Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

December 2005
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The Islamic World

Permanent Homes for Tsunami Victims

The Social Service Department of Sri Lanka Jamaat –e- Islami handed over recently, ten permanent housing units, as part of the proposed 100-unit settlement project, to tsunami victims in Kinniya, sponsored by the Sharja Charity International, a UAE based charity organisation. Alawathugoda, District Engineer, Tsunami Housing Reconstruction Unit of the Urban Development Authority of the Government of Sri Lanka in his address, said that Sri Lanka Jamaat –e- Islami was the first organisation to hand over permanent houses to beneficiaries, in Trincomalee district. Meanwhile, the Jamaat is also constructing 15 more permanent housing units in the Kuchcheveli area of Trincomalee district, sponsored by the Association of Sri Lankan Muslims in North America. For more details, contact, Social Services Dept, Sri Lanka Jamaat-e- Islami Colombo,Sri Lanka

Saudi Arabia joins WTO

Saudi Arabia has agreed to end all economic boycotts of Israel, allowing the World Trade Organization (WTO) to admit the oil-rich Kingdom as its 149th member, “I am very satisfied with the fact that Saudi Arabia has complied with all the rules of the WTO,” said Itzhak Levanon, Israel’s ambassador to the global trade body. The Kingdom’s minister for commerce and industry, Hashim Yamani, signed the protocol of accession, which means that Saudi Arabia will become a full member on December 11, 2005, just days before a big WTO meeting in Hong Kong. To join, Saudi Arabia agreed to scrap all economic boycotts and pledged not to resort to any future discriminatory trade measures against the Jewish state. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, was the world’s 19th- largest exporter in 2004 with trade shipments worth $126.2 billion.

Highest Civilian Award for Ali

Louisville native, Muham-mad Ali was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. Ali, 63, the first three-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world, was honoured along with 13 other recipients by President Bush at a White House ceremony recently. President Truman established the Medal of Freedom in 1945 to recognise civilians for their efforts during World War II, and President Kennedy re-instated it in 1963 to honour distinguished peacetime service.

Ali was born in Louisville as Cassius Marcellus Clay, and won the gold medal in the light-heavyweight boxing division at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. He joined the Nation of Islam in 1963 and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali was joined by family, friends, colleagues and admirers from 12 countries and 32 states in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky recently to celebrate the grand opening of the new Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville. Based on the iconic life and contributions of the boxer known as “The Greatest”, the Center offers one-of-a-kind exhibits and programs designed to preserve and share the legacy and ideals of Muhammad Ali. The Center opened its doors to the public on November 21

An international cultural and educational institution, the Muhammad Ali Center draws on non-traditional museum experiences, interactive technology, partnering institutions, and most importantly, the ideals of Muhammad Ali to entertain, inspire and teach visitors.

The $80 million project, 93,000 square-foot, six-level Center is both a destination site and an education and communications center. Two levels of exhibits, plus educational initiatives and public programming will encourage visitors of all ages to partake in self-assessment, and begin a journey to maximise their own human potential. The Ali Center is truly international and 19 different languages are incorporated throughout the Center’s exhibits.

Turkey Bans Alcohol

The Turkish government has banned alcohol in the local districts in an effort to protect family values, sparking an outcry from opposition parties as running against individual liberties espoused in the EU (European Union) project. Mayors of the Islamic- Justice and Development Party have banned alcohol from local government cafes and restaurants in Ankara. New alcohol sales licenses were refused by Turkish mayors. The Turkish traditional aniseed-flavoured liqueur, raki, has also been banned in Anatolia.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who abstains from alcohol even at state banquets where he makes toasts with a glass of fruit juice, recently endorsed his mayors’ endeavour. He said that the government had “a duty to protect young people from the dangers of alcohol”.

Spanish Muslims Perform First 'Open-Air' `Eid Prayers

For the first time in the southern European country, Spanish Muslims performed ‘Eid-ul-Fitr prayer in open-air courtyards. The prayer was held in an exhibition courtyard as a gesture of peaceful coexistence and ‘Eid greetings from the Christian administration of the fair. Spain has a Muslim minority of about 600,000 people out of a total population of 40 million. The country has recognised Islam through the law of religious freedom, issued in July 1967.

Middle East Tops Christmas Holiday List

Muslim countries of the Middle East are becoming the fashionable destination for Britons wanting to escape the excesses of a traditional Christmas at home. With a cold snap in prospect across northern Europe, the hot money is being spent on deposits for winter holidays in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Dubai and Oman. The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) said Morocco is expected to receive 2,15,000 British holidaymakers this year. In Egypt, holidays to the Red Sea coasts are being sold on the basis of guaranteed sunshine and access to coral reefs. Dubai is promoted for luxury, guaranteed sunshine and fantastic shopping. Oman offers dramatic green landscapes, unusual for the region, and an alternative to Dubai for luxury hotels and excellent shopping opportunities. Martin Wellings, ABTA’s president, said: “The travel industry is watching that the Middle East is the new hot destination to be seen in.”

Palestinians Open Egypt Border Crossing
Rafah, Gaza Strip

Palestinians formally opened a border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, that will allow Gazans to travel abroad freely for the first time since Israel occupied the coastal territory in 1967. “I think every Palestinian now has his passport ready in his pocket. Let them come to cross at this terminal whenever they want,” said Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas cut the ribbon to open the terminal where cross-border movement will be supervised by European Union monitors as part of a U.S.-brokered deal after Israel’s Gaza pull-out in September.

The Rafah deployment marks the EU’s first monitoring role in the Palestinian territories.

“We want to ... transform your borders into bridges with your neighbours and with Israel. Israel is also your neighbour,” EU Middle East envoy Mark Otte said at the ceremony.

The border crossing deal was seen as a sign of improved Israel-EU relations. But an Israeli official indicated that ties might cool if the European Union went ahead and endorsed a draft report critical of Israeli policy in Arab East Jerusalem. ”It would surely be a pity if this positive momentum would stop and we would see a regression to the one-sided (European) position of the past,” said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev.

UK's First Islamic Radio Station

The first permanent Islamic radio station to be set up in the UK will be launched in Bradford. The ground-breaking station will feature discussion programmes, women’s and children’s programmes and will even feature live link-ups to the mosques of Makkah, Madinah and Jerusalem. The station is the brainchild of Mohammed Sajid, a resident from West Bowling, who set up the station in response to growing calls from his local community for a dedicated Islamic radio station. “There was a real need and want for this service. We want the channel to be a wholesome family one and really hope that it will help to build bridges between Bradford’s different faith communities,” he adds. The station will broadcast the call to prayer five times a day, as well as featuring stories from the prophets and Islamic music from its studio at Commercial House on Manningham Lane. The station is being launched initially in Bradford, but will become available all over the country soon.

Peace Walks

A group of Muslim men from Birmingham are walking the length and breadth of Cumbria (UK) to promote peace and harmony. For the past two months, the men have been breaking down barriers and misconceptions of the Muslim community as they travelled through villages and towns. Dr Yahya Mahmood and his colleagues have been walking 10 to 15 miles each day, opening communications with people throughout the county. Starting off from Lancaster, the men have already conquered the south of the county and are currently en route in west Cumbria. “People have been very happy to talk to us and many people have told us that it’s the first time they have spoken to Muslims,” says Dr Mahmood. Peace walks like this one are carried out across the UK and are organised by members of the Islamic Centre, based in Dewsbury.

No Risk of Bird Flu to Hajj Pilgrims

About 40 medical experts at the International Bird Flu Conference held in Riyadh recently found the Kingdom’s preparations for Hajj 2006 satisfactory and said there is no immediate risk of bird flu virus to the pilgrims. However, they called for a long-term national strategy to deal with the dangers of the bird flu virus H5N1, that could cause a epidemic. Dr Ameen A. Mishkash, Director of Infectious Diseases, Preventive Medicine Department in the Ministry of Health, said his ministry has made two detailed presentations at the conference, on the preventive measures the ministry is taking to safeguard the pilgrims against infectious diseases. He said the Ministry of Health has also informed the international participants of the bird flu conference that it is in the process of acquiring Tamiflu, a drug used for the treatment of bird flu at a cost worth 25 million Saudi riyals (Dh24.48 million).The International Bird Flu Conference organised by the National Guard Health Affairs Department in Riyadh was relayed to 35 hospitals across the Kingdom. More than 500 medical experts specialising in infection control attended the conference in Riyadh.

Slain Palestinian Boy's Organs Donated to Israeli Children

Israeli troops on a raid in the West Bank town of Jenin last month, shot a 12-year-old Palestinian boy who was carrying a toy M-16 assault rifle. The army said soldiers were caught in an exchange of fire, and they mistook the boy, Ahmed Ismail Khatib, for an armed militant. Israel apologised for what it described as a “tragic mistake.”

The boy was rushed to a hospital in Jerusalem with wounds in his head and stomach. Israeli doctors fought for his life, but the boy died. The child’s family decided to donate his organs to Israeli children. “Despite the pain, they made a very courageous decision,” said the boy’s uncle, Jamal Khatib. “This is part of our culture as Muslims,” he said. “We can tell the world that we are not terrorists.” The boy’s father said the donated heart, lung, kidneys and liver would save Jewish lives. “Israeli children are our children,” he said. “We are doing this because we believe in peace.”