* Fox News unlikely to be concerned about losing viewers
* British bank launches Islamic mortgage
1. "As free as al-Jazeera"
2. The other side of al-Jazeera
3. British bank launches Islamic mortgage
4. "Al-Jazeera to be launched in English in America" (Arab News, March 22, 2005)
5. "British bank launches Islamic Mortgage" (Islam Online, March 22, 2005)
"AS FREE AS AL-JAZEERA"
[Note by Tom Gross]
I attach a report from the Saudi-based English language daily "Arab News" about al-Jazeera, and a report from Islam Online about the launch by a major British bank of an "Islamic Mortgage."
The al-Jazeera news channel, which is already watched by up to 50 million Arabic-speaking households throughout the world, is "to provide English speakers in the U.S. and elsewhere with more accurate and informed reporting about the world's most turbulent region."
Arab News, a highly partisan newspaper, quotes several people welcoming al- Jazeera and criticizing US concerns:
"The U.S. needs to find a way to engage the Arab media, rather than shut down, marginalize, and ostracize news mediums such as al-Jazeera," said Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the Washington Post's former Baghdad bureau chief.
"It is in the interest of the U.S. government to encourage new Arabic channels to be as free as al-Jazeera," added Patrick Theros, former U.S. ambassador to Qatar, according to Arab News.
THE OTHER SIDE OF AL-JAZEERA
Not mentioned by Arab News are some of the lies and conspiracy theories regularly broadcast on air and on line by al-Jazeera.
I have been documented a number of these on this email list over the years.
There are three examples in dispatches in the last two months alone:
(1) Latest myth: "Israelis to establish settlement in Turkey" (January 27, 2005): "Qatar-based satellite television network al-Jazeera reported that the Zionist regime has made a proposal to establish a Jewish settlement in Turkey in southeastern Anatolia... A wave of concern swept over Turkish citizens and political circles after the news was reported, since the Zionist regime's current policies remind them of Israel's usurpation of Palestinian territories and its slogan about the so-called Greater Israel: 'From the Nile to the Euphrates'"
(2) Latest conspiracy theory: "Mossad agents running ops inside the U.S" (January 13, 2005): "Could it be that the 200 al-Qaeda members, Mossad warned about, are in reality their own agents sent to frame Arabs for "terrorist attacks"?" asked al-Jazeera on January 12, 2005, in relation to the 9/11 attacks.
(3) "Israel killed Hariri" - Latest Arab and Iranian conspiracy theory (February 15, 2005). Al-Jazeera.com carried suggestions Israel was behind the murder of the former Lebanese, anti-Syrian prime minister, when it was in fact almost certainly ordered by Syrian intelligence chief Rustom Ghazale, who is the de facto ruler of Lebanon.
BRITISH BANK LAUNCHES ISLAMIC MORTGAGE
In a separate development, in another sign of how Islamic perspectives are making inroads into western societies, attached below is a story from today's Islam Online website, titled "British Bank launches Islamic mortgage."
In summary: Lloyds TSB, Britain's fifth-largest bank, has become the third bank in the country to offer mortgage services compatible with Sharia (Muslim law).
New Islamic mortgages and current accounts are being piloted in branches across heavily-Muslim populated areas of Britain, including Edgware Road in central London, Luton, north of the capital and the country's second city Birmingham.
Observers said "the needs of Britain's approximately 1.8 million Muslims needed to be catered for."
British banks have not offered special financial services to placate the interests of other minorities in Britain, of which there are several.
-- Tom Gross
ARAB NEWS: AL-JAZEERA TO BE LAUNCHED IN ENGLISH IN AMERICA
Al-Jazeera to be launched in English in America
By Barbara Ferguson
U.S. correspondent, Arab News
March 22, 2005
Al-Jazeera news channel, the bete noire of both the Bush administration and many Arab governments, is shown on a daily basis to 35 to 50 million Arab households throughout the world.
Soon Americans will be viewing it in their homes – in English.
Since it began broadcasting in 1996, al-Jazeera has made a name for itself by annoying both the U.S. government and Arab regimes for its controversial coverage. Love it or hate it, it has revolutionized reporting in the Middle East.
Now its executives say they want to launch an English-language news channel from the U.S., to provide English speakers in the U.S. and elsewhere with more accurate and informed reporting about the world’s most turbulent region.
This may not be such a bad thing, said experts during a recent briefing, who say the U.S. should not vilify Al-Jazeera, but rather work to help it succeed.
"The U.S. needs to find a way to engage the Arab media, rather than shut down, marginalize, and ostracize news mediums such as al-Jazeera," said Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the Washington Post’s former Baghdad bureau chief.
Speaking during a panel discussion organized by the John Hopkins University School of Advance International Studies, SAIS, Chandrasekaran, said: “The U.S. needs to find a more constructive way to deal with al-Jazeera, which is key to further the U.S. agenda of democracy in the region."
His comments came following the viewing of "Control Room," a documentary about al-Jazeera during the 2003 launch of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
SAIS assembled a strong lineup of panelists: Chandrasekaran; Josh Rushing, the former Marine Corps captain and Central Command spokesman who is prominently featured in the film; Mohamed Alami, a Washington-based reporter for al-Jazeera; and Ambassador Patrick Theros, former U.S. ambassador to Qatar, al-Jazeera's home base.
Alami echoed Chandrasekaran's remarks, accusing the U.S. of "behaving like an Arab regime by insisting the problem is not the message, but the messenger."
"The Arab world is suffering from a great deficiency of freedom, and many of our bureaus have been shut down in Arab countries."
Al-Jazeera has changed the Arab media and the Arab people's perspective of what they can expect from their media forever, he said. Patrick Theros, U.S. ambassador to Qatar when the al-Jazeera was launched, agreed: "It is in the interest of the U.S. government to encourage new Arabic channels to be as free as al-Jazeera."
ISLAM ONLINE: LLOYDS TSB BANK LAUNCHES ISLAMIC MORTGAGE
British Bank launches Islamic mortgage
March 22, 2005
(IslamOnline.net & News Agencies)
Lloyds TSB, Britain's fifth-largest bank, has become the third bank in the country to offer mortgage services compatible with Sharia (Muslim law).
Lloyds TSB said Monday, March 21, it would cater to the needs of Britain's approximately 1.8 million Muslims, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The service differed from conventional British mortgages because it was "based on completely different principles," said bank official Emile Abu-Shakra.
"What we are doing is buying the property on behalf of the customer and then leasing it back to them in a way which allows them to legally own it at the same time, to get ownership."
Crucially, no interest would be payable. Under Sharia, interest on bank accounts is haram (unlawful) because such interest is an increase of money made without effort or trade.
Islam prohibits depositing one's wealth and taking specified increase without the risk of either loss or profit making.
Therefore, the type of investment allowed is where a person deposits money in an account and shares both the risk of making profit or losing.
Sharia further forbids Muslims from receiving or paying interest on loans.
Under the new mortgage, the amount paid over the 25-year term would be broadly similar to a conventional mortgage.
The British bank would fund up to 90 percent of a house purchase and the customer would then repay that sum over a fixed period, alongside a rent payment for use of the property.
"It's a form of rental, but it’s completely compliant with Islamic law and avoids the interest system so it looks the same," Abu-Shakra added.
The mortgage offered a solution to Muslim customers who wanted to buy a property but would not enter into a traditional mortgage agreement.
"Finding the money for a new home can be tough at the best of times, but Britain’s Muslims face an even more difficult dilemma," said Mark Austin, of Lloyds TSB Islamic Financial Services.
"With traditional, interest-based mortgages out of the question for many, the choice has tended to be between going against the faith or avoiding a mortgage altogether."
The mortgage and current account were being piloted in branches across heavily-Muslim populated areas of Britain, including Edgware Road in central London, Luton, north of the capital and the country's second city Birmingham.
Both services can be operated through any of the bank’s 2000 branches across Britain.
The bank said that it will derive much benefit from the market for Muslim-orientated financial products.
"The Muslim population in the UK is one of the fastest growing communities," Abu-Shakra said.
"There are around two million Muslims in the UK at the moment, they haven't had access to this type of product in this way before so, it's going to be attractive to them. There is definitely a market for it."
The move follows Lloyds TSB's recently-launched Islamic bank account, which also offers no interest or overdraft facilities to comply with Sharia.
In 2003, HSBC banking group became the fist high street bank in Britain to offer mortgages and current accounts in accordance with Sharia.
A year later, the Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB) became the first Islamic bank to open its doors in the country.