December 19, 2014

News and Analysis (12/19/14)

The “Dharm Jagran Samiti (DJS) functionary … was reacting to the arrest of Nand Kishore Valmiki, a DJS activist [who] … was arrested on Tuesday for his alleged involvement in forcefully converting over 100 Muslims to Hinduism in Agra”:

“In Geneva, the international community delivered a stinging rebuke to Israel’s settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, saying the practice violates Israel’s responsibilities as an occupying power” …

… while an EU procedural ruling that “inclusion of the group was not based on a ‘concrete examination’ of Hamas’s acts but on ‘imputations derived from the media and the internet'” paves the way for a more objective comparison of Hamas’s record and Israel’s” …

… and the European Parliament has finally voted to recognize statehood of Palestine “in principal.” The vote “was carried by 498 votes to 88 with 111 abstentions”:

Muslims and Jews come together in support of the victims of police brutality against African-Americans:

Despite the fear of a backlash after the Sydney Siege, the Australian community has shown solidarity through the “#illridewithyou” which has gone viral, “Silma Ihram, of the Australia Muslim Women’s Association, said she had faith that Australian would come together in the wake of tragedy.”:

“Physicians for Human Rights called [for] a commission of inquiry to examine the participation of CIA and private medical personnel in the interrogation program, including possible breaches of domestic and international laws”:

December 17, 2014

News and Analysis (12/17/14)

“[T]here are [monsters] in every country, and there are some in this country. Our obligations are to deal with some of the warmongers we have here and the infractions of our liberties here at home. But there is no moral obligation, there’s no constitutional authority, and there’s no practical advantage for us [to go abroad]”:

Man Haron Monis is a “damaged good” as described by his doctor, so “[t]here is no point in trying to place him,  as some have attempted, in an overarching discourse of Islamist terrorism and history, because he was plainly not a terrorist but a mentally disturbed individual and serial sex offender”:

As the anti- Muslims demonstrators take the streets, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the protesters are being exploited by the organizers of these protests and there is “no space for hate campaigns and slander”:

Cheney is giving up politics to become a doctor: ‘Cheney said sticking pureed hummus, pasta and nuts up a detainee’s anus was “done for medical reasons,” and he said, repeatedly, that “waterboarding is not torture”':

“This is a serious matter, and we don’t want to escalate the crisis, but at the same time [we] condemn the forcible conversions” — Maulana Khalilur Rahman Noorie, general secretary of the Association of Imams:

“Austria’s Muslim organizations said the government violated the rights of an estimated 600,000 Muslims in the country after officials sent a proposed law, dubbed the ‘Islamic Bill,’ to parliament without first consulting the Muslim community”:

“The latest escalation comes days after Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi delivered a strongly worded speech … [accusing] President Hadi of harboring al-Qaida and leaving the country infested with corruption. Opponents of the Houthis … accuse them of being a proxy for Shiite powerhouse Iran”:

Who would have thought that fashion could unite Muslims and Jews? “A&F has brought American Muslims and Jews together…Nathan Lewin, the lawyer for these Jewish organizations, explained to the Los Angeles Times, men and women in the orthodox Jewish communities have also faced discrimination”:

December 16, 2014

News and Analysis (12/16/14)

The Sydney tragedy has Muslims joining the mourners, other Australians offering to help the Muslim community against a communitarian backlash, and many asking why someone with gunman’s criminal record was out on bail …

…according to the hostages, his only demand was “a flag and a phone call” to Australia’s PM:

“Abu Zubaydah might now be described as exhibit A in the week’s Senate report. He has the regrettable distinction of being the first victim of the CIA detention programme…. With no less than 1,001 references to Abu Zubaydah … [confirming] the horrific conditions of detention and interrogation techniques”:

“The burden is on the government to produce evidence to justify accusing Zaman and Samanyolu group editors and journalists of being part of an organization which attempted to capture state power, as the Istanbul judge’s detention warrant states.” — Emma Sinclair-Webb, Human Rights Watch:

“We as scientists and scholars and all Muslims were surprised at the listing of Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi’s name in the list of Interpol’s most-wanted internationally, at the request of the coup authorities in Egypt”:

If an actor is defrauded into performing in a film to which she would not have consented in the first place,can a court award her a copyright claim against those who defrauded her? “Unions representing actors and musicians filed a brief in support of” the victim:

With the Palestinians cashing in their chit for self-determination, Israel has to decide whether it wants peace or not, and so does the US:

The Saudis cut off the hand of only one thief last yer and only one so far this year, but they have executed 78 criminals, mostly for drug smuggling:

She said “she did not know women were prohibited from going to the male-only stadiums, … [but p]olice spokesman Atti al-Qurashi said security spotted her at the stadium “deliberately disguised” in male attire to avoid detection”:

December 14, 2014

Reform of Higher Education in the Muslim World

[This is the second in a series of my notes on the International Institute of Islamic Thought conference on Islamic Law and Ethics held in Herndon, VA in June  2014. These notes have only been lightly edited and represent my perception of the discussion. The proceedings will be published by IIIT at a later time. Responsibility for any errors in the notes is mine alone. Names of general participants (other than mine) in the general discussion have been omitted by request of the organizers.]

Panel on “Reform of Higher Education in the Muslim World”

Abubaker al-Shingieti, Moderator (IIIT-USA). Our mission is the reform of Islamic thought, so it is natural to emphasize reform of education. The International Islamic University in Malaysia reflects and pioneers that reform. The issues they confronted inspired a lot of thinking, including the incorporation of the Islamic values and world view into the institution building and engagement of the university locally, regionally and globally. In the wake of the Arab spring we seek more engagement in the Arab world.

Ermin Sinanović (IIIT USA). In December 2013 we held a workshop at the Wilson Center on the issue of education. We do not have a single university in the list of top 150. The Israelis register hundreds of times as many patents as the entire Arab world. Governments are spending billions of dollars on new universities, but they are distinctly imitative in nature. A professor from Alleghany University found the efforts in Qatar hopeless. Qatar has cancelled its contract with Rand Corp to go into a new direction, but what that direction is, nobody knows. The crisis is systemic. There is no silver bullet. Poor governance, lack of transparency, corruption, and, above all, absence of freedom to act and, most importantly, to make mistakes from which one can learn. There is no historical and value-based vision. Pedagogical approaches are still rooted in memorization. Field trips are rare, as are experimentation and self-discovery. There is a mismatch between educational outcomes and market demand. Even countries with high GDP have lagging human development as measured by gender equality, freedom of expression, and education. For reform to be successful, I think a strong public-private partnership is required, but in the current atmosphere the authoritarian system subverts such attempts into service of the regime. The focus is on applied sciences not in the basic sciences. The unemployment rate is higher for women mostly because of the demand side in employment. There are many women graduates but few women in higher administration. I have some insight into what it’s like to be bored by a professor who doesn’t know what he is talking about. Islamic studies is one of the weakest areas in these universities, while in engineering, medicine, business, and law they are producing world-class graduates. Some universities are trying to redirect some of the really gifted students into Islamic studies, but the examples are too few to assess whether the approach will have much of an effect. IIIT had a role in the university which was interrupted. Recently we had the opportunity to create courses to create critical thought (ijtihad). There is a concerted effort to pursue this path of reform but many faculty are skeptical and resistant. The objective is to form a nucleus to teach and develop the 10-course module to inculcate original critical thinking.

Abdul Aziz Sachedina (IIIT Chair, George Mason University). My task is to clarify certain conceptual problems without which we cannot implement what we have in mind. I learn from my experience with the Sunday school curriculum because our objective is to build minds. The buildings will follow. If we can articulate our ideas to the younger minds, they will affect society. We are not just teaching disciplines, but the approach to disciplines. There is a crisis of epistemology. We teachers come to the field with no commitment to our ideas. Unlike the mathematician who firmly believes 5 x 5=25, we do not believe in the existence of God or in the efficacy of religion to affect our lives. My students are non-Muslims who are seeking a spiritual dimension to their life. I have changed in 35-40 years of teaching. I was always afraid of what I was teaching and how I would teach it. We create the paradigm based on what the Qur’an tells us. A`râf: 187 says, “We have prepared the Hellfire for those among humans and jinns who have the minds but don’t use them….” Not a single verse says we will punish those who don’t pray five times a day. Why are Muslim students running away from history? It is because history has been turned into tradition. To ask the context of a hadith is to tread a dangerous path. Taha Hussain’s works were forbidden. We are weakest in the humanities and social sciences.

We inherited the colonial institutions, but we did not revise and revisit what they left behind. We imitated and superficially implemented them. We need to overhaul the system, and that means a new curriculum. We have universities of Qur’anic studies, but they only teach tajwîd and tartîl (modes of recitation), they do not teach as the Qur’an would have us teach, critical understanding. This is why Shariati said the intelligentsia of Iran have no connection with the Iranian people. The sociology was so French, even the examples were French. Our weakest point in the Islamic world today is our failure to understand Islam itself. The crisis point is our unwillingness to face challenging questions in the study of Islam, and these are historical questions. We are not looking at providing a complete paradigm, but for a group of scholars to think about the questions we have hitherto thought unthinkable.

Ebrahim Moosa (Duke University). What is Islamic in Islamic Thought? A lot of what goes down as Islamic thought is identity politics or ideological projects. I want to know what the knowledge product is. The concept of “revealed knowledge” is intimidating. The IIIT report on education (available online) is a depressing document. The universities in the Gulf are pet projects that pay you big consultancy fees but never listen to a word you say. How do we create inspirational teachers? Qatari students have no intellectual urgency. They want the degree for their next promotion. How do you make people love knowledge? How do you awaken their intellectual curiosity? The problem with calling something a Qur’anic paradigm is that we outlawing alternatives. Let’s call it our paradigm, instead. The Qur’an is for all humanity, not just us. If we want to change Islamic thought we have to change the Sunday school. In American Universities there is an aversion to commitment in the religion department. An economics professor can be a Marxist or a liberal or conservative, but a Protestant in a religion department cannot let his commitment show. No one in the developing world wants to study the humanities. I fear the archives in the Muslim world shall remain untouched.

General Discussion:

Q. There is a joke about three Jewish women conversing over coffee. One says, “My son is studying to be a lawyer.” Excellent. Another says, “My son is studying to be a doctor.” Good. The third says, “My son is studying to be a rabbi.” What kind of a job is that for a Jewish boy?

Moosa. The most conflicted people in the Muslim world are the middle classes. They are accomplished, but ignorant in religion, at the mercy of the clerics. They think that we are doing sophisticated da`wa in the University, but we are not; we are trying to precipitate a paradigm shift. How do we become a catalyst for unbounded thinking?

Q. The main problem in the Muslim world is tyranny. It promotes a trivial understanding of sciences and religion in the service of the state. In the name of non-normativity we kill Islamic projects. American education meets the challenges here, but over there it merely trains people to be immigrants. Lack of prioritization is a problem in Islamic movements. Their Islamic agenda spoils the real agenda which is religious reform. In Canada, the elementary school teachers can make more than the University professors. We need to reform the Shariah professors to open them to reform. They now see themselves as the guards of the status quo.

Moosa: Guards or gods?

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad: They start as guards and become gods.

Q. We all agree the Qur’an is central. We can look for the Qur’anic paradigm. It is the dignity of humankind. “Karamna bani Adam.” (We dignified the children of Adam.)

Q. What is happening in Qatar?

Q. I teach in a department of public policy and Islam. The system does not allow the idea to go too far, because the system is highly bureaucratic and highly inefficient. We need non-traditional systems of administration. There is the promise of academic freedom, unrealized. It is a small countries. It can produce a prototype.

Moosa: They have the financial resources but not the bureaucratic freedom. If you bring a visionary, will they be allowed to fulfill their vision or will they be frustrated by the bureaucracy? How do you create the next generation?

Q. You can have a shift from engineering to Islamic studies, but you need to keep them motivated.  One student articulated the view of the majority, “You are giving me a headache.”

Sachedina. We are not advocating a position; we are only trying to create an appreciation for what we are doing. We must believe in what we are doing. A scientist can be a scientist without believing in the Big Bang Theory, but we are teaching religion. Develop spiritual awareness within yourself.

Q. There are lots of centers of Islamic theology in Germany, 99% Muslims and 70% women, all good students and they all want to help Islam, but want to know how they can go against Al-Azhar and Bin Baz. They can speak freely in the West but they meet a wall against the Muslim establishment in their homeland.

Q. I have one reservation. We are taking a maximalist position on Islam, that everything in human knowledge must have an Islamic adjective: Islamic mathematics, Islamic physics, Islamic atomic bomb (it will have a hijab on it). I taught in a Sunday school class, but why don’t we go even further back.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad. Three ideas have been mentioned that can be related to one another. We need to promote intellectual curiosity in the young, but good students will attract good professors. Well-educated women who are not in the workforce are not necessarily a loss to society, since well-educated mothers will be very effective teachers of their own children.

Q. Students are told about ijtihad but at exam time if they say anything new they are flunked.

Q. I am still waiting for a conceptual approach to changing higher education.

Q. The Mohammadis in Indonesia came out with the Sakina family program which was not only about educating women in religious knowledge, but the role of the father as well in creating a proper family environment. We see a lot of critical thinking pushing religious ideas in Indonesia, where there is a separation of religion from state. What is the Middle East experience?

Q. The role of social justice in education seems missing. It motivates us by allowing us to see ourselves as academic activists. It doesn’t end when the class ends.

Moosa. I worry that those of us in privileged positions should not have an imperial project. Most undergraduate institutions are building knowledge for public service into their curriculum. I think debates of legitimacy cannot be an imperial project. Sometimes we can only speak for the voices of our immediate environment. Someone’s experiment may be inspirational for another community, but they will adapt and repackage it. You cannot “nanny” Islamic reform. The faculty at the institution to be reformed must buy in. I tell my students “Follow your passion. Do not write about something about which you are not passionate.”

Sachedina. I participated at the Islamic Theological College at Munster. The imam was kicked out for saying something that the mufti at al-Azhar did not accept. They can have an impact, maybe not directly with the imams, but globalization provides an opportunity to affect the Muslims in Europe.

Sinanović. I don’t think IIU-Malaysia is a failure. There are critical issues that need to be addressed. I think to have an impact, a Muslim intellectual needs some kind of affiliation with Islamic institutions. When I worked at the Naval Academy I lacked credibility, but now that I work at IIIT people listen to me. I haven’t changed, but my affiliation changed.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute
www.minaret.org

December 13, 2014

New and Analysis (12/13/14)

As the anti- Muslim demonstrations continue on Germany, Chancellor Merkel condemns it “saying via an aide on Friday that there was ‘no place in  Germany’ for hatred of Muslims or any other religious or racial”:

The propagandist who “tweeted almost exclusively in fluent English, courted the interest of academics and journalists covering the war, and developed a following among analysts, journalists, and jihadi wannabes” turns out to be “a Walter Mitty without the charm”:

“Muhammad [pbuh] … would have loved Canada ]because] Canada’s multicultural ‘just society’ represents the highest aspirations of Muhammad’s city-state of Medina, and Canada’s egalitarian values align perfectly with the highest values of Islam” — Canadian Muslim Leader Dr. David Liepert:

Maybe Muslims are not outraged by the CIA torture revelations because the have already been treated that way by Israel and their own governments for a long time:

While Islam elevated the status of women in society, made them leaders, business women, and masters of their own selves, ISIS enslaves women and treats them like objects for the sake of pleasing men:

The “list of 75 ‘specific signs’ that might indicate a Uighur was a ‘religious extremist’ … included [not only] … wearing veils, reading religious books or abstaining from alcohol … [but also] [s]elling land, sheep or oxen without cause … [as] a sign … that someone might be planning a suicide attack”:

At a French School, Muslim children are forced to go ” meatless” after the Mayor Marcel Mortreau refused to introduce a substitute for pork in the school lunch menu. ‘He bases his decision on the “principle of Republican neutrality”':

Israel dismisses and bans and labels Islamic Relief as “a terrorist organization” for helping the Palestinians. “Two days after the ban was announced the charity’s West Bank offices were raided. Computers were smashed, files taken and the office safe blown apart” …

… while a “bill that called on Denmark to recognize Palestine as a state was shot down in parliament as expected on Thursday. But despite the no vote, the foreign minister nonetheless suggested that Denmark could be a step closer to recognizing a Palestinian state”:

Who is funding terrorist organizations in the Middle East? “Islamic State initially relied on wealthy private donors in the Middle East keen to oust Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.” Now they also obtain money by ransom and selling crude oil:

December 12, 2014

News and Analysis (12/12/14)

What are they stealing from mosques? “Starting next year authorities will install centrally monitored cameras in every mosque to record what goes on inside. The move is ostensibly meant to prevent theft and regulate energy use, but few doubt the real intention is to tighten the state’s grip on Islam”:

Islamophobia in France’s National Front Party led to the suspension of Maxence Buttey, “an elected member of the municipal council of Noisy-le-Grand, a suburb of Paris” after announcing his conversion to Islam:

Although many Muslim Scholars and Muslim nations are working to counter radicalization, the Western World is not paying attention to them:

As far fetched of an idea as it is, “Israeli writer AB Yehoshua … said Europeans should consider admitting Palestine and Israel into the European Union if both sides settle on a stable peace agreement”:

They strangle Mr. Abu Ein, and then insinuate Palestinians  caused his death by taking him to a hospital instead of letting Israelis come to his aid; it’s like bombing children and blaming it on Hamas:

Islam and Christianity are two different religions, but what they share may be more than what they differ on. “Mary is so important in Islam that the faith’s holy book, the Quran, has a chapter (called a sura) named after her. She is one of the few people mentioned by name in the book”:

December 10, 2014

News and Analysis (12/10/14)

“If a white, American, Christian woman were to be [treated in some Muslim country as Aafia Siddiqui has been treated] … [w]ould we not demand that an international medical team be allowed to see her and evaluate her condition and her family be allowed to contact her?”:

A day after much publicised mass conversion, Muslim families have told local media that they were tricked into conversion and did not speak against the act “out of fear of violence”. Said one, “We were told we will get a ration card, Aadhar [ID] card, and that the police will not bother us. We are poor so what do we do?”:

Anti Islam protesters in Germany flood the streets. ‘The “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West” (Pegida) is winning over more and more supporters, causing Germany’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas to call on all parties to openly denounce the right-wing, populist alliance.':

Under Israeli occupation, planting olive trees can be a capital offense; no trial necessary:

“Recognizing the independent state of Palestine would be a symbolically important expression of Ireland’s support for the people of Palestine’s right to self determination” MP Dominic Hannigan …

… while Amos Oz, David Grossman and Abraham Yehoshua, prominent Israeli authors, have added their names to a petition calling on Europe to recognize Palestine’s Statehood:

“Instead of viewing Islam as ‘evil’ we should analyze the circumstances to hope to diminish future extremism…American Muslims have been subject to immense discrimination since 9/11.”:

The attempt to insulate Muslim children from Western culture, combined with a rote learning rather critical thinking approach to teaching Islam, leaves them prey to “Sheikh Google”:

“[P]rotesters who have faced Bahrain’s oppressive regime, campaigning for their own rights … clearly do not want the kind of regime that sits down to dinner with Queen Elizabeth one day while using British and American-made tear gas the next. They don’t want British Navy Bases”:

In Kenya, Muslims are demanding  changes in the way the mainstream media depicts Muslims, while Muslims leaders accused the media of “amplifying hard-line and reckless voices within the Muslim community while ignoring moderate and responsible voices.”:

December 8, 2014

News and Analysis (12/8/14)

The killer with the “Quran is a virus worse than ebola” sign in his car window stalked the mosque for weeks and then pretended h had lost control of the vehicle before admitting “he had struck the teenager because he looked like a man who had threatened him several days earlier”:

“What kind of person would go to the police if they think their son will get 12 years in prison?” the young man’s mother asks, comparing “her son’s harsh sentencing to a two-year-prison term for British soldier … [for] making bombs filled with shrapnel along with possessing knives, axes and [fux] guns”:

“The only dissenters were Israel and the United States, along with three small South Pacific islands that always vote with the US, presumably in order to receive foreign aid. Some 161 countries voted for the measure”:

“Rezaian has not been allowed to speak to a lawyer hired by his family, which Kerry called a ‘clear violation of Iran’s own laws and international norms.’ Rezaian’s brother, Ali Rezaian, said in an interview Sunday that Iranian authorities have “bent over backwards to bend and break their own rules to keep him in jail” …

… while, in what analysts suggest “might be a veiled reference to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps” Rouhani is blaming “monopolies – on anything from the production of rifles to advertising – … [as] the cause of corruption. ‘Anything which does not have rivalry or whose management is monopolised is flawed'”:

Opponents of “the ban on women driving [say it] underpins wider issues regarding guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia that give men powerful sway over women’s lives…. No such ban exists in the rest of the Muslim world, including Saudi Arabia’s conservative Gulf neighbors”:

Four unnamed defendants out of 18 were referred to the grand mufti after the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced them to death on Sunday, according to state media …

… but “a member of Morsi’s defence team said many NGOs and political parties cooperate with the US…, and that the prosecution has singled out the Brotherhood to oppress the group politically”  and that attacks were the work of “criminal elements”:

“Hagel said the original plan to cut U.S. troop levels to 9,800 by the end of this year had been abandoned, but not because of a recent surge in Taliban attacks … [but] because planned troop commitments by U.S. allies for a NATO train-and-assist mission … have been slow to materialize”:

“Groups like ISIS pose a genuine threat to the West. But the bigger war is being waged within Islam itself… For classical Muslim theologians, the decision of who was and who wasn’t a Muslim was ultimately up to God”:

The Indian Court ruled that young adult Muslims cannot be denied the right to marry if the parents do not object:

December 5, 2014

News and Analysis (12/5/14)

“The White House was insistent … that President Obama acted ‘promptly’ to try to rescue American hostage Luke Somers from al Qaeda in Yemen, approving the risky special operations mission two days after receiving a military plan – but possibly well after Somers had already been moved” …

… “Al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen threatened an American hostage who was the target of a rescue attempt by U.S. special forces last month, warning Washington in a video released Thursday not to try again, and giving it three days to meet unspecified demands”:

“Bahraini pro-democracy activist Zainab al-Khawaja has been sentenced to three years in prison for tearing up a picture of King Hamad”:

“[T]he picture across Iraq overall was a stalemate, with government forces regaining some territory but Islamic State imposing itself more forcefully at its core”:

“Egypt’s courts pride themselves on what they claim is their independence from political interference and commitment to evenhandedness. But over the past year, they have reasserted themselves as fierce protectors of state power, and as tools for muzzling dissenters” …

… while the prosecutor’s office brands as a “fabrication” a leaked tape recording of officials planning “a strong case against Morsi” in which “a senior military legal adviser … recommends retroactively reclassifying the military facility as a civilian site so that Morsi’s lawyers couldn’t challenge the legality of his detention”:

I admit it! It’s true! Observant Muslims don’t drink alcohol. But I still don’t see how that excuses legally forcing pub owners to pay rent-seeking big corporations twice the wholesale price for their poison:

“Four Pakistani Taliban commanders told Reuters drone strikes and tension with tribesmen had forced them to move from small Afghan towns to mountainous border areas”:

“Oxford historian Faisal Devji writes … [that] Jinnah ‘seems to have possessed more books on the problems of European Jewry than on any Muslim people or country….’ Jinnah was not particularly religious and envisioned a Pakistani nation that, while defined by Islam, was not necessarily governed by its laws”:

Ghani assures diplomats that everything will be different this time. “History will not be repeated. We have overcome the past”, and from David Cameron’s reply that “we are with you every step of the way,” they seem to have bought it:

“The Pentagon resembles nothing so much as some kind of gigantic socialist enterprise, run according to its own principles, shielded from market discipline and accountable to no one…. By any normal yardstick, the Pentagon’s performance — its output compared with its input — would surely be deemed a failure”:

December 3, 2014

News and Analysis (12/3/14)

The only council member to vote in favor said, “This is 100 percent, bar none, a First Amendment issue. They have the right to assemble. I don’t understand their religion, but they have the right to do this.” Only months ago the council unanimously approved a similar request from Christians:

“The sentence comes days after another court dropped charges against Hosni Mubarak over the killing of protesters…. The attack on the … police station took place on … the day that Egyptian security forces … [killed] hundreds of people in one of the bloodiest episodes in Egypt’s modern history” …

“The squashing of the last legal case against former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak over the weekend – on a technicality no less – is a measure of the growing confidence of Egypt’s resurgent military leaders” …

… and “Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has said his office is drafting a law to criminalize insulting the uprisings that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and his Islamist successor Mohammed Morsi last year” …

… ““Our hope is only in God. Justice here is lost, justice is broken,” says a survivor who “lost the use of his legs when an armored police vehicle crushed them during the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule and ignited hopes for a new era of freedom and accountability“:

“Tehran has denied carrying out raids” and both sides deny coordination:

“The probe is separate from newly extended talks between Iran and six world powers meant to reduce Iran’s technical capacity to make nuclear weapons by reconfiguring what it says are purely civilian projects. But its failure would throw hopes of a deal at the talks into doubt “:

The Iraqi foreign ministry says the “woman detained by Lebanese authorities was not the wife of the Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but the sister of a man convicted of bombings in southern Iraq” and one of the “female detainees freed in exchange for the release of a group of nuns captured by” Syrian rebels:

Netanyahu fires two ministers and Israel’s government will be dissolved amid a new level of chutzbah in which ultranationalists favoring a law to make explicit the racism implicit in the Israeli notion of a “Jewish state” depict “moderate” (read “hypocritical”) Zionists opposed to the law as Nazis:

“The non-binding vote in France’s National Assembly … to urge the … government to recognize Palestine as a state is … significant and … fraught [because] France is home to both the largest Jewish and the largest Muslim communities in Europe, and balancing the interests and tensions between them is … sensitive”:

“The withdrawal of most Nato troops has triggered soul-searching about the achievements of a 13-year military mission that cost billions of dollars and thousands of lives, including those of 2,210 American and 453 British soldiers”:

“Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari said 550,000 barrels per day of oil would be sent to the Iraqi oil ministry. In return, the Kurds will receive their 17% share of the national budget”:

 

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