Muslim workers walk off job at Neb. Swift plant

9News – Muslim workers walk off job at Neb. Swift plant

About 500 Swift workers, all Muslim and mostly of Somali background, walked off the job Monday afternoon at the plant in Grand Island, Nebraska. The workers said they have been unable to pray during their holiest month, Ramadan, which occurs in September this year.

A Colorado-based spokeswoman for JBS Swift says workers who walked off the job at a Nebraska packing plant in a dispute over Muslim prayer time have not been fired.

Swift says 101 workers at its Greeley plant were fired last week for walking out before their shifts ended Sept. 5.

IDB, ADB sign $4 billion co-financing accord

IINA – IDB, ADB sign $4 billion co-financing accord

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a landmark co-financing agreement which will allow them to work together on projects in common member countries (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Maldives, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan). The agreement calls on both organizations to provide up to $2 billion equivalent each over the next three years to finance projects in their common member countries. The agreement, the first of its kind, is based on a three-year business plan that includes a common vision, strategic framework, and best practice ideas in development financing, IDB said in a statement yesterday.

The co-financing will mainly target transactions in the infrastructure (including irrigation), utilities, and urban sectors. However, it may also cover education, health and other sectors in selected countries. “This agreement is unique, timely and in line with the Accra High Level Forum and other international declarations on development effectiveness and harmonization”, said Vice President Cisse of the Islamic Development Bank.

“In addition, this agreement provides a new platform form which both institutions will attempt to raise third party funds for investments in the common member countries. This is a breakthrough in collaboration between international financial institutions”, said Juan Miranda, director general of the Central and West Asia Department of the Asian Development Bank.

…Separately, another MoU was signed between the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) and the Islamic Development Bank Group on Sunday formulating a comprehensive agreement of cooperation between the partners in promoting economic and social development of their common countries…TIKA, acting on behalf of the government of the Republic of Turkey, is dedicated to contributing towards sustainable social and economic development in partner countries through technical cooperation activities and development projects. Given the similar realm of visions of both institutions, the partnership between IDB and TIKA aims to better facilitate development in their member countries.

South Korea, Indonesia sign deal on fuel from seaweed

IINA – South Korea, Indonesia sign deal on fuel from seaweed

South Korea has signed an initial deal to lease 61,750 acres of Indonesian coastal waters to grow seaweed for bioethanol fuel, it was announced today. The letter of intent was signed between the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and its Indonesian counterpart.

Yonhap news agency said the seaweed would be used to make commercial pulp products and bioethanol, a more environmentally friendly fuel used in internal-combustion engines either in pure form or as an additive.

Indian Muslims angry for being targeted in bomb probe

Daily Times – Indian Muslims angry for being targeted in bomb probe

Minority Muslims told Reuters in several Muslim-dominated areas of New Delhi that police were conducting a “witch hunt” and accused authorities of reinforcing stereotypes about Muslims. “Terrorists do not belong to any religion,” said Feroze Alam, a young trader in New Delhi’s Daryaganj district.

“They should be hanged. Why don’t the police realise this and stop persecuting Muslims alone?” Some 20 Muslim organisations plan to meet in New Delhi next month to work a strategy to counter those stereotypes. “It is time to unite and protest against these attempts to harass Muslim youths and brand them as terrorists,” Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the chief cleric of Jamia Masjid, India’s largest mosque, told Reuters. Bukhari met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week. Singh said after deadly 2006 train bombs in the western city of Mumbai that alienation of Muslims would only make matters worse. “After every blast case, they have dragged innocent young men from their homes, and this has not stopped despite repeated requests,” Bukhari said. “It is high time we put an end to this persecution.”

Police spokesman Bhagat denied police discriminated against Muslims. “We don’t look at a suspect’s religion. We work on positive leads,” he said. reuters

World differs on perpetrators of terror attacks

Dawn – World differs on perpetrators of terror attacks

There is no consensus in Muslim countries about the perpetrators of 9/11 attacks as significant minorities cite the US government itself and in a few countries Israel. These responses were given to an open-ended question that did not offer response options.

According to a survey by WorldPublicOpinion, 46 per cent say that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks while 15 per cent say the US government, 7 per cent Israel, and another 7 per cent some other perpetrator. Twenty-five per cent say they do not know.

“Given the extraordinary impact the 9/11 attacks have had on world affairs, it is remarkable that seven years on there is no international consensus about who was behind them,” comments Steven Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org.

Even in European countries, the majorities that say Al Qaeda was behind 9/11 are not overwhelming. Fifty-six percent of Britons and Italians, 63 percent of French and 64 percent of Germans cite Al Qaeda. However, significant portions of Britons (26 per cent), French (23 per cent) and Italians (21 per cent) say they do not know who was behind 9/11. Remarkably, 23 per cent of Germans cite the US government, as do 15 per cent of Italians.

People in the Middle East are especially likely to name a perpetrator other than Al Qaeda. In Egypt 43 per cent say that Israel was behind the attacks, as do 31 per cent in Jordan and 19 per cent in the Palestinian Territories.

The US government is named by 36 per cent of Turks and 27 per cent of Palestinians. The numbers who say Al Qaeda was behind the attacks range from 11 per cent in Jordan to 42 per cent in the Palestinian Territories.

The only countries with overwhelming majorities citing Al Qaeda are the African countries: Kenya (77 per cent) and Nigeria (71 per cent). In Nigeria, a large majority of Muslims (64 per cent) also say that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks (compared to 79 per cent of Nigerian Christians).

…Interviews were conducted in 17 countries, including most of the large nations — China, Indonesia, Nigeria and Russia — as well as Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, the Palestinian Territories, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey and the Ukraine.

…Respondents in Asia have mixed responses. Bare majorities in Taiwan (53 per cent) and South Korea (51 per cent) name Al Qaeda, but 17 per cent of South Koreans point to the US government and large numbers in both countries say they do not know (Taiwan 34 per cent and South Korea 22 per cent).

Majorities of Chinese (56 per cent) and Indonesians (57 per cent) say they do not know, with significant minorities citing the US government (Indonesia 14 per cent and China 9 per cent).

A clear majority of Russians (57 per cent) and a plurality of Ukrainians (42 per cent) say Al Qaeda was behind the attacks. But significant minorities identify the US government (15 per cent in both cases) and large numbers do not provide an answer (Ukrainians 39 per cent and Russians 19 per cent).

Of all the countries polled, Mexico has the second-largest number citing the US government as the perpetrator (30 per cent after Turkey at 36 per cent). Only 33 per cent name Al Qaeda.

…A stronger correlation of beliefs about 9/11 are respondents’ attitudes about the United States. Those with a positive view of America’s influence in the world are more likely to cite Al Qaeda (on average 59 per cent) than those with a negative view (40 per cent).

Muslims can read, listen to Quran on LG television

IHT – Muslims can read, listen to Quran on LG television

LG Electronics Inc. said Tuesday it has marketed a new large-screen plasma display television in the Middle East that allows users to both read and listen to the Quran, the Muslim holy book.

Quranic verses can be read on screen and listened to via software embedded in the TV. All 114 chapters of the holy book are included and up to 10 pages can be bookmarked via remote control, LG said.

LG said in a release that the TV, which comes in 42 inch and 50 inch versions, is the first of its kind in the world. The company began selling it in conjunction with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which started at the beginning of September.

LG said it decided to offer the product after learning through a survey that many Muslims listened to the Quran via their home theater systems and that ratings for radio broadcasts of the holy book were high.

…The company also said that the TV, which comes with a 160-gigabyte hard disk drive, can record 40 soccer games and 30 movies.

Property developers turn to Islamic alternatives

Zawya – Property developers turn to Islamic alternatives

In an increasing tough financial world hammered by the global credit crisis, more property developers are turning to Islamic financial instruments to get projects off the ground, say the organisers of the Islamic finance industry’s leading global event.

“Financing based on Islamic rules requires that gains are derived from ethical, shared investment rather than being interest-based; hence it has sidestepped the credit crunch,” said Swati Taneja, conference director of the twice-yearly International Islamic Finance Forum that next takes place in Istanbul from 13 -17 October 2008.

“The downturn in the international property markets has hit conventional realty firms as investors scale back their exposure, especially in highly leveraged markets,” she added.

“There are many new examples emerging of developers worldwide adopting the Islamic model to finance their projects,” said Taneja. “One of the most recent is South East Asia’s biggest property developer, based in Singapore, which hopes to issue the first tranche of a $700 million Islamic bond by the end of this year – with Middle East investors as the main target.

“There are few competitive sources of finance available in the conventional financial world right now. Meanwhile, there are billions of dollars in the Middle East Islamic financial sector looking for investment. But, increasingly, unless developers structure their projects to be Shari’ah compliant they won’t get a second look.

…”In recognition of the highly competitive alternative now provided by Islamic finance to conventional interest-based structures, the forum this year features a special workshop on structuring Islamic real estate deals.”

…For more details about the 2008 International Islamic Finance Forum in Istanbul, please visit: www.iiff.com