George Galloway’s Speech

Originally posted on Zarina's Weblog:

Viva Palestina reaches its goal to Gaza in a convoy bringing aids like wheelchairs that would not be available to the needy there after the onslaught of Israel on Gaza. It is particularly of importance to note what he said about Tony Blair, a non-representative of Britain but the people are, this group after their perilous journeyare. He ends with the slogan, ‘We are all Palesatinians…’

Another very significant fact remains that BBC said not a word about this great achievement as many believe it is ZBC!

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Images of Muhammad — By Hussein Rashid on Sacred Matters, a web magazine at Emory University

By Hussein Rashid


“What does Islam say about images?” It is a question that seeks to understand religion through unitary and static prescriptions.

At its core, the question is about what is “Islamic.” Such a question is problematic because a community of believers decides what the religion means. Because human beings are involved, there will be differences. While there are boundaries for who a Muslim is, such as belief in monotheism, the prophethood of Muhammad, and observance of certain ritual and legal obligations, there is a lot more that Muslims believe that is not universally agreed upon, thus generating difference.

The confusion starts because Muhammad played two roles within his community—religious and spiritual authority and polity leader. Like earlier Abrahamic prophets, the combination of the two roles was expected and accepted.


Folio from the Majma’ al-tawarikh (Compendium of history) by Hafiz Abru (d.1430); recto: The Birth of Muhammad; verso: text, Wet nurse Halima and her husband, Harith, taking care of infant Muhammad, 1426. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery #F2005.5.

Folio from a Falnama (Book of Omens) depicting Prophet Muhammad’s Night Journey (c. mid 1550s-early 1560).

Folio from a Falnama (Book of Omens) depicting Prophet Muhammad’s Night Journey (c. mid 1550s-early 1560). Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery S1986.253.

As we move away from the time of Muhammad, he takes on different meanings for different Muslim communities and non-Muslim communities engage with Muhammad’s legacy, as well. We have memories of Muhammad that are preserved and represented in a variety of ways.

In the modern period, Muhammad is presented and remembered as the political leader and Islam is seen as a political movement or ideology. This perception is true amongst, both, Muslims and non-Muslims. While this view of Muhammad waxes and wanes, his prophetic character is a more important and more constant aspect of the way he is remembered.

For Muslims, Muhammad is the final prophet, who received the revelation of the Qur’an through the Angel Gabriel. By virtue of his prophetic status and by being the first Muslim, he is a figure of veneration and emulation for believing Muslims.

He is a gateway through which a believer receives blessings, forgiveness, and proximity to God. The Qur’an says that God and the angels pray for him, that he is granted the power of intercession, and that to make a promise to him to is to make a promise to God. They seek to become better Muslims by learning from and mimicking his actions and words.

As a result, for many Muslims, to know about Muhammad is an intrinsic part of faith. This focus on Muhammad generates emotional attachments of love, affection, and devotion for Muhammad and those closest to him.

Muhammad During His Life

Much of what we know of Muhammad’s actions and words are recorded in hadith. Within that, we have records of how people described Muhammad. Collected as shamail (portraits) literature, we get a sense of how Muhammad looked and the feelings he generated.

One of the most well-known descriptions of Muhammad is attributed to his son-in-law and successor, Ali.

He was not too tall, nor was he too short, he was of medium height amongst the nation. His hair was not short and curly, nor was it lank, it would hang down in waves. His face was not overly plump, nor was it fleshy, yet it was somewhat circular. His complexion was rosy white. His eyes were large and black, and his eyelashes were long. He was large-boned and broad shouldered.

And another contemporary of Muhammad, Umm Ma’bad, says,

I saw a man, pure and clean, with a handsome face and a fine figure. He was not marred by a skinny body, nor was he overly small in the head and neck. He was graceful and elegant, with intensely black eyes and thick eyelashes. There was a huskiness in his voice, and his neck was long. His beard was thick, and his eyebrows were finely arched and joined together. When silent, he was grave and dignified, and when he spoke, glory rose up and overcame him. He was from afar the most beautiful of men and the most glorious, and close up he was the sweetest and the loveliest. He was sweet of speech and articulate, but not petty or trifling.

Veneration of Muhammad continued to evolve in ritual and artistic life. Poetry, a popular form of spirituality across Muslim cultures, is replete with devotional works to Muhammad, praising his qualities and seeking proximity to him. The poetic tradition lends itself to song and even Bollywood movies incorporate these devotionals into their repertoires. In addition to poem and song, which are still written, composed, and performed in the modern period, a strong tradition of painting Muhammad emerges.


Muhammad in Painting

The paintings of Muhammad depict his entire life, from his birth, to his call to prophecy, and beyond. Along with Muhammad, we see other figures who are important to the spiritual lives of Muslims, including figures like Salman al-Farsi and Muhammad’s closest family.


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Europe’s Migration Crossing Points Captured in Six Films — Open Society Foundations org

Italy     Mediterranean    Turkey      France    Bulgaria

“The European border is like a wall—we have to get across, whatever it costs,” said Wassim, a 31-year-old Syrian man I met in Turkey, in the southern port town of Mersin. He had left a wife and a newborn child to flee to Mersin, the new crossing point for migrants trying to reach the European Union.


These are the people we met along the way. All were expecting a welcoming Europe. What they found were smugglers who manipulated them and stole their money, policemen and border guards who kicked them back, petty criminals who robbed them.

The most determined—or the luckiest—managed to cross. Others are still stuck in a limbo. These six videos, realized with the support of the Open Society Foundations and published on the Italian website Internazionale, tell their stories.


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The lasting horror of war|"I have never witnessed such grave atrocities." photo documentation by Kai Wiedenhofer on Syrian civil war

According to a WHO report from December 2014, more than one million Syrians have been wounded in the Syrian civil war since the spring of 2011. Some 45 per cent of the injured are children and women; about 10–15 per cent have suffered amputations or disabilities. Daily shelling is the main cause of their injuries. From spring 2014 to early 2015, photographer Kai Wiedenhofer travelled through towns, villages and refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, taking pictures of those left scarred by the conflict. He says that by showing the genuine aftermath of this conflict and photographing its victims in a dignified manner, his intention was to raise support for people who are really in need and whose sufferings do not end with the war. “In all my time as a photographer,” he says, “I have never witnessed such grave atrocities.” All photos in this gallery are by Kai Wiedenhofer


The lasting horror of war


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Contemporary Arab art exhibit at Toronto’s Aga Khan isn’t afraid to provoke — by JAMES ADAMS on The Globe and Mail com

Olive Tree by Larissa Sansour

Olive Tree by Larissa Sansour (Larissa Sansour)

Curating and mounting an exhibition of Arab contemporary art from the Middle East and North Africa has to be a fraught affair. After all, the region – if one can even deign to use such an encompassing term to describe what clearly are diverse societies – has long been a geopolitical and religious hot spot. Should the exhibition be a raw reflection of those tensions? Or feature art of a more disinterested and personal kind? Should it highlight the “exoticism” or “otherness” of the region’s art-making, or demonstrate affinities and congruences with the so-called “international art scene”? Link artists by adherence to a particular trend or aesthetic? Or celebrate eclecticism and individual difference?


Home Ground abounds with such provocations. (Dig, for instance, Larissa Sansour’s combination video/photography display, Nation Estate, which cheekily adopts and adapts Le Corbusier’s fantastical notion of the Radiant City as the physical “solution” to the issue of Palestinian nationhood.) It’s a valuable show – less, perhaps, than a view into a little-seen art scene but certainly more than a glimpse. Open less than a year, the Aga Khan Museum already feels like an important presence in the country’s cultural firmament.

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USA: How Big Corporations Cheat Public Education — by Paul Buchheit on Common Dreams org

But big business apparently views its tax responsibility as a burden to be avoided at the expense of the rest of us

But big business apparently views its tax responsibility as a burden to be avoided at the expense of the rest of us. (Photo: Basheer Tome/flickr/cc)

Corporations have reaped trillion-dollar benefits from 60 years of public education in the U.S., but they’re skipping out on the taxes meant to sustain the educational system. Children suffer from repeated school cutbacks. And parents subsidize the deadbeat corporations through increases in property taxes and sales taxes.

Big Companies Pay about a Third of their Required State Taxes

An earlier report noted that 25 of our nation’s largest corporations paid combined 2013 state taxes at a rate of 2.4%, a little over a third of the average required tax. Many of these companies play one state against another, holding their home states hostage for tax breaks under the threat of bolting to other states.

Without Corporate Taxes, K-12 Public Education Keeps Getting Cut

Overall spending on K-12 public school students fell in 2011 for the first time since the Census Bureau began keeping records over three decades ago. The cuts have continued to the present day, with the majority of states spending less per student than before the 2008 recession.

It’s Getting Worse

Total corporate profits were about $1.8 trillion in 2013 (with other estimates somewhat higher or lower). The $46 billion in total corporate state income tax in 2013, as reported by both Ernst & Young (Table 3-A) and the Census Bureau, amounts to just 2.55% of the $1.8 trillion in corporate profits, a drop from the 3% paid in the five years ending in 2012.

The Worst Offenders

The most recent Pay Up Now analysis for 2014 shows some of the biggest and the worst offenders among U.S. corporations in 2014. Twenty companies with total U.S. profits of over $150 billion paid just 1.4% in state taxes. Some of the lowlights: (…)


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Imagine, a good news story on Pakistan — By Tara Sonenshine on The Hill com

We are so used to stories about Pakistan that include terrorism, violence, bombs and bullets. Similarly, we are used to stories about failed foreign aid, fraud, waste, abuse, charities that don’t do what they promise and a growing sense that we have so many problems at home, so why bother doing anything abroad?

Into that cynical vortex comes a Washington Post story with a very different and welcome message about a part of Pakistan that is using outside money and inside determination to prove the critics wrong and remind us why we should care and why we should support cross-cultural engagement.

In a remote part of Pakistan, near the troubled tribal belt, and not far from the disputed territory of Kashmir, there are growing signs that extremism can be rooted out and that overseas engagement combined with local efforts can pay off, not only for the community itself, but for the wider world.

Hunza Valley and its capital, Karimabad, were once hotbeds of extremism, violence, poverty, illiteracy and the kind of chaos that spreads and disrupts lives everywhere. Today, because of outside help from organizations like the Aga Khan Foundation and others, things are turning around:  (…)


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The region is beautiful, prosperous, and - thanks to charity funding - a bulwark against extremism

The region is beautiful, prosperous, and – thanks to charity funding – a bulwark against extremism

Boys play soccer on the grounds at F.G. Boys Model High School in Karimabad,

Boys play soccer on the grounds at F.G. Boys Model High School in Karimabad, Pakistan.

Hunza Story has been screened in Europe United States and in Asia including some of the top universities around the globe.

Documentary, Hunza

(Click above Image to watch at source)


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