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At the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM), in the country’s capital Kuala Lumpur, Russian student Jeyhun Jaafar posts a video on a social network.

A comment pops up in Turkish – a language Mr Jaafar does not speak. But he is able to respond with the help of a translate button on the page.

This is one of the ways the new social network, called Salamworld, hopes to make it easier to connect Muslims around the world.

In Malaysia, Muslims make up 60% of the 29 million internet users.

Besides this South East Asian country, a trial version of Salamworld is currently being tested by about 1,000 users in Bosnia-Hercegovina, Turkey, Egypt and Indonesia.

The company aims to launch globally by November.

At first glance, Salamworld may not seem much different from other social networks.

With a blue and white layout and features such as a wall to post comments, photos and videos, it is similar to what networking giant Facebook used to look like when it first launched.

But supporters of the multilingual and multicultural project say one thing will be different – content.

Salamworld aims to create a safe space for Muslims – free from things such as pornography, gambling and anything else that may be against Islamic principles.

For instance, Prof Nuraihan Mat Daud of IIUM, who uses Western social networking sites as a teaching tool, says she is uncomfortable with advertisements that show women in revealing clothing.

Although Facebook is tough on pornography, it sports a number of gambling apps – including one called Bingo Friendzy that allows UK users aged 18 and over to play games for real-money prizes.

Local rules
It is not the first attempt to create a Muslim-tailored social network, but so far none has become popular on a large scale.

Finland-based Muxlim.com came out in 2006, but is currently shut down. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood launched Ikhwanbook.com in 2010 but the site is also currently offline.

Critics say that these networks tended to appeal only to their respective regions.

Salamworld, based in Turkey but with advisers from more than a dozen countries, hopes to be different.

One way it aims to achieve the goal of uniting Muslims globally is by using a three-level content-filtering feature.

It will allow authorities to set content guidelines based on different interpretations of Islam, which vary from country to country. For example, a picture of a Muslim woman who is not wearing a hijab may be fine in secular Indonesia but not acceptable in Saudi Arabia.

It is not clear how internet users will react to such censorship – in Malaysia, for instance, attempts to control the web have been met with fierce opposition.

Earlier this month, politicians and activists staged an internet blackout day to protest against changes in the law they say aimed to stifle free speech online.

Some Malaysians, however, say they will tolerate a certain degree of censorship, such as filtering out photos of skimpy outfits or alcohol ads, which are against Islamic values.

“But if they are censoring things for political reasons, like to prevent us from seeing the real situation in Syria or the violence committed against Muslims in Burma, then that is not OK,” says another student, Abdul Hadi bin Haji.

‘Alternative needed’
Even if Muslims around the world do start using Salamworld en masse, it may still be tricky to rival Facebook, say analysts.

According to internet information company Alexa, the social networking giant is the most popular site in all the countries where Salamworld is conducting its trials.

In Malaysia, for example, many say it is at times easier to connect with friends through Facebook than by calling them.

It doesn’t worry Salamworld’s head of Asia-Pacific operations Salam Suleymanov, who strongly believes in a need for an alternative.

“When we talk about 1.5 billion Muslims, maybe those who support my view make up a very small percentage – but it’s still a big number,” he says.
SOURCE:NEWS TESHNOLOGY

A rally for Muslims in Joplin, Missouri, drew hundreds of people on Saturday night, nearly three weeks after a local mosque was destroyed by a fire which members of the Islamic community suspect was a hate crime, the organizer of the event said.

The gathering at a city park was promoted on a Facebook page as a way to show “that love is stronger than fear or hatred.”

Organizers saw the rally in part as a giving-back to the local Muslim community because their mosque was a relief center for victims of the May 2011 tornado in Joplin, which took 161 lives and damaged or destroyed more than 8,000 buildings.

“It’s amazing,” rally organizer and college student Ashley Carter said in a telephone interview during the event. “People who are of completely different cultures and beliefs are here having a conversation with each other, which is awesome.”

She said hundreds of people took part in the rally, but could not provide an exact number.

Federal and local investigators have not determined the cause of the fire that destroyed the Islamic Center of Joplin, on August 6, but leaders of the local Muslim community suspect it was a hate crime. A small fire also occurred there on July 4.

The fire that destroyed the Joplin mosque happened the morning after a white supremacist shot dead six worshipers at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee, then killed himself after he was wounded by police. Police and Sikh temple members speculated that he might have mistakenly thought Sikhs were Muslims.

About $406,000 has been raised to rebuild the Joplin mosque. The donations have far exceeded the goal of $250,000, said Kimberly Kester, spokeswoman for the Islamic Society of Joplin.

“There are really no words we can use to convey how appreciative we are and how much this means to us,” Kester said. “Everyone is coming together to be a stronger community.”

 

SOURCE: REUTERS

I am writing to every contact listed at Buddhanet.info’s American Buddhist Directory to ask:

Are you aware of the ongoing genocide in Myanmar (Burma) — a genocide that is being committed in the name of Buddhism?

And did you know that the United States of America bears responsibility for this genocide, since the US has been rewarding the Myanmar regime with ever-closer political and economic ties during recent months of accelerating atrocities?

As American Buddhists, you are in a position to help stop this genocide, by pressuring the US and Myanmar governments as well as international human rights organizations. Your visible participation in the campaign to save the Rohingya people from extermination by murderous Buddhist fanatics will not only help draw the world’s attention to this horrific situation, but also help restore the image of Buddhism as a religion of compassion.

The facts about the genocide in Myanmar are not in dispute. The fanatical Buddhist nationalists, who unfortunately represent a large segment of the roughly 60 million Buddhists in Myanmar, admit that they are trying to uproot and exterminate the roughly one million Muslim Rohingya from land that the Rohingya have lived on for centuries.

Here is what a typical genocidal Buddhist fanatic from Myanmar wrote in a comment on a Wall Street Journal article:

“Burma is Buddhist nation created for the 135 Tibeto-Burman tribes. People do not get citizenship just because born there or illegally lived there for centuries. Please do not interfere with the law and internal affairs of Burma just as you do not like other nations to poke their nose in your internal affairs.”

“People do not get citizenship just because born there or illegally lived there for centuries.” This statement, which aptly sums up the official policy of the Burmese regime, could get the person who made it, and the government that follows it, hanged for crimes against humanity. Obviously, being born in a modern nation to a family that has been there for centuries automatically confers citizenship. And obviously, any modern nation that denies citizenship to such people, burns their homes and communities, and murders them en masse, with the aim of removing them from the nation of their birth, is committing the internationally-recognized crime of genocide.

In recent weeks, many thousands of homes, and more than 20 mosques, have been burned by murderous Buddhist mobs, backed by national security forces, in the Arakan state of Myanmar. Estimates of the number of Rohingya Muslims murdered, whether directly or by drowning in the Naf River, as they flee the killers, range from the thousands to the tens of thousands. Every one of the more than 500 mosques in Arakan has been taken over by the genocidal regime’s security forces and shut down, and they are being demolished one-by-one. (This happened during the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims are supposed to spend as much time as possible in a mosque.)

Muslims have been living in Burma since roughly 800 c.e. — that is, nearly for as long as the religion of Islam has existed. And Arakan has been a Muslim region, ruled by Muslim kings and/or populated by Bengali Muslims, since 1430. The most notable population increase of Muslims in Arakan took place in the 1600s. The idea that the Rohingya people are somehow “recent immigrants” to the region is clinically insane — a symptom of the larger insanity known as nationalist fanaticism.”

Both Buddhism and Islam are universalist religions: They proclaim truths that are valid for all people, indeed for all of existence. And the core truth that both religions proclaim is the primacy of compassion. In Buddhism, a central feature of the Buddha nature is compassion for all beings. If one were to choose a single hallmark of a successful advanced practitioner of Buddhism, it would be a highly-developed sense of compassion.

Whatever has happened to the Myanmar Buddhists’ compassion for their fellow citizens who happen to be born as Rohingyas?

Islam, too, views compassion as a central reality of creation. Muslim theologians, like the more advanced Christian and Jewish religious thinkers, view God as ineffable; but the primary and overriding tangible characteristic of God in Islam (with the proviso that no tangible characteristics fully express the reality of the one ineffable God) is rahma, or compassion. The two adjectives Muslims use the most to “describe” God are ar-rahman ar-rahim, usually translated as “the merciful, the compassionate.” (The root of rahma and its cognates derives from the word for “womb,” suggesting that this “compassion” has something in common with the nurturing, all-embracing, unconditional love that mothers feel for their children.)

Additionally, both Buddhism and Islam teach us to transcend or even annihilate the (tribal) ego. Buddhism offers a set of teachings that take its practitioners beyond the ego, which is the source of the endless desire that is the cause of the pervasive suffering or disappointment that characterizes ordinary human existence. Likewise, Islam teaches its serious practitioners to annihilate the “ego that desires evil” through absolute submission to God. Each religion offers a very similar cure for the unhappiness of the ordinary human condition.

The kind of chest-thumping egotistical nationalism that proclaims “I am a Buddhist, my heroic nation is Buddhist, I am so much better than those non-Buddhists that I must kill them or exile them” is about as far from the compassionate teachings of the Buddha as it is possible to get. Likewise, extremist Muslims who proclaim that their narrow version of Islam is the only truth, and that everyone who disagrees should be killed, are equally far from the universal, all-compassionate message proclaimed by God through Prophet Muhammad (peace upon him).

Muslims and Buddhists ought to unite against ego-driven nationalist fanaticism, which is an affront to both religious traditions. A good starting point would be joining forces against the genocide in Myanmar. Below are some suggestions for action.

Suggestions for action:
1. Write and call Myanmar’s government contacts pointing out that every modern nation agrees that anyone born inside a nation, whose parents and ancestors also lived on that territory, is automatically a citizen of that nation and must be protected by that nation’s government.

2. Contact Amnesty International’s International Secretariat and Amnesty International USA to demand that they issue an Appeal for Action to save the Rohingya people.

3. Contact Human Rights Watch to thank them for their attempts to bring attention to the plight of the Rohingya, and ask them to do more.

4. Contact the Center for Justice and Accountability to ask that they seek the prosecution of Myanmar leaders for genocide.

5. Contact The Carter Center to suggest that Jimmy Carter attempt to visit Arakan to bring humanitarian relief and stop the genocide.

6. Contact the Genocide Intervention Network and ask them to accelerate their efforts to stop the genocide in Myanmar.

7. Contact the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UNHCR Refugee Agency, and the UNHCR Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide to demand an end to the genocide in Myanmar.

8. Contact your congressional representative and ask him or her to introduce legislation to pressure the Myanmar junta to stop the genocide.

SOURCE: PRESS TV

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