By Ashley Fantz, CNN
(CNN) — A Pakistani teenager nearly killed by Taliban gunmen for advocating that all girls should have the right to go to school gave her first formal public remarks Friday at the United Nations. It also happened to be Malala Yousafzai’s 16th birthday.
“Today, it is an honor for me to be speaking again after a long time,” she said. “Being here with such honorable people is a great moment in my life.”
She looked out at an audience of hundreds of children from around the world and U.N. members, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and told them that she was wearing a pink shawl that once belonged to Benazir Bhutto, the two-time prime minister of Pakistan who was killed in 2007 in a suicide attack at a political rally.
STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PHOENIX (July 9, 2013) – Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, a devout Muslim and the president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) issued the following statement regarding the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan on Tuesday, July 9, 2013, or Ramadan 1, 1434 of the Islamic Hijri Calendar:
“Today, we begin the commemoration of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. We wish all Muslims a ‘Ramadan Kareem’ and a blessed and rewarding month of fasting and self-reflection.
During this, the ninth month of our lunar calendar and the holy month of fasting, we are all reminded of the most important things in life, and to focus our gratitude on them. We are reminded to give thanks for good health, while keeping the suffering in our prayers; of our families, as well as our personal relationships with our Creator.
We are reminded of the sanctity and safety of this great nation which we call home, and which gives us the comfort and freedom to sincerely engage in the humble spiritual renewal that is Ramadan.
These are values many American Muslims all hold dearly, but may often come to take for granted.
As we abstain from food and drink during the day in this blessed land of freedom, we are again reminded of our brothers and sisters of all faiths in Syria who are dying by the thousands at the barbaric hands of their own government. This year marks the third Ramadan in their revolution against Assadist tyranny. At the end of last Ramadan, the death toll had reached 20,000 with over 250,000 Syrians displaced. This Ramadan, the death toll is approaching 100,000, with over 2 million Syrians displaced. The millions of displaced Syrians see little hope in site for the end of Assad’s killing machine and terror factory.
Since last Ramadan, Syria’s noble struggle against Assad’s Ba’athist tyranny has been transformed into the world’s wasteland for militant jihadists— leaving innocent Syrians of all faiths caught hopelessly in the middle. May our prayers and our works be dedicated to ending their suffering and bringing them the freedom that we are blessed with here in America. We continue to remember, with a humble and solemn recognition, the Syrian people continuing to fight against unthinkable evil and great uncertainty. Many of them will go without necessary food, shelter, and the comfort of family. It is this recognition – which calls us to the duty to serve our fellow man – which lies at the heart of Ramadan.
This week, we have seen the Egyptian people’s courageous and determined struggle against both the tyranny of military dictatorship and the equally oppressive force of Islamism, which they have rejected in just one year with the largest demonstrations in history. . May this Ramadan see Egypt harness that incredible energy to unite Egyptian men and women of all faiths and none against both forms of tyranny.
The fast of Ramadan is a symbolic equalizer for all Muslims. From the very rich to the very poor we find common goodness in the challenges and rewards of the daily fast. The hunger and thirst we share allows us to share a common appreciation for the gifts we have at home and in this nation.
This month, we renew our daily efforts to remind our brothers and sisters of all faiths and none that we, as liberty-minded American Muslims, not only cherish western freedoms, but that the solution to global Islamist radicalism must come from moderate, liberty minded Muslims.
We are blessed to take this opportunity to wish Muslims worldwide a blessed and safe Ramadan, and a spiritually fulfilling fast.
About the American Islamic Forum for Democracy
The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. AIFD’s mission advocates for the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state. For more information on AIFD, please visit our website at http://www.aifdemocracy.org/.
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In what looked more like a scene from “The Dictator” than real life, Egypt’s leading general and de-facto head of state Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi addressed cheering crowds in his full military fatigue and Gamal Abdel Nassir sunglasses on Wednesday. He congratulated them for “making their will known” to the world on June 30th (when mass protests began) and July 3rd (the day Morsi was ousted), and declared that “the will of the people” delegitimizes the results of elections. He then called on “all noble Egyptians” to march on Friday in the millions to give him “the popular mandate to fight terrorism.”
The Tamarrod campaign enthusiastically endorsed his call on their official Facebook page, encouraging Egyptians to support the army in “the coming war against terrorism” and its “cleansing” of the country, widely understood as references to cracking down on The Muslim Brotherhood.
The head of Egypt’s security apparatus does not need a popular mandate to pursue those involved in criminal activity. However, a ruling junta in the Arab world’s most populous country concerned with its global image does need the theatrics of “popular will” to use force to wipe out an entire political movement and its supporters, one that by the most conservative estimates comprises no less than a quarter of the Egyptian people. Not only is the general fanning the already white hot flames of anti-Muslim Brotherhood fervor in Egypt, but he is exploiting it to gain political cover for mass repression and violence. In the current climate of ultra nationalism and deep polarization, sadly, many Egyptians are all too willing to provide it.
More than 7000 of his citizens are dying every month in a bloody civil war but Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has found time to join Instagram.
Assad, using the handle “syrianpresidency”, joined the photo-sharing network last week and had uploaded more than 50 photos – mostly shots of him greeting fans or his wife Asma al-Assad talking to citizens.
Syria’s civil war has claimed more than 100,000 lives in two years and Assad has been accused of using chemical weapons on his own people in the northern village of Khan al-Assal. Read more
(CNN) — The largest report yet into the extent of female genital mutilation, or cutting, has shed new light onto a practice that affects tens of millions of women and girls worldwide, U.N children’s agency UNICEF said.
There is some positive news in the new UNICEF report, with data on trends revealing that the practice is becoming less common in more than half of the 29 countries where it is concentrated.
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