Two medical studies released this week confirmed that widespread circumcision of adult men is a powerful weapon against HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa, a finding that appears destined to reshape AIDS prevention strategies.
The US Global AIDS coordinator, Dr. Mark Dybul, indicated in a statement that the Bush administration, which has committed $15 billion to treating and preventing AIDS in the developing world, will now consider supporting circumcision as a prevention tool.
In the two studies, researchers in Kenya and Uganda enrolled thousands of uncircumcised men to determine if the procedure could reduce HIV transmission among heterosexuals, with some men having their foreskin removed and others remaining intact. Preliminary results so overwhelmingly favored circumcision that US health authorities overseeing the project said they were ethically obligated to stop the trials and offer circumcision to all the men.
Global health authorities, long wary of the social and cultural implications of recommending routine circumcision, moved closer than ever today to embracing the procedure as an important method for reducing infections.
"It does have the potential to prevent many tens of thousands, many hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of infections over coming years," said Dr. Kevin DeCock, chief of the AIDS branch at the World Health Organization. "But this is not just like taking a pill. It's more difficult than that in the reality of African health systems, and this also has huge cultural implications."
For more than a decade, African physicians had observed that circumcised men seemed less susceptible to HIV. There are biological explanations for that: The skin of the penis of circumcised men is thicker and less prone to penetration by HIV. Conversely, cells in the foreskin of uncircumcised men are especially welcoming to the virus.
In the United States 70 percent of adult men are circumcised.
The Australian, South African and Sri Lankan Connection
LuqmanIssadeen, son of AbdulMalik and ZainiIssadeen (of Kuraby) married RuqayyaParuk, daugther of Edris and FatimahParuk (ex-Brisbane) in Durban, South Africa at the NMJ Hall in Overport on the 9th of December.
The Walima will be celebrated early next month in Colombo at the Sri Lanka Exhibition and Convention Centre.
Christian funds Shariah-compliant?
It might not be well know within the Muslim community that there are Christian groups (for example, the Uniting Church) that subscribe to ethical fund management, meaning that they apply a set of negative screens, or investment exclusions when it comes to dealing in investment portfolios, which is not too far removed from the shariah-compliant funds typically designed for Muslim investors.
These negative screens are against companies involved in the manufacture of tobacco, alcohol, pornography, gambling, uranium and armaments. They also maintain a stance of strong support for the environment and human rights.
Negative Screens are companies or areas of business that for ethical reasons are excluded from their investment universe.
As an illustration of a ‘negative screen’, the UCA Funds Management excludes the following companies (from the S&P/ASX300 Index) for ethical reasons: Aristocrat Leisure (gaming machines), Burswood Ltd (casino), Fosters Brewing (alcohol), Grand Hotel Group (hotel investor), Gunns Ltd (logging), Lion Nathan (brewer), McGuigan Wines (alcohol), Publishing & Broadcasting (Crown casino), Rio Tinto Ltd (uranium), Silex Systems (uranium enrichment), Southcorp Ltd (wine), Stargames (gaming machines), TAB Ltd (gaming), Tabcorp Holdings (gaming), Thakral Holdings (hotel investor), Unitab (gaming), WMC Resources (uranium), Woolworths (gaming).
Algester Mosque Islamic Society Burial Committee Demo
There will be a demonstration on how to perform janazaghusal at the Algester Mosque on Sunday the 17th of December after eishasalaat.
EishaJamaat is at 8.30pm and all are welcome.
THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS: A letter to the churches in Brisbane
By Alison Cotes, reporting on her recent visit to Syria
As I walked down the Street called Straight (yes, it’s still there, and as straight as if it was in biblical times) in the Old City of Damascus, and eventually found the basement room still venerated as the home of Ananias, who baptised Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9), the scales fell from my eyes too, and a truth that had been niggling me for the six weeks I had been travelling in the Middle East burst upon me.
“Credo! Credo!” I said to myself as I sat in this cool quiet space, recovering from the 40 degree heat outside.
No, it wasn’t that I now believed that Ananias was indeed the bishop of Damascus, as the legends claim for, so soon after the death of Jesus, the church had not developed a priestly structure.
Nor did I believe that the walls of the Old City of Damascus were the very same as those from which Saul (aka Paul) had been let down in a basket to escape the hostile Jews who were objecting to his conversion to the service of a new master. (Although I did see a replica of the basket in the very modern sanctuary of St Paul at the Wall, now run by St Vinnies as a home for orphans and the elderly, where the casual tourist is conned out of large quantities of Syrian pounds to feed the poor.)
Nor did I believe that the spherical bundle wrapped in drab-olive cotton that has pride of place in the great Umayyad Mosque in the Old City was really the head of John the Baptist, even though he, like Jesus, is revered as a holy prophet by all good Muslims.
After all, I had already seen his head in the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul many years before, as well as the supposed head of the same personage in the Residenzmuseum in Munich. I had also heard the story of the old Roman priest who, when showing this holy relic to a class of schoolboys, was confronted by one of them who insisted that his father had seen the Baptist’s head in Istanbul.
“Ah-ha,” replied the devious cleric, “but that was only his head when he was a little boy!”
But I did believe now, after talking to many Muslims and Christians, including two of Mother Teresa’s nuns, an Armenian Catholic priest from Iran, the superior of the Melchite shrine of St Thecla at Maalula, as well as a number of educated Sunnis and Shiites, that people of both religions can live side by side not just in tolerance, but in peace and active harmony.
In Egypt, for example, Coptic Christians make up about 30% of the heads of government ministries; the old Roman arch in Damascus that marks the rough border between the Christian and Muslim sections of the Old City has no border controls or security fences; and that part of the Jordan River revered as the site of the baptism of Jesus is honoured by Jews, Muslims and Christians alike.
Certainly there are armed patrols on both the Israeli and the Jordanian sides of the narrow turgid stream, to make sure that no terrorists from either country slip across the border in the guise of pilgrims, but this is for political rather than religious reasons.
Islam has a special place for Jesus in its theology, regarding him as the second of the three great Prophets of the Book, after Moses and before Mohammed, and there is a special minaret in the Umayyad Mosque called the Jesus Tower, where Muslims believe that he will appear at the Last Day to judge the world.
There is even a whole sura (chapter) in the Qurandevoted to Mary of Nazareth, stating firmly that she was a virgin and conceived Jesus without sin.
It’s just that they don’t accept Jesus as an incarnational figure. Like the Jews before them, they believe God is One and Indivisible, and that their prophet Mohammed, coming six centuries after Jesus, is the greatest prophet of all.
“Any chance that Mohammed in his turn might be superseded by a later, greater prophet?” I inquired of a Sunni intellectual with whom I had become quite friendly.
“Of course not!” he answered, his cheeky grin belying his dogmatic tone. “Mohammed (peace be upon him) is the last and the greatest of the prophets.
“But we are all three - Jews, Christians and Muslims - People of the Book; we are all Children of Abraham; and we all worship the same God: so we should be able to live together in harmony as brothers and sisters.”
“Amen to that!” I said, for the truth that had at last been revealed to me was that most ordinary Muslims do want peaceful co-existence between the three great religions of the Middle East, as do most ordinary Jews.
It’s only the fanatical leaders of all three faiths who propagate war, and there is no need, and certainly no theological reason, for any of us to hate the others.
So we parted as we met, as friends, in the name of Mohammed (peace be upon him) and Jesus (peace be upon him), just as it should always be.
These words have I written unto you from Damascus in my last column for the year, and in this time when Christians rejoice in the coming of the Prince of Peace, may I say to you, my sisters and brothers, Shalom, Pax Vobiscus and Salaam.
Asia Games in Doha
"Wearing a veil proves that Muslim women face no obstacles and encourages them to participate in sport," said victorious Ghasara.
Hijab No Obstacle to Asian Gold
A young Bahraini sprinter made history for Muslim women athletes after winning a well-deserved gold medal at the Asian Games on Monday, December 11, proving that hijab was no obstacle to excellence.
"This is a glory to all Muslim women," said 24-year-old Ruqaya Al-Ghasara who won the gold medal in the 200-meters in 23.19 seconds, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
The devout Muslim immediately went down on her knees after crossing the line and touched her lips and then head to the track.
"I'm very thankful for being a Muslim; it's a blessing."
"Saudi Arabia’s Yahya Hassan Habeeb celebrates during the award ceremony for the men’s 100m race finals at the 15th Asian Games in Doha on Saturday.
Habeeb Asia’s Fastest Man
Hassan Yahya Habeeb was crowned Asia’s fastest man when he sped to victory in the 100-meter dash, and Hussain Taher Al-Saba leapt to the longest distance yesterday as Saudi Arabia reaped a medal harvest at the Asian Games at Khalifa Stadium.
The two gold medals along with Ahmed Faez Bin Marzouq’s bronze in the long jump event put Saudi Arabia well on the way to equaling their haul of seven gold medals in the last Asiad in Busan, South Korea.
With the track and field events starting in earnest, the Saudis have racked up four gold medals, the earlier two coming in bowling events.
On a day when athletes from the Gulf ruled the roost, Habeeb clocked 10.32 seconds in the track and field’s glamour event.
Tom Cruise, Sean Connery and Clint Eastwood rolled into one
The Sunday Times (United Kingdom)
December 03, 2006
Vanessa Jolly meets Bollywood’s biggest star and the world's most famous actor as his latest movie opens in London and hears why the curry here is better than back home
Most celebrities have to cope with the odd overzealous fan letter, but Amitabh Bachchan, India’s most famous Bollywood actor, gets his portrait drawn in blood. “I’ve received some very frightening ones,” he says. “I tell them to make it a miniature because they are losing a lot of blood. But how do you stop them?”
When Bachchan falls ill, millions of Indians do penance. In 1982 he injured himself in a stunt scene and fell into a coma. “Some 80-year-old women said they ate only one meal a day and would sleep on the ground, praying for my recovery,” he says. “One chap who lived 400km from Mumbai ran backwards from his village to the city and then backwards home again, a total of 800km.”
I am an item for whom men have gone to the ends of the earth, fought wars and I have become indispensable to the food industry. You will find me in your home. Do you know me?
I am a “legendary” spice obtained from the dried stigmas of the “Crocus-sativus.” The dried stigma is of intense yellow/orange colour and is in small hair-like strands. It has a powerful bitter taste and is used in Spanish rice, saffron rice, some bread and even in sauces. I am associated with the two famous Mediterranean countries of Spain and Portugal.
Do you know me?
Plucked as a berry from the vine “Piper nigrum” when fully ripe, dried and with the outer hull removed, I am used in whole or ground form in most creamed soups, mayonnaise, meats and also salads. I derive income for countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil.
Have you guessed my identity?
Answers in the next issue of CCN.
Source: SANHA e-Bulletin
The CCN Centre Link
There is a vacancy for a casual driving instructor (male or female) at ACCES Services INC.
Part-time, basic computer skills, manual drivers license (3years)
Work involves working with migrants and refugees
Excellent communication skills in English
Contact Sushil (0417746977) or Abdullah (0407698312), the Muslim Employment Project Coordinators
Lots of vacancies are also available on a diverse range of jobs- for mothers, school leavers, men, women.
Tony Abbott: Debate needed on Islam's place
Most Muslim Australians are integrating into our democratic way of life
December 14, 2006
AUSTRALIA had an officially identified "disloyal minority" for at least the first 50 years of its settled existence. In 1804, an armed mob of several hundred Irish convicts was bloodily suppressed at the Battle of Vinegar Hill. Until the 1830s, priests were not allowed freely to say mass in the new colony lest this inflame seditious tendencies.
This is far from the first time some Australians have been concerned about the readiness of ethnic and cultural groups to assimilate, or minority groups have felt persecuted by their fellow Australians. Muslim integration is a serious issue posing formidable challenges, but it should be kept in perspective.
During World War I, for instance, Anglo-Australians often regarded Irish Australians' broad sympathy for the Easter Uprising as evidence of subversive tendencies, even though Catholics had volunteered to serve in the Australian army at much the same rate as Protestants, and Irishmen had served in the British army at more or less the same rate as Englishmen.
In my childhood, Catholic schoolchildren walking past public schools after 3pm were likely enough to have stones thrown at them. If anything like this regularly happened today, it would trigger an agonised national debate, with all involved referred for counselling if not reported to the anti-discrimination board.
Fears that Australian values are being eroded by alien newcomers betray a surprising lack of confidence in the gravitational pull of the core culture. It's important to remember that in these times, unlike the convict era, every newcomer has, in effect, voted for Australia. For us, being Australian is an accident of birth or parentage. For them, being Australian is an act of conscious choice. That's why the placards displayed at Cronulla last Christmas, "We grew here, you flew here", suggesting that only the native born could be fair-dinkum Aussies, were so wrong-headed.
Every generation is inclined to lament the pace of change and to fear that things aren't what they used to be. Still, the fact that would-be migrants the world over prefer English-speaking countries is the best possible testament to the Anglosphere and its near-universal appeal. Certainly, treating migrants and migrant cultures as interlopers is going to make the challenge of integration harder.
Like the Prime Minister, I would find the burka confronting. Even so, I wonder who faces the greater cultural shock: Australians who notice a few women wearing headscarves, or migrants from Muslim countries adjusting to almost complete sexual freedom, gender equality, cultural diversity and commercial laissez faire? It's hardly surprising that some respond by associating with their fellow Muslims and defining themselves by their differences from other Australians.
There is no doubt that some Muslims find aspects of the Australian way of life objectionable. A minority systematise that by denying legitimacy to any non-Muslim state. Still, treating all Muslims as suspect because some Muslims resist integrating would make a difficult situation far worse.
In the age of terror, it would help if Muslim leaders were less ambivalent about the practice of suicide murder. Perhaps some of this reticence is an Islamic version of the then pope's "prudent" reluctance categorically to condemn Nazism. In any event, it seems clear that bombing mosques and police recruitment centres in Iraq is no more sanctioned by Islam than bombing police stations and pubs in Ireland was sanctioned by Christianity.
The Anglosphere has not maintained its economic, technological and military preponderance by pretending that there's nothing to learn from other cultures. English-speaking countries have not become beacons of hope and freedom by building walls against the world. We are always open to new ideas and better ways of doing things. We never assume that others have nothing to teach. To the extent that our political and ethical values are not potentially universal, we think that they're not values at all, just prejudices. This is the real explanation for the strength and resilience of our culture.
It's now glaringly obvious that the war on terror will not be won by armies and security services, important though these are. The war on terror will only be won when people no longer feel that terror is justified. That's why this debate about being Muslim and being Australian is part of Australia's potential contribution to a safer world, along with our military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As hundreds of thousands of Australian Muslims have demonstrated - starting with a handful of early settlers and extending to people such as footballer Hazem El Masri and businessman John Ilhan - there is no incompatibility between commitment to Islam and constructive contribution to Australia. For these people, as for their Catholic and Protestant fellow Australians, building a life and a nation turned out to be more important than stressing points of religious difference.
The last way to reach yet-to-be-convinced Muslims is telling them, in effect, to like us or leave.
The post-September 11 debate about Islam and the West has inevitably been marked by knee-jerk reactions and stereotypes of all kinds. Intolerance thrives in the shadows. Media portrayals of xenophobia and extremism are inevitably inflammatory in the short run, but in the long term force people to confront their own prejudices. Once a topic, individual or group are the subject of media interest, they have to explain themselves. Views that don't have to be justified are unlikely to be changed. Even an argument is a form of engagement.
The reporting of Taj Din al-Hilali's notorious sermon on women should lead to him rethinking his views, not just apologising for them, because any view worth holding, almost by definition, has to be capable of public explanation and justification.
In the short term, media coverage of Islamic leaders may well present Islam as exotic or even scary, but some of them are scary and ought to be exposed. In the long term, it's likely to produce a dialogue between Muslim and non-Muslim Australians that everyone can learn from.
Now that the attitude of Muslims towards the West in general and Australia in particular has been called into question, this issue has to be resolved. Only Muslims can determine whether Islam, properly understood, is compatible with political freedom and cultural pluralism. This is the debate that Islam has to have, and it is as likely to lead to happy conclusions here as anywhere else.
The war on terror does not pit al-Qa'ida against the West so much as a small minority of Muslims against their co-religionists. Australia's greatest contribution to winning the war on terror would be demonstrating how sincere Muslims can also be citizens of a pluralist democracy.
Tony Abbott is the federal Health Minister. This is extracted from a speech to a conference on The Journalist and Islam, organised by Macquarie University's Centre for Middle East and North African Studies at NSW Parliament House last week.
I am a 23 year old female student on a four month stay at the QUT. I came here from Germany, I am half German and half Arabic. I am looking for a part time job in Brisbane. I would love to take care of children, help them with their homework or just play with them. I speak Arabic, English and German fluently and most important, I love children :)
If you need a couple of hours help with your children please give me call on 0422086512 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The CCN Chuckle
Mula Nasruddin with two red ears went to his doctor. The doctor asked him what had happened to his ears and he answered, "I was ironing a shirt and the phone rang but instead of picking up the phone I accidentally picked up the iron and stuck it to my ear."
"Oh Dear!" the doctor exclaimed in disbelief.
"But what happened to your other ear?"
"The scoundrel called back!"
The CCN Date Claimer
Springwood State High School Hall, 200 Springwood Rd, Springwood
The best ideas and the best feedback come from our community of readers. If you have a topic or opinion that you want to write about or want seen covered or any news item that you think might be of benefit to the Crescents Community please e-mail
Share your thoughts, feelings and ambitions for our community through CCN.
If there is someone you know who would like to subscribe to CCN please encourage them to send an e-mail to email@example.com with the words “Subscribe Me” in the subject line.
Articles and opinions appearing in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Crescents of Brisbane team, CCN, its Editor or its Sponsors, particularly if they eventually turn out to be libelous, unfounded, objectionable, obnoxious, offensive, slanderous and/or downright distasteful.
It is the usual policy of CCN to include from time to time, notices of events that some readers may find interesting or relevant. Such notices are often posted as received. Including such messages or providing the details of such events does not necessarily imply endorsement by either CCN or Crescents of Brisbane Inc. of the contents of these events.