The World Seen From Rome; Catholic-Muslim Panel Urges “Self-Criticism And Calls For Less Stereotyping

ROME, FEB. 25, 2004 (Zenit.org)- Vatican and Muslim representatives meeting in Rome agreed on the need to engage in “self-criticism and to struggle against stereotypes and generalizations.” “Religious persons must be more careful not to generalize,” said Sheikh Fawzi Fadel al-Zafzaf, president of the Al-Azhar Permanent Committee for Dialogue with Monotheist Religions, and a co-president of the Catholic-Islamic Joint Committee. Two of the speakers were Catholics: Archbishop Fitzgerald, the council’s president, and Youssef Kamal El-Hage, professor at Notre Dame of Lebanon University and a consultor of the council. The other two speakers were Muslims: Fawzi Al-Zafzaf and Ali El-Samman, vice president of the Al-Azhar Permanent Committee and a member of the Islamic-Christian Dialogue Association.

U.S. Muslim Runs For Congress; Abu-Ghazalah Calls For Bringing Home The U.S. Troops Occupying Iraq And Repealing The U.S. Patriot Act

NEWARK, Ohio, February 25 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) – Maad Abu-Ghazalah is hoping to be the first Muslim American ever elected to Congress. He will vie in the March 2nd Primary against fellow Democrats Tom Lantos and Rohit Khanna. The Palestinian-born Abu-Ghazalah, 44, has already raised $30,000 at a fundraiser at the Muslim Community Association (MCA) in Santa Clara, California, reported the New California Media (NCM), a group comprising some 700 ethnic communities worldwide. His platform calls for brining home the U.S. troops occupying Iraq, repealing the U.S. Patriot Act, ending the corporate influence on the policy-making mechanism and protecting the environment.

Cartoon Protestors Defy Rally Ban

Thousands of Muslims defied a ban on rallies Friday in Pakistan’s capital, joining protesters across the country in condemning the Prophet Muhammad cartoons printed by some Western newspapers. The demonstrations after midday prayers also gave angry clerics a platform to criticize President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and his government’s close relations with the United States.

‘Bin Laden Deputy’ Slams Scarf Ban

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) –A tape recording attributed to Osama bin Laden’s top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, criticized France’s decision to ban Islamic headscarves in schools, and described it as “part of the West’s campaign of hatred against Islam.” “The decision of the French president to issue a law to prevent Muslim girls from covering their heads in schools is another example of the Crusader and envy that the Westerners have against Muslims,” said the voice in the audiotape broadcast Tuesday on the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya satellite TV channel. “Banning the headscarves in France is in line with burning villages with its inhabitants in Afghanistan, bringing houses down on the heads of sleeping Palestinians, with killing children in Iraq and robbing their oil using false pretexts … (and) torturing [Muslims in the cells of Guantanamo,” the tape said. Al-Arabiya would not disclose how it acquired the tape from al Qaeda’s No. 2 man.

Islamic Britain Lures Top People

By Nicholas Hellen and Christopher Morgan MORE than 14,000 white Britons have converted to Islam after becoming disillusioned with western values, according to the first authoritative study of the phenomenon. Some of Britain’s top landowners, celebrities and the offspring of senior Establishment figures have embraced the strict tenets of the Muslim faith. The trend is being encouraged by Muslim leaders who are convinced that the conversion of prominent society figures will help protect a community stigmatised by terrorism and fundamentalism.

U.S. To Release 5 Britons At Guantanamo Bay

Brian Knowlton IHT WASHINGTON U.S. officials will soon release five of the nine British citizens detained at the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the British government announced Thursday. All were captured while allegedly fighting alongside Taliban militants against U.S. and British troops in Afghanistan A Spaniard was returned Friday to Spain, where he reportedly faced immediate interrogation by a magistrate investigating terrorism. The fate of about 10 other European detainees, including French, Swedish and German nationals, remained unclear. Negotiations over the release of British detainees had rotated partly around the sticky question of whether they would be jailed, tried or freed upon returning home. The Pentagon has announced plans to establish a panel to review detainees’ cases annually to see which of them posed no threat and could be released. But senior Defense Department officials said Feb. 12 that they expected to keep large numbers of the detainees for many years, even indefinitely. Some of the roughly 650 detainees have been held for as long as two years without being charged. To date, nearly 90 detainees have been released, and U.S. officials have suggested that more than 100 of those deemed less dangerous might be eligible for eventual release.

Foreigners Given Voting Rights

Foreigners living in Belgium have been given the right to vote in the country’s local elections, whatever their nationality. The Belgian Parliament’s approval of the new voting law, marks the end of a long and often bitter debate that once again saw the country divided along linguistic lines. The country’s French speaking political parties carried the vote. Only one party from Dutch-speaking Flanders – the minority Flemish Socialist Party (SP.A) – voted in favour of the planned new rules. It is estimated that around 120 000 people are to contribute from the new regulations.

Muslim ‘Hate’ Preacher Loses Appeal

By Adam Blenford A Muslim preacher jailed for nine years after he urged his followers to rise up and kill the “enemies of Islam” lost an appeal against his conviction today, but had his sentence cut by two years. Jamaican-born Abdullah el-Faisal, 39, a former preacher at Brixton mosque in south London, encouraged his followers to kill Jews, Americans and non-believers in a series of inflammatory speeches and recordings. He told schoolboys that they would spend eternity in paradise with 72 virgins if they fought and died in a jihad, or holy war. El-Faisal was sentenced to seven years for soliciting murder and a further two years for inciting racial hatred at the Old Bailey last March. His sentences were to run concurrently. The judge recommended that el-Faisal, of Stratford, east London, be deported at the end of his sentence. The ground-breaking trial was the first prosecution of a Muslim cleric in this country.