Flashes from the Muslim World

BANGLADESH

To Set Up Hi-Tech ICT Park

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will set up a hi-tech information and communications technology park in Bangladesh, according to one of four agreements signed in the presence of Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Telecommunications and IT, Khalid bin Fares al-Otaibi, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Bangladesh ambassador, Golam Moshi, told Arab News that the Kingdom’s participation in the digital conference is not only an honor for his country, but it also enhances the cooperation of the two countries in the ICT field. He pointed out that Bangladesh will have over two million people working in the ICT sector by 2025 and the foreign exchange earnings from this sector is expected to exceed USD5 billion.

MYANMAR

UN Urges to Probe Killings

The United Nations has called for a probe into allegations that Myanmar troops have killed civilians and torched villages in northern Rakhine state, as fresh reports emerged of forced evictions in a security crackdown. Aid agencies estimate more than 15,000 people have been displaced since the military took control of an area close to the Bangladesh border, a region which is home to the stateless Rohingya minority. Most of the people in the locked down area are Rohingya – a Muslim minority reviled by many in Myanmar as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Reports of home and mosques being burnt down are alarming and unacceptable, said the UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions, Agnes Callamard.

PHILIPPINES

Vows Support for Peace

An influential leader of the Philippines’ decades-long Muslim separatist insurgency voiced support for peace efforts after rebellion charges against him were suspended and he held a surprise meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte. Moro National Liberation Front founder, Nur Misuari, was flown on a government commissioned plane more than 900 kilometers (550 miles) from his southern jungle stronghold to Manila for the meeting with Duterte at the Presidential palace. Misuari, a charismatic scholar, founded the MNLF in 1972 to wage a guerilla war for a separate Islamic state in the south of mainly Catholic Philippines. Most of the nation’s Muslim minorities live in the southern region of Mindanao. The President of the Philippines is aiming to forge a final peace agreement with both groups, although he has not announced concrete plans on how he would do that or settle their rivalries.

INDONESIA

Riyadh, Jakarta to Double Trade

According to recent bilateral discussions between the two countries, Indonesia is keen to work in close cooperation with the Kingdom to double their bilateral trade volume in the next four years. The two countries have a lot of potential for trade expansion and it is hoped that the volume of trade will be doubled by 2020. According to sources from the Indonesian Trade Ministry, total trade between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia amounted to USD8.5 billion in 2015.

March against Racial, Religious Intolerance

Thousands of Indonesians held a peaceful rally to promote unity, saying they were worried by signs of growing racial and religious intolerance in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. Dressed in red and white shirts, the color of the Indonesian flag, religious leaders, members of the human rights groups, lawmakers and others marched along a central Jakarta street. Concerns about rising hard line sentiment in the country of 250 million people have grown since police decided to investigate a blasphemy complaint by hard line groups against the governor of Jakarta.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Call to Prayer ‘Amazing’

Edwin Samuel, Britain’s spokesman for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has described call to prayer of ‘Adhan’ in Arabic as ‘amazing’ and ‘moving’ during a recent trip to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi.“Right now, I am in the Grand mosque,” he said in Arabic. “This great amazing voice (of the Azan) moves humans emotionally – both psychologically and spiritually … it moves all humans from all regions.” Samuel also hailed the UAE for its model that is integrative and tolerant to people who belong to different religions.

Visits Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla ended a three-day visit to the UAE coming from Oman. Upon their arrival, the couple visited Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. The couple attended a meeting on religious tolerance inside the mosque. Prince Charles and Camilla viewed the architectural masterpiece while expressing their admiration for its distinctive features. Abu Dhabi’s grand mosque is a key place of worship during Friday and Eid prayers. It can accommodate more than 41,000 people. The mosque is also open for tourists to come and see its grandiose structure.

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

Jews Oppose Ban on Loudspeakers

A controversial Israeli bill to ban the use of loudspeakers for the Islamic call to prayer has been blocked by an orthodox Jewish party amid fears that the ban could also extend to Jewish practices. Israeli Health Minister, Yaakov Liltzman, mentioned similarities between the Muslim call to prayers and the call announcing the beginning of Sabbath. Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Jordan, all slammed the bill as a serious attack on freedom of religion, and vowed to oppose it.

SAUDI ARABIA

Re-elected to UN Human Rights Council

Saudi Arabia has been re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), while Russia lost its bid to become a member of the council, in a shocking defeat that reflects the diplomatic cost of its war in Syria. Saudi Ambassador to the UN, Abdullah Al Moallami said that the re-election of Saudi Arabia reflects the international community’s trust in the country’s leading role in the UN Human Rights Council. He added that “The Kingdom will continue this role during the three upcoming years.” The four Arab countries – Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt and Tunisia – are part of the fourteen countries, who gained membership on the UNHRC following elections conclude recently.

Makkah Festival

The history and Islamic heritage of Makkah was on display at the Makkah Festival which was opened recently. The festival provides an opportunity for families visiting the fair during the current school term vacation a glimpse of the life in the old part of Makkah and its Islamic heritage. The festival of Makkah was inaugurated by the Mayor of Makkah, Osama Al-Bar. Makkah is the spiritual capital of millions of Muslims of the world, and all historical periods are relevant.

Islamic Foreign Ministers Meet

Foreign Ministers of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held an emergency meeting in Makkah. They discussed the launching of the ballistic missile against the holy city of Makkah on 27thOctober by the Houthis and the forces of the defunct Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Saleh. This is a flagrant aggression against the sanctity of the sacred places in the country of the Two Holy Mosques, the committee said. It considered the launching of the missile a provocation to the feelings and sentiments of Muslims all over the world.

Grand Mufti Backs Conscription

Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al-Asheikh supports the idea of mandatory conscription that would see Saudi youths participate in military service. The grand Mufti also wants legislation enacted requiring youths to be drafted into compulsory military training programs for a certain period of time. “The demand for conscription has been made for the first time by such a senior religious scholar in Saudi Arabia,” Al-Asheikh said. “The Islamic world should cooperate, be prepared, and seek means of strength through training and imposing compulsory conscription on youths, so that they would be capable of defending their country from enemies.”

370,000 Umrah Visas Issued

The Ministry of Haj and Umrah has issued 370,000 Umrah visas since the start of the current season on 1stNovember (Safar 1), according to a senior ministry official. Isa Rowas, undersecretary for Umrah affairs at the Ministry said this figure posts an increase of 30,000 compared with the same period last year. Rowas attributed the increase in the number of pilgrims mainly to the excellent facilities and services being extended in the two holy cities. The ministry unveiled an ambitious plan to receive about eight million Umrah pilgrims in the new Umrah season.

GREECE

Nabs Anti-Islam Protesters

Fifteen protesters have been arrested in Athens for staging an occupation at a site where a mosque is due to be built with state funds for mostly migrants and refugees. The protesters face charges of public disturbance offenses. The number of Muslims living in Greece has risen in recent years due to a spike in immigration.

TURKEY

Istanbul: Business Destination

Turkey is going great, serving as a bridge between Europe and Asia. Located well in the Middle East and at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, there is no wonder Turkey occupies a unique position, and so does the Turkish economy remaining resilient and going great. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) defined the economy of Turkey as an emerging market and it is well placed among the world’s developed countries, according to the CIA World Facebook. Turkey is a source of new business and development in the Middle East region. Turkey is much more than its cliched image of a ‘Bridge between East and West.’ It combines influences from the Middle East and the Mediterranean, the Balkans and the Central Asia besides Islam and Islamic values.

Slams Harassment of Hijabis

Growing global Islamophobia, especially the harassment of veiled women, was denounced at a high profile conference in Istanbul recently. The sixth session of the Ministerial Conference on the Role of Women in the Development of OIC member states, adopted the amended OIC Plan of action for the advancement of women as well as Turkey’s proposal to establish a women’s council mandated with offering advice to conference. The Istanbul Declaration emphasized the need to address discrimination against women who follow their Islamic beliefs and culture and are victimized at workplaces, in educational institutions and media.

 

SWITZERLAND

Raid Mosque

Swiss police raided a mosque in a northern city detaining eight people including an Ethiopian Imam who allegedly called for the killing of Muslims who refused to participate in prayers, the state prosecutor’s office said. Police searched the An-Nur mosque in Winterthur and the apartments of three people as part of the morning operation, according to a statement from the regional prosecutor’s office in nearby Zurich. The statement said that the Ethiopian imam allegedly called for the killing and denunciation of Muslims who refuse to participate in common prayers at the mosque.

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA

Stands Up Again

From destroyed buildings and bodies on roads, to spa resorts, cafes, restaurants, hotels and many others tourist facilities, Sarajevo smiles again with a new Bosnian generation who have begun carving out their future in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a rapidly emerging country in the Balkan region, seeking to attract investors and tourists to explore business opportunities. Despite the Islamic heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we will be surprised to find that the western lifestyle imposes itself among the new Bosnian generation in Sarajevo. However, several mosques with Islamic style minarets are still in existence, and you can clearly hear the voice of the prayers calls coming from the old mosques.

UNITED KINGDOM

Need for Peaceful Coexistence

A Saudi diplomat in Britain has stressed the need for peaceful coexistence in a multi-cultural country at an interfaith dialogue held in London. Abdulaziz Al-Wasil, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Saudi Embassy in London, was speaking at a national interfaith event, “Not in our Faith,” organized by the Islamic Cultural Center (ICC) in London. The event aimed to promote the message of understanding and respect between Muslim and non-Muslim communities throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. The ICC helps non-Muslim communities and organizations to understand Islam as a peaceful religion and that Muslims are open to dialogue on all matters regarding faith. Speakers representing different religions focused on the need to consolidate cooperation, tolerance, peace and non-violence in British society and the values of dialogue were discussed in detail.

UNITED STATES

Discrimination against Muslims

A Muslim businessman and his wife are suing a Connecticut yacht club on allegations that club-board members rejected their membership application because of their religion and falsely claimed they supported terrorism. They are seeking a court order for the club to stop discriminating, undisclosed damages and a suspension of the club’s permit to sell alcohol.

Attacks on American Muslims on the Rise: FBI

Reported hate crimes against Muslims rose in 2015 to their highest number since the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to FBI statistics released recently. Overall, the total number of hate crimes against all groups reported by law enforcement agencies to the FBI increased from 5,479 in 2014 to 5,850 last year. That remains far lower than the numbers seen in the early 2000s, but the FBI release comes amid numerous reports of attacks nationwide based on race and religion following last month’s Presidential elections.

The Art of the Qur’an

The Art of the Qur’an, at the Smithsonian’s Sackler / Freer Galleries, is a new exhibition which serves as a timely reminder of the beauty and history of the Qur’an. This is the first major exhibition of Qur’an manuscripts ever held in the United States. On display are more than 60 examples of some of the Muslim world’s most notable Qur’an manuscripts and some of the earliest Qur’ans. There are Qur’ans smaller than a cell phone, while others are larger than carpets. This meticulously organized exhibition is on loan from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul and many items are on display for the first time out side Turkey. The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts has an exceptional collection of Qur’anic manuscripts that is not well known. This is surprising at it houses 17,000 copies of the holy book.

[Compiled By: Syed Nehal Zaheer]