CIC Annual Fundraising Dinner 2005

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Friday Bulletin
Date: Jun 10th, 2005 - Jumada-al-awwal 3, 1426,       Volume: 8     Issue: 43
Deadlines to Remember

July 1, 2005 -- To apply for CIC's student scholarships in media, law, political science and social work. Details:

July 1, 2005 -- To nominate individuals and organizations for CIC's annual awards. Details:

July 1, 2005 -- To apply for travel grants for CIC's short course on Canadian history, politics, media, and law, Islamic family law and professional family counseling. Details:

August 15, 2005 To register for CIC's short course above.

An Apology and Retraction

In the April 29, 2005 edition of the Friday Bulletin, the Canadian Islamic Congress and Ms. Wahida Valiante published on its website an article entitled Worth Repeating: Media Propaganda: Hitler, Bush and the "Big Lie". The Canadian Islamic Congress and Ms. Valiante apologize without reservation and retract remarks in the column that suggest that Dr. Daniel Pipes is a follower of HItler or that he uses the tactics of Hitler or that he wants to ethnically cleanse America of its Muslim presence.

Muslims Are Civilization Builders

  by Dr. Mohamed Elmasry; a paper p - Cairo, Egypt, April 17, 2005 attended by over 200

Only the Islamic civilization, was characterized primarily by a foundational Idea, epitomized by a specific set of principles and a broad worldview containing them.

By contrast, there has been no "Christian civilization" per se, although Christianity was a significant influence on the ancient Roman Empire, post- Roman Europe, and still (though more limited) on today's dominant Western Civilization. Every civilization tries to build an empire that reflects its primary values. Thus we have the Chinese Civilization and its Chinese Empire, the Roman Civilization and its Roman Empire, and so on.

Later history has seen the rise of Western Civilization and for example the British Empire; and now we are witnessing the construction of the American Empire.

The Islamic Empire took less than 100 years to build -- the shortest such emergence in recorded history. It took the ancient Romans about a millennium to accomplish the same feat. But a preferable name for the Islamic Empire would be the Islamic Commonwealth, which describes more accurately how Islamic Civilization developed and grew. Today there are many temptations leading Muslims to believe that they are living in a postcolonization era. Consequently, they come to consider Western culture as their standard or societal mentor, losing their Islamic identity in the process.

However Muslims today are living amid a new era of recolonization chiefly led by U.S. policies toward the Muslim world. This has resulted in a widespread malaise of defeatism, political fatalism, and the tragic loss of cultural identity.

If Muslims become aware of this reality, they can turn the tide of defeat and become successful civilization-builders, just like their ancestors.

[Full text of the paper is posted on]

Saladin's Courage, Morality Lost on Present-day Leaders

  by Amir Butler - CounterPunch -- May 28-30, 2005

Sir Ridley Scott's treatment of the Crusades in [the movies] Kingdom of Heaven focuses attention on a chapter of history that is barely remembered in our societies, yet provides the prism through which Muslims view their relations with the West.

The central storyline is mostly fictional, however the historical backdrop is essentially accurate; with its progression from the treaty broken by Crusader bandit-knights, to the attack on the Castle of Kerak and the subsequent surrender of Jerusalem to Saladin's armies.

Saladin, the 12th-century Muslim ruler who vanquished the Crusaders, has long been romanticized in both Muslim and non-Muslim literature as a figure who personified bravery, chivalry and honor.

Even Dante's Divine Comedy describes Saladin as standing apart in the highest level of Hell afforded to non-Christians, alongside the likes of Plato, Homer and Dante's own guide, Virgil.

In the Muslim world, the name Saladin resonates with meaning. It has peppered the speeches of Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. For Muslims, Saladin is the symbol of a golden age of honour and dignity; and for figures such as Saddam and Bin Laden, he is a useful rhetorical device for giving legitimacy to their own causes.

Muslims revered Saladin because he was the embodiment of Islamic principles; and non-Muslims revered him for his chivalry. He became a window through which the medieval world came to see something of Islam; and he now represents a window through which Muslims see something of their past. It is a past filled with acts of kindness that seem out of place in today's dystopian world of made-for-TV decapitations, kidnappings, and the torture of prisoners of war.

Although he was a military leader at a time characterised by its violence, Saladin could teach our contemporary leaders -- both Muslim and non-Muslim -- something about chivalry and respect for humanity. While besieging the Castle of Kerak on his march to Jerusalem, Saladin learnt that a wedding ceremony was underway in a part of the castle. He didn't make some utilitarian judgement about collateral damage. Rather, he ordered his soldiers to refrain from bombarding that wing.

According to reports of the time, Crusaders massacred Jews, Christians and Muslims to the point that "our men waded in blood up to their ankles," yet Saladin did not extract revenge or conduct any of his own massacres on recapturing Jerusalem 88 years later. Instead, he granted the Crusaders protected passage to the coast.

When Richard the Lion Heart attempted to recapture Jerusalem, he was confronted by Saladin's military might and his clemency. Despite having violated a treaty by slaughtering 3,000 men at Acre, when Richard's horse was killed at Jaffa, Saladin sent two of his own horses to replace it. "It is not right," he wrote. "That so brave a warrior should have to fight on foot." When Richard fell sick during the siege, Saladin sent his personal physician to care for him.

After Saladin's death in 1193, there were no Swiss bank accounts full of money pilfered from his people, but a personal treasury emptied by his charity to those in need.

For Muslims, Saladin represents a moment in their history of strong and honorable leadership in the face of tremendous opposition. Tyrants and dictators have since misappropriated his name and legacy, but Saladin was everything that today's secular and politically emaciated dictators of Muslim lands are not -- a leader who was powerful yet just; victorious yet clement; and who was inspired not by a love of power or a thirst for wealth, but by faith alone.

In the end, Saladin was victorious over the crusading armies of Europe, but perhaps his greatest victory was not military, but moral. For real victory, Saladin said, "is changing the hearts of your opponents by gentleness and kindness."

(Amir Butler is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. He can be reached at: This article was edited and slightly abridged for the Friday Bulletin.)

Only a Genuine Israeli Peace Initiative Can Prevent Disaster

  by Andrew Phillips - The Observer -- May 23, 2005

GAZA -- The reality of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Al Quds was far worse than my expectations, and they were bad enough. The humiliation, hatred and imprisoning walls are omnipresent as are, thank goodness, the decency, uncrushability and talent. As one who grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust and who volunteered to fight for Israel in 1973, I wanted to see for myself, sharing in advance Tony Blair’s view that the Israel-Palestine conflict infects not just the regional, but also the global body politic. I returned believing that in the name of security Israel is destroying security. In its use of the iron fist, Israell could yet convert tragedy into catastrophe. That could then dislodge the formal recognition by its Arab neighbours of its right to a secure existence.

On the ground this much is clear: the initiative for preventing disaster rests mainly with Israel, which has overwhelming power and control. The Gaza withdrawal, highly contentious within Israel, must be a first and not (as most Palestinians suspect) the last step to peace. That withdrawal (of 8,000 settlers) is far less significant for peace than the continuing headlong expansion of settlements and outposts in the West Bank (200,000 plus settlers), the 113 km wall steadily sealing off East Al Quds from the West Bank, and the other vast segregating walls must ultimately be as futile as all walls in all history, from Jericho to Berlin. The strangulation of movement of people and goods to and from the occupied territories is as demeaning, indeed hate-inducing, as it is economically disastrous.

Roughly 60 per cent of Palestinians have [post-secondary] degrees yet the same proportion is unemployed. The main causes are the physical movement barriers (the World Bank report this year identified more than 700 in the West Bank alone) which typically increase related costs by 1,000 percent and have decimated flower and fruit exports. The Israelis, of all people, understand economic development and that investment in Palestine depends upon the removal of such barriers. Only then will plummeting standards of living (barely a tenth of Israeli levels) be reversed..

Some Israeli groups lay claim to the whole of Palestine as their God-given right. Hamas has the same claim about Israel. It is entirely understandable that even moderate Israelis and supporters around the globe are inclined to form their wider judgments in the light of that threat. But where that is used to justify current human rights abuses and creeping colonisation it is self-defeatingly wrong.

Most worrying in many ways is the relentless increase in the number of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and highways to them that separate Palestinians from their land. Such "facts on the ground" put the chances of a just settlement (the only one that will work) beyond reach.

One vivid exposure to the real state of things was my visit to the Rafa refugee camp and a UN-sponsored school -- one soon realises that without massive UN help the occupied territories would collapse. A class of 50 bright-eyed, articulate 13 and 14-year-olds were visibly angered when I asserted that renewed suicide bombings and Palestinian independence were incompatible. "How are we to defend ourselves?" blurted a tearful girl whose father, I was told, had been murdered by the Israelis. Others had also lost family members and thirteen had their houses destroyed.Yet despite demonstrations of passionate defiance, the key picture I gleaned from my trip was of a people yearning for peaceful closure for both sides. One illusion is to think the path to that goal is not strewn with dangers and setbacks. Another is that military might, and walls, can permanently end suicide bombings and worse.

(Andrew Phillips is Lord Phillips of Sudbury. This article was abridged and edited for the Friday Bulletin.

Ruthless Uzbek Authorities Drive Many to Radical Groups

  by Yana Dlugy - Agence France Presse -- May 24, 2005

TASHKENT -- Uzbekistan’s autocratic President Islam Karimov is widely reviled by the people of this Central Asian land and critics say the story behind the recent deadly clashes in the east of the country helps explain why.

His regime’s ruthless campaign against real and imagined Islamists, has filled the nation’s jails with innocent people and is in fact boosting support for extremist groups. "The repression against presumed extremists and Islamists has radicalized many Muslims here," said Vassila Inoiyatova, a member of the Berlik opposition party.

The events leading up to the military crackdown in the eastern city of Andijan on May 13, which killed hundreds of civilians as troops dispersed an anti-government rally, are a mirror image of wider tensions.

Government critics -- a group that includes everyone from cab drivers to Western businessmen and sometimes even members of the powerful police -- say the "religious extremism" label has become a convenient tool for those in power to remove their competitors in business and politics. "What happened in Andijan could have happened in 10 other cities," said one western official.

The tensions in Andijan began simmering months ago, when 23 local businessmen were charged with membership in an extremist group. Such charges have been a common feature of Uzbek courts since 1999.

That year saw a series of car bombs and attacks linked to a radical group called the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) that killed dozens of people. The government said the movement was aimed at assassinating Karimov.

Uzbekistan sits on the northern border of Afghanistan, so Karimov, a secular leader of a Muslim land, has kept a watchful eye on religious revival in this ex-Soviet republic since independence in 1990.

After the 1999 attacks, Karimov’s government launched an all-out campaign against Islamic radicals and today an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 people are in Uzbek jails, convicted of extremism charges.

Surat Ikramov heads a rights group that has monitored 120 trials of suspected religious extremists like those in Andijan. "In none of the trials was the guilt of those accused of terrorism and extremism proven," he said. The trials, he added, "are organized to turn people’s attention away from the economic situation and the lack of reforms."

The 23 people accused of religious extremism in Andijan several months ago were businessmen whose companies employed several thousand people. Many in Andijan believe the men were targeted because a powerful local politician wanted their businesses.

Many expected a guilty verdict -- people are often convicted in Uzbekistan on thin evidence. For example, one person has been convicted because known militants used a pay phone in his store; another went to jail because a friend who had given him his telephone card had made calls to Saudi Arabia on it.

Many people caught in the anti-Islamist net are simply practicing Muslims and many of the convictions are based on confessions that are routinely acquired by torture of prisoners in the precincts of Uzbekistan’s all- powerful police, rights groups have said.

Critics say that Karimov’s anti-Islamic drive and suppression of political opposition is filling the ranks of groups like Hizb ut- Tahrir, which advocates the setting up of an Islamic caliphate in Central Asia by peaceful means.

Many people who find themselves in jail falsely convicted of membership in a religious group actually become members of one in prison, activists have said. "I know a lot of instances when prisoners and even prison guards became Hizb ut-Tahrir members," Ikramov said.

Since publicly opposing the regime can lead to a jail sentence, critics warn that the tension will eventually explode in public unrest, like the events in Andijan on May 13, when the 23 defendants’ supporters stormed a police station, a military post and finally the prison where the accused were held.

They were freed along with hundreds of other prisoners, and their supporters then broke in and took over the regional government headquarters. The next day soldiers moved on thousands of people who had gathered in the city’s central square in a massive anti- government rally, killing hundreds of unarmed civilians.

Few here seem to believe the official version of events -- that the deaths occurred during a battle between troops and well-armed Islamist radicals.

(This article was edited for the Friday Bulletin.)

To Those Who Survived Growing up in the 1930s to 1970s

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright coloured lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets -- not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking. As children, we would ride in cars with no seatbelts or air bags. Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. We shared one bottled soft drink with four friends, and no one actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight because ... WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. And we were OK.

We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendos, X-boxes or video games, no cable TV with 299 channels, no video movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no internet ... WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents. We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever! The past 50 years have seen an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all!

And YOU are one of them. Congratulations!

You might want to share this with others who were lucky enough to grow up before the government regulated our lives -- and while you are at it, forward it to your kids too so they will know how brave their parents were.

(This article was edited for the Friday Bulletin.)