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IOS Minaret Vol-1, No.1 (March 2007)
Vol. 10    Issue 25   16-31 May 2016

Minaret Research Network

Iraq’s Escalating Humanitarian Crisis

Iraq continues to be in the grip of large-scale violence, insecurity and political instability. The violence and destruction wrought by the Islamic State has brought the country to the precipice of a grave humanitarian crisis. More than 10 million Iraqis are in desperate need of immediate humanitarian assistance. There is a grave shortage of food, clean drinking water, fuel and medicines in large parts of the country. Nearly 50,000 inhabitants of Falluja – which has been under IS control since 2014 – are at risk of starvation. Recently the United Nations described the humanitarian crisis as one of the worst in the world.

London Elects Its First Muslim Mayor

Labour Party’s Sadiq Khan, 45, the son of Pakistani immigrants, was elected as London’s new mayor on May 7. He beat the Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith by an impressive margin. Khan’s father, Amanullah Khan, migrated to the UK in 1970 and took up a job as a bus driver in London. His mother was a saty-at-home seamstress. Sadiq Khan was the fifth of eight children. He attended Ernest Bevin College in south London and then studied law at the University of North London. He became a trainee solicitor in 1994 at Christian Fisher under the human rights lawyer Louise Christian. Three years later, when he was 27, Khan was made an equity partner in the law firm where he worked, and the firm was renamed Christian Khan.

As a solicitor, Khan won a number of high-profile cases involving people who experienced racial discrimination. He also won cases at the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights. His family background, his keen sense of social involvement and his stint as a human rights lawyer led him to join the Labour Party. He left his law firm in 2004 and the following year he contested and won the seat of Tooting as a Labour candidate. He was made a communities minister in Gordon Brown’s cabinet.

Sadiq Khan has openly and proudly acknowledged his Islamic roots. In his maiden speech as an MP, he said that one of the things his father taught him as a young boy was a saying of the Prophet Muhammad, “If one sees something wrong, one has a duty to change it.”

Sadiq Khan has promised to be “a mayor for all Londoners.”

Economic Downturn in Algeria

Algeria, Africa’s largest country, is a major producer and exporter of oil and natural gas. It has the world’s 9th largest reserves of natural gas and 17th largest reserves of oil. Algeria is identified as an upper middle income country by the World Bank. Exports of oil and natural gas account for almost 95 per cent of the export revenue and provide 60 per cent of the nation’s budget.

The global slump in oil prices has severely affected the oil-producing countries in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere. Algeria too has been badly hit by the falling oil prices. In 2015,, Algeria’s export revenue fell by half, thanks to a drastic fall in oil prices in the international market. In consequence, the fiscal deficit has nearly doubled to 16 per cent of the gross domestic product. Algeria’s foreign currency resertves have been declining, registering a fall from $180 billion in 2014 to $143 billion in 2015. Faced with this grim situation, the Algerian government announced a 15% reduction in imports to save foreign currency reserves.

Despite its vast energy resources, poverty and inequality are widespread in the country. More than a third of the country’s population live in poverty. The poor are mostly landless farmers who live in the mountainous regions, where they struggle to have access to food, safe drinking water, healthcare and education.

Pakistan on the Cusp of Eradicating Polio

Though the polio virus has been eradicated in most parts of the world, ten countries continue to be vulnerable to the virus. These include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Somalia and Israel. The polio virus continues to be endemic in just two countries – Pakistan and Afghanistan. Syria, which was polio-free for 14 years, was re-infected with the virus from Pakistan. The World Health Organisation has recently issued a grave warning about the resurgent threat of the polio virus in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Syria.

Pakistan was close to eradicating the polio virus in 2005, when only 28 cases were reported. However, the number increased to 91 in 2013. In 2014 more than 300 polio cases were recorded. The number fell to 52 in 2015. Efforts by health agencies, NGOs and the Pakistan government to eradicate the polio virus through mass vaccination programmes have been thwarted by some extremist groups, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in the tribal areas in the north-west and in Baluchistan, who believe that polio vaccinations are a conspiracy by the United States and other Western countries to sterilize male Muslim children. Many health workers have been beaten, kidnapped and even killed. A bomb attack on a vaccination centre in Quetta in January 2016 killed 15 people. In April this year, 7 policemen, including three who were guarding health workers, were killed in Karachi.

There has been a significant drop in the number of polio cases over the past couple of years. Pakistan launched a mass vaccination drive aimed at covering millions of children in May, involving some 70,000 medical staff. Officials say that polio could be eradicated over the next few months.

Muslims Face Discrimination in Delhi, says Study

A full-fledged study carried out by the Helsinki-based United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) in Delhi and adjoining areas has documented and highlighted the discrimination experienced by Muslims in finding a rented accommodation in India’s capital. The study was carried out in Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida in the summer of 2015 under the supervision of Sugato Datta, who has a Ph. D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Vikram Pathania, a senior lecturer in Economics at the University of Sussex, UK. The findings of the study, released in May 2016, confirm the widely shared perception that Muslim applicants in Delhi and the adjacent cities find it more difficult than upper caste Hindus to rent a house in Delhi. The study found that “a Muslim applicant must respond to 45 listings to receive 10 landlord callbacks, while an upper caste Hindu applicant must respond to only 28.6 listings to receive the same number.” In other words, Muslims have to apply to 60% more houses than upper caste Hindus. The study did not find any statistically significant evidence of bias or discrimination against scheduled castes or other disadvantaged Hindu groups. Dietary preferences of tenants were often cited as a pretext for refusing to rent houses to Muslim applicants.

It is an open secret that such forms of overt or covert bias and discrimination against Muslims exist in other metropolitan cities, including Mumbai.

Muslim Woman Elected as Speaker in German State Parliament

Muhterem Aras, 50, was elected as the speaker of the parliament of the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg in Germany on May 11, 2016. She said her victory sent out a message of “openness, tolerance and successful integration.”

Turkish-born Aras moved to a town near Stuttgart with her parents as a child. She joined the Green Party and climbed up the political ladder with exceptional self-confidence and her ability to get along with people with ease.

Meanwhile, Islamophobic sentiments in Germany have been on the rise in recent months, fuelled in particular by the influx of more than a million refugees from Syria and Afghanistan since the start of 2015. The far right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has been gaining popularity in recent months, says that Islam is not a part of Germany and that Muslims are not welcome in the country. The party says that Islam is not compatible with the German constitution and calls for a ban on minarets and the Islamic veil.

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