10 Reasons You Should Not Fear Muslims — by Omar Alnatour on World Muslim Congress Blogspot de

When I was a toddler, I was terrified of ladybugs. There was just something about how different they looked that made me fear and despise them. To me, they looked harmful. As I grew older, I learned that ladybugs are not only absolutely harmless to humans but also extremely beneficial to us because they feed on landscape pests without harming our plants or other harmless bugs. Knowing this, I no longer am scared of ladybugs and I actually enjoy their presence.


There are millions of Muslims living in the United States and I can guarantee you that every single one has either directly faced some sort of hateful discrimination or knows of a Muslim that has. According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, a Muslim American is a victim of a hate crime every three days. Recent polls show that more than half of Americans have an unfavorable view of Islam. Sadly, Muslims are today’s ladybugs.

As a Muslim American who continually strives to do everything I can for the betterment of my community and this nation, it is saddening to see this hate. Yet just as my fear of ladybugs was caused by my ignorance about them, similar is the case with how Muslims are currently viewed. It’s time to change that. Let this be the piece that does away with your unwarranted fear of Muslims.


Here Are Ten Reasons Why You Should Not Be Afraid of Muslims:


  1. All terrorists are Muslims EXCEPT the gigantic majority that aren’t.

According to the FBI, 94 percent of terrorist attacks carried out inside the United States from 1980 to 2005 have been by non-Muslims. Keyword: Non-Muslims. Looking overseas, less than 2 percent of terrorist attacks carried out in Europe in the past five years have been by Muslims.

If this miniscule percentage isn’t calming enough for you, I can present better. From 9/11 to the end of 2015, less than 0.0002 percent of Americans killed were killed by Muslims. No matter where you look, every single statistic will scream to you that there is absolutely no valid association between the over 1.6 billion peaceful Muslims in the world and the terror committed by those who hijack our religion.

Furthermore, if you insist on using these single-digit and decimal statistics to justify such an association, I strongly suggest that you consider the double-digit statistics regarding non-Muslims and acts of terrorism.


  1. Muslims do not plan to take over America with our religion.

One thing more hysterical than my childhood fear of ladybugs is this unfounded fear that Muslims plan to take over this country and impose Sharia law. The fact of the matter is that this is absolutely untrue as the majority of Muslims actually want to adopt American customs and ways of life, according to the Pew Research Center.

But let me humor the Islamophobes: Even if Muslims wanted to take over this nation and turn the White House into a super cool mosque (which totally isn’t the case), we would not be able to. Muslims make up less than 1 percent of the total U.S. population. We are a minority of a minority and never in history has 1 percent of a nation’s population succeeded in taking over the other 99 percent. To put things into perspective, this would be equivalent to a toddler taking over an entire elementary school during nap time.


  1. Speaking of toddlers, if you are scared of Muslims then you should be terrified of toddlers.

More Americans were killed by toddlers than by Muslims in 2013. And in 2014. And in 2015. And every year for the past several years.

Based on these facts, you should be more afraid of toddlers than you are of Muslims, or more realistically, less afraid of Muslims than you are of toddlers. Please remember this the next time you are on an airplane with a Muslim. Speaking of airplanes, you are more than 11,000 times more likely to die in an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane.


  1. If you are scared of Muslims, then you should also be afraid of household furniture.

Recent data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that since the 9/11 attacks, which have caused Americans to become terrified of Muslims, Americans have been just as likely to be crushed to death by unstable televisions and furniture than they are to be killed by a Muslim. On this same note, in the time it took you to read this far, at least one American has died from a heart attack. In the time it takes you to finish this article, at least one American will have died as a result of suicide. By tonight, at least one American will have died as a result of distracted driving. By the time you wake up tomorrow morning, an American child will have died as a result of gun violence.

Meanwhile, not a single American would have been harmed by a Muslim as all of this is happening. Rather than fearing Muslims who pose no harm, why not work to address the aforementioned preventable deadly leading causes of death plaguing our nation?


  1. When we say Islam teaches peace, we really mean it.

There is no bigger award for those who promote peace than the Nobel Peace Prize. That being said, 5 out of the 12 past people who have won this award have been Muslims. So if all Muslims are terrorists because a single digit percentage of terrorists happen to be Muslim, then all Muslims are peacemakers because 42 percent of Nobel Peace Prize winners in the past 12 years have been Muslims.


  1. Muslims play an essential role in fighting terrorism at home.

Many polls and studies conducted in the last few years show that Muslims have played a crucial role in helping law enforcement find terror suspects in the United States. In fact, a recent study by Duke University showed that Muslim Americans helped catch more terrorism suspects and perpetrators than the United States government itself. Furthermore, many Muslims have served and currently serve in the military to help protect this nation from terrorists.


  1. Muslims hate ISIS just as much as you do.

Here is a fact that is not well known to many: Muslims are the the largest victims of ISIS’s terror as well as the largest victims of all terrorism in general, according to theU.S. State Department. Muslims want to defeat terrorism just as much as any other American, if not more. This is why we have Muslims like Niloofar Rahmani, Kubra Khademi, many Muslim youth, and various Muslim groups and scholars that have done much more to combat ISIS than Islamophobes like Donald Trump ever will.


  1. Muslims are doing amazing work in the United States.

We want to help our fellow Americans. We actually enjoy helping. You don’t have look far to find evidence of this. Just last year, Muslims raised over $100,000 to rebuild burned black churches, raised nearly $200,000 to help the San Bernardino victims, and donated 30,000 water bottles to help alleviate the current Flint water crisis. Even Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha, two Muslims who were killed by a hateful non-Muslim terrorist, were recently awarded the MLK Unsung Hero Award for their significant contributions to social justice, equity or diversity, and having made a positive difference in the lives of others.


  1. Muslims are helping break gender stereotypes.

This nation we live in is a seen as a symbol of freedom and opportunity and Muslims lead the nation by example. American Muslims not only hold more college degrees by proportion than the general U.S. population, but also make up the second-highest level of education among major religious groups. To add, American Muslim women hold more college or postgraduate degrees than Muslim men and aremore likely to work in professional fields than women from most other U.S. religious groups.

Nearly all Muslim Americans agree that women should be able to work outside the home and a significant majority believe there is no difference between men and women political leaders. It is easy to see that Islam encourages women to aspire for greatness and use their success to help others, this is why the youngest doctor in the world is a Muslim woman and the first university in the world was founded by one as well. In addition, the same Islam that Americans are afraid of has granted women rights of equality thousands of years ago that women in the United States don’t have to this very day. While an Equal Rights Amendment still has not been passed in the U.S. allowing women equal rights as men, the Quran granted this right to women long before this nation was ever founded.


  1. Muslims have been in the United States for centuries.

The history of American Muslims goes back more than 400 years. Scholars even estimate that a quarter to a third of African slaves brought to this nation were Muslims. Despite the unfortunate circumstance of our first arrival, Muslims played a significant role in the establishment of this nation. And despite all the hatred we continue to receive, we want to play a role in making this nation great and safe.

Twenty-one Muslims were killed by the Taliban in Pakistan this week and I’m still waiting for the world to respond as furiously as they would have if the victims were non-Muslims. As I ululate the names of the 21 Muslim university students killed on Wednesday, I ask myself: Why are Muslims hated because of terrorism when we are the largest victims of it?

There is not a single day that goes by that I don’t think of Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha and how they will never be able to continue carrying out the amazing work they were doing because they were hated and killed simply for being Muslim.

I am Deah Barakat. I am Tamir Rice. I am Yusor Abu-Salha. I am Sandra Bland. I am every single American that has died as a result of hate and unjustified fear. On behalf of all Muslim Americans, I urge you to rise above your unfounded fears and trust in the truth that implores you to accept us as equal citizens of this nation. Look past our hijabs and long beards and see the love we have in our hearts. And please, stop seeing us as terrorists when it is terror that we resist. We want to help defeat terrorism and we want to help make this nation great, all you have to do is grab our hand. We have it extended out. 


Omar Alnatour is a Palestinian-American college student. He is one of the biggest voices on the Palestine-Israel conflict on Twitter with his tweets being featured on Huffington Post, CNN, , Buzzfeed, The Independent, Al Jazeera, Vice News, AJ Plus, RT News, and Mondoweiss.

 Source: World Muslim Congress Blogspot de


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Hotspot Launch: Celebrating Arts, Culture and Community at the Aga Khan Museum Toronto


Hotspot Launch: Celebrating Arts, Culture and Community at the Aga Khan Museum TorontoFrom May through October 2016, the Cultural Hotspot initiative will shine a spotlight on arts, culture and community in North York; inspiring new ideas about where culture thrives in Toronto.

Hotspot Launch: Celebrating Arts, Culture and Community

When: May 11, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Where: Aga Khan Museum and Park, 77 Wynford Dr.
Performances by: Nagata Shachu taiko drummers. DJ MelBoogie. Gadfly dancers. Beny Esguerra and New Tradition. The Real Sun. Tiffany Gooch. Art activations.

Enjoy free admission to the Aga Khan Museum’s exhibition Marvellous Creatures: Animals in Islamic Art

Light Refreshments – TTC accessible, paid parking on site

Marvellous Creatures: Animals in Islamic Art

A family-friendly exhibition for all ages, Marvellous Creatures: Animals in Islamic Art presents creatures of air, water, fire, and earth that have roamed the pages of legends and tales shared across Muslim civilizations and around the world. Meet an incredible menagerie in metalwork, textiles, paintings and…

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Photos: Summer Festivities starts in Paderborn-Schloß Neuhaus called ‘Schloß Sommer’ which take place 1st March to October every year

Schloß Sommer 2016






Paderborn-Schloß Neuhaus: As the summer approaches all sort of Festivals were takes place most of the weekends start from 1st May to October every year. Our pictures shows the Beer festival taking palace on the 5th March 2016 on Ascension day of Christ (German-Christi Himmelfahrt) – In Germany it is also Father’s day’ . (Note “2016 is 1000 years of  Schloß Neuhaus)

Photos by Paderborner ‘sj’ (Copyright)


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Solidarity, liberty, openness: Interview with Navid Kermani on Qantara de | Viktor Orban, Marine Le Pen and the AFD pose more of a threat to Europe solidarity, our liberty and our openness to all ways of life

German-Iranian writer and Islamic studies expert Navid Kermani, who was awarded the German Book Trade′s Peace Prize in Oktober 2015 is one of Germany’s most compelling thinkers. In an interview with Catherine Newmark, he speaks about literature und politics, the threat to freedom and the future of Europe


Mr Kermani, your activities are quite diverse: you are an Orientalist, novelist, travel reporter … How does all that fit together?

Navid Kermani: With a few exceptions, all my activities can be traced back to literature. In my fiction as well as in my academic writing and journalism, I always reach for books, whether non-fiction or fiction.

Take your political reports from regions of war or conflict, for example, such as your recent journey along the refugee trail – published as ″Einbruch der Wirklichkeit″. Isn′t the technique you use simply completely different than that of sitting at your desk and writing fiction or academic essays?

Kermani: Of course, travel features are a genre in their own right. They are always very short journeys for which I need to be very well prepared – I may actually be travelling for a mere ten days or two weeks. For my latest book it was only eight days, but they were eight days of pure experience. If I had stayed longer, I would have quickly exhausted my perceptive capacities; then I would have had to stay for several months in order to delve deeper into the material.

The next stage, the writing process, does not really differ significantly from any other writing activity. You constantly reflect on experiences, giving shape to the chaos of reality while attempting to preserve contradictions and nuances. And I never leave myself out in my reports. They are not neutral observations. These are my eyes; other eyes would see things differently.

It seems that even when you express yourself politically, the literary tradition is almost always your reference when writing. For example, not many would link an analysis of terrorism to Lessing…

Kermani: That may well be. Alongside all the political non-fiction, however, my library also features the classics of literature. Sometimes I′ll read something in the morning newspaper that I associate with Lessing. I differ from many of my generation in that my literary influences are all pre-war – the literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Naturally, I understand that after 1945 the post-war generation had to distance itself from the pathos that resonated in German literature, from this metaphysical reference.

Refugees in Idomeni (photo: Getty Images/D. Kitwood)

Fortress Europe: “We are now in a position to observe the discourse and, unfortunately, how the practice of exclusion is rearing its ugly head wherever the nation state regains power, from Poland to Hungary to the right-wing nationalist parties in Germany and France,” says Navid Kermani

Does this pathos, which you occasionally appropriate, also stand for something specific: for an idea of German culture that is not tied to a German nation?

Kermani: Absolutely. Of course, someone like Kleist had his nationalistic tendencies, but in its breadth, German literature before the twentieth century did not identify itself with the German nation, just as my point of reference is the German or, to be exact, the German-speaking culture and not the German nation.

In addition to a penchant for literary pathos, you seem to have inherited an attitude of moderate reason from the age of the Enlightenment, a moderate and humane attitude that neither glosses over nor demonises things. Don′t you despair sometimes, today in particular, over the ever more radical extremes in the anti-culture of public debate, fuelled by the crude tone often used on the Internet and in social media?

Kermani: Public debate has indeed become very loud and very unproductive in many ways. But I think there are also hopeful examples that demonstrate the opposite. For instance, in January when we published the ″Kolner Botschaft″, an open letter against sexual violence and against xenophobic agitation, the response was overwhelming. For days the ″Kolner Stadtanzeiger″ published whole pages of letters from readers, 90 percent of which were positive, or at least very objective and differentiated. That certainly had to do with the fact that there was no online comments function – you either had to send a letter, an email or a fax, or you could call at the times indicated in order to talk to the editors.

The readers responded constructively, were grateful that we had expressed certain difficult things, yet in a tone that made it possible to discuss them. As a result people were also able to express their sense of helplessness. I think this is a good example of how we can trigger constructive debate at least at a local level: simply by outwitting the medium of the Internet with its fully unleashed, unrestrained and largely mindless debates.

Supporters of the AfD populist right party demonstrate in Freilassing against Chancellor Merkel (photo: DW/D. C. Heinrich)

 Speaking of helplessness, how, in the face of the massive wave of immigration we are presently experiencing, can Germany remain – or perhaps become – a tolerant, multicultural, multi-religious society?

Kermani: I have no simple solutions. On the one hand, there are the small-scale everyday activities at a local level. On the other, national politics. I am convinced that we can only succeed if we remain European in an emphatic sense. What we should have learned from the twentieth century – most recently in the Balkan Wars and right now in the Middle East – is that the tolerance of the modern European nation state is very fragile.

It is a model that inherently amounts to the ethnic definition of a nation state and therefore the definition of those who allegedly do not belong. We are now in a position to observe the discourse and, unfortunately, how the practice of exclusion is rearing its ugly head wherever the nation state regains power, from Poland to Hungary to the right-wing nationalist parties in Germany and France. Europe has not abolished the differences – that would be terrible – it preserves national cultures, languages, traditions, but it defuses the differences at a political level.

At present, however, Europe not only lacks the idealistic terms of reference, but also quite tangibly the ability to act politically.

Kermani: Yes, unfortunately. But the two go together. Maybe in the EU smaller alliances will have to be formed again to create the ability to act. A two-speed Europe, that′s not an outlandish idea… But what I hope is that the present generation, which has grown up in prosperity, freedom and peace, with Europe, democracy and human rights as a matter of course – that this generation will once again see and feel more clearly how very much we all need Europe.

Given this new wave of nationalism, not to mention the growing misery on our doorstep, Europe desperately needs another social boost. We cannot always expect this to come from above, however: it has to come from the citizens themselves. For it is now quite clear what kind of society those who reject the European project want to live in. Viktor Orban, Marine Le Pen and the AFD pose more of a threat to our solidarity, our liberty and our openness to all ways of life – and not merely to foreign cultures – than any number of refugees

Interview conducted by Catherine Newmark

© Goethe-Institut 2016

Translated from the German by Faith Ann Gibson

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Donald Trump: Make America Hate Again (Documentary Video)

Reich-Wing Watch

Reich-Wing Watch

Published on 16 Mar 2016

The following documentary examines the many parallels between Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler. Trump’s right-wing populism, Islamophobia, racism, and nationalism has gained him support from white supremacists who say their groups are growing drastically thanks to Mr. Trump. In a recent interview Donald Trump refused to disavow the KKK and David Duke, and has also retweeted Neo-Nazis on his twitter account. Could Donald Trump be the Fuhrer of the Fourth Reich that Neo-Nazis have been yearning for? 


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Habib Bank opens branch in China — The News com Pakistan|First South Asia Bank to start banking operation in U’rumqi in Xinjiang

KARACHI: Habib Bank Limited (HBL) has become first bank of Pakistan to receive a licence for setting up a branch in China.

Habib Bank open branch in china


The bank is also the first South Asian bank to get permission to set up banking operation in Urumqi, the largest city in the province of Xinjiang, a statement said on Monday.

The Chinese province borders Pakistan along the traditional Silk Route. “Urumqi is a growing commercial and trade center and the regional hub for the Belt and Road Initiative in Central Asia,” the statement added.

To mark this achievement the bank held an event at the office of CBRC Xinjiang in Urumqi.


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The Mi’raj and the Prophetic Tradition ‘I Have a Time with God’ (li ma’a Allah waqt) — By Jehangir A. Merchant on imerg com



While the Hoy Qur’an doesn’t speak of the event any more than what we have quoted, the version of the event in the books of Hadith is more detailed. However, the mysterious words and phrases mentioned in the quoted Qur’anic verses such as the Sacred Place of Worship (al-masjid al-haram), the Far Distant Place of Worship (al-masjid al-aqsa) , the Lote Tree of the utmost boundary  (sidrat al-muntaha), the Garden of Repose (jannat al-ma ‘wa) go unexplained, as do the references in the literary expressions and the Hadith to the mount of the Prophet (Buraq), the ladder (al-mi’raj) and so on. In this short essay, I wish to offer my interpretation about these terms.

Fragment from page 7 of the Bustan of Sadi. The last two lines of poetry on this page extol the Prophet’s miraculous ascension to the heavens (mi’raj): One night he sat (on his flying steed Buraq) and passed through the heavens. / In majesty and grandeur, he exceeded the angels. / So impulsive, he urged (his steed) into the plain of closeness (to God) / While Gabriel remained behind him at the Lote Tree (of the Limit). Image: Wikipedia.


There have been exoteric and esoteric interpretations of mi’raj among Muslims. According to the esoteric interpretation, the mi’raj was a spiritual journey; it was a fitting example of a mystical experience, a breaking through into the unseen world, and a symbol of the rise of the soul from the bonds of the material world to the heights of mystical knowledge through the temple of the heart as noted in the following verses:

“On the path of God
Two places of worship mark the stages.
The material temple,
And the temple of the heart,
Make your best endeavour
To worship at the temple of the heart”. [5]

The Ismaili missionary Pir Shams, in speaking of the heart, says:

…dil manhe deval pujiye
Ane dil manhe dev dwar;
Dil manhe sanhiya aap vasey,
Dil manhe apey didar-re.


In the heart worship your Lord,
In the heart is the Lord’s abode;
In the heart the Lord dwells,
In the heart His Face unveils.

The fulfillment of ritual polishing and worshiping in this inner sanctuary of the heart is symbolized by the Prophet’s retirement from his prayers. The journey begins in the heart, the Sacred Place of Worship (al-masjid al-haram). Love is represented by the celestial steed (Buraq) that carries the Prophet to a place in heaven (at-masjid al-aqsa, the Far Distant Place of Worship) where the angels sing praises of Allah.

The Love that we speak of here is divine, and it reminds the soul of its eternal home and leads it to the overwhelming vision of the Divine Light. Rumi says:

Love entered the mosque and said:
“o master and guide,
Tear the shackles of existence — why are you still in
the fetters of the prayer rug?
Let your heart not tremble because of the blow of my sword;
Put down your head if you want to travel
from knowing to seeing!” [6]

Buraq, the heavenly mount of the Prophet, is the symbol of Love. It has strong wings which carry the lover toward the roof of the Beloved:

That is Love, to fly heavenward,
To tear a hundred veils in every moment….[7]

The Prophet enters the temple in heaven (al-masjid, al-aqsa) and sees the assembly of Angels and Prophets and receives the salute of welcome from each of them in turn. Then he is brought three vessels containing wine, honey and milk. He drinks the milk, upon which Gabriel said to him, “O Muhammad! You have been rightly guided.” The contents of the three vessels respectively represent the three states — the state of ‘intoxication’ as in the case of the mystics, the state of ‘annihilation’ (fana) as experienced by Moses who fell senseless to the ground while God revealed Himself at the mountain [8] and the state of ‘prophetic sobriety’ as shown by the Prophet who returns from the Divine Presence without fainting.

Now begins the ascension by means of a ladder (al-ma‘arij) of sublime beauty, to the seventh heaven and into the presence of God.

“I turned my face and looked upward;
I found a ladder (al-ma‘arij)
with alternate rungs of silver and gold” – Prophet Muhammad. [9]


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Germany: Integrated refugee management — Federal Office for Migration and Refugees | Read and watch

Integrated refugee management

Click Image to watch video or Download (mp4)


A new explanatory film introduces the “Integrated refugee management” concept of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).

The film’s three chapters use attractive illustrations to show the various phases which asylum-seekers go through in Germany until such time as their asylum process is complete, and how the procedural stages processed by the authorities involved are interlinked. A narrator describes the procedures and provides background information.

Chapter 1: Arrival and registration

The illustrations contained in the first chapter show the stages ranging from arrival at the border, registration by the Federal or state police and the transfer of asylum-seekers to a reception centre. Further scenes in the film show how personal data and identities are checked by taking fingerprints and entered in a centralised, nationwide data system. It also shows the advantages of the “proof of arrival” card for asylum-seekers. The scenes simulate characteristic situations in the further stages of the procedure and potential scenarios.

Chapter 2: The entire asylum process under one roof

As far as possible, the entire asylum process will take place under one roof in the reception centre – from the application, the interview and the collection of information, through to the notification of the decision. The various stages of the asylum process are also shown in successive images, and are commented on by the narrator. Depending on the decision that is taken, the asylum-seeker is transferred from the reception centre to his or her future place of residence, or remains in the waiting zone until being returned.

Chapter 3: Integration, transfer or return

The third chapter illustrates the various integration activities available. These include the Federal Office’s integration courses, job counselling at the Federal Employment Agencies, as well as various activities available at local level where persons who are entitled to protection live once their process has been completed. The procedure for returning asylum-seekers whose applications have been denied is also shown and explained by the narrator.

You can also download the video in mp4 format. Please start the download by right clicking and selecting “Save video as”.


Source: Federal Office for Migration and Refugees




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‘Today Marks the End of TTIP’: Greenpeace Leak Exposes Corporate Takeover — by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams org 

The secret documents represent roughly two-thirds of the latest negotiating text, and in several cases expose for the first time the position of the U.S.

WikiLeaks had previously announced a €100,000 -bounty- for the full TTIP text. Image- Greenpeace

WikiLeaks had previously announced a €100,000 “bounty” for the full TTIP text. (Image: Greenpeace)

Confirming that the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) amounts to “a huge transfer of power from people to big business,” Greenpeace Netherlands on Monday leaked 248 secret pages of the controversial trade deal between the U.S. and EU, exposing how environmental regulations, climate protections, and consumer rights are being “bartered away behind closed doors.”

The documents represent roughly two-thirds of the latest negotiating text, according to Greenpeace, and on some topics offer for the first time the position of the United States.

“Total secrecy was the only way the European Commission could keep the European people from learning the truth about these appalling negotiations, and now the cat is out of the bag.”
—John Hilary, War on Want

Before Monday, elected representatives were only able to view such documents under guard, in a secure room, without access to expert consultation, while being forbidden from discussing the content with anyone else. This secrecy runs “counter to the democratic principles of both the EU and the U.S.,” the website ttip-leaks.org declares.

And in the absence of transparency, “hard won environmental progress is being bartered away behind closed doors,” said Faiza Oulahsen, campaigner for Greenpeace Netherlands.

“Whether you care about environmental issues, animal welfare, labor rights or internet privacy, you should be concerned about what is in these leaked documents,” Oulahsen said. “They underline the strong objections civil society and millions of people around the world have voiced: TTIP is about a huge transfer of democratic power from people to big business. We call on all elected representative and other concerned parties to read these documents and engage in the debate.”

Greenpeace Netherlands zeroes in on four aspects of serious concern in the obtained texts, including:

  • the apparent omission of the so-called “General Exceptions rule,” which allows nations to regulate trade “to protect human, animal and plant life or health” or for “the conservation of exhaustible natural resources;”

  • the absence of language about climate protection, plus provisions that would “stimulate imports and exports of fossil fuels—like shale gas from fracking or oil from tar sands—while clean energy production for local communities and associations would be considered unfair competition and a barrier to trade.”

  • a clear threat to the “precautionary principle,” which requires regulatory caution where there is scientific doubt, shifting the burden of proof on whether a product is safe to public authorities, not on those who seek to sell it;

  • the heretofore shrouded “high degree” of corporate influence over the talks.

According to the Guardian, which saw the original documents (retyped by Greenpeace and available here):

U.S. proposals include an obligation on the EU to inform its industries of any planned regulations in advance, and to allow them the same input into EU regulatory processes as European firms.

American firms could influence the content of EU laws at several points along the regulatory line, including through a plethora of proposed technical working groups and committees.

“These leaks confirm what millions of people across Europe have suspected all along—that this toxic trade deal is essentially an enormous corporate power grab,” said Global Justice Now trade campaigner Guy Taylor on Monday.

“It’s no secret that the negotiations have been on increasingly shaky ground,” Taylor continued, citing petitions signed by millions of Europeans and ongoing public protests. “These leaks should be seen as another nail in the coffin of a toxic trade deal that corporate power is unsuccessfully trying to impose on ordinary people and our democracies.”

Similarly, War on Want executive director John Hilary declared: “Today marks the end of TTIP. Total secrecy was the only way the European Commission could keep the European people from learning the truth about these appalling negotiations, and now the cat is out of the bag.”

“We have long warned that TTIP is a danger to democracy, food safety, jobs and public services,” Hilary continued. “Now we see it is even worse than we feared. Today’s leak shows the European Commission preparing to sell us down the river, doing deals behind closed doors that will change the face of European society for ever. It is simply unacceptable that a group of unelected officials should be allowed to contemplate such a thing without any public scrutiny.”

The 13th round of TTIP talks took place last week in New York. U.S. President Barack Obama, who was stumping for the deal last month in Germany, had hoped to wrap up negotiations by the time he left office—a timeline that looks increasingly unrealistic.

Public support on both sides of the Atlantic has plummeted; leading U.S. presidential candidates oppose the deal and others like it; and President François Hollande on Sundaybecame just the latest French official to express skepticism about the deal.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Source: Common Dreams org

See our Posts:

Greenpeace: Leaked TTIP papers show ‘threat’ to EU — Local de|Greenpeace leak ‘shows risks of EU-US deal’ — BBC News


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Greenpeace: Leaked TTIP papers show ‘threat’ to EU — Local de|Greenpeace leak ‘shows risks of EU-US deal’ — BBC News


Anti-TTIP demonstrators

Thousands of anti-TTIP protesters turned out in Hanover when President Obama visited Germany last month

The campaign group published 248 pages online to “shine a light” on the closed-door talks to forge a so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which would be the world’s largest bilateral trade and investment agreement.


“This treaty is threatening to have far reaching implications for the environment and the lives of more than 800 million citizens in the EU and US,” said Greenpeace as it presented the documents in Berlin.


Both Washington and Brussels want the mega-deal completed this year before US President Barack Obama leaves office, but the agreement in the making has faced mounting opposition on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Europe there is deep suspicion that TTIP will erode social, ecological and consumer protections to the advantage of big business, while the US has also seen rising protectionist sentiment.

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TTIP trade talks: Greenpeace leak ‘shows risks of EU-US deal’ — BBC News

Greenpeace says the texts reveal that the US wants to replace the EU’s “precautionary principle” for potentially harmful products with the less strict US approach, which aims to manage risks rather than avoid them altogether.

The precautionary principle can force a manufacturer to prove the absence of danger from a product.

It applies, for example, to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), whose possible risks to the ecosystem and the food chain are hotly debated.

The US permits cultivation of more than 170 GM plants, whereas only one type – a maize variety – is approved for commercial cultivation in the EU.

Mr Bercero denied any intention to weaken the precautionary principle.

Greenpeace says the TTIP texts do not refer to the global commitment to cut CO2 emissions, as agreed at the Paris Summit on global warming. Yet the European Commission had pledged to make environmental sustainability part of any TTIP deal.

Read and view more on BBC News com

Also see:

TTIP Leaks — Greenpeace

Greenpeace Netherlands has released secret TTIP negotiation documents. We have done so to provide much needed transparency and trigger an informed debate on the treaty. This treaty is threatening to have far reaching implications for the environment and the lives of more than 800 million citizens in the EU and US.

Whether you care about environmental issues, animal welfare, labour rights or internet privacy, you should be concerned about what is in these leaked documents. They underline the strong objections civil society and millions of people around the world have voiced: TTIP is about a huge transfer of power from people to big business.

You can download all the documents below, as a whole and per chapter. For more background info on the content of these documents and TTIP in general, please checkhere. Press contacts can be found here.

Source: https://www.ttip-leaks.org/



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Filed under European Union (EU), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), USA

Watch Videos on the Smart Global Development conference held at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa, Ontario on April 13 and 14, 2016

Smart Global Development Conference – Plenary 1: Smart Global Connections


Smart Global Development Conference – Plenary 2: Smart Global Approaches


 Smart Global Development Conference – Plenary 3: Smart Global Investments

 Published on 26 Apr 2016

The Smart Global Development conference was held at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa, Ontario on April 13 and 14, 2016 and co-hosted by: Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC), Academics Without Borders (AWB), and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC)



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Making sense of the MAID (Multi-Input Area Development Global Development Alliance) — By Anna Khandros on AKF USA


Video Conference, AKF USA


When I joined the Aga Khan Foundation in the U.S. as a Programs Fellow in September 2015, this was the last place I imagined myself: driving through a mountainous backroad in Kabul, passing hillside houses and little shops selling bread and meat, and watching kites soar above playing children. A world away from the nearby main road, lined with compound walls with the words “Kabul the Peace City” spray-painted across some of them, and the self-proclaimed “healthy and tasty” Afghan Fried Chicken restaurant.

Following a Fulbright year in Tajikistan, I joined the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) to gain a better understanding of its Multi-Input Area Development (MIAD) approach to development in fragile areas. Shortly after I started, I expressed an interest in learning about our work in Afghanistan, and began providing project management support for the Multi-Input Area Development Global Development Alliance (MIAD GDA) project in Badakhshan, Afghanistan’s northeastern-most province.

In the DC office, we lovingly refer to MIAD GDA as a “complicated beast.” A partnership between AKF and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the five-year project is working to turn investments in the private sector into social development programs that improve people’s quality of life. AKF’s U.S. office supports the Foundation’s office in Afghanistan, as well as its sister agencies in the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) – Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS) and the University of Central Asia – in working together to implement multi-sector activities that address community priorities in one of Afghanistan’s most remote regions. The project is unusual not only because of its multi-sector approach (the “multi input” in the name), but also because of the collaborative nature of its design and financing (hence “development alliance”).

In March, I accompanied the Programs Manager to Kabul to help facilitate MIAD GDA’s Year 4 planning workshop. For two days, we worked with more than fifty of our Afghanistan-based colleagues to review accomplishments and challenges from last year, and outline this year’s activities in health, education, natural resource management, market development, technical and vocation training, sub-national governance, and infrastructure.

Integrated development looks messy on paper. During the weeks leading up to the workshop, I prepared various templates for the different sector teams to note how the project was and would continue to progress. For myself, I made countless doodles mapping which performance monitoring indicators aligned with which sectors. Even before workshop planning began, I tried to contextualize such indicator monitoring, as well as report editing and number counting. I constantly asked myself, “Who are these people with whom I communicate via e-mail and Skype on a daily basis?” and “What does it mean to work on Afghanistan projects when I live in Washington, D.C.?”

In Kabul, MIAD GDA, and my relation to it, finally made sense.

As I prepare to move on from AKF, I appreciate having learned five things:


First, I think that the MIAD approach, in which different agencies coordinate and work alongside communities toward sustainable, systematic changes, is the direction in which development is headed. In Tajikistan, I saw the shortcomings of short-term, single-sector approaches: how could children who were not healthy or lived in a village that lacked transportation infrastructure attend the new school in the district? Why did there seem to be a gap between U.S. donors and Dushanbe-based implementing partners, and the small town in which I lived? What has impressed me most about AKF is its long-term commitment to the communities where it works. Even the complex MIAD GDA project is only one component of AKDN’s broader program in Badakhshan.


Second, AKF does an excellent job balancing safety with the staff mobility necessary to implement work. I initially did not believe that they would let me – not even a permanent staff member! – travel to Afghanistan, but I saw how much high-level deliberation went into determining whether or not the trip was “mission critical,” and AKF’s policies for keeping staff safe. In Afghanistan, AKF is successful because staff members are not confined to compounds. Staff integration in the regions where AKF works enables a community acceptance model that ultimately helps keep staff safe. A key factor in this acceptance is the AKDN commitment to hiring locally; over 90 percent of AKDN staff worldwide work in the country where they grew up.


Third, the staff in Afghanistan respond quickly and creatively to challenges that constantly arise. Shortly after the Programs Manager and I arrived in Kabul, we learned that our Badakhshan-based colleagues’ flight from Faizabad (which operates twice weekly) was canceled due to bad weather. I assumed the workshop would be canceled. Within hours, however, AKF staff had arranged for a video teleconference between Faizabad Provincial Hospital, which AKHS has managed and upgraded since 2009, and the French Medical Institute for Children in Kabul, which is operated by AKDN. With this quick adjustment, we were able to follow our tightly-packed workshop schedule.


Fourth, the Aga Khan Health Services has established astounding video teleconference capabilities in Afghanistan. This is the underlying technology that makes MIAD GDA’s eHealth work possible, connecting medical expertise in Faizabad to Comprehensive Health Centers and a district hospital in more remote districts in Badakhshan, with life-saving results for many patients (in the project’s third year, there were 489 live tele-consultations). For two days, we did not experience a single technical glitch – not one dropped call, as occasionally happens in the DC office. With crystal clear images, we communicated as if we were face-to-face, even when the lights occasionally flickered off.


Finally, what AKDN is accomplishing in Badakhshan despite the constant insecurity is inspiring. It is impossible to capture on paper all of the stories and photos that each of the sector teams shared when I asked for a brief outline of accomplishments. I still struggle to keep track of how many books have been distributed to high-school libraries, or how many bridges have been built.


I left Kabul thinking it was surreal to be in a place I read about in the news every day, wondering why more people don’t write about the city itself, or its people. I felt encouraged about my work, and touched by the kindness of the airport security officer who asked my manager if she’d like to check her unopened Diet Coke rather than throw it out.

By Anna Khandros, Programs Fellow for Aga Khan Foundation in the United States for 2015-2016.

Source: AKF USA


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Aga Khan University and Partners Launch Landmark Study to Help Kenya Meet Maternal/Child Health Goals — AKDN Press Release

First Lady and Princess Zahra Aga Khan inaugurate a landmark Kenya Countdown to 2015 Country Case Study Report

Aga Khan University, Kenya’s Ministry of Health and a group of partners launch the Kenya Countdown to 2015 Country Case Study, one of the most detailed analyses to date of Kenya’s progress in reducing maternal and child deaths. Photo: AKDN


Nairobi, Thursday, April 28, 2016 – Aga Khan University, Kenya’s Ministry of Health and a group of partners launched the Kenya Countdown to 2015 Country Case Study today, one of the most detailed analyses to date of Kenya’s progress in reducing maternal and child deaths.

The study provides policymakers, health care providers and the public with a roadmap that can guide efforts to accelerate improvements in maternal and child health and achieve the new targets in the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The launch was attended by the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta, and Princess Zahra Aga Khan.

H.E Margaret Kenyatta congratulated the Aga Khan University and its partners, saying that “it is forums such as these that provide us stakeholders the opportunity to reflect on the challenges faced, refine our shared strategy, and renew our collective commitment to saving lives of mothers and children.”

“Kenya has a great opportunity today,” said Princess Zahra Aga Khan.  “A great opportunity to build a wonderful health system for Women and Children. To do so, as we heard, it will be essential to build an extensive system, which is an appropriate system, a hub-and-spoke system, a health system that focuses on the continuum of care from village-level provision of primary care to high quality sub-county and county hospitals and then on up to referral and teaching hospitals.”

Kenya posted significant improvements in maternal and child health from 2003 to 2014, saving more than 53,000 lives and creating a foundation on which it can build over the next 15 years. But it did not meet Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, which called for reducing the mortality rate for children under 5 by two-thirds and reducing the maternal mortality rate by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015. Kenyan child mortality over this period fell by 50 percent, and maternal mortality by 26 percent.

In a notable bright spot, Kenya is on track to meet the child mortality target in the Sustainable Development Goals, if the current rate of reduction holds. But meeting the targets for newborn and maternal deaths will require significant improvements. Newborn deaths would need to decline at double the recent rate, and maternal deaths at more than four times the recent rate, to achieve the goals. The Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by world leaders in September 2015 to replace the Millennium Development Goals and guide global efforts through 2030 to end poverty, improve health, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change.

The study was a collaborative effort led by Aga Khan University and the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health of Toronto, with key contributions by experts from the Ministry of Health, the University of Nairobi and the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health. Funding for the study and its dissemination was provided by the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, through grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Government of Canada, respectively.

“This landmark study can be a catalyst that sparks action and guides collaborative efforts that prevent tragic and avoidable deaths of mothers and children,” said AKU Professor William Macharia, co-Principal Investigator of the study and Chair of the Department of Paediatrics and Associate Dean of Research, East Africa. “Now it’s up to all of us to work together, build on Kenya’s positive momentum, and make sure that every mother and every child has a chance to lead a healthy life.”

“The data and analysis this study contains both illuminate the past and shine a bright light that shows us the way forward,” said Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, co-Principal Investigator of the study, Founding Director of the AKU Centre of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health and co-Director of the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health in Toronto.

Key actions recommended by the Case Study include:

  • Strengthening the health system in order to improve access to and delivery of services, especially those pertaining to care and management around labor and delivery.

  • Scaling up community-level interventions to close the child-maternal/neonatal gap in health outcomes, improve equity and accelerate progress toward the 2030 targets.

  • Increasing the focus on poor, least educated and rural women, with a particular emphasis on the North Eastern, Eastern, northern Rift Valley and Coastal regions.

  • Addressing the unmet need for youth-friendly adolescent sexual and reproductive health services and programmes.

  • Continuing to reduce out-of-pocket costs for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health services, and increasing investments in maternal and neonatal health.

  • Strengthening implementation of evidence-based interventions and development of innovative strategies, such as community-based outreach programmes, to reach those at the greatest risk and in the greatest need.

  • Renewing commitment and ensuring accountability through transparent monitoring and evaluation schemes.



Read full on:  AKDN Press Release


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Photo exhibition by youth from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, India, and Canada opens at Ismaili Centre — The Ismaili org

An extraordinary exhibition of more than 120 photographs made by youth from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, India, and Canada opens on 30 April 2016 at the Ismaili Centre, Toronto as part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.

Children at a daycare centre, Toronto, Canada (2016). TUBA AMAN

Children at a daycare centre, Toronto, Canada (2016). TUBA AMAN

Rural landscape, Kyrgyzstan (2015). BAKTYBEKOV ATRUR

Rural landscape, Kyrgyzstan (2015). BAKTYBEKOV ATRUR

Toronto, 29 April 2016 — Our Stories, Our Images, Our Futures, an exhibition of photographs by youth in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, India, and Canada will open to the public tomorrow at the Ismaili Centre, Toronto as part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.

The exhibition showcases the photographic storytelling skills of 20 youth aged 14–18 from urban and rural backgrounds in each country. Since 2014, these young women and men have gained technical proficiency with cameras and editing, as well as aesthetic sensibilities through a unique collaboration The outcome is a remarkable collection of photographs that depict the intense workings of emergency rooms, the hum of industrial sites, the smiles of elders, the play of younger children, and the breathtaking beauty of the natural world.

“The goal of our programme is to empower high school-aged students around the world with the ability to express themselves through the medium of photography,” says award-winning photographer Fred Roberts, who worked with the youth together with members of his team.

In 2016 the workshops were held for high school students at the Aga Khan Academy in Hyderabad, India and at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada.

As part of their training, the Hyderabad students undertook photographic assignments at the Qutb Shahi Tombs, a historic site being restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, and various vocational training programs throughout Hyderabad.

In Toronto, students waded through the last melting snow of the winter season, taking up photo assignments at the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre, a music camp, a daycare centre and a seniors home. Like their fellow students in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and India, the Canadian participants were taught to use their cameras to “write with light” as Walsh, Roberts and other faculty members call it.

“This is far more than an art class,” explains Roberts. “The impact goes far beyond learning the technical aspects of photography. We profoundly change their lives by enabling them with a unique voice and a new level of confidence and self-esteem with which to tell their stories.”

“The beauty, power and sensitivity of their work clearly illustrate how well they have learned this new language.”

Curated by Zulfikar Hirji of York University and Fred Roberts, Our Stories, Our Images, Our Futures shows how putting a camera into a young person’s hands gives them a visual vocabulary and voice that transforms their life and provides them with a new outlook on the world.

Our Stories, Our Images, Our Futures runs from 30 April to 31 May 2016 at the Ismaili Centre, Toronto. Learn more about the exhibition can be found at www.ourimages.org

Source: The Ismaili org


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Without music, no humanity: ″War, Exile and the Music of Afghanistan″ Non-fiction Book by John Baily — Qantara de

Few musical cultures have been as affected by political upheavals and violence as that of Afghanistan. This is reflected in the title of the book ″War, Exile and the Music of Afghanistan: The Ethnographer′s Tale″ by John Baily, Emeritus Professor of Ethnomusicology at Goldsmiths, University of London

Non-fiction - War, Exile and the Music of Afghanistan - by John Baily

Over the past four decades Baily has been deeply immersed in the music of Afghanistan as a researcher, recorder, performer, filmmaker and promoter. He has researched musical culture both in Afghanistan itself and among Afghan refugee populations in locations as diverse as Peshawar in Pakistan, Mashhad in Iran, London, Hamburg, Dublin, California and Australia.  This has given him a unique perspective on Afghan music during the turbulent times through which Afghanistan has passed.

Baily admits that, given the seemingly endless conflict that has devastated Afghanistan over the past 35 years, one might ask: ″What′s so important about music, when there are so many other pressing concerns to be addressed?″ In reply he quotes his mentor, the late social anthropologist and ethnomusicologist Professor John Blacking to whose memory his book is dedicated. In Blacking′s view ″music is essential for the very survival of man′s humanity″.

″War, Exile and the Music of Afghanistan″ by John Baily is published in the UK by Ashgate Publishing within its SOAS Musicology Series.

″War, Exile and the Music of Afghanistan″ by John Baily is published in the UK by Ashgate Publishing within its SOAS Musicology Series. Included with the book is a DVD of four of his films. Ashgate has since been taken over by Routledge, which is due to publish a paperback edition in July

Baily writes that Afghans have a strong sense of humanity, the survival of which has been challenged by the catalogue of cruelties and atrocities seen during the years of internecine conflict. ″Music and the musicians who create and perform it have been – and continue to be – a counteractive force for good and must be nurtured and supported.″

Taliban-imposed censorship

The impact of violence on Afghanistan′s music came dramatically to world attention in 1996 when the Taliban took control of Kabul and imposed an extreme form of music censorship in accordance with their interpretation of sharia law. This included a ban on the making, owning and playing of all types of musical instruments other than, perhaps, the frame drum (daireh). Musicians were persecuted and their instruments smashed.

But while the Taliban banned instrumental music, they did not regard unaccompanied singing as constituting music. This was ″a convenient fiction that allowed the Taliban themselves to enjoy their own, very musical, renditions of Taliban songs,″ Baily notes.

As Baily points out, Afghan music and musicians had been subject to political pressure long before the Taliban era. After the communist coup of 1978 and Soviet invasion of 1979, a succession of communist governments supported those musicians and types of music they saw as integral to the secular society they sought to establish.

Disintegration of Afghanistan′s music scene

The jihad or holy war against communist rule had an impact on musicians and some of them left the country. Islamist mujahideen parties imposed strict curbs on music among Afghan exiles in, for example, refugee camps in Pakistan. In the savage struggle for power between mujahideen factions after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, much of Kabul was destroyed including its Kucheh Kharabat music quarter. Further waves of musicians went into exile.

Baily first visited Afghanistan in 1965 – and again in 1970 – on trips overland to Australia. He passed through many countries on his travels, but ″the encounter with Afghanistan was especially memorable. The geography was stunning, the material culture fascinating and the people very friendly and hospitable. It also seemed a very artistic society.″

Baily and his wife Veronica Doubleday spent two one-year periods conducting fieldwork in the western Afghan city of Herat in 1973-74 and 1976-77. While waiting in Kabul in 1973 to get permission to do his fieldwork, Baily had his first lessons on the rubab, the short-necked lute that is the national instrument of Afghanistan.

Baily and his wife Veronica Doubleday spent two one-year periods conducting fieldwork in the western Afghan city of Herat in 1973-74 and 1976-77. While waiting in Kabul in 1973 to get permission to do his fieldwork, Baily had his first lessons on the rubab, the short-necked lute that is the national instrument of Afghanistan

His teacher was Ustad Mohammad Omar ″the doyen of rubab players in the late twentieth century, whose name comes up repeatedly in my story″.

Baily also mastered the long-necked lute, the dotar. ″Increasingly, playing Afghan music became part of my life and part of my self-identity,″ he writes. Afghan musicians accord him the status of a shauqi – an amateur enthusiast with a passion for music.

Doubleday has a beautiful singing voice and plays the daireh and she has acquired a large repertoire of Afghan songs. The couple have performed at concerts and other events all over the world and made several CDs. Both speak fluent Dari, the Persian language spoken in Afghanistan.


Baily structures his book around ten fieldtrips, some in Afghanistan itself, but the majority in the diaspora. Each fieldtrip brings into focus a key individual, depicted in a profile of several pages. Baily calls these individuals his hamkaran, the plural of hamkar meaning ″colleague″ or ″co-worker″ in Dari.

One profile is of the rubab player Amir Jan Herati, whom Baily first got to know in Herat in the 1970s. In 1985 he became the subject of Baily′s prizewinning and profoundly touching first film ″Amir: An Afghan refugee musician′s life in Peshawar, Pakistan″.

Baily made a second film in Peshawar in 2000, ″Across the Border: Afghan Musicians exiled in Peshawar″.  Among the musicians featured in that film and profiled in Baily′s book, is the virtuoso rubab player Homayum Sakhi, born in Kabul in 1976.

Baily′s hamkaran also include Abdul Wahab Madadi, who was a famous singer and composer at Radio Television Afghanistan, where he became head of music. In 1999 he was given political asylum in Germany.

Another hamkar is the tabla master Ustad Asif Mahmoud Chishti who was given political asylum in the UK in 1990 and taught tabla at Goldsmiths. In 1999 he went to Fremont, California, to set up a school teaching tabla to Fremont′s large Afghan community. Baily visited Fremont and made the film ″Tablas and Drum Machines: Afghan Music in California″. The film reveals a relatively liberal face of Afghan culture, with women rarely veiled and men and women dancing together at an engagement party.

A musical revival

Since the ousting of the Taliban in 2001, Baily has pursued efforts to restore and encourage Afghan musical culture. To this end he founded the Afghanistan Music Unit (AMU) at Goldsmiths in 2002.

After a visit to Kabul in 2002, Baily put together the film ″A Kabul Music Diary″. And in 2011 he was again in the Afghan capital, to visit the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM). This pioneering co-educational music school was founded in 2010 by the inspirational Afghan musicologist Dr Ahmad Sarmast. Baily made a film on ANIM, ″Return of the Nightingales″ – a title symbolising the revival of music in Afghanistan.

Susannah Tarbush

Source: © Qantara.de 2016

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NTV reality show to help Kenyan start-ups attract funding — Nation co Kenya |To start reality show ‘ Lion’s Den’

The programme will be sponsored by Kenya Commercial Bank’s youth fund.

NMG general manager TV, Linus Kaikai (left) with KCB director, marketing and communications Angela Mwirigi on April 26, 2016 during the signing of a co-operation between KCB, Quite Bright Films Kenya (QBF),

 NMG general manager TV, Linus Kaikai (left) with KCB director, marketing and communications Angela Mwirigi on April 26, 2016 during the signing of a co-operation between KCB, Quite Bright Films Kenya (QBF), Sony Pictures Television (SPT) and Nation Media Group to launch an entrepreneurship TV series dubbed Lion’s Den set to air later in the year. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA |  NATION MEDIA GROUP


In Summary

  • Kenyan entrepreneurs will get a chance to attract funding for their businesses in a weekly NTV reality show that will bring the local version of American programme Shark Tankto their screens.

  • The show named Lion’s Den, will see entrepreneurs get an opportunity to pitch their ideas to local millionaires from September this year in exchange for potential capital injection andreality show partnerships.

  • The programme will be sponsored by Kenya Commercial Bank’s youth fund.

  • Nation Media Group Broadcasting Division General Manager Linus Kaikai on Tuesday said the show offers Kenyan audiences a unique product that will be a first in the market.


Read full on: Nation co Kenya



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Opening of a new bridge in Kara-Kulja district provides access to one of the largest pastures in Osh Oblast — Kabar Kyrgyzstan | A joint project of AKF and partners

Opening of a new bridge in Kara-Kulja district provides access to one of the largest pastures in Osh Oblast

0pening of new Bridge in Kara-Kulja

Bishkek, April 26 / Kabar /. Today, residents of Kara-Kulja District marked the opening of the Kok-Jar-Sai bridge in 1-May village which provides access to one of the largest pastures in Osh Oblast – spanning over 90,000 hectares of pasture and benefitting 8,000 people. This grazing area had been inaccessible until now as the previous bridge was destroyed by heavy rains and mud flows. This new passage facilitates access to this pasture which is an important source of local livelihoods.


Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr. Asylbek Jeenbekov noted, “I am delighted that this project was completed through a partnership between the surrounding communities, the local government alongside reliable development partners such as the British Government and the Aga Khan Development Network. I am confident that access to this pasture will have a meaningful and positive impact on the local communities”.


Read full on  Kabar Kyrgyzstan


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Understanding IRAN — New Publication by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung |One of the most ancient people of its region along with an long history|Download PDF file

Understanding IRAN


Understanding IRAN

Turkey, Mar. 31, 2016
provided by: TURKEY OFFICE


Also available in DEUTSCH

An unbiased understanding of Iran that has one of the most ancient people of its region along with an long history and established state tradition is crucially important for the sake of regional balances of power, regional stability and sustainable regional and global peace.

 Iran has an impressive strategic and geo-political importance. In terms of its geographical location, the country is geo-strategically the second most important country after Turkey. According to some strategists is has similar or primary geo-strategic importance depending on conjectural developments. The present publication discusses, inter alia, major dynamics shaping Iran, recalls the road to Iran’s Islamic Revolution and its aftermath and explains powerful political figures in Iran, it’s military power, nuclear journey and possible impact of the Vienna Deal on Turkey.

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Maternal, child mortality have tremendously decreased First Lady Margaret Kenyatta | The Launching of the landmark Kenya Countdown to 2015 Country Case Study Report on ‘Ending Preventable Maternal, Newborn and Child Deaths’

Photos from ‘s twitter 

  1. Soruce: https://twitter.com/FirstLadyKenya


    Maternal, child mortality have tremendously decreased – First Lady — Citizen Digest


    First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has said Kenya is among countries that have witnessed an incredible decrease in maternal and child mortality across the world.

    She said it is deeply encouraging that women are today receiving better ante-natal care, than at any other time in history


    Aga Khan University Trustee Princess Zahra Aga Khan and the University’s President Mr Firoz Rasul were among the dignitaries who spoke during the launch.

    The First Lady applauded the spirit of collaboration between Aga Khan and the other stakeholders in undertaking the landmark research and coming up with the report.

    She said  the Beyond Zero Campaign and all its operations are undertaken through similar collaboration.

    “Through the Beyond Zero campaign which I launched in 2014 – 4 marathons and 2 years later, the campaign has taught me one big lesson: the priceless power of positive collaboration—and I am so pleased to see that same kind of collaboration at play here today”, said the First Lady

    Read full on Citizen Digest


    Maternal And Child Mortality Have Tremendously Decreased Across The World Including Kenya, Says First Lady — Public now com


    The First Lady made the remarks when she officially launched the landmark Kenya Countdown to 2015 Country Case Study Report: Understanding the Past to Impact the Future in Ending Preventable Maternal, Newborn and Child Deaths at a Nairobi Hotel.


    The First Lady congratulated the Aga Khan Hospital fraternity, not only for partnering in the research but its contributions in the training of healthcare professionals including doctors, midwives and nurses .

    ‘I congratulate the Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery in Nairobi for contributing towards the pool of physicians in family medicine, obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics and child health’, said the First Lady.

    Others who spoke during the launch included World Health Representative Dr. Custodia Mandlhate who also represented the UN family, Aga Khan University Foundation Dean ( Medical College, East Africa) Prof. Robert Armstrong and the Founding Director, Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health at the University, Professor Zulfiqar A, Bhutta.

    Acting Director of Medical Services Dr.Jackson Kioko was also among the speakers.

    Read full on Public now com



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First Lady and Princess Zahra Aga Khan inaugurate a landmark Kenya Countdown to 2015 Country Case Study Report


Kenya Countdown to 2015 Country Case Study Report: Understanding the Past to Impact the Future in Ending Preventable Maternal, Newborn and Child Deaths.

The study is among the detailed analyses to-date of Kenya’s progress in reducing maternal, newborn and child deaths.

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April 29, 2016 · 05:58

Addressing Climate Change in Mountainous Regions —IIS UK | A three year study project for Pamiri communities lead by Prof.Karim-Aly Kassam

The research will contribute to the anticipatory capacity of Pamiri communities by revitalising ecological calendars. Using participatory research, historical and existing ecological calendars will be integrated with indigenous knowledge and scientific analyses of climate and biological data.

Karim-Aly Kassam riding to meet Kyrgyz pastoralists in the Pamir Mountains of Afghanistan near the border of China and Tajikistan.

Karim-Aly Kassam riding to meet Kyrgyz pastoralists in the Pamir Mountains of Afghanistan near the border of China and Tajikistan.

An international team – led by an IIS alumnus Professor Karim-Aly Kassam(link is external) – will work collaboratively with communities in Asia’s Pamir Mountains to recalibrate their seasonal ecological calendars to predict the future effects of climate change.

Mountain communities, which contribute least to rising greenhouse gas concentrations, are facing the harshest impacts of increasing climate variability. Historically in the Pamir Mountains, agricultural communities developed “calendars of the human body” to synchronise their diverse agricultural activities with highly variable weather systems.

In the 20th century, ecological calendars fell out of use. Now, these culturally and ecologically grounded calendars offer new hope as a way of adapting to climate change. The Pamir Mountains extend from Badakhshan Afghanistan and Tajikistan, east to China’s Kongur Shan, and north into the Trans Alai of Kyrgyzstan.


Speaking about the study, the Lead Principal Investigator, Professor Kassam, said:

“Ecological calendars are systems that track time by observing seasonal changes in our habitat, such as the nascence of a flower, the appearance of an insect, the arrival of a migratory bird, the breakup of ice, last day of snow-cover. … To establish long-term adaptation of these calendars, the scientists will strengthen partnerships between communities and regional universities by initiating community-based climatic and phenological-monitoring programmes.”

To build local capacity and knowledge, the research group will also be training local undergraduates at the University of Central Asia(link is external), whose campuses are located in the mountainous regions, as community researchers.

The three year study has received funding of $1.35 million from the Belmont Forum – a global environmental research body that promotes sustainability by aligning and mobilising international resources.

Karim-Aly Kassam(link is external) is International Professor of Environmental and Indigenous Studies at Cornell University.

Source: IIS UK


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Germany greens streets with €4,000 discount on every e-car — The Local de | One-billion-euro government’s promotion programme

Germany greens streets with €4,000 discount on every e-car

Photo: DPA

Germany will subsidise electric car purchases to give a jolt to sluggish growth in the sector and help meet national climate goals with zero-emission mobility, the government said Wednesday.

Car buyers will receive €4,000 when they choose a purely electric vehicle and €3,000 for a plug-in hybrid, with the cost shared 50-50 between the public purse and car makers.


Overall, the one-billion-euro government programme should subsidise 400,000 electric cars and boost the segment to the point where the e-car becomes “mass market capable”, said Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel.


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Fayez Thawer named Forty Under 40, Ottawa’s rising star


Fayez Thawer named Forty Under 40, Ottawa’s rising starA well-known journalist and community advocate and a key executive behind the success of Lansdowne Park are among the 2016 Forty Under 40 recipients.

“I’ve judged the award for 17 years,” said OBJ publisher Michael Curran, who has chaired the awards for more than a decade. “I found this year to be a mountain of work. The number of recipients and, generally speaking, the across-the-board quality made it very difficult to pre-screen applicants. As evidence of that, we passed along more than 100 finalists to be judged by our seven-person committee. That’s never happened before.”

Forty Under 40 recognizes accomplished business leaders who are under the age of 40 and give back to their community. The awards are co-hosted by Ottawa Business Journal and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce.

“These young business leaders exemplify the enormous amount of talent we have in this city,” said chamber president and CEO Ian…

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Jewish settlers set up tents near Jenin in West Bank — IINA News |Five methods of Land grabbing

Jewish settlers set up tents near Jenin in West Bank

Jenin (IINA) – Dozens of Israeli settlers on Tuesday broke into an abandoned military base to the south of the West Bank city of Jenin, where they erected tents, Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
Witnesses told the agency that dozens of settlers accompanied by a military escort broke into Dothan, and set up tents, performed rituals, and chanted racist slogans against Arabs.

Israeli settlers and settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal in international law. 
According to the Israeli anti-settlement group, Peace Now, “Over the years, Israel has used a number of legal and bureaucratic procedures in order to appropriate West Bank lands, with the primary objective of establishing settlements and providing land reserves for them.”

“Using primarily these five methods: seizure for military purposes; declaration of state lands; seizure of absentee property; confiscation for public needs; and initial registration, Israel has managed to take over about 50 percent of the lands in the West Bank, barring the local Palestinian public from using them.”

Source: IINA News org


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Jerusalem churches: Don’t veto Palestine resolution — Al Monitor com | Letter to Obama by Leaders of 24 US and Palestinian churches

Leaders of 24 US and Palestinian churches gathered in Atlanta this week for a two-day summit at the Carter Center to chart a path forward for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Separately, the Holy Land church leaders wrote to Obama urging him not to use his veto if the UN Security Council takes up a two-state resolution later this year against Israel’s wishes.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III (C) attends a Christmas service according to the Eastern Orthodox calendar, in the church of Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Awad - RTX219EO

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III (C) attends a Christmas service according to the Eastern Orthodox calendar, in the church of Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Awad – RTX219EO


Jerusalem’s Christian leaders are jointly asking President Barack Obama not to veto a possible Palestine resolution at the United Nations following a historic summit with their American counterparts.

“As Holy Land church leaders, we approach you, Mr. President, to stress to you the gravity of the situation in the region. The hopes and aspirations of many of the faithful in the Holy Land for a two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders are quickly fading,” the patriarchs and heads of local churches in Jerusalem wrote in an April 20 letter obtained by Al-Monitor. “We plead to you, during the remainder of your term, to invest in a just peace and to refrain from exercising the US veto rights in the United Nations Security Council in order to deliver new hopes for a just peace in the region and an end to extremism, terrorism, death and destruction in the entire Middle East.”

Read more on Al Monitor com


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