Thursday, May 31, 2007

Summary of Pakistan's Implosion - What of the Sikhs?

I've written several times and highlighted several times the continuing decline of Pakistan as a civil society. I foresee a Talibanization occurring there and am not the only one. The article below is picked up from the Western Resistance blog where it was reproduced from Family Security Matters.

This is a very nice summary of the current destabilization and implosion that is occurring there. My question in the past has been, without any answer, 'What becomes of the Sikhs and their religious places?' .

Do the Sikhs become dhimmis and pay jizya? Will Sikhs be allowed to visit their religious and historical places of worship?

The government of Pakistan has for some time now been trying to expand the religious tourism and interest of Sikhs in Sikh religious sites in Pakistan. Will that continue?

Someone in Sikh leadership circles has to start asking questions and an action plan needs to be put in place to ensure the following:

1. Sikhs will not be subject to Jizya or dhimmi status, and

2. Sikhs will enjoy full rights to take care of and use Sikh religious and historical places as Sikhs see fit, without interference of any kind.

See below for the article outlining the current state of Pakistan. Please visit the original article at Western Resistance to follow the links embedded inside the article. I've inserted the links for you to follow to the articles at WR, which further links to Family Security Matters.
Pakistan: Islamist Crisis Deepens - Part 1 (of 2)

Author & Pig

This article by Adrian Morgan (Giraldus Cambrensis of Western Resistance) appeared earlier today in Family Security Matters and is reproduced with their permission.

Pakistan: An Ally's Crisis Deepens

Part One (of Two)

Hafsa Women

In April I described the mounting crisis that was then starting to engulf Pakistan (parts one, two and three). At that time there were problems with Islamist radicals in Islamabad, the capital, protests across the country from lawyers against Predisent Musharraf, and in North-West Frontier Province the Pakistani Taliban were flexing their muscles and intimidating those not deemed "Islamic" enough. In all these areas the problems remain, but they have become worse.

The Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad has a compound containing two madrassas (Islamic seminaries), called the Jamia Hafsa and Jamia Fareedia. Students from these seminaries had occupied the only children's library in the capital since January. The head imam at the Lal Masjid, Abdul Aziz, had threatened that any interference with his students would be met with a campaign of suicide attacks across Pakistan. Many of his students came from the troubled North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) which borders Afghanistan, and while the Lal Masjid students attacked stores selling Western DVDs and CDs in the capital, similar actions were being taken in NWFP.

On March 26, students had kidnapped three women and a six month old child, and held them hostage, tied up with rope. The kidnap victims were accused of running a brothel and were only released three days later when they publicly recanted their "immoral behavior". On March 27, when police tried to arrest two female madrassa teachers as they went to work, armed students kidnapped two policemen. The policemen were released the following day. In April, the Lal Masjid established a "sharia court" in the complex.

Nilofar jump

On April 9, the first fatwa of the Lal Masjid sharia court was issued - targeting a woman member of the government. Tourism minister Nilofar Bakhtiar was accused of "lewd conduct", after she had been photographed being hugged by a paragliding instructor in Paris. Ms Bakhtiar had been raising money for victims of the earthquake of October 8, 2005, which had killed thousands. On May 20 Bakhtiar succumbed to pressure and resigned as tourism minister. She had been forced to resign from her post as head of the women's league within her party, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q), earlier in the month and had also received death threats.

Negotiations were made with the Lal Masjid leaders by politician Chaudry Shujaat Hussain, at the behest of President Musharraf, but the mosque leaders refused to tone down their public demands for nationwide sharia law. Threats of suicide attacks continue to be made. The Lal Masjid has 2,500 students at two madrassas - the Jamia Hafsa and the Jamia Fareedia. In 2005, after the London 7/7 bombings, there was a crackdown on extreme madrassas. The Lal Masjid showed then that it would react violently to interference from the authorities. When police tried to enter the mosque complex (without removing their shoes) there were violent clashes, in which 35 girl students were injured.


On Friday, May 18, four policemen were kidnapped by students from the mosque complex as an act of retaliation for the arrests of 27 students. Two policemen were released the following day, but the other two were kept inside the complex. On Thursday May 24, the remaining officers were escorted from the building (pictured) by Abdul Rashid Ghazi, one of the two cleric brothers who run the complex. Ghazi said: "We have released the two policemen on Islamic and humanitarian grounds because their relatives came to us with requests to free them. We are not cruel people like the government. None of them contacted us for negotiations, nor did they release our remaining students."

All four kidnapped officers claimed that weapons were being held inside the mosque complex. The authorities had been planning an operation to storm the complex, and to this end had drafted in 10,000 police constables from Punjab province. This action was conducted in a haphazard manner, with some officers sent to Islamabad on only an hour's notice. When they arrived at the capital, no accommodation had been made for them, and many were forced to sleep rough. Some had been housed at local mosques, but had been ejected when clerics learned that they were to be involved in a storming of the Lal Masjid complex.

On the night of Saturday May 26, half of the Punjabi police left the capital. A group of 2,200 Punjabi police had taken up residence in the Pakistan Sports Complex last week, against the wishes of the center's administrators, who accused the police of vandalism. Doors of some rooms and toilets had been broken down, and water pumps and chairs at the main Jinnah Stadium had been vandalized. 5,000 police reservists remain in the capital, and police chiefs claim that the storming of the Lal Masjid has only been postponed, not cancelled.

On Friday, May 25, Maulana Abdul Aziz, the senior cleric at the Lal Masjid announced that his students would attack shops selling audio CDs and videos unless these stores were closed. He said: "Our students can attack these outlets anytime because the deadline given to their owners had already passed."

The deputy secretary of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), the coalition of Islamist parties with 66 members sitting in the parliament, accused Musharraf of deliberately manipulating the Lal Masjid situation. Liaquat Baloch claimed that the issue was being exploited to draw attention away from the other problems in the country.

The Pakistan People's Party (PPP), headed by exiled former rime minister Benazir Butto, has made similar claims. The PPM spokesman said: "The situation in Islamabad is all contrived. The government wants to tell the west that Pakistan is in danger of being taken over by Islamists."

The MMA has been involved in demonstrations by members of the judiciary against the government, but its aims are ultimately the same as those of the Lal Masjid - to enforce Sharia law throughout the country. Both the MMA and the Lal Masjid members support the Taliban. Earlier in May, the MMA had introduced a proposed bill to the National Assembly, called the Apostasy Act. Under the terms of this bill, any person who left Islam for another faith would be subjected to draconian punishments - death for a man, and life imprisonment for a woman. In addition, anyone convicted under this proposed law would lose legal custody of their children, and have their land and property confiscated. The draft bill was approved by the Assembly. Additionally, a law to water down Pakistan's blasphemy laws was rejected by the parliament.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws are deliberately exploited to discriminate against minority groups. These rules were introduced in 1986 by the Islamist military dictator General Zia ul-Haq. Article 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) stipulates that anyone who insults prophet Mohammed can receive the death penalty. Originally, judges had the option to impose a death sentence or life imprisonment, but in the early 1990s, the law was altered so that the death penalty was mandatory for breaches of Article 295-C.

Article 295-B of the blasphemy laws maintains that anyone who "defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Quran or of an extract therefrom" shall receive life imprisonment. Once accused of blasphemy, there is no possibility of bail - the person is automatically held in custody until the trial is concluded. False accusations, particularly against minorities such as the Ahmadi sect of Islam and Christians, proliferate. In April an 11-year old boy was among five Christians detained under Article 295-B.

In Lahore in Punjab province, a 79-year old Christian is currently facing the death penalty, after his neighbors who run the Jamil Mosque accused him of insulting Mohammed and burning the Koran. The mosque members took over Walter Fazal Khan's property and turned it into a madrassa. Mr Khan's 84-year old wife Gladys has been forcibly converted to Islam. She has been so traumatized by the experience that she is in hospital, unable to talk. Such abuses of the blasphemy laws and attacks upon Christians have recently escalated. On May 10 Christians living in Charsadda in North-West Frontier Province received letters, giving them a one-week deadline to convert to Islam.

The demonstrations by lawyers began in March after Musharraf suspended Chief Justice Iftikar M Chaudhry from his post in the Supreme Court, accusing him of misuse of power. These have continued, assisted by the MMA and other opposition parties. On May 24, effigies of Musharraf were burned in Dera Ghazi Khan in North-West Frontier Province. The leaders of the Lal Masjid also support the suspended Chief Justice. Abdul Rashid Ghazi said: "We have sympathy for the chief justice's plight, which is because of the system that has allowed Musharraf to do this kind of thing. The man who is meant to give justice to the people is begging for justice himself."

Chaudhry responded on Saturday May 26 to Musharraf's accusations in a speech that was broadcast on television. He did not mention the president by name, but said: "Abuse of power often occurs in a system of governance where there is centralisation of all power in one person." He claimed that the judiciary was a "bulwark against abuse of power". When the judiciary upholds laws that blatantly discriminate against citizens, Chaudhry's defense of the legal process in Pakistan sounds hollow.

Altaf Hussain

There are two large parties in Pakistan's National Assembly which support President Musharraf - the PML-Q which was established by the president in 2001, and the MQM - the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. MQM has 48 seats in the National Assembly. The MQM was established in 1978 in Karachi, largest city in Pakistan, in Sindh province in the southeast of the country. Though avowedly secular, and an advocate of equal rights for women, the party has been linked to acts of terrorism and violence in Karachi. The party's leader, 53-year old Altaf Hussain, has been based in Edgeware in northwest London since 1992. He claims to live in Britain because of fears of assassination in Pakistan. He has been granted British citizenship.

On May 12, there were riots in Karachi, in which up to 40 people were said to have been killed. The riots happened after Hussain ordered his supporters in the city to support Musharraf's decision to suspend Chief Justice Iftikar M Chaudhry. Supporters of Benazir Bhutto's PPP, clashed with MQM members, and shots were fired. The rioting lasted for an hour. MQM was condemned by the PPP and also the Islamist parties of the MMA for instigating the rioting. Mohammed Anwar, the London-based senior coordinator of MQM stated: "We were the only party in the city that had permission from the authorities to hold a rally in the city on Saturday, so why would we shoot out own supporters?" He blamed the MMA and PPP for starting the violence, saying: "It is the death squads of these parties who were responsible for the carnage, and nothing to do with MQM."

The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), a party founded by cricketer and former playboy Imran Khan, announced its intention to sue the British government for "harboring" the leader of the MQM. A coalition of opposition parties, including the PTI, PPP and MMa announced that they would be making a legal challenge against Blair's decision to grant Altaf Hussain citizenship. The head of the MMA, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, has demanded that Altaf Hussain be extradited to Pakistan. It should be noted that Qazi Hussain Ahmad is a suporter of the Taliban and has frequently praised Osama bin Laden. The MQM released a video last week, apparently showing PPP guards opening fire on demonstrators.

Altaf Hussain stands by his support of the President. He said: "Because of activities next door in Afghanistan as well as our own country, the Taliban is growing very strong. He is doing his level best to fight these groups. Musharraf is a very brave man. Only he can prevent the Talibanization of Pakistan."

The internal intrigues of the squabbling factions within the National Assembly are insignificant compared to the very real threat of the country descending into the clutches of a Taliban-style regime. The march of Islamization is quickening its step, assisted by a general dissatisfaction with Musharraf.

On Wednesday May 23, a report by the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity announced that of all the countries in the "war on terror" alliance, Pakistan was the largest recipient of funds, gaining about $200 million per quarter. The Coalition Support Fund donated more than $3 billion to Pakistan between 2002 and 2006.

There may be reasons to question the size of these sums, but as Pakistan is a nuclear power, the need to keep the nation out of the clutches of Islamofascists is paramount. As I will describe in Part Two, even though Musharraf has made moves to counteract the threat of both Al Qaeda and the Taliban, the threat of large parts of the nation being taken over by the current movements for Talibanization is becoming increasingly real.

Here's Part Two from Western Resistance...

Pakistan: Islamist Crisis Deepens - Part 2 (of 2)

Pakistan: An Ally's Crisis Deepens

Baluchistan map

Pakistan's 1,500 mile border with Afghanistan is rugged and mountainous, and for the tribal peoples living alongside it, the border is porous. The border, or "Durand Line", was artificially created in 1893 by the British more as a cartographic exercise than anything taking into consideration the ethnicity of the region. Pashtuns live in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Taliban fighters frequently cross over this border with impunity.

Two provinces lie alongside the border - North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Baluchistan (Balochistan). The latter province also lies alongside Iran, and is rich in oil and gas. Since 2004, there has been an insurgency in this region, led mainly by the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) which was formed in the 1970s. Bugti tribal leader Nawab Akbar Bugti led this group until he was killed in a shootout with government forces on August 26 last year. The insurgency in Baluchistan has been driven more by financial reasons than religious ones. The local people feel they have not benefited from the revenue made from the oil and gas fields.

The BLA was banned in April last year by the Pakistani government, which denounced it as a terrorist organization. The group has committed atrocities against civilians in Quetta and against military personnel, but most of its targets have been the gas and power networks in the region. Bombings and attacks continue in the region. On the night of Sunday May 27. A bomb was placed in a parking lot of a state-owned gas company office complex in Quetta, killing a security guard and injuring another. The following day, three laborers were injured in six blasts around Quetta.

The Baluchistan insurgency seems less of a threat to the stability of the nation than the Islamist anarchy which has spread from NWFP, where the Pakistani "Taliban" has established itself. In September 2006, General James Jones, then NATO's Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, claimed that the Taliban was headquartered in or around Quetta in Baluchistan. Pakistan has denied this. In 2004, the Pakistan army moved against NWFP tribal leaders who were openly supporting Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban who were based in the tribal agency of North Waziristan in NWFP. The mission failed to gain control of the region, and led to local dissent against the federal authorities.

NWFP map

North Waziristan is one of seven "Federally Administrated Tribal Areas" (FATA) within NWFP. These are still governed under the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) deriving from 1901, when the region was part of British India, states a December 2006 report by the International Crisis Group, entitled "Pakistan's Tribal Areas - Appeasing the Militants. ICG suggests that since 2004, the Pakistan authorities have resorted to peace deals and treaties with tribal leaders, rather than establish real control of the region. Although 70,000 troops have remained posted near the border, and outside journalists are denied entry to the FATA territories, Musharraf's authority here is insignificant. Deals made with groups that resent "alien" Pakistani authority have not brought any positive results.

At the end of 2005, it became clear that "Taliban" influence was becoming officially established in the agencies of North and South Waziristan, described earlier in FSM. By March 2006, the local "Taliban" ruled South Waziristan and had established a sharia court in Wana, the agency's capital. More than 120 clerics and tribal elders had been killed in the year leading up to this takeover. An official accord was signed with tribal leaders of North Waziristan on September 5 last year, but did not stop the cross-border activities of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

In April, Uzbek radicals who had been part of the Talibanization of Waziristan were ousted by local Taliban. These "internal" conflicts appear to have been replaced by drives to impose strict Islamist principles in NWFP. In late April 32-year old Mullah Nazir, one of the South Waziristan Taliban leaders who had been involved in removing the Uzbeks' control declared that he would shelter Osama bin Laden if the Al Qaeda leader wished. On Saturday, May 5, 200 Taliban in Bajaur agency forced cars to stop, smashing their cassette players.

On May 6 the prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, refused to rule out having a state of emergency declared. He said that the constitution allowed for such a measure to be taken. On the same day a member of the PPP party was shot dead in NWFP, and the outlawed Lashkar-e-Islam staged a rally in Khyber agency, NWFP. This group had earlier demanded sharia law be imposed in villages in the agency, and its leader Mangal Bagh had presided over a public stoning in March.

AQ Khan

On May 7, US media reported that the US had concerns that nuclear technology could fall into Al Qaeda hands. Such a scenario could happen in the event of an Islamist coup. In February 2004, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, admitted on TV that he had supplied nuclear technology and information to Libya, Iran and North Korea. Khan's illegal acquiring of nuclear technology had led to Pakistan's first nuclear tests which took place in Chagai, Baluchistan on May 28, 1998. Within days of his confession, Khan was pardoned by Musharraf for sharing nuclear technology. The fruits of his treachery led to the regime in North Korea detonating its first nuke on October 9 last year.

On May 14, prime minister Shaukat Aziz declared that there was no need to impose a state of national emergency. Lawyers in NWFP also ordered that if any members of the secular MQM party, which supports Musharraf, should enter the region, they should be shot on sight.

The government prepared for a crackdown on the outlawed Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shariah Muhammadi (TNSM) in Swat district, NWFP. This extreme Islamist group had threatened on March 25 to launch suicide attacks across Pakistan if their jailed leader Maulana Sufi Muhammad was not released within days. Tis individual claimed to have recruited 10,000 jihadists to join the Afghan Taliban in 2001.

The following day the military was attacked with grenades in Tank district, NWFP. A soldier was killed and military personnel and civilians were injured. In Punjab province, four members of the al-Qaeda linked Zafar group were arrested in Lahore.

On May 19, nine government officials were kidnapped in North Waziristan agency, NWFP. Six of these were women. Two days later, Taliban members in Lakki Marwat district, southern NWFP, kidnapped a member of the Ahmadi sect, which is regarded by Islamists as "heretical".

On Monday May 21, Mangal Bagh, the head of Lashkar-e-Islami ordered on FM radio that a tribal journalist in Khyber agency, Nasrullah Afridi, should be killed. Later that day a music shop was blown up in the home village of the federal interior minister, in NWFP.

On Monday May 21, the US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher praised the successes of the Pakistan military in repelling Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives along the Durand line. He said: "They've had 80,000 troops in that (border) area who’ve been active and I would say, for the last six months they’ve been increasingly active in preventing infiltration across the border, disrupting and arresting Taliban and supporting tribal leaders who are trying to expel foreign militants." The next day, an Al Qaeda camp in Zargarkhel village in North Waziristan was attacked by troops, backed up by helicopter gunships. Four al Qaeda members were killed in the operation.

On Thursday May 24 a committee of tribal elders in North Waziristan resigned. These individuals had the responsibility to ensure that the peace deals of the accord of September 5 were followed. They resigned in protest at the killing of four people in the military attack on Zargarkhel village. On the same day in Islamabad, the capital, the deputy leader of the Lal Masjid warned Musharraf that a Taliban opposition was growing to challenge his rule. Abdul Rashid Ghazi said: "If the government tries to suppress the change that our movement is demanding, then there is a likelihood of Talibanization. I can see it happening."

Major General Waheed Arshad, a senior spokesman for the ISI, claimed that support for the Taliban was coming "from a tiny minority". He said that fencing of the Durand line was going ahead, and the first 20 miles of this fencing would be erected along the border of Afghanistan and North and South Waziristan.

In Tank district, seven rockets were fired at a paramilitary fort, without injuries. On Friday, May 25, tribal elders in Mohmand Agency refused to take part in a jirga, or tribal council. The jirga was to have been held to unite elders in condemnation of the Taliban, but the participants feared "target-killings" like those which happen frequently in Waziristan.

On Saturday May 26, three soldiers were killed in Tank after a bomb attack on their convoy. Seven other soldiers were injured. On the same day, the home of Nasrullah Afridi, the journalist who had been subjected to a death fatwa from the Lashkar-e-Islami, was attacked. Three grenades were thrown, but no-one was injured. On the same day in Darra Adam Khel in NWFP, music and video shops were warned to cease their "unIslamic" activities.

On Monday, May 28 two soldiers were killed in Tank by a suicide bomber who rammed an explosives-laden car into their convoy.

India and Pakistan have been at loggerheads over the issue of Kashmir for years, and Pakistan has allowed groups that support Indian Kashmir secede from Delhi's control to function unimpeded within its borders. Since 2003, there have been attempts between the two nations to resolve their differences. There are about 20 groups who support secession of Jammu and Kashmir state from India, and several of these are headquartered in Pakistan, such as Harkatul Mujahideen, Jamat ud-Dawa which is led by Hafiz Mohammed Saeed (who also founded the terror group Lashkar -e-Taiba), and also the group known as Hizbul Mujahideen. The latter group is headed by Syed Salahuddin, who also controls an alliance of separatist groups called the United Jihad Council (UJC).

Kashmir map

Pakistani Kashmir, according to a recent EU report entitled "Kashmir: Present situation and Future Prospect", is certainly not a place of freedom. The author, Baroness Emma Nicholson described the two Pakistan-controlled Kashmiri regions of Gilgit and Baltistan as "black holes". In these regions, human rights violations flourish. The report was condemned by Pakistan's ambassador to the EU as lacking objectivity, but Baroness Nicholson insisted that on October 26, 1947 the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh, had clearly spelled out his reasons for his state becoming a part of India, rather than Pakistan. Nicholson described Pakistani Kashmir as being "in chains".

Gilgit is in the north of PoK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) is 60% Shia, and in the past the Pakistan army has colluded with extremist Sunni groups, including the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, to oppress the Shia population.

The crisis within Pakistan is between secularism and Islamism, federalism and tribalism. The Lal Masjid, based in the Aapara district in the heart of the capital though with a large student intake from NWFP and links with mosques throughout Pakistan, highlights the tensions within the nation as a whole. Members of Pakistan's secret service, the ISI, have been worshippers at the Lal Masjid. One former ISI member, Khalid Khawaja, is currently in jail for fomenting the anarchy of the mosque students. In the past ISI has been responsible for coup attempts. Musharraf, as head of the army, can withstand a coup as long as he is supported by the military.

One retired general, Talat Masood, recently claimed that Musharraf has lost control of the government. On Saturday May 26 Musharraf warned that religious extremism was threatening the stability of the nation.

On the same day, the US warnedits citizens not to travel to Pakistan, on account of intelligence which suggested that Western interests in the nation were due to be attacked. The US Embassy in Lahore warned: "American citizens should avoid areas where Westerners are known to congregate, vary their routes and times, and maintain a low profile. We remind American citizens that protests and demonstrations may occur throughout Pakistan without prior notice and to avoid all demonstrations and protests."

Musharraf is an ally of the West, but he alone cannot stem the tide of religious fundamentalism which is aiming to engulf the nation. Should Pakistan fall to the Islamists there is no knowing what will happen to the nation's nuclear arsenal. In the face of Islamofascism, there are few safeguards to maintain rights and freedoms for minorities. Hindus, Christians and Ahmadis have been treated so poorly under successive Pakistani regimes and their forcibly-imposed regulations that many have fled. The suspended Chief Justice Iftikar M Chaudhry is parading himself on public tours around the country, and claiming that the rule of law is important. When this same judge, supported by the Islamists who wish to tear down the government, upholds a legal system which still blatantly discriminates against women and non-Muslims, then Pakistan is truly in a deep crisis. Musharraf may have his faults, but Pakistan without his influence could easily succumb to the process of Talibanization.

Adrian Morgan

© 2003-2007 All Rights Reserved

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Predators Convert Sikh Girls

Sikh issues put out a post on predators in the UK and I came across it and thought this issue deserves to be brought to light as people in Canada are not as aware of this phenomenon.

Here's an excerpt.
The next thing I remember was, when I woke up in a room, with a small barred window, and a small door. This door was locked from the outside, I started to scream, a women came rushing over. I was relieved for a moment that women had come over to my aid, until she started to shout at me and curse me. I didn't know what was going on. I just sat there in that small, cold room, with blank mind. They would give some bread and water three times a day.

I was allowed to go to the toilet only once a day. By now I had realized, I was not going home and Yasseen was not coming to my rescue. The building I stayed at was 3 storeys, and was very big. It must have had more than 30 rooms. It was the only building there, there was nothing anywhere around this building, just fields and 1 tarmac road. It was a brothel. I was not a lone there were 3 other girls (Sikh) that were in the same situation as me. We were all kept on the top floor, we were all given one room each. The other girls had been there longer than me, we would get a chance to speak during the night. They told me of their stories and how they got here, they sounded familiar.

Read it all.

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My First Reaction.... CALL SALDEF!!

My second reaction......... CALL the SIKH COALITION!! Maybe that's just me, but I guess having access to the Internet, and having a comfort level with the 'Canadian' or 'North American' way of doing things means I wouldn't be calling on MPs in Canada (if I was an American) to do something about an incident at a Buffalo airport.

No offence to Gurinder Singh, but faxing and emailing people blindly asking for help as the news story makes out, doesn't seem to be the most efficient way of handling an airport incident. I can understand him being upset, but frankly SALDEF and SIKH COALITION have done a lot of good work in educating Sikh travelers about their rights in an airport situation.

Keeping their handy guidelines with you when traveling would surely help in such a situation. Straight from the Sikh Coalition's website and the PDF that is available for download appears the following...

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions Concerning the Air Travel of People Who Are Or May Appear

to Be of Arab, Middle Eastern or South Asian Descent and/or Muslim or Sikh

... Individuals who pass through a metal detector without setting off the device may be subjected to

additional screening if the individual is properly selected on a truly random basis. Similarly, where a

turbaned Sikh passes through a metal detector without setting off the device, the Sikh may be subjected

to additional screening if the Sikh is properly selected on a truly random basis.

Passengers who pass through a metal detector and set off the device will be subjected to additional

screening through the use of a hand held metal detector if they wish to go beyond the screening

checkpoint. Where a hand held metal detector is not available, the passengers will be subjected to a

manual pat down as a means of ensuring that a prohibited item is not being carried. Similarly, where a

turbaned Sikh passes through a metal detector and the device is set off, the screener should, where

available, use a hand held metal detector around the turban to determine if there is a risk of a prohibited

item being concealed.

Passengers whose heads trigger the hand held metal detector will be subjected to a manual pat down

including probing of the hair if they wish to go beyond the screener checkpoint. Similarly, where a

turbaned Sikh triggers the hand held metal detector when it is near or over his or her head, then a manual

pat down including probing of the turban and hair is necessary if the Sikh wishes to go beyond the

screener checkpoint. Screening personnel must request permission to touch a person and his/her

clothing, particularly the hair or turban of a Sikh, prior to doing so.

In instances where a manual pat down indicates that a prohibited item may be concealed or the pat

down is insufficient to make such a determination, then the passenger will be more thoroughly searched

if he/she wishes to go beyond the screening checkpoint. Similarly, where a manual pat down of a

turbaned Sikh’s head indicates that the Sikh may be carrying a prohibited item in his/her hair or the pat

down is not helpful in making such a determination, then the Sikh’s turban must be searched, if the Sikh

wishes to go beyond the screening checkpoint. Again, screening personnel must request permission to

touch a person and his/her clothing, particularly the hair or turban of a Sikh, prior to doing so.

If a search or inspection involving the removal of clothing is necessary for safety or security reasons,

screeners should provide the person involved a choice of a public or private inspection. Private searches

may be perceived to be overly intimidating while public searches may be viewed as humiliating or may

violate an individual’s religious tenets. For example, the removal of a Muslim woman’s veil in public

or in the presence of a man, not her husband, will violate her religious beliefs. Likewise, a Sikh’s turban

is a religious article of faith and a public search will likely create great embarrassment and fear for the

Sikh. After a turban search in private, a Sikh should be provided a mirror to retie his or her turban.

Passengers identified by the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS) as selectees,

including those selected by a computer at random, will be subjected to additional screening at the

boarding gate in addition to having their checked baggage being subject to additional security

requirements. The CAPPS selection criteria have been reviewed by the Department of Justice to ensure

that the methods of passenger selection are non-discriminatory and do not constitute impermissible

profiling of passengers on the basis of their race, color, religion, ethnicity, or national origin. The

additional screening will consist of a search of carry-on items and the search of the person through the

use of a hand held metal detector in conjunction with a pat-down search. The search may become more

intrusive if the initial search indicates that a prohibited item may be concealed.

Question: How do screeners determine when additional security screening is appropriate?

All available facts and circumstances must be taken into account in identifying persons or property that

may be a safety or security risk. Although the screeners’ actions could, at times, appear to be offensive

to the person involved, screeners would continue to be justified in conducting additional questioning,

inspections or searches, for safety or security reasons, in certain situations; for example: a person

wearing a turban or head dress, while being searched at an airport security checkpoint, triggers the

handheld metal detector when it is near his or her head; or a veiled woman shows photo identification to

prove her identity but it is difficult to conclude that this woman is the same person as the woman in the

photo without checking her face. When it is necessary to verify the identity of a veiled woman,

whenever possible, her face should be checked by female safety or security personnel in private or only

in the presence of other women so as not to violate her religious tenets.

Airline and airport personnel must use the “but/for” test to help determine the justification for their

actions. But for this person’s perceived race, ethnic heritage or religious orientation, would I have

subjected this individual to additional safety or security scrutiny? If the answer is “no,” then the action

may violate civil rights laws.

Question: What can I do if I believe that my rights have been violated?

Members of the public, who feel they have been the subject of discriminatory actions or treatment by air

carriers, may file a complaint by sending an email, a letter, or a completed complaint form to the

Aviation Consumer Protection Division (ACPD). ACPD’s e-mail address is

and its mailing address is: Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation,

Room 4107, C-75, Washington, DC 20590. Complaint forms that consumers may download and/or print are

available at .

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Good News In IRAQ

If Iraq was such a quagmire, why all the embassies and high commissions?

From Mark Steyn at the Corner,
Even neocon warhawks are wont to roll their eyes when chaps start listing all the good news from Iraq that never gets reported: I remember Rich Lowry scoffing at one such recitation on an NR panel last year. So Chris Muir's Memorial Day cartoon will leave many cold. Nonetheless, one statistic caught my eye: 47 nations now have embassies in Iraq.

That's a high number. America has diplomatic representation pretty much everywhere, but even wealthy nations usually skimp. My Canadian passport advises me to contact the nearest British consular representative if I'm in one of the many parts of the world where Ottawa feels it's not worthwhile showing the flag. EU members often share embassies in distant parts. Embassies are expensive to maintain, especially in war zones, where you're often an easy target.

So 47 embassies is impressive, especially when you consider over two-thirds are non-Arab. The Romanians, for example, maintain diplomatic missions in about a third of the world's countries. They don't bother with New Zealand, which is left to their Third Secretary in Australia to handle. Yet they have a mission in Baghdad, although there are undoubtedly fewer Romanians in Iraq than in NZ.

Iraq itself is now operating 60 embassies around the world versus New Zealand's 40. I hasten to add I'm not picking on the Kiwis, just looking for appropriate mid-rank stable nations with which to compare the alleged quagmire. The fact is that Iraq is not just the nightly plume of smoke on the evening news. It's got a relatively thriving economy, a commercial sector and a diplomatic presence that reflects that.

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Chinese "Duplicate" Foods Killing People

I've written on this a few times after the pet food scandal, but it seems now the story is getting bigger as the National Post has picked up on it and is reporting new information. It seems that Canada is on alert after the uncovering of "fake" toothpaste from China. I'm personally checking the label of any food I buy to make sure its not from China. After reading about contaminated or dangerous soy sauce, gluten, toothpaste, toys, honey, baby formula etc... you have to wonder if the Chinese people who make this stuff are psychopaths? They must realize that these things can kill people! Wouldn't you expect someone exporting fish to know that puffer fish are lethal? Anyone who ever watched the Simpsons episode about the puffer fish would know that (not that I learn everything from the Simpsons, but you get the point, I hope, Doh!). Yet puffer fish was mislabeled as monk fish and exported to the USA from China.

From the National Post...
In our passion for inexpensive goods, we have thrown caution to the wind when it comes to dealing with the Chinese.

Sure they can produce far more cheaply than we can, but the latest scare involving contaminated toothpaste from China shows we're at risk even in our bathrooms.

Health Canada issued a statement saying the suspect brands weren't licensed for sale in Canada, adding in a bid to reassure, "We're monitoring this issue." That was Thursday. It took until yesterday for it to officially notify border control to intercept any batches of the suspect toothpaste.

By contrast, in the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced it was testing all Chinese toothpaste from the moment the scandal broke.

On the food front, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) refuses to examine Chinese products any more than they examine anyone else's.

Instead, inspectors scrutinize according to "product risk," rather than country risk. Hence, all raw meat imports are inspected, while an item such as tea gets little attention.

This policy continues despite almost daily examples of made-in-China goods causing harm through contamination or mislabelling.

In Washington yesterday, the FDA warned a batch of frozen fish marked "monkfish" and identified as a "Product of China" could contain the deadly puffer fish.

The agency issued the warning after two people who had eaten soup containing similarly labelled fish had been hospitalized, one with "severe illness." Both were found to have ingested mortally dangerous levels of tetrodotoxin, the poison found in puffer fish.

Just weeks ago, a Chinese-sourced ingredient in a Canadian company's pet food killed an undetermined number of dogs and cats throughout North America.

Inside China, scandals include the discovery last year of a banned dye in salted duck eggs. It had been fed to the birds to make the yolks redder, a colour Chinese consumers equate with quality. In 2004, 13 babies died of malnutrition after being fed fake formula.

It does not take an expert to realize this is a clear pattern, as opposed to relatively isolated scares such as those involving tainted spinach from California or madcow disease in the odd cow originating in Canada.

So why don't Chinese goods get special attention when they arrive on our shores?

"Taking a shotgun approach in terms of all products from a country may not be the most efficient use of our resources," said Paul Mayers, executive director of the CFIA's animal products directorate.

"In our view, focusing on products where there is a real basis for risk allows us to be more effective."

There is a certain logic to that. Indeed, Mr. Mayers offers the example of a problem his inspectors spotted with Chinese honey. Though honey is considered a "low risk" product and admitted with little scrutiny, inspected batches registered what he called "violations." Honey apparently retains pesticide residues.

After increased scrutiny throughout 2006, no further "violations" were spotted.

But many experts say the problem has become so acute with China a new approach is needed.

One is offered by Mansel Griffiths, director of the Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety at the University of Guelph, who says Canadian officials need to work with the authorities of problem prone countries to identify safe suppliers, who would then be licensed.

"We license importers, but we should be going a couple of steps further back and license companies to export to Canada," he said. "Because if something does go wrong, we need to know as quickly as possible where it came from." The European Union is moving in such a direction.

Some sort of effective response is needed quickly because Chinese food exports to Canada are growing rapidly: $777-million worth last year, up 30% from a decade earlier. Top of the list: fish and seafood; preserved food; edible fruits and nuts; prepared meat and fish; and vegetables.

Apologists for China say its government is seeking to improve its oversight bureaucracy. But at the heart of the problem is the ruling Communist party's disregard for community welfare as it seeks the fastest possible economic growth.

Indeed, China is on the verge of becoming the world's biggest polluter, despite having a far smaller industrial base than the United States.

China has also been ruthless in protecting its own economic interests. Beijing is a prime mover in the UN Security Council in scuttling Western-led proposals to protest genocide in Darfur by disciplining the Sudanese. This is because Sudan is an important supplier of oil to China.

Such behaviour by a Western government -- especially Washington -- would have left-leaning activists up in arms. Yet they tend to give Beijing a pass.

Nonetheless, selective banning of problem products seems to get China's attention. It asked the United States yesterday to clarify regulations on the use of some antibiotics after Alabama and Mississippi banned Chinese catfish imports because they contained traces of the drugs.

While no Western country wants to risk losing access to the vast Chinese market, our pursuit of cheap goods shouldn't come at the price of our health.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Saying No to Vegetarianism

There are reasons not to be a vegetarian. I've read a lot recently from people promoting a vegetarian diet, but there are drawbacks. In some cases, these drawbacks are life threatening. Read on, from the NYT...(bold emphasis is mine)
WHEN Crown Shakur died of starvation, he was 6 weeks old and weighed 3.5 pounds. His vegan parents, who fed him mainly soy milk and apple juice, were convicted in Atlanta recently of murder, involuntary manslaughter and cruelty.

This particular calamity — at least the third such conviction of vegan parents in four years — may be largely due to ignorance. But it should prompt frank discussion about nutrition.

I was once a vegan. But well before I became pregnant, I concluded that a vegan pregnancy was irresponsible. You cannot create and nourish a robust baby merely on foods from plants.

Indigenous cuisines offer clues about what humans, naturally omnivorous, need to survive, reproduce and grow: traditional vegetarian diets, as in India, invariably include dairy and eggs for complete protein, essential fats and vitamins. There are no vegan societies for a simple reason: a vegan diet is not adequate in the long run.

Protein deficiency is one danger of a vegan diet for babies. Nutritionists used to speak of proteins as “first class” (from meat, fish, eggs and milk) and “second class” (from plants), but today this is considered denigrating to vegetarians.

The fact remains, though, that humans prefer animal proteins and fats to cereals and tubers, because they contain all the essential amino acids needed for life in the right ratio. This is not true of plant proteins, which are inferior in quantity and quality — even soy.

A vegan diet may lack vitamin B12, found only in animal foods; usable vitamins A and D, found in meat, fish, eggs and butter; and necessary minerals like calcium and zinc. When babies are deprived of all these nutrients, they will suffer from retarded growth, rickets and nerve damage.

Responsible vegan parents know that breast milk is ideal. It contains many necessary components, including cholesterol (which babies use to make nerve cells) and countless immune and growth factors. When breastfeeding isn’t possible, soy milk and fruit juice, even in seemingly sufficient quantities, are not safe substitutes for a quality infant formula.

Yet even a breast-fed baby is at risk. Studies show that vegan breast milk lacks enough docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, the omega-3 fat found in fatty fish. It is difficult to overstate the importance of DHA, vital as it is for eye and brain development.

A vegan diet is equally dangerous for weaned babies and toddlers, who need plenty of protein and calcium. Too often, vegans turn to soy, which actually inhibits growth and reduces absorption of protein and minerals. That’s why health officials in Britain, Canada and other countries express caution about soy for babies. (Not here, though — perhaps because our farm policy is so soy-friendly.)

Historically, diet honored tradition: we ate the foods that our mothers, and their mothers, ate. Now, your neighbor or sibling may be a meat-eater or vegetarian, may ferment his foods or eat them raw. This fragmentation of the American menu reflects admirable diversity and tolerance, but food is more important than fashion. Though it’s not politically correct to say so, all diets are not created equal.

An adult who was well-nourished in utero and in infancy may choose to get by on a vegan diet, but babies are built from protein, calcium, cholesterol and fish oil. Children fed only plants will not get the precious things they need to live and grow.

Also, take a look at the comments posted at SDA for insight into other issues a vegetarian/ vegan diet can lead to for people with diabetes...

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Muslims In NYC Attack & Sever Sikh Student's Hair

This is one reason for all Sikhs to learn the art of self-defense and Gatka. If you can't defend yourself and your principles, then how can you defend anyone else (without prejudice to the young man involved in this incident)? There's a reason for Miri-Piri concept. It can't be all meditation and naam simran at home or the Gurdwara. While being meditative, you need to practice a martial art, lift weights and eat your vitamins, because it all goes hand in hand.

You need to know the martial and the spiritual, lacking in one, means you aren't fulfilling your obligations as a Sikh in the other. With martial, you need spiritual to guide you in the correct use of force. With spiritual, you need the martial to ensure you can put Guru's teaching into practice, not just pay lip service.

From the NY Post....
May 25, 2007 -- Two Pakistani students at a Queens high school were arrested after cutting the hair of a Sikh student during a fight in a bathroom, police said.

Another student who provided the scissors but didn't take part in the attack at Newton HS was also arrested, police said.

Nobody was hurt in the 12:20 p.m. incident, which took place in a basement bathroom near the lunchroom.

The 15-year-old victim, who was not identified, and the Pakistani teens began insulting each other's mothers and the anger escalated, a police source said.

The Pakistanis allegedly grabbed the victim, removed his headdress and cut his hair.

Sikhs are required by their religion to wear long hair, and police are investigating whether this was a bias crime.

Umair Ahmed, 17, and the other Pakistani, a 15-year-old boy who was charged as a juvenile, face charges of unlawful imprisonment, coercion, menacing and aggravated harassment.

Cops said charges against the 16-year-old who provided the scissors are pending.

A Department of Education spokeswoman called the incident "horrifying" and said the school will offer counseling to the victim.

Student Rani Sukhritkaur, 18, who knows Ahmed, said it was "surprising to me that he'd be involved in something like this."

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Gurdwara for Sikhs in Baghdad

Sikh Spectrum has a great article on the historical site of Guru Nanak's visit and Gurdwara in Baghdad...
Here's an excerpt...
People of Baghdad depend on river Tigris for water. Wells, in and around Baghad, are brackish. It is said that the Guru’s disciples together with others who visited the takia complained to the Guru about the difficulty in procuring drinking water. Guru Nanak got a well dug in the southeast corner and it produced sweet water. Even now, it is the only well with sweet drinking water.

Its diameter is about 21 feet and the date of its construction is 917 Hijri as given on the plaque. The well and the compound were reinforced in 1320 A.H. (1942 AD) by Qasim Pasha, Beg-Bashi, son of Mohammad Beg.

The inscribed stone slab was found in 1931. It measures 21 feet 14 inches. Its inscription was slightly damaged during the collapse of the building after 1920. The text of the inscription, is:

Guru Nanak Baghdad Shrine Slab Inscription on the stone slab

Behold! How a wish has been fulfilled by Holy and High Providence. That the building of Baba Nanak has been newly built with the help of seven autat (great valis).

That the happy murad of God (Baba Nanak) has started a fountain of grace issuing new water in the land. 917 Hijri

Read the rest here.
The Sikh community should be at the forefront in any rebuilding efforts to ensure that the Gurdwara is built according to Sikh tradition and follows the Rehat Maryada, otherwise non-Sikh elements may hijack the legacy of Guru Nanak's visit to Baghdad for their own purposes. Sikh philosophy and history should be on display at the Gurdwara as well, in order to educate visitors as to who Sikhs are and what the Gurdwara stands for.

From DNA...

BAGHDAD: Iraq is keen to rebuild a historic Sikh shrine commemorating Guru Nanak's visit to Baghdad, which had been destroyed by 'fanatics' after the invasion of the country by US-led coalition forces, a top leader said on Friday.

Iraqi National Congress chief Ahmed Chalabi, one of Iraq's prominent leaders, who drove down through the desolate streets of Baghdad to the sacred Sikh site last night under heavy military protection, said 'it has unfortunately been wiped out by fanatics because they thought it was against Islam'.

"It's shameful they cannot respect someone who has millions of followers," he said at the gurdwara site along the river Tigris.

Iraqi officials escorting Chalabi informed him about the original design of the gurdwara that was built alongside the tomb of a Muslim religious leader, which has suffered no damage.

"We will rebuild it," Chalabi said even as he admitted he did not know that a Sikh shrine had ever existed in Baghdad, which houses the Indian embassy.

The Iraqi leader, seen as close to the Bush administration, ruled out the possibility of the gurdwara being destroyed in military fire.

"It was a mortar attack by some fanatic," he said, adding he believed it would have happened after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

News reports during the Iraq war had suggested the gurdwara had suffered damage in the attack, but there has been no official confirmation until now from Iraq about its condition.

The visit to the site revealed complete destruction of the shrine.

Chalabi, who broke the lock at the gate of the shrine's compound to inspect the site, pointed out that the shrine's marble floor had been pulled out and its roof razed to the ground.

Indian spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who accompanied him, also requested immediate rebuilding of the gurdwara.

According to Sikh history, Guru Nanak, the founder of the faith, visited Baghdad and had a discourse with Bahlol Dana, a sufi teacher.

The gurdwara commemorating the Guru's visit lies near what is now a devastated railway station in Baghdad.

"The Sikh community has contributed a lot to Iraq. They have worked here in railways, construction and a lot of other activities. We respect them and will see to it that this is rebuilt," Chalabi said.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

More UN Corruption

Anyone who thinks UN 'peacekeeping' operations are anything other than a chance for criminals to go about their business, should read the following article. If you don't believe me you should research corruption, sex crime, human trafficking, and other acts by UN 'peace keepers'. See the last paragraph below, the emphasis is mine.

here's the story ...
A new scandal rocked the biggest United Nations peacekeeping force in the world Wednesday as allegations surfaced that Pakistani 'blue helmets' in the Democratic Republic of Congo had traded weapons for gold with rebel groups they were supposed to be disarming.

Human rights groups in the sprawling central African nation say Pakistani officers serving in the 17,600-strong force were involved in the illegal smuggling of up to $5 million US in gold from the trouble-plagued northeastern Ituri region. They add the shady dealing saw weapons returned to rebels of the Front of Nationalists and Integrationalists (FNI), said by the Congolese government to be responsible for war crimes during Congo's long-running conflict.

Pakistan has rejected the allegations as "malicious and distorted," but adds it has launched an investigation, saying it knew nothing of the allegations before Tuesday.

It's additionally alleged that when UN officials began to investigate, the Pakistani force switched from initially being co-operative to being threatening.

Acknowledging that the probe hadn't been smooth sailing, UN spokeswoman Michele Montas spoke Wednesday of the "very difficult circumstances" faced by the seven UN investigators assigned to the case.

According to some reports from the country, Pakistani soldiers reacted to the UN's attempt to seize a computer containing apparently incriminating information by laying barbed wire around UN police guarding the investigators.

The Pakistanis also dispatched two armoured personnel carriers to the investigators' living quarters.

The allegations refer to events in late 2005, but even though the UN denies rebels were re-armed, it admits it has yet to complete the investigation into the dealing.

In late 2005, Pakistani UN forces were stationed in the Ituri mining town of Mongbwalu as fighting between ethnic militias still raged.

It's alleged Pakistani soldiers colluded with both the local armed groups and Indian businessmen from Kenya to obtain gold.

"We have very solid information," said Anneke Van Woudenberg, a senior researcher with U.S.-based Human Rights Watch.

Woudenberg and other HRW researchers briefed UN peacekeeping officials Wednesday on the evidence they say they have that Pakistani officers helped arrange for between $2 million US and $5 million US in gold to be smuggled from Ituri.

Charges the Pakistanis returned weapons to the FNI rebels come from the Congolese human rights group Justice Peace.

"There was cooperation between the Pakistanis and the FNI," said Joel Bisubu, a researcher with the group.

"The first draft of the report was produced at the end of March and it is currently going through the final stages of a very rigorous, due-diligence, and quality assurance process," said Montas.

"It is expected to be finalized in about three weeks."

The slow pace of the probe has led to charges of a coverup, with the BBC reporting from DRC that initial findings were buried to "avoid a political fallout."

Because Pakistan rotates its troop deployments every six months, the battalion allegedly involved in the gold-for-arms trading is no longer in DRC.

The Congo mission has served as a test of how effective huge blue-helmet deployments can be as the world body's peacekeeping operations reach record levels around the world, with more than 100,000 soldiers serving in some 15 missions.

But while the force led the war-torn country to historic elections last year, the latest scandal follows a series of others.

One of the more infamous was 2004 revelations UN personnel had been involved in sexual exploitation of local girls and women, including rape and pedophilia.

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Keep an Open Mind

Check this out from Jawa...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

This is a REAL Security Issue...

Photoless ID is not the way to go in Canada today. This is an invitation to abuse by criminals and terrorists...
Alberta Hutterites won a long-sought victory this week when the court of appeal ruled they should not be required to have a photograph on their driver's licences.

They believe being photographed is a mortal sin, and so sought exemption from the 2003 requirements that all driver's licences include an image of the licencee.

The decision is bound to spark a discussion about how to draw the line between security needs of the state and religious beliefs.

Recently in Quebec, for instance, young female soccer players were expelled from a tournament for wearing Muslim headscarves in a game. That was an unreasonable and unnecessary restriction on religious freedom, given that a headscarf has no impact on how the game is played and does not present a safety issue.

By the same measure, the question in the Hutterite case might well be put: Will a driver's licence without a photo serve the same function as a regular licence?

The court of appeal thought the absence of a photo would not undermine the effectiveness of a driver's licence.

"The mandatory photo requirement forces the Hutterite brethren either to breach a sincerely held religious belief against being photographed or cease driving," wrote Justice Carol Conrad.

The court's conclusion is open to question, however. If the licence is simply a document to acknowledge the bearer has passed a driver's test and is legally behind the wheel, that's one thing.

But in reality, a driver's licence is much more; indeed it is one of the most widely accepted pieces of identification, and has evolved into a key document for applying for other pieces of identification.

In that role, a licence without a photo is hardly as accurate or secure as one with a photo, and is therefore more susceptible to fraudulent uses.

Given the risks of identity fraud in the modern world, making such documents less secure seems ill-advised.

When police pull someone over, the driver's licence is a useful tool for identifying criminals on the loose.Without a photo, that function would be impaired.

It's notable that some provinces with Hutterite populations, such has Manitoba, have made similar concessions for photo-less licences.

But that doesn't mean Alberta should compound a problem that society is struggling to deal with, the requirement for secure identity documents.

In a society that upholds religious freedom, the guiding principle should be to make all reasonable accommodations.

Defining that line will always be a complex balancing act.

But this judgment sits on the wrong side of the line.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Islamic Ruling on Breastfeeding...

Don't know if you heard, but there was a recent ruling in Islamic Law from the Al-Azhar University (the leading authority on Islam) in Egypt that stated essentially, that if a woman had to work or be in the company of a man or men to whom she is not related, then she had to breastfeed them in order for it to be 'lawful' in Islam. I'm not kidding... It's a ruling given by Muhammed during his life to one of his followers.

Don't believe me? Check out the multitude of links on this topic, or google it.

It's unsurprising that the scholar had to retract this edict under pressure, but it's also interesting how because of the Internet and modern communication we can now hear about such bizarre incidents from the life of Muhammad as people start paying attention to what's happening around the world and in this case, Islam.

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Pro-Choicer Goes Berserk Over CBC Program...

From Geoff Meeker who posted about the CBC program discussing abortion... Seems that some people value THEIR own right to speech ahead of those who don't agree with them...

My point is that if you are so "pro-choice" in one instance (pro-abortion), why don't you support the 'freedom to choose' for people in determining which idea makes more sense to them (that life begins at conception or at the point of birth?)... the ability to engage in such rank hypocrisy is telling.

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Banning DiHydrogen Monoxide...

Check this out from SDA... If you are concerned about the environment, you need to see this...

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

"Convert or Die", Fate of Christians Today, Sikhs Tomorrow?

Pakistan's implosion continues with news that 500 Christians have received notice to embrace Islam, notice that is required under Islamic rules, before they can be legitimately killed [according to Islamic teaching].

Christians in north-west Pakistan are demanding government protection following threats of bomb attacks if they do not become Muslims.

An unsigned letter received 10 days ago said they had to convert by Thursday.

Militants have been carrying out a sustained campaign to prevent "anti-Islamic" activities in North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Last week they blew up a number of music and video shops in the towns of Charsadda and Tangi.

Living in fear

The Christian community, a tiny minority, received an anonymous letter demanding they convert or face the consequences.

Soldier on duty outside a church in Charsadda

The government says it is giving protection

The BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says that while a few families have left, the rest live in fear.

Police say they have stepped up security at churches but Christians complain that not enough has been done to protect them.

"We are in great danger and need protection," said Michael John, the head of Pakistan's Catholic Church and a minority Christian parliamentarian.

The warning to Christians to leave Charsadda was delivered to his home.

'No response'

The town has recently been hit by violence - a suicide bomb attack in April killed at least 28 people at a rally in Charsadda. Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, who was at the rally, escaped with minor injuries.

About 500 Christian families are living there - most migrated from India before the creation of Pakistan.

"Only the few policemen who patrol there on the motorbike are watching the Christians, but no significant security is provided," said religious minorities spokesman Shabaz Bhati.

"We are very much in fear that due to the lack of security these extremists will find a way to attack our people easily."

Mr Bhati also asked government officials to publicly condemn the threats but says he has got no response.

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Is This What Counts As Serious Journalism in India??

Are Sikhs over religious? Is that even a serious question. Some t.v. station in India had a panel discussion on this postulate. Mind boggling.

My question to these people is whether they even understand Sikhism? and who are they to determine if people are 'over-religious'? is that even possible?

Either you are a believer or you aren't. There are varying degrees of commitment or firmness in one's beliefs, however, there isn't such a thing as 'over-religious'. What a ludicrous proposition.

Here's an excerpt from CNN-IBN...

As pitched battles between supporters of the Dera Sacha Sauda and the Akali Dal continued on Wednesday in Punjab, the violence also spilled over to the Capital.

The Dera had brought out an advertisement showing its chief - Baba Ram Raheem - as Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh guru and distributing amrit (holy water).

In Delhi, the Sikh identity is being rigidly enforced. In response to the recent statement by the RSS that Sikhism was a branch of Hinduism Sikh educational institutions in Delhi have asked their students to grow their hair and beards or face expulsion. The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee says it's the only way to protect their identity.

On CNN-IBN’s show India 360, Director, Institute for Development and Communication (IDC), Dr Pramod Kumar, Senior lawyer, Supreme Court, H S Phoolka and marriage counselor, Deepen Bhatia and host Sagarika Ghose came together to discuss - Are present day Sikhs too attached to religion?

The first clashes took place at Bathinda on Monday and later the tension spread to Ludhiana, Mansa, Patiala and Amritsar with tension brewing in other Punjab cities too.

Angry Akalis burnt effigies and the mob fury continued despite Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's appeals.

Faith monopoly

Why should the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabahnadhak Committee (SGPC) continue to be the monopoly body of faith? Why should it not allow the Dera Sacha Sauda to allow the faith in the way that it wants to?

“This must be understood in two levels. One – the followers of Dera have in no way violated the Sikh religion. But the Dera chief in his misadventure may have caused some hurt. Secondly the SGPC should see the logic that the generic content of Dera is not anti-Sikh,” said Dr Pramod Kumar.

The misadventure was that newspaper advertisements allegedly showed Baba Gurmeet Singh Ram Raheem attired like 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh and the Akalis protested the advertisements that also showed the Dera head distributing amrit. But why is the Sikh identity still so seriously embattled? Is there a fear that if the Sikhs don’t protect their faith, they will merge into Hinduism?

“The RSS and the radical Sikhs are both feeding and fattening each other. Sikhism has both has liberal trends and fundamentalist tendencies. But the moment the core of Sikhism is violated, some people make it a point to make it an identity issue,” said Kumar.

Kumar also said that Sikhs constantly face a persecution complex when they look towards India because they are a majority in Punjab, but a minority in India. Hindus on the other hand are minority in Punjab and majority in India. So when they two interact, they is some confusion.

Turban and the beard

When H S Phoolka was asked if he is constantly fearful that you might lose his identity and wears his turban and beard because he must guard his identity, “that is by and large the feeling among the Sikhs. The very formation of the Delhi Gurudwara Management Committee is under the act of the Parliament.

And that says that a Sikh is someone who keeps the hair and ties a turban. So when a person does not tie a turban, there is a threat.”

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I'm Wondering Why This Wasn't Being Enforced Before?

Perhaps DSGMC could answer that question. Also, does the SGPC have a similar rule that it can enforce??

I like the comment in the article about the 'educated illiterate' making this order an issue. 'Educated illiterate' is the equivalent of the 'useful idiots' who supported communism in the west during the cold war, as the Soviets referred to them, and the 'useful idiots' today, who align themselves with islamofascists in the west and elsewhere.

Quite frankly the student quoted in the last paragraph isn't being asked for an opinion in the matter, nor is that student being asked to enforce the order. If you want to avail yourself of the opportunity for a quality education provided by a Sikh school, then you should follow the rules, period.

Just because people in the west or elsewhere have lost their religious compass doesn't mean that everyone should abandon themselves to doing everything that is being done in western countries. It seems to me, that pretty soon people will say that westerners are doing "x,y, and z", so we're going to do the same. What is the big deal about 'going abroad'? Just because someone is 'abroad' doesn't make them some sort of enlightened luminary who can now spout bromides on someone else's religious principles or moral foundation.
On reading that last paragraph again, I just want to clarify, I don't mean to imply that all people in the west have lost their religious compass, but rather, that is the received wisdom or is what you typically hear. Sure many people are irreligious in the west these days, with reduced levels of religious belief being found in countries like Canada, etc... in surveys, but there are also many people who do have a religion and I don't mean to paint them with the same brush. Also, the behaviours that I call into question are those that one would typically associate with licentiousness and moral depravity.
Gurudwara panel makes turban compulsory for Sikh students
Express News Service

New Delhi, May 15: The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee has again ruled that students in its schools will compulsorily have to wear turban. Those not following the committee’s order will be expelled from school. The announcement came after RSS’s statement that Sikhs can be considered a part of the Hindu samaj.

“Many people in Punjab are cutting hair and nothing is being done about it. Since the Akali government in Punjab, being supported by the BJP, did not react to the RSS statement, we had to revive this order in Delhi so that they also encourage SGPC to take action,” said Paramjit Singh Sarna, the chief of DSGMC.

Guru Harikirshan Public School, that is run by the DSGMC has supported the move. “Every community has the right to educate their children about their culture and that is what we are doing. This is the need of the hour and we must conserve our culture. Cutting of hair is a growing and disturbing trend and this is because of the students’ herd mentality as some “educated illiterate” ridicule them for long hair,” said V K Sawhney, retired principal of Guru Harkrishan Public School, Shahdara.

“There have been instances in our school when children did cut their hair but we have not expelled them as such. We only convinced them so that do not do it again,” she added.

However, students feel that it should be a matter of personal choice. “I do not want to cut hair and wear turban because it gives us a distinguished identity but I can’t impose that on my friends. A lot of them who went abroad have cut their hair,” said Simranjeet Singh, who studies in Class XI in GHPS.

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SGPC and Akal Dal (Badal) Should Take Responsibility

I don't know Ravinder Singh Robin or anyone at at Daily, but I have to say that from my perspective this story is an accurate assessment...

The Sikh Sangat has to ask the question, "Why?" How is it possible that if the SGPC and Akal Dal were competent in doing 'Dharm Parchar' that such incidents could take place and such deras would prosper in the "land of the Gurus"?

It is appalling and the Sangat should question these people in a serious manner. Expose the incompetents to the light of day and illuminate those who act in a manner that serves themselves and not the Panth.

Sikh Diaspora bashes SGPC, SAD for Punjab violence

By Ravinder Singh Robin

Amritsar, May 16: The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC) and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) have invited severe criticism from the Sikh Diaspora over the violent incidents taking place in Punjab and its neighbouring states in the last few days.

Foreign Sikh organizations were of the view that clashes between different Sikh sects over advertisement in few newspapers showing Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Soudha head Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh dressed as Guru Gobind Singh, was an outcome of the failure of "Dharm Parchar" wing of the SGPC.

They alleged that the SGPC officials were working for the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

Talking to ANI from the US over telephone, Dr. Pritpal Singh, Convenor of American Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (AGPC), said it was unfortunate to see the SGPC derailing from its path, adding that the SAD and the SGPC were responsible for the encouragement of the Dera culture in Punjab.

He further expressed disappointment with the SGPC, saying it has been infiltrated for a long time by the anti-Sikh lobby and it was highly unlikely that it would serve the panth now, "because there are too many corrupt leaders in it".

Harminder Singh, senior leader of Sikh Council Switzerland, said this was high time for Sikh organizations to work together and have a bullet point agenda in bringing Sikhism back. He said the Sikhs living in Europe demand the Indian government to take strict action against Gumeet Ram Reheem to restore peace in the region.

Gurbinder Singh, a member of the Italy Sikh Council and president of Khalsa Welfare Association, Italy, demanded that the Jathedar of Akal Takhat should take strong stand against the Dera culture in Punjab and should initiate "dharm parchar laher" on war footage.

While echoing with the AGPC chief, he said it was because of the failure of the SGPC that these Deras were misleading the people in Punjab.

Ragubir Singh, a volunteer of Gurdwara Sigh Sabah, Paris, said these Deras should be discouraged by the Akal Takhat, as most of the Deras have been violating the "maryada" (sikh code of conduct) as formulated by the SGPC and Akal Takht.

He further demanded the police must put a ban of the activities of Dera Sacha Saudha.

Accusing the Dera Sacha Saudha chief of playing with Sikh sentiments, Manmohan Singh Khalsa from the UK blamed Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal for adopting dilly-dallying tactics while dealing with those responsible for making mockery of the Sikh ethos and principles.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Is This Going to be the Fate of Canadian Sikhs When Visiting in India?

Canadian Sikhs should hope that what is currently happening to a British citizen doesn't happen to them when visiting India. I would hope that Canada's Foreign Affairs Ministry would show more concern for Canadian citizens than what it appears Britain has shown for its own.

From SSNews here's the story of Paramjit Singh
Foreign Office Inaction Leads to Torture of British National
Apr 30, 2007 - 4:24:02 PM

SSNews readers will remember the exclusive news regarding the wrongful arrest of 3 Sikhs on bogus charges of possession of explosives, etc. in India. Punjab Police Ropar arrested a British national Parmjeet Singh Dhadi on December 23, 2006 while he was on his way back from attending a function. Two other persons Mr. Amolak Singh and Mr. Jasvinder Singh were also arrested by the Jalandhar Police. As SSNews reported earlier, the 3 Sikhs were tortured for an prolonged period of time. The three persons were arrested under mysterious circumstances and the police story has many aforementioned gaps and variations that nail the lie to the police version.

On 25 April 2007, Paramjit Singh, Amolak Singh and Jaswinder Singh were scheduled to appear at Jalandhar Central Court. The three were arrested on 23 December 2006 and charged with a string of bogus offences. Since their arrest their trial has been ongoing and it was the last scheduled trial date for the prosecution. After this hearing, the defence would present their case to the court.

On 25 April 2007, the Punjab Police decided to intervene in the trial, which to date had been progressing well. They arrested Paramjit Singh and Amolak Singh from Nabhe jail and took them to Hoshiarpur Police Station. There, the Police sought police remand of 14 days. Police remand was only granted for 3 days. The two are accused of a mugging which led to the death of a man. From the dates the police have produced when this apparent offence took place, 23 November 2005, it has already been proven that Paramjit Singh was in the UK. But still the police are pursuing these charges. Once the charges have been placed, this will result in a long trial during which time the two accused will lose their freedom and will face judicial remand. There is no other reason for the bogus charges other than to derail the current trial, which was going well.

On 28 April 2007, Paramjit Singh and Amolak Singh presented in court in very ill-health. They both stated they had been tortured. The duo’s lawyer produced evidence to the judge, showing that Paramjit Singh was not in India when the alleged offence took place and therefore the charges should be dropped. The judge instead ordered another 2 days police remand. This so the police can continue to torture them. Paramjit Singh made disclosure to the Indian media outside of court that he was being tortured, the police were threatening him and they were trying to force him to sign a confession statement stating he had been paid by Bhai Jasbir Singh Rhode and Ravi Inder Singh to assassinate Prakash Singh Badal. Both are innocent and the two mentioned above had no reason to want to kill Badal. These allegations were made by Badal himself without any proof or evidence.

The family of Paramjit Singh now fear that he too will become another victim of the ‘fake encounter scenario’. Paramjit Singh stated at court today that he was told by the police they would shoot him in a fake encounter. This is a harsh reality of what the police in India are still capable of.

This is the third time Paramjit Singh has been arrested and charged with bogus offences. He is an innocent man. The charges against him will once again be proven to be wrong and untrue. However, how much more torture will he take? How many times will he be arrested and charged with bogus offences which will see his liberty at stake for months whilst he proves his innocence?

The cynic rationale behind this arrest is so obvious that one would assume that the authorities in the UK would be willing to make urgent representations. If Paramjit Singh was Caucasian white and of English descent, would he be in this position? Would he be facing bogus charges for the third time? Of course not.

The Foreign office, by doing nothing is showing the Punjab Police that they can continue to abuse innocent Sikhs.

The family of Paramjit Singh believe that the foreign office has discriminated against them and that had this been an English Caucasian man, intervention would have taken place by now. As time goes on, the Foreign Office have been less and less helpful in the case of Paramjit Singh. The family have again today written to the FCO stating their concerns regarding the inaction of the Foreign Office.

Sikh organizations throughout the globe have been rallying behind human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, which to date as been denied entry into Punjab to investigate the gross human rights violations committed over the past two decades by the Indian government. Evidently Sikh human rights activists and those who advocate reform like Paramjit Singh will continue to be denied fair trials and will be subject to the incompetent and partial kangaroo Indian judiciary. The judge has enough evidence before him today to at the very least order that the two be placed in judicial remand, where the police could not torture them. Despite the strong evidence before the court, he ordered police remand.

The foreign office now needs to ensure an urgent medical is carried out on Paramjit Singh so that evidence of the torture inflicted upon him is on record. To date they have failed to take direct action. The Foreign Office must take immediate action.

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