Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Supplement: Ali, Rashied - Bongo, Omar

Ali, Rashied
American free jazz and avant-garde jazz drummer best known for playing with John Coltrane in the last year's of Coltrane's life.

Rashied Ali was born Robert Patterson on July 1, 1935.  He was born and grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  His family was musical: his mother had sung with Jimmie Lunceford while his brother, Muhammad Ali, became a drummer, who played with Albert Ayler, among others. Ali, along with his father and brother, converted to Islam.

Ali started out on piano and dabbled with trombone and trumpet before finding his way to the drums, which he began to play seriously while serving with Army bands during the Korean War.  Perhaps thanks to his military experience, he always executed drumrolls with crisp precision.

Upon returning to Philadelphia, Ali played in local rhythm-and-blues and rock'n'roll groups before moveing on to jazz.  He studied with Philly Joe Jones and paid close attention to heroes like Max Roach and Art Blakey.  However, a turning point came when he listened to Coltrane's recordings with Elvin Jones. 

Ali moved to New York in 1963 and worked in groups with Bill Dixon and Paul Bley. He also recorded or performed with Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane, Arthur Rhames, James Blood Ulmer and many others. In addition, Ali was scheduled to be the second drummer, alongside Elvin Jones, on John Coltrane's landmark free jazz album Ascension, but he dropped out just before the recording was to take place. Coltrane did not replace him, and settled for one drummer, Elvin Jones. Ali later realized his mistake and began to record with Coltrane, first as a second drummer and later as the principal drummer, from Meditations in November 1965 onwards.

Among his credits are the last recorded work of John Coltrane's life (The Olatunji Concert) and Interstellar Space, an album of duets with Coltrane recorded earlier in 1967. Ali became important in stimulating the most avant-garde kinds of jazz activities. During the early 1970s, he ran an influential loft club in New York, called Ali's Alley.  Ali also briefly formed a non-jazz project called Purple Trap with Japanese experimental guitarist Keiji Haino and jazz-fusion bassist Bill Laswell. Their double-CD album, Decided...Already the Motionless Heart of Tranquility, Tangling the Prayer Called "I", was released on John Zorn's Tzadik label in March 1999.

Though most known for his work in the Jazz idiom, Rashied Ali also made his contributions to other experimental art forms including multi-media performances with The Gift of Eagle Orchestra and Cosmic Legends. Performances such as Devachan and the Monads, Dwarf of Oblivion which took place at the Kitchen Center for Performance Art, and a special tribute to John Cage in Central Park, took 'Performance Art' to new levels with the addition of fully improvised large scale performance pieces. Other artists of the Gift of Eagle Orchestra and Cosmic Legends included Hayes Greenfield (sax), Perry Robinson (clarinet), Wayne Lopes (guitar), Dave Douglas (trumpet), Gloria Tropp (vocals), director/pianist Sylvie Degiez along with Poets and actors, Ira Cohen, Taylor Mead, Judith Malina (Living Theater). Ali also played with Sonny Fortune.

In the last years of his life, Rashied Ali led his own eponymous Quintet. A double CD entitled Judgment Day was recorded in February 2005 and featured: Jumaane Smith on Trumpet, Lawrence Clark on Tenor Sax, Greg Murphy on Piano, Joris Teepe on Bass and Rashied Ali on Drums. This album was recorded at Ali's own Survival Studio, which had been in existence since the 1970s.

In 2007, Ali recorded "Going to the Ritual" in duo with bassist / violinist Henry Grimes, with a second duo recording in post-production at the time of Ali's death. Ali and Grimes also played five duo concerts together between 2007 and 2009, and a sixth concert in June 2007 with pianist Marilyn Crispell.

Rashied Ali died on August 12, 2009, at the age of 74 in a Manhattan, New York City hospital after suffering a heart attack. He was survived by his wife Patricia.

A discography for Rashied Ali reads as follows:

As leader

    * 1971 - New Directions In Modern Music (Knit Classics) with Carlos Ward, Fred Simmons, Stafford James
    * 1972 - Duo Exchange (Knit Classics) with Frank Lowe
    * 1973 - Swift Are The Winds Of Life (Knit Classics) with Leroy Jenkins
    * 1973 - Rashied Ali Quintet (Knit Classics) with James Blood Ulmer
    * 1974 - Moon Flight (Knitting Factory)
    * 1975 - N.Y. Ain't So Bad (Knit Classics)
    * 1994 - Peace On Earth (Knitting Factory) with John Zorn, Allan Chase
    * 1995 - Meditations (Knitting Factory) with Greg Murphy
    * 1995 - Bells (Knitting Factory)
    * 1999 - Rings of Saturn (Knitting Factory)
    * 2000 - Live At Tonic (DIW) with Wilber Morris
    * 2009 - Eddie Jefferson at Ali's Alley with Eddie Jefferson (
    * 2009 - Configurations, the Music of John Coltrane with Prima Materia (
    * 2009 - Cutt'n Korners with Greg Tardy, James Hurt and Abraham Burton. (

As sideman

With John Coltrane

    * Meditations (1965)
    * Live in Japan (1965) (1966)
    * Live at the Village Vanguard Again! (1966)
    * Interstellar Space (1967)
    * Stellar Regions (1967)
    * Expression (1967)
    * The Olatunji Concert: The Last Live Recording (1967)
    * Cosmic Music (1968)

With Marion Brown

    * Marion Brown Quartet (1966)
    * Why Not? (1967)

With Alan Shorter

    * Orgasm (1968)

Ali Sami Yen
Turkish sports contributor.

Born in Kandilli, Istanbul, Turkey on March 20, 1886, Ali Sami Yen is best known as the founder of Galatasaray Sports Club. His original name was Ali Sami and he was the son of Semseddin Sami Frasheri, one of the most famous Ottoman-Albanian writers, philosophers and playwrights. After the enactment of law on family names in 1934, Ali Sami took the surname Yen, which literally means “beat!”.

Ali Sami was a student at the prestigious Galatasaray Lycee in Istanbul. In October 1905, he decided with some of his fellow students to create a football club. At the beginning, the stated goal was “To play together like Englishmen, to have a color and a name, and to beat the other teams non Turkish”.  Yen was the club's first president (for 13 years) between 1905 and 1918, and again for a brief spell in 1925.

Besides founding Galatasaray SK, Ali made numerous other contributions to Turkish sports. He was president of the Turkish National Olympic Committee between 1926 and 1931. He coached the Turkish national team in its first international match in 1923 against Romania.

Ali Sami Yen died in 1951.

As founder and first president of Galatasaray SK, Ali Sami Yen gave his name to Galatasaray's stadium. With a capacity of 25,000 seats, the Ali Sami Yen Stadium is situated in the center of Istanbul, in Mecidiyekoy.

Allawi, Ayad
Iraqi physician and businessman who became prime minister of Iraq's interim government on June 28, 2004.

Ayad Allawi (Eyad Allawi) was born in 1945 to a prominent Shia merchant family. His grandfather helped to negotiate Iraq's independence from Britain, and his father was an Iraqi Member of Parliament. He became involved in Ba'athism at a young age and organized against the government of Abdul Karim Qassim. In the 1960s, he studied at medical school in Baghdad. He graduated high school from Baghdad College an American Catholic Jesuit high school.

In 1961, Allawi joined the nationalist Ba'ath Party, which seized control of Iraq in 1963.  By 1971, however, Allawi had become critical of the Ba'athist government and left the country.  He and his family settled in the United Kingdom, where he completed his medical education.

In 1971, Allawi moved to London due to increasing differences with the Ba'ath party and in order to continue his medical education. He resigned from the Ba'ath party in 1975, having decided that Saddam was exerting too much control over the party.

Allawi suffered severe wounds in a 1978 assassination attempt, believed to have been staged by Hussein's agents.  In February 1978, Allawi was awoken in bed by an intruder in his Surrey home.  The intruder proceeded to attack Allawi with an axe.  He is attacked while in his bed in Kingston-upon-Thames. The intruder hits aimed to strike Allawi a deadly blow, which Allawi deflected but not without nearly severing his right leg. The intruder left, convinced that Allawi was dead as he lay in a pool of blood.  However, Allawi survived the attempted murder, and spent the next year in hospital recovering from his injuries. His first wife, Autour (Athour), was also wounded in the attack. It was believed that the attack was an assassination attempt ordered by Saddam Hussein since earlier Allawi had learned that he was on Saddam's elimination list.  After this attack, Allawi would walk with a limp. Additionally, in the aftermath of the attack, Allawi separated from his wife by mutual agreement.

While still recovering in the hospital from the attack, Allawi started organizing an opposition network to work against the government of Saddam Hussein. Through the 1980s he built this network, recruiting Iraqis while traveling as a businessman.

In December 1990, Allawi announced the existence of the Iraqi National Accord (INA). The group began to receive CIA funding in the same year. Six years later, in 1996, using disillusioned Baathists in the military and government, the INA mounted an unsuccessful coup in Baghdad. One of Allawi's allies in the INA was Salah Omar Al-Ali, a former member of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council and ambassador to the United Nations. The INA received open backing from the United Kingdom, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States. The group consisted mainly of former military personnel who had defected from Saddam Hussein's Iraq to instigate a military coup.

A military coup was planned for 1996, in which Iraqi generals were to lead their units against Baghdad and remove Saddam Hussein. The CIA supported the plot, code-named DBACHILLES, and added Iraqi officers that were not part of INA. The plan ended in disaster as it had been infiltrated by agents loyal to Saddam. United States support was also questionable. Requests by the CIA station chief in Amman for American air support were refused by the Clinton administration. Many participants were executed. Lands and factories belonging to the Allawi family were confiscated. Even the Allawi family graveyard in Najaf was seized, although it was later returned. It is estimated that the Allawi family lost $250 million worth of assets.

Shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority (the "CPA") was established by the occupying forces in order to administer the country until sovereignty could be restored. The CPA decided to establish a grouping of senior Iraqi politicians to carry out some administrative responsibilities, with a view to giving the occupation a more "Iraqi face". This grouping was referred to as the Governing Council, and was made up of 25 Iraqis that were appointed by the CPA. Allawi, who had returned to Iraq after nearly thirty years in exile, was one of those selected to serve on the Governing Council, and held the position of Minister of Defence (although his real responsibilities in that regard were limited considering Iraq remained under occupation). He held the rotating presidency of the interim governing council during October 2003.

On May 28, 2004, Allawi was elected unanimously by the Governing Council to be the Interim Prime Minister of Iraq to govern the country beginning with the United States' handover of sovereignty (June 30, 2004) until national elections, scheduled for early 2005.

On June 28, 2004, (two days earlier than scheduled) the United States-led Coalition Provisional Authority officially transferred sovereignty in Iraq to the newly chosen Iraqi leadership. To the surprise of many, Allawi was named prime minister of the interim government. As prime minister, Allawi adopted a policy of trying to reconcile with Bathists who had not been involved in criminal acts during Ṣaddam’s regime. Allawi held out the prospect of pardon for all rebels—Shiʿite or Sunni—willing to lay down their arms, although he remained tough on insurgents and supported the United States assault on the city of Fallujah.

The INA finished third in the January 2005 election with fourteen percent (14%) of the vote, and Alllawi was succeeded as prime minister by Ibrahim al-Jaʿfari. Allawi  subsequently helped form the Iraqi National List, a secular coalition of Shiʿites and Sunnis. In the parliamentary election held in December 2005, the party won just 25 seats. Allawi protested the results, charging election fraud. Allawi and his coalition fared much better in the March 2010 parliamentary election, securing more seats (91) than any other group and winning a narrow victory over the coalition of incumbent prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Allawi's first wife was named Autour (Ahtour). He divorced her in 1981 in the wake of the assassination attempt against him in 1978. He later remarried and had two daughters and a son.

American Muslims

From the 1880s to 1914, several thousand Muslims immigrated to the United States from the Ottoman Empire, and from parts of South Asia; they did not form distinctive settlements, and probably most assimilated into the wider society.

Once very small, the Muslim population of the US increased greatly in the 20th century, with much of the growth driven by rising immigration and conversion, and a comparatively high birth rate. In 2005, more people from Islamic countries became legal permanent United States residents — nearly 96,000 — than in any year in the previous two decades.

American Muslims come from various backgrounds, and are one of the most racially diverse religious group in the United States according to a 2009 Gallup poll. Native-born American Muslims are mainly African Americans who make up about a quarter of the total Muslim population. Many of these have converted to Islam during the last seventy years. Conversion to Islam in prison, and in large urban areas has also contributed to its growth over the years. The immigrant communities make up the majority, with mainly people of Arab and South Asian descent.

The history of Islam in the United States can be divided into two significant periods: the post World War I period, and the last few decades. Although some individual members of the Islamic faith are known to have visited or lived in the United States during the colonial era.

Estevanico of Azamor may have been the first Muslim to enter the historical record in North America. Estevanico was a Berber originally from North Africa who explored the future states of Arizona and New Mexico for the Spanish Empire. He was raised as a Muslim, but was converted to Roman Catholicism upon enslavement.

American views of Islam affected debates regarding freedom of religion during the drafting of the state constitution of Pennsylvania in 1776. Constitutionalists promoted religious toleration while Anti-constitutionalists called for reliance on Protestant values in the formation of the state's republican government. The former group won out, and inserted a clause for religious liberty in the new state constitution. American views of Islam were influenced by favorable Enlightenment writings from Europe, as well as Europeans who had long warned that Islam was a threat to Christianity and republicanism.

When Benjamin Franklin helped establish a non-denominational religious meeting house in Philadelphia, he emphasized its non-sectarian nature by stating that "even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service". Franklin also wrote an anti-slavery parody piece claiming to be translation of the response of a government official at Algiers to a 17th-century petition to banish slavery there; the piece develops the theme that Europeans are specially suited for enslavement on cultural and religious grounds, and that there would be practical problems with abolishing slavery in North Africa; this satirizes similar arguments that were then made about the enslavement of Blacks in North America.

Peter Salem, a former slave who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill, is speculated to have Muslim connections based on his Islamic-sounding name. "Saleem" means "one who is peaceful" in Arabic and is related to the word salaam. Salem's name was said by a Jewish man to be similar to the word shalom, which also means peace. Other American Revolution soldiers with Islamic names include Salem Poor, Yusuf Ben Ali, Bampett Muhamed, Francis Saba, and Joseph Saba.

Between 1785 and 1815, over a hundred American sailors were captive in Algiers for ransom. Several wrote captivity narratives of their experiences that gave most Americans their first view of the Middle East and Muslim ways, and newspapers often commented on them. The views were generally negative. Royall Tyler wrote The Algerine Captive (1797), an early American novel depicting the life of an American doctor employed in the slave trade who becomes himself enslaved by Barbary pirates. Finally Presidents Jefferson and Madison sent in the Navy to confront the pirates, and ended the threat in 1815.

Bilali (Ben Ali) Muhammad was a Fula Muslim from Timbo Futa-Jallon in present day Guinea-Conakry, who arrived at Sapelo Island during 1803. While enslaved, he became the religious leader and Imam for a slave community numbering approximately eighty Muslim men residing on his plantation. During the War of 1812, Muhammad and the eighty Muslim men under his leadership protected their master's Sapelo Island property from a British attack. He is known to have fasted during the month of Ramadan, worn a fez and kaftan, and observed the Muslim feasts, in addition to consistently performing the five obligatory prayers. In 1829, Bilali authored a thirteen page Arabic Risala on Islamic beliefs and the rules for ablution, morning prayer, and the calls to prayer. Known as the Bilali Document, it is currently housed at the University of Georgia in Athens.

In 1776, John Adams published "Thoughts on Government," in which he praises the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a "sober inquirer after truth" alongside Confucius, Zoroaster, Socrates, and other thinkers.

In 1785, George Washington stated a willingness to hire "Mahometans," as well as people of any nation or religion, to work on his private estate at Mount Vernon if they were "good workmen." It was a rhetorical statement, as he hired no such people.

In 1790, the South Carolina legislative body granted special legal status to a community of Moroccans. In 1797, President John Adams signed a treaty declaring the United States had no "character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen".

In his autobiography, published in 1791, Benjamin Franklin stated that he "did not disapprove" of a meeting place in Pennsylvania that was designed to accommodate preachers of all religions. Franklin wrote that "even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service."

Thomas Jefferson defended religious freedom in America including those of Muslims. Jefferson explicitly mentioned Muslims when writing about the movement for religious freedom in Virginia. In his autobiography Jefferson wrote "[When] the [Virginia] bill for establishing religious freedom... was finally passed,... a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word 'Jesus Christ,' so that it should read 'a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion.' The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination." While President, Jefferson also participated in an iftar with the Ambassador of Tunisia in 1809.

However, not all politicians were pleased with the religious neutrality of the Constitution, which prohibited any religious test. Anti-Federalists in the 1788 North Carolina ratifying convention opposed the new constitution; one reason was the fear that some day Catholics or Muslims might be elected president.

Indeed, in 1788 many opponents of the Constitution pointed to the Middle East, especially the Ottoman Empire as a negative object lesson against standing armies and centralized state authority.

There are recorded instances of Muslims in the United States military during the American Civil War. Muhammad Ali ibn Said (also known as Nicholas Said), formerly enslaved to an Arab master, came to the United States in 1860 where he found a teaching job in Detroit. In 1863, Said enlisted in the 55th Massachusetts Colored Regiment in the United States Army and rose to the rank of sergeant. He was later granted a transfer to a hospital department, where he gained some knowledge of medicine. His Army records state that he died in Brownsville, Tennessee in 1882. Another Muslim soldier from the Civil War was Max Hassan, an African who worked for the military as a porter.

A Muslim named Hajj Ali (commonly spelled as "Hi Jolly") was hired by the United States Cavalry in 1856 to raise camels in Arizona and California. He would later become a prospector in Arizona. Hajj Ali died in 1902.

During the American Civil war, the "scorched earth" policy of the North destroyed churches, farms, schools, libraries, colleges, and a great deal of other property. The libraries at the University of Alabama managed to save one book from the debris of their library buildings. On the morning of April 4, when Federal troops reached the campus with order to destroy the university, Andre Deloffre, a modern language professor and custodian of the library, appealed to the commanding officer to spare one of the finest libraries in the South. The officer, being sympathetic, sent a courier to Gen. Croxton at his headquarters in Tuscaloosa asking permission to save the Rotunda. The general's reply was no. The officer reportedly said, "I will save one volume as a memento of this occasion." The volume selected was a rare copy of the Qur'an.

Alexander Russell Webb is considered by historians to be the earliest prominent Anglo-American convert to Islam in 1888. In 1893 he was the only person representing Islam at the first Parliament for the World's Religions.

Many of the slaves brought to colonial America from Africa were Muslims. By 1800, some 500,000 Africans arrived in what became the United States. Historians estimate that between 15 to 30 percent of all enslaved African men, and less than 15 percent of the enslaved African women, were Muslims. These enslaved Muslims stood out from their compatriots because of their "resistance, determination and education".

It is estimated that over 50% of the slaves imported to North America came from areas where Islam was followed by at least a minority population. Thus, no less than 200,000 came from regions influenced by Islam. Substantial numbers originated from Senegambia, a region with an established community of Muslim inhabitants extending to the 11th century.

Historical records indicate many enslaved Muslims conversed in the Arabic language. Some even composed literature (such as autobiographies) and commentaries on the Quran.

Some newly arrived Muslim slaves assembled for communal Salah (prayers). Some were provided a private praying area by their owner. The two best documented Muslim slaves were Ayuba Suleiman Diallo and Omar Ibn Said. Suleiman was brought to America in 1731 and returned to Africa in 1734. Like many Muslim slaves, he often encountered impediments when attempting to perform religious rituals and was eventually allotted a private location for prayer by his master.

Omar Ibn Said (ca. 1770–1864) is among the best documented examples of a practicing-Muslim slave. He lived on a colonial North Carolina plantation and wrote many Arabic texts while enslaved. Born in the kingdom of Futa Touro (modern Senegal), he arrived in America in 1807, one month before the United States abolished the importation of slaves. Some of his works include the Lords Prayer, the Bismillah, This is How You Pray, Quranic phrases, the 23rd Psalm, and an autobiography. In 1857, he produced his last known writing on Surah 110 of the Qur'an. In 1819, Omar received an Arabic translation of the Christian Bible from his master, James Owen. Omar converted to Christianity in 1820, an episode widely used throughout the South to "prove" the benevolence of slavery. However, some scholars believe he continued to be a practicing Muslim, based on dedications to Muhammad written in his Bible.

Small-scale migration to the United States by Muslims began in 1840, with the arrival of Yemenites and Turks, and lasted until World War I. Most of the immigrants, from Arab areas of the Ottoman Empire, came with the purpose of making money and returning to their homeland. However, the economic hardships of 19th-Century America prevented them from prospering, and as a result the immigrants settled in the United States permanently. These immigrants settled primarily in Dearborn, Michigan; Quincy, Massachusetts; and Ross, North Dakota. Ross, North Dakota is the site of the first documented mosque and Muslim Cemetery, but it was abandoned and later torn down in the mid 1970s. A new mosque was built in its place in 2005.

A chronology of American Muslim activity includes:

    * 1906 Bosnian Muslims in Chicago, Illinois, started the Džemijetul Hajrije (Jamaat al-Khayriyya) (The Benevolent Society; a social service organization devoted to Bosnian Muslims). This is the longest lasting incorporated Muslim community in the United States. They met in Bosnian coffeehouses and eventually opened the first Islamic Sunday School with curriculum and textbooks under Bosnian scholar Sheikh Ćamil Avdić (Kamil Avdich) (a graduate of al-Azhar and author of Survey of Islamic Doctrines).
    * 1907 Lipka Tatar immigrants from the Podlasie region of Poland founded the first Muslim organization in New York City, the American Mohammedan Society.
    * 1915, what is most likely the first American mosque was founded by Albanian Muslims in Biddeford, Maine. A Muslim cemetery still exists there.
    * 1920 First Islamic mission station was established by an Indian Ahmadiyya Muslim missionary, followed by the building of the Al-Sadiq Mosque in 1921.
    * 1934 The first building built specifically to be a mosque is established in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
    * 1945 A mosque existed in Dearborn, Michigan, home to the largest Arab-American population in the United States.

Construction of mosques sped up in the 1920s and 1930s, and by 1952, there were over 20 mosques. Although the first mosque was established in the United States in 1915, relatively few mosques were founded before the 1960s. Eighty-seven percent of mosques in the United States were founded within the last three decades according to the Faith Communities Today (FACT) survey. California has more mosques than any other state.

Chinese Muslims have immigrated to the United States and lived within the Chinese community rather than integrating into other foreign Muslim communities. Two of the most prominent Chinese American Muslims are the Republic of China National Revolutionary Army Generals Ma Hongkui and his son Ma Dunjing who moved to Los Angeles, California after fleeing from China to Taiwan. Pai Hsien-yung, son of the Chinese Muslim General Bai Chongxi, is a Chinese Muslim writer who moved to Santa Barbara, California, after fleeing from China to Taiwan.

During the first half of the 20th century, a small number of African Americans established groups based on Islamic and Black supremacist teachings. The first of such groups created was the Moorish Science Temple of America, founded by Timothy Drew (Drew Ali) in 1913. Drew taught that Black people were of Moorish origin but their Muslim identity was taken away through slavery and racial segregation, advocating the return to Islam of their Moorish ancestry.

The Nation of Islam (NOI) was the largest organization, created in 1930 by Wallace Fard Muhammad. It however taught a different form of Islam, promoting Black supremacy and labeling white people as "devils". Fard drew inspiration for NOI doctrines from those of Noble Drew Ali's Moorish Science Temple of America. He provided three main principles which serve as the foundation of the NOI: "Allah is God, the white man is the devil and the so called Negroes are the Asiatic Black People, the cream of the planet earth". In 1934 Elijah Muhammad became the leader of the NOI, he deified Wallace Fard, saying that he was an incarnation of God, and taught that he was a prophet who had been taught directly by God in the form of Wallace Fard. Although Elijah's message caused great concern among White Americans, it was effective among Blacks attracting mainly poor people including students and professionals. One of the famous people to join the NOI was Malcolm X, who was the face of the NOI in the media. Also boxing world champion, Muhammad Ali. Malcolm X was one of the most influential leaders of the NOI, he advocated complete separation of blacks from whites. He left the NOI after being silenced for 90 days, he then formed his own black nationalist movement, and made the pilgrimage to Mecca, converting to Sunni Islam. He is viewed as the first person to start the movement among African Americans towards Sunni Islam.

After the death of Elijah Muhammad, he was succeeded by his son, Warith Deen Mohammed. Mohammed rejected many teachings of his father, such as the divinity of Fard Muhammad and saw a white person as also a worshipper. As he took control of the organization, he quickly brought in new reforms. He renamed it as the World Community of al-Islam in the West, later it became the American Society of Muslims. It was estimated that there were 200,000 followers of WD Mohammed at the time.

WD Mohammed introduced teachings which were based on orthodox Sunni Islam. He removed the chairs in temples, with mosques, teaching how to pray the salah, to observe the fasting of Ramadan, and to attend the pilgrimage to Mecca. It was the largest mass religious conversion in the 21st century, with thousands who had converted to orthodox Islam.

A small number of Black Muslims however rejected these new reforms brought by Imam Mohammed. Louis Farrakhan broke away from the organization, re-established the Nation of Islam under the original Fardian doctrines, and became its leader. As of today it is estimated there are at least 20,000 members. However, today the group has a wide influence in the African American community that exceeds its membership numbers. The Farrakhan inspired Million Man March took place in Washington, D.C. 1995 and was followed later by another one in 2000 which was smaller in size but more inclusive welcoming individuals other than just African American men. The group sponsors cultural and academic education, economic independence, and personal and social responsibility. The Nation of Islam has received a great deal of criticism for its anti-white, anti-Christian, and anti-semitic teachings, and is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Amin al-Hindi
Intelligence chief of the Palestinian Authority who was a leader of the Black September movement and who was also suspected of involvement in the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics that resulted in the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches.

Amin al-Hindi was born in Gaza in 1940 and was actively involved with Yasir Arafat in the Fatah movement that Arafat created in the 1950s.

In its obituary, The New York Times described Hindi as being "widely suspected of having played an organizing role" in the Black September attack in Munich that led to the deaths of 11 athletes and coaches representing the Israeli Olympic team at the 1972 Summer Games who had been taken as hostages at the Olympic village on the morning of September 5, 1972. Israeli security forces carried out a series of killings of individuals believed to have been involved with the massacre. Hindi never acknowledged his involvement in the attack and may have been the last living person involved with plotting the attack following the death of Abu Daoud, the Palestinian terrorist known as the planner, architect and mastermind of the Munich massacre.

Israel permitted him to return from exile in the 1990s following the Oslo Accords. He became a senior official in the Palestinian Authority and served as commander of the Palestinian General Security and Intelligence Service until 2005. In that role he had frequent contact with Israeli military and security forces.

The Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that al-Hindi had died at age 70 on August 17, 2010, in Amman, Jordan, due to liver cancer and pancreatic cancer. His body was transported from Jordan to the West Bank where ceremonies honoring him were held at the presidential headquarters of Mahmoud Abbas. His body was then transferred through Israel for burial in Gaza. His Gaza funeral was attended by members of the Fatah Central Committee and the Fatah Revolutionary Council. A procession traveled from his home in the Al-Rimal neighborhood to the Katiba mosque.

Amin al-Hindi, an associate of the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and a former Palestinian Authority intelligence chief who was widely suspected of having played an organizing role in the deadly attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, died Tuesday in Amman, Jordan. He was 70.

Mr. Hindi was born in Gaza in 1940 but spent many years in exile as a security officer for Fatah, the Palestinian national liberation movement that was founded by Arafat in the late 1950s and became the dominant force in the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Palestinian umbrella group.

If Mr. Hindi was involved in the Munich attack — he never publicly acknowledged any responsibility — he may have been the last of the plotters to survive. Several were tracked down and killed by Israeli counterterrorist squads abroad. The self-declared mastermind of the attack, Mohammed Oudeh, better known by his guerrilla name, Abu Daoud, died in early July in Damascus at age 73.

The Munich attack, carried out by Black September, a shadowy terrorist apparatus associated with Fatah and the P.L.O., shocked people around the world. Eight Palestinians broke into a dormitory at the Olympic village where Israeli team members were sleeping and took them hostage in the early morning of September 5, 1972. Two of them tried to overpower the militants and were shot and killed.

Israel refused to accede to the terrorists’ demands to release Palestinian prisoners, and the nine remaining hostages and their captors were eventually transported by helicopters to a military airfield, where officials said they were to be flown to Cairo. Instead, West German sharpshooters tried to rescue the Israelis, setting off a gun battle in which five Palestinians, a German police officer and the nine hostages were killed.

Mr. Hindi’s possible involvement was never made clear, and in the mid-1990s Israel allowed him to return home to the territories that it occupied in the 1967 Middle East war. He then assumed a senior position in Arafat’s Palestinian Authority, established as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo peace accords.

He became the commander of the Palestinian General Security and Intelligence Service, a position he held until 2005, with the rank of general. In his capacity as security chief he had frequent contact with Israeli security officials who forgave his past in the interest of trying to forge stability and peace.

Mr. Hindi’s body was brought overland from Jordan to the West Bank on Wednesday morning, and Arafat’s successor, President Mahmoud Abbas, and other Palestinian leaders held a ceremony with military honors at the presidential headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He is expected to be buried in his native Gaza.

Amjad Ali Shah
A King of Oudh.

Amjad Ali Shah (b. c. 1801 – d. February 13, 1847) was the fourth King of Oudh from May 17, 1842 to February 13, 1847.

Amjad Ali Shah was the son of Muhammad Ali Shah. Muhammad Ali Shah had made every effort to ensure that the heir apparent received an excellent education and, therefore, entrusted Amjad to the company of religious scholars, which instead of making him an intelligent ruler made him a devout Muslim. Thus, he became the most deeply religious, circumspect and abstinent ruler of Oudh.

Amjad Ali Shah began to reign in May 1842.  By this time the British Government had become so powerful in Oudh that it was searching for a way to seize it. Amjad Ali Shah was of a helping nature, very polite and well mannered.

Due to Amjad Ali Shah’s abstainism, the system of administration set up by Muhammad Ali Shah became completely disorganized.

Amjad Ali Shah constructed Iron Bridge over the river Gomti and constructed a metal road from Lucknow to Kanpur which still follows the same route.

Amjad Ali Shah also built Hazratganj, the great European style market.

The great Aminabad Bazar and a Serai at Kanpur road were constructed by his minister Amin-ud-Daula.

Amjad Ali Shah also constructed the Shrines of Syedna Muslim and Hani, at Kufa.

Amjad died due to cancer on February 13, 1847 at the age of 47 years. He was buried at Imambara Sibtainabad in the western part of Hazratganj, Lucknow.  He was succeeded by his son Wajid Ali Shah.

Aramony, William
Chief Executive Officer of the United Way of America.

William Aramony (July 27, 1927 – November 11, 2011) was CEO of United Way of America for more than twenty years and helped build the organization into the largest charity in the United States. He retired in 1992 amid allegations of fraud and financial mismanagement, for which he was subsequently convicted and sentenced to prison.

William Aramony was born in Jewett City, Connecticut. His parents, Russell and Nazley Farrah Aramony, immigrated to the United States from Lebanon, and he was the youngest of their five children. He grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts, graduated from Clark University in 1949 and matriculated at the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, where in 1951 he earned a master's degree.

Aref, Abdel-Rahman
Iraqi President. 

Born in Baghdad in 1916, Abdel-Rahman Aref began his political career in the 1950s within the "Supreme Committee of Free Officers,"  which toppled the Iraqi monarchy on July 14, 1958, with the aid of the Communists and the Baathists.   General Abdul Karim Qasim, who masterminded the coup, was made first head of state of the republic while Aref's brother Abdel Salam became his deputy.   However, Qasim was soon considered to be too close to the Communists and, in February 1963, Aref's brother seized power in a coup.  Qasim was executed with a bullet to the head. 

Aref rose to power in 1963, five years after the bloody overthrow of the Iraqi monarchy, when his older brother, Abdel-Salam Aref, who was the president, appointed him army chief of staff.  Three years later, Abdel-Salam Aref died in a helicopter crash (the circumstances of which were never fullly explained) and Iraqi Army officers chose the younger Aref to become Iraq's third president.  The helicopter crash was believed to have been sabotage. 

Abdel-Rahman Aref was president until 1968, when he was toppled in a bloodless coup by the Baath Party, led at the time by Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, who became Iraq's next president.  However, Saddam Hussein was believed to have held behind-the-scenes power in the coup and later, until he formally took over in 1979.

The reports on the coup said that in the early hours of July 17, 1968, as Aref slept, Defense Minister Hardan al-Tikriti entered the palace and phoned to say he was no longer president. 

Aref was then hustled onto a plane to London, from where he made his way to Istanbul, where he lived 11 years in exile before he was allowed to return in the late 1980s to live out a quiet life in the Iraqi capital.

As for General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, he was sidelined in 1979 by Saddam Hussein.  He died in 1982 of an illness some attributed to poisoning.

While Aref's brother was president, Aref became chief of staff of the army and was placed in charge of negotiations with the Kurds, a process he would continue when he was president.

During Aref's presidency, he move Iraq closer to France and was welcomed in February 1968 by General Charles de Gaulle during a visit described as "historic" in Paris.  During this visit, Aref signed contracts supplying oil to France while ordering Mirage military aircraft.

In 2004, the post-Saddam Iraqi interim government agreed to pay Aref a monthly pension and allocated some funds for his medical treatment in Jordan.  It was never made public what kind of health problems Aref suffered. 

Aref died on on August 24, 2007, at the King Hussein Medical Center in the Jordanian capital of Amman. 

Ascetics, The Eight

The Eight Ascetics are Sufyan al-Thawri, Amir ibn Abd al-Qays, Abu Muslim al-Khawlani, Uwais al-Qarni, Al-Rabi ibn Khuthaym, Aswad ibn Yazid, Masruq ibn al-Ajda', and Hasan al-Basri.

Asena, Duygu
Turkish feminist journalist and writer. 

Asena, author of the best-selling "Woman Has No Name," had trained to be a teacher but began writing for newspaper women's pages in the early 1970s.  In 1978, she founded the first women's magazine in Turkey, "Kadinca."  Ignoring taboos, Asena was the first Turkish writer to explore such topics as women's rights, sexuality and wife-beating.  "Woman Has No Name" broke sales records when it was printed in 1987, but was soon banned by the Turkish government which found it to be too lewd and obscene.  the ban was lifted after a two-year court battle.  A film adaptation of the book broke box office records in Turkey.  Asena wrote eight other feminist novels, including "There Is No Love" -- a sequel to "Woman Has No Name" -- and wrote weekly newspaper columns.  She also acted in three movies. 

Duygu Asena died on July 30, 2006, in Istanbul's American Hospital, after fighting a brain tumor for two years.

Asharatu Mubashshirun, Al-

Also Al-Mobashareen Bel-Jannah, the Ten Promised Paradise.

The Hadith of the Ten Promised Paradise is a famous recorded oral tradition among Muslims and is about a comment made by Muhammad.  Although this narration is prominently quoted and referred to, it is not given any formal name, in contrast to other hadith such as the "Hadith of the Pond of Khumm" or the Hadith of Qur'an and Sunnah.  Muslim put different weight on this hadith, the majority, the Sunnis, viewing it as very favorable.

Based on the narrations, Sunnis listed ten people whom they believe were promised paradise while living.  The list is written in the order Sunnis believed they were ranked in by Muhammad.  The first four of them are known by Sunnis as the "Righteously Guided Caliphs."  The Ten Promised Paradise are:

Abu Bakr As-Siddiq
Umar bin Al-Khattab
Uthman ibn Affan
Ali ibn Abi Talib
Talha ibn Ubayd-Allah
Abd al-Rahman ibn Awf
Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqqas
Abu-Ubaida ibn al-Jarrah
Said ibn Zayd
Zubayr ibn al-Awwam

The Shi'a do not believe in the concept and have concluded that the idea is built on hadith that were fabricated during the Umayyad reign, forged for political reasons to elevate the adversaries of the Shi'a Imam 'Ali and the Ahl al-Bayt.

Asmar, Maria Theresa
An ethnic Assyrian and the author of Memoirs of a Babylonian Princess.

Maria Theresa Asmar was born in 1804 in Tel Keppe, Iraq.

Memoirs of a Babylonian Princess consists of two volumes and 720 pages. This book was written in the early 19th century, describing Asmar’s travels through Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel and the harem system used in Turkey. It was translated into English in 1844. Maria Theresa Asmar died in France before the Franco-Prussian War, and was known as Babylon's Princess in Europe.

Facing tremendous obstacles, Asmar, an Assyrian Christian woman, set up a school for women in Baghdad and welcomed with open arms western Christian missionaries, who then bribed the Turkish government to give them the license for the school and forbid Maria to carry on with her project. Left frustrated and angry to have been treated this way by fellow Christians, Asmar sought sanctuary with the Muslim Bedouins. She set about recording their daily lives, everything from the weddings and celebrations to their assaults on other tribes. She explained in great detail Bedouin life.

Ataga Khan
d. 1562
Wakil (Advisor) to the Mughal Emperor Akbar.

Shamsuddin Muhammad Atgah Khan (Ataga Khan) (d. 1562), also known as Khan-e-Kalan Shamsu'd-Din Muhammad Khan Atgah Khan, held important positions in the court, including that of wakil (advisor or minister) to which he was appointed in November 1561, much to the displeasure of Maham Anga, whose son Adham Khan, eventually murdered him in 1562. Ataga Khan was the husband of Ji Ji Anga, one of Akbar's wet nurses.

Shamsuddin was the son of Mir Yar Muhammad of Ghazni, a simple farmer, and started life as a soldier in Kamran Mirza’s army. He saved Humayun from drowning in the Ganges. As a reward, Humayun took him into his personal service and his wife became one of Akbar's foster-mothers. She was called foster-mother (Anagah) and her husband Shamsuddin was designated foster-father (Atgah). He also received the title of Khan and his biological son, Aziz, became Akbar's foster or milk-brother (Kokah).

On May 16, 1562, Adham Khan accompanied by a few ruffians burst in upon him as he sat in the Diwan-e-Aam, the hall of audience, in Agra Fort, and murdered him, in the courtyard of Diwan-e-Aam. Hearing of this murder, an enraged Akbar ordered Adham Khan to be thrown down the rampart of the fort, and when he survived the first fall, he was thrown a second time and killed instantly.

After the death of Ataga Khan, his tomb was built pursuant to the instructions of the Mughal emperor Akbar and built by his son, Mirza Aziz Koka, in 1566-67. It is situated on the northern edge of Nizamuddin, most known for the dargah of 13th century Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya. Its architect was Ustab Khuda Quli and calligrapher Baqi Muhammad from Bukhara, who added Quranic verses on the white marble slabs, inlaid on the red sandstone exterior walls.  The Quranic verses were suitably chosen reflecting his mode of death, considered a martyrdom by the Mughal historian, Abul Fazal. An inscription on the southern door of the tomb mentions that it was finished in 974 AH (1566-67).

Awlaki, Anwar al-
American-born Muslim cleric who became a leading figure in Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen.

Anwar al-Awlaki (b. 1971 - d. September 30, 2011) was a radical American-born Muslim cleric who became a leading figure in Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen.

Awlaki was perhaps the most prominent English-speaking advocate of violent jihad against the United States, with his message carried extensively over the Internet. His online lectures and sermons had been linked to more than a dozen terrorist investigations in the United States, Britain and Canada. Major Nidal Malik Hasan exchanged e-mails with Awlaki before the deadly shooting rampage on Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009. Faisal Shahzad, who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square in May, 2010, cited Awlaki as an inspiration.

Awlaki was killed in Yemen on September 30, 2011 by a missile fired from an American drone aircraft. The strike also killed a radical American colleague traveling with Awlaki who edited Al Qaeda’s online jihadist magazine. He was identified by Yemen's official news agency as Samir Khan, an American citizen born in Pakistan.

Many details of the strike were unclear, but one American official said that Awlaki, whom the United States had been hunting in Yemen for more than two years, had been identified as the target in advance and was killed with a Hellfire missile fired from a drone operated by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The strike appeared to be the first time in the United States-led war on terrorism since the September 11, 2001, attacks that an American citizen had been deliberately targeted and killed by American forces.

In 2010, the Obama administration had taken the rare step of authorizing the targeted killing of Awlaki, even though he was an American citizen — a step that had provoked lawsuits and criticism from human rights groups. Awlaki had survived at least one earlier missile strike from an American military drone.

The administration’s secret legal memorandum that opened the door to the killing of Awlaki found that it would be lawful only if it were not feasible to take him alive, according to people who have read the document.

The drone attacks had been part of a clandestine Pentagon program to hunt members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group believed responsible for a number of failed attempts to strike the United States, including the thwarted plot to blow up a trans-Atlantic jet on December 25, 2009, as it was preparing to land in Detroit.

The American military had stepped up its campaign of airstrikes in Yemen earlier in 2011. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in July that two of his top goals were to remove Ayman al-Zawahri, Al Qaeda’s new leader after the death of Osama Bin Laden in May, and Anwar al-Awlaki. A senior administration official in Washington said the killing of Mr. Awlaki was important because he had become one of Al Qaeda’s top operational planners as well as its greatest English-language propagandist.


Local notables of the Ottoman Empire who participated in local provincial administration and controlled the province. 

The increasing need for money toward the end of the 16th century led the administration to contract out state lands to tax farmers, who, with their economic strength and increasing quasi-proprietary rights to public lands, contributed to the rise of the ayans.  Governors, instead of being present in their provinces were represented by deputies (mutesellim), who engaged in tax farming and generally had local power bases.

Since the peasantry suffered heavily from short-term tax farming, a different system was promoted from 1695 onward.  Under this approach, tax farms were assigned for life, with low annual tax payments.  Greater ayans could dominate lesser ayans at the level of kazas, or villages, by leasing out portions of tax farms to them.  Particularly in the 18th century, the ayans became indispensable to the Sublime Porte for the provision of revenues and troops.  Ayans were also crucial for provincial and municipal administration.

Some of the greater ayans, also called hanedans (dynasties – such as Tepedelenli Ali Pasha (Albania), Karaosmanoglu (western Anatolia), and Capanoglu (central Anatolia) – controlled very large regions.  Mahmud II throughout his reign strove to diminish the political power of the ayans. During the Tanzimat period, ayans became members of administrative councils.


Aydid, Muhammad Farah
c. 1930-1996
Somali faction leader.

Muhammad Farah Aydid (Muhammad Farah Hassan) (Mohamed Farrah Aidid) (Maxamed Faarex Caydid) (b. December 15, 1934, Beledweyne [Mudug Region], Italian Somaliland — d. August 1/2, 1996, Mogadishu, Somalia) received military training in Italy and the Soviet Union and served in posts under Mohamed Siad Barre before overthrowing Barre in 1991. He became the dominant clan leader at the center of the Somalian civil war. Losing the interim presidency to another factional leader, Aydid continued warring on rival clans. When United Nations and United States troops arrived in Somalia (1992), Aydid ambushed a United Nations contingent and was declared an outlaw. The attempt to capture him led to many deaths, and foreign troops were withdrawn. He then intensified his campaign against his rivals, but he reportedly died of a heart attack after being wounded in battle.

Aydid was a controversial Somali military leader, often described as a warlord. He claimed to be the President of Somalia from 1995 to 1996. He was the chairman of United Somali Congress (USC) and later the Somali National Alliance (SNA), who drove Mohamed Siad Barre’s dictatorial regime from the capital, Mogadishu and eventually from Somalia altogether. Later he challenged the presence of United Nations and United States troops in the country.  Aydid was one of the main targets of Operation Restore Hope, the United Nations and United States military operation that came to the country to provide humanitarian aid and to break the military siege. He became General of Somalia for a short period after forcing United Nations forces to abandon the country in 1995.

Aydid was born in the Habr Gidir clan of the Mudug region of Somalia. He was educated in Rome and Moscow and served in the Italian colonial police force in the 1950s. Later he rose in the military of Mohamed Siad Barre to the rank of general and served in the 1977-78 Ogaden War with Ethiopia. Aydid also served in Barre's cabinet and as Somali ambassador to India before finally being appointed intelligence chief.

Barre suspected Aydid of planning a coup d'état and had him imprisoned for six years as means of pre-emption. In 1991, Aydid's clan managed to overthrow Barre, and the former, as leader of the United Somali Congress, emerged as a major force in the ensuing civil war.

As the civil war grew, with the breakdown of centralized government and no single successor to Barre's regime emerging, the term "warlord" came into use in Somalia. The tribalism of clan-based rebel organizations, and a complex web of regional and local domination elevated warlords to be de facto rulers of the country. Aydid was considered chief amongst them. However, he was defeated by a rival, which led to the opportunity for United Nations peace keepers to be brought in.

Aydid hindered international United Nations peacekeeping forces in 1992 culminating with an attack on Pakistani peace keeping forces which resulted in 24 dead. As a result, the United States put a $25,000 bounty on his head and attempted to arrest and try him for war crimes. On October 3, 1993, by the order of President Bill Clinton, a force of United States Army Rangers and Delta Force operators set out to capture several officials of Aydid's militia in an area of the Somali capital city of Mogadishu, controlled by him. Although technically successful, with the capture of several "tier-one personalities", the operation did not completely go as planned. Between 500 and 1500 Somalis, as well as 18 American soldiers and 1 Malaysian soldier, died as a result in the First Battle of Mogadishu. Also, as a result of a downed Blackhawk, Warrant Officer-Pilot Michael J. Durant from 160th SOAR was held captive for 11 days.

The United States withdrew its forces soon afterwards and the United Nations left Somalia in 1995.

Aydid then declared himself President of Somalia in June 1995, but his government was not internationally recognized. Indeed, within Somalia and even within Mogadishu, his control was fiercely fought over, especially by Ali Mahdi Muhammad. In September 1995, militia forces loyal to Aydid attacked the city of Baidoa, killing 10 Somalis and capturing at least 20 foreign aid workers.

Aydid died on August 2, 1996 as a result of gunshot wounds sustained a week earlier, possibly in a fight with competing factions.

Baba, Gul
d. 1541
Ottoman Bektashi dervish poet and companion of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

Gül Baba (also known as Cafer) took part in a number of campaigns in Europe from the reign of Mehmed II onwards.

A native of Merzifon (Marsiwān, in the vilāyet of Sivas), he was the son of Kutb’ül Arifin Veli’üddin İbn Yalınkılıç. In Hungary, Gül Baba is known as the "Father of Roses" and is said to have introduced the flower to the country. However, this is probably a misunderstanding of the metaphorical use of the term which most likely refers to the dervish's status derived from his deep mystical knowledge of Allah, which made him a notably "fragrant" member of his order. The name could also be a corruption of Kel Baba, meaning "Bald Father".

Gül Baba is thought to have died in Buda during the first Muslim religious ceremony held after the Ottoman victory of 1541, or alternatively to have been killed during fighting below the walls of the city on August 21, 1541. Suleiman, who was also Caliph, declared him patron saint of the city and is reputed to have been one of the coffin bearers.

Gül Baba's octagonal tomb (türbe) is located on Mecset (mosque) Street, Budapest, a short but steep walk from the Margaret Bridge in the district of Rózsadomb. It was built by Ottoman authorities in Hungary between 1543 and 1548, on the orders of the third pasha of Buda, and has a shallow dome covered with lead plates and wooden tiles. It was left undamaged when the Habsburg armies captured the area during the Second Battle of Buda in 1686, but was converted into a Roman Catholic chapel by the Jesuits, who renamed it "St. Joseph's Chapel".

The land later came under the ownership of János Wagner, who maintained the site and allowed access to Muslim pilgrims coming from the Ottoman Empire. In 1885, the Ottoman government commissioned a Hungarian engineer to restore the tomb and, when work was completed in 1914, it was declared a national monument. The site was restored again in the 1960s and ultimately in the 1990s and is now the property of the Republic of Turkey.

Bahar, Muhammad Taqi
One of the greatest poets of early 20th century Iran.

Muḥammad Taqī Bahār (b. 1885, Mashhad, Iran — d. April 22, 1951, Tehrān, Iran) succeeded his father, Sabūrī, as court poet of the reigning monarch, Moẓaffar al-Dīn Shāh (r. 1896–1907). Gradually, however, Bahār broke away from the court and became a sympathizer with the revolution. As editor of a liberal democratic newspaper in Mashhad, and later in Tehrān, called Now bahār (“The New Spring”), he wrote in praise of the new Iranian constitution. He led an active political life as a deputy of the Iranian Parliament and became head of a literary group called Dānishkadeh (“The Place of Knowledge”). The group published a journal by the same name in which Bahār expressed his conservative literary tastes, upholding the classical style against that of the avant-garde poets. He remained engaged with politics throughout his life, including a brief period as minister of national education in 1946. He also devoted himself to teaching and cultural projects. His poetry, although written in essentially classical Persian style, was unique in his expression of modern social ideas and criticism of his country and government, often in biting satire. He also wrote a novel, essays on literary style and grammar, and treatises on the works of great Persian poets and historians. He made translations from Pahlavi, or Middle Persian, and he edited a number of important classical texts.

Mameluke Sultan of Egypt.

Baibars or Baybars (al-Malik al-Zahir Rukn al-Din Baibars al-Bunduqdari‎), nicknamed Abu al-Futuh (1223, north of the Black Sea – July 1, 1277, Damascus, Syria), was a Mameluke Sultan of Egypt. He was one of the commanders of the forces which inflicted a devastating defeat on the Seventh Crusade of King Louis IX of France and he led the vanguard of the Egyptian army at the Battle of Ayn Jalut in 1260, which marked the first substantial defeat of the Mongol army and is considered a turning point in history. His reign marked the start of an age of Mameluke dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean and solidified the durability of their military system. He managed to pave the way for the end of the Crusader presence in Syria and to unite Egypt and Syria into one powerful state that was able to fend off threats from both Crusaders and Mongols. As Sultan, Baibars also engaged in a combination of diplomacy and military action which allowed the Mamelukes to greatly expand their empire.

Born in the Crimea, Baibars was a Kipchak Turk (Kazakh Turk). It was said that he was captured by the Mongols on the Kipchak steppe and sold as a slave, ending up in Syria.  His first master, the Turkish emir (prince) of Hama, was suspicious of Baibars because of his unusual appearance (he was fair-skinned, very tall and had a cataract in one of his bluish eyes). Baibars was quickly sold to a Mameluke officer and sent to Egypt, where he became a bodyguard to the Ayyubid ruler As-Salih Ayyub.

Turkish-speaking slaves, who had become the military backbone of most Islamic states, were highly prized. Sent, like all the sultan’s newly acquired slaves, for military training to an island in the Nile, Baibars demonstrated outstanding military abilities. Upon his graduation and emancipation, he was appointed commander of a group of the sultan’s bodyguard.

Baybars gained his first major military victory as commander of the Ayyūbid army at the city of Al-Manṣūrah in February 1250 against the crusaders’ army led by Louis IX of France, who was captured and later released for a large ransom. Filled with a sense of their military strength and growing importance in Egypt, a group of Mamlūk officers, led by Baybars, in the same year murdered the new sultan, Tūrān Shāh. The death of the last Ayyūbid sultan was followed by a period of confusion that continued throughout the first years of the Mamlūk sultanate.

Having angered the first Mamlūk sultan, Aybak, Baybars fled with other Mamlūk leaders to Syria and stayed there until 1260, when they were welcomed back to Egypt by the third sultan, al-Muẓaffar Sayf al-Dīn Quṭuz. He restored them to their place in the army and conferred a village upon Baybars.

Within a few months of Baybars’s arrival, in September 1260, the Mamlūk troops defeated a Mongol army near Nāblus in Palestine. Baybars distinguished himself as the leader of the vanguard, and many Mongol leaders were slain on the field.

For his military achievement, Baybars expected to be rewarded with the town of Aleppo; but Sultan Quṭuz disappointed him. On the way home through Syria, Baybars approached Quṭuz and asked him for the gift of a captive Mongol girl. The sultan agreed, and Baybars kissed his hand. On this prearranged signal the Mamlūks fell upon Quṭuz, while Baybars stabbed him in the neck with a sword. Baybars seized the throne to become the fourth Mamlūk sultan.

Baybars’s ambition was to emulate Saladin, the founder of the Ayyūbid dynasty, in the holy war against the crusaders in Syria. As soon as he was acknowledged as sultan, Baybars set about consolidating and strengthening his military position. He rebuilt all the Syrian citadels and fortresses that had been destroyed by the Mongols and built new arsenals, warships, and cargo vessels. To achieve unity of command against the crusaders, Baybars united Muslim Syria and Egypt into a single state. He seized three important towns from the Ayyūbid princes, thus ending their rule in Syria. From 1265 to 1271, Baybars conducted almost annual raids against the crusaders. In 1265 he received the surrender of Arsūf from the Knights Hospitalers. He occupied ʿAtlit and Haifa, and in July 1266 he received the town of Safed from the Knights Templar garrison after a heavy siege. Two years later, Baybars turned toward Jaffa, which he captured without resistance. The most important town taken by Baybars was Antioch (May 1268). His seizure of additional strongholds in 1271 sealed the crusaders’ fate; they were never able to recover from their territorial losses. Baybars’s campaigns made possible the final victories won by his successors.

Baybars’s permanent goal was to contain the continued Mongol attacks on Syria from both north and east that threatened the very heart of the Islamic East. During the 17 years of his reign, he engaged the Mongols of Persia in nine battles. Within Syria, Baybars dealt with the Assassins, a fanatical Islamic sect. After seizing their major strongholds between 1271 and 1273, he wiped out the Syrian members of the group.

Baybars also took the offensive against the Christian Armenians (who were allies of the Mongols), devastating their lands and plundering their major cities. In 1276, having defeated the Seljuq troops and their Mongol allies, he personally seized Caesarea (modern Kayseri in Turkey) in Cappadocia. To secure Egypt on the south and west, Baybars sent military expeditions into Nubia and Libya, taking personal command in 15 campaigns and often endangering his life.

In the interest of good diplomatic relations with the Byzantine Empire, Baybars sent envoys to the court of Michael VIII Palaeologus in Constantinople. The Byzantine sovereign thereupon ordered the restoration of the ancient mosque and permitted the Egyptian merchants and ambassadors to sail through the Hellespont and Bosporus. One of Baybars’s principal goals during his reign was to acquire more Turkish slaves to be used in the Mamlūk army; another was to contract an alliance with the Mongols of the Golden Horde in South Russia against the Mongols of Persia. In 1261 Baybars sent an ambassador to the Sicilian king Manfred. Other embassies to Italy followed, and in 1264 Charles of Anjou, later king of Naples and Sicily, sent an embassy with letters and gifts to Cairo, a remarkable testimony to Baybars’s strength and influence. Baybars was also able to sign commercial treaties with such distant sovereigns as James I of Aragon and Alfonso X of León and Castile.

In a brilliant political move Baybars invited a fugitive descendant of the ʿAbbāsid dynasty of Baghdad to Cairo and established him as caliph—head of the Muslim community—in 1261. Baybars wished to legitimize his sultanate and to give preeminence to his rule in the Muslim world. The ʿAbbāsid caliphs in Cairo had no practical power in the Mamlūk state, however.

Baybars was, moreover, more than a military leader or a diplomatic politician. He built canals, improved harbours, and established a regular and fast postal service between Cairo and Damascus, one that required only four days. He built the great mosque and the school bearing his name in Cairo. He was also the first ruler in Egypt to appoint chief justices representing the four main schools of Islamic law.

A sportsman as well as a warrior, Baybars was fond of hunting, polo, jousting, and archery. He was also a strict Muslim, a generous almsgiver, and watchful of the morals of his subjects—he issued a prohibition against the use of wine in 1271.

Baibars married several women and had seven daughters and three sons. Two of his sons, al-Said Barakah and Solamish, became sultans.

Baibars died in Damascus on June 1, 1277. His demise has been the subject of some academic speculation. Many sources agree that he died from drinking poisoned kumis that was intended for someone else. Some accounts speculate that Baibars himself may have prepared the poison: having been warned by astrologers that a coming lunar eclipse was portentous of the death of a king, he may have intended to poison another prince in order to ward off his own death, and mistakenly imbibed his own poison. Other accounts suggest that he may have died from a wound while campaigning, or from illness. He was buried in the Az-Zahiriyah Library in Damascus.

As the first Sultan of the Bahri Mameluke dynasty, Baibars made the meritocratic ascent up the ranks of Mameluke society. He took final control after the assassination of Sultan Sayf al Din Qutuz, but before he became Sultan he was the commander of the Mameluke forces in the most important battle of the Middle Periods, repelling a Mongol force at the legendary Battle of Ayn Jalut in 1260. Although in the Muslim World he has been considered a national hero for centuries, and in Egypt and Syria is still regarded as such, Sultan Baibars was reviled in the Christian world of the time for his destruction of holy sites and massacres or expulsion of Christian populations.

Baibars also played an important role in bringing the Mongols to Islam. He developed strong ties with the Mongols of the Golden Horde and took steps for the Golden Horde Mongols to travel to Egypt. The arrival of the Golden Horde Mongols to Egypt resulted in a significant number of Mongols accepting Islam.

Baibars was a popular ruler in the Muslim World who had defeated the crusaders in three campaigns, and the Mongols in the Battle of Ayn Jalut which many scholars deem of great macro-historical importance. In order to support his military campaigns, Baibars commissioned arsenals, warships and cargo vessels. He was also arguably the first to employ explosive hand cannons in war, at the Battle of Ayn Jalut. His military campaign also extended into Libya and Nubia.

Baibars was also an efficient administrator who took an interest in building various infrastructure projects, such as a mounted message relay system capable of delivery from Cairo to Damascus in four days. He also built bridges, irrigation and shipping canals, improved the harbors, and built mosques. He was also a patron of Islamic science, such as his support for the medical research by his Arab physician, Ibn al-Nafis.

Baibars' memoirs were recorded in Sirat al-Zahir Baibars ("Life of al-Zahir Baibars"), a popular Arabic romance recording his battles and achievements. He has a heroic status in Kazakhstan, as well as in Egypt and Syria.

The Balian family was an Armenian family that produced architects in the service of the Ottoman dynasty.  During the 19th century, architects from this family constructed numerous palaces, pavilions, and mosques in Istanbul.  They played leading roles in the Westernization of Ottoman architecture, synthesizing Western forms with Ottoman style. 

(1) Krikor Amira Balian (1764-1831) served as the court architect of Selim III and Mahmud II.  His works included the barracks of Selimiye (1800) and Davutpasa (1827), the Aynalikavak Palace, the Besiktas Palace, the old Ciragan Palace, and the Nusretiye Mosque.
(2) Senekerim Balian (?-1833) was the younger brother of Krikor Balian.  He constructed the Bayazid fire tower.
(3) Garabet Amira Balian (1800-1866) was the son of Krikor Balian.  He replaced his father as the court architect and served Mahmud II, Abdulmecid, and Abdulaziz.  Garabet Balian constructed the Armenian hospital (1832-1834), three Armenian churches (1834-1838), the mausoleum of Mahmud II (1840), two factories (1842-1843), the Ortakoy Mosque (1854), and the Dolmabahce Palace (1853-1855).
(4) Nkogos Balian (1826-1858) was the son of Garabet Balian.  He received an education in architecture in Paris (Ecole Sainte Barbe).  Later he acted as adviser of Sultan Abdulmecid on arts and founded a school in order to introduce Western architectural information to Ottoman architects.  Nkogos Balian assisted his father with the construction of the Ortakoy Mosque and the Dolmabahce Palace.  He built the Ihlamur Palace and the Kucuksu Palace in his own right.
(5) Sarkis Balian (1835-1899) was the son of Garabet Balian.  He went with his brother to Paris to continue his education in architecture at the Ecole Sainte Barbe.  After returning to Istanbul, Sarkis Balian worked as a contractor on his younger brother Agob Balian’s projects.  The death of his brother and the reign of Abdulhamid II interrupted his professional life.  Political accusations forced him to go to Paris.  He returned to Istanbul only toward the end of his life.
(6) Agob Balian (1838-1875) was the son of Garabet Balian.  He graduated from the Ecole Sainte Barbe.  Agob Balian designed the Beylerbeyi Palace (1865), the Ciragan Palace (1863-1871), the Palace of Valide Sultan, the Dolmabahce Mosque (1876), the Zeytinburnu Gunpowder Factory (1874), the residential blocks of Akaretler (1874), the buildings of the Ministry of War, the Imperial Medical School and the Makrukian School.  Agob Balian played an important role in Armenian communal life.  He acted as a patron of Armenian authors and musicians and was a member of the Patriarchal Assembly.

Balian, Garabed
An Armenian Ottoman architect.

Garabed Amira Balian (1800-1866), the son of Krikor Balian, was the most prolific builder of the Balian family, the imperial Ottoman architects.  In 1836, he was conferred all of his father’s court privileges.  In keeping with the modernization efforts in the Ottoman Empire, Garabed became the architect of new schools, hospitals, barracks, reservoirs, and factories.  The factory buildings he designed testify to the program to introduce industrial manufacturing in the Ottoman Empire.  The Imperial Textile Mill at Hereke was originally built for the Armenian brothers Ohannes and Boghos Dadian in 1843 before Sultan Abdulmejid (1839-1861) acquired it.  A year earlier, in 1842, Garabed had built the broadcloth mill at Izmit for Ohannes Bey Dadian, who held the office of director of the state gunpowder factory, and who was one of Turkey’s first industrial entrepreneurs.  Garabed also built the iron and steel foundry at Zeytinburnu, which Sultan Abdulmejid had instructed Ohannes Dadian to construct.  Similarly, Garabed raised the cotton mille at Bakirkoy for Ohannes Dadian in 1850.

While these early factories were first constructed by private Armenian industrialists and later acquired by the state, most of the other structures designed by Garabed were government commissions.  The new building of the Imperial War Academy for the training of military officers went up in 1846.  That same year the sultan himself inaugurated the opening of the Imperial Medical School, the first modern medical facility in the Ottoman Empire.  Abdulmejid also attended the 1849 opening ceremonies of the Gumushsuyu military hospital of the artillery corps.  The new Imperial Engineering College for the training of artillery officers was constructed in 1850.  Earlier in 1837-1839, at the command of Sultan Abdulmejid, Garabed had re-constructed in stone the Kuleli cavalry barracks, so-called for the spired towers, which stand at the two ends of the building.  Garabed also reconstructed in stone the Gumushsuyu imperial barracks which housed the military music school where the court musicians were trained.

Garabed Balian’s greatest architectural achievements, however, were reserved for the imperial family.  The mausoleum of Mahmut II, completed in 1840, while Ottoman in form, was wholly European in spirit with its large round arched windows and pilasters topped with Ionic capitals.  Like the elegant Dolmabahche Bezmialem Valide Sultan mosque was an exercise in neo-classical restraint.  On the other hand, Garabed’s developed style, which was heavily influenced by contemporary French architecture, acquired its grandest expression in the imperial residences he constructed.  The first of these was the old Chiraghan palace built between 1835-1843 with a colonnaded façade and a central neo-classical portico. In 1855, Garabed also designed a pair of comparatively modest residences for the Abdulmejid’s daughters known as the Jemile Sultan and Munire Sultan Palaces.

The residences of the imperial household paled in comparison to the Dolmabahche Palace, Garabed Bey Balian’s architectural triumph.  Built between 1849 and 1856 at the command of Sultan Abdulmejid, the Dolmabahche is the grandest structure designed in the Ottoman Empire during the 19th century.  Its opulence stood as much as a symbol of Ottoman power and the empire’s entry in the Concert of Europe as of the profligacy of the sultan whose extraordinary expenditure on the palace bankrupted the state treasury. Sitting astride the Bosphorus, the main building of the palace consists of a large central structure whose façade is articulated with a flourish of detail and a series of both freestanding columns and pilasters.  Extending from both sides are two lower wings whose length is used to advantage by a pattern of recesses alternating with porticoes with windows stretching end to end to capture the light of the sun and the glimmer of the sea.  Reflective of the contemporary French Empire style, the ornateness of the palace made it wholly unique.

The real splendor of the palace, however, was to be found in the interior.  Its sumptuous halls brought the art of palatial design to an unequaled level of intricate and colorful ornamentation.  While the walls and ceilings of numerous reception rooms were given detailed attention, none surpassed the exceeding grandeur of the audience hall. A dome covers the great space of the throne room.  Resting upon a set of arches supported by 56 columns arranged in pairs and quadruplets bearing Corinthian capitals, it rises 36 meters from the floor.  It was in this hall on December 23, 1876, in the presence of the eminencies of the empire that 34 year old Sultan Abdul Hamid II (Abdulhamit II) (1876-1909) proclaimed the Ottoman Constitution.

Garabed relied on the services of many Armenians for the construction of the Dolmabahche palace.  His son Nigoghos Balian worked together with him in the design and construction of the palace.  The grand audience hall was Nigoghos’ feat.  Bedros Nemtse (1830-1913) served as the assistant architect.  The iron gates of the fantastic portals that guard the palace grounds were the products of Krikor Malakian.  Neshan Tashjian shipped the marble used for the palace from Malta.  Bedros Sirabian, known as Monsieur Pierre, did the gilded decorations of the interior.  The chief court painter, Haji Megirdich Chrakian, designed the wall paintings.  Ohannes Ajemian and David Triantz accomplished the wall and ceiling decorations.  Kapriyel Kalfa Megirdichian did the painting of the ceiling of the audience hall.

Garabed was also the architect of a number of Armenian churches, including Surp Sarkis in the Armenian village of Bandirma, Saint Mary’s in Beshiktash, Holy Cross in Kurucheshme, Holy Trinity in Galatasaray, and Saint James in Zeytinburnu, all in an Italianate Baroque style.  He was also active in Armenian community affairs.  He and his brother-in-law Ohannes Amira Serverian, who worked with Garabed as part of the team consisting of his sons, met the expenses of the Jemaran Armenian school, which they established in Uskudar in 1838. In 1854, he opened a school for agricultural technicians beside the Armenian Church of Holy Savior in Yedikule. In 1858, he and Boghos Bey Dadian were instrumental in opening Saint James Monastery and a seminary for the education of priests. He also built and contributed to the financing of the Yedikule Armenian Hospital, which had been established by Kazaz Artin Amira Bezjian in 1832-1834.  He also financed the publication of books by several authors and established endowments for churches and an educational foundation.

Baradai, Muhammad Mustafa al-
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (1997-2009) and 2005 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Muhammad Mustafa al-Baradai (Mohamed Mustafa ElBaradei) was born on June 17, 1942, and raised in Cairo, Egypt. He was one of five children of Mustafa al-Baradai (Mostafa ElBaradei), an attorney who headed the Egyptian Bar Association and often found himself at odds with the regime of President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Al-Baradai's father was also a supporter of democratic rights in Egypt, supporting a free press and a legal system that was independent.

Al-Baradai earned a bachelor's degree in law from the University of Cairo in 1962, followed by a DEA degree in International law from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva and a J.S.D. in International Law from New York University School of Law in 1974.

Al-Baradai's diplomatic career began in 1964 in the Ministry of External Affairs, where he served in the Permanent Missions of Egypt to the United Nations in New York and in Geneva, in charge of political, legal, and arms control issues. From 1974 to 1978, he was a special assistant to the Foreign Minister. In 1980, he became a senior fellow in charge of the International Law Program at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. From 1981 to 1987, he was also an Adjunct Professor of International Law at New York University School of Law.

In 1984, al-Baradai became a senior staff member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Secretariat, serving as the Agency's legal adviser (1984 to 1993) and Assistant Director General for External Relations (1993 to 1997).  He began serving as Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency based in Vienna on December 1, 1997, succeeding Hans Blix of Sweden. He was re-elected for two more four-year terms in 2001 and 2005. His third and last term ended in November 2009. Al-Baradai's tenure was marked by high profile non-proliferation issues including the inspections in Iraq preceding the March 2003 invasion and tensions over the nuclear program of Iran.

Just a couple of months before Dr. Elbaradei took office, the Model Additional Protocol was adopted, creating a new environment for IAEA verification by giving it greater authority to look for undeclared nuclear activities. Once in office, al-Baradai launched a program to establish “integrated safeguards” combining the IAEA’s comprehensive safeguard agreements with the newly adopted Additional Protocol.

Al-Baradai’s first term ended in November 2001, just two months after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. These attacks made clear that more needed to be done to protect nuclear material and installations against theft or a terrorist attack. As a consequence, al-Baradai established a nuclear security program to combat the risk of nuclear terrorism by assisting Member States in strengthening the physical protection of their nuclear and radioactive material and installations.

One of the major issues during al-Baradai’s second term as the Director General of the IAEA was the Agency’s inspections in Iraq. Al-Baradai disputed the United States rationale for the 2003 invasion of Iraq from the time of the 2002 Iraq disarmament crisis, when he, along with Hans Blix, led a team of United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq. Al-Baradai told the United Nations Security Council in March 2003 that documents purporting to show that Iraq had tried to acquire uranium from Niger were not authentic.

Al-Baradai described the United States invasion of Iraq as "a glaring example of how, in many cases, the use of force exacerbates the problem rather than solving it." Al-Baradai further said "we learned from Iraq that an inspection takes time, that we should be patient, that an inspection can, in fact, work," and that he had "been validated" in concluding that Saddam Hussein had not revived his nuclear weapons program.

In a 2004 op-ed piece on the dangers of nuclear proliferation, in the New York Times (February 12, 2004), al-Baradai stated "We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction, yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security - and indeed to continue to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use."

The United States initially voiced opposition to al-Baradai's election to a third four-year term in 2005. Indeed, the Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton engaged in an underhanded campaign to unseat al-Baradai that including the Bush administration's interception of dozens of al-Baradai’s phone calls with Iranian diplomats and the scrutinizing of them for evidence they could use to force al-Baradai out.

The United States was the only country to oppose al-Baradai's re-appointment and eventually failed to win enough support from other countries to oust al-Baradai. On June 9, 2005, after a meeting between United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and al-Baradai, the United States dropped its objections. Among the countries that supported al-Baradai were China, Russia, Germany and France. China praised his leadership and objectivity; France, Germany, and some developing countries made clear their support for al-Baradai as well; and Russia issued a strong statement in favor of re-electing him as soon as possible.

Al-Baradai was unanimously re-appointed by the IAEA Board on June 13, 2005.

In 2008, al-Baradai said he would not be seeking a fourth term as Director General. In its first five rounds of voting, the IAEA Board of Governors split on a decision of who should next fill the role of Director General. After several rounds of voting, on July 3, 2009, Mr. Yukiya Amano, Japanese Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, was elected as the next IAEA Director General.

The International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors and United Nations Security Council commended al-Baradai for "professional and impartial efforts" to resolve all outstanding issues with Iran. The Non-Aligned Movement also reiterated "its full confidence in the impartiality and professionalism of the Secretariat of the IAEA."

Al-Baradai highlighted the lack of evidence to prove that Iran was after a nuclear bomb and noted that Iran was meeting its obligations to allow inspectors into its nuclear sites. It was also noted that the IAEA chief consistently verified non-diversion in Iran's nuclear program and that there was no military aspect in Iran's nuclear program. 

On January 27, 2011, al-Baradai returned to Egypt amid ongoing turmoil, with the biggest mass protests in 30 years, which had begun two days earlier, on the 25th January 25, 2011. Al-Baradai declared himself ready to lead a transitional government if that was the will of the nation.

During his tenure as Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, al-Baradai was recognized with many awards for his efforts to ensure that nuclear energy is used for peaceful purposes, most notably the Nobel Peace Prize.  On October 7, 2005, al-Baradai and the IAEA itself were announced as joint recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize for their "efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy, for peaceful purposes, is used in the safest possible way". Al-Baradai donated all his winnings to building orphanages in his home city of Cairo. Al-Baradai was the fourth Egyptian to receive the Nobel Prize, following Anwar Sadat (1978 in Peace), Naguib Mahfouz (1988 in Literature), and Ahmed Zewail (1999 in Chemistry).

In his Nobel lecture, al-Baradai said that the changing landscape of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament may be defined by the emergence of an extensive black market in nuclear material and equipment, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and sensitive nuclear technology, and the stagnation in nuclear disarmament. To combat proliferation, al-Baradai suggested keeping nuclear and radiological material out of the hands of extremist groups, tightening control over the operations for producing the nuclear material that could be used in weapons, and accelerating disarmament efforts. Al-Baradai also noted that only one percent of the money spent on developing new weapons would be enough to feed the entire world and that, if we hope to escape self-destruction, then nuclear weapons should have no place in our collective conscience, and no role in our security.

Al-Baradai married to Aida El-Kachef, an early childhood teacher. They had two children: a daughter, Laila — a lawyer, and a son, Mustafa (Mostafa), an IT manager.

Bashir, Omar al-
President of Sudan (1993-  ).
Al-Bashir was born on January 1, 1944, in the village Hosh Bannaga, just north of the capital, Khartoum. He comes from Al-Bedairya Al-Dahmashya, a clan of the larger ja'alin tribe in north of Sudan, then part of the Kingdom of Egypt and Sudan. He received his primary education there, and his family later moved to Khartoum where he completed his secondary education. Al-Bashir is married to his cousin Fatima Khalid. He also has a second wife named Widad Babiker Omer, who had a number of children with her first husband Ibrahim Shamsaddin, a member of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation who died in a helicopter crash.

Al-Bashir joined the Sudanese Army in 1960. He studied at the Egyptian Military Academy in Cairo and also graduated from the Sudan Military Academy in Khartoum in 1966. He quickly rose through the ranks and became a paratroop officer. Later, al-Bashir served in the Egyptian Army during the October War (Yom Kippur War) of 1973 against Israel.

In 1975, al-Bashir was sent to the United Arab Emirates as the Sudanese military attaché. After his return home al-Bashir was made a garrison commander. In 1981 al-Bashir returned to his paratroop background when he became the commander of an armored parachute brigade.

Al-Bashir came to power in 1989 when he, as a brigadier in the Sudanese army, led a group of officers in a bloodless military coup that ousted the government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi.

On October 16, 1993, al-Bashir's powers increased when he appointed himself President of the country, after which he disbanded the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation and all other rival political parties. The executive and legislative powers of the council were later given to al-Bashir completely. In the early 1990s, al-Bashir's administration gave the green light to float a new currency called Sudanese Dinar to replace the battered old Sudanese Pound that had lost 90 percent of its worth during the turbulent 1980s. He was later elected president (with a five-year term) in the 1996 national election, where he was the only candidate by law to run for election and Hassan al-Turabi was elected to a seat in the National Assembly where he served as speaker of the National Assembly "during the 1990s."

In 1998, al-Bashir and the Presidential Committee put into effect a new constitution, allowing limited political associations in opposition to al-Bashir's National Congress Party and his supporters to be formed. However, these groups failed to gain any significant access to governmental power until the Darfur conflict became a subject.

In the mid-1990s, a feud between al-Bashir and al-Turabi began, mostly due to al-Turabi's links to Islamic fundamentalist groups, as well as allowing them to operate out of Sudan, even personally inviting Osama bin Laden to the country. On December 12, 1999, al-Bashir sent troops and tanks against parliament and ousted Hassan al-Turabi, the speaker of parliament, in a palace coup.  Despite receiving international criticism regarding such internal conflicts, Omar al-Bashir managed to achieve economic growth in Sudan. This was partly because of the drilling and trading of oil from Southern Sudan.

Beginning in 1993, the United States listed Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, mostly due to al-Bashir and Hassan al-Turabi taking complete power in the early 1990s.  Beginning in 1997, United States firms were barred from doing business in Sudan. In 1998, the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum was destroyed by a United States cruise missile strike because of its alleged production of chemical weapons and links to al-Qaeda. However, the United States State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research wrote a report in 1999 questioning the attack on the factory, suggesting that the connection to bin Laden was not accurate.

After being re-elected President of Sudan with a five-year-term in the 1996 election with 75.7 percent of the votes, al-Bashir allowed the registration of legalized political parties in 1999 after being influenced by al-Turabi. Rival parties such as the Liberal Democrats of Sudan and the Alliance of the Peoples' Working Forces, headed by former Sudanese President Gaafar Nimeiry, were established and were allowed to run for election against al-Bashir's National Congress Party.  However, they failed to achieve significant support, and al-Bashir was re-elected President, receiving 86.5 percent of the vote in the 2000 presidential election. At the legislative elections that same year, al-Bashir's National Congress Party won 355 out of 360 seats, with al-Turabi as its chairman. However, after al-Turabi introduced a bill to reduce the president's powers, prompting al-Bashir to dissolve parliament and declare a state of emergency, tensions began to rise between al-Bashir and al-Turabi. Reportedly, al-Turabi was suspended as Chairman of National Congress Party, after he urged a boycott of the President's re-election campaign. Then, a splinter-faction led by al-Turabi, the Popular National Congress Party (PNC) signed an agreement with the Sudan People's Liberation Army, which led al-Bashir to believe that they were plotting to overthrow him and the government.

Further on, al-Turabi's influence and that of his party's "'internationalist' and ideological wing" waned "in favor of the 'nationalist' or more pragmatic leaders who focused on trying to recover from Sudan's disastrous international isolation and economic damage that resulted from ideological adventurism." At the same time Sudan worked to appease the United States and other international critics by expelling members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and encouraging bin Laden to leave.

On al-Bashir's orders, al-Turabi was imprisoned based on allegations of conspiracy in 2000 before being released in October 2003. He was again imprisoned in the Kober (Cooper) prison in Khartoum in March 2004. He was released on June 28, 2005.

Civil war had raged between the northern and southern halves of the country for over 19 years.  Ostensibly, the war was between the northern Arab tribes and native southern African tribes, but the war soon effectively developed into a struggle between the Sudan People's Liberation Army and al-Bashir's government. The war resulted in millions of southerners being displaced, starved, and deprived of education and health care, with almost two million casualties. Because of these actions, various international sanctions were placed on Sudan. International pressure intensified in 2001, however, and leaders from the United Nations called for al-Bashir to make efforts to end the conflict and allow humanitarian and international workers to deliver relief to the southern regions of Sudan. Much progress was made throughout 2003. The peace was consolidated with the official signing by both sides of the Nairobi Comprehensive Peace Agreement on January 9 2005, granting Southern Sudan autonomy for six years, to be followed by a referendum about independence. It created a co-vice president position and allowed the north and south to split oil deposits equally, but also left both the north's and south's armies in place. John Garang, the south's peace agreement appointed co-vice president died in a helicopter crash on August 1, 2005, three weeks after being sworn in. This resulted in riots, but the peace was eventually re-established and allowed the southerners to vote in a referendum of independence at the end of the six year period, which will be in 2011.

In early 2003, as the conflict in the south of Sudan began to subside, a new conflict had already begun in the western province of Darfur in early 2003. Unlike the Second Sudanese Civil War, this was an ethnic, rather than a religious war. The ethnic cleansing towards the non-Arab population by the Janjaweed militia reportedly reached a death toll between 200,000 to 400,000.

After 2004, the Sudanese government was accused of suppressing information by jailing and killing witnesses, and tampering with evidence, such as covering up mass graves. The Sudanese government also arrested and harassed journalists, thus limiting the extent of press coverage of the situation in Darfur. While the United States government described the conflict as genocide, the United Nations did not recognize the conflict as such.

In March 2007 the United Nations mission accused Sudan's government of orchestrating and taking part in "gross violations" in Darfur and called for urgent international action to protect civilians there. After fighting stopped in July and August, on August 31, 2006, the United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 1706 which called for a new 20,600-troop United Nations peacekeeping force called UNAMID to supplant or supplement a poorly funded and ill-equipped 7,000-troop African Union Mission in Sudan peacekeeping force. Sudan strongly objected to the resolution and said that it would see the United Nations forces in the region as foreign invaders. The next day, the Sudanese military launched a major offensive in the region.

The United States Government claimed in September 2004 "that genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the Government of Sudan and the Janjaweed bear responsibility and that genocide may still be occurring." Al-Bashir declared that the government had quashed the rebellion in February 2004, but rebels still operate within the region and the death toll continues to rise.

On June 29, 2004, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell met with al-Bashir in Sudan and urged him to make peace with the rebels, end the crisis, and lift restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid to Darfur. Kofi Annan met with al-Bashir three days later and demanded that he disarm the Janjaweed. A high-level technical consultation was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on June 11-12, 2007, pursuant to the June 4, 2007 letters of the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, which were addressed to al-Bashir. The technical consultations were attended by delegations from the Government of Sudan, the African Union and the United Nations.

On July 14, 2008, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno Ocampo, alleged that al-Bashir bore individual criminal responsibility for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed since 2003 in Darfur. The prosecutor accused al-Bashir of having "masterminded and implemented" a plan to destroy the three main ethnic groups, the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa, with a campaign of murder, rape and deportation. The arrest warrant was supported by NATO, the Genocide Intervention Network, and Amnesty International.

An arrest warrant for al-Bashir was issued on March 4, 2009, by a three judge Pre-Trial chamber indicting him on five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape) and two counts of war crimes (pillaging and intentionally directing attacks against civilians). The court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him for genocide. However, one of the three judges wrote a dissenting opinion arguing that there were "reasonable grounds to believe that Omar Al Bashir has committed the crime of genocide".

Sudan was not a state party to the Rome Statute establishing the ICC, and thus claimed that it did not have to execute the warrant. However, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1593 (2005) required Sudan to cooperate with the ICC, and therefore the ICC, Amnesty International and others insisted that Sudan must comply with the arrest warrant of the International Criminal Court. Amnesty International demanded that al-Bashir turn himself in to face the charges, and that the Sudanese authorities detain him and turn him over to the ICC.

Al-Bashir was the first sitting head of state ever indicted by the ICC. However, the Arab League and the African Union condemned the warrant. Subsequently, al-Bashir visited Egypt and Qatar. Both countries refused to arrest him and surrender him to the ICC. Luis Moreno Ocampo and Amnesty International claimed that al-Bashir's plane could be intercepted in International Airspace. Sudan announced that the presidential plane would always be escorted by fighter jets of the Sudanese Air Force to prevent his arrest.

The Sudanese government retaliated against the warrant by expelling a number of international aid agencies, including Oxfam and Mercy Corps. President Bashir described the aid agencies as thieves who take "99 percent of the budget for humanitarian work themselves, giving the people of Darfur 1 percent" and as spies in the work of foreign regimes. Bashir promised that national agencies will provide aid to Darfur.

During a visit to Egypt, al-Bashir was not arrested, leading to condemnation by Amnesty International. In October 2009 al-Bashir was invited to Uganda by President Yoweri Museveni for an African Union meeting in Kampala, but did not attend after protest by several NGOs. On October 23, 2009, al-Bashir was invited to Nigeria by President Umaru Yar'Adua for another AU meeting, and was not arrested. In November, he was invited to Turkey for an OIC meeting. Later, he was invited to Denmark to attend conferences on climate change in Copenhagen.

Al-Bashir was one of the candidates in the 2010 Sudanese presidential election, the first democratic election with multiple political parties participating in decades. On April 26, he was officially declared the winner after Sudan's election commission announced Bashir received 68% of the votes. However, the voting was marred by boycotts and reports of intimidation and widespread fraud.

The initial ICC charges against al-Bashir, which included seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, were issued in March 2009 but did not include genocide counts. On appeal, the lower court was found by appellate judge Erkki Kourula to have erred in law and was ordered to reexamine the evidence for genocide. Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo anticipated that the reexamination could lead to charges within four to twelve months. Then, on February 3, 2010, the judges at the International Criminal Court held that the Pre-Trial Chamber had improperly dismissed the genocide charges against al-Bashir and ordered the Pre-Trial Chamber to reconsider them.

On July 12, 2010, the Pre-Trial Chamber applied the standard of evidence stated by the appellate court, and held that there was sufficient evidence to issue a second arrest warrant for the crime of genocide. A second arrest warrant for President al-Bashir was later issued with three added counts of genocide.

Begada, Mahmud
Sultan of Gujarat.

Abu'l Fath Nasir-ud-Din Mahmud Shah I, popularly known as Mahmud Begada (reigned May 25, 1458 –November 23, 1511) was the most prominent sultan of Gujarat. He was the great-grandson of Ahmad Shah I, the founder of the Muzaffarid dynasty, and of the city of Ahmedabad in the present-day state of Gujarat, India. He was known to be quite religious. By his conquests, he expanded the territory of the Gujarat Sultanate to its maximum until its conquest of Malwa. He ruled for 43 years. He titled himself, Sultân al-Barr, Sultân al-Bahr, 'Sultan of the Land, and Sultan of the Sea'.

One of his initial conquests was an attempt to quash the Khichi Chauhan Rajputs who held the Pavagadh fort. The young Sultan, after laying siege for 20 months, conquered the fort on November 21, 1484. He then transferred his capital to Champaner which he completely rebuilt at the foothills of the Pavagadh fort, calling it Muhammadabad. It took 23 years to build the town. The town finally succumbed to attacks from the Mughal Emperor Humayun in 1535.

The town derives its name from the Champa tree, or from Champaraj founder of the town, a contemporary of King Vanraj Chavda of Anhilwada. Champaner is today the site of the Champaner-Pavagadh Archeological Park, which is on UNESCO's List of World Heritage Sites in Asia and Australasia, and is situated about 47 km from the city of Vadodara.

Sultan Begada also built a magnificent Jama Masjid in Champaner, which ranks amongst the finest architectural edifices in Gujarat. It is an imposing structure on a high plinth with two tall minarets 30 feet tall, 172 pillars and seven mihrabs. The central dome, the placement of balconies and carved entrance gates with fine stone jalis.

The Sultan is also known to have built the famous Hindu temple at Dwarka.

The Sultan is credited with capturing the island of Bombay from the Koli (fisherman) tribe, before one of his descendants Bahadur Shah, handed the island over to the Portuguese in 1535.

He laid the foundation of the city of Mahmudabad (now Junagadh) in 1479. Strong embankments were raised along the river, and the city was adorned with a palace, handsome buildings and extensive gardens.

The Sultan was ambitious and contacted the Ottoman Empire and the Sultan of Cairo to obtain reinforcements for a Muslim conquest of India. It is during his reign that the famous Battle of Diu took place.

One of his religious teachers was Imam al din `Abd al Raheem, also known as Sayyid Imam Shah, the founder of the Imam-Shahi faith.

The Sultan is believed to have died of natural causes in 1511, and is buried next to his Queen, in the Dargah at Sarkhej, about 8 km south-west of Ahmedabad in an elegant architectural complex.

Bektasi Order

Non-Sunni Sufi order that incorporated pre-Islamic Anatolian and Central Asian religious practices into a syncretistic system that constituted the basis of Anatolian and Balkan heterodoxy.  Its syncretistic character turned Bektasi-ism into a religious order liberal in its practices and tolerant of other beliefs.  As a movement, it originated from Babai-ism and the Haydari order.  It was developed by Abdal Musa and Balim Sultan into an independent order between the 13th and 16th centuries.  Haci Bektas is considered to be the patron saint (pir) of Bektasi-ism, though historically he was not its founder.  The order became particularly important when Bektasi-ism established itself in the Janissary corps.  Due to this connection, Bektasi-ism remained on good terms with the Ottoman state, despite its non-Sunni character, until 1826.   When the Janissary corps was dissolved in the Auspicious Event, Bektasi-ism was declared illegal and its adherents were persecuted.  Only from 1908 onward could Bektasi-ism publicly seek rehabilitation.


The indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley.

The Berbers are discontinuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke various Berber languages, which together form a branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Due to European colonization of the Maghrib, today Arabic is spoken almost universally by Berbers, along with Darija, as well as French (in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria) and some Spanish (in Western Sahara and parts of Morocco). Today most Berber-speaking people live in Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Mali and Niger.

Many Berbers call themselves some variant of the word Imazighen (singular: Amazigh), possibly meaning "free people" or "free and noble men" (the word has probably an ancient parallel in the Roman name for some of the Berbers, "Mazices").

The best known of the ancient Berbers were the Numidian king Masinissa, the Roman author Apuleius, Saint Augustine of Hippo, and the Roman general Lusius Quietus, who was instrumental in defeating the major Jewish revolt of 115–117. Famous Berbers of the Middle Ages included Tariq ibn Ziyad, a general who conquered Hispania; Abbas Ibn Firnas, a prolific inventor and early pioneer in aviation; Ibn Battuta, a medieval explorer who traveled the longest known distances in pre-modern times; and Estevanico, an early explorer of the Americas. Well-known modern Berbers include Zinedine Zidane, a French-born international football (soccer) star, and Ibrahim Afellay a Dutch-born footballer (soccer player).
Because the term Berber appeared for the first time after the end of the Roman Empire, the relevance of its use for the previous period is not accepted by all historians of antiquity.

Historically, Berbers have been known by variously terms, for instance, as Meshwesh or Mashewesh by the Egyptians, as the Libyans by the ancient Greeks, as Numidians and Mauri by the Romans, and as Moors by medieval and early modern Europeans. The modern English term, Berber, is probably borrowed from Italian or Arabic, but the deeper etymology of this word is not certain. The use of the term Berber spread in the period following the arrival of the Vandals during their major invasions. The history of a Roman consul in Africa made reference for the first time to the term "barbarian" to describe Numidia. Muslim historians, some time after, also mentioned the Berbers.

Northern African cave paintings, dating back 12 000 years, have been found at Tadrart Acacus in Libya. A Neolithic culture, marked by animal domestication and subsistence agriculture, developed in the Saharan and Mediterranean region (the Maghreb) of northern Africa between 6000 B.C.T. and 2000 B.C.T. This type of life, richly depicted in the Tassili n'Ajjer cave paintings of southeastern Algeria, predominated in the Maghreb until the classical period.

The Berbers have lived in North Africa between western Egypt and the Atlantic Ocean for as far back as records of the area go. Evidence of these early inhabitants of the region are found on the rock art across the Sahara. References to them also occur often in ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman sources. Berber groups are first mentioned in writing by the ancient Egyptians during the Pre-dynastic Period, and during the New Kingdom the Egyptians later fought against the Meshwesh and Libu tribes on their western borders. From about 945 B.C.T. the Egyptians were ruled by Meshwesh immigrants who founded the Twenty-second Dynasty under Shoshenq I, beginning a long period of Berber rule in Egypt. The Berbers long remained the main population of the Western Desert; the Byzantine chroniclers often complained of the Mazikes (Amazigh) raiding outlying monasteries there.

For many centuries the Berbers inhabited the coast of North Africa from Egypt to the Atlantic Ocean. Over time, the coastal regions of North Africa saw a long parade of invaders and colonists including Phoenicians (who founded Carthage), Greeks (mainly in Cyrene, Libya), Romans, Vandals and Alans, Byzantines, Arabs, Ottomans, and the French and Spanish. Most if not all of these invaders have left some imprint upon the modern Berbers, as have slaves from the coasts of Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, England, Ireland, Scotland and as far north as Iceland, particularly during the Barbary Slave Trade (some estimates place the number of European slaves brought to North Africa during the Ottoman period as high as 1.25 million). Interactions with neighboring Sudanic empires, sub-Saharan Africans, and nomads from East Africa also left impressions upon the Berber peoples. In historical times, the Berbers expanded south into the Sahara (displacing earlier populations such as the Azer and Bafour), and have in turn been mainly culturally assimilated in much of North Africa by Arabs, particularly following the incursion of the Banu Hilal in the 11th century.

The areas of North Africa which retained the Berber language and traditions have, in general, been the highlands of Kabylie and Morocco, most of which in Roman and Ottoman times remained largely independent, and where the Phoenicians never penetrated far beyond the coast. These areas have been affected by some of the many invasions of North Africa, most recently that of the French.

Some pre-Islamic Berbers were Christians (some evolved their own Donatist doctrine), some were Jewish, and some adhered to their traditional polytheist religion. The best known of them were the Roman author Apuleius and St. Augustine. There were three African popes of possible Berber ancestry who came from the Roman province of Africa. Pope Victor I served during the reign of Roman emperor Septimus Severus, who was a North African of Roman/Punic ancestry (perhaps with some Berber blood).

During the pre-Roman era, several successive independent states (Massylii) existed before the king Masinissa unified the people of Numidia.

According to historians of the Middle Ages, the Berbers were divided into two branches (Botr and Barnès), descended from Mazigh ancestors, who were themselves divided into tribes, and again into sub-tribes. Each region of the Maghreb contained several tribes (e.g. Sanhadja, Houaras, Zenata, Masmouda, Kutama, Awarba, Berghwata, etc.). All these tribes had independence and territorial decisions.

Several Berber dynasties emerged during the Middle Ages in the Maghreb, Sudan, Andalusia, Italy, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Egypt, etc. Ibn Khaldun provides a table summarizing the Berber dynasties: Zirid, Banu Ifran, Maghrawa, Almoravid, Hammadid, Almohad, Merinid, Abdalwadid, Wattasid , Meknassa and Hafsid dynasties.

In antiquity, Mauretania was originally an independent Berber kingdom, under king Bocchus I (110-80 B.C.T.), on the Mediterranean coast of north Africa. It was named after the Mauri tribe, after whom the Moors were named much later by Europeans. The kingdom of Mauretania corresponds to western present-day Algeria, and northern present-day Morocco.

Numidia (202 B.C.T.  – 46 B.C.T.) was an ancient Berber kingdom in present-day Algeria and part of Tunisia (North Africa) that later alternated between being a Roman province and being a Roman client state, and is no longer in existence today. It was located on the eastern border of modern Algeria, bordered by the Roman province of Mauretania (in modern day Algeria and Morocco) to the west, the Roman province of Africa (modern day Tunisia) to the east, the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Sahara Desert to the south. Its people were the Numidians.

The name Numidia was first applied by Polybius and other historians during the third century B.C.T. to indicate the territory west of Carthage, including the entire north of Algeria as far as the river Mulucha (Muluya), about 100 miles west of Oran. The Numidians were conceived of as two great tribal groups: the Massylii in eastern Numidia, and the Masaesyli in the west. During the first part of the Second Punic War, the eastern Massylii under their king Gala were allied with Carthage, while the western Masaesyli under king Syphax were allied with Rome. However in 206 B.C.T., the new king of the eastern Massylii, Masinissa, allied himself with Rome, and Syphax of the Masaesyli switched his allegiance to the Carthaginian side. At the end of the war the victorious Romans gave all of Numidia to Masinissa of the Massylii. At the time of his death in 148 B.C.T., Masinissa's territory extended from Mauretania to the boundary of the Carthaginian territory, and also southeast as far as Cyrenaica, so that Numidia entirely surrounded Carthage except towards the sea.

Masinissa was succeeded by his son Micipsa. When Micipsa died in 118 B.C.T., he was succeeded jointly by his two sons Hiempsal I and Adherbal and Masinissa's illegitimate grandson, Jugurtha, of Berber origin, who was very popular among the Numidians. Hiempsal and Jugurtha quarreled immediately after the death of Micipsa. Jugurtha had Hiempsal killed, which led to open war with Adherbal. After Jugurtha defeated him in open battle, Adherbal fled to Rome for help. The Roman officials, allegedly due to bribes but perhaps more likely because of a desire to quickly end conflict in a profitable client kingdom, settled the fight by dividing Numidia into two parts. Jugurtha was assigned the western half. However, soon after conflict broke out again, leading to the Jugurthine War between Rome and Numidia.

Unlike the conquests of previous religions and cultures, the coming of Islam, which was spread by Arabs, was to have pervasive and long-lasting effects on the Maghreb. The new faith, in its various forms, would penetrate nearly all segments of society, bringing with it armies, learned men, and fervent mystics, and in large part replacing tribal practices and loyalties with new social norms and political idioms.

Nevertheless, the Islamization and Arabization of the region were complicated and lengthy processes. Whereas nomadic Berbers were quick to convert and assist the Arab conquerors, not until the 12th century, under the Almohad Dynasty, did the Christian and Jewish communities become marginalized.

The first Arab military expeditions into the Maghrib, between 642 and 669 C.C., resulted in the spread of Islam. These early forays from a base in Egypt occurred under local initiative rather than under orders from the central caliphate. But, when the seat of the caliphate moved from Medina to Damascus, the Umayyads (a Muslim dynasty ruling from 661 to 750) recognized that the strategic necessity of dominating the Mediterranean dictated a concerted military effort on the North African front. In 670, therefore, an Arab army under Uqba ibn Nafi established the town of Qayrawan about 160 kilometers south of present-day Tunis and used it as a base for further operations.

Abu al Muhajir Dinar, Uqba's successor, pushed westward into Algeria and eventually worked out a modus vivendi with Kusaila, the ruler of an extensive confederation of Christian Berbers. Kusaila, who had been based in Tilimsan (Tlemcen), became a Muslim and moved his headquarters to Takirwan, near Al Qayrawan.

However, this harmony was short-lived. Arab and Berber forces controlled the region in turn until 697. By 711, Umayyad forces helped by Berber converts to Islam had conquered all of North Africa. Governors appointed by the Umayyad caliphs ruled from Kairouan, capital of the new wilaya (province) of Ifriqiya, which covered Tripolitania (the western part of present-day Libya), Tunisia, and eastern Algeria.

The spread of Islam among the Berbers did not guarantee their support for the Arab-dominated caliphate due to the discriminatory attitude of the Arabs. The ruling Arabs alienated the Berbers by taxing them heavily; treating converts as second-class Muslims; and, at worst, by enslaving them. As a result, widespread opposition took the form of open revolt in 739-40 under the banner of Kharijite Islam. The Kharijites had been fighting Umayyad rule in the East, and many Berbers were attracted by the sect's seemingly egalitarian precepts.

After the revolt, Kharijites established a number of theocratic tribal kingdoms, most of which had short and troubled histories. But others, like Sijilmasa and Tilimsan, which straddled the principal trade routes, proved more viable and prospered. In 750, the Abbasids, who succeeded the Umayyads as Muslim rulers, moved the caliphate to Baghdad and reestablished caliphal authority in Ifriqiya, appointing Ibrahim ibn al Aghlab as governor in Kairouan. Though nominally serving at the caliph's pleasure, Al Aghlab and his successors, the Aghlabids, ruled independently until 909, presiding over a court that became a center for learning and culture.

Just to the west of Aghlabid lands, Abd ar Rahman ibn Rustam ruled most of the central Maghrib from Tahert, southwest of Algiers. The rulers of the Rustamid imamate, which lasted from 761 to 909, each an Ibadi Kharijite imam, were elected by leading citizens. The imams gained a reputation for honesty, piety, and justice. The court at Tahert was noted for its support of scholarship in mathematics, astronomy, astrology, theology, and law. But the Rustamid imams failed, by choice or by neglect, to organize a reliable standing army. This important factor, accompanied by the dynasty's eventual collapse into decadence, opened the way for Tahert's demise under the assault of the Fatimids.

The Muslims who invaded Iberia in 711 were mainly Berbers, and were led by a Berber, Tariq ibn Ziyad, though under the suzerainty of the Arab Caliph of Damascus Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan and his North African Viceroy, Musa ibn Nusayr. A second mixed army of Arabs and Berbers came in 712 under Ibn Nusayr himself. They supposedly helped the Umayyad caliph Abd ar-Rahman I in Al-Andalus, because his mother was a Berber. During the Taifa era, the petty kings came from a variety of ethnic groups; some—for instance the Zirid kings of Granada—were of Berber origin. The Taifa period ended when a Berber dynasty—the Almoravids from modern-day Morocco—took over Al-Andalus; they were succeeded by the Almohad dynasty from Morocco, during which time al-Andalus flourished.

In the power hierarchy, Berbers were situated between the Arabic aristocracy and the Muladi populace. Ethnic rivalry was one of the most important factors driving Andalusi politics. Berbers made up as much as 20 percent of the population of the occupied territory.

After the fall of the Caliphate, the taifa kingdoms of Toledo, Badajoz, Málaga and Granada had Berber rulers.

Before the 11th century, most of Northwest Africa was a Berber-speaking Muslim area. The process of Arabization only became a major factor with the arrival of the Banu Hilal, a tribe sent by the Fatimids of Egypt to punish the Berber Zirid dynasty for having abandoned Shiism. The Banu Hilal reduced the Zirids to a few coastal towns, and took over much of the plains; their influx was a major factor in the Arabization of the region, and in the spread of nomadism in areas where agriculture had previously been dominant.

Soon after obtaining independence in the middle of the 20th century, the countries of North Africa established Arabic as their official language, replacing French (except in Libya), although the shift from French to Arabic for official purposes continues even to this day. As a result, most Berbers had to study and know Arabic, and had no opportunities until the 21st century to use their mother tongue at school or university. This may have accelerated the existing process of Arabization of Berbers, especially in already bilingual areas, such as among the Chaouis.

Berberism had its roots before the independence of these countries, but was limited to some Berber elite. It only began to gain success when North African states replaced the colonial language with Arabic and identified exclusively as Arab nations, downplaying or ignoring the existence and the cultural specificity of Berbers. However, its distribution remains highly uneven. In response to its demands, Morocco and Algeria have both modified their policies, with Algeria redefining itself constitutionally as an "Arab, Berber, Muslim nation".

Today, Berber is a "national" language in Algeria and is taught in some Berber speaking areas as a non-compulsory language. In Morocco, Berber has no official status, but is now taught as a compulsory language regardless of the area or the ethnicity.

Berbers represent the major ethnic origin in North Africa, although up to perhaps a certain extent interbred with other elements (Arab, Sub-Saharan, Iberian , Punic...), but only about half of the Moroccan population and a third of the Algerian can be identified nowadays as Berber by speaking a Berber language. Nevertheless, the culture of many Arabic-speaking ethnic groups in these countries is very similar to that of their Berber neighbors and often language may be the only difference between Berbers and Arabs in the Maghreb. Thus, very high estimates of Berber population might include ethnic groups which no longer speak a Berber language. There are also smaller Berber populations in Libya and Tunisia, though exact statistics are unavailable and very small groups in Egypt and Mauritania. Tuareg Berber spread southwards to Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. Some 600,000 Tuareg Berbers live in Mali and 400,000 in Niger. Prominent Berber groups include the Kabyles of northern Algeria, who number about 4 million and have kept, to a large degree, their original language and culture; and the Shilha or Chleuh of south Morocco. Other groups include the Riffians of north Morocco, the Shawiya language of Algeria, and the Tuareg of the Sahara. There are about 2.2 million Berber immigrants in Europe, especially the Riffians and the Kabyles in the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

Though stereotyped in the West as nomads, most Berbers were in fact traditionally farmers, living in mountains relatively close to the Mediterranean coast, or oasis dwellers; but the Tuareg and Zenaga of the southern Sahara, were nomadic.

Political tensions have arisen between some Berber groups (especially the Kabyle) and North African governments over the past few decades, partly over linguistic and cultural issues. For instance, in Morocco, giving children Berber names was banned.

Berbers are mostly Sunni Muslim, while the Mozabites of the Saharan Mozabite Valley are mostly Ibadite. Until the 1960s, there was also an important Jewish Berber community in Morocco, but emigration reduced their number to only a few individuals nowadays. Historically, the small minority of Christian Berbers assimilated into French culture and moved to France after independence (with some pied-noirs being of Berber or part-Berber blood), leaving no more than minuscule numbers in North Africa. However, the Kabyle community in Algeria has decent-sized Christian minorities both Protestant and Roman Catholic.

Traditionally, Berber men take care of livestock. They migrate by following the natural cycle of grazing, and seeking water and shelter. They are thus assured with an abundance of wool, cotton and plants used for dyeing. For their part, Berber women look after the family and handicrafts - first for their personal use, and secondly for sale in the souqs in their locality. The Berber tribes traditionally weave kilims. The tapestry maintains the traditional appearance and distinctiveness of the region of origin of each tribe, which has in effect its own repertoire of drawings. The textile of plain weave is represented by a wide variety of stripes, and more rarely by geometrical patterns such as triangles and diamonds. Additional decorations such as sequins or fringes, are typical of Berber weave in Morocco. The nomadic and semi-nomadic lifestyle of the Berbers is very suitable for weaving kilims. The customs and traditions differ from one region to another.

Berksoy, Semiha
Turkish opera singer. 

Semiha Berksoy was born in Cengelkoy, Istanbul, Turkey in 1910.  Her father was an accountant who wrote poetry and her mother was a painter.  Her talents were discovered when she was very young, and her parents sent her to the Istanbul conservatory to study music and visual arts. 

She studied painting at the Istanbul Academy of Fine Arts.  She studied at the Istanbul Municipal Conservatory. 

Berksoy started her acting career in the role of Semiha in the first Turkish sound movie "Istanbul Sokaklarinda" ("Istanbul Sokaklari" - "The Streets of Istanbul") directed by Muhsin Ertugrul in 1931.  She was cast in operettas in Istanbul theaters early in her career.  She sang in the first Turkish opera "Ozsoy" in 1934 (commissioned by Kemal Ataturk, composed by Adnan Saygun).  Ataturk is said to have been stunned by the power of her voice.

Semiha was honored as the First Turkish Opera Singer and awarded with the opportunity to go to Berlin Music Academy for further training.  She started her international singing career in 1934, performing in Turkey, Germany and Portugal, becoming known as a Wagnerian soprano.  In 1939, for the 75th birthday of Richard Strauss in Berlin, she sang the role of Ariadne in "Ariadne auf Naxos," becoming the first Turkish prima donna to perform on stage in Europe. 

Despite her success in Germany, Semiha chose to return to Turkey that year and assist in establishing the first opera house in Ankara.  Back in Turkey, she worked with Carl Ebert, helping him in his efforts to create the Turkish State Opera and Ballet.  This initiative led to the creation of the Experimental Stage of the Ankara State Conservatory in 1940.

Semiha retired from the Istanbul Opera in 1972.  She was decorated with the "Ataturk Opera Award" at the 50th anniversary ceremonies commemorating the introduction of women's rights to vote and to be elected.   She received the title of "State Artist" in Turkey in 1998.  Following her retirement, she remained active mostly as a theater artist.

Four years preceding her death, at the age of 90, Semiha appeared in a dramatic scene singing "Liebestod" in Robert Wilson's opera "The Days Before: Death, Destruction and Detroit III" at the Lincoln Center in New York City.  In 2003, she participated in the Vienna Biennial with her stage interpretation of "Salome," and she was preparing another project, "Beethoven Night," with Robert Wilson, a friend, for 2005.

In addition to her career as a soprano, in which her heavy makeup made her a symbolic image in Turkish culture, Semiha was known internationally for her paintings, which often depicted a little girl, a personification of herself.  Her personal life reflected her revolutionary character.  Semiha never hesitated to visit her lover, the celebrated left-wing Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet, in prison, despite the risk of being laveled a Communist. 

Semiha also appeared onstage in daring costumes, challenging traditional concepts of stage propriety and classical art.  In a stage performance at the Babylon club in Istanbul in November 2000, Semiha joined a percussion group and performed in a wide spectrum of the arts -- from poetry to drawing to drama -- in a transparent self-painted costume.

Semiha Berksoy died on August 15, 2004, in Istanbul at the age of 94 of a pulmonary embolism due to complications related to heart surgery.   She was survived by a daughter, Zeliha Berksoy. 

Besir Fuad
Ottoman author and promoter of enlightenment thought. 

Born in Istanbul, Besir Fuad graduated from the War Academy.  He took an active part in the Russo-Ottoman War of 1877-1878.  He gave up the military profession in 1884 and devoted himself to writing.  As an empiricist and materialist, Besir Fuad advocated the application of mathematics and the empirical sciences to literature and other areas of the humanities.  He rejected romanticism in favor of naturalism.  Committing suicide by cutting his wrists, Besir Fuad took notes and observed his feelings as he approached death.  Besir Fuad’s writings made a deep impact on the rising generation of Ottoman writers, disposing them to naturalism.  His works include Victor Hugo (1884), Beser (“Human Being,” 1885), and Voltaire (1886).

Bhutto, Begum Nusrat
Former First Lady of Pakistan, widow of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and mother assassinated Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Begum Nusrat Bhutto (b. March 23, 1929 – d. October 23, 2011) was an Iranian-Pakistani who was the former First Lady of Pakistan and widow of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. She became her husband's successor as the chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) from 1979 to 1983. She was also the mother of the late PPP chairperson and the first and only female Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto.

Nusrat Ispahnie was born in 1929 in Esfahan, Iran, hailing from the wealthy Hariri Esfahani family in Esfahan. She was said to be of Kurdish descent. However, there are some claims that despite the fact that her family originates from the Kurdistan province in Iran, the Kurdish connection only comes from her grandmother who had married into the Hariri family. Her father was a wealthy Iranian businessman who settled in Karachi, Pakistan. Nusrat met Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in Karachi where they got married on September 8, 1951. She was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's second wife, and they had four children together: Benazir, Murtaza, Sanam and Shahnawaz. With the exception of Sanam, she outlived her children. Benazir's widower and Nusrat's son-in-law Asif Ali Zardari also served as the President of Pakistan.

As first lady from 1973–77, Begum Bhutto functioned as a political hostess and accompanied her husband on a number of overseas visits. In 1979, after the trial and execution of her husband, she succeeded her husband as leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party as chairman for life. She led the PPP's campaign against General Zia ul-Haq's regime. Alongside her daughter Benazir Bhutto, Begum Bhutto was arrested numerous times and placed under house arrest and in prison in Sihala. Begum Bhutto was attacked by police with batons while attending a cricket match at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, when the crowd began to raise pro Bhutto slogans.

In 1982, ill with cancer, she was given permission to leave the country by the military government of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq for medical treatment in London at which point her daughter, Benazir Bhutto, became acting leader of the party, and, by 1984, the party chairman.

After returning to Pakistan in the late 1980s, she served two terms as a Member of Parliament to the National Assembly from the family constituency of Larkana, Sindh.

During the administrations of her daughter Benazir, she became a cabinet minister and Deputy Prime Minister. In the 1990s, she and Benazir became estranged when Nusrat took the side of her son Murtaza during a family dispute but later reconciled after Murtaza's murder. She lived the last few years of her life with her daughter's family in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and later suffered from the combined effects of a stroke and Alzheimer's disease.

Bhutto was suspected of suffering from cancer in 1982, the year when she left Pakistan for medical treatment. For the last several years of her life, she had also been suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. In the mid-1990s, particularly after the death of her son Mir Murtaza Bhutto in 1996, she withdrew from public life. Party sources suggest this may also have coincided with the time that she began to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Bhutto's Alzheimer's disease was so advanced that she was not to recall the assassination of her daughter, Benazir. She used a ventilator until her death on October 23, 2011. Her body was flown to her hometown of Garhi Khuda Bakhsh in Larkana District the next day, Sindh, and was buried next to her husband and children in the family mausoleum at a ceremony attended by thousands of mourners.

Bismillah Khan
Shehnai master from India. 

Bismillah Khan was born on March 21, 1916, the second son of Paigambar Khan and Mitthan.  His birth name was Qamaruddin until his grandfather uttered "Bismillah" after looking at the newborn child. 

His ancestors were court musicians in the princely state of Dumraon in Bihar, India.  He received his training under his uncle, the late 'Ali Baksh 'Vilayatu,' a shehnai player attached to Varanasi's Vishwanath Temple.

Bismillah Khan was a devout Shi'a, but he worshipped goddess Saraswati as well.   He often played at various temples and on the banks of the river Ganga in Varanasi, besides playing outside the famous Vishwanath temple in Varanasi.

Bismillah Khan was perhaps single handedly responsible for making the shehnai a famous classical instrument.  He brought the shehnai to the center stage of Indian music with his concert in the Calcutta All India Music Conference in 1937.  It was Bismillah Khan who poured his heart out into Raga Kafi from the Red Fort on the eve of India's first Republic Day ceremony, on January 26, 1950. 

Bismillah Khan was credited with becoming almost synonymous with the instrument he played.  His recitals became a cultural part of the Independence Day Celebrations telecast on Doordarshan every year on August 15th.  After the Prime Minister's speech from Lal Qila (Red Fort) in Old Delhi, Doordarshan would broadcast live performance by Bismillah Khan. 

Bismillah Khan also had a brief association with movies.  He played the shehnai for Dr. Rajkumar's role of Appanna in the movie Sanaadi Appanna.  He acted in Jalsaghar, a movie by Satyajit Ray and provided sound of shehnai in Goonj Uthi Shehnai.  Noted director Goutam Ghose directed Sange Meel Se Mulaqat, a documentary on the life of Bismillah Khan himself.  Bismillah Khan also played shehnai in the 2004 Hindi movie Swades for the son "Ye Jo Des Hai Tera" and an instrumental version of the same song.

In 2001, Bismillah Khan received the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honor in India.  He was the third classical musician to ever be so honored.  The first two being Ravi Shankar and M. S. Subbulakshmi.

Despite his fame, Bismillah Khan's lifestyle retained its old world Benares charm.  His chief mode of transport was the cycle rickshaw.   A man of tenderness, he believed in remaining private, and that musicians are supposed to be heard but not seen.  He was a pious Shi 'a Muslim and also, like many Indian musicians regardless of creed, a devotee
of Mother Saraswati. 

Where others saw conflict and contradiction between Bismillah Khan's music and religion, Bismillah Khan saw only a divine unity.  Bismillah Khan's concept of music was very beautiful and his vision superb.  He once said, "If the world ends, even then music will still survive." 

Bismillah Khan died on August 21, 2006 due to a cardiac arrest.  He was ninety years old.  He was survived by five sons, three daughters, and a large number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  In his honor, the Government of India declared one day of national mourning.

Bona Sijabat
c. 1800-1862
Chief of the Batak tribe who led the Batak to freedom from oppressive Dutch land ownership.

Bona Sijabat (c.1800 – 1862) was a well-respected and long-time chief of a Batak tribe. Natives of North Sumatra, the Batak tribe was led by Sijabat into a battle that would ultimately result in many deaths, but also in freedom from oppressive Dutch land ownership.

It is not known exactly when or where Sijabat was born, though it is believed that his family had always lived in Samosir. His father was an influential elder of a north Sumatran village at the time of King Singamangaraja, but was killed before Sijabat’s birth. His mother was said to be a strikingly beautiful woman, and as a widow devoted herself to raising her son.

Sijabat first showed an interest in leadership when he was around 8 years old. He would nominate himself to lead hunts for food and resources, despite being one of the younger children in the hunting group. He was strict in his leading, but compassionate in his manner, even for a boy, and many tribe members had beliefs of his father’s reincarnation or spirit being within him.

As a young tribe member, Sijabat excelled in all pursuits. He was skilled with basic weaponry and was known to have a wonderful singing voice. He involved himself in many aspects of tribal life, from religious rituals to song and dance, and even weaving. Some said that without a father figure in his life – he had an inclination towards typically female-oriented tasks. This did not alienate him from his peers, but contrarily earned him respect as a motivated, diverse individual who appealed to all members of his Batak tribe.

It was not long after this time that the tribe’s chief, Sidapitu, fell gravely ill – possibly with what we would now call bowel cancer. Sijabat saw the opportunity to help his revered leader, and worked closely with the chief for many months: first attempting to rid him of his disease, then acting to ensure his comfort during his final days.
Sidapitu had no sons, and as his death approached he asked Sijabat to take his place as the head of the tribe. Sijabat’s modest, humble nature would have him refuse the position, but other tribal elders had seen the compassion and selflessness he had shown Sidapitu and implored him to reconsider.
Sijabat became tribal chief in 1832.

It was around this time that the Dutch began to enter inland Sumatra. They brought with them grazing animals – sheep, cattle and oxen – on the promise of large areas of habitable, vacant property. The locals, as well as nearby tribes, were forced from their homes and many were taken as slaves.
Fierce conflict over the land resulted in much bloodshed, and a great number of slaves died from starvation and widespread disease.

Passive and peace loving by nature, Sijabat felt conflicted by the unrest in Sumatra.  However, he was intensely angered by the Dutch, and was proactive in rallying fighters and leaders from several tribes to reclaim their homes. In May 1840, he led his makeshift army into a great battle, which would later become known as the Battle of Mount Simalungun.

More than one thousand lives were lost, and countless livestock slaughtered.

The Dutch burned tribal villages to the ground before returning to their settlements. They did not return until many decades later, after peaceful grazing had been established in particular areas of Sumatra.

Following the war, Sijabat fathered ten children – of which only one was a son. He established groups of workers to rebuild the villages, and used his own medicinal skills to assist members of the tribes who had been injured in battle.

When Sijabat died of natural causes in 1862, his son took his place as the tribe’s chief, and vowed always to maintain the same compassion and humility as his father. To this day, some small villages hold an annual remembrance ceremony for Bona Sijabat and the profound effect he had on his people and their future.
Bona Sijabat is now a common name given to the eldest child for families of Sumatran Indonesian descent.

Bongo, Omar
Gabonese civil servant, military man, and the President of Gabon from 1967 to 2009.

Bongo, a man of short stature at 4 feet 11 inches (1.5 m), succeeded Gabon's Independence President Leon M'ba upon the latter's death in 1967, to become Gabon's second president. After Cuban President Fidel Castro stepped down in February 2008, Bongo became the world's longest-serving ruler, excluding monarchies.

Bongo headed the single-party regime of the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) until 1990 when, in the face of intense opposition to his rule, multi-party politics was introduced in Gabon. He eventually succeeded in re-consolidating power in the multi-party era and was re-elected in multiparty presidential elections held in 1993, 1998, and 2005. He died in office in 2009.

An ardent Francophile, he was largely praised by French officials as a friend of France and Françafrique, but was criticized for having worked for France, himself, his family and local elites and not for Gabon and its people. For example, despite an oil-led GDP per capita the level of Portugal's, under Bongo, Gabon built only 5 kilometers (3 miles) of freeway a year and still had one of the world's highest infant mortality rates.

The youngest of twelve siblings, Albert-Bernard Bongo was born on December 30, 1935 in Lewai, French Equatorial Africa, a town of the Haut-Ogooué province in what is now southeastern Gabon near the border with the Republic of the Congo. He was a member of the small Bateke ethnic group. Lewai was renamed Bongoville in honor of Bongo's work to develop the town. After his primary and secondary education in Brazzaville (then the capital of French Equatorial Africa), Omar Bongo held a job at the Post and Telecommunications Public Services, before starting his military training. This training allowed him to serve as a second lieutenant and then as a first lieutenant in the Air Force, successively in Brazzaville, Bangui and Fort Lamy (present-day N'djamena, Chad). He was honorably discharged as a captain.

After Gabon's independence in 1960, Albert-Bernard Bongo started his political career, gradually rising through a succession of positions under President Léon M'ba. Bongo campaigned for M. Sandoungout in Haut Ogooué in the 1961 parliamentary election, choosing not to run for election in his own right. Sandoungout was elected and became Minister of Health. Bongo worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a time, and he was named Assistant Director of the Presidential Cabinet in March 1962. Bongo was named Director seven months later. In 1964, during the only coup attempt in Gabon's history, M'ba was kidnapped and Bongo was held in a military camp in Libreville. M'ba was restored to power two days later.

On September 24, 1965, Bongo was appointed as Presidential Representative and placed in charge of defense and coordination. He was then Minister of Information and Tourism, initially on an interim basis, then formally holding the position in August 1966. M'ba, whose health was declining, appointed Bongo as Vice-President of Gabon on November 12, 1966. In the presidential election held on March 19, 1967, M'ba was re-elected as President and Bongo was elected alongside him as Vice-President. According to Bongo, due to "M'ba's long absence from political life", he essentially carried out the functions of the President while serving as Vice-President.

Bongo became President on December 2, 1967, following the death of M'ba four days earlier.  At the then age of 31, Bongo was Africa's fourth youngest president at the time. In March 1968 Bongo decreed Gabon to be a one-party state and changed the name of Gabon's Independence Party, the Bloc Democratique Gabonais (BDG), to the Parti Democratique Gabonais (PDG), or Gabon Democratic Party.

In the 1973 elections for the national assembly and the presidency, Bongo was the sole candidate for president. He and all PDG candidates were elected by 99.56% of the votes cast. In April 1975, Bongo abolished the post of vice-president and appointed his former vice-president, Leon Mebiame, as prime minister, a position Bongo had held concurrently with his presidency from 1967. Mebiame would remain as prime minister until his resignation in 1990. In addition to the presidency, Bongo held several ministerial portfolios from 1967 onward, including Minister of Defense (1967-1981), Information (1967-1980), Planning (1967-1977), Prime Minister (1967-1975), the Interior (1967-1970), and many others. Following a Congress of the PDG in January 1979 and the December 1979 elections, Bongo gave up some of his ministerial portfolios and surrendered his functions as head of government to Prime Minister Mebiame. The PDG congress had criticized Bongo's administration for inefficiency and called for an end to the holding of multiple offices. Bongo was again re-elected for a seven-year term in 1979, receiving 99.96% of the popular vote.

Opposition to President Bongo's regime first appeared in the late 1970s, as economic difficulties became more acute for the Gabonese. The first organized, but illegal, opposition party was MORENA, the Movement for National Restoration (Mouvement de redressement national). This moderate opposition group sponsored demonstrations by students and academic staff at the Universite Omar Bongo in Libreville in December of 1981, when the university was temporarily closed. MORENA accused Bongo of corruption and personal extravagance and of favoring his own Bateke tribe; the group demanded that a multi-party system be restored. Arrests were made in February 1982, when the opposition distributed leaflets criticizing the Bongo regime during a visit by Pope John Paul II. In November 1982, 37 MORENA members were tried and convicted of offenses against state security. Severe sentences were handed out, including 20 years of hard labor for 13 of the defendants. All were pardoned, however, and released by mid-1986.

Despite these pressures, Omar Bongo remained committed to one-party rule. In 1985, legislative elections were held which followed past procedures; all nominations were approved by PDG, which then presented a single list of candidates. The candidates were ratified by popular vote on 3 March 1985. In November 1986 Bongo was re-elected by 99.97% of the popular vote.

On May 22, 1990, after strikes, riots and unrest, the Gabonese Democratic Party PDG central committee and the national assembly approved constitutional amendments to facilitate the transition to a multi-party system. The existing presidential mandate, effective through 1994, was to be respected. Subsequent elections to the presidency would be contested by more than one candidate, and the presidential term of office was changed to five years with a limit of one re-election to the office.

The next day, on May 23, 1990, a vocal critic of Bongo was found dead in a hotel, reportedly murdered by poison. The death of Joseph Rendjambe, a prominent business executive and secretary-general of the opposition group Parti gabonais du progres (PGP), touched off the worst rioting in Bongo's 23-year rule. Presidential buildings in Libreville were set on fire and the French consul-general and ten oil company employees were taken hostage. French troops evacuated foreigners and a state of emergency was declared in Port Gentil, Rendjambe's hometown and a strategic oil production site. During this emergency Gabon's two main oil producers, Elf and Shell, cut output from 270,000 barrels per day to 20,000. Bongo threatened to withdraw their exploration licenses unless they restored normal output, which they soon did. France sent in 500 troops to reinforce the 500-man battalion of Marines permanently stationed in Gabon "to protect the interests of 20,000 resident French nationals." Tanks and troops were deployed around the presidential palace to halt rioters.  With French help, calm was eventually restored.

In December 1993, Bongo won the the first presidential election held under the new multi-party constitution by a considerably narrower margin of around 51.4%. Opposition candidates refused to validate the election results. Serious civil disturbances led to an agreement between the government and opposition factions to work toward a political settlement. These talks led to the Paris Accords in November 1994, under which several opposition figures were included in a government of national unity. This arrangement soon broke down, however, and the 1996 and 1997 legislative and municipal elections provided the backdrop for renewed partisan politics. The PDG won a landslide victory in the legislative election, but several major cities, including Libreville, elected opposition mayors during the 1997 local election. Bongo was eventually successful in consolidating power again, with most of the major opposition leaders being either co-opted by being given high-ranking posts in the government or bought off, ensuring his comfortable re-election in 1998.

In 2003 Bongo secured a change in the Constitution allowing him to seek re-election as many times as he wanted, and changing the Presidential term to seven years, up from five. Bongo's critics accused him of intending to rule for life. In 2005, Bongo won a seven-year term as president in the November 27 election, winning 79.2 percent of the vote, comfortably ahead of his four challengers. He was sworn in for another seven-year term on 19 January 2006 and remained president until his death in 2009.
Omar Bongo's international relations and affairs were dominated by his, and by extension Gabon's, relations with ex-colonizer, France. Gabon fell within the ambit of Françafrique. Bongo is famously reputed to have said: "Gabon without France is like a car with no driver. France without Gabon is like a car with no fuel..." It is not inaccurate to say that his long presidency was in substance a quasi-French colonial governorship.

In 1964 when renegade soldiers arrested him in Libreville and kidnapped president Mba, French paratroopers rescued the abducted president and Mr Bongo, restoring them to power.

In 1987, French aid to Gabon amounted to $360 million. This included subsidizing a third of Gabon's budget, extending low-interest trade loans, paying the salaries of 170 French advisers and 350 French teachers and paying scholarships for most of the roughly 800 Gabonese who study in France every year.  However, it was also reported that $2.6 million of this aid also went for the interior decoration of a DC-8 jet belonging to President Bongo.

In 1990, France, which has always maintained a permanent military base in Gabon, helped maintain Bongo in power in the face of sustained pro-democracy protests that threatened to oust him from power. When Gabon found itself on the brink of a civil war after the first multi-party presidential elections in 1993, with the opposition staging violent protests, Paris hosted the talks between Bongo and the opposition, resulting in the Paris Agreement/Accords which restored calm.

In France, Bongo and his family lived in the rarefied air of the super-rich. At their disposal were 39 luxurious properties, 70 bank accounts and at least 9 luxury vehicles worth about $2 million.  Bongo spent as much time as he could in Paris, reveling in his friendship with a succession of French presidents, particularly Valery Giscard d’Estaing and Jacques Chirac.

However, Bongo did have his influence over France too.  Former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing claimed that Bongo helped bankroll Jacques Chirac's 1981 presidential campaign. Giscard said Bongo had developed a "very questionable financial network" over time. "I called Bongo and told him 'you're supporting my rival's campaign' and there was a dead silence that I still remember to this day and then he said 'Ah, you know about it', which was extraordinary. From that moment on, I broke off personal relations with him," said Giscard. Socialist French parliamentarian André Vallini was also reported to have said that Mr Bongo had bankrolled numerous French electoral campaigns, both Right and Left. In 2008, the French President, French President Nicolas Sarkozy demoted his minister in charge of looking after the ex-colonies, Jean-Marie Bockel, after the latter noted the "squandering of public funds" by some African regimes, provoking Mr. Bongo's fury.

After Bongo's demise, President Sarkozy expressed his “sadness and emotion” ... and pledged that France would remain “loyal to its long relationship of friendship” with Gabon. “It is a great and loyal friend of France who has left us — a grand figure of Africa,” Sarkozy said in a statement.

Bongo was one of the wealthiest heads of state in the world, with this attributed primarily from the benefits of oil revenue and alleged corruption. In 1997, Citibank was censured, after an investigation by the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on investigations, for taking huge deposits of close to 150 million dollars from Bongo. As a recent book explains:

In 2005, an investigation by the United States Senate Indian Affairs Committee into fundraising irregularities by lobbyist Jack Abramoff revealed that Abramoff had offered to arrange a meeting between U.S. President George W. Bush and Bongo for the sum of $9,000,000. Although such an exchange of funds remains unproven, Bush met with Bongo 10 months later in the Oval Office.

In 2007, Bongo's daughter-in-law, Inge, wife of his son Ali, caused a stir when she appeared on the United States music channel VH1’s reality show, Really Rich Real Estate. She was featured trying to buy a $25,000,000 mansion in Malibu, California.

Omar Bongo was cited in recent years during French criminal inquiries into hundreds of millions of euros of illicit payments by Elf Aquitaine, the former French state-owned oil group. One Elf representative testified that the company was giving 50 million euros per year to Bongo to exploit the oil lands of Gabon. As of June 2007, Bongo, along with President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo, Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea and Dos Santos from Angola were being investigated by French magistrates after a complaint made by French NGOs Survie and Sherpa claimed that these leaders had used millions of pounds of embezzled public funds to acquire lavish properties in France. The leaders denied any wrong doing.

In 2009, Bongo spent his last months in a major row with France over the French inquiry. A French court decision in February 2009 to freeze his bank accounts added fuel to the fire and his government accused France of waging a "campaign to destabilise" the country.

Bongo, Africa's little "Big Man",  who was described as "a diminutive, dapper figure who conversed in flawless French, a charismatic figure surrounded by a personality cult", was one of the last of the African "Big Man" rulers.  However, he was not the typical brutal, excessively violent or megalomaniac African dictator. The pillars of his long rule were France, revenues from Gabon’s 2.5 billion barrels of oil reserves, and his political skills.

An ardent Francophile, Bongo was at the inception of his Presidency happy to strike a favorable bargain with the old colonial power, France. He gave the French oil company, Elf-Aquitaine, privileged rights to exploit Gabon’s oil reserves while Paris returned the favour by guaranteeing his grip on power for the indefinite future.France, which always considered him its "special partner" in Africa, kept its military bases in Gabon and a contingent of French paratroopers underwrote his rule.

Bongo went on to preside over an oil boom that undoubtedly fueled an extravagant lifestyle for him and his family — dozens of luxurious properties in and around France, a $500 million presidential palace in Gabon, fancy cars, and the like. This also enabled him to amass enough wealth to become one of the world’s richest men. But he always carefully allowed just enough oil money to trickle down to the general population of 1.4 million, thus avoiding any serious unrest."He then used part of the money to build up a fairly large circle of people who supported him such as government ministers, high administrators and army officers. He had learned from Leon Mba how to give government ministries to different tribal groups so that someone from every important group had a representative in the government.

Although Bongo held all the cards of power in his hands, there was relatively little violence against the opposition.  Like other absolute rulers on the continent, Bongo curtailed dissent, opposition and the press. But unlike many others, Bongo's strategy of holding on to power was unique.  He had an acute political sense and was able to buy off anyone who might lead an organized opposition. He had no ideology beyond self interest, but there was no opposition with an ideology either.  He ruled by knowing how the self-interest of others could be manipulated. He, often by necessity, was also skilled at persuading opposition figures to become his allies. A son of one of the country’s smaller ethnic groups, he never had the luxury of drawing on the support of a dominant group. He thus offered his domestic critics a bargain they could not refuse: drop your opposition in return for a modest but glittering slice of the nation’s oil wealth. By this style of co-opting or buying off opponents rather than crushing them outright, he became the most successful of all of Africa’s francophone leaders, comfortably extending his political dominance into a fifth decade.

When multi-party presidential elections were held in 1993, which he won, the poll was marred by allegations of rigging, with the opposition claiming that chief rival, Father Paul Mba Abessole, was robbed of victory. Gabon found itself on the brink of a civil war, as the opposition staged violent demonstrations. Determined to prove that he was not an autocrat who relied on brute force for his political survival, Bongo entered into talks with the opposition, negotiating what became known as the Paris Agreement which restored calm.  When Bongo won the second presidential elections held in 1998, similar controversy raged over his victory. The president responded by meeting some of his critics to discuss revising legislation to guarantee free and fair elections.  After Bongo’s Gabonese Democratic Party scored a landslide victory in the 2001 legislative elections, Bongo offered government posts to influential opposition members.  Father Paul Mba Abessole accepted a ministerial post in the name of “convivial democracy”.

The main opposition leader, Pierre Maboundou of the Gabonese People’s Union, refused to attend the post 1998 elections meetings, claiming that they were merely a ploy by Bongo to lure opposition leaders.  Maboundou had called for a boycott of the legislative elections held in December 2001, and his supporters burned ballot boxes and papers in a polling station in his hometown of Ndende. He then rejected offers for a senior post after the 2001 legislative elections.But despite threats from Bongo, Maboundou was never arrested. The president declared that a "policy of forgiveness" was his “best revenge”.  In 2006, however, Maboundou stopped his public criticisms of Mr Bongo. The former firebrand made no secret that the president pledged to give him $21.5 million for the development of his constituency of Ndende.

As time went on, Bongo depended more and more on his close family members. By 2009, His son Ali by his first wife had been the Minister of Defense since 1999, while his daughter, Pascaline, was the head of the President’s secretariat and her husband the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Paul Tongire.

In Gabon, Bongo was seen as a benign, charismatic and straightforward figure who was also an eccentric.  Some instances highlight his personality. Bongo regarded the principle of keeping the youth happy as sacred.  Like a godfather, he used his own money to solve the problems of those who called on him. In 2000 he put an end to a student strike by providing about $1,350,000 for the purchase of the computers and books they were demanding. Bongo was a self-proclaimed nature lover in a country with the largest percentage of untrammeled virgin jungle of all the nations in the Congo basin. In 2002, he set aside 10 percent of Gabon's land as national parks, pledging that they would never be logged, mined, hunted or farmed. However, Bongo was not beyond some measure of self aggrandisement.  Accordingly, Gabon acquired Bongo University, Bongo Airport, numerous Bongo Hospitals, Bongo Stadium and Bongo Gymnasium. Indeed, even the president's home town, Lewai, was inevitably renamed Bongoville.

On the international stage, the Bongo had, especially in his later years, cultivated an image as a peacemaker, playing a pivotal role in attempts to solve the crises in the Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He was also popular amongst the Gabonese, especially older ones, because his reign had guaranteed stability.

Under Mr. Bongo's rule, Gabon never had a coup or a civil war, a rare achievement for a nation surrounded by unstable, war-torn states. Fueled by oil, the country's economy was more like that of an Arabian emirate than a Central African nation. For many years Gabon was said, perhaps apocryphally, to have the world's highest per capita consumption of Champagne.

Bongo converted to Islam in 1973, taking the name El Hadj Omar Bongo.  He added Ondimba as his surname in 2003.

Bongo's first marriage was to Marie Josephine Kama, later known as Josephine Bongo. He divorced her in 1986, after which she went on to launch a music career under a new name Patience Dabany. They had a son, Alain Bernard Bongo, and a daughter, Albertine Amissa Bongo. Alain Bernard Bongo, later known as Ali-Ben Bongo, served as Foreign Minister from 1989 to 1991, becoming Defence Minister in 1999.

Bongo's daughter, Pascaline Mferri Bongo Ondimba, was born 10 April 1956 in Franceville, Gabon. She was Foreign Minister of Gabon and is currently director of the presidential cabinet.

Bongo then married Edith Lucie Sassou-Nguesso (b. March 10, 1964 - d. March 14, 2009) in 1990. She was the daughter of Congolese President Denis Sassou-Nguesso. She was a trained pediatrician, known for her commitment to fighting AIDS.  Edith Lucie Bongo died on March 14, 2009, four days after her 45th birthday in Rabat, Morocco, where she had been undergoing treatment for several months. The statement announcing her death did not specify the cause of death or the nature of her illness. She had not appeared in public for around three years preceding her death.  She was buried on March 22, 2009 in the family cemetery in the northern town of Edou, in her native Congo.

On May 7, 2009, the Gabonese Government announced that Bongo had temporarily suspended his official duties and taken time off to mourn his wife and rest in Spain.  It was reported by the international media that he was seriously ill, and undergoing treatment for cancer in hospital in Barcelona. The Gabonese government maintained that he was in Spain for a few days of rest following the "intense emotional shock" of his wife's death, but eventually admitted that he was in a Spanish clinic "undergoing a medical check up".

Bongo's death was confirmed by Prime Minister Jean Eyeghe Ndong in a written statement on June 8, 2009. In his statement, Eyeghe Ndong said that Bongo had died of a heart attack shortly before 12:30 GMT on June 8. At the time of his death, Bongo had been Africa's longest serving leader.

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