SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Anti-war groups will protest at the UK airbase from which the country has begun controlling its fleet of assassination drones in Afghanistan. Previously, the remote pilots were deployed only in the US.
Four anti-war groups – including CND, the Drone Campaign Network, Stop the War and War on Want – are staging a nonviolent protest on Saturday over drone use by the Waddington base in Lincolnshire.
The British Royal Air Force (RAF) has opened drone control stations at the base located south of Lincoln this week to work in tandem with those already in place at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. In 2010, the Ministry of Defence decided it needs the capability to remotely operate its armed drones from its own soil following a strategic security review.
Waddington is home to the new 13 squadron created for this purpose in October last year. The unit consists of about 100 personnel, including pilots, systems operators and engineers.
Together with the Nevada unit, the squadron will be remotely controlling UK's drones, including the armed Reaper drones, which can drop laser-guided bombs and launch Hellfire missiles.
"We aren't flying any more operations than we were before, but with the time differences between the US, Afghanistan and the UK, it is now possible for pilots at Waddington to work in relay with the those in the US," a source told the Guardian while explaining the rationale behind the new unit.
The UK deploys a relatively small, but still sizable, drone fleet in Afghanistan, mostly consisting of surveillance aircraft. There are five British Reapers deployed in the region, and the MoD plans to double that number this year.
Protesters expressed fears over the UK's development of the drone program, which is marred by its association with its US counterpart. Washington uses CIA-operated drones in the targeted killings of suspected militants, which critics say results in an unacceptable number of civilian deaths and has shaky legal and moral grounds.
"Drones, controlled far away from conflict zones, ease politicians' decisions to launch military strikes and order extra-judicial assassinations, without democratic oversight or accountability to the public," Rafeef Ziadah, War on Want senior campaign manager said. "Now is the time to ban killer drones – before it is too late."
The British military insist that their use of drones saves soldiers' and civilians' lives, and is no different from that of piloted aircraft.
"UK Reaper aircraft are piloted by highly trained professional military pilots who adhere strictly to the same laws of armed conflict and are bound by the same clearly defined rules of engagement which apply to traditionally manned RAF aircraft," an MoD spokesman said. -www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) The Al Khalifa regime has ordered journalists from the British television network ITV to leave Bahrain as they reported on the violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests in the build-up to the Formula One Grand Prix auto race.
The team of five, including ITV News special correspondent Rageh Omaar, were filming in the tiny Persian Gulf island ahead of this weekend's Formula One race.
However, despite having the necessary visas, the British TV crew was held and questioned at a police station on Friday before being told they must leave the country or face going to prison.
An ITV News spokeswoman said the news team “were stopped while filming … and taken to a local police station for discussions with officers”.
Earlier this week, a group of British MPs also called for the cancellation of the Formula One race due to “negative publicity” it may attract the same as last year.
Bahraini demonstrators say Manama’s hosting of the sporting event will legitimize the Al Khalifa regime and its abuse of the rights of the Bahraini people.
Bahrainis have been staging demonstrations since mid-February 2011, demanding political reform and a constitutional monarchy, a demand that later changed to an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following its brutal crackdown on popular protests.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – A British campaign is gaining support to include Islamic history in school curriculum to educate non-Muslims about Muslim contributions to science and philosophy.
"This is not just about educating Muslims," Mohammed Amin, from campaign group Curriculum for Cohesion, told Huffington Post UK.
"This is about those young pupils who hear nothing about Islam at school and grow up thinking Muslims have contributed nothing to the world about from terrorism.
"Those children could grow up to join the English Defence League," he said.
Backed by the umbrella Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the campaign came in response to a draft specification of a new history syllabus published by the Department of Education in February.
But the draft curriculum invited criticism for excluding "all reference to Muslims and Islam."
Faith campaigners have urged teachers and members of the public to appeal to the government to amend the curriculum before consultations end next week.
The campaign was championed by Matthew Wilkinson, a former Eton head boy who converted to Islam, and supported by high-profile patrons, including MP Sadiq Khan and Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger.
The campaign group said a broader curriculum would engage Muslim pupils, 10% of the school population, who may feel excluded from British historical identity.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.7 million.
There are 400,000 Muslim students in British schools, according to the MCB.
About 7,000 state schools in Britain are faith schools – roughly one in three of the total – educating 1.7 million pupils.
Of the 590 faith-based secondary schools five are Jewish, two Muslim and one Sikh - the rest are Church of England, Roman Catholic and other Christian faiths.
Supporters say the campaign also advocates for the inclusion of the history for all faiths, not just Muslim history.
"We have asked, for example, for the curriculum to include the persecution of Jews in the Middle Ages, and their eventual expulsion from Britain,” Amin said.
It also calls for the inclusion of the contribution of Indian Muslim, Hindu and Sikh soldiers to the military effort in both world wars.
It also calls for the preservation and enhancement of ancient Greek and Roman learning by classical Muslim civilization and Britain's long history of trade, diplomatic and other relations with Muslim-majority regions.
"These inclusions are required to paint a true picture of the past," the group said in a statement.
"In their absence, British Muslim children will see no place for themselves in their country's history, creating the risk of alienation.
"At the same time non-Muslim children will grow up believing that Muslims have contributed nothing of value to Britain or indeed human civilization, creating the risk of their acquiring anti-Muslim attitudes.
"Neither of these outcomes is good for Britain, or for the ability of Britons to do business in a world economy which is increasingly integrated."-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: ON Islam
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Bernie Ecclestone is an appropriate person to be the public face of Formula 1, a ‘sport’ which is fast becoming known as the event of choice for autocrats who wish to launder their international reputation, as evidenced by the appearance of races in Bahrain and Dubai in recent years.
Ecclestone famously praised Thatcher, Hitler and Saddam a few years ago, saying that he preferred strong leaders, that Hitler was a man who was ‘able to get things done’, and yet paradoxically, that politics ‘is not for me’.
Equally bizarre, he continues to support the Bahraini régime, asserting that ‘I haven’t had any negative reports from anybody there’. That could be because he hasn’t spoken to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, the main opposition Party Al-Wefaq, the Bahrain Freedom Movement or the people who take part in the daily demonstrations against the ruling al-Khalifa family. His informants are the royal family themselves and their acolytes, who are responsible for widespread discrimination against the opposition, and suppression of dissent.
Thirteen leading political and human rights activists are serving life or long determinate sentences of imprisonment.
Demonstrators are bombarded at close range with birdshot and teargas canisters. Hundreds are arrested, andaround 90 people have died from state violence and torture since the uprising began in February 2011.
No opposition press or broadcasting is allowed, and social media is subject to intense surveillance, using the UK company Gamma’s FinSpy software, regularly touted at UK arms and security expos.
At last year’s F1 race in Bahrain, a man was killed by security forces in a crackdown aimed at preventing the international media from recording any signs of opposition. When a Channel 4 team tried to go into deprived villages where the opposition’s supporters live, they were arrested and deported.
If the race does go ahead this year, it will be the duty of the media to use it as the introduction to a closer scrutiny of Bahrain’s abysmal record on human rights, democracy and the rule of law. They should also look at Britain’s shameful friendship with this former colony of ours. We supplied them with their chief torturer Ian Henderson in the 1990s, and today they are regular buddies with the Queen and the Prime Minister. This doesn’t stack up with our claim to promote the freedoms we enjoy ourselves across the globe.
This is all a matter of indifference to Ecclestone. He reportedly told the Bahraini activist Alaa Shehabi last year that he wouldn’t mind if the race was cancelled, because he had already cashed the check from the Bahraini government. His priority is profit and he evinces no sign of concern about the suffering of those who have to pay the price for it.
Let’s hope that Bahrain will follow in the steps of South Africa, where the Formula 1 races were cancelled in 1985 amid rising international awareness of the moral bankruptcy of the Apartheid regime. Bahrain’s regime is equally discriminatory and corrupt, and deserves the same fate.
* Eric Lubbock, Lord Avebury, is a working peer, and Vice-Chair, Parliamentary Human Rights Group. He blogs here.
source : Libdvoice
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt will answer your questions on Bahrain live via twitter on 8 April.Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, visited Bahrain on 11-12 March 2013 and took part in the inaugural meeting of the UK-Bahrain Joint Working Group to discuss a wide range of bilateral and regional issues. Discussions covered human rights and Bahrain’s reform programme, trade and investment and cooperation on security and counter-terrorism.
The Minister continues to follow the situation in Bahrain closely and remains supportive of the reforms already underway. Progress has been made in a number of areas, but there is still more to be done.
Following his visit Alistair Burt will answer your questions on Bahrain live via twitter on 8 April 11.00 – 11.45 (BST). You can submit questions using the hashtag #askFCO and you can follow the Minister on twitter@AlistairBurtFCO.
source : bahrain.shafaqna.com
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)- British Foreign Secretary William Hague has called for calm over the North Korean crisis, despite the "paranoid rhetoric" emanating from Pyongyang.
"We have to be concerned about the danger of miscalculation by the North Korean regime," Mr Hague said.
It was important to "keep calm as well as to be firm and united", as the North was trying to justify militarisation by "ramping up" external threats, he said.
North Korea has made a series of direct threats against the US and South Korea.
Since being sanctioned by the UN in March for carrying out a third nuclear test, Pyongyang has threatened nuclear strikes on the US, formally declared war on the South, and pledged to reopen a nuclear reactor in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.
On Friday, North Korea warned it would not be able to guarantee the safety of embassy staff in the event of a war.
South Korea announced on Sunday that its top military official Gen Jung Seung-jo, was postponing a trip to Washington, where he was due to meet his US counterpart, because of the rising tensions.
The two sides had decided to reschedule the meeting "to maintain a firm defense readiness amid the current security situation," South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted a Joint Chiefs of Staff official as saying.
Meanwhile, Switzerland has offered to mediate with North Korea. However, the Swiss foreign ministry says there are currently no plans for any talks.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was educated for several years in traditionally neutral Switzerland under a pseudonym, Swiss media say.
Missile test postponed
But Mr Hague, speaking to the BBC, said he had not "seen any immediate need to respond to that by moving our diplomats out of there".
He added, however, that Britain would "keep this under close review with our allies and international partners".
The foreign secretary said North Korean leaders were making "the wrong choice" between isolation and engagement with the international community, and warned "they will end up leading a broken, friendless country".
But he said there had not been in recent weeks the visible redeployment of ground forces consistent with an invasion plan, nor "a change in what is happening in North Korean society".
William Hague: "International partners should stay calm and not respond to Pyongyang's threats"
"What is going on is what we have often seen throughout history," he said. "This is a regime that has to justify the intense militarisation of their society."
This week, the North reportedly moved at least one missile to its east coast. It has threatened to strike the Pacific island of Guam, where the US has a military base.
But US and South Korean officials have sought to play down fears of a conflict on the Korean peninsula, saying there are no indications Pyongyang is preparing for a large-scale attack.
North Korea has not taken direct military action since 2010, when it shelled a South Korean island and killed four people.
This weekend the US said it was postponing a planned test of its own Minuteman 3 ballistic missile, saying it was concerned the launch could be misinterpreted by Pyongyang.
A Pentagon official said the US wanted to avoid any "miscalculation" that might result from the test.
The BBC's John Sudworth in Seoul says Pyongyang will likely use the delay to its advantage in propaganda, and say the US has been forced to climb down in the face of resilience from the North Korean army.
The North Korean media are full of images of military preparedness, he adds, intended to rally people behind the leadership.
Many observers say that North Korea's belligerent rhetoric appears intended for a domestic audience and at shoring up the position of Kim Jong-un, who came to power after his father's death in December 2011.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- People in the UK now fit into seven social classes, a major survey conducted by the BBC suggests.
It says the traditional categories of working, middle and upper class are outdated, fitting 39% of people.
It found a new model of seven social classes ranging from the elite at the top to a "precariat" - the poor, precarious proletariat - at the bottom.
More than 161,000 people took part in the Great British Class Survey, the largest study of class in the UK.
Class has traditionally been defined by occupation, wealth and education. But this research argues that this is too simplistic, suggesting that class has three dimensions - economic, social and cultural.
The BBC Lab UK study measured economic capital - income, savings, house value - and social capital - the number and status of people someone knows.
The study also measured cultural capital, defined as the extent and nature of cultural interests and activities.
The new classes are defined as:
- Elite - the most privileged group in the UK, distinct from the other six classes through its wealth. This group has the highest levels of all three capitals
- Established middle class - the second wealthiest, scoring highly on all three capitals. The largest and most gregarious group, scoring second highest for cultural capital
- Technical middle class - a small, distinctive new class group which is prosperous but scores low for social and cultural capital. Distinguished by its social isolation and cultural apathy
- New affluent workers - a young class group which is socially and culturally active, with middling levels of economic capital
- Traditional working class - scores low on all forms of capital, but is not completely deprived. Its members have reasonably high house values, explained by this group having the oldest average age at 66
- Emergent service workers - a new, young, urban group which is relatively poor but has high social and cultural capital
- Precariat, or precarious proletariat - the poorest, most deprived class, scoring low for social and cultural capital
The researchers said while the elite group had been identified before, this is the first time it had been placed within a wider analysis of the class structure, as it was normally put together with professionals and managers.
At the opposite extreme they said the precariat, the poorest and most deprived grouping, made up 15% of the population.
The sociologists said these two groups at the extremes of the class system had been missed in conventional approaches to class analysis, which have focused on the middle and working classes.
Professor of sociology at Manchester University, Fiona Devine, said the survey really gave a sense of class in 21st Century Britain.
"What it allows us is to understand is a more sophisticated, nuanced picture of what class is like now.
"It shows us there is still a top and a bottom, at the top we still have an elite of very wealthy people and at the bottom the poor, with very little social and cultural engagement," she said.
"It's what's in the middle which is really interesting and exciting, there's a much more fuzzy area between the traditional working class and traditional middle class.
"There's the emergent workers and the new affluent workers who are different groups of people who won't necessarily see themselves as working or middle class.
"The survey has really allowed us to drill down and get a much more complete picture of class in modern Britain."
The researchers also found the established middle class made up 25% of the population and was the largest of all the class groups, with the traditional working class now only making up 14% of the population.
They say the new affluent workers and emergent service workers appear to be the children of the "traditional working class," which they say has been fragmented by de-industrialisation, mass unemployment, immigration and the restructuring of urban space.
BBC Lab UK worked with Prof Mike Savage of the London School of Economics and Prof Devine on the study.
The findings have been published in the Sociology Journal and presented at a conference of the British Sociological Association on Wednesday.
Researchers asked a series of questions about income, house value, savings, cultural and leisure activities and the occupations of friends.
They were able to determine a person's economic, social and cultural capital scores from the answers and analysed the scores to create its class system.
The GBCS was launched online in January 2011, but data showed participants were predominantly drawn from the well-educated social groups.
To overcome this a second identical survey was run with a survey company GFK, with a sample of people representing the population of the UK as a whole, using the information in parallel.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –His statement followed the release of a survey for the Coalition for Marriage in which the feelings of Christians are highlighted – Christians have feelings of resentment about the support rendered to gay marriage by the prime minister.
535 Christians who are church goers were questioned during the survey carried out by ComRes and it was revealed that about 67% of them felt they were a persecuted minority.
Lord Carey accused the prime minister of double standards. “It was a bit rich to hear the Prime Minister has told religious leaders they should stand up and oppose aggressive secularism when it seems that his government is aiding and abetting this aggression every step of the way,” he said.
Although a government spokesman said, “This Government strongly backs faith and Christianity in particular”, the former archbishop said that, “many Christians doubt his (David Cameron’s) sincerity.”
Lord Carey is 77 years old and led the Anglican Church from 1991 to 2002.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)- As the Formula 1 teams became under intensive pressure not to take part in the forthcoming race in Bahrain, the health of two of the most prominent human rights activists has deteriorated sharply in the past two days. Abdul Hadi Al Khawana, 51, and his daughter, Zainab, 29 began hunger strike last Sunday in protest at the way they were treated by the prison authorities and lack of access to their families. Mr Al Khawaja is protesting against the increasing brutality of the prison authorities, the use of torture even against those who had been sentenced and the monitoring regime of the family visits that had become less frequent. His daughter, Zainab is protesting against the way she has been prevented from seeing her three-years daughter, Joud. The health of both has deteriorated in the past two days and calls have been made to transfer them to the hospital for emergency treatment. Sources close to the Alkhalifa said that the regime prefers to have them dead as they have repeatedly challenged its policies of extra-judicial killings and systematic torture.
Meanwhile, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights has issued a statement expressing concern at the health of Abdul Hadi and Zainab and calling for their immediate release. Also, Nabeel Rajab called Abdul Hadi’s wife urging her to remain composed and patient. He asked her to feel proud to have such husband and daughter. Despite his pains and chains, Mr Rajab has proven himself to possess great leadership and humane qualities.
A Kuwaiti blogger and human rights activist, Nawaf Al Hendal said on his Twitter on Thursday that he had been banned from entering Bahrain. He was on his way via the Bahrain-Saudi causeway, attempting to enter Bahrain when he was stopped and told that he was “persona non grata” and should go back to Kuwait. He described how a person in plain clothes informed him of the decision by the ruling family that he was “no longer welcomed in Bahrain”. Bahraini activists have apologised to Mr Al Hendal for being turned away by a murderous regime.
The people’s Revolution has continued unabated. The past week has seen protests and demonstrations in most areas, especially after night fall. Several people were injured, some of them seriously as the dictator continued to issue orders to his troops to shoot at peaceful protesters. The situation is becoming desperate especially that the “dialogue” that started one month ago has practically come to a halt as Bahrainis declared their opposition to any political settlement that leaves the ruling family in charge. The jailed leaders have rejected this meaningless “dialogue” between the political societies and agents of the regime.
At another level, the ProPublica website reported that the International Peace Institute, a New York-based think tank closely associated with the United Nations, announced last month an agreement to open an office in Bahrain to “promote development, peace and international security.” Institute President Terje Rød-Larsen, a veteran diplomat in the Mideast who is also a United Nations under-secretary-general, said that taking money from Bahrain’s government would not compromise the institute’s work. He declined to say how much money Bahrain is providing. Rød-Larsen has been a frequent visitor to Bahrain in recent years, regularly meeting with government officials both in his capacity as the institute’s president and as a U.N. official. Organized as a nonprofit charity in New York, the institute had a budget of nearly $11 million in 2011 and Rød-Larsen received about $495,000 in compensation. According to the group’s 2011 annual report, its major donors that year included the United States, several governments in Europe, as well as Bahraini regional allies Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The institute’s international advisory council includes Prince Turki Al-Faisal, the former head of Saudi intelligence. Saudi Arabia sent troops to help put down the protests in Bahrain in 2011.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Marriage has become a troubling problem for many Muslims in Britain as parents are finding difficulty in finding suitable partners for their children, forcing many to postpone it to older age.
“Parents should start a dialogue with their children regarding marriage earlier rather than delaying it. Maybe from the age of twenty onwards,” a Muslim scholar, who did not wish to be named, told Asian Image on Monday, March 25.
“Assistance should be sought from senior members of the community outlining a clear criterion for the prospective spouse.
“This is a tried and tested traditional method which is very effective.”
Marriage has become a troubling problem for many Muslims in Britain.
Muslim parents have been facing difficulty in finding suitable partners to their children, forcing many to postpone marriage to older age.
“Parents need to understand the importance of compatibility,” the imam said.
“Our children who are born and bred here in the United Kingdom should look for partners here, as there is already an understanding of British and Muslim life.
The imam opines that Muslim parents in Britain should pick up British-born spouses for their children.
“A partner from abroad will find it difficult to adjust to the British way of life and more importantly they will encounter issues in trying to live a normal acceptable life with their partners,” he said.
“Sometimes one of the two may feel traumatized and oppressed in some way.
“This is the reality we as a community will have to accept and find a solution to. Some young men and women end up living like slaves in marriage whereas married life is a blissful and happy life if the true teachings of Islam are adhered to by all parties.”
He advised Muslim youngsters to discuss their concerns with their parents or seek advice from British Muslim imams and scholars.
“At the same time children will have an opportunity to mention to parents how they feel,” he said.
“Sometimes youngsters feel it is too soon to settle down but due to the challenges we are facing in society, I would say the sooner the better.
“Young people should approach their local English speaking scholars for guidance in these issues. British born scholars and Imams will understand the problems faced by the youth of today so are well placed to advised and guide.”
British Muslims are estimated at nearly 2.5 million.
The imam urged British Muslims to maintain Islamic manners whiling looking for their spouses.
“Youngsters should avoid any activity, conduct or behavior that would damage their reputation. Decisions for marriage are based on reputation, character and piety,” he said.
“As individuals we should have a good character and demonstrate an understanding of responsibility.”
Marriage in Islam is of utmost importance as it is upon the lawful union of a man and a woman that society grows strong and that moral is preserved.
In Islam it is not permissible for the guardian to compel the one under his guardianship to marry someone she does not desire to marry.
Rather, it is necessary to seek her consent and permission.
The imam also urged community leaders to offer advice to young couples to help curb rising divorce rates.
“Young married couples should seek early intervention and assistance when experiencing problems in their marriage.
“Too many young spouses are leaving it too late and suffering in silence and early intervention always helps and reduces suffering,” he said.
“Again intervention should be sought from understanding local scholars who should be able to advise and illuminate issues resulting in a better matrimonial life.
“In most cases the problem is minor and could have been dealt with very easily had help been sought earlier. This will definitely result in the divorce rates dropping drastically if this strategy is adopted.”-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: On Islam