June 22, 2012
The following is a paper presented to the AMJA Conference on The Halal and Haram in Food and Medicine (Los Angeles, California, March 2-4, 2012). Note that this paper does not represent AMJA in any way, and only represents the opinions of the author.
Terminology Equivalents Chart
Hebrew Arabic kosher ?al?l shechita dhab??a shochet dh?bi? halakha shar??a treif ?ar?m
Observant Muslims and Jews only eat ?al?l and kosher products, and face many of the same problems in finding appropriate meat products in the modern, secularized world. Due to the dearth of kosher meat products available, and even higher scarcity of ?al?l meat, many Muslims feel comfortable purchasing kosher meat, believing that all kosher meats (and by extension kosher products) are necessarily ?al?l. Other Muslims, due to either political or theological reasons, believe that it is impermissible to purchase or consume any kosher meat products.
This paper seeks to discuss the question of the Islamic legal ruling on consuming kosher meat products. Therefore, political questions and personal values, which do not dictate the general ruling (a?l) with respect to such products, will not be discussed.
Generally speaking (and as per Q. 4:160 and 3:50), halakhic laws are stricter than Islamic ones. This is shown not only in the foods that are permissible or impermissible, but also in the laws pertaining to slaughtering, cooking and consuming foods. Since the normative applications of Jewish law are stricter than those for Islamic law, in most cases these laws will not affect Muslims who wish to consume kosher, but would affect Jews who might be interested in ?al?l meat. The most pertinent examples will be discussed in this paper.
Prohibitions Regarding Types of Animals and Foods
Both Jewish and Islamic laws prohibit the consumption of carrion, swine, insects, rodents and blood. Additionally, any food that is poisonous or immediately harmful to the human body would be prohibited. All solid food items prohibited by the Shar??a are also prohibited in Jewish law.
There are a number of significant items prohibited in the halakha but allowed by the Shar??a. The Qur??n itself mentions the most common example, viz., certain types of animal fat (see Q. 6:146). Halakhic law specifies which types of fats and nerves are prohibited. The majority of madhhabs allowed the Muslim to consume these parts that are typically not considered kosher after a Jewish slaughter. The only exception to this is the M?lik? school, which deems the consumption of these parts impermissible.
Other examples of items that are prohibited for Jews but allowed for Muslims include:
- Sharks, shellfish and crustaceans (lobster, crabs, etc.) [Note: for the ?anaf?s these animals are also not permitted].
- Some types of birds (e.g., ostrich, emu).
- Camels (because it does not have a proper ‘split hoof’).
Interestingly enough, the locust is an animal that is explicitly mentioned and allowed by both halakhic and Shar?? texts.
Also note that Jewish law forbids mixing meat and dairy products together. Different Jewish authorities have different interpretations and rules for implementation – some even require two sets of kitchen utensils and separate areas of refrigerators for these two products. There is, of course, no equivalent in Islamic law.
Jewish law also has stringent rules regarding the religious washing and usage of utensils. For example, if a ceramic or porcelain utensil is used to cook a non-kosher food, that utensil can never be purified and used for kosher cooking. However, if a metallic utensil has been used, it must be cleaned with soap and water, then left for a period of time, then immersed in boiling water under the supervision of an expert, before it may be used to cook with. Islamic law, on the other hand, would only require the regular washing of any such utensil and would permit its subsequent usage to cook or consume ?al?l products in.
The permissibility of gelatin and rennet are ongoing discussions in both faiths. The exact same spectrum of opinions exists in both Muslim and Jewish circles. It appears that most mainstream Jewish and Muslim authorities would not permit regularly available gelatin, since it is derived from either pork or non-ritually slaughtered animals (with minority dissenting opinions on both sides). Proper kosher gelatin is therefore typically derived from kosher fish (and, in even rarer cases, from kosher slaughtered animals, or from certain cows that have died natural deaths, or from vegetable products). However, it should be noted that a product that is marked as kosher does not necessarily mean that all Jewish authorities believe it to be so. In fact, most yoghurt and candy products that are marked with circle-K are not approved by most Conservative and Orthodox Rabbis. Hence, Muslims need to know the different types of symbols used by the Jewish food industry, and their corresponding opinions, before they make a choice on whether a product that is marked as kosher is in fact ?al?l or not.
Cheese, on the other hand, appears to be an issue where the spectrum of opinions are the same, but the majorities of each are different. Most Jewish authorities would only allow cheese if produced from kosher rennet; most Muslim authorities would allow cheese from non-?al?l rennet because of the issue of istihl?k. In both groups, there are dissenting minority opinions, but the minorities are on opposite sides.
There are some halakhic restrictions on vegetables and plants (for example, the orlah, or fruit that grows during first three years after planting), and Jewish law is also stricter than Islamic law regarding insects found in fruits and vegetables, but these laws are not relevant to this discussion. Additionally, there are specific halakhic commandments for preparing Passover breads and prohibiting other foods that would also not concern Muslims.
For Muslims, the most common product that is allowed in Jewish law but prohibited in Islamic law are alcoholic beverages. Jewish law permits the consumption of ‘kosher‘ beer and wine.
Similarities in Slaughtering an Animal
Once we understand the halakhic procedure for slaughtering animals, it will be possible to arrive at an Islamic verdict regarding its status.
First, the similarities. Jewish law and Islamic law both require that:
1) The animal must be alive when it is slaughtered (hence stunning or other procedures to render the animal unconscious should be avoided).
2) The animal must be killed with a sharp knife (hence, a blow to the head would render the animal treif and ?ar?m).
3) The knife must cut the neck arteries of the animal: in particular, the trachea, esophagus, cartiod arteries and jugular veins should be cut, while leaving the spinal cord intact.
4) The blood must be drained out.
5) There must be minimal harm to the animal – a painless and quick slaughter is required.
All of these are points of agreement between Jewish and Islamic law.
There are some minor differences between the requirements of the two faiths. These difference would generally be negligible and irrelevant to Muslims, but not to observant Jews.
1) Jewish law requires a specific type of person (called a shochet) to slaughter. Typically, the shochet is an observant male Jew trained in the practice of slaughter. Islamic law allows any male or female Christian, Muslim or Jew to sacrifice as long as that person follows the proper procedure of slaughtering. Therefore, it is primarily for this reason that a dhab??a animal can never be kosher for observant Jews because the slaughter would be performed by a Muslim.
2) The perfection of the knife blade – Jewish law requires visual and physical inspection; Islamic law only requires a sharp knife even if there are some imperfections (e.g., minor abrasions and nicks would be permissible in Islam).
3) Jewish law requires one continuous stroke for a slaughter (moving the knife back and forth would be allowed), whereas Islamic law would prefer one stroke, but the slaughter would not be invalidated if the slaughterer quickly followed a first improper stroke with another one.
4) In Jewish law, the knife must be at least two times the size of the animal’s neck, and perfectly straight, whereas there is no such requirement in Islam.
5) Jewish law completely forbids stunning, and a stunned animal would be treif; Islamic law is not unified on this point, as most authorities would consider stunning makr?h, but as long as the animal is alive and has a pulse, the slaughter would still be considered ?al?l.
6) Depending on which Islamic madhab one followed, the number of passages in the neck of the animal cut might be less for some opinions of Islamic law (however, a perfect cut in both religious would require the esophagus, trachea, arteries and jugular).
7) While the disconnecting of the spine is prohibited in both laws, in Jewish law this would render the animal treif, whereas according to the majority opinion in Islamic law, this is makr?h but does not render the animal ?ar?m (note that some authorities would view such an act as making the animal ?ar?m).
8) Jewish law requires a visual inspection of the lungs and some other internal organs of the animal after slaughter. Specific defects associated with these organs makes the animal treif, whereas the total absence of any imperfection (i.e., adhesion-free lungs) renders the animal a higher level of kosher, called glatt kosher. If such a level of perfection was not achieved, but the procedure was followed, the meat would merely be kosher. And some type of defects would in fact render the animal treif even after proper slaughter. There is no equivalent to such a post-slaughter examination in Islamic law.
9) The animal’s blood must be allowed to flow into the earth (or on the ground) in Jewish law (for example, it should not be gathered in a bowl), whereas there is no such prohibition in Islamic law. In practice, most Muslims slaughter and spill the blood on the ground as well.
10) Islamic law encourages, but does not require, that the animal faces the qiblah. Since this is not a requirement according to any madhhab, it is irrelevant to the question of whether kosher is ?al?l.
11) While the Jewish invocation (i.e., blessing) is not a necessary requirement for the meat to be considered kosher, it is in practice never left. This issue will be discussed in a separate section.
From all of these points, it is clear that these factors will not render kosher meat ?ar?m; most are in fact rulings that make the halakhic laws stricter than their Shar?? equivalents, and even the Islamic ones on this list are recommendations and not requirements. Hence, from the perspective of the Shar??a, these factors are not relevant.
Of course, because of some or most of these factors (especially the first one), ?al?l meat cannot be considered kosher by Jewish authorities.
Major Difference – the Tasmiya Issue
There is one major differences between the two laws that cannot be overlooked and could potentially result in a verdict of ta?r?m, and that is the issue of the tasmiya.
The Islamic opinions on mentioning Allah’s name at the time of sacrifice are well-known. It is clear that the majority of scholars (and the explicit texts of the Qur??n and Sunnah) require the utterance of tasmiya before an animal is slaughtered. It is with this opinion in mind that we proceed. (It goes without saying that, for the minority who do not require tasmiya, obviously if they do not require a Muslim to mention the name of Allah then a priori they would not require a non-Muslim to do so).
Halakhic law states that the shochet should verbally bless the act of slaughter with a specific blessing. While this blessing is not considered an essential requirement, in practice it is always done, and it is realistically inconceivable that a shochet intentionally abandons this blessing.
The formulation of this blessing translates as:
“Blessed are you , Adonai [G-d], our G-d, Lord of the World, Who Sanctified us through His Commandments and instructed us concerning proper animal slaughter”
The wording clearly praises God, and therefore would be acceptable to the vast majority of madhhabs, since it is not a necessary requirement that the blessing be said in Arabic. However, the issue comes with respect to a unique blessing for each animal.
Since the Jewish faith insists that the name of the Lord only be invoked with good cause, the shochet does not repeat this blessing for each and every animal. Instead, the shochet considers one blessing to suffice for a series of animals with the condition that each animal is slaughtered without any significant pause or break from the previous one. 
Therefore, in theory, a shochet could sacrifice a few cows, and maybe even up to a hundred chicken, with one blessing.
All of this, of course, has relevance to the Shar?? ruling on an animal.
For the minority that does not require tasmiya (in particular, the Sh?f?? school), this issue would not be relevant, and therefore kosher would be ?al?l.
For those who subscribe to the position that allows one tasmiya for multiple slaughters, kosher meat would also be ?al?l.
For those who require a specific tasmiya for each individual animal (in particular, the ?anaf? school), kosher meat would not be ?al?l unless it was known for sure that a blessing was given for that animal.
As a side point, there are reference to some Christian groups who required a slaughterer to sacrifice in the name of God.
In light of all that has preceded, and in this author’s opinion:
- While the Qur??n explicitly allows us to offer (and therefore sell) ?al?l meat to Jews, most observant Jews would not consider ?al?l to be kosher because the animal would be slaughtered by a non-Jew (and there would be other factors as well).
- All kosher foods are permissible as long as 1) no significant amount of alcohol is present, and 2) any gelatin is from kosher slaughtered cattle or non-animal sources. If alcohol is used either for taste or in intoxicating amounts, the food prepared would be ?ar?m; and any gelatin derived from animals not slaughtered with tasmiya is also ?ar?m.
- Kosher meat being ?al?l would depend on which madhhab one follows for the tasmiya: if one follows the opinion that one tasmiya suffices for multiple animals, kosher slaughtered animals would be ?al?l. However, if one requires one tasmiya per animal, then in general such animals would be ?ar?m unless one can verify that the blessing was said for that particular animal.
In this author’s opinion, since the halakhic blessing is done over a specific group of animals and the slaughter is continuous, this blessing can suffice to fulfill the requirements of the tasmiya for that group of animals, and Allah knows best.
Lastly, it is important that stronger ties be developed between observant Muslims and Jews so that we benefit from each other’s experiences, unite against Islamophobic and anti-Semitic efforts to ban ritual animal slaughter, and perhaps also manage to influence some kosher plants to say a tasmiya for every animal.
 This is based on Leviticus 7:3. Generally, Jewish law does not allow fat surrounding the kidneys, the abdominal fats, the fats surrounding the stomach and intestines, and the tail fat. The nerve that is forbidden is one that is in the hind-quarters. Since it is labor-intensive to remove this nerve, generally the hind-quarters of an animal are sold to non-Jews.
 Many Qur??nic exegetes consider this to be an example of Q. 3:93; others also add the ruling of animal fats, but this latter opinion clearly contradicts Q. 6:146.
 This discussion is necessarily simplistic and brief.
 These are so-called ‘Indian cows’; since Hindus are not allowed to kill cows, any cow that dies is left untouched. Jewish law allows the bones of such an animal, if left untouched for a long period of time, to be used for the manufacture of gelatin.
 I have written a paper about this, published online. See: http://muslimmatters.org/2007/07/09/of-mice-and-men-the-cheese-factor/.
 Since this law is irrelevant to the halakha, some modern Jewish authorities have allowed taking this condition into account when performing kosher slaughters.
 Of course, we are not talking about the issue of adding alcohol to the meat while it is being cooked. Jewish law permits the consumption of certain types of alcohol and the mixing of wine with meat products. Any such production of meat would obviously be ?ar?m for Muslims.
 It is relevant to point out that Ibn ?anbal’s position regarding the tasmiya for Ahl Kit?b sacrifices is explicit – and as far as I know, everything narrated to the contrary is mujmal. ?anbal reports that Ab? Abdill?h said, “There is no problem with the sacrifice of the Kit?b? as long as he sacrifices for Allah and in the name of Allah (idh? ahall? lill?hi wa samm? ?alayh?).” [A?k?m Ahl al-Dhimmah, 1/189]. This was also the explicit position of Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn al-Qayyim. It should also be noted that most authorities who allowed the sacrifice of the Kit?b? without mentioned Allah’s name also allowed it if they mentioned other than Allah’s name [ibid., 1/191-3].
Also, the reader is encouraged to see Ibn Taymiyya’s ris?la on this issue, in J?mi? al-Mas??il of Dr. Bakr Abu Zayd (Riyad: D?r al-??lim, 1429), vol. 6, p. 377-89. In it, he states that the obligation of saying the tasmiya before hunting or slaughtering an animal is even more clear than the obligation to recite F?ti?a in the prayer.
It is the intention of the author to write a brief treatise on this issue as well, insha Allah.
 It is important to note that the blessing is for the act of sacrifice, and not for an animal or for the instrument.
 Therefore, from an Islamic standpoint, the shochet who does not mention the blessings will be f? ?ukm al-n?s? (i.e., the one who accidentally forgets), and the majority of scholars would deem such a slaughter as permissible, in contrast to the one who intentionally does not mention Allah’s name.
 Most modern Rabbis allow the shochet to utter the phrase ‘bismill?h Allahu akbar‘ in Arabic before each slaughter, since that does not interfere with the rules of halakha. This practice should be encouraged and Muslims should inform local Jewish slaughterhouses that they would become potential customers if the shochet could do this.
 In the Syriac-language Nomocanon of Barhebraeus (d. 1286), a Christian butcher is instructed to recite the phrase ba-shma d’elaha haya, “In the name of the living God.” Gregorius Barhebraeus, Nomocanon, ed. Paul Bedjan (Paris: Harrassowitz, 1898); taken from Freidenreich (cit.)
Archives for : June2012
Anti-Muslim bias lawsuit against the US Commission on International Religious Freedom
A Muslim woman has filed a lawsuit against the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) alleging that she was sacked by the commission because of her religion. Ironically, the commission is assigned to advocate religious freedom globally.
Safiya Ghori-Ahmad filed the lawsuit on June 7, 2012 in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia saying that USCIRF rescinded a job offer after learning that she was Muslim and worked for a group promoting Muslims’ civil rights in the United States.
Ghori-Ahmad was hired to work as an analyst and immediately was asked to produce a report on religious freedom in Pakistan to test if she could write “objectively.” Ghori-Ahmad said a commissioner detected no sign of bias in her report but still objected to hiring her. “Passing these tests (which she did) made no difference to the commissioners who opposed working with a Muslim,” said the lawsuit, which seeks a jury trial.
The suit quotes Commissioner Nina Shea as writing that “hiring a Muslim like Ms. Ghori-Ahmad to analyze religious freedom in Pakistan would be like “hiring an IRA activist to research the UK twenty years ago.’”
Ghori-Ahmad, a 26-year-old American born and educated in Arkansas, is seeking damages for distress as well as back pay, saying she was unemployed after the job offer was rescinded. She was later hired by the State Department.
According to a Washington Post report the commission’s six researchers signed a letter unsuccessfully urging their bosses to keep Ghori-Ahmad because of what they described as her strong rÃ©sumÃ© and the need for an analyst to cover the key region of South Asia. One researcher, Bridget Kustin, quit in protest, saying in her resignation letter that she would not “remain part of an organization that would be willing to engage in such discrimination.
The incident took place in 2009. Three commissioners whose actions were questioned in the lawsuit have since left after a shakeup last year led by Senator Dick Durbin, the second highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate. Speaking in December, Durbin said he “strongly” supported the group’s work but added: “I have been deeply troubled by allegations of misconduct, misuse of funds and discrimination at the Commission.”
Durbin spearheaded an amendment that limited terms of commissioners and subjected them to federal regulations on discrimination and expenses, amid charges that some had flown first class and stayed in expensive hotels.
The commission was set up under a 1998 law to advise the US government on religious freedom. It has strongly advocated for the rights of minorities around the world.
Its statements on the Islamic world have sometimes been controversial. In its latest annual report, it called for the State Department to put Turkey — a secular state and US ally — on a blacklist over religious freedom that includes countries such as China, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Rejecting the USCIRF’s 2012 annual report Turkey said on April 5: “The report, which is prepared by politicians representing some interest groups, contradicts the findings of U.S. State Department’s annual reports so far.” In a written statement the Turkish Foreign Ministry also criticized the report for failing to address incidents in Europe based on Islamophobia, with many mosques having been attacked and religious leaders being appointed by the state. The statement thus said that “the report [had been] prepared for political reasons.”
Shea and several other commissioners have long been accused of criticizing aspects of the Islamic faith in a way that unfairly stigmatizes all Muslims.
The allegations in the suit are the most explicit in a years-long series of allegations that commission leaders are biased against Muslims, specifically people associated with groups critical of U.S. foreign policy and who work for groups that fight anti-Muslim discrimination. Questions about the Ghori-Ahmad EEOC complaint — which commission lawyers had argued the body was exempt from — and how the commission uses its resources led some lawmakers last year to almost let USCIRF close for lack of reauthorization. Its budget was ultimately cut by a quarter and long-serving commissioners were forced out by retroactive term limits.
The anti-bias of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom is also reflected in the recent appointment of its commissioners. Last March Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appointed well-known anti-Islam activist Dr. Zuhdi Jasser as a commissioner.
A broad national coalition of more than 60 civil advocacy organizations and individuals have sent a joint letter to Senators Inouye, McConnell and Durbin expressing “deep concern” at the controversial appointment of Zuhdi Jasser. The coalition asked that Jasser’s appointment be rescinded because he has been a vocal opponent of religious freedom for American Muslims.
The coalition noted that Jasser’s organization, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, “applauded” an amendment to Oklahoma’s constitution that both a federal district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit have held is in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by clearly favoring all other religions over Islam. That amendment specifically targeted Islam for official censure.
The letter also cited Jasser’s opposition to the constitutionally-protected construction of a Muslim community center in lower Manhattan, his support for the New York Police Department’s blanket surveillance of Muslims based on religion rather than evidence or suspicion of wrongdoing and his ties to virulently anti-Muslim groups and individual Islamophobes.
Why the USCIRF has appointed a controversial commissioner, the reason one can see is the anti-Islam bias of the Commission reauthorized on Dec. 16, 2011 by the Congress through 2018, just hours before it was scheduled to go out of existence?
|Somalia crisis one of ‘largest in decades’|
US and Germany promise increased aid as East African drought victims continue to flood camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.
East Africa’s hunger crisis has been described by a US official as one of the worst humanitarian crisis in decades amid stepped-up efforts by Western countries to provide relief aid and a decision by Kenya to open a fourth camp for starving refugees.
Tens of thousands of Somali refugees are flooding camps in Ethiopia and Kenya – at a rate of more than 3,000 new arrivals per day – in search of food after several seasons without rain killed livestock and destroyed crops in Somalia.
“There are many seasoned relief professionals who would tell you we haven’t seen a crisis this bad in a generation,” Reuben Brigety, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for state department assistance to refugees and conflict victims in Africa, said on Saturday.
“We anticipate that this crisis will get worse before it gets better.”
The US was studying how much more it would give in addition to $5m promised on Friday to help Somali refugees, on top of a previously budgeted $63m, Reuben said.
For its part, Germany said it is donating an additional 5m euros ($7m) in humanitarian aid.
Dirk Niebel, the German development minister, said in Berlin on Saturday that “the famine and the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa are a cause of great worry”.
He said the emergency aid is in addition to the 3.6m euros ($5m) pledged earlier this year.
Duncan Harvey, the acting country director for Save the Children in Ethiopia, said: “In terms of the sheer numbers of people affected, this is one of the worst droughts the world has seen in a long time.”
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Friday it had sent by air emergency nutrition supplies and water equipment into Somalia.
UNICEF said in an update to the media that the supplies were delivered to Baidoa, a town in the Bay region of south-central Somalia, as part of the agency’s life-saving assistance for drought-affected children.
At the same time, a senior UN official also warned on Saturday that the plight of millions of people left hungry was set to worsen, with the next rains expected in October and harvests months away.
“We are possibly seeing a perfect storm in the coming months … We are going to do everything we can to ameliorate it,” Anthony Lake, the UNICEF director, told the AFP news agency on his way to the drought-hit northern Kenya region of Turkana.
“We are scaling up in every way we can … It is very bad now. There will be no major harvests until some time next year. The next six months are going to be very tough.”
Little help in Somalia has reached those in the worst-hit area because an al-Qaeda-linked group, al-Shabab, had banned aid work though it recently said it would lift that ban.
Over the last several days, Brigety, the US administration official, has visited camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, and talked to mothers and children who walked for days with little food or water.
Levels of malnutrition among refugees arriving at the camps are very high.
The overall mortality rate at the camps in Ethiopia is seven people out of 10,000 per day, when a normal crisis rate is two per day, Brigety said.
At Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, the largest in the world, Brigety spoke to a mother who arrived at the camp with six children, including a 7-year-old who has polio that she carried on her back.
The crisis has swelled Dadaab’s numbers to nearly 440,000 people, UNHCR said on Friday.
Against this backdrop, the Kenyan government announced on Friday a fourth camp had been opened in Dadaab in an effort to ease congestion.
Antoine Froidevaux, a field co-ordinator for the Medecins Sans Frontieres humanitarian agency, welcomed the new camp, but said the humanitarian organisation was “still very worried about the situation of the new arrivals that are coming in”.
And Tarek Jasarevic, a World Health Organisation spokesman, said at least 462 cases of measles, including 11 deaths, had been confirmed in recent months among Somali refugee children in Dadaab.
The aid group Save the Children said on Friday that it had started feeding malnourished refugee children in pre-registration sites at camps in southern Ethiopia.
Because of the overwhelming numbers, refugees are waiting days or weeks to get into the camps, Save the Children said, making the feeding programmes outside a necessity.
Far-right extremists testify in Breivik trial By JULIA GRONNEVET – 1 day ago OSLO, Norway (AP) — A handful of Norwegian right-wing extremists testified Tuesday in self-confessed killer Anders Behring Breivik’s defense, backing his claims that Norway is “at war” with Islam. The 33-year-old self-styled anti-Muslim crusader has placed great importance on this line of argument, fearing his ideology could be undermined if he is declared insane. Breivik, on trial for killing 77 people in a bomb-and-shooting rampage in Oslo last July, has confessed to the attacks but denies criminal guilt. He claims he acted in self-defense because his victims had betrayed their country by embracing immigration. Defense lawyers attempted to show that while there are people who share Breivik’s worldviews, they are not declared mentally ill for doing so. “Norway is at war,” Tore Tvedt, a far-right extremist who has been convicted for his published anti-Semitic statements, told the court. He noted also how victimized he has felt by Norwegian police and public authorities for his political opinions. Although many of the witnesses echoed Breivik’s political views during the hearing, all of them took care to distance themselves from his violence. “We are a non-violent organization,” said Arne Tumyr, a long-time Islam critic and leader of the organization “Stop the Islamization of Norway.” But he declared that “Islam is an evil political ideology disguised as a religion.” Another witness, Ronny Alte, said that although he knows of no one in his immediate surroundings who supported Breivik’s actions, “there could easily be around a hundred that I know about” on the Internet who do. Breivik’s sanity is key to the case and is still an unresolved issue. Two psychological examinations carried out before the 10-week trial started in mid-April reached opposite conclusions on whether he is psychotic or not. If found guilty and sane, he would face 21 years in prison although he can be held longer if deemed a danger to society. If declared insane, he would be committed to compulsory psychiatric care. Although the trial is scheduled to end on June 22, the Oslo District Court on Tuesday announced that a verdict isn’t expected until July 20, or possibly even on Aug. 24, due to administrative and technological reasons as well as security issues. It declined to elaborate further.
Gov’t calls for calm after western Myanmar clashes (AP) – 2 days ago YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar’s government warned against “anarchic” activities Monday after 10 Muslims were beaten to death in an area known for sectarian conflict and a dozen other people were injured in a confrontation with police. Both events took place Sunday in Rakhine state in northwestern Myanmar, a remote area where Buddhist and Muslim relations are strained, sometimes to the point of violence. State television warned that legal action will be taken against those who broke the law. The report said 300 people stopped a bus carrying Muslims from a religious gathering, dragged out the 10 occupants, beat them to death and burned the vehicle in Taunggup, 300 kilometers (180 miles) north of Yangon. It said some anti-Muslim pamphlets had been distributed in Taunggup relating to the rape and murder of a young Rakhine girl last month, allegedly by three Muslim youths. Ethnic conflicts are a major cause of instability in Myanmar, mostly involving sizable minorities along the eastern and northern borders seeking autonomy who battle against the government. In remote Rakhine, along the frontier with Bangladesh, tension between Buddhist residents and Muslims — exacerbated by religious differences — is often strained. The majority of residents are Buddhists from the Rakhine ethnic group, while there is also a large number of Muslims in the area particularly in northern Rakhine state. Separately, the television report said a mob besieged a police station to demand the release of a man they believed had been arrested in a market dispute. Twelve people were hurt and police detained nine people in that incident in the Rakhine state capital Sittwe, 500 kilometers (300 miles) northwest of Yangon. The report said police used smoke bombs to clear out the crowd after several hours after twice failing to disperse the crowd by firing shots in the air. Residents reported hearing many gunshots, but the authorities said the 12 injured people had suffered cuts and bruises. The incidents were earlier reported — without much detail — on the website of the information ministry, which was launched Monday. The reformist government of elected President Thein Sein is eager to display its openness as it seeks to attract foreign investment after years of isolation.
Muslim girl can marry at 15 if she attains puberty: Delhi high court PTI Jun 5, 2012, 08.08PM IST Tags: Mohammedan Law|Delhi High Court|Child Welfare Committee (Ruling that a Muslim girl…) NEW DELHI: Ruling that a Muslim girl can marry as per her choice at the age of 15 years if she has attained puberty, the Delhi high court has held the marriage of a minor girl valid and allowed her to stay in her matrimonial house. “This court notes that according to Mohammedan Law a girl can marry without the consent of her parents once she attains the age of puberty and she has the right to reside with her husband even if she is below the age of 18….,” a bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and S P Garg said.