SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Iran’s parliament has banned airplanes from flying across the Islamic Republic during the Adhan (call for prayers).
“According to the new directive, airplanes are banned from flying during adhan, especially during the call to morning prayers," Ali Taheri, spokesman for parliament’s cultural committee, told Mehr news agency.
He said the ban was issued by the Civil Aviation organization of Iran to help people fulfil their religious duties.The Adhan (The Call to Prayer)
Under the new regulations, planes will be allowed to take off a half an hour after the call for Al-Fajr prayers.
Hamid Reza Pahlevani, the head of the Aviation Organization, said the measure is meant to help passengers have the time "to carry out their religious duties", according to the Iranian Students' News Agency ISNA.
Earlier, several Iranian lawmakers have called for the flights falling on Adhan time to be cancelled or postponed.
The Adhan is the call to announce that it is time for a particular obligatory Salah (ritual prayer).
The Adhan is raised five times a day.
Iran has enforced Shari``ah since the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the Shah.
Hardliners have pressed for stricter enforcement of religious measures since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won office in 2005 promising a return to the revolution's values.
Taheri also said serious attention will be given to observing the strict dress code for women working at airports or airline companies, according to Reuters.
Women in Iran are obliged to cover their hair and wear long, loose clothing to disguise their figures and protect their modesty.
Violators can be flogged, fined or imprisoned.- www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: On Islam
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khaled Meshaal has thanked the Islamic Republic of Iran for helping the Gaza Strip in its victory against the Israeli regime’s attack.
Mashal made the remarks in a press conference in Cairo on Tuesday, adding Iran "had a role in arming” and financing Gazans during the war.
Hamas chief stated that Israel has failed to achieve any of its goals noting, “After eight days, God stayed their hand from the people of Gaza, and they were compelled to submit to the conditions of the resistance.”
He warned Tel Aviv against violating the cease-fire agreement between the Palestinian resistance movement and the Israeli regime.
He also thanked ceasefire mediator Egypt, stating that the African country “acted responsibly and understood the demands of the resistance and the Palestinian people.”
Moreover, Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah also said in a televised speech that the truce between Hamas and the Israeli regime is a victory for Palestine.
“We should learn from this great experience to benefit from it and reinforce our power,” Nasrallah said.
Earlier in the day, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr announced during a joint press conference with the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the Israeli regime and the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas have reached a ceasefire agreement.
Following the truce agreement, Gazans poured into the street to celebrate the victory by chanting “God is great,” and "The resistance is victorious."
Under the deal, Palestinians and Israelis agreed to end all hostilities against each other. Israel also agreed to open all crossings and facilitate the movement of people and goods in and out of the Gaza Strip, but it did not accept to lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli regime’s deadly offensive on the blockaded Gaza Strip killed 162 Palestinians since November 14.
In retaliation, Palestinian resistance fighters continued to pour rockets and missiles into the Israeli cities, killing at least five Israelis, including one soldier.
Gaza has been blockaded since 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standard of living, unrelenting poverty, and unprecedented unemployment rate among the population of about 1.7 million Palestinians.– www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel got a hostile reception from many ordinary Greeks Tuesday when she flew into Athens on her first visit to the country since its debt crisis erupted three years ago.
Her visit triggered protests attended by some 50,000 demonstrators in Athens. The rallies were mostly peaceful, but police briefly clashed with several dozen demonstrators and detained nearly 200 people throughout the day.
More than 7,000 police had cordoned off parks and other sections of city to keep demonstrators away from the German leader.
As Europe's largest contributor to the bailout fund that has rescued Greece from bankruptcy, Germany is viewed by many Greeks as the primary enforcer of the austerity measures the Greek government enacted in exchange for emergency aid.
Merkel, who stopped in Athens for five hours, said the coalition government led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras still had to push through more key cost-cutting reforms.
"Much of the ground has been covered ... There is daily progress," Merkel said after talks with Samaras. "This is an effort that should be seen through because otherwise it would make the circumstances even more dramatic later on."
Although the German leader damped expectations in Athens of a stronger message of public support for Greece, Samaras said Merkel's visit had ended "the country's international isolation."
Greece has depended on bailouts from Europe and the International Monetary Fund since May 2010. To get the loans, it has implemented a series of deep budget cuts and tax hikes, while increasing retirement ages and facilitating private sector layoffs.
However, Athens must pass further austerity measures worth €13.5 billion ($17.5 billion) over the next two years to qualify for its next rescue loan payment — without which the government will run out of cash next month.
Enduring austerity is set to extend Greece's recession to a sixth year in 2013 and push the rate of unemployment up to nearly 25 percent, according to government estimates.
"Greece is determined to carry out its commitment and overcome the crisis," Samaras said. "At this moment, the country is bleeding but is determined to remain in the euro ...We are not asking for more money or favors — but only a chance to stand on its feet."
Merkel's stop in Athens was welcomed by the Greek government as a much-needed boost for the country's future in Europe — but protesters viewed it as a harbinger of further austerity and hardship.
Dozens of youths broke away from the peaceful rally and threw rocks and flares at riot police, who responded with pepper spray and stun grenades, in clashes that were relatively minor.
More than 7,000 police had cordoned off parks and other sections of city to keep demonstrators away from the German leader.
As a helicopter buzzed overhead, thousands of protesters, chanting "History is written by the disobedient" gathered in front of Greek parliament. One group of demonstrators burned a Swastika and threw it onto a police barrier, while a group of special forces reservists appeared in uniform and chanted "Merkel out of Greece" in time to their march.
"I have no doubt that (Merkel) has good intentions, and wants to help, but that won't solve Europe's problem," retired teacher Irini Kourdaki said. "Europe is polarized and ... we need a major change in policy."
Merkel's visit followed a subtle shift in political rhetoric in Germany toward the Greeks, with the chancellor repeating her desire to keep Greece in the eurozone and urging political allies to refrain from public criticism of the Athens government. It appeared that a goal of the trip was to affirm her support for Samaras as Germany's best bet to see through painful structural reforms which the Germans believe are necessary if Greece is to regain economic stability.
Before the visit, Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said the chancellor would express her support to the Greek government in the "very demanding reform course" and praised the country's progress to date.
"She knows that the country faces very demanding and painful tasks," Seibert said. "What has already happened has our support; what still has to happen, we will address very clearly."
That was a marked difference with the tone of statements made last summer, when some Merkel allies were openly dismissive of the Greeks for alleged economic mismanagement, with some politicians even suggesting that Greece's departure from the common currency would not produce the economic shock that many fear.
The visit was also likely aimed at preventing the opposition Social Democrats from criticizing her for allegedly failing to display strong personal leadership in the euro crisis in the run-up to national elections expected in about a year.
Debt monitors from the EU, IMF and European Central Bank, known as the "troika", will deliver a report within coming weeks on whether Greece should receive its next bailout payment, without which it will go bankrupt.
"It's taking longer than was originally thought," Merkel said. But it's better to deal with problems in detail that to try and address them quickly."
A senior Greek government official said rescue creditors had given the country a list of around 90 structural reforms to be approved immediately so that the vital next loan installment could be paid sometime next month.
The official asked not to be named, since talks between Merkel and Samaras were ongoing.— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Tehran Times
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Saudi Arabia has taken precautions to prevent disease spreading among Muslim pilgrims next month after a Qatari man was infected with a virus related to the deadly SARS, a health ministry official said on Wednesday.
The World Health Organization put out a global alert on Sunday saying a new, previously unknown, virus had infected a 49-year-old Qatari man who had recently travelled to Saudi Arabia, where another man with an almost identical virus had already died.
Britain’s Health Protection Agency and respiratory disease experts said there was no immediate cause for concern, although authorities were watching for any signs of the virus spreading.
Muslims from some 160 countries flock to Mecca and Medina during the annual Haj pilgrimage, which begins in late October. Some arrive by plane, others by boat or by car.
“The Health Ministry has taken preventative measures to deal with the influx of over 2 million Haj pilgrims,” Ziad Memish, the deputy minister for public health, told Reuters.
“The measures include monitoring the entrances through land, sea and air to evaluate the people entering and obtain samples if any symptoms are apparent,” he added.
In 2009 Saudi Arabia set up thermal cameras at its airports and increased the number of its medics as part of its measures to limit the spread of the H1N1 flu. It will not resort to using thermal cameras this year, Memish said.
“There is also continuous monitoring in the holy places in Mecca and Medina and Jeddah, with teams on the ground and hospitals to deal with them.”
Meanwhile, five people have been isolated in a hospital in Denmark with symptoms of a new viral respiratory illness from the same family as the deadly SARS virus, the hospital said on Wednesday.
“We have sent samples from the five for testing and hope to get the results this afternoon,” chief physician Svend Stenvang Petersen of Odense University Hospital told AFP.
“The five have a fever, coughing and influenza-like symptoms,” he added.
Petersen said those admitted were a family of four where the father had been to Saudi Arabia, and an unrelated person who had been to Qatar. Two of those with symptoms were under the age of five.
“We have put them in isolation because we don’t know how the virus spreads. So just as with bird and swine flu we have admitted them and isolated them so that we prevent the spread to others,” Petersen said.
“We do not have any medicine that works against this virus.”
The five contacted their doctors following a Danish health authority advisory on Monday recommending that those who had travelled to Qatar and Saudi Arabia seek medical help if they experienced a fever, coughing, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
The WHO confirmed in a global alert on Monday that the new virus was in the coronavirus family which causes the common cold but can also include more severe illnesses including SARS.
SARS swept out of China in 2003, killing more than 800 people worldwide.—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Al Arabiya
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The United States declined Monday to surrender an undisclosed number of detainees during the handover of a prison to Afghan control, a spokesman for the American-led coalition in Afghanistan said.
The handover of Parwan prison at Bagram Air Base was the linchpin in a larger agreement that outlines the gradual transfer of power from U.S. forces to Afghanistan as American troops prepare to withdraw.
A coalition official told CNN the United States is holding on to several Afghan detainees because of concerns about whether Afghan authorities will properly handle their cases and under what circumstances they might be released. The U.S. also is keeping several prisoners of other nationalities who were not part of the agreement, the source said.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Afghan President Hamid Karzai spoke by telephone Monday about the brewing controversy. Pentagon spokesman George Little said the two leaders "expressed a shared commitment to implement the terms of the memorandum of understanding on detention operations in Afghanistan."
Roughly 99% of the detainees in custody before the agreement was signed in March have been turned over to Afghan authorities, Jamie Graybeal, a spokesman for coalition, said by telephone.
"We have paused the transfer of the remaining detainees until our concerns are met," he said.
Graybeal declined to release the number of detainees still in U.S. custody, citing operational security.
The detainees in question are believed to be high-value Taliban and Haqqani network militants. The U.S. military has not publicly identified them.
The U.S. military also is temporarily halting the handover of any detainees taken into custody after the agreement was signed in March.
Graybeal did not outline what the concerns were or what steps needed to be taken before the U.S. military agreed to turnover the detainees.
While the handover ceremony at Bagram occurred Monday despite the U.S. military's refusal to surrender the detainees, the issue will likely be a sticking point between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. military leaders.
Karzai has been adamant that all prisoners be under the control of Afghan authorities.
As late as last week, there was an indication of a possible disagreement between Karzai and U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, commander of NATO troops.
In November, a loyal jirga, or grand assembly of Afghan elders, endorsed the continued presence of U.S. forces following the end of combat operations in 2014, though only if the two countries could agree on the transfer of prisoners, the end to night raids and lifting immunity for U.S. troops accused of committing crimes.
Karzai more recently released a statement following a meeting with Allen in which he said that under the agreement, "the prison is now supposed to be transferred to Afghan government and thus any delay in its handover is considered a breach of Afghan national sovereignty."—www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Muslims recently concluded their holy month of Ramadan. However, this year’s Ramadan has been overshadowed by an uptick in Islamophobic attacks against American Muslims in their schools, homes, and places of worship. In the wake of the massacre in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin earlier this month, hate crimes threatening Muslims or members of other faiths who are mistakenly confused with Muslims have been on the rise:
Mosque’s Welcome Sign Smashed: A North Smithfield, RI mosque was vandalized on August 5, when their welcome sign was smashed with a hammer. After appealing to local police for more protection, the mosque received increased security checks.
Mosque Burned To Ground: Federal agents are investigating a suspicious fire that burned a Joplin, MO mosque to the ground on August 6. Just a month earlier, a small fire at the same mosque damaged part of its roof.
Pig Legs Thrown Into Mosque Site: On August 7, pig parts were thrown onto the site of a proposed Islamic center in southern California. Since consuming pigs is forbidden under Islam, local advocates are asking federal officials to investigate it as a hate crime.
Shots Fired On Mosque: On August 10, David Conrad fired two pellet-gun shots on the outer wall of a Morton Grove, IL mosque while about 500 people were inside observing evening prayers for Ramadan. No one was injured, but worshipers saw one of the bullets just narrowly miss a a security guard’s head. Conrad is now in police custody.
Acid Bomb Attack At School: On August 12, an acid bomb was thrown into Muslim school in Lombard, IL, while the school was being used as a facility for evening Ramadan prayers. Worshipers heard a loud bang against the building and realized that someone had hurled a 7-Up bottle filled with acid and other unidentified materials at the school.
Windows Smashed At Christian Arab Church: On August 13, a Christian church in Detroit reported that their building had been vandalized. The church’s pastor, Father Rani Abdulmasih, noted that his Middle Eastern congregation has been racially profiled before.
Paintball Attack At Mosque: Vandals shot paintballs at the Grand Mosque of Oklahoma City on August 13. The attack was caught on the mosque’s surveillance camera, but the police were unable to identify the suspects.
Molotov Cocktail Thrown Into Muslim Home: In the middle of the night on August 15, a firebomb was thrown at a Muslim home in Panama City, FL. The home’s residents believe that the Molotov cocktail was aimed at a bedroom window, but missed its target. The fire was put out with a hose.
Hate Graffiti In Cemetery: On August 16, a visitor to a Muslim cemetery in Evergreen Park, IL discovered that several tombstones had been vandalized with hate graffiti, including racial epithets and insults against Mohammad.
Two weeks ago, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) claimed that radical Muslims are “trying to kill Americans every week” at a town hall just 15 miles away from the Morton Grove mosque. Several of the other recent attacks — the acid bomb in Lombard, IL and the graffiti in Evergreen Park, IL — also took place in Walsh’s district.—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: Think Progress
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — For many people the key question regarding fasting is whether it is good or bad for your health. The answer to this requires a quick overview of what happens inside the body during fasting: the physiology of fasting. The changes that occur in the body in response to fasting depend on the length of the continuous fast. Technically the body enters into a fasting state eight hours or so after the last meal, when the gut finishes absorption of nutrients from the food.
In the normal state, body glucose, which is stored in the liver and muscles, is the body's main source of energy.
During a fast, this store of glucose is used up first to provide energy. Later in the fast, once the stores of glucose run out, fat becomes the next store source of energy for the body. Small quantities of glucose are also ¡¥manufactured¡¦ through other mechanisms in the liver.
Only with a prolonged fast of many days to weeks, does the body eventually turn to protein for energy. This is the technical description of what is commonly known as ¡¥starvation¡¦, and it is clearly unhealthy. It involves protein being released from the breakdown of muscle which is why people who starve look emaciated and become very weak.
As the Ramadan fast only extends from dawn till dusk, there is ample opportunity to replenish energy stores at pre-dawn and dusk meals. This provides a progressive gentle transition from using glucose to fat as the main source of energy, and prevents the breakdown of muscle for protein. The use of fat for energy aids weight loss, preserving the muscles, and in the long run reduces your cholesterol levels. In addition weight loss results in better control of diabetes and reduces blood pressure. A detoxi-fication process also seems to occur, as any toxins stored in the body's fat are dissolved and removed from the body.
After a few days of the fast, higher levels of certain hormones appear in the blood (endorphins), resulting in a better level of alertness and an overall feeling of general mental well-being. Balanced food and fluid intake is important between fasts. The kidney is very efficient at maintaining the body's water and salts, such as sodium and potassium. However, these can be lost through sweating, to prevent muscle break down, meals must contain adequate levels of ¡¥energy food¡¦ such as carbohydrates and some fat. Hence, a balanced diet with adequate quantities of nutrients, salts and water is vital. —www.shafaqna.com/english
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Students at The American University in Cairo (AUC) have a long tradition of being actively engaged in community service. During the holy month of Ramadan, they have focused their efforts in assisting the needy in the underprivileged parts of Cairo. The community service clubs have worked during the summer to collect donations, distribute thousands of food packages to poor families around Cairo and prepare for Eid projects.
Volunteers in Action (VIA), which is the university’s largest community service club, has distributed 2,500 food packages to orphanages in Meet Okba. “The club is mainly developing and supporting the people in Meet Okba in particular starting 2 years ago until present, so they always have the priority; however, we are now developing other regions in Egypt to reach more needy people,” said Aya Wael, VIA president. It is also organizing the delivery of 2,300 iftar-to-go packages, which are delivered daily to people in need.
Moreover, the Help Club distributed 1,000 food packs to the underprivileged residents in the Masr El Qadima district and also organized a project, Rahman Delivery, which organizes the preparation and distribution of around 250 ready-to-eat meals per day throughout Ramadan. “Help Club has been working in Masr El Qadima for more than 15 years; we know the people there and they know us as well, that gives us credibility and enables us to make sure that every single pack or meal we distribute goes to a family or a person that deserves the help,” said Moemen Abdel Azeem, Help Club president.
As part of Help Club’s children program that runs all year long in Masr El Qadima, the club is planning to take the kids shopping towards the end of the month for Eid clothes as well as distributing packs of toys and candies.
For the ninth year in a row, Alashanak ya Balady (AYB) is distributing more than 1,500 food packages in a collective effort by AYB NGO, AYB AUC, Ain Shams University, Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport (AAST), and German University in Cairo (GUC). The packs are distributed in Ain El-Sira, Ezbet Abu Qarn, Boulaq Abu El-Ella, and El-Matarriya. “We chose to develop Ain El-Sira for AYB AUC according to that it was on the top of the list of poor areas in Egypt, and needed development more than charity, in addition to short distance from AUC as much as how accessible and safe it is,” said Raghda El-Ibrashi, the founder of AYB AUC back in 2002.
“This Eid we will be working on a Keswa donations campaign; collecting donated clothes from donors then sorting them out and display them with trivial prices for the people of Ain El-Sira to buy from,” said Nayera Abdel Hady, AYB president.
“Students at AUC have always proved their dedication and commitment towards their community,” said Ramza Sedky, associate director of AUC’s community service program. “Every year, they make sure they sustain their standards in helping the needy that wait for them from year to year.”—www.shafaqna.com/english
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — London police have used pepper spray against a “Critical Mass” cycle ride as the British capital holds the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Games. “Large number of people” arrested said a police tweet.
"A number of people in breach of regulations imposed on a monthly cycling event have been arrested," a spokesman for Scotland Yard said.
According to some reports at least 50 people have been detained and their bicycles loaded onto special buses parked nearby.
Critical Mass is a cycling event typically held on the last Friday of every month all around the world. Earlier there have been calls on the Internet to stage the London ride on July 27 as an anti-Olympics protest.
Scuffles occurred near the Olympic Stadium on the outskirts of the Olympic Park with participants saying they were being “kettled”. Some witnesses said police pushed the cyclists aside to get David Beckham through traffic.
A witness video uploaded to YouTube allegedly showed police assaulting and pepper-spraying a disabled man on a tricycle.—www.shafaqna.com/english