UK scholar advocates women imams for Britain’s Muslims
This week Ruth Gledhill The Times Religious Correspondent reported that South African-born Dr Hargey a Muslim scholar supports the right of Muslim women to become imams. Dr Hargey is currently raising £2 million to build Britain's first progressive mosque, in Oxford, where he hopes to have a woman imam leading prayers for mixed congregations. He is no stranger to controversy, and made headlines last year when he invited a woman, US progressive Islamic scholar Amina Wadud, to lead Friday prayers at the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford, where he claims a regular congregation of up to 300 Muslims.
US and EU at odds over Turkey’s entry into the European Union
US President Obama urged the EU to accept Turkey as a full member, saying that it would send a positive signal to the Muslim world. Speaking last week-end in Prague before his visit to Turkey, President Obama said the West should seek greater cooperation and closer ties with Islamic nations. However, French President Sarkozy said it was up to the EU member states to decide on Turkish entry and underlined his opposition. "I have always been opposed to this entry. Turkey is a very great country, an ally of Europe, an ally of the United States. It will stay a privileged partner. My position hasn't changed and it won't change," he said. The Europeans have been incensed at Turkey’s opposition towards Anders Fogh Rasmussen— the Danish leader who defended his country’s right to insult Islam. The Europeans accuse Turkey of using the issue to blackmail NATO into ceding important NATO posts.
Somalia pirates take on America
Somali pirates defied the might of the US military by refusing to release the captain of an American cargo ship kidnapped in a bungled hijack attempt. On April 8 2009, the pirates seized the Danish-owned 17,500-ton container ship as it carried food aid south past Somalia's coast en route to the Kenyan port of Mombasa. This is the first time that the pirates have targeted a ship with a American crew board. The US for sometime has been pressing members of the UN security council to pass a resolution that support a ground incursions into Somalia.It remains to be seen whether the US will use this incident to press ahead the UN resolution or take unilateral military action against Somalia.
Nuclear umbrella or nuclearization of the Middle East
The Obama administration should consider countering an Iranian threat by offering Middle East allies protection under a “nuclear umbrella,” a United Arab Emirates official said, as the U.S. announced plans to join international talks with Iran. Clinton, now Obama’s secretary of state, said during the April debate last year that Israel and Arab allies should be given “deterrent backing” by the U.S. and that “Iran must know that an attack on Israel will draw a massive response.” The official made the remark soon after the UAE government agreed to stringent inspections of its nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The UAE is expected to invest US$60 billion in atomic energy this year. The IAEA agreement with the UAE coincides with the US softening its attitude towards Iran and Ahmadinejad opening Iran’s first nuclear production facility. Both developments come days after Obama called for an end to nuclear proliferation. The US nuclear stance on the Middle East suggests that she is more interested in the nuclearization of the region then either rolling back proliferation or establishing a nuclear umbrella.
America invites India to play a stronger role in Afghanistan
For the first time since partition, India, Pakistan and the United States face a common threat, a common challenge, a common task,” Richard C. Holbrooke, the United States special representative for the region, told reporters here on Wednesday. His comments came after he met with Indian officials to brief them on his trip earlier in the week to Pakistan and Afghanistan. It was his first trip to the region since President Obama unveiled a plan to strengthen the war effort against the Taliban in Afghanistan and goad Pakistan to flush out extremists from its soil. “Now that we face a common threat we must work together,” Mr. Holbrooke said. “We know that is going to be difficult, but the national security interests of all three countries is clearly at stake.” Holbrooke was accompanied by Chairman of U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and both men discussed with Indian officials how to defeat the Taliban. Clearly, Pakistan’s strategy of following America’s war on terror has not only eroded its sovereignty but now the country faces the prospect of joint US-Indian cooperation against Pakistan.
9 April 2009