Sprawling from Grace: The Consequences of Suburbanization

 

A documentary feature film about the unintended consequences of suburban sprawl. It illustrates the importance of altering the course of how we develop our nation’s cities. It communicates the dangers of continuing to invest in the inefficient horizontal growth patterns of suburban communities, and details how they threaten to bankrupt the remaining wealth of our nation. It explores how the depletion of fossil fuels will impact this living arrangement, and investigates the viability of alternative energies that are currently available. This film sounds the alarm that the cheap fossil-fuel-dependent suburban American way of life is not just at risk. It is in peril!.

Muslim protesters fight police in Tanzania, popular cleric freed

second muslim riots in Tanzania in a week.

 

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STONE TOWN/DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – Muslim protesters clashed with police in Tanzania’s commercial capital and on the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar on Friday, raising religious tensions in the east African country.

In Dar es Salaam, protests against the arrest of a hardline Muslim cleric turned violent, while in Zanzibar, supporters of an Islamist separatist group have repeatedly fought police over the disappearance of their spiritual leader, who was then released after nearly four days in captivity.

The violence has raised concerns of an escalation in religious tensions in relatively stable and secular Tanzania, east Africa’s second-largest economy.

In Zanzibar, a predominantly Muslim island, supporters of the Islamic Uamsho (Awakening) movement protested for the third day.

Uamsho followers, mostly youths and urban poor, clashed with police after Friday prayers, hurling rocks at police who retaliated with tear gas in sporadic exchanges around the main historic area of Stone Town.

Roads were temporarily closed, with rocks and coconuts strewn across the asphalt, and most businesses shut for the day. Riot police were stationed around mosques around Stone Town.

Fighting erupted on Wednesday, a day after the group’s leader Sheikh Farid Hadi disappeared in unknown circumstances.

But late on Friday evening, the popular cleric was released, with shouts of “Allah Akbar” heard rising above Stone Town’s maze of narrow alleys which separate Arab-style white coral stone houses.

“He is free. I had my picture taken with him,” Thabit Juma, an eyewitness, told Reuters.

One Uamsho member who did not wish to be named confirmed Hadi has been freed, though he would not comment on who was responsible for his disappearance.

Earlier in the day another influential Uamsho cleric Sheikh Azzan Hamdan said the police were not doing enough to search for Hadi and set a deadline, 4 p.m. (1300GMT) on Saturday, for Hadi’s safe return.

Violence between Uamsho and police broke out earlier this year on the archipelago, a tourist hotspot.

Analysts say the Uamsho group has been gaining popularity because of disenchantment with Zanzibar’s main opposition Civic United Front party after its decision to form a government with the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party.

POLICE ON ALERT

In Dar es Salaam, protesters left the Mtambani mosque after Friday prayers and marched towards the town center chanting demands for the release of Muslim cleric Sheikh Issa Ponda.

“Police came in and started firing tear gas, while Muslim protesters responded by throwing stones,” witness Salum Haji told Reuters. In the city center streets were deserted in anticipation of further violence.

“All shops are closed in the city center and there are heavily armed policemen patrolling the streets. We are all locked inside (a shop). I don’t know how I’m going to get home,” resident Neema Swai told Reuters.

Dar es Salaam’s regional police commander, Suleiman Kova, said Ponda had been arrested on Tuesday for criminal trespass on private property and inciting followers to commit violence.

Ponda is the secretary general of the Council of Islamic Organisation, a group that vies for influence against the government-backed National Muslims Council of Tanzania.

Though Ponda is not known to have any links to Uamsho, the protesters also demonstrated against Hadi’s disappearance.

Mainland Tanzania, ruled by the secular government of President Jakaya Kikwete, has been rocked by religious tension for the past week.

Muslim protesters burnt five churches on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam on Friday after reports emerged a young Christian boy had urinated on a Koran, Islam’s holy book. Local media said the boy had been dared by friends to urinate on the book.

Kikwete visited the torched churches and called for calm.

(Writing by Drazen Jorgic and Yara Bayoumy,; Editing by Andrew Roche and Jackie Frank)

Sharia courts ‘as consensual as rape’, House of Lords told

 

 

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MUSLIM women in Britain are being forced to “live in fear” because of the spread of unofficial and unregulated sharia courts enforcing Islamic rules, the House of Lords was told.

 

Rulings by informal religious “councils” and tribunals are sometimes no more “consensual” than rape, peers were told.

The warnings came in the first ever full Parliamentary debate on the subject in the UK.

Baroness Cox, the independent peer and Third World campaigner, last year tabled a private member’s bill in the Lords setting out plans to rein in a network of unofficial self-styled “courts” which apply Islamic principles.

One study estimated that there are around 85 Sharia bodies operating in Britain, although there is no official estimate.

They include legally recognised arbitration tribunals, set up primarily to resolve financial disputes using Islamic legal principles but which have taken on a wider range of cases.

 

There is also a network of informal Sharia “councils”, often operating out of mosques, dealing with religious divorces and even child custody matters in line with Islamic teaching.

The bill, which had its first full debate yesterday, would make it a criminal offence for such bodies to style themselves as courts or those chairing them to pose as judges.

It would also limit the activities of arbitration tribunals and explicitly require them to uphold equality laws including women’s rights.

Baroness Cox told the House of cases she had encountered including a woman who had been admitted to hospital by her violent husband who had left her for another woman but still denied her a religious divorce so she could remarry.

Another woman was forced to travel to Jordan to seek permission to remarry from a seven-year-old boy whom she had never met because she had no other male relatives, she said.

A third who came to see her was so scared of being seen going in that she hid behind a tree whole another told her: “I feel betrayed by Britain, I came to this country to get away from all this but the situation is worse here than in my country of origin.”

Baroness Cox said: “These examples are just the tip of an iceberg as many women live in fear, so intimidated by family and community that they dare not speak out or ask for help.”

Meanwhile Baroness Donaghy added: “The definition of mutuality is sometimes being stretched to such limits that a women is said to consent to a process when in practice, because of a language barrier, huge cultural or family pressure, ignorance of the law, a misplaced faith in the system or a threat of complete isolation, that mutuality is as consensual as rape.”

Lord Carlile, the legal expert, was among those backing the bill but the Bishop of Manchester urged caution arguing that it could end up “stigmatising those individuals in communities it is aiming to help”.

And Baroness Uddin, the first female Muslim peer, said it would be viewed as “another assault on Muslims”.

Lord Kalms, the businessman, claimed that self-styled Sharia courts had already reached far beyond mediation to areas such as criminal law.

“To my knowledge, none of these cases has ever received police attention or investigation, and this is a scandal for which the police, among other authorities, must be held responsible,” he said.