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Kazakh Foreign Minister holds meetings within OIC session

Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov has held a number of bilateral meetings as part of the 38th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation. He discussed trade and economic partnership with Gouda Abdel-Khalek, Egypt’s Minister of Solidarity and Social Justice. In particular, this applied to an increase in imports of Kazakh grain to this country. A wide range of topics in political, educational and scientific areas were raised at the meeting with the Director General of the Islamic Committee for Science and Education. The issue of opening an Embassy of Kazakhstan in Iraq was discussed at the meeting of Yerzhan Kazykhanov with the Foreign Minister of this country. Also, the Kazakh foreign minister held talks with his Iranian counterpart. According to Ali Akbar Salehi, bilateral trade will grow to 5 billion US dollars in the near future.

Ali Akbar Salehi, Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs
«Today the whole world is witnessing how Kazakhstan has managed to significantly improve its socio-economic situation over 20 years’ time. All of this demonstrates that Kazakhstan is being ruled by a very wise leader. As you know, Iraq is one of the countries that founded the OIC. We will hope and do our best to host the next conference of this organization.»

The 38th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation was attended by delegates from observer states, as well as various international organizations. Issues of a world without nuclear weapons were discussed at Yerzhan Kazykhanov’s meeting with Tibor Toth, the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Overcoming Islamophobia was discussed at the meeting with Rashad Hussain, the US Special Envoy to the OIC. The Kazakh Foreign Minister held talks with his counterparts from Qatar, the Maldives, Syria, and Slovenia as well.

Source : Caspionet

The head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Ra’ad Salah, was arrested in London on Tuesday evening. The sheikh spent the night in a prison cell, and is expected to be deported from the U.K.

Zahi Nujeidat, spokesperson for the northern branch of the movement, told Haaretz Wednesday morning that Salah was arrested at the hotel where he was staying after a speaking engagement in the U.K. city of Leicester.

Nujeidat said that there is no explanation for the Islamic leader’s arrest, but he believes that it is largely due to the Zionist lobby and members of the British Jewish community.

The movement’s spokesman claimed that community members pressured government officials not to allow Salah into London for a speaking tour.

“There is no doubt that this is due to the Zionist lobby, and there is no legal or lawful reason for his arrest. We are following the developments in the coming hours, and have sent a lawyer to represent the sheik,” the group’s spokesman said.

Nujeidat added that based on the movement’s assessment of the situation, British authorities will request the sheik’s extradition, because there is no real reason for the arrest.

Salah was released from an Israeli prison last December after a five-month incarceration for insulting and attacking a police officer near the Temple Mount in February of 2007. The sheik was attending a rally held by the Islamic movement to protest repairs being done on the Mugrabi Gate.

Salah was initially sentenced to nine months in prison, but an appeal to the district court granted him a shortened sentence of five months.

Source : Ha’

Christians not vilified by Islamic billboard

PROCLAIMING Jesus to be ”a prophet of Islam” on billboards is a statement of belief and does not discriminate against or vilify Christians, the Advertising Standards Bureau has found.

The billboard, one of several in an awareness campaign by Islamic group MyPeace, was the subject of a series of complaints to the bureau on the grounds that the statement was insulting to those who believed Jesus to be the son of God.

Other complaints included the charge that Jesus ”must not be associated with such [an] aggressive religion” and another claiming the advertisement was upsetting to children.

”What [my child] knows of Islam she has learnt from watching mainstream news broadcasts and to have her saviour identified as being part of this malicious cult was very traumatic!” one complaint stated.

But the bureau found that while some members of the community would be offended by the statement, which would be inconsistent with Christian beliefs, ”such a statement does not, of itself, discriminate against or vilify people who hold different beliefs” and was not a breach of the Advertiser Code of Ethics.

”The board acknowledged that the Islam faith does consider that Jesus is a prophet of Mohammed,” it read.

It found the billboards did not suggest violence or contain frightening material ”and that it is not unreasonable for children to be exposed to a variety of information in their daily lives, some of which may conflict with the views with which they are raised”.

MyPeace founder Diaa Mohamed confirmed earlier this month that two billboards – one at Rozelle and another at Rosehill – had been vandalised.

Another reading ”Mary and prophet Jesus: read about their lives in the [Koran]” was erected on Fairfield Road, near the M5 at Padstow at the weekend, he told the Herald.

In a written response to the Advertising Standards Bureau, he said misunderstandings about Muslims and Islam prompted the campaign, which aimed to reduce discrimination and vilification of certain sections of the community – and in particular Muslims.

”[The advertisement] conveys the message that, like Christians, we the Muslims also regard Jesus with extreme reverence,” it read. ”The idea being that the people will see beyond the words in the advertisements and recognise that Islam and Muslims are not much different from any other ordinary Australian.”

Source : Sydney Morning Herald

Boko Haram strikes again, kills 28, injures several others

Islamic sect, Boko Haram, yesterday ignored the presence of Joint Task Force deployed to Maiduguri to contain them, went on a fresh killing spree, killing 28 people and injuring several others within 24 hours.

On Sunday night, the sect tossed bombs on a crowded beer garden in Maiduguri, Borno State capital killing at least 25 people, and struck again hours after attacking the customs area of Maiduguri where members of the Joint Task Force maintains a secretariat.

The commander of the task force on Boko Haram, Maj. Gen. Jack Okechukwu Nwaogbo, who confirmed the attack which included bomb blasts and gunfire said 3 people were killed while at least two customs officials were wounded On Sunday night, suspected Boko Haram members riding on motorcycles attacked three different makeshift bars in the city
Witnesses said at least 25 died in the beer parlour attacks, while Nwaogbo declined to offer a casualty information yesterday during a news conference.

According to the commander, “what caused the killings of many people in the attacks were when about 10 gunmen riding seven motorcycles surrounded and took strategic positions at the beer sheds and shops and started firing at the people with their Kalashnikov rifles, before setting ablaze the entire makeshift shacks.”

2 nabbed with explosives in church

While no arrests have been made over the beer parlour attacks, he said police arrested two men carrying explosives at a church in the city. He said they had pretended they wanted to convert from Islam.

A military officer said security had been scaled up in the city following the attack.

“The JTF (Joint Task Force) began operations in Maiduguri yesterday with the deployment of more troops into the city, including 500 navy personnel,” said a senior military officer who asked not to be named as he does not have clearance to speak to journalists.

The unit “is now in charge of security in the city and the responsibility of combating the spate of attacks in the metropolis is in its hands,” the officer added.

Army deploys bomb experts

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has commenced the deployment of more of its bomb detection and detonation experts, to the North West, North East and North Central zones of the country even as it seeks more funding to upgrade and activate more bomb detonation units in other zones of the country.

Already, the bomb detection and detonation units of the Nigerian Army is well deployed in the Niger Delta area occasioned by years of militant activities which was tackled for years by the Joint Task Force code named Operation Restore Hope. However, other zones of the country like the South West, South East and the North, except Abuja, have not been factored into the areas where professionalism of bomb experts would be needed.

Confirming the development in Abuja yesterday at the Army’s 2nd quarterly conference, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Onyeabor Azubuike Ihejirika, said in addition to the deployment of bomb experts, the army was putting in place new security measures across major cities in the country aimed at curtailing the Boko Haram menace and tactics.

His words: “The Boko Haram menace and the tactics they employ are relatively new to security agencies. Part of this quarterly conference is to review these tactics and come out with answers that are implementable, as drastic challenges call for drastic solutions. The measures in place in the FCT are not limited to Abuja alone but nationwide.

Army’s role in 2011 general elections

On the 2011 general elections, the Army chief said the performance of the army in the overall security operation for the elections was part of the agenda for the conference, saying: “We will review the Nigerian Army performance in the just concluded elections. We will draw lessons from the shortcoming and other challenges we faced during the elections and from these lessons, we will prepare better for future elections.

Army cordons off Abuja

In compliance with the revelation of the Army chief weekend, that there will be increased presence of army personnel in the FCT and other cities following the upsurge in Boko Haram bombings, Abuja was yesterday cordoned off by army personnel made up of special forces and bomb detection and detonation personnel making movement in and around the city very hectic and cumbersome.

Travellers coming into and exiting Abuja, in particular, were subjected to heavy security checks and scrutiny with those coming into the FCT from Bauchi, Plateau and Nasarawa states through Mararaba subjected to stop and search while the same applied at the Zuba entry point where those coming to the FCT from Niger, Kaduna, Kano and Katsina states were subjected to thorough screening.

Gwagwalada and Giri axis was the venue of heavy screening of those coming into the FCT from Kogi, Kwara and the Niger Delta states.

These killings are senseless —Amnesty International

In a related development, Amnesty International, has called on the Boko Haram sect to stop attacks on civilians.
Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa, Tawanda Hondora, in a statement, yesterday, said: “These killings are senseless and outrageous. Direct attacks on civilians are prohibited under international law and show a complete disregard for the right to life. Boko Haram must stop its reign of terror in the country. No cause can justify the deliberate targeting of civilians.”

“The Nigerian government can only ensure safety by investing heavily in reforming the criminal justice system, so that the perpetrators of these attacks and other human rights abuses can be properly investigated, arrested and prosecuted in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.”

Source : Vanguard

Iran test fires long-range missiles capable of striking Israel, U.S. bases

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards tested 14 missiles on Tuesday, the second day of war games intended a show of strength to the Islamic Republic’s enemies in Israel and Washington.

The Iranian-made surface-to-surface missiles, with a maximum range of 2,000 km (1,250 miles), were fired simultaneously at a single target, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The head of the Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace division emphasized Iran’s preparedness to strike Israel and U.S. interests in the event of any attack on Iran.

“The range of our missiles has been designed based on American bases in the region as well as the Zionist regime,” Commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh told the semi-official Fars news agency.

Washington and Israel have said they do not rule out military strikes on Iran if diplomatic means fail to stop it developing nuclear weapons.

Tehran denies its nuclear program is aimed at building bombs.
IRNA said the Guards fired nine Zelzal missiles, two Shahab-1s, two Shahab-2s and one upgraded Shahab-3 missile.

Iranian officials have previously announced that the Shahab 3 can reach targets up to 2,000 km away, putting Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf within reach.

A long-time enemy of the U.S., Iran has been emboldened by what it sees as U.S. military defeats in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan. Both countries are still home to large troop numbers and Washington has other bases in the Gulf that Iran could choose to target.

“The Americans have reduced our labors,” Hajizadeh told Fars. “Their military bases in the region are in a range of 130, 250 and maximum 700 km in Afghanistan which we can hit with these missiles.”

The ‘Great Prophet 6′ war games, to be carried out on land and sea, are a “message of peace and friendship to countries of the region,” Hajizadeh said on Monday.

Asked whether Iranian missiles were a threat to Europe, Hajizadeh told IRNA that while Iran had the technological capacity to build longer-range missiles, the 2,000-km range had been chosen precisely with Israel and U.S. bases in mind.

“Except American and the Zionist regime, we do not feel a threat from any other country,” he said.

On Monday, Iran unveiled underground silos that can carry missiles capable of hitting Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf as it kicked off the ten-day war games – the country’s latest show of military force.

Source : Ha’aretz

Islamic Finance: the Banking-Wonder

Say what you will but the truth is the Islamic Finance industry’s got a long way to go. Eva Fernandes proves just that.

The business section of the local press is abuzz with news of developments in the world of Islamic Banking. And while many papers are all too ready to jump on the Islamic-banking-is-the-future bandwagon, Kipp will be the first to admit that there are still a lot of challenges ahead of the sector.

But before we burst your bubble, if you are in the pro-Sharia camp, some good news: to begin with, there is the recent launch of a new Sharia-compliant repurchase facility, which will allow banks to borrow money in keeping with Sharia principles. This facility will accept the Central Bank’s Islamic certificates of deposit as collateral. “The objective is to create an instrument where banks can invest in and get liquidity from. By providing this facility it might encourage holdings of Islamic certificates of deposit,” said Saif Al Shamsi, the senior executive director of the Central Bank’s treasury department.

In other Islamic financing news, Dubai Islamic Bank recently announced the launch of its Prudential Sharia Opportunities – Asia Pacific Equity Fund (the Fund), for Sharia-compliant companies within the Asia Pacific region (excluding Japan). Participation in the Fund allows investors to gain exposure across a range of growth countries and industries through a single platform.


Dr. Adnan Chilwan, Deputy CEO – Chief of Consumer and Wholesale Banking, Dubai Islamic Bank, said: “The Asia Pacific region has emerged as an anchor for the global economic recovery and, driven by consumption and investment, is poised for further growth. This new product is (…) designed for our valued high net worth customers who understand the opportunities presented by the Asia Pacific equities markets, and would like to capitalise on the same.”

And though it is all looking good for the Islamic bank as TRENDS Atique Naqvi reports, the industry still has a long way to go. CEO of Noor Islamic Bank and Group CEO of Noor Investment Group Hussain Al Qemzi told him that there was a need for ongoing education and creating awareness on the benefits of Islamic finance against conventional models. In addition there is a real need for more qualified Shari’a scholars in key disciplines, such as banking and finance, legal, credit risk and accounting principles, are needed more than ever. One of the major issues is the potential conflicts with the central banks since Islamic banks have been established as separate entities as problems are likely to be further aggravated when an Islamic bank is established in a non-Muslim nation, and is subject to that nation’s rules and requirements.

“While each region is at quite a different stage in the evolutionary cycle – from the mature market of Malaysia on the one hand to the more nascent markets of Africa – the needs and challenges are not dissimilar,” said Al Qemzi. Although the Middle East region is viewed as one of the more mature markets and some of the GCC banks are today seeking growth beyond their borders, the players in the region are yet to realise their full potential, said the CEO of Noor Islamic Bank.

Source : Kipp Report

हैचबैक सेगमेंट में शुरू हो सकती है कीमतों की नई जंग

भारतीय बाजार में टोयोटा की पहली छोटी कार पेश होने के साथ हैचबैक सेगमेंट में कीमतों के मोर्चे पर एक नई जंग शुरू हो सकती है। 27 जून को टोयोटा लाइवा को पेश किया जाएगा। कंपनी के एक अधिकारी ने बताया कि इसकी कीमत तकरीबन 4 लाख रुपये से शुरू हो रही है और मल्टीपल एयरबैग तथा एंटी-लॉक ब्रेकिंग सिस्टम से लैस इसका टॉप एंड वर्जन का दाम 5.5 लाख से 6 लाख रुपये के बीच होगा।

दुनिया की अग्रणी कार कंपनी की यह 1.2 लीटर कार ज्यादातर हैचबैक की तुलना में सस्ती है। 25 लाख भारतीय पैसेंजर कारों वाले भारतीय बाजार में यह सेगमेंट तेजी से बढ़ रहा है। लाइवा को देखते हुए प्रतिद्वंद्वी कंपनियों को भी अपनी हैचबैक कारों के दाम घटाने पड़ सकते हैं।

हैचबैक सेगमेंट में मार्केट लीडर मारुति स्विफ्ट के साथ ह्यूंडई आई 20, फोक्सवैगन पोलो, निसान माइक्रा, स्कोडा फाबिया और फिएट पुंटो की कीमतें 4.3 लाख रुपये से शुरू होती हैं और अलग-अलग वैरिएंट के साथ 8 लाख रुपये तक जाती हैं।

प्राइसवाटरहाउसकूपर्स में ऑटो प्रैक्टिस लीडर अब्दुल मजीद ने कहा, ‘ कीमतें तो प्रतियोगिता का पहला चरण हैं। इस प्राइस वॉर के चलते हो सकता है कि कई भारतीय ग्राहक बड़ी कारों की ओर बढ़ें। ‘

होंडा सिएल ने सोमवार को सेडान सेगमेंट में प्राइस वॉर की शुरुआत कर दी है। कंपनी ने अपनी फ्लैगशिप सेडान सिटी की कीमतों में 66,000 रुपये तक की कटौती की है। दरअसल, होंडा ने यह कदम ह्युंडई वरना और नई सेगमेंट लीडर फोक्सवैगन वेंटो को टक्कर देने के लिए उठाया है। वेंटो के लॉन्च होने के बाद होंडा की सिटी मिड-साइज कार सेगमेंट में अपनी लीडरशिप खो चुकी है।

होंडा भी इस साल अपनी छोटी कार होंडा ब्रायो लॉन्च करने की योजना बना रही है। ऐसे में कंपनी पर इस बात का दबाव रहेगा कि उसकी कार की कीमत प्रतिद्वंद्वी मॉडलों टोयोटा इटियोस लाइवा के आसपास हो। उम्मीद है कि होंडा भी जैज हैचबैक की कीमतों में कटौती कर सकती है, जिसकी कीमत इस सेगमेंट के दूसरे मॉडलों की तुलना में काफी ज्यादा है। कंपनी जैज की कीमत घटाकर ग्राहकों को आकर्षित करना चाहती है। दूसरी कंपनियां भी इसी राह पर चल सकती हैं।

लाइवा की कीमत की पुष्टि किए बगैर टोयोटा किलोर्स्कर मोटर के डिप्टी एमडी (माकेर्टिंग) संदीप सिंह ने ईटी से कहा, ‘हम इस कार को सबसे प्रतिस्पर्द्धात्मक कीमत पर लॉन्च करेंगे, जैसे इटियोस को किया था। यह नई कार भारतीय ग्राहकों को दाम का सही काम देगी।’

छोटी कार की ऊंची मांग को दिमाग में रखते हुए टोयोटा इस साल सितंबर से बंगलुरु स्थित अपने दूसरे प्लांट से लाइवा और इटियोस का उत्पादन दोगुना कर 1.2 लाख करेगी। सिंह ने कहा, ’2012 की शुरुआत तक हमारी पूरी क्षमता बढ़कर 2.10 लाख हो जाएगी, जिससे हम लगातार बढ़ते भारतीय बाजार से मुनाफा कमा सकते हैं।’

टोयोटा इटियोस की कीमत 4.96 लाख रुपये से शुरू होती है। कंपनी की इस कार को बाजार में अच्छी प्रतिक्रिया मिली और पहले ही 20,000 कारों की डिलीवरी हो चुकी है, जबकि अभी भी 10,000 यूनिट बुकिंग लिस्ट में हैं। कंपनी को उम्मीद है कि लाइवा को इटियोस से बेहतर प्रतिक्रिया मिलेगी।

Source : इकनॉमिक टाइम्स

Boko Haram: Trial of seven cops stirs anger in Police

The ongoing trial of seven police officers for allegedly killing the leader of the radical Boko Haram Islamic sect, Mohammed Yusuf, his father-in-law, Baa Fugu Mohammed, and an alleged financier of the group, Buji Foi, is causing ripples in the Nigeria Police Force, it was learnt yesterday.

Yusuf was shot dead in July 2009 during one of the crises masterminded by the Boko Haram. Since then, the sect has allegedly engaged in a series of bombings and killing of policemen which culminated in the bombing of the Police Force Headquarters last week Thursday in Abuja.

A senior police officer, who spoke under condition of anonymity ,told our correspondent that most officers and men of the force are angry over the issue.

The source said officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force were not happy over the terrorism charges preferred against them because four of the accused officers had already been suspended with three others dismissed.

He contended that though Mohammed Yusuf died in “questionable circumstances” during the Boko Haram’s uprising in Maiduguri,there were many police officers and members of their families who also lost their lives.”

“How can the officers be facing terrorism charges for what they allegedly did while fighting terrorists? Yusuf, the leader of the group, died in questionable circumstances after his arrest during the sect’s uprising, but many police stations and patrol vehicles were also burnt. Many of our officers and members of their families were also murdered then and up till now they are still being killed by members of the sect.

“To be candid with you, the development has not gone down well with most officers who feel the accused persons are being unjustly persecuted to please people in certain quarters. But one thing is clear, the trial is not good for the morale of officers and members of the rank and file,” the source said.

Another source said: “What do they expect the police to do when they are being killed and attacked by the Boko Haram? Do they expect them to fold their hands until all of them are wiped out? This is rather unfortunate?

“If they are trying them for terrorism, who will try those who killed our officers and members of their families during the crisis and thereafter?”

Investigations by The Nation revealed that four of the accused officers were suspended from the force with effect from July 7, 2010 while three others were dismissed.

While those suspended included Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) John Abang, ACP Muhammed Akeera Yoonus, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Mohammed Ahmadu and Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Mada Babu; those dismissed from the force were Sergeant Adamu Gado, Corporal Anthony Samuel and Corporal Linus Luka.

According to a copy of a brief on the charge number FHC/ABS/KD/10C/2011 which was sighted by our correspondent in Abuja, the investigating team said: “Sequel to wide outcry after the airing in Aljazeera Cable Network which depicted extra judicial killings of the leader of the Boko Haram sect, Muhammadu Yusuf, and his followers on July 30, 2009 by some members of the NPF, apparently in response to the sect’s sustained attacks on police properties and other government buildings and facilities and killing of members of the force, the IGP directed a discreet investigation aimed at fishing out the police officers involved.

“Police action: Many police officers and other members of the public were interrogated on the matter. On completion of investigation, the following officers and members of rank and file were indicted.

“Accordingly, the SIU initiated letters to the FORSEC (Force Secretary) and Force Provost Marshal for disciplinary measures to be taken against them. As a result, they were punished as follows: ACP John Abang, suspended , ACP Muhammad Akeera Yoonus, suspended, CSP Mohammed Ahmadu, suspended, ASP Mada Babu, suspended, SGT Adamu Gado, dismissed, PC Anthony Samuel, dismissed, and PC Linus Luka, dismissed.

“The case file was subsequently sent to the Ministry of Justice for legal advice and prosecution. The Attorney General of the Federation commenced prosecution of the matter through Private Prosecutor, Ralph N. Ojobo, at Kaduna Federal High Court in February 2010, but the case was later transferred to Federal High Court 7 Abuja before Hon. Justice Donatus Okorowa.”

Source : The Nation Newspaper

Babies just another commodity

In rural Nepal, where the going rate for a healthy orphan is US$6000 ($7449), about 600 children are missing.

They were taken by agents who came to the villages promising parents they would educate the children and give them a better life in the capital, sometimes for a steep fee. The children never returned.

Between 2001 and 2007, hundreds of Nepali children with living parents were falsely listed as orphans and adopted by high-paying Western couples a world away.

One widow, according to the child protection charity Terre des Hommes, was unable to feed her seven children and sent them to an urban “child centre”, where three were quickly adopted without her consent by rich Westerners.

Another, Sunita, was told by sneering authorities she would never see her child again. She doused herself in kerosene and struck a match.

Tens of thousands of babies, toddlers and young children are now adopted across international borders every year, according to Unicef.

The Nepali adoption industry is part of a broader child-trafficking trend which saw some “orphans” from the rural provinces of Humla and Jumla sold to circuses.

Western prospective parents, however, are the preferred revenue stream. Adoption brought US$2 million a year into the country before 2007, when the programme was suspended pending an inquiry that uncovered many cases of abduction and improper financial gain.

Nepal is not the only country where international conventions on the rights of children have been breached as unscrupulous middlemen trade toddlers like livestock to desperate Western couples.

The process is simple: parents in Europe and America contact an adoption agency in the country of their choice, either privately or via a home agency.

Money changes hands, and their papers and the papers of the child are checked, the latter being easy to falsify. More money changes hands, and the child goes home with new parents.

Many of these adoptions are legitimate, beneficial and bring nothing but joy to the new parents and hope to the child. But there is another side. The possibilities for corruption and backhand profit are immense, because the emotional stakes are so high.

“When people want something so very much, like a baby, the amount of money they are prepared to throw at it can be limitless,” said Andy Elvin of Children and Families Across Borders.

“In some countries, those amounts of money on offer mean that people do things they wouldn’t otherwise do, and that’s the problem.”

According to Terre des Hommes, there is now, in many cases, “an industry around adoption in which profit, rather than the best interests of the child, takes centre stage”.

The business is a seller’s market, because there are far fewer orphans in need of adoption than Western prospective parents wishing to adopt.

Although many children adopted in this way do enjoy loving, stable homes with their new families, the number of truly “adoptable children” in overseas orphanages is smaller than the number of prospective parents.

Even in the aftermath of wars and natural disasters, those without a single relative to provide proper care is insufficient to meet the demand for exotic orphans.

After the tsunami in Japan, many Westerners inquired as to when and how they would be able to adopt a tsunami orphan, only to be told any child left parentless would be rehoused with extended family.

There is sometimes a distinct missionary element to this charity.

Christian lobby groups exhort congregations to demonstrate their faith by adopting foreign orphans from countries that know neither Jesus nor Walmart. Networks exist to help individual ministries organise funds to pay the orphanages and middlemen who supply the babies.

Last year, 10 Southern Baptists “obeyed God’s calling” by smuggling 33 Haitian children – most solicited from living parents – across the Dominican border to await adoption by American believers.

All were jailed for a time but Christian adoption lobbies in the United States are putting increasing political pressure on organisations such as Unicef to ratify their agenda rather than raising ethical issues about the human rights of the children involved.

There are more mundane reasons why Western couples might wish to adopt overseas rather than be matched with one of the tens of thousands of children in need of adoption at home (many of whom do not match, in age or background, the ideal child some would-be parents want).

One Ukrainian tourist website boasts that “Ukraine has very few restrictions” and adds that unlike many countries, which seek to eliminate unfairness with rigorous matching systems, “prospective parents have the chance to choose the child they wish to adopt”.

“Ukrainian children are typically family-oriented, caring, make attachments easily,” enthuses the site, as if it were selling a new breed of house pet. “They look to their new parents with adoration.”

Elvin, of Children and Families Across Borders, said: “There is an almost inexhaustible demand for very young children to adopt. People looking to adopt are generally looking to adopt children under the age of 3, and preferably under the age of 1. That’s your essential problem.

“In America, which is the biggest importer, if you like, there are 23,000 children in the foster system waiting for adoption, but most of them will be aged 5 to 16. There’s a very rich, powerful and well-resourced inter-country adoption lobby in the US.”

The leading supplier of babies for adoption is China, which sent 5078 children abroad in 2009. It used to be Vietnam, then Guatemala (at one point one in every 100 babies there was sent for adoption to the US). Ethiopia, which until recently, was sending 50 children daily out of the country, announced a clampdown in March. No one knows where the agencies and parents will turn next.

Infant income

* In 2009, the last year for which reliable figures are available, the top five adopting countries took in 24,839 children from overseas.

* Half of these, 12,753, went to the US, with Italy taking 3964, Spain and France around 3000 each, and Canada 2122.

* China, the leading source of babies for adoption, sent 5078 children abroad in 2009.

* Russia sent 4039 and 4564 came from Ethiopia, one of a range of countries which, through lax regulation, had a vogue as a ready source of babies.

Source : New Zealand Herald

Pakistan is decorating bus stops with Quranic verses and Islamic calligraphy to give a more spiritual flavour to the capital Islamabad, long considered one of the country’s most liberal cities.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) plans to roll out 100 new bus shelters — known locally as sunshades — painted with flowers and religious verses to spruce up the 1960s purpose-built capital.

“The new sunshades will not only provide protection to commuters from inhospitable weather but will also project the art of Islamic calligraphy and our rich heritage,” CDA official Haji Mehboob Ahmad told AFP.

The CDA intends to erect 30 in the next two months, the hottest and wettest of the year as the monsoon season sets in, at a cost of 400,000 rupees ($4,700) each after the public responded well to a pilot programme.

Set up near Islamabad’s commercial Blue Area, not far from the seat of government, the first stop has been lavishly painted green, purple and yellow, inscribed with verses from the Quran seeking protection from evil.

The name of God has been painted in Arabic calligraphy and there is a public service message exhorting bus users to respect public property.

“This bus stand belongs to you. Please take care of this sunshade and keep your city green and clean,” the message says.

The project has attracted local press attention and residents said they were fans of the new shelters.

“It really looks great to see beautifully designed sunshades with calligraphic art,” said Imran Hussain, a telecommunications worker, waiting at the new bus stop surrounded by huge trees.

“I have decided to approach the CDA management to put up one in an area where I live. It really looks beautiful.”

The municipality, which is heavily committed to mega building projects such as new under-passes and fly-overs in the growing city of more than one million, says the bus stops have a practical benefit.

“These messages will be meant to enhance awareness among people on crucial issues of water conservation, sanitation and an anti-littering campaign,” CDA official Ramzan Sajid told AFP.

He said that the municipality was conducting detailed surveys to designate appropriate places for the new bus stops pending top-level approval.

The bus stop calligraphy inscribing names for God has been inspired by renowned Pakistani calligrapher and painter Syed Sadequain Ahmed Naqvi.

Known internationally for his skills, Sadequain is credited with something of a renaissance in Islamic calligraphy in Pakistan.

“We needed these sunshades to provide relief to commuters using public transport from harsh weather conditions and to project our rich Islamic heritage and message of Islam through Quranic verses,” Sajid added.

Talib Hussain, a bearded student at a local madrassa, is also a fan of the new bus stops. “It is kind of a prayer to see and read verses and the names of God written in calligraphic art on the sunshade,” he said.

Source :

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