JAKARTA: Indonesia said on Thursday that the nation was on its highest level of alert ahead of Easter after police arrested suspects over a series of “book bombs” and a foiled attack near a church in Jakarta.

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto said the Indonesian president “has instructed military, police, and people who care about combating terrorism to ensure security ahead of Easter”.

“Starting tonight, tomorrow morning and on easter day, the military and the police will be on the highest alert at all designated places,” Suyanto said.

National police spokesman Anton Bachrul Alam said that anti-terror police have arrested a total of 19 people, including two in Aceh province, north Sumatra.

The “book bombs” were sent to several addresses including those of liberal Muslim figures and a counter-terrorism official, but no one was killed.

Another parcel bomb was found Thursday morning near a church in Serpong on the outskirts of Jakarta, local police chief Heribertus Ompusunggu told AFP.

“The bomb was placed on an empty plot with a gas pipe running underground,” he said.

Officials said several of the 19 arrested people could be linked to last week’s suicide bombing in a mosque inside local police headquarters compound in the city of Cirebon in West Java.

The bomber, who detonated his explosives during Friday prayers, was killed instantly and injured 30 people.

The attack was the first suicide bombing inside a mosque in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation of 240 million people.

Indonesia has been rocked by a series of attacks staged by regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in recent years, including the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202 people.

Brussels-based think-tank International Crisis Group (ICG) on Tuesday pointed to a new trend of small violent groups adopting “individual jihad” aimed at local “enemies”, including police and Christians.

Jakarta police are deploying 20,000 officers to safeguard Easter celebrations in the capital Friday.

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Two anonymous young men in Iran, one Iranian and one Afghan, have burned a Koran in protest. This seven-and-a-half minute long video shows the two men, their faces obscured, holding the Muslim holy book and reading prepared statements. They say that Arabs have foisted this book and their homelands and because of it they have gone backwards for 1400 years. They say they dislike the Koran and want it to disappear, adding “Viva freedom!”

Afterwards they stand the Koran on a flat rock, douse it alcohol and light it. One of them hoots and laughs. The book burns fiercely, and after a few moments one of them sprays more alcohol into the flames. The video ends with them warming their hands over the blazing book.

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A 13 year old Yamani girl died 3 days after her wedding due to sever internal bleeding following intercourse. The poor girl Elham Mahdi Alassi was forced to marry a 24 year old man who admitted taking Sexual Tonic medication. The girl was forced to marry the man so her brother can marry the man’s sister. Sadly, this 13 year old Yameni child bride isn’t the first to die this way. In September, a 12 year-old Yameni girl forced into marriage died during childbirth. Her baby died as well.

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Britain’s politicians take fright at the idea – but Sarkozy’s brave step is both popular and right, says William Langley.

Despite some high-profile protests, France’s banning of the burka is enormously popular with the public. Unfortunately, as in Britain, almost anything politicians do that the voters approve of tends to be denounced as populisme – a particularly dread charge among the over-earnest French political class – and instead of enjoying the deserved benefits, President Nicolas Sarkozy has found himself on the defensive.

Sarko’s modest measure (the burka is forbidden only in public places, the fines are piffling and the enforcement procedures incomprehensible) has led to much talk of sledgehammers and nuts, warnings of an apocalyptic Muslim backlash and claims that the Republican tradition of liberté is being compromised in a seedy ploy to combat the resurgence of the hard-Right Front National under its new leader Marine Le Pen. Continue reading

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Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN) — Hena Akhter’s last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl.

Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh’s Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public.

Hena dropped after 70.

Bloodied and bruised, she was taken to hospital, where she died a week later.

Amazingly, an initial autopsy report cited no injuries and deemed her death a suicide. Hena’s family insisted her body be exhumed. They wanted the world to know what really happened to their daughter.

Sharia: illegal but still practiced

Hena’s family hailed from rural Shariatpur, crisscrossed by murky rivers that lend waters to rice paddies and lush vegetable fields.

Hena was the youngest of five children born to Darbesh Khan, a day laborer, and his wife, Aklima Begum. They shared a hut made from corrugated tin and decaying wood and led a simple life that was suddenly marred a year ago with the return of Hena’s cousin Mahbub Khan. Continue reading

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MADINAH: With an increased number of expatriates in Madinah, Saudi men ­— often already married — are resorting to marrying young expatriate women through nonstate-recognized nikahs/marriages known in Arabic as Al-Zawaj Al-Urufi.

“The number of expatriates in Madinah — those who are resident, legal or illegal — has far exceeded the number of Saudis here,” said a source at Madinah Municipality, who asked his name not be published.

“Some expatriates try to earn cash by marrying their daughters or sisters to Saudis. This has resulted in a remarkable increase in the number of such marriages,” he added.

Marriage registers — known in the Kingdom as “mazuns” — are accredited by the Saudi authorities and are not allowed to carry out marriages, especially those between Saudis and non-Saudis, without legal permits. Saudis wanting to marry non-Saudis must first obtain marriage permits from the Ministry of Interior, something that can take months to years to acquire.

There are, however, unregistered expatriate sheikhs who are ready to conduct the rites of an Islamic nikah. Such marriages are legal according to Islamic Law, but not acceptable under Saudi rules.

Kamal Muhammad, an IT teacher at a boys’ school in Madinah, said such marriages cost no more than SR10,000. “I learned about them from a friend who arranged an appointment for me with an expatriate man who was looking for a husband for his daughter,” he said. Continue reading

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By Bryan Fischer

The leftwing political websites lit up over my column of last week in which I took the position that the First Amendment provides no guarantees to practitioners of the Islamic faith, for the simple reason it wasn’t written to protect the free exercise of Islam. It was written to protect the free exercise of the Christian faith.

I was quite explicit that all non-Christian religions ought to enjoy the presumption of religious freedom, although none of the critical reactions to the column even mentioned that clear and unambiguous statement. In other words, the First Amendment does not explicitly protect the Islamic faith, nor does it prohibit it. The First Amendment is simply silent about the issue of Islam.

Thus Islam should enjoy only the liberty it merits, and permission, for example, to build new mosques can be revoked if Islam does in American what Islam does everywhere it exists in the world, which is labor to subvert democracy and impose sharia law.

This view of the First Amendment is confirmed by a review of the debate surrounding the First Amendment in Congress in 1789. A re-reading of the all the entries in the congressional record of the debate over the First Amendment reveals no mention – zero, nada, zilch – of Islam.

Instead, as the Founders grappled with the wording of the First Amendment, they road-tested several variations, all of which make it clear that the objective here was specifically to protect the free exercise of the Christian faith.

Here are some of the alternative versions that were considered: Continue reading

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