2A- The Michigan Daily - Monday, September 29, 2003
Afghans seek new legal role for Islam NEWS iN BRIEF
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - A
new constitution that will be put for-
ward soon for ratification declares
Afghanistan a Muslim state but stops
short of imposing Islamic Shariah
law, a contentious issue in this conser-
vative nation, an Afghan official said
As they draw up a constitution
aimed at unifying the fragmented
nation, conservatives and secularists
have been hotly debating how to
enshrine Islam into law after years
under the Taliban, who enforced a
harsh version of Shariah that some
Afghans recall with horror but others
The hard-line Taliban militia
banned women from working, barred
girls from school and ordered men to
grow their beards long and pray five
'times a day, as well as carried out exe-
cutions and amputations for a range
Ratifying a constitution is crucial for
Afghanistan as it lays the foundations
for its first democratic elections in
decades, scheduled for June. The
rebuilders of Afghanistan hope that vote
will be a cornerstone for political stabili-
ty after 23 years of war.
A 10-day meeting of a 500-member
loya jirga, or grand council, will debate
and ratify the constitution. The gather-
ing was pushed back by two months to
December after President Hamid
Karzai demanded more time to finish
After 11 months of work by dozens of
constitutional experts and three months
of public consultations in which 150,000
people submitted suggestions, a draft
will likely be released this week.
The question of Shariah has been "a
huge struggle" in the work on the consti-
tution, said an Afghan official involved
in the drafting.
"So far, the focus has been on trying
to find a consensus," the official said on
condition on anonymity. But, he said, "a
Afghanistan's government is expected to publicly release this week
a draft constitution in which womens rights are guaranteed after
years of discrimination against them.
HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Bombkills 11 at Colombian nightclub
A bomb blew up outside an upscale nightclub in southwestern Colombia yes-
terday, killing at least 11 people and wounding 48. The attack cast new doubt on
President Alvaro Uribe's promises to crush a 39-year rebel insurgency.
The bombing was blamed on leftist rebels and appeared to be part of a nation-
wide campaign of violence aimed at thwarting regional elections scheduled for
Oct. 25. Rebels have assassinated politicians, disabled rail and communication
links and blown up bridges.
Revelers were heading home after a Saturday night out at a popular Bar Rosa
in Florencia, 235 miles southwest of the capital Bogota, when the bomb went off.
The device was attached to a motorcycle and sent debris flying into the air, shat-
tering windows and cutting down passers-by.
"This is an indescribable act of terrorism," Florencia police chief Rafael Parra
said. "The bomb clearly targeted the civilian population."
Parra blamed the attack on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or
FARC, the nation's largest rebel group, and offered $17,500 for information lead-
ing to an arrest.
The wounded overwhelmed the city's only fully equipped hospital. Officials
appealed for blood donations. "This is a small city that does not have the infra-
structure to treat so many injured," Parra said.
Blackout in Italy affects nearly entire country 1
A storm-tossed tree branch that hit Swiss power lines helped trigger a massive
blackout yesterday in almost all of Italy, trapping thousands on trains and forcing the
pope to use a backup generator to proclaim his new cardinals. The outage, blamed for
three deaths, underlined the dangers of Italy's reliance on imported power.
It was Italy's worst power outage since World War II. Most of the country's 58 mil-
lion people were affected - more than in North America's biggest blackout, which
left 50 million people without power in Canada and the United States on Aug. 14.
As in the North American blackout, there was initially confusion about the cause
and finger-pointing among neighboring countries. With scant domestic supply and
swelling public demand, Italy imports most of its electricity.
The blackout began at 3:25 a.m., hitting all of Italy except the island of Sardinia.
The lights came back on in northern Italy by early morning, in most of Rome shortly
after noon, and in southern Italy late yesterday, according to television news reports.
balance has been found."
The document's preamble declares,
"Afghanistan is an Islamic state" and
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Financial aid is available.
says its laws must be in accordance
with Islam, but it does not impose
Shariah, the official said.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - On a
sweltering July afternoon, high school
student Ali Bashir was chatting with
friends after a chemistry exam when
two men jumped from a white Mer-
cedes, pointed pistols at him and
forced him into their cac_.
The 17-year-old was sped away, the
victim of one of Baghdad's kidnapping
Such abductions, unheard of under
Saddam Hussein's iron-fisted rule,
have flourished in the turmoil follow-
ing the collapse of his regime, generat-
ing fear in the capital - and anger at
the United States.
For five days, Bashir was heldin a
tiny, bare room, where his kidnappers
punched him in the face, thrust rifles
into his mouth and fired weapons over
his head until his family bought his
freedom with $25,000 cash and aToy-
ota worth $15,000.
The family had to sell their home
and borrow money to pay the ransom.
They are now selling off their furniture
to repay the loan.
"I was thinking this must be the end,
I will die," Bashir said of his ordeal.
"My mother is sick and my father is
Fdiabetic, so Iwas thinking what would
happen to them when they learn their
son had disappeared:'
It is unclear how many people have
fallen victim to ransom kidnappings in
Baghdad since U.S. forces seized the
city from Saddam's troops in April.
Police suspect many of the abductions
Abdel Jabbar Abu Nateya, a
police officer with Iraq's Major
Crime Unit, said 11 kidnappings
were reported in western Baghdad
in June, the only area for which fig-
ures were available.
By August, the figure had dropped
to three, due in part to an Iraqi
police crackdown on several major
Staff Sgt. Michael Lawzano, a
National Guardsman who works
with the Iraqi police, said many of
the kidnappers arrested ingthe
August crackdown turned out to be
ex-convicts freed last October when
Saddam declared a general amnesty.
However, it is the Americans -
not Saddam - who get much of the
blame. Many Iraqis accuse U.S.
forces of failing to live up to their
responsibility to maintain lawand
Ailing pope appoints
new church officials
Amid concerns about his frail health,
Pope John Paul II appointed 31 cardinals
yesterday, acting months earlier than
expected and strengthening his influence
on the group that will choose his succes-
sor. The new "princes" of the church
include senior Vatican officials and
diocesan leaders from 20 countries. They
will receive their red hats at a ceremony
known as a consistory on Oct. 21 - a
date chosen to coincide with the week-
long celebrations marking John Paul's
25th anniversary as pope.
Several names mentioned in the Italian
media as possible new cardinals weren't
on the pope's list - including Archbish-
op Sean O'Malley, who took over the
Boston archdiocese to clean it up from
the sex abuse scandal that rocked the
American church. O'Malley didn't refer
to the omission in a statement yesterday,
instead congratulating the only American
on the list, Justin Rigali, the archbishop-
elect of Philadelphia.
RAMALLAH, West Bank
mark grim milestone
Thousands of Palestinians marched
through the streets of the West Bank yes-
terday to support Yasser Arafat as they
marked the third anniversary of the latest
violent uprising, or intefadeh, which has
claimed thousands of lives.
The demonstration came as Palestini-
ans appeared set to appoint a new Cabi-
net filled with Arafat loyalists, despite
efforts by the United States and Israel to
sideline the Palestinian leader, whom
they accuse of fomenting terror attacks.
Also yesterday, members of Islamic
Jihad said one of their members was
responsible for a weekend shooting
attack on a West Bank settlement that
killed two Israelis - one an infant -
but they stopped short of claiming
White House under
scrutiny after leak
The Justice Department is investigat-
ing allegations that White House offi-
cials revealed the identity of a CIA
agent whose husband had questioned
President Bush's claim that Iraq had
tried to buy uranium from Africa.
National Security Adviser Condoleez-
za Rice said the matter was referred to
the department and that she was unaware
of any White House involvement.
In an opinion piece in July in The New
York Times, former U.S. Ambassador
Joseph Wilson said he told the CIA long
before Bush's State of the Union address
that the British reports were suspect.
A week later, syndicated columnist
Robert Novak, quoting anonymous
government sources, said Wilson's wife
was a CIA operative working on the
issue of weapons of mass destruction.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports.
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