Qureshi and Bopanna Win Stockholm Open

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

France Tennis French Open

India’s Rohan Bopanna and Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi  won the Stockholm Open men’s doubles tennis title with a convincing 6-1, 6-3 victory over Brazilians Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares here on Sunday.

It was the top-seeded India-Pakistan pair’s second ATP World Tour title of the season following their victory at the Gerry Weber Open in June and their third title overall as a team. Bopanna and Qureshi are ranked seventh overall in the ATP men’s doubles team rankings, and they added 250 points after their win, thus improving their chances of qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour. There are three remaining spots in the eight team field of the season finale to be held in London next month.

“It feels great to have won our second title of the year and this is the best way to keep ourselves in contention for a berth in London,”announced Bopanna.“Bopanna and Qureshi were the better players from the first to the last ball today. They initiated quite early in the game and Melo/Soares couldn’t quite hang with the pace,” said Tournament Director Thomas Johansson.

After the match Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi thanked his partner and the support of the Pakistanis in the audience.“We hope to come back next year and win the title again,” said Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi after the match. Qureshi and Bopanna are next scheduled to play in the Valencia Open 500 in Austria.

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Tunisia’s Ennahda May Back Open Economy

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Andrew Hammond

2011-10-25T195752Z_357696695_GM1E7AQ0B4401_RTRMADP_3_TUNISIA

Soumaya Ghannouch (C), daughter of Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist Ennahda movement, celebrates outside Ennahda’s headquarters in Tunis October 25, 2011. The party said on Tuesday it had won more than 40 percent of seats in Sunday’s election, pledging to continue democracy after the first vote that resulted from the "Arab Spring" revolts sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.

REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

TUNIS, Oct 26 (Reuters) – Tunisian Islamists who won a historic election victory this week are expected to promote business-friendly economic policies but Europe’s economic woes could favour Gulf investors in the short term, analysts say.

Ennahda has tried hard to assuage the concerns of Western powers and secular elites which have long had the upper hand in the North African country that it will not alter laws that guarantee women equal rights to men in divorce, marriage and inheritance.

But it has also been keen to argue it will not cause any ruptures in Tunisia’s economic life. The two are linked since Western tourism, with its expectations of sun, sand and drinking, has been an economic driver for Tunisia.

Ennahda secretary general Hamadi Jbeli singled out on Tuesday wine and bikinis as elements in attracting tourism that the party had no intention to touch. He also said Ennahda had no plans to make changes to the banking sector, where Sharia-compliant services are so far minimal.

“We will pay close attention to what they implement but on the economic side we have no cause for concern. Our biggest concern is long delays in government formation,” said one Western diplomat in Tunis.

“A lot of their backers are from the merchant class who are keen on the idea of a liberal economic policy and they don’t have serious plans to change the economic policy of previous governments.”
Tunisia is under pressure to reinvigorate an economy that was hailed in recent years as a “miracle” by Western governments and financial institutions for its privatisations and deregulation but which has ground to a halt since the uprising that brought down Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January.

Unemployment was at 14 percent before Ben Ali fell, and one third of the jobless had higher education. The figure is thought to have worsened in recent months.

The biggest problem facing the country is resource distribution. It is no accident that the revolt started in Sidi Bouzid, a depressed provincial town in the semi-arid zone of the Tunisian interior where resentment against the affluent coastal cities is strong.

“Economically, they are not radicals. Ennahda is quite conservative economically,” said Jean-Baptiste Gallopin of Control Risks. “They favour free enterprise.”

Ennahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi assured a delegation of bourse officials on Tuesday that he favoured more flotations on a stock market. Share prices fell in October on apparent fear of an Ennahda win, though Tunisia’s Eurobonds did not react negatively to its victory.

An initial public offering in state operator Tunisie Telecom had been held up partly by the leftists who gained in influence after the revolution. Jbeli, who is tipped to be Ennahda’s prime minister, met employers’ federation leaders on Tuesday.

About 80 percent of Tunisia’s trade is with the European Union, but with Europe in a financial crisis Ennahda could draw money from the conservative Gulf Arab region.

“Qatar in particular may feel encouraged to resume exploring investment opportunities in the country as the political situation stabilises,” said Dubai-based analyst Ghanem Nuseibeh, founder of Cornerstone Global Associates.

“Although it did not proactively support the Tunisian revolution like it did in Libya, many Tunisians, including Ennahda feel indebted to Qatar for the moral support it gave to their cause,” he said.

Saudi Arabia is not thought to have close ties to Ennahda, but Qatar’s leading Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera has heavily promoted the group. Qatar was a major Arab backer of the NATO operation to back Libyan rebels who succeeded in ending the rule of Muammar Gaddafi.

Sama Dubai, a government-owned company in the emirate, had plans in the Ben Ali era to develop a residential and commercial district in Tunis but the future of the project is now not clear and the land sits empty.

Hardliners among Ennahda’s rank-and-file could still rock the boat, despite Ghannouchi’s attempts to offer reassurances on social and economic policy.

“The danger is that Ennahda members or influential independents foment fears among investors with unguarded comments that do not really reflect the party’s intentions,” said Crispin Hawes of the Eurasia Group.

“The net result is that we believe that investor sentiment over Tunisia will remain nervous and trending towards the negative in the aftermath of the election.” (Additional reporting by Christian Lowe and Tarek Amara; Editing by David Stamp)

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Ahmed Bile wins Georgetown Prep Classic

October 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

ahmedbileqa5

Ahmed Bile has won the Georgetown Prep Classic. Bile, the defending Virginia AAA champion, snaked through the deceptively difficult 5K course on Georgetown Prep’s panoramic, manicured campus to earn his third victory this season. He used a hilly first mile that also featured a couple of hairpin turns to separate from the field and broke the tape in 16 minutes 35.9 seconds.
Bile, the Annandale High School Senior, is the son a 1987 world champion Abdi Bile from Somalia.

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Egypt Wins World Team Squash Title

September 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Untitled-1Egypt continued its dominance of the world of squash, as they defeated England two matches to one to win the 2011 World Team Championship title in Paderborn, Germany this week. England were the top seeds in the tournament, which takes place every two years. Egypt, meanwhile, were the defending champions from 2009, and they were able to successfully defend their title.

In the opening match, world number two, Egypt’s Ramy Ashour, defeated world number one Nick Matthew 11-7, 11-9, 13-11 for his first straight game victory against Matthew in the history of their four year rivalry. But the match was not without controversy, especially in the third game, which Matthew thought that he had one at a couple of junctures. Matthew told The Star, “I had to fight. The crowd knows but the only people who didn’t were the four [referees] who counted.” However, Matthew then went on to add: “He played a lot better than me; he deserved it. I wasn’t playing my best. But if I’d won that third game I think I could have gone on to win the match.” Ashour, for his part, enjoyed the battle, telling The Star, “It was like being in a UFC bout but I am so proud.”

In the second match, Ashour’s older brother, Hisham, fell to England’s Peter Barker, eighth-ranked in the world, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7. That result left Egypt’s Karim Darwish to face England’s James Wilstrop for all the marbles. And Darwish indeed came out the victor, with a thrilling four game victory, 11-5, 13-11, 9-11, 11-4, to bring squash’s top team title back once again to Cairo.

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Islam-Baiting Doesn’t Work

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Stephan Salisbury for TomDispatch

During the 2010 midterm election campaign, virtually every hard-charging candidate on the far right took a moment to trash a Muslim, a mosque, or Islamic pieties. In the wake of those elections, with 85 new Republican House members and a surging Tea Party movement, the political virtues of anti-Muslim rhetoric as a means of rousing voters and alarming the general electorate have gone largely unchallenged. It has become an article of faith that a successful 2010 candidate on the right should treat Islam with revulsion, drawing a line between America the beautiful and the destructive impurities of Islamic cultists and radicals.

“Americans are learning what Europeans have known for years: Islam-bashing wins votes,” wrote journalist Michael Scott Moore in the wake of the 2010 election. His assumption was shared by many then and is still widely accepted today.

But as the 2012 campaign ramps up along with the anti-Muslim rhetoric machine, a look back at 2010 turns out to offer quite an unexpected story about the American electorate. In fact, with rare exceptions, “Islam-bashing” proved a strikingly poor campaign tactic. In state after state, candidates who focused on illusory Muslim “threats,” tied ordinary American Muslims to terrorists and radicals, or characterized mosques as halls of triumph (and prayer in them as indoctrination) went down to defeat.

Far from winning votes, it could be argued that “Muslim-bashing” alienated large swaths of the electorate — even as it hardened an already hard core on the right.

The fact is that many of the loudest anti-Muslim candidates lost, and for a number of those who won, victory came by the smallest of margins, often driven by forces that went well beyond anti-Muslim rhetoric. A careful look at 2010 election results indicates that Islamophobic talking points can gain attention for a candidate, but the constituency that can be swayed by them remains limited, although not insignificant.

A Closer Look

It’s worth taking a closer look. In 2010, anti-Muslim rhetoric rode in with the emergence that July of a “mosque” controversy in lower Manhattan. New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio, facing indifference to his candidacy in the primary race, took up what right-wing anti-Muslim bloggers had dubbed “the Mosque at Ground Zero,” although the planned cultural center in question would not have been a mosque and was not at Ground Zero. With a handy alternate reality already sketched out for him, Lazio demanded that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo, then state attorney general, “investigate” the mosque. He implied as well that its leaders had ties to Hamas and that the building, when built, would somehow represent a threat to the “personal security and safety” of city residents.

A fog of acrid rhetoric subsequently enshrouded the campaign — from Lazio and his Tea Party-backed opponent, Carl Paladino, a Buffalo businessman. Paladino beat the hapless Lazio in the primary and was then handily dispatched by Cuomo in the general election. Cuomo had not joined the Muslim bashing, but by the end of the race, dozens of major political figures and potential Republican presidential candidates — including Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin, and Rick Perry — had denounced the loathsome Mosque at Ground Zero and sometimes the whole of Islam. What began as a local issue had by then become a national political litmus test and a wormhole to the country’s darkest sentiments.

But the hard reality of election results demonstrated one incontrovertible fact. Both Lazio and Paladino, heavily invested in portraying Muslims as somehow different from everyone else, went down to dismal defeats. Nor could these trouncings simply be passed off as what happens in a relatively liberal northeastern state. Even in supposed hotbeds of anti-Muslim sentiment, xenophobic rhetoric and fear mongering repeatedly proved weak reeds for candidates.

Take Tennessee, a state in the throes of its own mosque-building controversy (in Murfreesboro) at the height of the 2010 campaign.

There, gubernatorial candidate Ron Ramsey couldn’t slam Islam often enough. Despite raising $2.7 million, however, he went down to defeat in the Republican primary, attracting only 22 percent of the vote.

During the campaign, Republican victor Bill Haslam, now governor, simply stated that decisions about mosques and religious construction projects should be governed by local zoning ordinances and the Constitution.

In another 2010 Tennessee race, Lou Ann Zelenik, a Tennessee Republican congressional candidate and Tea Party activist, denounced the Murfreesboro mosque plans relentlessly. Zelenik ran her campaign like an unreconstructed Indian fighter, with Muslims standing in as opponents in a frontier war. As she typically put the matter, “Until the American Muslim community find it in their hearts to separate themselves from their evil, radical counterparts, to condemn those who want to destroy our civilization and will fight against them, we are not obligated to open our society to any of them.”

It didn’t work. Zelenik, too, was defeated, attracting 30 percent of the vote in a three-way primary race; the winner, state Sen. Diane Black, edged her out with 31 percent. Black declined to denounce the Murfreesboro mosque project and went on to win the general election.

Islamophobic Failures Around the Country

The impotency of anti-Muslim rhetoric was not some isolated local phenomenon. Consider this: in the 2010 election cycle, anti-Muslim Senate candidate Sharron Angle was defeated in Nevada, and the similarly inclined Jeff Greene lost his Senate bid in Florida. A slew of congressional candidates who engaged in anti-Muslim rants or crassly sought to exploit the Mosque at Ground Zero controversy also went down, including Francis X. Becker, Jr., in New York, Kevin Calvey in Oklahoma, Dan Fanelli and Ronald McNeil in Florida, Ilario Pantano in North Carolina, Spike Maynard in West Virginia, and Dr. Marvin Scott in Indiana.

Not all candidates bad-mouthing Muslims failed, of course. Renee Ellmers, a nurse running in North Carolina’s 2nd District, won her race by about 1,500 votes after airing an incendiary television spot that likened the lower Manhattan cultural center to a “victory mosque” and conflated Islam with terrorism. But Ellmers’ main campaign talking point was the abomination of health-care reform. That “victory mosque” was only a bauble-like embellishment, a dazzling attention grabber.

Similarly, Republican Rick Scott, running for governor in Florida, featured a deceptive television ad that referred to the New York project as “Obama’s mosque” and, like Ellmers’s ad, seamlessly fused Islam, terrorism, and murder. Tea Party favorite Scott, however, had a slight advantage in gaining a victory margin of about one percentage point over Democrat Alex Sink: he poured a staggering $73 million of his own money into the race in which he largely painted Obama as an anti-business incompetent. Despite lavishing more personal cash on the race than any candidate in Florida history, Scott won by less than 100,000 votes, falling short of 50 percent of the total. He was only the second Florida governor to take office without the backing of a majority of the electorate.

If some virulent political rhetoric was credited with bringing victory to candidates at the time, its effect in retrospect looks more questionable and less impressive. Take the victorious campaign of Republican Allen West for Florida’s 22nd Congressional District. A Tea Party favorite quick to exploit anti-Muslim fears, he was also a veteran of the Iraq War and had been fined by the Army for the beating and threatened killing of an Iraqi prisoner.

During the campaign, he made numerous statements linking Islam with terrorism and weighed in loudly on the proposed Manhattan Islamic center more than 1,000 miles away. In an open letter to his opponent, two-term incumbent Democrat Ron Klein, he noted that “the mosque symbolizes a clear victory in the eyes of those who brought down the twin towers.” Klein then caved and joined West in opposing the cultural center, claiming that Ground Zero should only be “a living memorial where all Americans can honor those who were killed on September 11, 2001.”

In the election, West reversed the results of his 2008 race against Klein and ever since, his victory has been seen as one of the triumphs of anti-Muslim trash talking. A look at the numbers, however, tells a slightly different story. For one thing, West, too, had a significant financial advantage. He had already raised more than $4 million as the campaign began, more than four times his total in 2008 and twice as much as Klein. Much of West’s funding came from out-of-state donors and conservative PACs. For all that money, however, West won the election by not “losing” as many votes as Klein did (when compared to 2008). In 2010, West won with about 115,000 votes to Klein’s 97,000; in 2008, when Klein had the funding advantage and a presidential year electorate at his back, he beat West, 169,000 to 140,000.

Off-year elections normally mean lower turnouts, which clearly worked to West’s advantage. His victory total amounted to about a third of the 2008 total vote. And there’s the point. The motivated, far-right base of the Republican Party/Tea Party can, at best, pull in about a quarter to a third of the larger electorate. In addition, West became the Definer: He blocked out the issues, agitated his base, and got people to the polls. Klein ceded the terms of the debate to him and failed to galvanize support. Did anti-Muslim rhetoric help West? Probably. Can it work in a presidential election year when substantial turnout ensures that the base won’t rule? Unlikely.

Nevertheless, candidates on the right are already ramping up the rhetoric for 2012. Herman Cain, the pizza king who would be president, is but one obvious example. He says he may not know much, but one thing he knows for sure: when he’s elected, no Muslims will find their way into his administration.

As he put it in an interview with Christianity Today, “Based upon the little knowledge that I have of the Muslim religion, you know, they have an objective to convert all infidels or kill them.” Cain told the Web site Think Progress that he’d brook no Muslim cabinet members or judges because “there is this creeping attempt, there’s this attempt to gradually ease Shariah law and the Muslim faith into our government. It does not belong in our government.”

Before a national television audience at a recent Republican presidential debate, however, Cain proceeded to say that he really hadn’t said what he had, in fact, said. This is called a “clarification.” What he meant, Cain reassured television viewers, was that he would only bar disloyal Muslims, the ones “trying to kill us.”

It almost seems as if candidates defeated in 2010 when using over-the-top anti-Muslim rhetoric are expecting a different outcome in 2012. Lawyer Lynne Torgerson in Minnesota is a fine example of this syndrome. In 2010, she decided to take on Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress, pounding him relentlessly for his supposed “ties” to “radical Islamism.”

“And what do I know of Islam?” she wrote on the “issues” page of her 2010 campaign Web site. “Well, I know of 911.” Alas for Torgerson, the strategy didn’t work out so well. She was crushed by Ellison, garnering only 3 percent of the vote. Now, Torgerson is back, her message even more extreme. Ellison is no longer simply tied to “radical Islamism,” whatever that may be; he has apparently used his time in Congress to become a “radical Islamist” pushing, she claims, nothing less than the adoption of “Islamic Shariah law.”

Shariah Is the New Mosque at Ground Zero

Shariah has become 2012’s Mosque at Ground Zero, with about 20 states considering laws that would ban its use and candidates shrilly denouncing it — a convenient way, presumably, to keep harping on nonexistent, yet anxiety-producing, “threats.” Since no one knows what you’re talking about when you decry Shariah, it’s even easier than usual to say anything, no matter how bizarre or duplicitous.

So be prepared to hear a lot about “Shariah” between now and November 2012.

Going forward, a few things seem clear. For one, the Islamophobic machinery fueled by large right-wing foundations, PACs, individuals, and business interests will continue to elaborate a virtual reality in which Muslim and Islamic “threats” lurk around every American corner and behind every door. It is important to realize that once you’ve entered this political landscape, taking down anti-Muslim “facts” with reality is a fool’s errand. This is a realm akin to a video game, where such “facts” are dispatched only to rise again like so many zombies. In the world of Resident Evil, truth hardly matters.

But bear in mind that, as the 2010 election results made clear, that particular virtual reality is embraced by a distinct and limited American minority. For at least 70 percent of the electorate, when it comes to anti-Muslim slander, facts do matter. Failure to challenge the bogus rhetoric only allows the loudest, most reckless political gamer to set the agenda, as Ron Klein discovered to his dismay in Florida.

Attacks on the deadly threat of Shariah, the puffing up of Muslim plots against America, and the smearing of candidates who decline to make blanket denunciations of “Islamism” are sure to emerge loudly in the 2012 election season. Such rhetoric, however, may prove even less potent at the polls than the relatively impotent 2010 version, even if this reality has gone largely unnoticed by the national media.

For those who live outside the precincts where right-wing virtual reality reigns supreme, facts are apparently having an impact. The vast majority of the electorate seems to be viewing anti-Muslim alarms as a distraction from other, far more pressing problems: real problems.

Stephan Salisbury is cultural writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer and a TomDispatch regular.

Bernard Hopkins Title Defense Looks Set

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

00027848-SPF-001
File: Bernard Hopkins rests during practice in Los Angeles, 2008.

Newly-crowned light-heavyweight champion of the world Bernard Hopkins is all but finalized to take on Chad Dawson this fall, likely in September, for his first title defense. Hopkins has a record of 52 wins, 5 losses, and 2 draws, while Dawson has 30 wins, one loss, and no draws. Dawson has reportedly been aiming to take on Hopkins for a couple of years now, but has been brushed aside until now. Hopkins instead took on Jean Pascal, whom he drew in December of 2010 before defeating him on May 21st of this year. The victory gave Hopkins the WBC, IBO, and The Ring magazine light heavyweight title belts.

Dawson’s only loss of his career came in fact to Pascal in August of 2010 in a technical decision. Therefore, Hopkins reportedly claimed that a fight with Dawson would be a waste of his time, and instead he wanted to “just beat the man who beat the man.” And that he did by dispatching of Pascal last month. But now Hopkins, who recently had a ceremony in his honor in his home town of Philadelphia, sees Dawson as his best match.

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Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Consensus After Big Win

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Pinar Aydinli and Ibon Villelabeitia

2011-06-12T211440Z_1243616371_GM1E76D0ER301_RTRMADP_3_TURKEY-ELECTION

Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, with a slogan reads that “We are Turkey together” in the background, greets his supporters at the AK Party headquarters in Ankara June 12, 2011. Erdogan’s ruling AK Party was set to win Sunday’s parliamentary election with 50.2 percent of the vote, but looked unlikely to get enough seats to call a referendum on a planned new constitution.

REUTERS/Umit Bektas

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan will start a third term of one-party rule strengthened by Sunday’s decisive election victory but also burdened by the need for consensus to push ahead with plans for a new constitution.

Erdogan will have to focus first on a pressing foreign policy issue right on his borders: unrest in neighboring Syria has led to nearly 7,000 Syrian fleeing to Turkey to escape a brutal crackdown by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, with more coming every day.

But analysts said Erdogan also must find ways to revive a stalled bid for membership of the European Union and break down French and German reluctance to let Turkey in.

Erdogan, whose AK Party has transformed Muslim Turkey into one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and ended a cycle of military coups, won 49.9 percent of the vote, or 326 seats, in Sunday’s parliamentary election.

The vote was AK’s biggest electoral tally since it first came to power in 2002 but the party failed to win the 330 seats it needed to call a referendum to recast the constitution, written almost 30 years ago during a period of military rule.

Financial markets were cheered on Monday as investors saw the mixed result forcing the AK Party to compromise with others to make the constitutional change. The Turkish lira strengthened against the dollar and bonds also gained.

“The new constitution requires consensus and dialogue with other parties and the society at large,” Cengiz Aktar, a professor at Istanbul’s Bahcesehir University, told Reuters.

“We will see if Erdogan is ready for these with his majority or will he go his own way and impose his own views on Turkey — in which case we will have difficult times.”

Turkish newspapers lauded his success.

“Turkey loves him,” “The master of the ballot box,” said front page headlines next to pictures of a smiling Erdogan waving to cheering supporters outside party headquarters.

Critics fear Erdogan, who has a reputation for being intolerant of criticism, might use the victory to cement power, limit freedoms and persecute opponents.

In a victory speech before thousands of flag-waving supporters in the capital Ankara on Sunday night, he pledged “humility” and said he would work with rivals.

“People gave us a message to build the new constitution through consensus and negotiation. We will discuss the new constitution with opposition parties. This new constitution will meet peace and justice demands.”

The new leader of the secularist opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which garnered its best result in more than 30 years with 25.9 percent of the vote, warned Erdogan that he would be watching his movements closely.

“We wish all success to AKP, but they must remember there’s a stronger main opposition party now,” Kemal Kilicdaroglu said.

Analysts saw scope for political turbulence in Turkey.

“The anticipated preparation of a new constitution has the potential to create significant political uncertainty, as it may well raise profound and controversial issues related to the division of power, secularism, religion, nationalism and ethnic minority rights,” Ed Parker, Fitch’s Head of EMEA Sovereign Ratings, said in a statement issued on Monday.

MODEL FOR ARAB SPRING

Turkey and Erdogan’s party are often are cited as models for supporters of democracy living through the “Arab Spring” series of anti-authoritarian protests in parts of the Middle East and North Africa.
But opponents say Erdogan, whose party evolved from banned Islamist movements, is imposing a conservative social agenda.

Since crushing old establishment parties on a wave of support from a rising middle class of religious Turks, Erdogan has challenged the secularist military and judiciary with reforms meant to help Turkey meet EU standards of democracy.

He also has set the long-time NATO member and U.S. ally on a more assertive foreign policy course, building closer relations with Middle East countries, including Iran.

Some financial analysts had warned that too large an AK majority could polarize a country that is deeply divided over the role of religion and ethnic minorities.

A limited majority is seen making the government focus on macroeconomic imbalances, including an overheating economy.

There has been speculation that Erdogan would seek to move Turkey toward a more presidential system of government, with the ultimate aim of becoming president himself.

Besides the economy, Erdogan’s government also will need to tackle a separatist conflict in the mainly Kurdish southeast. A strong showing by the pro-Kurdish BDP in the Kurdish region played a role in denying the AK a bigger vote haul.

On Sunday night, a percussion bomb exploded in southeast Turkey, injuring 11 people celebrating election victories of Kurdish candidates, security and hospital officials said.

The explosion occurred around 11 p.m. (4 p.m. ET) in the province of Sirnak, near the Iraqi border. Casualties were being treated at a nearby hospital.

(Additional reporting by Simon Cameron-Moore, Ece Toksabay, Daren Butler in Istanbul, Seyhmus Cakan in Diyarbakir; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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2011 Indian Premier League Cricket Season Under Way

April 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Indian Premier League_1The fourth season of Indian Premier League cricket kicked off on Friday April 8th. And through ten matches thus far, the Mumbai Indians and the Rajasthan Royals have jumped to the early lead in the standings. Those two teams are the only undefeated clubs remaining with identical 2-0 records. Rajasthan started their season with an eight wicket victory over the Deccan Chargers. They followed that up with a six wicket victory over the Delhi Daredevils.

Mumbai were finalists in last season’s IPL, so their thirst for the cup is great, knowing that they were within a whisker of the title last year. They opened their season this year with an eight wicket victory over the Delhi Daredevils. In that match, Muslim bowlers Ali Murtaza and Munaf Patel were a big part of the victory. The left-handed Murtaza bowled four overs, giving up only 21 runs, and grabbing one wicket. His right-handed Muslim counterpart, Patel, completed three overs, giving up only 20 runs, without any wickets.

In their second match, Mumbai demolished the Royal Challengers Bangalore by nine wickets. Murtaza and Patel proved quite dependable in that match as well. Murtaza tossed a steady four overs, giving up 26 runs without any wickets. Patel, meanwhile, bowled three overs and gave up a miniscule 10 runs, without any wickets. It appears that if Mumbai are to take that next step and win the 2011 IPL title, this lefty-righty Muslim tandem will definitely play a role.

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Harun Yahya – Secrets of the Hypocrites

November 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Hypocrites Never Vanquish Prophets

Those who anticipate the worst for you say, “Were we not with you?” whenever you gain a victory from Allah, but if the disbelievers have a success they say, “Did we not have the upper hand over you and yet in spite of that keep the believers away from you?” Allah will judge between you on the Day of Resurrection. Allah will not give the disbelievers any way against the believers.

An-Nisa’: 141

All through history, hypocrites have rebelled against the truth and waged a war against believers from inside their community. As revealed in the verse “. . . But all might belongs to Allah and to His messenger and the believers. But the hypocrites do not know this” (Surat al-Munafiqun: 8), hypocrites have always claimed that they are superior to believers and will overcome them. Yet despite all these baseless claims, they have never been able to vanquish the believers. Messengers and the believers around them have always emerged victorious. This situation has persisted, just like a law, throughout history.

When events are viewed through the perspective of the Qur’an, the reason for this is easy to see. Allah never permits hypocrites to gain an advantage over the faithful. On the contrary, he overthrows them by means of the messenger and the faithful. Allah reveals in the Qur’an that He has warned all deniers, hypocrites included, who engage in actions aimed against believers and that He will punish them unless they put an end to their cunning activities:

If the hypocrites and those with sickness in their hearts and the rumor-mongers in Madina do not desist, We will set you onto them. Then they will only be your neighbors there a very short time.

Al-Ahzab: 60

Allah also reveals, with examples, how He will always support sincere believers who turn to Him in all they do against the deniers. By means of Allah’s help and support, His messengers have always secured victory, even under the most seemingly difficult conditions.

This is described with several examples in the Qur’an. One of these is Talut, who assumed command of the army in a war waged against the deniers in the time of the Prophet Dawud (as). Talut, placed in command of the believers due to his superior military abilities, made a number of recommendations to the army. However, a number of people of weak faith turned their backs on this advice, though they should have obeyed him, and acted in accordance with their own desires:

When Talut marched out with the army, he said, “Allah will test you with a river. Anyone who drinks from it is not with me. But anyone who does not taste it is with me—except for him who merely scoops up a little in his hand.” But they drank from it—except for a few of them. Then when he and those who believed with him had crossed it, they said, “We do not have the strength to face Goliath and his troops today.” But those who were sure that they were going to meet Allah said, “How many a small force has triumphed over a much greater one by Allah’s permission! Allah is with the steadfast.”

Al-Baqara: 249

At the moment of battle, the hypocrites sought to create difficulties for the faithful by their sudden disobedience, though the believers displayed not the slightest disobedience and supported the messenger in the fighting:

When they came out against Goliath and his troops, they said, “Our Lord, pour down steadfastness upon us, and make our feet firm, and help us against this disbelieving people.” And with Allah’s permission they routed them. . . .

Al-Baqara: 250-251

Allah grants success to believers and victory over the deniers in response to their sincerity and determination. While they enjoy great success in this world, and the approval and paradise of Allah in the Hereafter, deniers are cursed and punished by Him.

Correct Approach Towards Hypocrites

O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and hypocrites and be harsh with them. Their refuge is Hell. What an evil destination!

At-Tahrim: 9

The approach to be taken towards hypocrites receives much attention in the Qur’an. In the same way as the believer learns all he needs from the Qur’an, he also learns how to behave in this regard.

The exemplary advice given to believers in the Qur’an is this: that believers should never take hypocrites as their friends, and that they should warn the hypocrites by means of the Qur’an so long as the two remain together. And if the advice given bears no fruit, they should expel the hypocrites from among them. At this point, of course, Allah’s messenger must take the final decision regarding the hypocrites. By means of His messenger, Allah enables believers to take the correct decision.

Let us now examine those verses concerning the attitude to be adopted towards hypocrites.

1. Not to Confide in Them

You who believe! Do not make friends of people with whom Allah is angry, who have despaired of the Hereafter as the disbelievers have despaired of the inhabitants of the graves.

Al-Mumtahana: 13

As we have seen from the beginning, in the light of the verses of the Qur’an, hypocrites are definitely not the kind of people that one should befriend or confide in. Only those of weak faith or in whose hearts faith is not yet fully established take these people, who fail to befriend Allah and who are in consequence not befriended by Him, as their confidants.

The verses revealed by Allah on this subject encourage believers to be on their guard against hypocrites at all times and never to confide in them. It is a matter of great importance to be on one’s guard against hypocrites, who hate the believers and wish them to be dispersed and suffer difficulties.

2. To Rule with Justice Among Them

They are people who listen to lies and consume ill-gotten gains. If they come to you, you can either judge between them or turn away from them. If you turn away from them, they cannot harm you in any way. But if you do judge, judge between them justly. Allah loves the just.

Al-Ma’ida: 42

Implementing the stipulation in the above verse is a matter for the messenger at the head of the people alone. The messenger either rules among the hypocrites, as he desires, or else turns his back on them.

3. To Give Advice if They Will Receive That Advice

Allah knows what is in such people’s hearts, so turn away from them and warn them and speak to them with words that take effect.

An-Nisa’: 63

As can be seen from this verse, it is recommended that hypocrites be given effective advice. By this important and effective method, they can come to realize what they have done and regret it. The main thing here is to issue reminders so that they can feel such regret. Someone who fails to heed such advice has declared open war on the religious moral values. Therefore, one must never forget that these people should be spurned, not befriended.

Believers give these people advice in the hope that they will mend their ways. But certainly, every piece of advice increases the suffering in the Hereafter of the hypocrite who turns his back on it. All the advice given to hypocrites is actually a snare, set for them by Allah. By remaining among believers and working in secret, hypocrites imagine that they are being very clever, never realizing that in the Hereafter, they will be recompensed for every piece of advice they received while remaining among believers. In this way they fall into an eternal trap while seeking to set their own snares for believers.

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Obama Must Call Off This Folly Before Afghanistan Becomes his Vietnam

July 2, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Senseless slaughter and anti-western hysteria are all America and Britain’s billions have paid for in a counterproductive war

By Simon Jenkins

If good intentions ever paved a road to hell, they are doing so in Afghanistan. History rarely declares when folly turns to disaster, but it does so now. Barack Obama and his amanuensis, Gordon Brown, are uncannily repeating the route taken by American leaders in Vietnam from 1963 to 1975. Galbraith once said that the best thing about the Great Depression was that it warned against another. Does the same apply to Vietnam?

Vietnam began with Kennedy’s noble 1963 intervention, to keep the communist menace at bay and thus make the world safe for democracy. That is what George Bush and Tony Blair said of terrorism and Afghanistan. Vietnam escalated as the Diem regime in Saigon failed to contain Vietcong aggression and was deposed with American collusion. By 1965, despite Congress scepticism, American advisers, then planes, then ground forces were deployed. Allies were begged to join but few agreed and not Britain.

The presence of Americans on Asian soil turned a local insurgency into a regional crusade. Foreign aid rallied to the Vietcong cause to resist what was seen as a neo-imperialist invasion. The hard-pressed Americans resorted to eve r more extensive bombing, deep inside neighbouring countries, despite evidence that it was ineffective and politically counterproductive.

No amount of superior firepower could quell a peasant army that came and went by night and could terrorise or merge into the local population. Tales of American atrocities rolled in each month. The army counted success not in territory held but in enemy dead. A desperate attempt to “train and equip” a new Vietnamese army made it as corrupt as it was unreliable. Billions of dollars were wasted. A treaty with the Vietcong in 1973 did little to hide the humiliation of eventual defeat.

Every one of these steps is being re-enacted in Afghanistan. Every sane observer, even serving generals and diplomats, admit that “we are not winning” and show no sign of doing so. The head of the British army, Sir Richard Dannatt, remarked recently on the “mistakes” of Iraq as metaphor for Afghanistan. He has been supported by warnings from his officers on the ground.

Last year’s denial of reinforcements to Helmand is an open secret. Ever since the then defence secretary, John Reid, issued his 2006 “London diktats”, described in a recent British Army Review as “casual, naive and a comprehensive failure”, intelligence warnings of Taliban strength have been ignored. The army proceeded with a policy of disrupting the opium trade, neglecting hearts and minds and using US air power against “blind” targets. All have proved potent weapons in the Taliban armory.

Generals are entitled to plead for more resources and yet claim that -victory is just round the corner, even when they know it is not. They must lead men into battle. A heavier guilt lies with liberal apologists for this war on both sides of the Atlantic who continue to invent excuses for its failure and offer glib preconditions for victory.

A classic is a long editorial in Monday’s New York Times, congratulating Barack Obama on “sending more troops to the fight” but claiming that there were still not enough. In addition there were too many corrupt politicians, too many drugs, too many weapons in the wrong hands, too small a local army, too few police and not enough “trainers”. The place was damnably unlike Connecticut.

Strategy, declared the sages of Manhattan, should be “to confront the Taliban head on”, as if this had not been tried before. Afghanistan needed “a functioning army and national police that can hold back the insurgents”. The way to achieve victory was for the Pentagon, already spending a stupefying $60bn in Afghanistan, to spend a further $20bn increasing the size of the Afghan army from 90,000 to 250,000. This was because ordinary Afghans “must begin to trust their own government”.

These lines might have been written in 1972 by General Westmoreland in his Saigon bunker. The New York Times has clearly never seen the Afghan army, or police, in action. Eight years of training costing $15bn have been near useless, when men simply decline to fight except to defend their homes. Any Afghan pundit will attest that training a Pashtun to fight a Pashtun is a waste of money, while training a Tajik to the same end is a waste of time. Since the Pentagon originally armed and trained the Taliban to fight the Soviets, this must be the first war where it has trained both sides.

Neither the Pentagon nor the British Ministry of Defence will win Afghanistan through firepower. The strategy of “hearts and minds plus” cannot be realistic, turning Afghanistan into a vast and indefinite barracks with hundreds of thousands of western soldiers sitting atop a colonial Babel of administrators and professionals. It will never be secure. It offers Afghanistan a promise only of relentless war, one that Afghans outside Kabul know that warlords, drug cartels and Taliban sympathizers are winning.

The 2001 policy of invading, capturing Osama bin Laden and ridding the region of terrorist bases has been tested to destruction and failed. Strategy is reduced to the senseless slaughter of hundreds of young western soldiers and thousands of Afghans. Troops are being sent out because Labour ministers lack the guts to admit that Blair’s bid to quell the Islamist menace by force of arms was crazy. They parrot the line that they are making “the streets of London safe”, but they know they are doing the opposite.

Vietnam destroyed two presidents, Johnson and Nixon, and destroyed the global confidence of a generation of young Americans. Afghanistan obscenely dubbed the “good war” could do the same. There will soon be 68,000 American troops in that country, making a mockery of Donald Rumsfeld’s 2001 tactic of hit and run, which at least had the virtue of coherence.

This is set fair to be a war of awful proportions, cockpit for the feared clash of civilisations. Each new foreign battalion taps more cash for the Taliban from the Gulf. Each new massacre from the air recruits more youths from the madrasas. The sheer counterproductivity of the war has been devastatingly analysed by David Kilcullen, adviser to Obama’s key general David Petraeus no less.

Obama is trapped by past policy mistakes as were Kennedy and Johnson, cheered by an offstage chorus crying, “if only” and “not enough” and “just one more surge”. He and Petraeus have to find a means and a language to disengage from Afghanistan, to allow the anti-western hysteria of the Muslim world which the west has done so much to foster now to cool. It is hard to imagine a greater tragedy than for the most exciting American president in a generation to be led by a senseless intervention into a repeat of America’s greatest postwar debacle.

As for British politicians, they seek a proxy for their negligence in Afghanistan by staging a show trial of their negligence in Iraq. Why do they fiddle while Helmand burns? Might they at least ask how they can spend £40bn a year on defence yet watch a mere 8,000 troops on their one active front having to be rescued by Americans?

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