Tunis reopens ancient Islamic college to counter radicals:
The school at Tunisia's 8th-century Zaitouna Mosque, one of the world's leading centers of Islamic learning, was closed by independence leader and secularist strongman Habib Bourguiba in 1964 as part of an effort to curb the influence of religion. Its ancient university was merged with the state's Tunis University. The college reopened its ancient doors to students on Monday, part of a drive by religious scholars and activists to revive Zaitouna's moderate brand of Islam, which once dominated North Africa, and counter the spread of more radical views. "The return of this religious educational beacon is very important in light of the increased religious extremism that we are living with," said Fathi al-Khamiri, who heads a pressure group that obtained a court order allowing the school to reopen."The aim is to restore Zaitouna's educational and religious role in Tunisia and North Africa in order to spread the principles of moderate religion." Zaitouna once rivaled Egypt's Al Azhar as a centre of Islamic learning, and during the golden age of Islam generations of leading Islamic thinkers studied logic, philosophy, medicine and grammar as well as theology within its walls.
Hague court demands transfer of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi:
The International Criminal Court has rejected a Libyan request to delay the handover of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. Muammar Gaddafi's most prominent son is being held by a militia from the town of Zintan at a secret location. In a ruling, the ICC said Libya must start making arrangements to hand him over to the war crimes court at The Hague immediately. Saif al-Islam is wanted in connection with the violent suppression of protests during the Libyan uprising. Libya's governing National Transitional Council has said it wants to try him in the country. It questioned the admissibility of the case to the war crimes court in an attempt to delay the handover, but the ICC said the Libyan authorities had failed to offer the necessary evidence. The court issued the arrest warrant for Saif al-Islam, as well as his father and the former intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, in June. Mr Senussi was arrested last month in Mauritania and Libya is also keen to try him at home. But the ICC says a UN Security Council resolution obliges Libya to co-operate with the court and hand the men over to international justice.
Muslim Brotherhood officials aim to promote moderate image in Washington visit:
Members of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood began a week-long charm offensive in Washington on Tuesday, meeting with White House officials, policy experts and others to counter persistent fears about the group's emergence as the country's most powerful political force. The revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak has rapidly transformed the Brotherhood from an opposition group that had been formally banned into a political juggernaut controlling nearly half the seats in Egypt's newly elected parliament. With its rise, however, have come concerns from Egypt's secularists as well as U.S. officials that the Islamist group could remake the country, threatening the rights of women and religious minorities. Such fears were only exacerbated by the Brotherhood's recent decision to field a candidate in upcoming presidential elections, despite previous pledges that it would not do so. In meeting with U.S. officials, Brotherhood representatives were expected to depict the organization as a moderate and socially conscious movement pursuing power in the interest of Egyptians at large. "We represent a moderate, centrist Muslim viewpoint.
The priorities for us are mainly economic, political - preserving the revolution ideals of social justice, education, security for the people," Sondos Asem, a member of the delegation, said Tuesday in an interview with reporters and editors of The Washington Post. In the interview, members of the delegation defended the decision by the group's political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, to field a presidential candidate. "We approached people outside of the Brotherhood that we respected, like people in the judiciary, but none of them would agree to be nominated," said Khaled al-Qazzaz, foreign relations coordinator for the party. Qazzaz and others said that a candidate elected from outside the Brotherhood could have instituted radical changes and dissolved the parliament. But the Brotherhood's rise has caused it to spar with liberal and secular groups. Liberals and Coptic Christians who were chosen to be part of the effort to draw up a new constitution recently walked out of meetings in protest, saying the body was unbalanced, with an overwhelming number of representatives from Islamist groups such as the Brotherhood. "We believe there is a dire attempt to hinder efforts of the constitutional assembly because its success would mean that we are on the right track, that the democracy is working and government is changing," Asem said. In addition to allaying American fears about their political ambitions, the Brotherhood is hoping to mend U.S.-Egypt relations in the aftermath of Egypt's decision to prosecute American and Egyptian pro-democracy advocates. Outrage over the prosecutions had prompted lawmakers to press the Obama administration to withhold $1.3 billion in U.S. aid to Egypt's military. "This mistrust is a wall that needs to come down, but it can't just be one side that brings it down. It has to be both sides," said Abdul Mawgoud R. Dardery, a lawmaker and member of the Brotherhood delegation.
Russian Foreign Minister: Hillary's ‘Friends of Syria' undermines peace process:
The actions of Friends of Syria group of states jeopardize realization of the UN peace plan for Syria, undermining international efforts to end violence in the country, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said. "Everybody backed [Kofi] Annan's [peace] plan," he noted. "Then all of a sudden another meeting of the Friends of Syria group makes decisions, urging [the Syrian] opposition to refuse negotiations and arm, promising new sanctions [against Syria]." Lavrov stressed this undermines actions to stop violence in the country that the Friends of Syria want to deal with the Syrian opposition only, making the deadlock irresolvable. While the UN tries to solve the Syrian situation peacefully, the Friends of Syria summit announced plans that threaten to make the UN's effort in vain. The US has announced it is going to spend $12 million on the Syrian opposition, twice as much as it promised before. The Gulf States of Saudi Arabia and Qatar expressed readiness to pay salaries to the armed opposition members, making them look more like an army of mercenaries than opposition activists. Earlier, these two countries spoke in favour of arming the Syrian opposition so as it can "defend" itself against the regular army of Syria.
Even US does not have evidence against Saeed: Pakistan:
Underlining that it cannot take action against Lashkar-e-Tayaba (LeT) founder Hafeez Saeed in the absence of concrete proof, Pakistan said that even the US does not possess any evidence linking the Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief to terrorism. Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said it was "strange" that the US State Department had offered a bounty of millions of dollars for evidence and information against Saeed and his deputy, Abdul Rahman Makki. The clarification about the bounty issued by the State Department spokesman yesterday made it clear that "even the US does not possess evidence against the two individuals," he said. "We have clearly stated our position that there is no concrete evidence (against Saeed). Pakistan would prefer to have concrete evidence to initiate a legal process but in the absence of that, we cannot do anything," Basit said during the weekly news briefing that was dominated by questions about the bounty for Saeed. The US has offered a reward of 10 million dollars for Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba that was blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and a bounty of two million dollars for Makki.
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