cquote2.svg

—Malaysian Consultative Council president Datuk A. Vaithilingam

Ong is the current Minister of Housing and Local Government in the Malaysian cabinet, and also serves as the secretary-general of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Perak MCA chairman. In his Wednesday statement, he said that individuals who convert to Islam through the marriage process should be permitted to renounce the religion if they leave the marriage. Ong also stated that the religion of a minor child with one Muslim parent should be determined by both parents, or remain the same until the child turns 18.

Ong said that issues involving divorce, custody of children and inheritance in matters of constitutional rights of non-Muslims had increased dramatically in the last three years. Ong emphasized the importance of civil law as related to non-Muslims in the country, as opposed to that of Syariah (Sharia), Islamic religious law.

Cquote1.svg We urge the Government to be transparent in this process. Cquote2.svg

—Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan

“Non-Muslims are not to be subjected to any form of Syariah laws and for any disputes or overlapping areas involving the jurisdiction of civil and Syariah courts, civil laws must prevail. … We urge the Government to be transparent in this process,” said Ong.

Ong’s comments were made as part of an 11-page motion of thanks on the royal address. His motion was seconded by Bintulu Minister of Parliament Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing. Ong also spoke about the corruption, education, crime and security and the economy in his two-hour speech.

Of the 27 million people in Malaysia, 60 percent are Muslim Malaysian Malays, 25 percent are Chinese and mainly Buddhists or Christians, and 7.8 percent are ethnic Indians and mainly Hindus.



Sources

Wikipedia Learn more about Islam in Malaysia and Religious freedom in Malaysia on Wikipedia.
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March 11, 2008

Algerian rebel group claims kidnapping of two Austrians in Tunisia

Algerian rebel group claims kidnapping of two Austrians in Tunisia

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

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An Algerian rebel group that has pledged its allegiance to Al-Quada announced on Monday that it had kidnapped two Austrians vacationing in Tunisia on February 22, 2008.

The statement was read by Salah Abou-Mohammad, a spokesman for the Islamist group which last January announced it was redefining itself as “Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb“.

“A squadron of heroic mujahideen was able to infiltrate deep into the Tunisian state and succeeded in kidnapping two Austrian tourists,” Abou-Mohammed said. “The two kidnapped are in good health and are being treated well in keeping with the teachings of Islamic Sharia.”

He added, “We tell Western tourists flocking to Tunisia for leisure at a time when our brethren are being slaughtered in Gaza by the Jews with the complicity of Western states … the apostate Tunisian state is not able, and will not be able, to protect you.”

Austrian authorities have confirmed that two of its citizens have been missing since mid-February, but declined to identify them. Reports in local Austrian media say that they are a couple from near Salzburg: Andrea Kloiber, aged 43, and Wolfgang Ebner, aged 51. Abou-Mohammad identified them by their professions as a nurse and a consultant, respectively.

According to a statement released by the Tunisian government, the pair was last reported heading into the Sahara in a direction that could have taken them across the border.

“Until now there is no element that proves that the two Austrian citizens are in Tunisian territory or that they were kidnapped inside Tunisian borders,” it said. However it also said, “The authorities have begun carrying out intensive search operations by land and air.”

Tunisia was also the scene of the 2002 Ghriba synagogue bombing, for which Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility. That attack left 14 Germans, six Tunisians, and one Frenchman dead and more than 30 others wounded.



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February 2, 2008

Scores killed in twin Baghdad marketplace attacks

Scores killed in twin Baghdad marketplace attacks

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Saturday, February 2, 2008

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On Friday, twin attacks in Iraq killed at least 72 people and wounded another 149. Separated by twenty minutes, the bombings targeted two marketplaces in Baghdad shortly before the call to Friday prayers.

These attacks were unlike suicide bombings in that the bombs were dynamite and ball bearings strapped to two women. These human bombs were then detonated remotely using mobile phone. The identities of the women have not been released.

Major-General Qassim Moussawi, spokesman for the Iraqi military in Baghdad said, “The operation was carried out by two booby-trapped mentally disabled women.” He did not explain how the forensic evidence could have proven the mental disability of the women. “We found the mobiles used to detonate the women,” he said.

Moussawi said this of the investigation: “Forensic and bomb squad experts as well as the people and traders of al-Shorja area of the carpet market have confirmed that the woman who was blown-up there today was often in the area and was mentally disabled… In the New Baghdad area the shop owners and customers of the pet market confirmed that the woman who was blown-up there was mentally disabled as well.”

Cquote1.svg Most people who visit this market are poor and just want to enjoy themselves but they came and got killed. Cquote2.svg

—Hassan Salman

An aide to Moussawi suggested the claims were based on eye-witness reports. He also said authorities believe the women were unaware of plans to detonate the explosives.

Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a spokesman for the multinational force in Baghdad, said, “By targeting innocent Iraqis, they show their true demonic character. They care nothing for the Iraqi people; they want to subjugate them and forcefully create a greater Islamic sharia state.”

Later, Stover told Reuters that the U.S. military was not aware of evidence to suggest the women were mentally handicapped. Pentagon reports on the attacks also lacked any reference to the mental condition of the women.

“There is nothing they won’t do if they think it will work in creating carnage and the political fallout that comes from that,” the U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker said. He blamed the attacks on Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the bombings underlined “the absolute bankruptcy and brutality” of those who carried them out. “The Iraqi people have been right to turn against these terrible, violent people in their midst who will do anything.”

Forty-five were killed at the Ghazl pet market, and 27 were killed in New Baghdad. The Ghazl market is only open on Fridays and had remained popular despite two attacks in 2007. Both attacks were centered on pet markets.

“Most people who visit this market are poor and just want to enjoy themselves but they came and got killed,” said Hassan Salman, who sells bird seed at the Ghazl market.

The attacks are the deadliest in Iraq since the al-Khilani Mosque bombing which killed 87 people on June 19, 2007.



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