Coffee Shop Talk -  Dr Yacoob and MUIS to their RESCUE (75793 views) Notify me whenever anyone posts in this discussion.Subscribe
From: SaraLeck5/17/09 8:57 PM 
To: All  (2383 of 3931) 
 1440.2383 in reply to 1440.2382 

How about Secularist Award for Secular Singapore?!!

 Reply   Options 

From: SaraLeck5/17/09 9:11 PM 
To: All  (2384 of 3931) 
 1440.2384 in reply to 1440.2383 

Why haven't Pedra Bracans embrace True Tenet of Islam yet? It is here to Bless all Christians, JEWs and Infidels. No Traffic Police Isa are required here to file Sedition! Death Sentence for Blasphemy against Moppet and Ex-Muslims?


From: SaraLeck5/17/09 10:06 PM 
To: All  (2385 of 3931) 
 1440.2385 in reply to 1440.2384 
Islam Bless all Christians ... You may practice the TRUE TENET of ISLAM in truly Islamic country!

From: SaraLeck5/17/09 11:54 PM 
To: All  (2386 of 3931) 
 1440.2386 in reply to 1440.2385 

AWARE to SCREEN this DURING racial HARMONY WEEK for Malays only ?!! ... to appeal to the Children of Singapore on the greater meaing of acceptance and inclusiveness? -


From: TodayNews5/18/09 2:52 AM 
To: SaraLeck  (2387 of 3931) 
 1440.2387 in reply to 1440.2381 

Christians Pressed as Pakistani Military Battles Taliban

Residents flee Swat Valley where fight rages with Islamist insurgents.

By Michael Larson

ISTANBUL, Pakistani Christians in Swat Valley are caught between the Taliban and Pakistan’s military as it assaults the stronghold where sharia (Islamic law) rules.

Nearly 15,000 troops have been deployed in the picturesque Swat Valley in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and neighboring Afghanistan. Troops came after months of peace negotiations collapsed between the Taliban Islamist insurgents who have imposed sharia in the valley and the central government last month. Hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis have fled the war-ravaged area for fear of a full military assault.

On May 10 (Sunday) the army ordered residents to flee Swat Valley during a lull in fighting. Aid groups estimate that as many as 1.3 million could be displaced by the fighting, according to The Guardian.

Christians are particularly vulnerable in the mass exodus. Working as poor day laborers, they occupy the lowest rung of the social ladder and have little money for costly transport or to stock up on resources before fleeing.

“Christians are poor, and like in any conflict, the prices of transportation and commodities skyrocket,” said Ashar Dean, assistant director of communication of the Church of Pakistan Peshawar diocese. “Some had to go on foot to flee the valley.”

The Taliban had ratcheted up pressure on Christians, other religious minorities and liberal Muslims in Swat to live according to Islamic fundamentalist norms. They were forced to grow beards and don Islamic attire for fear of their safety in an attempt to blend in with Muslim residents of Swat.

Many Christians also fled for insufficient funds to pay the jizye, a poll tax under sharia paid by non-Muslims for protection if they decline to convert to Islam.

In February the Pakistani government ceded control of Swat valley to the Taliban, who imposed their version of sharia and established clerical rule over the legal system. But Christians had seen warning signs long before the formal sharia announcement. In the past year the Taliban burned or bombed more than 200 girls’ schools in Swat, including one that housed a Catholic church.

Religious minorities live in a precarious situation in the Muslim-dominated country. The legal system informally discriminates against non-Muslims, and in recent years Christian villages have been ransacked by Muslim mobs incited by dubious reports that a Quran had been desecrated.

The Taliban’s attempts to spread out from Swat into neighboring areas, however, have increased feelings of insecurity among the nation’s 3 million Christians.

“The threat of the Taliban is a hanging sword above the necks of Christians,” said Sohail Johnson, chief coordinator of Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan. “Christians could be in the situation where they would have to accept Islam or die.”

Swat Christians Flee

Approximately 40-60 Christian families lived in Swat as congregants at the Church of Pakistan. But since Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani on April 8 announced a military mission into Swat, nearly all have fled to nearby districts.

Most are in refugee housing in Mardan in the NWFP. They stay in a technical school owned by the Church of Pakistan, a congregation composed of Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists and Lutherans

The school dismissed its students for the school year early to make room for the refugees. Opening its doors to the displaced Christians was necessary due to government inaction toward religious minorities, said Yousaf Benjamin of the National Commission for Justice and Peace.

“The government is giving protection to Muslims, but the Christians are through waiting for their services,” he said.

Similar measures are being employed in hundreds of schools. To provide for the massive influx in refugees, the Pakistan government ended the school year early in districts near Swat and opened the schools to refugees for temporary housing. Teachers are also assisting in the humanitarian relief effort, Benjamin said.

Some Christians have complained of facing discrimination in refugee camps. Government relief workers forbade Christians, Hindus and Sikhs from setting up tents or eating with Muslim refugees, according to online news site Christian Today.

But ultimately Christians will not be able to return to Swat Valley unless the Taliban threat is completely removed, Christian relief groups said. Their possessions and property will otherwise always be under threat.

“Christians will face terrible persecution if the Taliban is not controlled by the government,” Johnson said. “They will easily attack churches, schools and other Christian institutions.”

Rehman Malik, the interior minister, said Pakistan’s military operation would continue until the last Taliban fighter had been ousted. Since April 8, government troops have killed an estimated 751 militants.

There are believed to be 5,000 Taliban militants in Swat Valley. The government hopes to minimize civilian casualties through precision air strikes and delivering emergency humanitarian aid.

Pakistan’s government has come under harsh national and international criticism for its negotiations with the Taliban and ceding control of Swat. They fear the Taliban could seize control of the nation’s nuclear weapons.


From: TodayNews5/18/09 2:53 AM 
To: SaraLeck  (2388 of 3931) 
 1440.2388 in reply to 1440.2373 

Issues: `Islamophobia undermines RI-US ties'

Mon, 05/18/2009 1:43 PM | Opinion

The persistent Islamophobia among Americans and anti-Americanism among Indonesian Muslims are still undermining diplomatic relations between Indonesia and the United States, a lawmaker told a seminar. Sidharto Danusubroto, deputy chairman of the House of Representatives' international relations commission, said Indonesia was still perceived by some Americans as a haven for Islamic radicalism, while the US was still "cynically perceived as an imperialist country" by Indonesian Muslims.

Your comments:
I agree that Islamophobia makes problems everywhere, while anti-Americanism is - in my opinion - just reaction to this. Dual-standards that are used by the US administration must be abolished to convince the Islamic world that the US has good faith in its relations with other countries.

From my observations, the US administration in fact knows much about the Indonesian Muslim community's basic characteristics from its communications with NU, Muhammadiyah and even individually with potential Indonesian Muslim leaders. This communication is facilitated through the US ambassador to Indonesia.

Indonesian people are very tolerant, welcoming and understanding as long as others do not intend to do anything to hurt them. So, better and more communication is preferable.

And again, from my own observations, Obama has started to direct his administration to build better understandings that must be followed by others.

Obama's administration also must make efforts to reform American perceptions (among politicians, economists, journalists and the common people) on Islam and Muslims, by providing more information about Islam.

I saw a good little effort that was conducted by the Muslim community in the UK this month to provide better information and communication with others about Islamic values by organizing an "open day" mosque program.

This program was very interesting and I saw it was really appreciated by more than 200 non-Muslim visitors during the two-day program. So, I absolutely agree that a wider intensive communication can be promoted not only under official missions, but also social and cultural ones.


Islamophobia still occurs because of many recent new laws popping up from local to national levels of government - laws that are clearly sharia-based that show a blatant disregard for any other people's personal beliefs and religious inclinations.

In addition, since the fall of Soeharto, every subsequent president has allowed increased controls to be established by extremist Muslim parties and groups, further degrading the religious harmony in Indonesia.

In a country where other religions find it extremely difficult to build places of faith, yet every three blocks a mosque is either being built or blaring out Islamic prayers, is it any wonder that the international community views Indonesia as a hotbed of Islamic radicalism?

On the other hand, this so-called view of American Imperialism is a view fostered by all the Islamic radicals in our country which is a view they commonly share with terrorist groups throughout the world. Where is the support for the US to change under the Obama administration that we saw during the US elections?

I wonder if people here remember Hillary Clinton coming to Indonesia and asking certain members of the Indonesian radical groups to come and meet for dinner, yet they (I forget who or which one) flatly rejected the invitation, stating "It's a waste of time."

It sort of amuses me that a lot of Islamic groups have a lack of sensitivity for creating relationships with other religions and government bodies.



From: TodayNews5/18/09 2:58 AM 
To: SaraLeck  (2389 of 3931) 
 1440.2389 in reply to 1440.2374 

Choice of speech site affirms Egypt’s importance in world
Eygypt's ambassador to the United States

The White House recently announced that President Barack Obama will deliver his much-anticipated address to the Muslim world from Egypt in early June. This decision has been warmly received and appreciated by Egyptians, Arabs and the Muslim world at large. Some may wonder why President Obama chose Egypt rather than other attractive venues.

In my view, President Obama chose to address the leaders and people of the Muslim world from the very heart of the old world. His decision reflects an understanding of Egypt’s rich civilization and its valuable contributions to intellectual thought and cultural exchange throughout the millennia. Along with its promotion of international tolerance, understanding and reconciliation in the modern world, these factors make Egypt the springboard of U.S. engagement in the Middle East.

Moreover, Egypt has long been the locomotive for political, economic and social development in the modern Middle East. It was in Egypt that the region saw its first constitution, its first parliament, and indeed the first to embody the institutions of a modern nation state, all of this dating to the early 19th century.

Thirty years ago, Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace accord with Israel and established the framework by which other Arab states and Israel have created their own peace. To this day, Egypt continues to work toward fostering a lasting peace between its neighbors, brokering a permanent cessation of hostilities in Gaza, holding Palestinian unity talks and confronting radical ideology within its own borders. In many ways, Egypt is the arbiter of peace and the force of moderation in the Middle East.

With more than 500 newspapers, journals and magazines and an estimated 162,000 bloggers, making up 30 percent of Arab bloggers worldwide, political discussion and debate within Egypt about the future of the Arab and Muslim world is extensive, and tends to set the tone for such debate among Arabs and Muslims.

Beyond the politics of the Middle East, Egypt is the Arab world’s largest and most populous nation. Long at the center of Islamic intellectual thought and learning, Egypt’s tradition of religious tolerance and cultural diversity embodies the ideals and values of moderate Islam. The Al Azhar University in Cairo is considered among the oldest seats of Islamic learning and has historically embodied the tradition of moderation and tolerance that characterized Egypt’s religious heritage. Egypt is also home to the largest and one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East, making it a melting pot of religions and civilizations.

Egypt’s broad efforts at economic liberalization have also been recognized by global leaders. For the third year in a row, Egypt has been named the top economic reformer in the Middle East by the World Bank’s Doing Business project. This year, Egypt was also named one of the top 10 global reformers, and when many countries are seeing their economies contract, Egypt is expecting sustained growth.

Bilaterally, the United States and Egypt have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship for decades. Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently stressed from Cairo that the United States considered Egypt one of its most important partners.

As President Obama eloquently put it, America “is not and will never be at war with Islam.” His initiative comes at a very opportune time, and Egypt, America’s longstanding friend and ally, is eager to work with the U.S. in advancing the causes of peace and stability in today’s troubled world, and mending current relations between the West and Islam.

Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s ambassador to the U.S. since September 2008, spoke in Kansas City last week.


From: TodayNews5/18/09 3:00 AM 
To: Mohdatta1  (2390 of 3931) 
 1440.2390 in reply to 1440.2375 


If Arabs are brothers of Jews, are you saying that Jews are related to pigs and apes???


From: TodayNews5/18/09 3:01 AM 
To: Mohdatta1  (2391 of 3931) 
 1440.2391 in reply to 1440.2376 
So is in Jerusalem!

From: TodayNews5/18/09 3:02 AM 
To: Mohdatta1  (2392 of 3931) 
 1440.2392 in reply to 1440.2377 

You should read this article to understand what halal means.

Thursday, May. 14, 2009
Halal: Buying Muslim

Khalfan Mohammed has long been buffeted by culture shock while staying in five-star hotels. As a devout Muslim he has learned to ask staff to remove the minibar's alcohol. He loathes lobbies with loud discos and drunken guests. When traveling with his parents, it is the bikinis that rankle most. "It was quite shocking for my mother to sit in a restaurant with undressed people," the Abu Dhabi-based businessman says. "My mom and dad are not used to seeing people in public wearing their underwear." To avoid such embarrassment, the Mohammeds took to renting furnished apartments.

No longer. On a trip to Dubai last year, Mohammed stayed in the Villa Rotana, one of a growing number of hotels catering to Muslim travelers. In the lobby — all white leather, brick and glass, with a small waterfall — quiet reigns. Men in dishdashas and veiled women glide by Westerners who are sometimes discreetly reminded to respect local customs. Minibars are stocked not with alcohol, but with Red Bull, Pepsi and the malt drink Barbican. (See pictures of migrant workers in the Gulf.)

Time was, buying Muslim meant avoiding pork and alcohol and getting your meat from a halal butcher, who slaughtered in accordance with Islamic principles. But the halal food market has exploded in the past decade and is now worth an estimated $632 billion annually, according to the Halal Journal, a Kuala Lumpur-based magazine. That's about 16% of the entire global food industry. Throw in the fast-growing Islam-friendly finance sector and the myriad other products and services — cosmetics, real estate, hotels, fashion, insurance — that comply with Islamic law and the teachings of the Koran, and the sector is worth well over $1 trillion a year.

One reason for the rise of the halal economy is that the world's 1.6 billion Muslims are younger and, in some places at least, richer than ever. Seeking to tap that huge market, non-Muslim multinationals like Tesco, McDonald's and Nestlé have expanded their Muslim-friendly offerings and now control an estimated 90% of the global halal market.

At the same time, governments in Asia and the Middle East are pouring millions into efforts to become regional "halal hubs," providing tailor-made manufacturing centers and "halal logistics" — systems to maintain product purity during shipping and storage. The increased competition is changing manufacturing and supply chains in some unusual places. Most of Saudi Arabia's chicken is raised in Brazil, which means Brazilian suppliers have built elaborate halal slaughtering facilities. Abattoirs in New Zealand, the world's biggest exporter of halal lamb, have hosted delegations from Iran and Malaysia. And the Netherlands, keen to maximize Rotterdam's role as Europe's biggest port, has built halal warehouses so that imported halal goods aren't stored next to pork or alcohol.

Such arrangements cost, of course, but since the industry's anchor is food, business is booming, even in the economic crisis. "What downturn?" asks Nordin Abdullah, executive director of the Halal Journal. "You don't need your Gucci handbag, but you do need your hamburger."

Not just hamburgers. Drug companies such as the U.K.'s Principle Healthcare and Canada's Duchesnay now sell halal vitamins free of the gelatins and other animal derivatives that some Islamic scholars say make mainstream products haram, or unlawful. The Malaysia-based company Granulab produces synthetic bone graft material to avoid using animal bone, while Malaysian and Cuban scientists are collaborating on a halal meningitis vaccine.

In the Gulf, the Burooj real estate company is carving out a niche, not just because it deals exclusively with Islamic banks, but because it designs spas and swimming pools that segregate the sexes. For Muslim women concerned about skin-care products containing alcohol or lipsticks that use animal fats, a few cosmetics firms are creating halal makeup lines.

The burgeoning Islamic finance industry is using the global economic crisis to win new non-Muslim customers. Investors are attracted by Islamic banking's more conservative approach: Islamic law forbids banks from charging interest (though customers pay fees) and many scholars discourage investment in excessively leveraged companies. Though it currently accounts for just 1% of the global market, the Islamic finance industry's value is growing at around 15% a year, and could reach $4 trillion in five years, up from $500 billion today, according to a 2008 report from Moody's Investors Service.

Those who define the halal market in the traditional sense — as a matter of meat, and no more — see the industry stopping at Islamic food standards. But the movement's more bullish advocates envisage Muslim cars and halal furniture built in accordance with Muslim finance, labor and ethical principles. Citing the kosher and organic industries as successful examples of doing well by doing good, some entrepreneurs even see halal products moving into the mainstream and appealing to consumers looking for high-quality, ethical products. A few firms that comply with the Shari'a code — the religious laws that observant Muslims follow — point out that already many of their customers are non-Muslim. At the Jawhara Hotels, an alcohol-free Arabian Gulf chain run by the Islam-compliant Al Lotah conglomerate, 60% of the clientele are non-Muslims, drawn by the hotels' serenity and family-friendly atmosphere. Dutch-based company Marhaba, which sells cookies and chocolate, says a quarter of its customers are non-Muslims, mostly people concerned not about religious edicts but about food safety. "People are always looking for the next purity thing," says Mah Hussain-Gambles, founder of Saaf Pure Skincare, which markets halal makeup.

Read: "Should a Pious Muslim Practice Yoga?"

See pictures of the end of Ramadan

Going Mainstream
Today, though, the big business is in working out how to serve the increasingly sophisticated Muslim consumer. "The question now for companies is: What products and services are you going to provide to help Muslims lead the lifestyle they want to lead?" asks the Halal Journal's Abdullah. It's a code worth cracking. A 2007 report from the global ad agency JWT describes the Muslim market thus: "It's young, it's big, and it's getting bigger." Parts of it are well-educated and wealthy. The buying power of American Muslims alone is estimated at a hefty $170 billion annually. But with few exceptions, American marketers ignore them, says Ann Mack, JWT's director of trendspotting. "Muslims don't feel that brands are speaking to them," she says. "When we did the study, it was very difficult to find mainstream companies that were making significant programs geared toward the Muslim population."

That's less of a problem elsewhere. Indeed, the most innovative new halal products and services often come out of Europe and Southeast Asia, places where your average food supplier or bank may know little, if anything, about halal. In Europe — the biggest growth region according to the Halal Journal — young devout Muslims are hungry for Islamic versions of mainstream pleasures such as fast food. "The second- and third-generation Muslims are fed up with having rice and lentils every day," observes Darhim Hashim, CEO of the Malaysia-based International Halal Integrity Alliance. "They're saying, 'We want pizzas, we want Big Macs.' " Domino's now sources halal pepperoni from a Malaysian company for the pizzas it sells from Kuala Lumpur to Birmingham; KFC is testing halal-only stores in Muslim areas of the U.K., and the Subway sandwich chain has halal franchises across Britain and Ireland. (See pictures: "The Hajj Goes High-Tech".)

Swiss food giant Nestlé is a pioneer in the field. It set up its halal committee way back in the 1980s, and has long had facilities to keep its halal and non-halal products separated. Turnover in halal products was $3.6 billion last year, and 75 of the company's 456 factories are geared for halal production.

For non-food companies like South Korea's LG and Finnish cell-phone giant Nokia, targeting Muslims is also big business. LG offers an application to help users find the direction of Mecca, while Nokia has free downloadable recitations from the Koran and maps showing the locations of major mosques in the Middle East. Such offerings increase brand loyalty, according to market research by the Finland-based Muslim lifestyle portal "There's a lot of room out there for mainstream brands to appeal to Muslims without making changes to their products," says's CEO Mohamed El-Fatatry. "It's just about their marketing messages, about showing that this brand is interested in them as consumers."

It's also about understanding the nuances. The hypermarket run by French supermarket giant Carrefour at the Mid Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur is overwhelmingly halal, with an elaborate system to keep halal foods separate from the haram ones. Goods that divide scholars on whether they're halal or haram because they could have trace elements of wine — Balsamic vinegar, say, or Kikkoman Marinade — get slapped with little green stickers to alert customers. More blatantly haram items are confined to La Cave, a glassed-in room at the back of the store for goods containing alcohol, pork or tobacco. Wearing special blue gloves, La Cave's staff handle haram goods and seal them in airtight pink plastic wrapping after purchase, so as not to contaminate the main store. "I'm so scared," said Norini Razak, a 23-year-old regular Carrefour shopper in a grey-and-white hijab. "It's difficult for one to know what is halal and what is not, so I'd prefer to go to a shop with labels [to help me]."

Read: "Should a Pious Muslim Practice Yoga?"

See pictures of the end of Ramadan

It's Not Just Business
The rising concerns of consumers like Razak herald not just a global economic trend, but a cultural one. During the 1980s and '90s, many Muslims in Egypt, Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries expressed their religious principles by voting Islamic. Today, a growing number are doing so by buying Islamic, connecting to their Muslim roots by what they eat, wear and play on their iPods. Rising Muslim consumerism undermines the specious argument often heard after 9/11: that Muslims hate the Western way of life, with its emphasis on choice and consumerism. The growing Muslim market is a sign of a newly confident Islamic identity — one based not on politics but on personal lifestyles. "Muslims will spend their money more readily on halal food and products than on political causes," says Zahed Amanullah, European managing director of the California-based, an online guide to the global halal marketplace.

Like many Muslim Americans, Amanullah grew up eating Jewish kosher food in order to conform to Muslim strictures on animal slaughter. But increasingly, there's no need for Muslims to go kosher. Zabihah offers tens of thousands of reviews of halal restaurants, from fried chicken joints in Dallas to pan-Asian restaurants in Singapore. Says Amanullah: "We can't keep up."

The dazzling range of new products and services also reflects the seismic social changes under way in the Muslim world. One of the reasons why halal frozen food, lunch-box treats and quick-fix dinners are growing in popularity is that many more Muslim women, from Egypt to Malaysia, have full-time jobs.

Western Muslims, whose minority status sharpens their sense of identity, are also helping refine the notion of a Muslim lifestyle. In Britain, advertisers are increasingly embracing the power of the "green" pound (that's Islamic green, not environmental green), says Sarah Joseph, editor of Emel, a glossy lifestyle monthly for British Muslims. When Emel launched in 2003, the notion of a Muslim lifestyle barely existed. "People were confused that we could present everything from food, fashion, travel and gardening, all from a Muslim perspective," says Joseph. But Muslims are the fastest-growing segment of the middle class in Britain; they have big families — an average of 3.4 children against the national average of 1.9 — so they buy big cars; they spend money on home decoration and twice-yearly vacations — "not just going back to Pakistan or Bangladesh, like their [immigrant] parents did," says Joseph. Bucking the current publishing trend, Emel is hiring extra staff and planning new magazines to cater to Muslim readers. Advertisers include British Airways and banking giant HSBC.

To keep growing, halal firms know they can't simply rely on religion. "Ideology does not fit within a consumer mindset," observes Amanullah of "At the end of the day, people will not buy halal simply because it's halal. They're going to buy quality food. Ideology doesn't make a better-tasting burger, a better car, or a better computer." But it sure makes a powerful marketing pitch.
With reporting by Shadiah Abdullah / Dubai

By the numbers ...
16% — Halal's share of global food industry
$632 billion— Annual halal food market
1.6 billion— Worldwide Muslim population

A Halal Shopping Cart
From fast food to fashion, the sector is thriving

Non-Muslim multi-nationals such as KFC and Nestlé dominate the halal food market. But Muslim-
owned manufacturers such as Dubai-based Al Islami — which sells everything 
 from chicken burgers to packaged ingredients — are growing fast.

Muslims — many of them young and increasingly middle-class — are buying more magazines, such as U.K.-based Emel, and halal cosmetics made, like these Saaf products, without alcohol or animal fats, which Islam considers haram, or forbidden.

Hotels run along Islamic lines, such as Dubai's Villa Rotana, offer quieter and more family-friendly places to stay. Banks that operate according to Shari'a law 
 are doing well during 
 the global downturn because they tend to be 
 more conservative.


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