Saturday, October 15, 2005

Burka Faces Benefit-Cuts in Holland

Saturday, October 15, 2005
[Daily Times, Pakistan]
Burka faces face-benefit cuts in Dutch city
The Dutch city of Utrecht is to cut unemployment benefits for Muslim women whose refusal to take off their burkas stops them getting jobs, The Times reports. Utrecht City Council voted for the measure the day after the Dutch Government announced plans to ban women wearing the burka in some public places as a security measure, and on the same day that Maria van der Hoeven, the Education Minister, urged a ban on burkas in schools. The burka covers the entire body except the eyes. The sanctions also apply to women wearing a face-concealing veil, or niqab. Utrecht made the decision after two Muslim women receiving 550 euros a month in unemployment benefits told the jobcentre that they did not attend job interviews because no one would employ them because of their burkas, which they refused to remove. A spokesman for the city said that the problem was not widespread, but added: “It is a point of principle which applies to all women who refuse to remove their burkas for job interviews. People get benefits when they are out of work but there is also an obligation to do everything to get a job. These women were educated, spoke good Dutch and had opportunities in the labour market.” The city will cut the women’s benefits by 10 percent a month if they continue to refuse to take off their burkas for job interviews. Utrecht based its decision on the Work and Social Security Act, which states that somebody receiving welfare must not do anything to prevent getting work. The city also noted that the Equality Commission, an official anti-discrimination body, backed employers who refused to give jobs to people wearing burkas, because being able to see someone’s face was an essential part of many jobs. Rita Verdonk, the Minister for Integration and Immigration Minister, said that wearing the burka should be banned where it is a threat to security because it could be used by terrorists for concealment. She announced an investigation into when and where the burka should be banned, and will give details in two months. No country has banned the burka in public, although several Flemish-speaking Belgian towns have done so. daily times monitor

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Eight Ahmedies Gun Down in Mong Mundibahaudin

Eight Ahmadis Gunned Down Near Multan Friday 07-10-2005
MANDI BAHAUDDIN: Unidentified assailants opened fire at a Qadiyani religious place Baitul Zikar killing eight worshippers and seriously injuring 18 others during their prayers here on Friday morning. The killings took place at Mong some eight kilometres away from here. Three attackers came on a motorcycle at the time of early morning worship. Two armed attackers entered the worship place and sprayed bullets at the worshipers who were 26 in number.
Later, the riders escaped on the same motorcycle from the scene. As a result six persons Yasir, Navid, Abid, Raja, Abdul Waheed and Altaf Aslam died on the spot and two injured persons Ashraf and Lehrasib died on way to DHQ Hospital Mandi Bahauddin.
The 18 injured persons including Capt Ayub Mumtaz (retd), Abu Huraira Sajid, Aamir Umar, Farooq, Sajid, Muneer, Qamar, Tauseef, Bilal, Ghulam Ali, Mehmood Shah, Basharat and Qaiser were shifted to the DHQ Hospital. Five critically injured persons have been transferred to Lahore and CMH Kharian. Sadar Mandi Bahauddin police have filed a case and were probing.
Meanwhile, President General Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Friday condemned the heinous act of terrorism in Mandi Bahauddin. They directed the authorities to promptly investigate the matter and bring the culprits to justice so that they should be awarded exemplary punishment. They offered their condolences to the bereaved families. In a press talk, the PM said an investigation was on to ascertain the real motive and trace the culprits behind the incident.
Chief Minister Ch Pervaiz Elahi announced Rs 100,000 each for those who lost their lives. This was disclosed by DPO Waqar Haider in a meeting on Friday. The chief minister has also announced Rs 50,000 financial assistance for each of the injured.
Gujranwala DIG Mahr Zafar Abbas Luk suspected involvement of some foreign hand behind the Mong killing. The anti-terrorism role of the country might have links with this specific incident. Addressing a press conference at DPO office, the DIG said there were strong suspicions that some foreign hand might have tried to defame Pakistan which was making rapid progress in improving its image. Two special investigation teams from FIA and Intelligence Bureau Islamabad are reaching Mandi Bahauddin to probe the matter from all angles.
The DIG said 20 activists of different sectarian groups were arrested and probe is under way. Agencies add: The Punjab administration on Friday put the law-enforcement agencies on high alert in the wake of killings at Mandi Bahauddin. Home department officials told APP that Punjab government is committed to provide security and protection to every citizen.
While condemning the incident, the officials assured those involved in the heinous crime, would be brought to justice. The officials further said police had launched a massive hunt to nab the killers and said police patrols had been intensified in certain sensitive points of the areas. Accordingly, police patrol and pickets had increased in the Punjab capital while heavy police both in plain clothes and uniform had been deployed at worship places to avoid any untoward incident during the sacred month of Ramazan.
Protection for the Minorities Rights president and general secretary Malik Imran Ahmed and Muhammad Usman Ali respectively have condemned the attack on Ahmadi community terming it a conspiracy by the anti-state elements to sow seeds of hatred among various sects in the society.
Masood Ahmed Raja, a cardiologist who belongs to the sect, said he was going to the Baitul Hamad when he saw three masked men fleeing on a motorcycle. "I had no idea who these men were, but when I reached the worship place, I heard cries and saw blood everywhere," he said. "I don't know who attacked our worship place, but it seems to be an act of terrorism". Mumtaz Ali Khan, a 55-year-old injured man at a government hospital, said he was praying inside the worship place when he heard firing and saw people falling down.
"I also felt as if something had hit me. Then, I fell down and found myself in the hospital when I opened my eyes," he said. Abu Huraira, 16, said he saw one masked man standing behind him with a gun in his hand. "That masked man looked at the people who were falling and bleeding, and then quietly ran away," he said. DPO Waqar Haider said police had started searching areas near the village. He refused to speculate who was responsible, but previous attacks have been blamed on outlawed Islamic militant groups.
The head of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance condemned the attack. Shahbaz Bhatti, the alliance chief, said the government had failed to protect minorities. Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao condemned the killing. "We condemn this attack. Any act of violence in which innocent people are killed should be condemned," he told AFP. Sherpao said he had issued orders to further tighten security at places of worship. Information Minister Sh Rashid also said the government condemned the attack.
Local police and witnesses said the shootings targeted the Ahmadis. "It was a scene of carnage. The floor of the one-room worship place was littered with blood," said Muhammad Sajid, who lives nearby. He said around 25 people were praying when the attack happened at around 4:45 am. "One witness said they could hear the sound of a motorcycle with its engine running outside throughout the attack."
Ahmadi leaders said their members in Mong had recently received threats but vowed not to take revenge. "Rather we will remain peaceful," Rashid Zahid, spokesman for the group's head council, told AFP. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. Anjuman Ahmedia Chenab Nagar (Rabwa) President Malik Khalid Masood bemoaning over the killing has urged the chief minister to take adequate steps for the protection of Ahmedi community. "If preventive measures are not taken, it will result in hatred besides airing sectarian violence," he observed.
Lahore Correspondent adds: IGP Ziaul Hassan Khan has constituted special teams comprising senior and highly experienced police officers under the supervision Mandi Bahauddin DPO for arresting the culprits. He also dispatched a CID team from Lahore to the crime scene.
The IGP while giving instructions to the Gujranwala DIG about immediate arrest of the culprits, has asked for carrying investigation round-the-clock and submit him a daily progress report of the case so that culprits involved in the incident could be dealt with severely.
Meanwhile, according to a spokesman of Punjab police, the IGP while referring to the incident of Mandi Bahauddin has directed all DIGs and DPOs to make foolproof security arrangements to prevent occurrence of such incidents in future. Through a circular issued on Friday, the IGP has asked for adopting various preventive measures to check the incidents of terrorism.
According to instructions, the worship places, including mosques, Imambargahs and churches etc within the respective jurisdiction of police officers may be enlisted and categorised into A and B categories, depending upon the sensitivity of the worship place. 'Pakistan Today' newspaper