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UK: World Muslim Leader Warns Dutch Politician Geert Wilders

“Listen carefully – You, your party and every other person like you will ultimately be destroyed. But the religion of Islam and the message of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) will remain forever.”

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | EU Desk
Source/Credit: AMJ – International
By Press Release | October 19, 2011

Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad praises Queen Beatrix for promoting inclusiveness and equality

During a recent visit to Holland, the world Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Hadhrat [His Holiness] Mirza Masroor Ahmad, issued a stark warning to Geert Wilders, the far-right Dutch politician.

If Wilders will continued to defame Islam and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), warns Hadhrat Ahmad, he and other like-minded individuals would be humiliated by God Almighty.

His Holiness said that Wilders had exceeded all limits of falsehood and hatred in his opposition towards Islam. He said Wilders was motivated solely by a desire to further his own political ambitions and so the time had come to warn him about the consequences of his actions.

He said that irrespective of whether Wilders gained further political capital in the short term, ultimately his antics would lead only towards abject failure and humiliation.

Addressing Wilders directly, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:

“Listen carefully – You, your party and every other person like you will ultimately be destroyed. But the religion of Islam and the message of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) will remain forever. No worldly power, no matter how powerful and no matter how much hatred they bear towards Islam, will ever succeed in erasing our religion.”

The end to such hatred would be achieved through prayer alone and not by any worldly means, His Holiness explained.

“Always remember that we can achieve nothing without prayer,” said Hazrat Ahmad. “We have no worldly power, nor will we ever use any worldly force. But the prayers of people whose hearts have been grieved are enough to shake the Heavens.”

Hadhrat Ahmad said the majority of the people who live in Holland are very decent and they reject wholeheartedly the extremist views perpetuated by Wilders.

His Holiness said that all such people who care for the feelings of one another and who believe in religious freedom should come together and launch a campaign for peace in the world. This is something that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat has long advocated and has been involved with throughout the world.
 
During his visit, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad took the opportunity to praise the efforts of Queen Beatrix towards promoting inclusiveness and equality.

Speaking about her efforts, His Holiness said:

“All Ahmadi Muslims should pray for Queen Beatrix because certain sections of the local society have turned against her, due to the fact that she has openly condemned the anti-Islam movement in this country. They are also angry because she advocates the right of Muslims to be treated as full and equal citizens, whose rights and feelings should be respected. Thus we must pray that all plans and schemes against the Queen completely fail.”

For further Information, Press Secretary – AMJ International, Abid Khan can be reached at press@ahmadiyya.org.uk

Edited by Ahmadiyya Times

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Pakistan: Teacher’s Islamic blasphemy sentence upgraded

Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission chairman Asma Jahangir said the blasphemy laws were open to blatant abuse but the current “climate of fear” in Pakistan stifled all debate about reform.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | AU Desk
Source/Credit: The Australian | South Asia correspondent
By Amanda Hodge | October 19, 2011

A RETIRED Pakistani schoolteacher has been jailed for three years on blasphemy charges after appealing against a one-month sentence handed down for allegedly insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammad.

Mehram Wahocho was also fined Rs5000 ($US57) in the appeal judgment, which found that the lower court sentence handed down two years ago was too lenient. The decision was made after Wahocho’s accuser also appealed against the original sentence, asking for an increase in his punishment.

Last month, a 13-year-old Christian girl was expelled from her school, and her government nurse mother transferred from her job, for allegedly committing blasphemy during a test in which she inadvertently made a spelling error. Faryal Tauseef, an eighth grade student at Sir Syed High School in the northwest town of Havelian, was asked with her class to define “naat” (hymn), a style of poem written in praise of Mohammed, instead writing the word “lanaat” (curse). “In her explanation, Faryal wrote a word which was blasphemous,” the school’s administrator, Junaid Sarfraz, said, adding that her teacher had referred the case to Muslim clerics believing she had intentionally used the word.

“The girl confessed, saying that she did it by mistake and the school administration, after consulting local clerics, decided to rusticate (expel) her.”

Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission chairman Asma Jahangir said the blasphemy laws were open to blatant abuse but the current “climate of fear” in Pakistan stifled all debate about reform.

“The change will come when the atmosphere in this country changes, but right now people are too fearful to speak up,” she said.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, introduced in 1986 under General Zia ul-Haq, have sparked international controversy since last November when Christian mother-of-five Asia Bibi became the first Pakistani woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy.

Read original post here: Teacher’s Islamic blasphemy sentence upgraded in Pakistan

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Canada: Open house on Islam step toward understanding

By being more knowledgeable about Islam, we are all in a better position to understand it, as well as understand the many people around the world who, despite worshipping differently than us, are not all the much different from us.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: Intelligencer | Editorial
By Intelligencer | October 17, 2011

At a time when the exchange of information as close to instantaneous as it is widespread, it remains an unfortunate truth that much of the information is wrong, based on ignorance, misconceptions, prejudice and misrepresentation of facts.

It is also sometimes based on the fact many people don’t want to hear anything but their own perceptions of the truth.

Eric Thomas and members of the Quinte Secular Humanist Association deserve a great deal of respect for the fact they are not only willing to listen to different ideas, but are willing to work to assist others in doing so as well.

On Saturday, QSHA hosted an open house on Islam and the Holy Qur’an at the Belleville Public Library Art Gallery.

The followers of Islam have had — to put it mildly — a great deal of “bad press” recently, much of it to do with the actions of a minority and the reactions of people who like to speak before they actually listen.

“The Muslims had a lot of bad press over the last few years and this particular sect of Muslims (Ahmadiyya Muslim) has this specific outreach program, which I thought would be the perfect venue to discuss and show them our respect and consideration,” said Thomas.

Organizer Rizwan Rabbani and speaker Adam Alexander have been canvassing Canadian cities like Belleville for the last year — promoting peace, condemning terrorism and addressing misconceptions regarding Islam and the Muslim religion at large.

“I came here this morning with the intention of hearing things that people have learned about Muslim, the Islam, and the Qu’ran from TV, media, friends and family members,” said Alexander, who became Muslim five years ago after reading and understanding the Qur’an, the central religious text of Islam. “And I wanted to be given the opportunity to defend those misconceptions.

“I don’t need participants in our seminar to believe it. I just want them to know the different versions of Islam.”

Knowing, of course, is not the same thing as believing, and to Alexander’s credit he isn’t asking people to believe in his faith, only to understand it, or at least understand how not everyone who shares it can be bundled together in one small group.

As has been noted before, blaming all Muslims for terrorism is akin to blaming all Christians for the Ku Klux Klan.

By being more knowledgeable about Islam, we are all in a better position to understand it, as well as understand the many people around the world who, despite worshipping differently than us, are not all the much different from us.

From that kind of knowledge comes tolerance, even understanding. And that takes us one step closer to peace.

Read original post here: Open house on Islam step toward understanding

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UK: Muslim bookstall in Cradley Heath market in West Midland.

1“We have the bookstall to raise awareness of our work in Britain and in the local community we are proud to be British Muslims and this incident saddened us. Our motto is ‘Love for All – Hatred for None’ and we do not meet violence with violence so we just stood there and did not respond to the provocation.”

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | UK Desk
Source/Credit: Press.TV
By MOL/PKH |  October 18, 2011

At least 25 thugs from the British far-right anti-Muslim English Defence League (EDL) group have attacked a Muslim bookstall in Cradley Heath market in West Midland.

The EDL thugs launched a shocking raid on the local Ahmaddiya Muslim bookstall and Qur’an exhibition this weekend, triggering hatred among shoppers, many of them women and children, British media reported.

Toby Ephram, Ahmadiyya outreach worker, described the incident, which happened at 2:30 pm on Saturday.

“About 25 of the EDL group stormed our stall in Cradley Heath pushing, shoving and threatening our members.”

“We have the bookstall to raise awareness of our work in Britain and in the local community we are proud to be British Muslims and this incident saddened us. Our motto is ‘Love for All – Hatred for None’ and we do not meet violence with violence so we just stood there and did not respond to the provocation”, Ephram said.

The incident was condemned by Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP, James Morris, who branded it as an ignorant and mindless attack.

“The people storming the stall may claim that they are defending their English identity, but tolerance for other people’s views and beliefs has long been a key part of what it means to be English. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Cradley Heath actively works to help different sections of our society to live peacefully alongside each other, whatever their religion,” said the MP.

“This mindless attack is absolutely deplorable and can only have been caused by ignorance of the views and action of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community locally,” he added.

The English Defence League is the most significant far-right street movement in Britain, which has been established to target UK’s Muslim communities. The group has so far sparked some of Britain’s most violent street clashes through its members’ anti-social behaviour. It was recently implicated in a terrorist attack in Norway, in which dozens of people were killed.

Read original post here: Muslim bookstall in Cradley Heath market in West Midland.

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Indonesia: Tolerance Bill accused of worsening religious tensions

The tolerance bill is aimed at countering this sentiment by setting limits on controversial religious activities and groups. Activists say that the measure would limit the rights of religious minorities, provoking further conflict.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit: Voice of America | Jakarta
By Brian Padden | October 18, 2011

Indonesia’s legislature is considering a tolerance bill aimed at reducing tensions between the Muslim majority and minority religions about such issues as building houses of worship and converting members to a different faith.

But human rights groups worry the bill would actually have the opposite affect given the rise in attacks against religious minorities in recent years.

The violence has been instigated for the most part by Islamic militants opposed to the building of Christian churches in Muslim neighborhoods, the converting of Muslims to Christianity or other religions, and the Ahmadiyah sect being permitted to practice its faith.

The tolerance bill is aimed at countering this sentiment by setting limits on controversial religious activities and groups. Activists say that the measure would limit the rights of religious minorities, provoking further conflict.

Elaine Pearson with Human Rights Watch says the fact that the tolerance bill came from the Religious Affairs Ministry that has called for a ban on the Ahmadiyah is, in itself, a cause for concern.  The bill, she says, promotes the segregation of religions by making is more difficult for minority religions to build houses of worship without majority consent.

“Our concern is that, you know, this kind of proposal might simply entrench further discrimination against religious minorities by basically pulling together the various decrees on houses of worship against the Ahmadiyah and other provisions that have been used in a way to really marginalize some of the groups,” Pearson says.

Although the 200,000 Ahmadiyah followers in Indonesia consider themselves Muslims, they are not accepted by mainstream Islam because they do not believe the Prophet Muhammad was the final prophet.

Ruby Kholifah, with the interfaith dialogue organization the Asian Muslim Action Network, is concerned that an article in the bill prohibiting sectarian teaching is actually code for banning the Ahmadiyah. She says the government should focus on protecting religious groups and not judging the tenets of any faith.

“The protection should reflect strongly in the tolerance bill instead of discussing whether Ahmadiyah [is] correct or not,” Kholifah says. “It is not our area. Let’s just give this to God to judge whether Ahmadiyah is correct or not.”

Musdah Mulia, a lecturer at the Islamic State University in Jakarta and chairperson of the Indonesia Conference on Religion and Peace, says the bill goes against the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion and the country’s founding Pancasila principles of unity and democracy.

“This bill is not compatible, many articles in this bill [are] not compatible with the principles of democracy, pluralism, and human rights. And for me it is not conducive with the principles of Pancasila itself,” said Mulia.

Mulia adds, rather than limiting religious activities, the government should ensure that all religions receive equal treatment.

Read original post here: Indonesian Tolerance Bill Accused of Worsening Religious Tensions

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From the left field: Enjoying ‘Aaloo-Andey’ [Potatos & Eggs] with the people

…[I]n a charged and tense country like Pakistan the rational can also mean anything from blasphemy to treason to being labeled as US/Indian/Zionist agent, and, of course, bayghairat!

Sarcastic banners – video screen-grab

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit: Daily Dawn | Pakistan
By Nadeem F. Paracha | October 18, 2011

Just when one thought Pakistani pop music had eaten itself and choked on its own self-indulgences, comes a band called the ‘Beyghairat Brigade’ (the Dishonour Brigade).

The name says it all: A tongue-in-cheek take on what is called the ‘ghairat brigade’ (honour brigade), the band sarcastically embraces a title that the peddlers of ‘qaumi ghairat’ (national honour) spit at those who disagree with the brigade’s conspiratorial rants and an almost xenophobic brand of ‘patriotism.’

In the wee hours of the October 17, the Beyghairat Brigade (BB) uploaded a video of a song called ‘Aloo-Andey’ (Potatoes & Eggs) on YouTube.

It was not just another ‘funny song’ about a guy talking about his mom cooking some potatoes and eggs. Nor was it a ditty toeing the usual line taken by the many political spoof shows and social parody songs that have been doing the rounds of popular TV news channels in Pakistan in the last decade or so.

http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/ZEpnwCPgH7g?version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0
Video courtesy The Media180 

For years one has come to expect everyone from talk show hosts, to their ‘expert guests’ all the way to mainstream pop stars and actors to (as if on cue) roll-out a now much worn-out and self-comforting narrative about the awkward political and social ills besieging Pakistan.

This is how it goes: Politicians are corrupt, America is evil, Indians want to break-up Pakistan, acts of terrorism are either being carried out by US/Indian/Israeli agents or by Pakistanis trained by these agents, or by non-Muslims posing as Muslims, or even if they are Muslims they are not Pakistani and if they are really Pakistanis then they are .. errm … not circumcised.

In other words, the whole wide world (except Saudi Arabia and maybe China) wants to destroy Islam (and thus Pakistan, which is the ‘bastion of Islam’).

As ‘serious’ TV talk shows and drawing rooms ring with discussions revolving around such insightful understanding of the ‘new world order’ and as the oh-so-clever social and political satirists on TV base their uproarious creations on these same musings, BB’s ‘Aaloo-Andey’ simply digs out the questions being asked by those who are so endearingly being called ‘liberal fascists’ and beyghairat by the self-appointed keepers of Pakistan’s honour.

The mainstream English press, especially Dawn, The Friday Times and Express Tribune, have continued to pose these questions.

What has so far been contemplated by ‘liberal fascists’ in English, suddenly emerges in the shape of a highly catchy and jangly little tune fronted by lyrics sung in ordinary everyday Punjabi!

Things can’t get more interesting than this because the Punjab province (apart from the war torn Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), has faced not only rapid Islamic and sectarian radicalisation in the last 15 years or so, but it now has perhaps one of Pakistan’s most conservative urban middle and lower middle-classes.

The young men in BB are all based in Punjab’s capital, Lahore and boast basic middle-class backgrounds.

After watching the video on YouTube, I was thrilled that DawnNews actually played it in its 6 and 9 o’clock news bulletins, and today as it ran the song again I was lucky to be in a place where groups of working-class men (drivers and gardeners) were also present.

Many of them let out a tired smile when the song kicked in with BB’s singer, in typical ‘Lahore Punjabi’, complaining that he didn’t want to have potatoes and/with eggs that his mom had cooked.

The tired smiles then grew a bit wider when the singer goes on to say that he instead wants chicken and roti (bread) but then wonders why the price of roti had suddenly risen.

This question, of course, finally managed to get working men’s more-than-a-passing–attention.

The roti reference then automatically led to the dilemma of the provincial government of the Punjab led by the PML-N (headed by Mian Nawaz Sharif and Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif).

Though both the brothers now have expensive hair pieces planted on their heads, they had precious little hair some six years ago.

This is why BB refers to them as ‘ganjay’ (baldies), who (after struggling to run a smooth administration in Punjab) were hanging on kites and Imran Khan (the Sharif’s new nemesis in Punjab), is looking towards the Chief Justice/Chief of Army (to intervene and make way for new elections).

One needs to understand well the current political discourse in Pakistan to fully appreciate the lyrics that are largely studded with allusions.

For example, when BB suggests that Imran is looking towards the ‘chief’ (as a bright light), the band means the CJP and the army chief but more so the army chief because the band alludes to the chief getting an extension (like the one the army chief got last year).

By now the people I was witnessing the video with couldn’t keep their eyes off the screen. Why? Simple. Here was a bunch of raw, early twenty-somethings poking fun at the military chief!

It’s easy making fun of politicians (because most of them do not bite back), but the military’s top brass has been one of the sacred cows that the media cannot touch, let alone mock. And let’s face it, there are many within the media who’ve been more loyal than the king in this context.

So, after lamenting the apathetic and confused state of the Sharifs, and winking at Imran Khan’s desire to see the ‘chief’ come in and light up Khan’s political career, BB then get to what are perhaps the most loaded and boldest lyrics of the whole song.

In a clean, unadulterated sweep that lasts not more than ten seconds, BB wonders about a country where killers like Mumtaz Qadri (who assassinated former Punjab governor Salman Taseer after accusing him of committing blasphemy) are treated as royals; and where Ajmal Kasab (the Pakistani terrorist who took part in the attack in Mumbai) is a hero; and where mullahs escape wearing a woman’s burqa (like the head cleric of the Lal Masjid); and how no-one ever mentions men like the Nobel-Prize winning Pakistani scientist Abdul Salam (just because he belonged to the outlawed Ahmadi sect).

I had no clue what was going on in the heads of the men I was watching the video with. They just kept staring at the TV screen, smiling away.

What the song was suggesting are simple, rational observations. Yes, but in a charged and tense country like Pakistan the rational can also mean anything from blasphemy to treason to being labeled as US/Indian/Zionist agent, and, of course, bayghairat!

These lyrics are the heart of the song. A heart that every Pakistani knows beats loudly but very few, if none at all (especially in the populist media), have the guts to follow, or worse, would rather like to rip out and replace with an artificial ticker they call patriotism/ghairat/et al.

As the song moves on, the singer can’t help but comment on yet another of our favorite excuses: the notorious Blackwater.

In a lyric that instead of absolving Blackwater’s many reported misdeeds in the world, BB instead suggests that we shouldn’t be worrying about Blackwater because the (suicide/terrorist) attacks taking place in our mosques, schools, shrines and markets are coming from within.

Again a rational observation, but a fact only a ‘liberal fascist’ is prepared to face?

There is so much more here that doesn’t get said by the singer. These appear as placards in the video and some of them are not only hilarious, but spot-on: ‘Nawaz Sharif bye, bye, papa Kiyani no likey you’ (alluding to the schism between the once pro-military Nawaz and the army); ‘Free Judiciary = Hanged PPP’ (the PPP regime’s problems with the judiciary that wants to see it brought to book for corruption); ‘Tehreek-i-Insaaf = A Good Looking Jamat-i-Islami’ (or how Imran Khan is just a more good-looking fundamentalist); ‘Your money + My pocket = We’re still enemies’ (a taunt at Pakistan army posing to be anti-America after pocketing millions of dollars worth of aid from the US); ‘Mullah + Military = Ziaul Yuckee’ (the alliance between religious parties and the military that began strengthening during the dictatorship of Ziaul Haq).

Then halfway through the video, as if preempting what a majority of the ‘ghiarat brigade’ would be decrying about this video, one of the band members is seen holding up a placard with the words, ‘This video is sponsored by Zionists.’
However, the parody in this respect turns darker still when at the end, the singer pulls up a placard with the words ‘If you want a bullet through my head, like this video,’ scribbled on it.

Hope not, but this song and video is certainly an apparently unassuming bolt of consciousness that, within a span of three minutes, has rendered all the conspiracy theorists, ‘analysts,’ talk-show hosts and robotic, contrary ‘patriotic’ show-biz exhibitionists as not only meaningless masters of chauvinist rhetoric, but apologists of lies.

As for the men who had gone through these three minutes with me, they were smiling widely by the end of the song.

Sure, it was more a smile of wonder than of complete acknowledgment, but in a country that is being torturously burdened by matters of faith, identity and its own history, a smile of wonder in this regard is good enough.

Read original post here: Enjoying ‘Aaloo-Andey’ with the people

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USA: Faith and Politics | Perry Camp’s Anti-Mormon Message

The activist in question is David Lane, a conservative Christian power broker who directed fundraising for Perry’s August prayer rally and was reportedly among the leading voices in the evangelical community lobbying for the Texas governor to jump into the 2012 race.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: The Daily Beast
By McKay Coppins | October 16, 2011

E-mails obtained by The Daily Beast show an operative with close ties to Rick Perry’s campaign engaged in anti-Mormon cheerleading. McKay Coppins reports.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has publicly distanced himself from the anti-Mormon rhetoric of a prominent Baptist minister who has endorsed his presidential campaign. But new evidence suggests that Perry’s team may be quietly advancing the notion that Mitt Romney’s faith should disqualify him from the White House.

The Daily Beast has obtained a series of e-mails that show an influential evangelical activist with close ties to the Perry campaign stressing the political importance of “juxtaposing traditional Christianity to the false God of Mormonism,” and calling for a “clarion call to Evangelical pastors and pews” that will be “the key to the primary” for Perry.

The activist in question is David Lane, a conservative Christian power broker who directed fundraising for Perry’s August prayer rally and was reportedly among the leading voices in the evangelical community lobbying for the Texas governor to jump into the 2012 race. The e-mail thread—which took place over the past two weeks and includes discussion of both campaign strategy and Christian theology—was between Lane and Dick Bott, who heads Bott Radio Network, a self-described “leader in the development of Christian talk radio.”

On Oct. 12, Bott sent an email to Lane informing him that he would soon be recording an interview with the Rev. Robert Jeffress, the Perry backer and Baptist minister who had made headlines at the Value Voters Summit in early October for calling Mormonism a non-Christian “cult.” Jeffress also argued that Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney wasn’t deserving of the presidency because of his faith.

Bott indicated that the interview would be sympathetic to Jeffress, and defended the pastor for raising the Mormon issue: “What would anyone think if a candidate were a Scientologist?” Bott wrote. “Shouldn’t they want to know what the implications were that may flow therefrom? [sic]”

Lane responded the next day with a lengthy email that began, “Thank you for what you are doing and for your leadership. Getting out Dr. Jeffress [sic] message, juxtaposing traditional Christianity to the false god of Mormonism, is very important in the larger scheme of things.”

Publicly, the Perry campaign has insisted that Jeffress was not speaking at their behest when he attacked Romney’s religion, and Perry himself has said he does not personally believe that Mormonism is a cult. As recently as Friday, Perry attempted to dismiss the controversy, calling it a “sideshow” that voters were uninterested in, and reiterating, “We clearly said we didn’t agree with that statement.”

But in the emails, Lane—on whom Perry is reportedly relying to rally evangelical voters to his candidacy—struck a different tone.

“We owe Dr. Jeffress a big thank you,” he wrote to Bott, adding that the media criticism that has called attention to the pastor’s comments was “a stroke of luck.”

Lane and Bott did not respond to multiple requests for comment by The Daily Beast.

The e-mails raise questions about whether Jeffress’s anti-Mormon rhetoric was a deliberate strategic move by the campaign, or simply the prerogative of an independent pastor expressing a widely held view among evangelical Christians.

Mark Miner, a spokesman for the Perry campaign, declined to answer questions about the nature of Lane’s relationship with the campaign. When The Daily Beast shared quotes from the emails, Miner responded, “Based on what you’ve provided this appears to be a private conversation that has nothing to do with our campaign.” According to the campaign’s most recent FEC report, Lane doesn’t appear to be on the candidate’s payroll.

But Lane’s involvement with Perry’s nomination efforts has been widely reported, and he is seen as the linchpin to the candidate’s outreach to evangelicals. In August, when the Texas governor held a large prayer rally for evangelical Christians shortly before entering the race, the Los Angeles Times reported that Lane was one of the masterminds behind the event. And a Religion News Services article listed Lane as one of several prominent evangelical figures who is “lin[ing] up behind Perry.”

Perhaps even more telling, Lane reportedly arranged a conference call last June for conservative Christian heavyweights that was designed to identify an ideal presidential candidate. The consensus was that if Perry entered the race, they would get behind him—a message that Lane, who has been organizing evangelical voters in key states ahead of 2012, took seriously. Lane’s influence in that community is well documented. Doug Wead, a leading historian of the Christian right, has described Lane as “the mysterious, behind the scenes, evangelical kingmaker who stormed into Iowa in 2008 and tilted the whole thing from Romney to Huckabee.”

Lane made clear in his e-mails that he has similar plans to derail Romney’s candidacy this time around. In fact, he told Bott that he would rather sit the race out than vote for a Mormon or President Obama.

“Let me go on the record, I won’t vote for Mitt Romney as Republican nominee in 2012.” He followed the statement with a link to a news article describing Romney’s various ecclesiastical positions in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He also cited Romney’s past positions advocating for abortion and gay rights before adding, “The Soul of America is at stake, where is the Church? Will a Gideon or Rahab the Harlot please stand?” (The last question refers to Biblical characters whom God called to save the Israelites in the Old Testament—an apparent plea for a candidate who will bring America in line with conservative Christian values.)

The emails refer to Lane strategizing with the Perry campaign to mobilize evangelical voters. In an earlier email to Bott that makes no mention of Romney specifically, Lane described a conversation he had with an unnamed “key Perry aide” in which he argued that “the creation of a clarion call to Evangelical pastors and pews is critical and from my perspective is the key to the Primary.”

He also told the aide that Perry needs to be praying and reading the Bible daily; “otherwise he has nothing to say” on the campaign trail. There is no mention in the e-mails of how the aide responded to this counsel, but the messages do indicate that Romney isn’t alone on Lane’s list of unacceptable nominees.

At the height of speculation that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would enter the presidential race, Lane wrote to Bott that “Christie is not a strong social conservative—says homosexuality not a sin, was for cap-n-trade, for civil unions and more.”

That email concluded, “If RP [Rick Perry] can sound the trumpet to Evangelicals, a spiritual call to war for the Soul of America, Christie is weak on our issues.”

The Romney campaign declined to comment for this article.

Read original post here: Perry Camp’s Anti-Mormon Message

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Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think | Synopsis

As part of this groundbreaking six-year project, Gallup conducted tens of thousands of interviews with residents in 35 predominantly Muslim nations, as well as smaller populations in Europe and the USA. The broad extent of the polling has delivered findings for the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims with a plus or minus accuracy of 3%.

Photo: Snag Films

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch |
Source/Credit: Snag Films | UPF.tv
By Snag Films | October 3, 2011

Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think, a new documentary film from Unity Productions Foundation, explores the expertly gathered opinions of Muslims around the globe as revealed in the world’s first major opinion poll, conducted by Gallup, the preeminent polling organization.

Gallup researchers began by asking the questions on every American’s mind. Why is there so much anti-Americanism in the Muslim world? Who are the extremists and how do Muslims feel about them? What do Muslims like and dislike about the West? What do Muslim women really want?

Crucial policy decisions hang on these questions. They continue to generate passionate disagreements in the public square. Yet for all the heat and controversy, the actual views of the world’s Muslims have been conspicuously missing from this debate.

source: Snag Films

Now, we have the missing answers and statistics, gathered, parsed, and analyzed not by pundits but by professional researchers.

As part of this groundbreaking six-year project, Gallup conducted tens of thousands of interviews with residents in 35 predominantly Muslim nations, as well as smaller populations in Europe and the USA. The broad extent of the polling has delivered findings for the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims with a plus or minus accuracy of 3%.

Focused on the issues of Gender Justice, Terrorism, and Democracy -the film presents this remarkable data deftly, showing how it challenges the popular notion that Muslims and the West are on a collision course. Like the research, the film highlights a shared relationship that is based on facts – not fear.

Experts featured (A Partial List): Dalia Mogahed, Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, John Esposito, University Professor, Georgetown University, RamiKhoury, Editor of the Daily Star (Beirut), and Kenneth Pollack, Director of Research, Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute.

Film Credits:
Produced and Directed by Rob Gardner
Executive Producers Michael Wolfe & Alex Kronemer

Read original post here: Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think Synopsis

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USA: Suburban school district to pay back Muslim teacher denied Hajj leave

“Correct me if I’m wrong, which I’m not. … Teachers have summers off. … Muslims are urged to travel to Mecca at least once in their lives. Not during a specific time frame, like the end of the school marking period.” [Radio host Rush Limbaugh]

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: The Huffington Post
By HuffPost | October 15, 2011

A suburban Chicago school district sued by the U.S. Justice Department over their previous refusal to allow a Muslim teacher to take a pilgrimage to Mecca has entered into a consent decree resolving the matter.

According to an AP report, Berkeley School District 87 will pay $75,000 to former middle school teacher Safoorah Khan, covering lost back pay, compensatory damages and court costs. The decree needs to be approved by a federal court.

In 2008, Khan applied for an unpaid leave of absence of 15 days from the McArthur Middle School, where she taught, in order to go on a Hajj to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. When the district denied her request, she quit her job and filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Last December, the Justice Department filed a complaint on behalf of Khan accusing the school district of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in their denial of the teacher’s request. The district, they alleged, failed to accommodate her religious practice.

The district countered that the “purpose of her leave was not related to her professional duties,” according to the Justice Department.

The lawsuit has attracted national attention, causing conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh to ask, in May, why Khan did not take the Hajj during her summer off from teaching.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, which I’m not. … Teachers have summers off. … Muslims are urged to travel to Mecca at least once in their lives. Not during a specific time frame, like the end of the school marking period.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the Justice Department had taken “the wrong case.”

Islamic scholars said, in response, that delaying her Hajj for a summer trip would have meant a wait of at least a decade, as the date of the annual pilgrimage is guided by the lunar year and changes annually. Further, Sayyid Syeed, who directs interfaith and community affairs for the Islamic Society of North America, explained to Religion News Service that asking a Muslim person to take their pilgrimage in the summer is akin to asking a Christian to celebrate Christmas in July.

“If she waits, and she gets sick and dies, how will she be able to explain why she did not do it?” Syeed said. “There is a compelling passion to go as soon as possible.”

Read original post here: Suburban School District To Pay Back Safoorah Khan, Muslim Teacher Denied Hajj Leave 

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USA: Opinion | Use real Muslim women to teach tolerance

I am not from the Middle East but I am a Muslim woman, happily married and living here in the U.S. for the past decade. Yes, I did not date and my marriage was arranged, not at 20, but after I was done with my master’s degree.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | USA Desk
Source/Credit: Atlanta Journal Constitution
By Saima Ahmad | October 17, 2011

The fictional letter from a 20-year-old Muslim woman, “Letter from Ahlima” has created much controversy in recent days around metro Atlanta, and I can understand why. The letter was part of a lesson used in a Cobb County middle school.

Being a Muslim woman and a mother of three, I agree with the decision state school Superintendent John Barge took on this particular account to end use of the letter. The letter is not, of course, the best representation of a Muslim woman and how she lives her life.

Whoever wrote it took an inappropriate approach by making comments that parents found offensive and so did I. Just because we do not follow the same lifestyle does not mean we should go around offending or judging people.

But the public needs to recognize that American educators came up with the letter and the state approved it to be used in the middle school syllabus. It was not an effort by Muslims to creep into the school system to promote their way of life or Shariah law, so there is no need to attack Islam.

I am not a certified educator — as was a guest columnist last week who complained that the Ahlima lesson taught empathy, which is not the role of schools but should be confined to the home.

Yes, the home is the biggest influence on bringing up children. But when they spend most of their day at school, good morals such as tolerance and empathy toward people of a different faith, nationality, color or race need to be reinforced in the learning environment.

A little reminder: America stands for freedom and justice for all. How can you ensure people freedom to express themselves if the society ceases to show the desire to understand diversity and the learning process on ways to deal with it?

I agree that the syllabus needs to provide ways for students to educate themselves about cultures and faith traditions, but the material needs to be age appropriate. Real- life stories should be used instead of fictional and controversial topics that could do more harm than good.

Forget Ahlima. I am not from the Middle East but I am a Muslim woman, happily married and living here in the U.S. for the past decade. Yes, I did not date and my marriage was arranged, not at 20, but after I was done with my master’s degree.

My life partner is seven years older than I and is the kindest husband and the most loving father. And now with his support, I am pursuing a degree at Gwinnett Technical College.

I am his only wife and I do not know of anyone among my friends, family, extended family or in-laws who has four wives.

So what Ahlima represents is an extreme case, nothing that I, my family or most members of my community (the Ahmadiyya Muslim community) can relate to.

I am not a religious scholar, but I know that polygamy is allowed in Islam under certain conditions and restrictions. However, it certainly does not imply that every Muslim man chooses to do so.

I choose to dress modestly not because my husband forces me, but because my faith demands it. I understand that benefits of my dress include protection from unfriendly gazes to sun rays alike.

When people talk about limits defined by my faith, they forget to mention that men have been prescribed a set of limits as well. Just as woman are obligated to dress modestly to avoid the attention of strangers, men need to dress modestly as well. Nor are they allowed to openly gaze at women.

Unless people in society are open to understanding one another, there will be suspicion, fear and a lack of peace.

Living in this diverse land, we need to work toward creating an atmosphere of mutual respect through interfaith dialogue and education. There isn’t another way to attain global peace.

Saima Ahmad lives in Suwanee with her family and is pursuing an interior design degree at Gwinnett Technical College.

Read original post here: Use real Muslim women to teach tolerance

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