New Book Chronicles Heterogeneity of Canadian Muslims Through Photographs

Canada, a Photo Journey Among Muslims (Pandora Press, 2009) chronicles the three-quarters of a million Muslims in Canada and they come from across the world and all the varieties of Islam. Most are Sunni Muslims, but there are Shia, Sufi, Ismaili, and secular Muslims.

Leader wanted over 2006 train bombings

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is said to have been one of the founders of Lashkar-e-Taiba when it was formed in 1989. When the Guardian met him in Pakistan in 1998, it found a “short, round man in spectacles” delivering a sermon to his disciples in which he told them: “Terrorists are killers, they kidnap and murder the innocent, but a jihad is to help the poor, the weak and the starving and to establish the supremacy of Allah.” His stated opponents then were those he regarded as heretics – liberal Pakistanis and the Shia Muslim, Christian and Hindu minorities. He lived on a heavily guarded estate in Punjab, a gift from his Middle Eastern patrons, and argued that democracy was in opposition to local tradition. “We have suffered because we have abandoned our traditions and strayed into democracy,” he said. “The democratic system is not Islamic but a Jewish and Christian import from Europe … In Islam, God is the ruler but democracy gives rights to all people.” His attention was focused on Kashmir but he indicated that it might not end there. “At this time our contest is Kashmir. Let’s see when the time comes. Our struggle with the Jews is always there.” After the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan banned the group. A former professor of Islamic studies, Saeed was placed under house arrest in 2006 at the time of the alleged airline bomb plot in the UK but was released after the Lahore high court declared his detention illegal. Duncan Campbell reports.

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Iran granted prestige to world Muslims, says head of Austrian Islamic center

Head of Austria’s Shi’as Islamic Center said here Wednesday Islamic Republic of Iran granted prestige and grandeur to Muslims throughout the world. Muhammad-Ali Lances who was speaking for a group of pious Iranian youth attending the religious ‘Ea’tekaf’ ritual at Martyrs Mosque of Shiraz, added, “That is why we believe you are not merely responsible for the fate of your own country, but for the fate of the youth of the entire Islamic World.” Head of Austrian Shia’s Islamic Center added, “Furthermore, the Muslim youth can by abiding by the Islamic teachings become an excellent model for the youth of the entire world nations.” Presenting an image of the social, cultural and political status quo of Europe, Lances said, “The Europeans look at Islam as a proud and prestigious faith today, while in near past if someone would convert to Islam in Europe, or any other Western country, they would have accused him of being insane.” Pointing out that the Islamic Revolution of Iran is of great significance both among the European Muslims, and among the followers of other faiths there, he said, “One of the former Austrian presidents used to say that thanks to the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the pious need not feel ashamed of being religious, and they can proudly claim their belief in God.”

Shia Muslims say that they met Iranian president

Members of the Rome-based Shia Muslim organization ‘Imam Mahdi’ released a statement saying that they met with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad was visiting Rome to attend the global food summit organized by the UN. The statement said that the meeting took place, even though the Italian media insulted Ahmadinejad’s presence at the FAO summit with the usual lies and distortions. During the meeting, Shia Italian Muslims felt that they had a duty to differentiate themselves between their community and the noise of other groups.

Germany: Threat of Islamic terrorism ‘consistently high’, says report

The threat of Islamic terrorism in Germany remained high in 2007, according to an annual report by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. The report said Islamic militants are increasingly setting their sights on Germany and view the country as an “operational area” and that Islamists regard Germany as a “crusader” and as an ally of the United States and Israel. American, Israeli and British institutions were at high risk, said the report, as well as Russian targets, due to the ongoing conflict in Chechnya. As an example, the report mentioned the arrests of militants on 4 September 2007, when three individuals allegedly planned attacks on American institutions in Germany and were caught with bomb-making material. By the end of 2007 there were 30 nationwide active Islamist organisations said the report, an increase of two from the previous year. Among them, 1,390 active followers of the Muslim Brotherhood, and about 900 followers of Lebanese Shia radical group Hezbollah. The report mentions Chechen militants but it said their followers in Germany have so far done it without violence. Meanwhile, Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany’s minister of the interior and a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) said that Germany escaped terrorist attacks because of preventive measures taken by the security services. The report included right and left wing extremism, extremism by foreigners, the Scientology organisation, and Islamism.

Man charged over child cruelty during Ashura

A man charged with child cruelty appeared in court this week, after allegedly encouraging two teenage boys to harm themselves as part of a religious ritual. Police arrested Syed Mustafa Zaidi, 44, Eccles, after a complaint was made that the boys had taken part in an Ashura ceremony often done by the Shia sect which involves self-flagellation, at a community centre in Longsight, Manchester on January 19, it was reported.