Nine killed as Israel shells Gaza after border clashes

Click here: IINA – Nine killed as Israel shells Gaza after border clashes

Israeli shelling killed seven Palestinians in Gaza City yesterday after two Israeli civilians were killed in a commando raid on the Israeli border, medics said. A tank shell hit a house, leaving two dead and three wounded, the medics said. The house lies near the Nahal Oz crossing between Israel and Gaza, which was stormed by Palestinian fighters earlier, sparking a heavy gun battle, according to news agencies. Palestinian fighters from the Gaza Strip burst into southern Israel and attacked a fuel depot, killing two Israeli civilians in a daring daylight raid that threatened to set off a new round of fighting.
Another three Palestinians were killed when Israeli forces shelled a nearby house in Gaza City after the assault through the Nahal Oz crossing between the Hamas-run territory and Israel, Palestinian medics said. Another three fighters, who the Israel army said it believed were fleeing the fighting, were wounded in an Israeli air strike on a vehicle in Gaza City.

Muslim graves vandalized in French WW1 cemetery

Click here: IINA – Muslim graves vandalized in French WW1 cemetery

Vandals have desecrated several dozen graves in the Muslim section of a military cemetery near Arras in northern France, officials said today. Prime Minister Francois Fillon called the attack a “revolting act” and said those responsible would be found. The desecration came almost exactly a year after youths daubed Nazi inscriptions and swastikas on Muslim tombs in the same Notre-Dame de Lorette cemetery in Ablain Saint-Nazaire, Reuters reported. Officials in northern France confirmed that numerous graves had been sprayed with paint in the new attack, but did not give any further information.
Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said in a statement everything would be done to find and punish the vandals. Police arrested two men over the 2007 attack and sentenced them each to a year in prison. Notre-Dame de Lorette is one of France’s biggest World War One military cemeteries and was built on the site of a battlefield where many French and German soldiers died between October 1914 and October 1915. During World War One, France mobilised about 600,000 colonial subjects, including many Muslims from Algeria and Tunisia, of whom 78,000 were killed. Some 1.2 million French soldiers were killed in all during the war.

Indonesia approves law for first Islamic bond

Click here: IINA – Indonesia approves law for first Islamic bond

Indonesia’s parliament passed a new bill on Sharia-compliant debt, paving the way for country’s first Islamic bonds (sukuk) to be sold in international and domestic markets. The country’s House of Representatives had agreed to pass the new bill on Monday which will allow the government to sell a total of 15 trillion Indonesian rupiah ($1.63 billion) worth of sukuk, reported Indonesian newspaper Jakarta News.

“We still do not know whether we will issue the Sharia bonds in foreign currencies or rupiah,” said Anggito Abimanyu, the Finance Ministry’s head of fiscal policy, following the law’s approval. “We will evaluate the market first,” he said. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said earlier in the week it might take between one to one-and-a-half months for the ministry to draw up the necessary regulations following the approval of the bill. Sukouks have risen by 64% to $5.5 billion so far this year, data from Thomson Financial shows, whilst Islamic finance assets are growing at an annual pace of 20% and are set to hit $2 trillion in 2010 from the current $900 billion.

Ramzi A. Zuhdi, director for Sharia banks at Bank Indonesia, said he expected the endorsement of the sukouk law would boost the Islamic finance sector in the world’s most populous Muslim country. “We hope the government can launch Sharia bonds right away and boost Sharia-based finance products,” Zuhdi said. “Today, Sharia-based investment products are still fairly limited.”

Indonesia’s total Sharia-based assets are currently worth 33 trillion rupiah ($3.5 billion), compared to more than the 1.7 trillion rupiah reached in 2000. The government expects the market share for Sharia-based banking compared to the conventional banking sector to grow by up to 5% this year from 1.71% last year. Muhammad Syafii Antonio, an Indonesian Islamic finance analyst told Jakarta News that the sukuk law was beneficial globally.

800-year-old Kaaba key sold for 9.2 million pounds

Click here: IINA – 800-year-old Kaaba key sold for 9.2 million pounds

A 800-year-old key to the Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam, sold for 9.2 million pounds late yesterday, setting a new record for an Islamic work of art at auction. The 12 century Abbasid period key, made of iron and measuring 37 cm long, sold at Sotheby’s in London for more than 18 times its pre-sale estimate and was bought anonymously. Its existence was previously unknown and prompted a bidding battle that took the price to more than 18 times the £400,000-£500,000 estimate in an auction of Islamic art, whose 405 lots sold for a total of £21.5 million.

…According to the auctioneer, the tradition of dedicating the key to each caliph appears to have originated with the Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad. “As a physical object — the key to the holiest building of an entire religion — it demonstrates the authority of the caliph and is the ultimate emblem of power,” Sotheby’s said. The key was the highlight of the auctioneer’s Islamic sale, which realized 21.5 million pounds, in excess of the pre-sale high estimate of 13.1 million pounds and a new record for an Islamic art auction. “Remarkably, the sale realized more than the Islamic department’s annual total in 2007, demonstrating beyond doubt the burgeoning and international demand for Islamic Art,” said Edward Gibbs, head of Sotheby’s Islamic art department.

The previous record for a work of Islamic art sold at auction is believed to be a bronze fountainhead in the form of a hind dating from mid-10th century Spain. It sold at Christie’s in 1997 for 3.6 million pounds. On Tuesday, Christie’s held its own London Islamic sale which fetched 11.8 million pounds, including a leaf from a mid-seventh century copy of the Holy Quran sold for 2.5 million pounds versus a pre-sale estimate of 100-150,000 pounds. It was a new world auction record for an Islamic manuscript, the company said. The leaf from a 7th-century copy of the Quran on vellum, probably from Madinah has set a new world auction record for any Islamic manuscript. Christie’s said the 36-centimeter vellum leaf was one of the earliest fragments of the Quran produced. The price paid by an anonymous collector, more than 20 times the lower estimate, was the highest for an Islamic manuscript at auction, said Christie’s.

Tibet and Palestine By Uri AVNERY (Gush Shalom)

Click here: Bellaciao – Tibet and Palestine by Uri Avnery

LIKE EVERYBODY else, I support the right of the Tibetan people to independence, or at least autonomy. Like everybody else, I condemn the actions of the Chinese government there. But unlike everybody else, I am not ready to join in the demonstrations.

Why? Because I have an uneasy feeling that somebody is washing my brain, that what is going on is an exercise in hypocrisy.

I don’t mind a bit of manipulation. After all, it is not by accident that the riots started in Tibet on the eve of the Olympic Games in Beijing. That’s alright. A people fighting for their freedom have the right to use any opportunity that presents itself to further their struggle.

I support the Tibetans in spite of it being obvious that the Americans are exploiting the struggle for their own purposes. Clearly, the CIA has planned and organized the riots, and the American media are leading the world-wide campaign. It is a part of the hidden struggle between the US, the reigning super-power, and China, the rising super-power – a new version of the “Great Game” that was played in central Asia in the 19th century by the British Empire and Russia. Tibet is a token in this game.

…No, what is really bugging me is the hypocrisy of the world media. They storm and thunder about Tibet. In thousands of editorials and talk-shows they heap curses and invective on the evil China. It seems as if the Tibetans are the only people on earth whose right to independence is being denied by brutal force, that if only Beijing would take its dirty hands off the saffron-robed monks, everything would be alright in this, the best of all possible worlds.

…THERE IS no doubt that the Tibetan people are entitled to rule their own country, to nurture their unique culture, to promote their religious institutions and to prevent foreign settlers from submerging them.

But are not the Kurds in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria entitled to the same? The inhabitants of Western Sahara, whose territory is occupied by Morocco? The Basques in Spain? The Corsicans off the coast of France? And the list is long.

Why do the world’s media adopt one independence struggle, but often cynically ignore another independence struggle? What makes the blood of one Tibetan redder than the blood of a thousand Africans in East Congo?

But the Palestinians are suffering from several cruel strokes of fate: The people that oppress them claim for themselves the crown of ultimate victimhood. The whole world sympathizes with the Israelis because the Jews were the victims of the most horrific crime of the Western world. That creates a strange situation: the oppressor is more popular than the victim. Anyone who supports the Palestinians is automatically suspected of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

Also, the great majority of the Palestinians are Muslims (nobody pays attention to the Palestinian Christians). Since Islam arouses fear and abhorrence in the West, the Palestinian struggle has automatically become a part of that shapeless, sinister threat, “international terrorism”. And since the murders of Yasser Arafat and Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the Palestinians have no particularly impressive leader – neither in Fatah nor in Hamas.

The world media are shedding tears for the Tibetan people, whose land is taken from them by Chinese settlers. Who cares about the Palestinians, whose land is taken from them by our settlers?

UN expert stands by Nazi comments

Click here: bbc news – UN expert stands by Nazi comments

Professor Falk said he drew the comparison between the treatment of Palestinians with the Nazi record of collective atrocity, because of what he described as the massive Israeli punishment directed at the entire population of Gaza. He said he understood that it was a provocative thing to say, but at the time, last summer, he had wanted to shake the American public from its torpor.

“If this kind of situation had existed for instance in the manner in which China was dealing with Tibet or the Sudanese government was dealing with Darfur, I think there would be no reluctance to make that comparison,” he said. That reluctance was, he argued, based on the particular historical sensitivity of the Jewish people, and Israel’s ability to avoid having their policies held up to international law and morality.

These and other comments from Professor Falk comments are, if anything, even harsher than the current UN investigator, John Dugard, who himself has been withering about Israel’s actions.

A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that Israel wanted the UN investigator’s mandate changed, so that he could look into human rights violations by the Palestinians as well as Israel. If that were not to happen, the Israeli government may consider barring entry to the new UN investigator.