SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh, whose Fatwa has paved the way for destruction of historical Islamic remnants in the holy city of Makkah says it is not only permitted but necessary (!).
Saudi authorities try to justify destruction of Islamic and historical sites by saying that it is needed in order to develop religious tourism in the country.
Two Saudi scholars, however, underlined the need for preserving the sites and condemned any move to destroy them.
Saudi activists in social networks have also voiced objection to the Fatwa and called on the Mufti to reconsider his edict, Ba’ab news agency reports.
Issam Mudir, wrote in Twitter that the Islamic heritage sites belong to all Muslims and no one has the right to destroy them.
He urged the authorities to turn the sites into museums and thus boost the country’s religious tourism industry. -www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- In a fight to bring down the crime rate in Mexico’s capital city, police have destroyed thousands of toy guns to stop them from becoming a real threat on the streets.
Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera announced that officials estimate at least three of every 10 violent crimes in Mexico City are carried out with a real-looking toy gun. He said this was enough justification to destroy the seven thousand replica weapons.
Shops bore the brunt of the government's decision as toy items were seized by the police in the capital and the surrounding state. Sunday is Three Kings Day, when Mexican children receive holiday gifts.
Mexico has strict laws on gun ownership that require toy weapons be made of transparent or colored plastic.
In the first 11 months of 2012, government statistics documented 82,117 robberies and 1,349 homicides in Mexico City.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Civilians are still paying the price of Israel’s blistering eight-day military assault on the Gaza Strip.
According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) more than 160 Palestinians lost their lives by 21 November, the last day of the bloody confrontation between Israel and Palestinian fighters. The dead included at least 103 civilians, 33 of them children. More than a thousand Palestinians were wounded, including 971 civilians — 274 of them children.
Three of the Palestinian civilians killed were journalists who died after repeated Israeli attacks on media buildings where Palestinian and foreign journalists were working.
But the attack and its consequences have been the hardest for Gaza’s children, unable to comprehend the volatility and the political intricacies in the place they call home.
“There is a possibility that he has severe brain damage as there is internal bleeding within his skull,” Sana Thabat, a 23-year-old nurse in Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital said.
Muhammad was wounded last week after Israeli F-16 fighter jets targeted his family home as the occupants slept. The shelling killed two women from the Abu Zour family; Sahar Fadi Abu Zour, 20, Nisma Helmi Abu Zour, 21; and Muhammad’s little brother Eyad Abu Zour, 5.
The Israeli jets had been targeting the home of an alleged militant next door. Al-Zaytoun is densely populated and far from any Hamas military compounds.
In another case of Israeli “collateral damage” several members of the al-Dalu family, including four children, were killed when an Israeli missile hit a four-story house belonging to Jamal Mahmoud Yassin al-Dalu, 52, in the north of Gaza City.
Alia Kalajar, 23, from Shojaiya in Gaza wept silently as she held the hand of her seven-year-old daughter Nisma. “Nisma has stopped talking and we don’t know if she will ever talk again. She has a head fracture and is bleeding internally too,” Kalajar said.
The little girl fell from her home on the third floor of a building that was struck by an Israeli drone. Nineteen Palestinian civilians were injured in that strike.
Abdel Aziz Ashour, 6, from al-Zaytoun has shrapnel injuries in both his legs. He was playing with his seven brothers and sisters last Tuesday when an Israeli drone targeted his neighborhood.
Low on medicines
His cousin was killed and five other civilians were injured. But the little boy remains cheerful despite the grim circumstances and the pain he is in. “I’m not afraid of the Israelis,” he said as he flashed the V for victory sign. Al-Shifa hospital staff have been forced to work long hours with limited medical equipment and dwindling supplies of medicines.
“I’ve seen so many dead and injured children. In the end one becomes a little numb to the situation,” Adnan Bughadi, a 22-year-old nurse from Shojaiya, said. “Most of us have been working double shifts to cope with all the wounded, and it is very tiring. At one stage the floors were covered in blood and there was a shortage of beds for the wounded.”
“The hospital is running low on some essential medicines and has run out of others,” Sana Thabat said. “I find it very distressing seeing the number of children and other civilians killed but what can we do? We have to keep going.”
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has called for an international fact-finding mission “to investigate war crimes committed by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, and to take necessary measures to prosecute the perpetrators.”
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Israel broadened its assault on the Gaza Strip on Saturday from mostly military targets to centers of government infrastructure, obliterating the four-story headquarters of the Hamasprime minister with a barrage of five bombs.
The attack came a day after the prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, hosted his Egyptian counterpart in that very building, a sign of Hamas’s new legitimacy in a radically redrawn Arab world. That stature was underscored Saturday by a visit to Gaza from the Tunisian foreign minister and the rapid convergence in Cairo of two Hamas allies, the prime minister of Turkey and the crown prince of Qatar, for talks with the Egyptian president and the chairman of Hamas on a possible cease-fire.
But the violent conflict showed no sign of abating as it finished its fourth day. Gaza militants again fired long-range missiles at the population center of Tel Aviv, among nearly 60 that soared into Israel on Saturday, injuring five civilians in an apartment building in Ashdod, in southern Israel, and four soldiers in an unidentified location.
Israel said it hit more than 200 targets overnight and continued with afternoon strikes on a Hamas commander’s home in the Gaza City neighborhood of Zeitoun and on a motorcycle-riding militant in the southern border town of Rafah. Israel has also made preparations for a possible ground invasion.
Hamas health officials said 45 Palestinians had been killed and 385 wounded since Wednesday’s escalation in the cross-border battle; 3 Israelis have died and 63 civilians have been injured.
“Everybody is afraid of what’s next,” said Mkhaimar Abusada, a political science professor at Al Azhar University in Cairo, predicting that the rockets fired at Tel Aviv and, on Friday, at Jerusalem, would provoke a rerun of Israel’s ground invasion four years ago.
Mr. Abusada and Efraim Halevy, a former head of Israel’s intelligence service, both said there is no clear endgame to the conflict, since Israel neither wants to re-engage in Gaza nor to eliminate Hamas and leave the territory to the chaos of more militant factions. “Ultimately,” Mr. Halevy said, “both sides want Hamas to remain in control, strange as it sounds.”
But Mr. Abusada cautioned that “there is no military solution to the Gaza problem,” saying: “There has to be a political settlement at the end of this. Without that, this conflict is just going to go on and on.”
In Cairo, a senior official of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group allied with President Mohamed Morsi, said he was working furiously on Saturday to secure a cease-fire. Mr. Morsi met with the Turkish premiere, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while Egypt’s foreign minister huddled with the Qatari prince and its intelligence chief sat with Khaled Meshaal, the chief of Hamas’s political wing, Egyptian media reported.
Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007 but is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States, wants to turn its Rafah crossing with Egypt into an open, free-trade zone, and for Israel to withdraw from the 1,000-foot buffer it patrols on Gaza’s northern and eastern borders. The Brotherhood official said that the Israeli side of the talks remained “the sticking point,” though he would not be specific about the issues.
Ben Rhodes, Mr. Obama’s deputy national security adviser, told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Asia that the president had spoken daily with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel since the crisis began, as well as to Mr. Erdogan and Mr. Morsi.
“They have the ability to play a constructive role in engaging Hamas and encouraging a process of de-escalation,” Mr. Rhodes said of the Turkish and Egyptian leaders. Describing rocket fire coming from Gaza as “the precipitating factor for the conflict,” he added, “We believe Israel has a right to defend itself and they’ll make their own decisions about the tactics that they use in that regard.”
But the Tunisian foreign minister, standing outside Al Shifa Hospital here, told reporters that Israel “has to respect the international law to stop the aggression against the Palestinian people.”
Mr. Netanyahu, for his part, spoke Saturday with the leaders of Germany, Italy, Greece and the Czech Republic, according to a statement from his office.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Saudi Arabia plans to destroy three of the world's oldest mosques in a multi-billion-pound expansion of Islam's second holiest site, a plan which has shocked the Muslim community worldwide, Independent said.
Work on the Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina, where the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is buried, will start once the annual Hajj pilgrimage ends next month. When complete, the development will turn the mosque into the world's largest building, with the capacity for 1.6 million people.
But the Saudi plan to raze Islam's historical and most revered sites has stunned the Muslim world. Saudi King Abdullah's apparent disdain for preserving historical and archeological heritage of Mecca, the holiest city in the country and the world of Islam, has already fueled outrage.
Most of the expansion of Masjid an-Nabawi will take place to the West of the existing mosque, which holds the tombs of Islam's founder and the first two Caliphs of Sunni Islam, Abu Bakr and Omar.
Also Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs published a pamphlet in 2007 prepared by the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz al Sheikh who called for destruction of the mosque's dome and flattening the graves of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Abu Bakr and Omar.
Dr. Irfan al-Alawi of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation who has spent much of his past 10 years activities on highlighting the destruction of early Islamic sites said, "Muslim silence over the destruction of Mecca and Medina is both disastrous and hypocritical."
"The recent movie about the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) caused worldwide protests... and yet the destruction of the Prophet's birthplace, where he prayed and founded Islam has been allowed to continue without any criticism," he added.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Saudi security forces have demolished a Shia mosque in Eastern Province as anti-regime demonstrations continue in the country.
The Ein Imam Hussein Mosque was razed by the regime forces as part of the crackdown on protesters in the town of Awamiyah.
Prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nemr al-Nemr used to lead daily prayers in the mosque prior to his detention.
Sheikh Nemr was attacked, injured and arrested by the security forces of the Al Saud regime while driving from a farm to his house in the Qatif region of Eastern Province on July 8.
Rights activists say hundreds of political prisoners remain locked up in Saudi jails under harsh conditions and without access to a lawyer.
People are randomly arrested by the Saudi police just for looking suspicious and are even held behind bars for years before they are charged.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi regime “routinely represses expression critical of the government.”
Since February 2011, protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in Saudi Arabia, mainly in Qatif and Awamiyah in the oil-rich Eastern Province, primarily calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination.
However, the demonstrations have turned into protests against the repressive Al Saud regime, especially since November 2011, when Saudi security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in the province.—www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The flyers and Salafist websites—some headquartered in Saudi Arabia—chillingly warn female students on Libyan campuses to avoid tight-fitting clothes, insisting that they must cover up and wear the hijab. The surging attacks on Libya’s Sufi mosques and libraries—the most brazen came on Aug. 25 when a well-known Tripoli mosque was bulldozed—have been encouraged by a prominent Saudi imam. Sheik Muhammad Al-Madkhalee has issued a fatwa praising the desecration of Sufi graves and urging Libyan Salafists to do more to clear the North African country of any taint of Sufi worship.
Al-Madkhalee, who teaches at the Saudi-government-funded Islamic University of al-Madinah al-Munawarah in Medina, has a particular loathing about the mixing of men and women in educational establishments and, in early 2011, cautioned against men even teaching the Quran to women who are not members of their family. He counsels that a woman student whose head is covered can still seduce a devout teacher with “a single glance.”
The Libyan government has complained to Riyadh about Al-Madkhalee, pointing out to the Saudi government that he receives state funds. The complaint, passed on by Libya's grand mufti, Sheik Sadek al-Ghariani, warns that Al-Madkhalee’s anti-Sufi fatwa is viewed by Tripoli as meddling in the internal affairs of Libya. The Saudis so far have failed to respond, Libyan government officials tell The Daily Beast.
Salafis, who follow literalist and strict approaches to Islam, abhor the “heretical” trappings and less austere practices of Sufi Muslims. They claim worshipping at graves and shrines is un-Islamic and idolatrous and abhor the Sufi use of music and dance. Most Libyans follow a mainstream form of Sunni Islam, but the country has a significant number of adherents to mystical Sufi traditions, although exact numbers are not known, and Sufism has played a major part in the country’s history. Sufi brotherhoods were significant in the religious revival that swept North Africa during the 18th and 19th centuries, and Sufis were at the forefront of Libyan resistance in the 1930s to the Italian colonial regime.
The continued assaults risk triggering widespread violence and undermining Libya’s shaky transition to democracy, which has been threatened already by ethnic and tribal clashes.
The increase in brazen attacks on Sufi mosques, including the blatant broad daylight bulldozing of the well-known Sidi Sha'ab mosque in the center of Tripoli, have infuriated Libya’s new Parliament, the General National Congress, and comes only one month after the first elections in 50 years. In those elections in July, radical Islamists fared poorly. Alarmed government officials say the Salafists are getting stronger and admit that elements of the security forces may be colluding in the demolitions of mosques and the desecration of the graves of Sufi sages and scholars. There’s growing fear also that the government is powerless to fight well-armed groups of Salafists, whose influence has spread rapidly in Libya since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi more than a year ago.
According to a tribal leader in the western desert, Salafists have recently recruited more than 300 young rebels in the town of Ubari. “They have become disillusioned since the revolution and have no jobs, and radical Islam channels their frustrations and grievances,” he says. He declined to be named for this article, fearing Salafist retribution. There have been reports also of Salafists recruiting strongly beyond their traditional strongholds of Benghazi and Derna in the towns of Al Kufrah, Sabha, and Ghat.
In the wake of the August bulldozing of the Sha’ab mosque, the interior minister, Fawzi Abdel-Al, said there was little his ministry could do to stop the attacks that began last January. The day before the Sha’ab mosque was flattened, Salafists razed the 500-year-old tomb of Sufi saint Sidi Abd As-Salam Al-Asmar and a mosque library in Zliten, a town 90 miles east of the Libyan capital.
Abdel-Al told journalists: "If we use the security option to deal with this, we would have to use weapons against these groups, and these people have weapons. We cannot be blind to this. They are a big force in Libya in terms of members and weapons. I will not enter a losing battle and get people killed over a grave. If all the shrines in Libya are wiped out and we don’t lose one martyr ... that is a price we are willing to pay.”
While Abdel-Al thinks it a price worth paying, many Libyan Sufis don’t; the continued assaults risk triggering widespread violence and undermining Libya’s shaky transition to democracy, which has been threatened already by ethnic and tribal clashes and firefights between rival rebel militias (khatibas). Sufis and liberals fear Salafists will grow stronger, if they aren’t confronted—as has happened in neighboring Tunisia, where the Muslim Brotherhood–linked government there has done little to stop puritanical Salafist mobs from ransacking media outlets and art galleries, firebombing bars and liquor stores, and intimidating women who refrain from wearing the hijab.
“Unless this is confronted, it is going to embolden the Salafists and get much worse,” says Mazin Ramadan, a former government adviser. He says Salafists have heavily infiltrated post-Gaddafi Libya’s struggling security organs, including the Interior and Justice ministries and the Supreme Security Committee, which is in charge of the country’s internal security. The SSC relies for its firepower on rebel militias, some of whom are Salafist, including the Benghazi-based “17th of February” khatiba and Al Nawasi militia based in the Tripoli district of Souq al Jumaa.
Ramadan says as SSC forces stood around watching the Sha'ab mosque being bulldozed, he argued with the one of the men overseeing the demolition. “He was an official in the Justice Ministry, a Salafist called Hassan Issa,” Ramadan said. “He said he had been instructed to carry out the destruction and that Sufis practiced black magic. ‘We cleansed the east and now we will cleanse Tripoli,’ he told me.”
As the attacks on Sufi mosques have unfolded in recent weeks, it has become clear that there’s increasing coordination between Salafists. “These are not random attacks,” says Fowzi Omaar, an adviser to Dr. Mahmoud Jibril, a moderate contending to become Libya’s first postelection prime minister. “They are much more organized than before.” Omaar, a Sufi who traces his ancestry back to Sidi Abd As-Salam Al-Asmar, the saint whose tomb was destroyed in Zliten, warns that appearing helpless before the Salafists will only invite more trouble. “Only a strong security ministry is going to stop them. They don’t do dialogue; they just do violence and they will increase their demands. The Salafist call for the separation of the sexes in public places like universities is a dangerous development because it will garner support from Islamists and present an even greater challenge.”—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: The Daily Beast
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Secretary General of Hezbollah Hasan Nasrallah affirmed betting on the official Arab and Islamic system in light of what happened in the extraordinary Islamic summit in Mecca is a losing bet, saying that some Arab rulers are trying to destroy Syria so that Palestine cannot be strong.
In a speech marking International al-Quds Day on Friday, Nasrallah said that the scene in the region has become much different after the Syrian developments, noting that Turkish relations have become shaky with Syria and neighboring countries, while changes in some Arab countries are being exploited to stir the conflict in Syria, in addition to exploiting Iran's position to create animosity between it and Arab countries.
He said that if the recent Islamic summit had shouldered true historic responsibility and was genuinely worried over Palestine, al-Quds and the nation, then it should have invited Syria to discuss what is happening in it and engage in dialogue.
Nasrallah pointed out that the summit's closing statement, which barely mentioned Palestine, shows that if the Palestinian cause and the issue of al-Quds are eliminated during these circumstances, then there will no longer be an Islamic world to defend them.
He went on to affirm that the issues of al-Quds and Palestine are above anything else, and that, noting that Israel was concerned over changes in the region and afraid that a powerful regional axis may form to support al-Quds and Palestine.
Nasrallah said that recently, Israel escalated its aggression towards Lebanon, even talking about destroying it completely, warning that while Israel has massive destructive power and a brutal mentality, and while Lebanon cannot destroy Israel, it is capable of turning every Israeli's life into hell, adding that war with Lebanon would be very costly.
On Israel's increasing threats of attacking Iran under the pretext of its nuclear program, Nasrallah said that Israel knows that it's lying to the world in this regard and that it's problem with Iran is the fact that the latter is a strong country with prospects of developments, and that Iran is committed to the issues of Palestine, al-Quds and the Palestinian people.
He added that there's much debate in Israel on the issue of attacking Israel, as they are concerned over its cost and its feasibility.—www.shafaqna.com/english
SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) — Calls from a Bahraini Sunni cleric to destroy Egypt’s Great Pyramids have been revealed as a hoax. The demands were made from a Twitter account which claimed to be owned by Bahrain’s President of National Unity, Abd al-Latif al-Mahmoud.
In the post, a person masquerading as al-Mahmoud labeled the pyramids “idolatrous” and asked Egypt’s new president to destroy them, as Egypt's Daily News reports.
Several conservative websites used the news to raise alarm over the rise of Egypt’s Islamist government.
According to rumors, al-Mahmoud encouraged Cairo to “accomplish what the Sahabi Amr bin al-As could not.”
An Islamization process was begun under his rule – which saw many Egyptian monuments destroyed as “relics of infidelity.”
However, demolishing the pyramids was prohibited during the 7th century – so the structures remained untouched.
The parody tweet was published on June 25 – the same day Muhammed Morsi was announced president of Egypt. However, it wasn’t picked up by media until today.
The fake tweet that sparked frenzy in the Arab Media coincided with a genuine attack on cultural heritage objects by radicals.
On Tuesday, Islamist fighters destroyed two tombs at the famous Djingareyber mosque in the Malian city of Timbuktu. Witnesses say militants shot into the air to warn people away while they smashed the shrines. — www.shafaqna.com/english/
SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association)— Local officials told us on Wednesday that the assailants carried out the attack in the Achin district of the province, located some 120 kilometers (74 miles) east of the country's capital Kabul, late on Tuesday by detonating explosive devices.
The miscreants had placed mines in the school hall and destroyed six classrooms besides damaging several other rooms.
There were no reports of casualties since the school was empty at the time of the blast, local officials said.
Law enforcement agents cordoned off the area after the blast and launched an investigation.
No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.
The school, constructed five years ago, reportedly had 1,150 students. However, it did not have boundary walls.
Insecurity continues to rise across Afghanistan despite the presence of some 130,000 US-led forces in the war-torn country.
The United Nations announced on February 4 that 2011 was the deadliest on record for Afghan civilians. The death toll rose eight percent compared to the year before and was roughly double the figure for 2007.
Overall, 3,021 civilians died in violence related to the war and 4,507 were wounded in 2011.— www.shafaqna.com/english/