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Educating towards peace

April 2, 2010

Hi guys,

I noticed that others here introduced their projects from the Alexandria workshop and thought I would tell you all about mine and Hani’s partnership:-

At first we were planning to write a “normal” feature story on one aspect that our countries shared and we thought what better than looking at education?

However, we quickly realized that the information we were gathering would not promote closer cross-border ties in any way but rather have the opposite effect and that it was not really in the spirit of this project.

So we decided it would be great if we could get published as individuals in the others’ country, show each others people a different, more peaceful, voice and then appeal in a joint voice to the world.

Hani’s piece was published in The Jerusalem Post, both in print and on-line, as well as in supplements in New York and in our Christian edition.

My op-ed was published on the Jordanian news website Ammonnews.net and also the Washington-based Palestine Note.

As for our joint op-ed, we decided that the conclusions were too disappointing and disheartening to print in full and that it was both inappropriate and extremely difficult to write such a story, even though we both interviewed many individuals on this subject.

Instead, we wrote the reasons why we could not write the story, alluding to some of our findings but asking people to try and change. Why We Can’t Write This Story…. was published on the Huffington Post, and was picked up by several media outlets:

http://en.ammonnews.net/article.aspx?articleNO=7097

http://www.jewishjournal.com/israel/article/why_we_cant_write_this_story_20100318/

http://cgis.jpost.com/Blogs/reporters/entry/why_we_can_t_write

The Search for Common Ground News Service also wanted to run the story and we re-wrote an additional version for them. This was translated into several languages, including Arabic, and picked up across the world.

Here are some of the places that it appeared:-

http://www.thedailynewsegypt.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=28732

http://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/viewarticles.php?editorialid=991

http://bikyamasr.com/?tag=cross-cultural-reporting

In addition, we also appeared on Ray Hanania’s Radio ChicagoLand Show, talking about our findings of the joint story:

03-22-10RuthEglashHaniHazaimeh.mp3?nvb=20100402205248&nva=20100403210248&t=06693974da203aee72f2a

Hope you enjoy it all….

Regards

Ruth and Hani

Come Together

April 2, 2010

Hope everyone is well and safe.

Just taking the time out to introduce  the project completed by Bill Schaefer, Chiranjibi Paudyal and Sundus Rasheed. The all encompassing theme of the project was ‘Cross-Cultural Bridges’ – we looked at how the common man is building a better relationship between the US and Pakistan, and the UK and Pakistan.

Each of us wrote an article – which was published in The Idaho State Journal

Bill Schaefer created an audio slide show – which you can watch here:

http://www.journalnet.com/video_player/#vmix_media_id=12067067

Other video interviews are here:

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=727217730&ref=ts

Sundus Rasheed produced a radio documentary called ‘Musicians without Borders’ – drawing attention to the efforts of American jazz musicians collaborating with Pakistani musicians and the beautiful music they created.  You can listen to the documentary here:

http://www.cityfm89.com/website/citycastpostview.aspx?pid=119

Feed back is appreciated and welcome,

Sundus

HijabSkirt Info – Project

April 1, 2010

Dear colleagues

This is our project Hijabskirt Info

www.hijabskirt.info

Authors: Sasa Milosevic (Serbia), Tarik Mounir (Egypt) Asma Faty (Egypt)

These are media articles about project

USA: ALLVOICES

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/5527810-the-peace-of-hijab-and-skirt-is-the-peace-of-east-and-west

USA: BUDGET TRAVEL

http://mybt.budgettravel.com/_How-to-reconcile-hijab-and-skirt-/blog/2274637/21864.html

Canada: DIGITAL JOURNAL

http://www.digitaljournal.com/blog/6090

Serbia : SMEDIA, Serbian news portal

http://www.smedia.rs/vesti/detalji.php?id=28413

Montenegro: Daily newspaper “Dan” ( The Day)

http://www.dan.co.me/?nivo=3&rubrika=Kultura&clanak=225631&datum=2010-04-01

This is translation of article from Serbian and Montenegrian on English

HOW TO RECONCILE  HIJAB AND SKIRT ?

Belgrade-based journalist Sasa Milosevic with his Egyptian counterparts Tarek Mounir and  Asma Faty from Cairo, created an unusual Web site called Hijabskirt Info (www.hijabskirt.info) as an unique educational and social platform in  overcoming the prejudices about women who wear hijab or (mini)skirt.

Faced with decades long conflict between two pieces of clothes that are synonyms of two cultures, two religions and two civilizations, Milosevic and his Arab colleagues are trying to symbolically reconcile the hijab and a skirt as a way of reconciliation of Christianity and Islam as well as West and East.

“Our goal is to encourage people around the world to begin to think by the own heads instead the heads of their governments.  Women in hijab as well as the women in skirt are stretched on the cross of the shame. After September 11th Western media treat all veiled Muslim women as terrorists, suicide-bombers and Osama bin Laden’s followers. On the other side, Muslim traditionalists look every woman in the (mini) skirts like “easy woman”, a whore, a hunter of the wealthy Arab husbands or “walking wallet” who,  for a little money, rents young, sexually-potent and  poor Arab men” says Milosevic

Egyptian journalist Asma Fathy, one of the creators of the project proudly wears its hijab.

Milosevic and his colleagues primarily emphasis on women’s inner being pointing out that clothing details only reflect female’s cultural, traditional and religious affiliation.

They cite a list of famous and internationally recognized women who had never been threw up due to short skirt or hijab as their official dressing in the the public. Their power, influence, charity and humanitarian work overshadowed their dressing. They remind on Princess Diana, Cecil Sarkozy, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, Benazir Bhutto, Qatar Sheikh Mozah bint Nasser Al Mišned, Jordan Earlier the Queen, etc. …

Site offers a lot of interesting information like the history of mini skirt, its golden age in the Middle East, as well as the theological vision of the hijab in the life of Muslim women, with a very useful practical tips such as how to wear hijab, how to make mini skirt of old jeans or how to make a long skirt as a compromise between Western and Islamic way of dressing.

Blog visitors who belong to opposing cultures also participate in this project.

Lucy Chumbley, an American woman, who grew up in the Middle East fits in the defense of the hijab, saying: “Mediterranean sun can be very harmful to the hair, which will tell every woman in the region. Women who do not wear a headscarf in these climatic conditions have dry and damaged hair.. ”

Italian journalist Elisa di Benedetto wear the hijab during the interview with one of the  Hamas leaders during his staying in Lebanon.  Ms. Benedetto also wears hijab in her home country, Italy, when she visits Muslim friends and their families.

Saman Karim, a Kurd from Sulejmaniya in northern Iraq underlines that Muslim women in his city can wear mini skirt without fear of reprisal by Islamic fanatics, as opposed to girls who live in southern Iraq where, due to mini skirt, they may be killed. However, he notes that these two traditions will never agree on the trend of mini skirt.

“It is contrary of the principles of our faith.  I will also try to change my  girl’s desire for  mini-skirt because I do not want both of us to be in sin in this way. I do not afraid of other men, but I have the fear of God revenge. Long skirt is ideal compromise between East and West.”

Unsung “ambassadors”.

March 29, 2010

Distance, and not the ‘difference’, barricades the integration of cultures. Amidst the prejudices and stereotypes between Pakistani immigrants and host Italians, some ‘connectors’ are hopeful that increased interaction and frequent mixing can help create a multi-ethnic, co-existent and progressive society.

——–

By Elisa Di Benedetto (Italy),  Amer Farooq (Pakistan) & Vaqar Gillani (Pakistan)


Terrorism, Burqa and War – Pakistan in Italy

“Terrorism, burqa and war”. This is Pakistan in the eyes of Italians Iqbal meets every day in Milan, where he lives with some friends, and immigrants like him, mostly from Pakistan. After arriving in Italy in 2002 following short stays in Germany, France and the Netherlands, Iqbal has chosen to remain, although his family lives in Pakistan. “I feel at home here. I love this country, especially the south in summers.”

Iqbal, 34, spends free time with friends from Pakistan; the contact with Italians is limited to sporadic occasions. “When I travel by train or by bus, women hold their bags tightly,” he says in a tone between resignation and amusement, recalling the questions that he is more frequently asked. “Sometimes people do not know much of Pakistan and confuse it with other countries. They even mistake it for Afghanistan.” So close on the map, especially in the popular imagination. “They ask me about war in Pakistan and I wonder what war they are talking about. They want to know about drugs production!”. Iqbal says he tries to talk about his country and explain the situation there, but sometimes feels “that even if people are saying “yes”, they don’t really understand what I’m trying to say”.

The story of Iqbal is not exclusive. Its a story of many – Ali, Ahmad, Naveed, Aslam and over 80 thousand immigrants of Pakistani origin in Italy. 70 percent of them live in Lombardia – North West of Italy – especially in Brescia, which has become “Brescia-stan” – reflective of an immigration  that has been transforming over the years, becoming an integral part of the local community.

“While in the eighties Italy was a transit point for immigrants bound for Northern Europe, the restrictions introduced by England and Germany have encouraged the transformation of the immigration phenomenon that has a sedentary characteristic now,” says Ejaz Ahmad, Pakistani journalist and cultural mediator in Italy since 1989.

Emphasizing that immigration is something more than a temporary trend, Ejaz hints at the purchase of home ownership. “Around 10 thousand Pakistanis have purchased homes, often through a loan,” continues Ejaz, who knows well this reality. “It is a signal of intention to stay.”  Explaining further the significant features of Pakistanis’ immigration, Ejaz says “It’s usually the man who leaves his country, and his family joins him after a few years.” In Italy, immigrant Pakistanis are in industry as workers, and usually after 5-6 years they try to get self-employed by starting a business, especially in the food and telephony, fruits and vegetables shops, call centers and Internet points. “For them, the possibility of a business represents a quantum leap, a raise in the social position”.

Wine, Women, Money – Italy in Pakistan.

“When my son insisted on going to Italy, I thought I would never be able to see him again”, says Khan, 62, who lives some 100 kilometers south of capital city Islamabad, in the rural town of Chakwal, and runs a small grocery store.

Aslam, Khan’s 36-years old son, went to Italy 15 years ago by an agent who demanded a fortune for sending him to Italy on fictitious documents. Khan had to succumb to his son’s insistence who was ‘under a spell by the stories narrated to him by his cousin who had gone to Italy while Aslam was still a child’.

“My nephew told my son a lot about Italy and he was so fascinated by these stories that he even threatened me to give his life if I didn’t let him go’, says Khan who is now happy with his son. “I had double trouble in sending my son to Italy. It was really hard for me to meet the agent’s demand and secondly I was afraid that my son would ruin himself with wine and women’, adds Khan.

When asked how did he know that his son would be lost in wine and women in Italy, Khan said, “I asked people coming to my store if they had any idea about Italy and most of them told me that women in Italy use to lure Asian guys into love trap and alcohol uses to be their tool for this”.

To a query about the ‘Italian experience’ of those who warned him against sending his son to Italy, Khan guessed almost none of them had ever been to Italy.

Answering about the truthfulness of his fears, Khan said he doesn’t think they were well-founded, if it were like that my son would not have been able to support and visit us regularly. “I am financially more liberated now, my son sends a handsome amount every month and we have got a beautiful house with his money.”

Khan says his son was married to a cousin back home and he is happy with wife and two children. His son, who once migrated to Italy on fake documents is a legal resident now and plans to help his young nephews migrate to Italy through legal means. Aslam’s father is no more worried about the idea of his grandchildren planning to move to Italy, neither do their fathers.

Aslam’s brothers who run the family business, the grocery store, are more comfortable while planning about sending their children to Italy than their father when he was to send his son.

“My son would join his uncle and I am not worried that he would be indulged in ‘immoral’ activities”, says Akhtar, elder brother of Aslam. He, however, has different fears. A concern today is the news on the atmosphere created against immigrant Pakistanis.

“There is lot of news in media about difficult situation for Muslims in Europe and America and this worries me at times.”

However, he quickly adds, ‘that situation in Pakistan is equally bad as the security agencies are picking up people on slightest doubts, and even on their appearance if they have grown up beards that make them look like Taliban” . Akhtar hopes that situation would improve if the people are allowed to interact with the people of cultures different than theirs.

“The problem is not with the people, it is with the politicians’, says Akhtar who has only higher secondary level formal education but is an avid consumer of newspapers and news and talk shows on television.

Beyond prejudice

If in Pakistan, Pakistanis meet Italy and Italian culture through the media and the stories of people who migrated to Italy, even in Italy the media have a role in building public opinion and perceptions of immigrants, unfortunately feeding stereotypes and prejudices. But there are also examples of coexistence between two cultures so different, though often overlooked.

Behind the memory of Hina, who was killed in 2006 by her father, uncle and brother for being “too Western” in her lifestyle, there is a more hidden Pakistan, which comes through the spicy flavours of fast food, through craft shops and call centers. Here, the ‘borders’ become more tenuous and the Pakistani and Italian cultures meet.

“Customers ask me questions about my country and my family and women love my wife’s clothes,” says Asad Abbas, owner of six “Pak Fast Food” in the Veneto region. Abbas lives in Belluno, where he arrived four years ago to establish business after seven years in Prato as a labourer. Although he arrived in Italy following the footsteps of his uncle and cousin just for a ‘future’, he loves Italy and Italians who form the majority of this friends. Unlike Iqbal who seldom gets a chance to mix with Italians, Asad has hardly anything averse to share about the community he has become an integral part. For him, integration was easier because there isn’t a Pakistani community in Belluno.

The Connectors

Cross-cultural dialogue and mutual understanding are enhanced by the institutions, associations and individuals working to help Italians know Pakistan and Pakistanis understand and know the country that hosts them; something that can help them integrate without abandoning their identity.

Ejaz Ahmad is one of them. He arrived in Italy to escape the tyrant military regime under General Zia in eighties with a degree in mass communications from the University of Lahore and experience in practical journalism. Now Ejaz lives in Rome with his Italian wife and two sons. “I work every day to promote integration, understanding and the development of a multiethnic society,” he explains, describing his activities in schools to ensure that diversity may be perceived as a common heritage. “It is something in compliance with the Constitution of Italy”, says Ejaz who works to illustrate the phenomenon of new immigration and promote knowledge about the culture, traditions, history and politics of Pakistan.

Understanding the importance of cutural integration and eradication of stereotypes about the two cultures, Ejaz founded a monthly magazine in Urdu, Azad – meaning  “Free”. Published in 5000 copies every month with the help of Western Union, Azad reaches Pakistani community in Italy, with reports from Pakistan, useful information for immigrants in Italy, information on immigration and the reality of Pakistan in Italy.

“It’s not easy to promote and spread our culture because Pakistani embassy here lacks a specific program for this and because immigrants live in communities with little contact with the Italian culture and society.” As confirmed by Ejaz, who is a member of the Islamic Council of the Italian Ministry of Interior, the relationship between Islam and the Italian institutions is very important. “It is not the difference, it is the ‘distance’ that causes problems.”

Though the story of Hina is still alive in public opinion, many are unaware that in 2009 the Italian national Under-15 cricket team won the European Championship, second division. An unexpected result, not only because the cricket is not among the most popular sports in Italy, but mainly because to give fame to Italy was a team that had only one player of Italian descent. Ten of the eleven players who took to the field were in fact young second-generation immigrants, children of immigrants from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. An example of how two cultures can come together and live together, the victory also had political implications, as in September current President of the Chamber of Deputies  Gianfranco Fini, who has served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in Berlusconi’s government of 2001 to 2006, recalled the event to support the right of citizenship for those born in Italy, even with immigrant parents.

As said Akhtar, dialogue and integration are possible if there is a chance to meet and interact, if the differences are not perceived as a barrier, but an asset. Immigrants can be, though inconspicuous,  ambassadors of their culture in Italy, and vice versa without abandoning their identity – and interestingly without “doing in Rome as the Romans do” .

Unsung ‘ambassadors’

March 26, 2010

Distance, and not the ‘difference’, barricades the integration of cultures. Amidst the prejudices and stereotypes between Pakistani immigrants and host Italians, some ‘connectors’ are hopeful that increased interaction and frequent mixing can help create a multi-ethnic, co-existent and progressive society.

——–

By Elisa Di Benedetto (Italy)  Amer Farooq & Vaqar Gillani (Pakistan)

Terrorism, Burqa and War – Pakistan in Italy

“Terrorism, burqa and war”. This is Pakistan in the eyes of Italians Iqbal meets every day in Milan, where he lives with some friends, immigrants like him, mostly from Pakistan. After arriving Italy in 2002 following short stays in Germany, France and the Netherlands, Iqbal has chosen to remain, although his family lives in Pakistan. “I feel at home here. I love this country, especially the south in summers.”

Iqbal, 34, spends free time with friends from Pakistan; the contact with Italians is limited to sporadic occasions. “When I travel by train or by bus, women hold their bags tightly,” he says in a tone between resignation and amusement, recalling the questions that he is more frequently asked. “Sometimes people do not know much of Pakistan and confuse it with other countries. They even mistake it for Afghanistan.” So close on the map, especially in the popular imagination. “They ask me about war in Pakistan and I wonder what war they are talking about. They want to know about drugs production!”. Iqbal says he tries to talk about his country and explain the situation there, but sometimes feels “that even if people are saying “yes”, they don’t really understand what I’m trying to say”.

The story of Iqbal is not exclusive. Its a story of many – Ali, Ahmad, Naveed, Aslam and over 80 thousand immigrants of Pakistani origin in Italy. 70 percent of them live in Lombardia – North West of Italy – especially in Brescia, which has become “Brescia-stan” – reflective of an immigration  that has been transforming over the years, becoming an integral part of the local community.

“While in the eighties Italy was a transit point for immigrants bound for Northern Europe, the restrictions introduced by England and Germany have encouraged the transformation of the immigration phenomenon that has a sedentary characteristic now,” says Ejaz Ahmad, Pakistani journalist and cultural mediator in Italy since 1989.

Emphasizing that immigration is something more than a temporary trend, Ejaz hints at the purchase of home ownership. “Around 10 thousand Pakistanis have purchased homes, often through a loan,” continues Ejaz, who knows well this reality. “It is a signal of intention to stay.”  Explaining further the significant features of Pakistanis’ immigration, Ejaz says “It’s usually the man who leaves his country, and his family joins him after a few years.” In Italy, immigrant Pakistanis are in industry as workers, and usually after 5-6 years they try to get self-employed by starting a business, especially in the food and telephony, fruits and vegetables shops, call centers and Internet points. “For them, the possibility of a business represents a quantum leap, a raise in the social position”.

Wine, Women, Money – Italy in Pakistan.

“When my son insisted on going to Italy, I thought I would never be able to see him again”, says Khan, 62, who lives some 100 kilometers south of capital city Islamabad, in the rural town of Chakwal, and runs a small grocery store.

Aslam, Khan’s 36-years old son, went to Italy 15 years ago by an agent who demanded a fortune for sending him to Italy on fictitious documents. Khan had to succumb to his son’s insistence who was ‘under a spell by the stories narrated to him by his cousin who had gone to Italy while Aslam was still a child’.

“My nephew told my son a lot about Italy and he was so fascinated by these stories that he even threatened me to give his life if I didn’t let him go’, says Khan who is now happy with his son. “I had double trouble in sending my son to Italy. It was really hard for me to meet the agent’s demand and secondly I was afraid that my son would ruin himself with wine and women’, adds Khan.

When asked how did he know that his son would be lost in wine and women in Italy, Khan said, “I asked people coming to my store if they had any idea about Italy and most of them told me that women in Italy use to lure Asian guys into love trap and alcohol uses to be their tool for this”.

To a query about the ‘Italian experience’ of those who warned him against sending his son to Italy, Khan guessed almost none of them had ever been to Italy.

Answering about the truthfulness of his fears, Khan said he doesn’t think they were well-founded, if it were like that my son would not have been able to support and visit us regularly. “I am financially more liberated now, my son sends a handsome amount every month and we have got a beautiful house with his money.”

Khan says his son was married to a cousin back home and he is happy with wife and two children. His son, who once migrated to Italy on fake documents is a legal resident now and plans to help his young nephews migrate to Italy through legal means. Aslam’s father is no more worried about the idea of his grandchildren planning to move to Italy, neither do their fathers.

Aslam’s brothers who run the family business, the grocery store, are more comfortable while planning about sending their children to Italy than their father when he was to send his son.

“My son would join his uncle and I am not worried that he would be indulged in ‘immoral’ activities”, says Akhtar, elder brother of Aslam. He, however, has different fears. A concern today is the news on the atmosphere created against immigrant Pakistanis.

“There is lot of news in media about difficult situation for Muslims in Europe and America and this worries me at times.”

However, he quickly adds, ‘that situation in Pakistan is equally bad as the security agencies are picking up people on slightest doubts, and even on their appearance if they have grown up beards that make them look like Taliban” . Akhtar hopes that situation would improve if the people are allowed to interact with the people of cultures different than theirs.

“The problem is not with the people, it is with the politicians’, says Akhtar who has only higher secondary level formal education but is an avid consumer of newspapers and news and talk shows on television.

Beyond prejudice

If in Pakistan, Pakistanis meet Italy and Italian culture through the media and the stories of people who migrated to Italy, even in Italy the media have a role in building public opinion and perceptions of immigrants, unfortunately feeding stereotypes and prejudices. But there are also examples of coexistence between two cultures so different, though often overlooked.

Behind the memory of Hina, who was killed in 2006 by his father, uncle and brother for being “too Western” in her lifestyle, there is a more hidden Pakistan, which comes through the spicy flavors of fast food, through craft shops and call centers. Here, the ‘borders’ becomes more tenuous and the Pakistani and Italian cultures meet.

“Customers ask me questions about my country and my family and women love my wife’s clothes,” says Asad Abbas, owner of six “Pak Fast Food” in the Veneto region. Abbas lives in Belluno, where he arrived four years ago to establish business after seven years in Prato as a labourer. Although he arrived in Italy following the footsteps of his uncle and cousin just for a ‘future’, he loves Italy and Italians who form the majority of this friends. Unlike Iqbal who seldom gets a chance to mix with Italians, Asad has hardly anything averse to share about the community he has become an integral part. For him, integration was easier because there isn’t a Pakistani community in Belluno.

The Connectors

Cross-cultural dialogue and mutual understanding are enhanced by the institutions, associations and individuals working to help Italians know Pakistan and Pakistanis to understand and know the country that hosts them; something that can help them integrate without abandoning their identity.

Ejaz Ahmad is one of them. He arrived in Italy to escape the tyrant military regime under General Zia in eighties with a degree in mass communications from the University of Lahore and experience in practical journalism. Now Ejaz lives in Rome with his Italian wife and two sons. “I work every day to promote integration, understanding and the development of a multiethnic society,” he explains, describing his activities in schools to ensure that diversity may be perceived as a common heritage. “It is something in compliance with the Constitution of Italy”, says Ejaz who works to illustrate the phenomenon of new immigration and promote knowledge about the culture, traditions, history and politics of Pakistan.

Understanding the importance of cutural integration and eradication of stereotypes about the two cultures, Ejaz founded a monthly magazine in Urdu, Azad – meaning  “Free”. Published in 5000 copies every month with the help of Western Union, Azad reaches Pakistani community in Italy, with reports from Pakistan, useful information for immigrants in Italy, information on immigration and the reality of Pakistan in Italy.

“It’s not easy to promote and spread our culture because Pakistani embassy here lacks a specific program for this and because immigrants live in communities with little contact with the Italian culture and society.” As confirmed by Ejaz, who is a member of the Islamic Council of the Italian Ministry of Interior, the relationship between Islam and the Italian institutions is very important. “It is not the difference, it is the ‘distance’ that causes problems.”

Though the story of Hina is still alive in public opinion, many are unaware that in 2009 the Italian national Under-15 cricket team won the European Championship. An unexpected result, not only because the cricket is not among the most popular sports in Italy, but mainly because to give fame to Italy was a team that had only one player of Italian descent. Ten of the eleven players who took to the field were in fact young second-generation immigrants, children of immigrants from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. An example of how two cultures can come together and live together, the victory also had political implications, as in September Gianfranco Fini who has served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in Berlusconi’s government of 2001 to 2006 recalled the event to support the right of citizenship for those born in Italy, even with immigrant parents.

As said Akhtar, dialogue and integration are possible if there is a chance to meet and interact, if the differences are not perceived as a barrier, but an asset. Immigrants can be, though inconspicuous,  ambassadors of their culture in Italy, and vice versa – and interestingly without “doing in Rome as the Romans do” .

Reuters / Reporting from Internet

March 12, 2010

This is Reuter’s Handbook of Journalism. I suggest you this as a valuable professional document, especially chapter about using the Internet

http://handbook.reuters.com/index.php/Reporting_from_the_internet#Social_media_guidelines

For those who like ” fast reading ” of documents I post here some of important paragrahs:

1. “Please capture, save and print a copy of a “screenshot” of the web page in question in order to defend us against charges of printing nonexistent information. If you do not know how to capture a screenshot, ask anyone with a technical bent to show you how. It is our best protection against vanishing web sites. Be wary of “unusual” news discovered on a web site. Do not treat this as “normal news” until the company or organisation confirms it or at least has a chance to respond to what you have found”.

2. When should I ‘tweet’?

There are several ways in which Reuters News journalists are using Twitter to micro-blog as part of their professional duties:

  • Specialist journalists use Twitter to share articles and build up a following (seetwitter.com/reutersBenHir and twitter.com/bobbymacReports)
  • Online Editorial staff and bloggers use Twitter to distribute news and solicit reader comment (see twitter.com/mediafile, twitter.com/Reuters_FluNews and twitter.com/reuters_co_uk)
  • Reuters journalists are using Twitter during live events such as Davos and to solicit questions for newsmaker interviews

1. If you wish to use Twitter as part of your professional role you should seek the permission of your line manager.

2. If you are using Twitter professionally you should use the word ‘Reuters’ in the name of your stream or somewhere else on the page.

3. The Trust Principles apply to Twitter — you should do nothing that compromises them.

4. Micro-blogging and use of social media tend to blur the distinction between professional and personal lives: when using Twitter or social media in a professional capacity you should aim to be personable but not to include irrelevant material about your personal life.

3. Online Encylopedias

Online information sources which rely on collaborative, voluntary and often anonymous contributions need to be handled with care. Wikipedia, the online “people’s encyclopedia”, can be a good starting point for research, but it should not be used as an attributable source. Do not quote from it or copy from it. The information it contains has not been validated and can change from second to second as contributors add or remove material. Move on to official websites or other sources that are worthy of attribution. Do not link to Wikipedia or similar collaborative encyclopedia sites as a source of background information on any topic. More suitable sites can almost always be found, and indeed are often flagged at the bottom of Wikipedia entries. It is only acceptable to link to an entry on Wikipedia or similar sites when the entry or website itself is the subject of a news story.

March 6, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/world/asia/28youth.html?pagewanted=all

Frustrated Strivers in Pakistan Turn to Jihad

By SABRINA TAVERNISE and WAQAR GILLANI

LAHORE, Pakistan — Umar Kundi was his parents’ pride, an ambitious young man from a small town who made it to medical school in the big city. It seemed like a story of working-class success, living proof in this unequal society that a telephone operator’s son could become a doctor.

But things went wrong along the way. On campus Mr. Kundi fell in with a hard-line Islamic group. His degree did not get him a job, and he drifted in the urban crush of young people looking for work. His early radicalization helped channel his ambitions in a grander, more sinister way.

Instead of healing the sick, Mr. Kundi went on to become one of Pakistan’s most accomplished militants. Working under a handler from Al Qaeda, he was part of a network that carried out some of the boldest attacks against the Pakistani state and its people last year, the police here say. Months of hunting him ended on Feb. 19, when he was killed in a shootout with the police at the age of 29.

Mr. Kundi and members of his circle — educated strivers who come from the lower middle class — are part of a new generation that has made militant networks in Pakistan more sophisticated and deadly. Al Qaeda has harnessed their aimless ambition and anger at Pakistan’s alliance with the United States, their generation’s most electrifying enemy.

“These are guys who use Google Maps to plan their attacks,” said a senior Punjab Province police official. “Their training is better than our national police academy.”

Like Mr. Kundi, many came of age in the 1990s, when jihad was state policy — aimed at challenging Indian control in Kashmir — and jihadi groups recruited openly in universities. Under the influence of Al Qaeda, their energies have been redirected and turned inward, against Pakistan’s own government and people.

That shift has fractured long-established militant networks, which were once supported by the state, producing a patchwork of new associations that are fluid and defy easy categorization.

“The situation now is quite confusing,” said Tariq Parvez, director of the National Counterterrorism Authority in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. “We can no longer talk in terms of organizations. Now it’s a question of like-minded militants.”

The result has been deadly. In 2009, militant attacks killed 3,021 Pakistanis, three times as many as in 2006.

The issue is urgent. Pakistan is in the midst of a youth bulge, with more than a million people a year pouring into the job market, and the economy — at its current rate — is not growing fast enough to absorb them. Only a tiny fraction choose militancy, but acute joblessness exacerbates the risk.

A Student’s Education

Mr. Kundi’s journey and the ways he veered off course parallel Pakistan’s own recent history. Born to Pashtun parents, he grew up in a small town in southwestern Punjab, where camels lumber in slow clumps, and sand stings the eyes. His father’s monthly income of $255 put them at the lower edge of Pakistan’s middle class. But life still took patience. Meat was a luxury. His father could afford to visit him in medical school only once.

He brought that past — part shyness, part shame — with him to college in Faisalabad, the third-biggest city in Pakistan. The city was an explosion of things modern. Traffic jams. Fancy restaurants. Uncovered women. For young people from small towns, unfamiliar with city life, the atmosphere can arouse a rigid defensiveness, said Mughees-uddin Sheikh, a dean at the University of the Punjab in Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city.

“The student is tempted, but he doesn’t understand it because he wasn’t educated,” said Mr. Sheikh. “He’s been deprived of things like this.”

To ease the adjustment, young people join student groups, which, like powerful inner-city gangs, help them navigate life — how to use a bank, which mosque to pray in — but also offer protection.

When Mr. Kundi arrived at Punjab Medical College in the late 1990s, he chose a group with an Islamic focus, according to a classmate and friend, Muhammad, who asked that his last name not be used because he feared association with a militant. It was a typical choice for students from devout families, who want their sons to stay out of trouble in the city.

The group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, ran charities and prayer meetings. It also offered training for jihad in Kashmir. Lashkar’s blend of adventure and patriotism appealed to restless young men. It even had an office on campus: Room 12D.

Such jihadi groups had become part of mainstream society in Pakistan in the 1980s, when the United States was financing Islamic radicals fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, and when an American-supported Pakistani general, Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, empowered hard-line mullahs and injected Islam into school textbooks.

By the 1990s, recruiters for jihad in Kashmir were holding rallies on public university campuses. After 2001, Lashkar was driven underground, but it continues to operate through a charity wing. American, Indian and Pakistani officials say it carried out the attacks on hotels and other landmarks in Mumbai, India, in November 2008.

It is the lower middle class in Pakistan that is most vulnerable to radicalization, according to Amir Rana, director of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies. They consume virulently anti-American media. They are recruited aggressively by Islamic student groups in public universities, which are attended almost exclusively by lower- and middle-class youth.

“They’re politically conscious, but it’s not mature,” Mr. Rana said. “They have big problems, but when they try to solve them, they get confused.”

Mr. Kundi threw himself into Lashkar’s activities, working summers at an eye clinic in Kashmir, his friend Muhammad said. He held Koran-reading sessions. He developed a close relationship with the group’s spiritual leader, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. Mr. Kundi was a skilled recruiter, even winning over a secular classmate whose family lived in Canada.

“He had logic for every single point,” Muhammad said. “He could convince anyone.”

Despite his zeal for jihad, it was a relatively quiet time in Pakistan. The war against the Soviets was long over, and most of the country’s jihadi groups were drifting. All that changed when the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, jolting young Pakistani jihadis who saw it as a war against Muslims.

“That was the beginning,” said a security official in Karachi. “They went from small local targets, to a much bigger global one, the United States.”

When Al Qaeda came to Pakistan, Mr. Kundi did not have to go far to find it. The American invasion had pushed many of its leaders over the border, including Abu Zubaydah, a member of Osama bin Laden’s inner circle. In 2002, he surfaced in Allied Hospital in Faisalabad, where Mr. Kundi was working. He was seeking treatment and preaching against Pakistan’s government for supporting the United States. His audience loved it, Muhammad said.

“Every doctor at the hospital was against the government,” he said. “They saw Abu Zubaydah as the hero of Muslims.”

Lashkar’s activities now seemed small, and embarrassingly pro-government. Mr. Kundi began to argue with Mr. Saeed, the group’s leader, picking fights with him in public about Lashkar’s mission. The United States, he argued, was killing Muslims, and Lashkar was doing nothing for them.

In a stinging insult, Muhammad recalled, Mr. Kundi began calling Mr. Saeed “the B team of the government,” a reference to the group’s not-so-secret connection to the state.

His frustration coincided with a bitter discovery. His father, who had retired, could not pay for schooling beyond Mr. Kundi’s basic medical degree. A pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and a family wedding had sapped the family’s savings, Mr. Kundi’s father, Dilawar, said in an interview. Without a specialization, Mr. Kundi faced a salary at a public hospital of less than $100 a month, too low to support a wife and children, a humiliating prospect.

“ ‘I’ve earned a degree, but I’m a zero,’ ” Muhammad recalled him saying.

His father begged him to return and open a practice in their hometown. Mr. Kundi refused.

It was 2005, the year he disappeared.

Life as a Militant

Conventional theory on militant organizations says that groups have hierarchies, members and sometimes territory. But in Pakistan after Sept. 11, 2001, those lines blurred. Of the half a dozen groups that were active in Punjab in the 1990s, many had splintered by the middle of the next decade, divided by differences over, among other things, whether jihad required attacking the Pakistani state.

Now, most acts of terrorism are carried out by loose associations of individual militants, making militancy more fluid.

“It’s more about networks than formal organizations now,” said an American defense official who studies the issue. “Their attacks are focused on aspects of the state in a way they haven’t been ever before.”

While the Pakistani Taliban have captured imaginations and headlines, many law enforcement officials say they believe that militancy in Pakistan is much more diffuse.

According to the police investigation, Mr. Kundi was one of eight jihadis under a man named Sheik Issa al-Masri, Arabic for “the Egyptian.” Most were born around 1980 and had come to jihad after the Sept. 11 attacks.

They moved between cities in Punjab and Waziristan, an area near the Afghan border where militants from Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other groups have set up bases.

They came together for attacks — on the Lahore office of Pakistan’s spy agency, on two police training academies and on the Sri Lankan cricket team — but more often for crimes to pay for their militant activities.

In Faisalabad, Mr. Kundi extorted a textile mill owner. In Lahore, his friend Asif Mehmoud stole cars. According to a police interrogation of Mr. Mehmoud, one kidnapping that brought $60,000 was split among themselves and Sheik Issa.

In an indication of how fluid their lives were, Mr. Mehmoud, a graduate of Lahore’s most prestigious engineering university, also held a string of ordinary jobs, as a repairman for textile equipment, a welding instructor in a cutlery institute, a worker in a call center. His résumé lists two hobbies: cooking and current affairs.

Sheik Issa, who is on the United States’ most-wanted list, provided the early intellectual justification for attacking Pakistan, a development the American defense official described as “very significant.” It was a common approach for Al Qaeda in other Muslim countries, but a sharp departure for Pakistan, whose militants had fought Soviets, Indians in Kashmir and Pakistani Shiites, but had never gone all-out against the state itself.

“Sheik Issa said the Pakistani Army has become the well-wisher of America,” stated a police interrogation report, citing a 29-year-old member of the network arrested last year. “It’s mandatory that we should give maximum losses to the agencies of Pakistan. This is also jihad.”

Their strikes were skillful. In last year’s attack against the Sri Lankan cricket team, led by another educated young man from a working-class family, a 29-year-old nursing assistant, Aqeel Ahmed, only three top people out of about 14 attackers knew the nature of the target, according to a police official who investigated the attack. The rest believed that the bus they were ambushing held an American delegation.

Their plans were ambitious. A computer memory stick found on a militant linked to Mr. Ahmed and killed last fall in a shootout with the police in the southern Punjab town of Dera Ghazi Khan contained plans to destroy bridges and railroads and to strike at the heart of the Pakistani state, its military. The language was in code: “Lentils” meant aluminum paste. “Wheat” was fertilizer.

“GHQ is an important task — do it immediately,” said the voice on the memory stick, referring to the military’s headquarters. “Don’t wait.”

A Powerful Addiction

When the attack on the army headquarters unfolded last October, Mr. Ahmed, the nursing assistant, was at the center of it. His father, Nazir, watched it on television. A photograph of his son’s face flashed on the screen. It was the first glimpse he had had of his boy since he disappeared in 2007. He froze, overcome with shock and shame. “My muscles were not with me,” Mr. Ahmed said in an interview in November.

Since then, a question has tormented him. His son earned A’s in high school, had a decent salary in a military hospital and received spending money from an uncle in Canada. How could he have gone so wrong?

A Pakistani military psychiatrist is trying to answer that question. In a study of 24 young men who were involved in terrorist attacks in Pakistan, the psychiatrist, Brig. Mowadat Hussain Rana, has found that they tend to be the younger or middle siblings in families of six or more children. The households are not always poor but are often violent, and the youngsters get lost in the chaos.

“He’s that boy who is not in a rigorous system of rule setting,” Brigadier Rana said in an interview in Rawalpindi. “He becomes someone who drifts, who spends afternoons hitting stray dogs, and no one notices.”

His parents, at their wits’ end, take him to a mullah, hoping to instill discipline, the theory goes. The two develop a close relationship, sometimes even sexual, giving the boy the attention he has long craved. The mullah then introduces him to others, men who make him feel important, as if he is part of something bigger than himself.

Of the 24 militants in the study, about a third attended college, though not all graduated.

But socio-economic theories explain only so much. For Mr. Kundi, an emotional young man with thwarted ambitions, militancy had a psychological pull. Mr. Parvez of the National Counterterrorism Authority said militants he had interviewed called jihad an addiction, a habit that made them feel powerful in a world that ignored them.

“Out there I’m a useless guy, unemployed and cursed by my family,” one militant said. “Here I’m a commander. My words have weight.”

The police in Punjab Province arrested about seven young militants last year who they say were connected to Mr. Kundi, weakening two groups, they said.

Since then, attacks in Pakistan’s main cities have dropped sharply. But militants’ capacity for regeneration has surprised the authorities before, and a deeper fix would be tackling some of Pakistan’s social problems, which the country’s political elite, preoccupied by power struggles, has ignored.

The last time Muhammad saw Mr. Kundi they were sitting together on a bench outside Allied Hospital in Faisalabad. A scruffy old man walked by, hunched over a cane. The man’s death, Mr. Kundi said, would be unimportant. His own, in contrast, would have meaning.

But did it? Muhammad disapproved of Mr. Kundi’s choice, because it led to the deaths of hundreds of innocent people. But he understood it. Mr. Kundi wanted badly to be important. Now, in a way, he is.

“He applied his mind,” Muhammad said. “He took what society offered.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: March 7, 2010

An article last Sunday about the rise of Islamic militancy among the frustrated youth of Pakistan omitted a passage at the continuation in some copies. The full passage should have read: “ ‘The situation is now quite confusing,’ said Tariq Parvez, director of the National Counterterrorism Authority in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. ‘We can no longer talk in terms of organizations. Now it’s a question of like-minded militants.’ The result has been deadly. In 2009, militant attacks killed 3,021 Pakistanis, three times as many as in 2006.”