Archive for July 2008

Sharia law SHOULD be used in Britain, says UK’s top judge

July 5, 2008

By Steve Doughty 

The most senior judge in England yesterday gave his blessing to the use of sharia law to resolve disputes among Muslims.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips said that Islamic legal principles could be employed to deal with family and marital arguments and to regulate finance.

He declared: ‘Those entering into a contractual agreement can agree that the agreement shall be governed by a law other than English law.’

In his speech at an East London mosque, Lord Phillips signalled approval of sharia principles as long as punishments – and divorce rulings – complied with the law of the land.

But his remarks, which back the informal sharia courts operated by numerous mosques, provoked a barrage of criticism.

Lawyers warned that family and marital disputes settled by sharia could disadvantage women or the vulnerable.

Tories said that legal equality must be respected and that rulings incompatible with English law should never be enforceable.

Lord Phillips spoke five months after Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams suggested Islamic law could govern marital law, financial transactions and arbitration in disputes.

The Lord Chief Justice said yesterday of the Archbishop’s views: ‘It was not very radical to advocate embracing sharia law in the context of family disputes’.

He added there is ‘widespread misunderstanding as to the nature of sharia law’.

Lord Phillips said: ‘Those who are in dispute are free to subject it to mediation or to agree that it shall be resolved by a chosen arbitrator. There is no reason why principles of sharia law or any other religious code should not be the basis for mediation or other forms of dispute resolution.’

Lord Phillips said that any sanctions must be ‘drawn from the laws of England and Wales’. Severe physical punishment – he mentioned stoning, flogging or amputating hands – is ‘out of the question’ in Britain, he added.

Lord Phillips’ speech brought protests from lawyers who fear women could be disadvantaged in supposedly voluntary sharia deals.

Barrister and human rights specialist John Cooper said: ‘There should be one law by which everyone is held to account.

‘Well-crafted laws in this country, drawn up to protect both parties including the weak and vulnerable party in matrimonial break-ups, could be compromised.’

Resolution, the organisation of family law solicitors, said people should govern their lives in accordance with religious principles ‘provided that those beliefs and traditions do not contradict the fundamental principle of equality on which Britain’s laws are based.’

Spokesman Teresa Richardson said religious law ‘must be used to find solutions which are consistent with the basic principles of family law in this country and people must always have redress to the civil courts where they so choose.’

Robert Whelan, of the Civitas think tank, said: ‘Everybody is governed by English law and it is not possible to sign away your legal rights. That is why guarantees on consumer products always have to tell customers their statutory rights are not affected.

‘There is not much doubt that in traditional Islamic communities women do not enjoy the freedoms that they have had for 100 years or more in Britain.

‘It is very easy to put pressure on young women in a male-dominated household. The English law stands to protect people from intimidation in such circumstances.’

Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said: ‘Mediation verdicts which are incompatible with our own legal principles should never be enforceable. One of the key aspects of our free society is equality. This should be understood and respected by all.’

The Ministry of Justice said: ‘English law takes precedence over any other legal system. The Government has no intention of changing this position. Alongside this, it is possible to resolve civil law dispute by other systems.’


World’s Scariest Ghosts Caught On Tape

July 5, 2008

Don’t bomb Iran, Bush warns Israel

July 5, 2008

Wednesday, July 2nd 2008, 9:47 PM

President Bush and the top U.S Military commander warned Israel Wednesday against bombing Iran, suggesting the U.S doesn’t want to get involved in a third war.

“This is a very unstable part of the world and I don’t need it to be more unstable,” Adm. Mike Mullen, the Joint Chiefs chairman, said at a briefing.

Bush said, “I have made it clear to all parties [including Israel] that the first option is diplomacy,” in getting Iran to stop enriching uranium that could be used for a nuclear weapon.

The warnings came after the disclosure that Israel had conducted air operations over the Mediterranean that could simulate a strike on Iran.

Al Jazeera lawyers quit Rabat trial

July 5, 2008

By Ahmed El Amraoui in Rabat

The trial of Hassan Rachidi, Al Jazeera’s bureau chief in Morocco, has been adjourned, after the defence team walked out when their pleas were brushed aside by the presiding judge.

The marathon second court session opened, following a three-day recess, at the Rabat First Instance Court at 9am (0800GMT) on Friday in the presence of up to 50 defence attorneys who volunteered to defend Al Jazeera.

After 11 hours of stormy debate, and the collective walk out of the defence team, the trial was adjourned until July 11.

The judge rejected all the defence’s pleas and the team quit over a “lack of fair trial conditions”, accusing the judge of biased and dismissing the trial as political.

The presiding judge and the attorney general then addressed a few questions to Rachidi, who pleaded not guilty and insisted that he did his job as a professional journalist and provided both sides of the story in question.

The session was then adjourned at around 10pm (2100GMT).

Defence walkout

The defence attorneys began their argument by calling the charges brought against Rachidi void since the press code, under which Al Jazeera’s bureau chief was prosecuted, can be applicable only on the director of publication of the media organisation concerned.

“Since Rachidi is not the person in charge of the editorial policy of Al Jazeera and not the person to decide which story to be published or not, we call on your honour to drop all charges against our client,” Khalid Soufiani, leader of the defence team argued.

The lawyers submitted to the court a copy of Rachidi’s confiscated press accreditation, issued by the Moroccan communication ministry, which states the profession of Rachidi as reporter.

“As Mr Rachidi, according to the Moroccan official document, is a reporter and not the person in charge of publication in Al Jazeera, we say that this trial is illegal” another lawyer said.

The lawyers also criticised the main document submitted by the general prosecutor to the court – a news report that was run earlier by Morocco’s official news agency MAP.

But the judge rejected all defence arguments as unfounded.

He also turned down a petition to call for witnesses that included ministers, senior civilian and military officials to testify before the court on the events in the southern port city of Sidi Ifni that brought Rachidi to court.

They also demanded those in charge of the Reuters news agency and the Moroccan daily Al Ahdath – which both reported that people were killed in the Sidi Ifni protests – as well as heads of various human rights groups, stand before the judge as witnesses.

The defence’s cross-examination of a CD submitted by the general prosecutor was also turned down.

Court disruption

Earlier in the day, the proceedings were disrupted by Ali Lmrabet, a Moroccan journalist, who was sentenced by the same judge in 2003 to three years in prison and was suspended from practicing journalism in Morocco for 10 years.

“I am here to remind you Mohammed El-Alaoui, the presiding judge. My name is Ali Lmrabet, the journalist that you have suspended from practicing the profession of journalism in Morocco for 10 years that I am actually doing my job as a journalist in spite of your order. And you can do nothing about it,” Lmrabet shouted before he was dragged by the police out of the court room.

Ahmed Snousi, a Moroccan satirist, was also ejected from the court room for reciting slogans in support of Lmrabet, who spent seven months in jail before he was a granted a pardon by the king.

Lmrabet is now a reporter of the Spanish newspaper El Mondo.

Strained relations

Rachidi is charged with reporting that people were killed in clashes with security forces in the southwestern port city of Sidi Ifni on June 7 during a protest over poverty and rising unemployment.

Moroccan authorities have rejected as “false” and “absurd” reports of deaths, saying that 48 people were injured, including 28 police officers, but that no deaths occurred.

Although Al Jazeera reported the government’s denial, the Rabat chief prosecutor’s office ordered an investigation to determine how the false information was disseminated.

Rachidi was interrogated by the judiciary police for four hours and was charged on June 14 with publishing false information and conspiracy.

Minutes later, the Moroccan communication ministry withdrew his media accreditation.

Rachidi’s trial is the latest in a series of incidents that have seen the channel come into conflict with the kingdom’s authorities.

In May, Morocco suspended Al Jazeera’s daily television news bulletin covering the Maghreb countries – Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania – from its studios in the Moroccan capital.

The decision, according to Khalid Naciri, the Moroccan communication minister and a spokesman for the government, was due to technical and legal issues.

Rachidi is facing prosecution under Article 42 of the country’s press code.

“The press code requires that two conditions be satisfied in order to convict someone for publishing false information under Article 42,” Soufiani, the lead defence lawyer, told Al Jazeera.

“The first condition is the publication of false information with the intention of bad faith and, second, that the publication disturbs the public order.”

If convicted, Rachidi could be sentenced to a prison term of between one and 12 months and a fine of up to $13,750.

Contract for Khalifa medical complex in Morocco signed

July 4, 2008
A contract for building the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed specialised medical complex in Casablanca, Morocco, was signed Wednesday between Abu Dhabi Municipality and French Jacob France Engineering Consultancy Group.

The US$ 100 million health facility will be built by a donation offered by UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Director General of Abu Dhabi Municipality Juma Al Junaibi said the French consultant will undertake the works of architecture, design and supervision of the 65,000 square metre health facility where the built up area will be around 40,000 square metres.
”The centre will be completed in 30 months,”he said, adding that the project will also include commercial buildings whose revenues will be used to run the medical city to ensure high performance, operation and maintenance.
Construction work is expected to commence by year end.
A high level delegation from the Municipality has visited Morocco recently to select the location for the project in the city of Anfa, a future centre for urban expansions.
In addition to the specialised wards, the city will house a nursing school, a central laboratory, a radiology centre and a VIPs ward.