Tuesday, November 6, 2007

"Muslim or Kafer": Too Little to Understand

by Mohammed Al-Qadhi from The Yemen Times

Last week, I was trying to review with my little child Maha some of her school courses. When we were going through some of contents of the Islamic religion course, she started telling me that Islam teaches people to be clean and tidy. This is fine. However, the 6-year girl in her first year in a private school started telling me her teacher taught her that the devil likes the Kafer or infidel because he is dirty and that the devil does not approach the Muslim because he is clean. Wow. This is horrific ... I understand it is fine our kids learn Islamic teachings from their elementary school. Yet, they should not be confused with such hard and debatable questions. It is very dangerous to teach little children that one party is holding the absolute truth and the other is completely wrong and is the beloved of the devil. They grow with such stereotypes that really broaden the scope for hatred and intolerance. They listen to such discourse in school, mosques and even at university. Some helpless and distracted people due to unemployment or other sorts of reasons find in such a discourse a good resort to diffuse their depression. They grow fanatic.

Dubai's Promised Land of Luxury Lures Women Into Sexual Slavery

by Glen Carey from Bloomberg

Dubai has transformed itself from a trading village to the Persian Gulf's financial and tourist hub with lower taxes and a more vibrant nightlife than other Gulf states. Bars heave with men drinking $10 beers and women in short skirts. That's attracted rich Saudis, U.S. oil workers flush with cash after stints in Iraq, and bankers who are paid as much as 40% more than those in London or New York. Affluence has increased the demand for laborers and housemaids, and the development of laws to protect them from exploitation hasn't kept pace, the International Labor Organization said in an e-mailed response to questions. Women from Asia and Africa often sign contracts to work as maids, waitresses, hairdressers and secretaries, only to have employers confiscate their passports and force them to work as prostitutes, the U.S. report said. Others work excessive hours under the threat of mental, physical or sexual abuse until they can pay off recruitment costs. "Once they are there, they find that their contract is not valid,'' said Basil Fernando, executive director of the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission. "They get stranded.''

Official denies existence of child jockeys

from The Peninsula

Qatar has denied accusations that women are being brought into the country from outside and forced into prostitution. The country has also denied allegations about the existence of child jockeys. The allegations are carried in a report submitted by Sigma Hydi, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, a local Arabic daily reported yesterday. Reacting to the report in September, Qatar told the Geneva-based Human Rights General Secretariat, in a formal reply, that the report carried baseless allegations. The report said that women were brought from Saudi Arabia and the UAE and forced into prostitution. “There is no vestige of truth in the report. The accusations are baseless,” said Qatar.

Precautions for Nepali Women in Foreign Employment

by Mohan Nepali from Scoop

“Agents in Saudi Arab trade women from other countries; housemaids are mostly exploited,” spoke a Nepali man working in Saudi Arab for more than 10 years in a discussion program co-sponsored by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and Samanta (an NGO working for social and gender equity). Now on leave in Nepal, he added, “People generally assume that private employers did not pay their workers for several months in Saudi Arab, but the major truth is that agents who trade human beings take five or six month’s remuneration of the concerned workers. This is the main reason why employers refuse to pay illegal workers for several months.” ... Participants pointed out that most of the Nepali women are not directly flown to Arab countries but are taken through India with the help of their own relatives. In so many cases women’s relatives themselves are either victimized or are involved in illegal business themselves.

Mixed Grades for UN on Anti-Semitism

from UN Watch

The report gave the UN high marks for new Holocaust commemoration activities, and for condemnations of Iran’s Holocaust denial issued by the Security Council, the General Assembly, and several senior officials ... Despite numerous appeals, other experts have “insufficiently addressed the incitement to hatred against Jews, Christians, and other non-Muslims, that have been documented in children’s textbooks distributed by the governments of Egypt and Saudi Arabia.” ... The report describes how the UN’s Islamic bloc of fifty-six states is waging a campaign in key UN bodies “to gut anti-Semitism of its meaning, by making the absurd argument that the term also refers to hatred against Arabs and Muslims.” In September, Ambassador Masood Khan of Pakistan, speaking for the Islamic group, said that Islamophobia was “a cruel form of anti-Semitism.”

Japan bank plans first G8 sukuk

from Reuters

State-owned Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) plans to sell Islamic bonds for the first time by May, a year after saying it would sell $100 million of the bonds in the first quarter of 2007. The sale would be the first backed by a state in the Group of Eight industrialised nations that includes the United States, Russia and Germany. Japan is the world's second-largest economy. Tadashi Maeda, JBIC's director general of energy and natural resources, said "Without due attention to Islamic finance, Tokyo cannot be a fully fledged international market ... we recognize that Islamic finance is rising and it is becoming very important in world markets." ... Tokyo has hosted several Islamic finance conferences. In September, the Bank of Japan said it joined the Islamic Financial Services Board, an international body for setting Islamic finance standards, as an observer member. Last year, Japan appointed a board to advise on Islamic law, or sharia.

Islamic finance is seeing spectacular growth

by Karina Robinson from the International Herald Tribune

Over the past year, Shariah-compliant assets have grown almost 30%, to more than $500 billion, according to analysis of the industry on a global scale, published this month by The Banker with input from a business consultancy, Maris Strategies. The Banker study underlines that the vast majority of the uptake comes from customers under 30 who are interested in their cultural and religious identity ... Britain, a non-Muslim country with about two million resident Muslims, is the 10th largest measured, with $10.4 billion in Shariah-compliant assets. This is largely because HSBC Amanah, which has $9.7 billion in these assets, is headquartered in London. But it also reflects the City's role as a premier global financial services center, with the British government playing a supportive role in the development of the industry. Britain is intent on becoming the first Western government to issue Islamic bonds.

For the Sake of Oil

by Daniel Johnson from The New York Sun

The Saudis have their defenders. One of the wisest commentators on the Muslim world, Amir Taheri, writes in the London Times that the regime is slowly reforming itself. Women can't drive in Saudi Arabia, but they make up over half of all university students and their share of its wealth is higher than in much of Europe. It is true that we need Saudi support in the war on terror. Saudi forces have, Mr. Taheri estimates, killed or captured about 800 Al Qaeda terrorists. We also still need Saudi oil. But the Saudis need the West even more. King Abdullah may call himself Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, but President Bush and Queen Elizabeth II are, in effect, custodians of the Custodian. The West must use its power as custodians, and as customers, to ensure that the hundreds of billions that we pay for their oil is not used to promote jihad in our midst.