Islamic financing: Is growing across the globe, trumping Western banking

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_Currency.jpegABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — It works like this: No interest on investments, but the borrower and the lender share the risk and split the returns. This growing form of banking, known as Islamic finance, is now making significant headway into Africa, one of the fastest-growing regions in the world.

In fact, proponents of Islamic banking are touting this alternative to classic Western financial practices as a better way to help Africa improve roads, develop state-of-the-art health care systems and create a massive middle class to address some of the issues hindering growth.


Read more at The Washington Times

Taliban backs: Relief efforts after deadly Pakistan quake

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_PAK151031aa001.jpegLAHORE, Pakistan — The Taliban on Tuesday urged its fighters to aid earthquake victims and said it would not block governmental relief efforts in the battered region of northern Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The communique was issued as workers scrambled to deliver emergency supplies to the isolated, mountainous area that was rocked by a magnitude-7.5 quake Monday. The death toll rose to more than 370 on Tuesday, but authorities warned it could continue to climb as rescuers reach remote villages where communication lines were cut off by the quake.

Read more at USA Today

Quake rocks: Afghanistan, Pakistan, at least 311 dead

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_PAK151031aa003.jpegLAHORE, Pakistan — At least 311 people were killed when a magnitude-7.5 earthquake centered in Afghanistan rocked neighboring Pakistan and rattled buildings as far away as India.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicenter was in the far northern Afghan province of Badakhshan, which borders Pakistan, Tajikistan and China.

Read more at USA Today

Education is: The only weapon left

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_EGY130828AA002.jpegA month into my senior year, I’m nervous about entering the “real world” after college ends. Yet, at the same time, the real world keeps intruding into college.

I started my semester off on the right foot at Al-Quds Bard College, with progress on my senior project, a film about how Palestinians view the local media in the years since the rift between Fatah and Hamas opened in 2007. I’m also taking three great courses: documentary film theory and practice, installation art, and critical literary theory. It’s a lot of difficult, heady stuff. But the intellectual energy I receive from the courses is worth it.

Read more at Al-Fanar Media

Without jobs: Dignity eludes many Tunisian youth

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR150315aa002.jpegTUNIS, Tunisian — “Labor, Freedom, National Dignity” was the slogan of the Tunisian revolution.

Today, however, it’s clear to many Tunisian officials that the country’s universities aren’t helping fulfill the first of those goals, undercutting progress in achieving the other two.

Read more at Al-fanar Media

Iraq’s Kurds: Key U.S. ally in Islamic State fight, embroiled in violent political crisis

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFG15225AA001.jpegIRBIL, Iraq — Iraq’s Kurds, who have emerged as the most effective U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State group, have been plunged into a violent political crisis that threatens to split their government, adding a level of instability and division to the troubled region.

The crisis exploded after Kurdistan Regional President Masoud Barzani refused to step down when his term ended Aug. 19.

Read more at The Washington Times

Moroccan government: Cracks down on journalists and activists

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_ARA_news_DEU130418AA001.jpegRABAT, Morocco — As he sits in a jail cell with seven other inmates, Hicham Mansouri, an investigative journalist, worries about his colleagues on the outside. For now, at least, they remain free.

“They got to me as a warning to the others,” said Mr. Mansouri, referring to other members of the Moroccan Association of Investigative Journalism. “Moroccans should start getting concerned about what is happening in their country. The media is more repressed.”

Read more at The New York Times

Researchers say: Nefertiti may be in Tut's tomb

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_EGY130924aa001.jpegCAIRO — Archaeologists in Egypt said Thursday they could be on the brink of answering one of the oldest questions about one of the world’s oldest civilizations.

The discovery of two secret chambers in King Tutankhamen’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings at Luxor caused researchers to speculate it could contain the long-sought resting place of Queen Nefertiti.

Read more at USA Today

Put the: Refugee crisis on pause, Syria's orchestra in exile just performed in Germany

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU130312AA001.jpegBERLIN, Germany — Two years ago, after he fled the Syrian civil war and settled in Germany as a refugee, bassoonist Ahmed Qafour figured he would never play alongside his countrymen again.

Qafour dropped out of the Higher Institute of Music in Damascus in 2012 because of the war. He arrived Germany in 2013 on the invitation of other Syrian musicians playing in the Young Euro Classic festival.

Read more at Global Post

After Ebola: Africans shun herbal medicines

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR141002aa001.jpegFREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Bauyuku Mansaray used to believe in the healing powers of herbs, but not after the Ebola crisis.

Traditional medicines couldn’t stop the deadly virus from killing 50 people — a third of the population — in Kumala, Mansaray’s small village in the north. “I used to believe that Ebola was something that can be cured by our herbalists here,” said Mansaray, 50, a farmer. “But when I saw what Ebola did in Kumala village ... I changed my thought all together."

Read more at USA Today

Voices: A desperate journey from Syria to Germany

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_FRA14231aa001.jpegBERLIN — Not long ago, a Syrian acquaintance of mine, Muhammad Albalkhy, sent me an urgent email: “I am in Hungary and I need your help. Do you know anyone who could get me out of here?”

After escaping from Syria, and enduring a harrowing journey through Turkey, Greece, the Balkans and Eastern Europe, Muhammad, 26, was arrested by Hungarian police.

Read more at USA Today

Islamic State: Mounts bombs on U.S. military vehicles

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFG15225AA001.jpegIRBIL, Iraq — Gen. Dedawa Khurshid, a commander of the Kurdish peshmerga forces battling the Islamic State militants, faces a unique terrorist-style of warfare on a daily basis.

“Daesh modifies trucks and bulldozers by welding steel all over them,” said Gen. Khurshid, using the Arabic term for the jihadi Islamic State, which now controls large swaths of Iraq and Syria. “Then they take high explosives and mount them in a special way on the front of the vehicles. A man will then take the vehicle and drive into our line and detonate it.”

Read more at The Washington Times

Somalis used: To flee to Yemen to escape war. Now it's the other way around

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_SYR130326AA001.jpegBERBERA, Somalia — As Adra Sarraf held a crying baby outside a makeshift refugee camp in the Gulf of Aden, she wondered whether she and her four children would lose their lives to hunger, or terror.

“We’ve no food to eat here,” said the 33-year-old mother of four. “My children have been surviving on water for the last two weeks.”

Read more at Global Post

Statistical portrait: of Syrian frustration

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_SYR130603AA001.jpegStatistics from a sampling of scholarship programs around the world demonstrate how a flood of hopeful Syrian students applying for overseas scholarship programs is swamping the places available.

Three years ago, the Institute of International Education in the United States, which administers Fulbright programs, launched the Syria Consortium for Higher Education in Crisis, a grant program to help Syrian students with urgent financial need to enroll in American degree-granting programs.

Read more at Al-fanar Media

Refugee student: Seek a scholarship or pay a smuggler?

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_AFR150315aa002.jpegAhmad Hakim isn’t sure whether he’ll leave war-torn Syria as a student or refugee.

Hakim, 25, would love to enroll in graduate studies in English literature at the Free University of Berlin in Germany, but obstacles to Syrians seeking higher education abroad—including tight competition for scholarships—are making that goal increasingly far-fetched.

Read more at Al-fanar Media

Women journalists: Not for the Middle East?

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_EGY141212aa001.jpegWhen I finished 12th grade, I began inquiring about university journalism programs in Palestine. We have good programs. They are not strong compared to American or European journalism schools, but they teach the basics well and provide practical experience.

At the beginning of my studies, some members of my family were against my decision, claiming that journalism is not for women. I prepared myself for these kinds of debates. Their reaction was normal in this male-dominated society.

Read more at Al-Fanar Media

Benevolent smugglers: Free Yazidi women from Islamic State slavery

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DOHUK, Iraq — Sitting in a partially built house in an abandoned Christian village in Kurdistan, a 21-year-old Yazidi woman quietly recounted her ordeal at the hands of the Islamic State.

"ISIS separated me from my sisters," the woman said as she sat on a worn mattress thrown onto the concrete floor. "They beat me, raped me, handcuffed me and left me in a room for days. I tried to kill myself by jumping from a tall building and by electrocuting myself."

Read more at The Washington Times 

Palestinian universities: A grim anniversary

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_GAZ140724AA001.jpegMore than a year after the 51-day war last summer between Israel and Palestine, Palestinian universities are still suffering from the damage, and professors and students are struggling to cope.

“I was not able to go back to my university last year,” said Mohamed Yahia, who had been studying English literature at the Islamic University of Gaza.

Read more at Al Fanar Media

Oil feud: Cash-strapped Kurds turn backs on deal with Baghdad

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_IRQ150410aa001.jpegIRBIL, Iraq — Strapped for cash and increasingly frustrated with Baghdad’s stingy disbursement of the federal budget, Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish government has turned its back on a deal struck last year to patch over a long-standing oil feud between the Kurds and the federal government.

Since June, the Kurdistan Regional Government, which governs the Kurdish region in northern Iraq, has been ramping up independent oil sales.

Read more at The Washington Times

Doha heat: Drives most academics to cooler climes

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_1111.jpegDOHA—Quick, let’s play a summer game. We’ll call it “find the academic.” And let’s play in Qatar, just to make the game especially challenging.

Summertime temperatures in Qatar can rise above 40 degrees Celsius, 120 Fahrenheit. Summer here lasts for about four months starting from April.

Read more at Al-fanar Media

In Qatar: Education drives workforce shifts for women

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_QAT150315AA001.jpegDOHA — Qatari women have long outnumbered men in the country’s higher education system. Now they are transforming its workforce.

In recent years, female enrollment in Qatari universities has been nearly double that of men. The effects of that ratio are now becoming clear, including in traditionally male-dominated professions like engineering, media and information technology.

Read more at Al-fanar Media

Arab students: In Israel say their voices are muffled

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_ISR120808aa001.jpegDOHA - Arab-Israeli student activists say they face an uphill battle to voice their grievances on Israeli campuses, and rising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians since the war in Gaza last summer are worsening the situation.

“The tension between Arab students, Israeli administrators and the Israeli students increases depending on the political situation between Palestine and Israel,” says Kalil Garrar, an Arab political science student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Read more at Al-fanar Media

Once-Proud: Iraqi medical schools now down at the heels

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_1111.jpegIRAQ - An Iraqi medical resident, Mohammed Hassan, is worried about fulfilling his Hippocratic oath. A recent graduate in cardiothoracic surgery from Karbala Medical College in Iraq, the 27-year-old is worried he might hurt, rather than help, his patients.

Most of the professors “were not able to explain the subjects well,” said Hassan. “The lack of academics led the college to bring working doctors and even professors from other faculties.

Read more at Al-Fanar Media

Bitter feud: Between Turkey, Egypt undercuts U.S. hopes for Middle East

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Two of America's linchpin allies in the Middle East are bitterly feuding, complicating the Obama administration's hopes of confronting Sunni Salafists and containing the ambitions of Shiite Iran.

Egypt is accusing Turkey of working with the Islamic State on the Sinai Peninsula, a new low in the already poor relations between the two regional powers.

Read more at The Washington Times 

Berber language: Can't get a foothold in Algeria

TUN130409AA001ALGIERS — Algerian leaders switched their official language from French to Arabic after the country’ war of independence in the early 1960s.

Forty years later, the government labeled Tamazight—the mother tongue of the Berbers— as a “national” language. The move fell short of putting Tamazight on par with Arabic but nonetheless recognized that 25 percent of Algerians speak the language.

Read more at Al Fanar Media

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