News and Analysis (12/15/18)

December 15th, 2018

“Human rights groups have recorded dozens of incidents of the Israeli military using U.S.-made weapons in unlawful ways to injure and kill Palestinian civilians”:

“A number of key issues remain unresolved … and Antonio Guterres, UN secretary-general, said a framework for political negotiations would be discussed at the next round of talks at the end of January”:

Criticized for incorrectly categorizing the makruh or haram (discouraged or prohibited) practice of FGM as sunnah (accepted), the National Fatwa Committee perversely reclassified the procedure as wajib (“obligatory”):

“The notion that a tenured professor’s career could be put in jeopardy because of an ill-considered phrase concluding an otherwise nuanced speech at the U.N. violates every notion of academic freedom that we have”:

“A Palestinian teenager was shot dead during fresh raids by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank on Friday,” …

… and “Israeli soldiers injured … at least seventeen Palestinians with live fire and rubber-coated steel bullets, and caused many to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation, in several areas of … [the] West Bank,” …

… “settlers threw stones at Palestinian vehicles, … an Arab bus driver was beaten” in an illegal settlement and Israel demolished the house of a man accused of killing an occupation soldier:

“With the US government’s recent sanction on Iran, it is unclear if spare parts for the Renton, Washington-assembled jet, can be procured”:

News and Analysis (12/13/18)

December 13th, 2018

The death of a premature infant due to the shooting of a pregnant settler is properly deplored, but not the murder of a disabled Palestinian, nor that the Israelis kill 16 times as many children as Palestinians:

Arrested and released on charges “of insulting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other offences, he was arrested again in August, just months after his release, reportedly on similar charges”:

Gulf Arab monarchies are using racism, bigotry, and fake news to denounce Washington’s newest history-making politicians.

He couldn’t completely close the door, but he has reduced Muslim refugees by over 90%:

Pompeo “underscored the laser focus the administration has placed on painting Iran as the epitome of evil in the world” but “the Security Council session also demonstrated the isolation of the United States”:

“[W]hile the electricity cost in Iran has always been relatively low, the recent significant devaluation of the Iranian rial … has made the opportunities even more appealing”:

News and Analysis (12/10/18)

December 10th, 2018

“[T]he ‘false accusations and censorship against Hill represent yet another example of the “Palestine Exception” to free speech’ and that his firing by Temple University would violate the First Amendment”:

A flimsy lawsuit: “religious discrimination (illegal settlements are by definition all-Jewish); failure to provide equal access (Palestinians are barred completely…); Airbnb is siding … against the [illegal!] occupation”:

Many moved there when Israel expelled them from their ancestral homes 70 years ago. They “now face another expulsion with a Jewish settler organisation” attempting a record East Jerusalem takeover:

“Population control has become a sensitive issue in Iran since … Khamenei issued an edict in 2014 calling for a population increase after decades of state-promoted birth control”:

“I am an Iranian living in Iran and I do believe in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. But nowhere in that constitution is indicated that I should also believe all the Official Lies”:

Instead of holding overdue elections Abbas wants to replace the democratically elected legislative body with the PLO’s Palestinian Central Council:

“We’ve never built a show based on the teachings of the Qur’an or the habits of the Muslim faith and it was a huge eyeopener for us and great experience. … [T]he kids had a fantastic time” — 
Trickster production director, David Chantler”:

“After spending years hearing negative descriptions of Islam, he was intrigued to find verses calling for peace, compassion and service. Selenica decided to learn more about the faith”:

A former FBI agent who once “punched a Minnesota sheriff he accused of sympathizing with Muslims” is coming to Texas, but conservative Republicans who believe in freedom of religion are not buying his message:

News and Analysis (12/7/18)

December 7th, 2018

“The Blocking Regulation would make it illegal for European companies to comply with U.S. sanctions against Iran” and in January “the EU unveils a new electronic payment system designed to move money in and out of Iran without American scrutiny” …

… and American banks “fear they could be subject to major lawsuits in Europe unless granted a license from the Treasury Department to follow the letter of both EU and U.S. law ” …

… as the recent designation of two Iranians “for allegedly using bitcoin to facilitate ‘malign activities’ and payments … was the first time that US sanctions targeted digital currency addresses” …

… and “all three pillars of Trump’s policy of strangulating Iran are at risk” because of the Khashoggi murder, Netanyahi’s “existential fight for his political future,” and “political obstacles” Trump faces in the wake of the mid-term elections:

The play has been called a “Muslim Godspell” by one audience member and calls itself “the story of ‘a love affair between Islam and Jesus.'”  The Silk Road Rising Executive Director says, “In light of the #MeToo movement, Mary’s prominence in the play and in the Quran adds to the show’s timeliness”:

Sustainable Development Goals are inadequate without the Maqasid ash-Shariah “safeguarding the faith …, protecting the self from harm …, protecting the intellect …, safeguarding the progeny … and protecting” property without bias “towards gender, nationality, ethnicity, or social status”:

The Emir of Kano maintains “that during the regime of Second Caliph, Umar bn Khattab and fifth Caliph Umar bn AbdulAziz , no one was poor enough in their communities to receive Zakat because the one distributed in the previous year made them to be self-reliant”:

After intense debate students voted overwhelmingly for Columbia to divest from companies “from companies that “profit from or engage in the State of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians,” but “before the vote had even taken place, the college had already announced that it would not act on a vote to divest”:

“Afghan immigration … is a godsend for the country’s small and medium-sized businesses”:

News and Analysis (12/4/18)

December 4th, 2018

PA leader Abbas sends condolence letter to president George W. Bush, whose late father pushed for major Israeli-Palestinian peace conference and attempted to “link $10b loan guarantees to cessation of settlement activities”:

“Her planned trip is a swift rebuke of a decades-old tradition for newly elected members: a junket to Israel sponsored by the education arm of … AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobby group”:

Meeting resistance from within their party, Republicans who consider any mosque-going Muslim must be be anti-Constitution and associated with terrorism invite local leaders to listen to a conspiracy peddler, a move that might exacerbate a blue turn in the conservative county:

“Given the confidentiality of the proceedings and the security nature of the case, I cannot disclose details about the court’s verdict” — Shahidi’s lawyer Mostafa Turk Hamedani:

“Although Indonesia is largely secular, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation continues to imprison those deemed to denigrate or practise unorthodox versions of the country’s six officially recognised religions of Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism”:

Are Rand Paul’s “libertarian instincts, which make him skeptical of foreign aid” strong enough to stand up to the Israeli lobby which demands American tax money for its costly battle against the arc of history in support of  apartheid?

“Israel has long been accused of pressuring sick Palestinians or their relatives into collaborating in exchange for a permit to leave Gaza for treatment, as well as blackmailing closeted LGBTQ Palestinians into spying on their neighbours”:

News and Analysis (12/1/18)

December 1st, 2018

The murderer “raped her while she lay unconscious and dumped her body in a pond” but the “County Commonwealth’s Attorney … agreed to take the death penalty off the table” because potential confirmation of “severe intellectual disability” may have prevented it anyway …

… and in another case, “Dawud Walid, executive director of Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan, [asks] why, if the man is insane, he wasn’t given mental health treatment instead of a light jail sentence”:

“These concentration camps … where Uighur Muslims are remade into atheist Chinese subjects” are part of program that extends to children who are separated from parents to be placed into orphanages “disguised as schools” for indoctrination “into loyal subjects who embrace atheism and Han customs”:

The county’s “Republican Party chairman … “emailed a letter to Tarrant County Chair Darl Easton asking him to ‘reject a bigoted effort launched by at least one of your precinct chairs to remove a Muslim individual from your leadership and remove another precinct chair who is married to a Muslim'”:

“Mr Amin’s tone appears to be moderating,” which worries some secular minded who fear that his “apparent lack of fixed beliefs makes [him] dangerous”:

CNN gave no reason for dropping the Temple University professor after ADL and other Zionist groups objected to his call for ‘”a single secular democratic state for everyone’ in a meeting at the UN marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on Wednesday” …

… “It doesn’t matter if justice is on your side. You have to depict your position as just.” — Benjamin Netanyahu. “The best answer to propaganda is not counter-propaganda — it’s understanding how propaganda operates so it can’t work on you anymore. ” — Roger Waters:

“In recent weeks, Israel has arrested dozens of Palestinian activists for alleged illegal political activity. It demolished Palestinian shops for failing to have permits, a court has cleared the way for settlers to move in to an Arab neighborhood and the” mayor is trying to shut down UN relief operations on the city:

Emir abd El-Kader: A Teacher for the World (A Story of True Jihad)

November 29th, 2018

[On September 12, 2018 the Abd Elkader Project held a seminar  introducing  the Muslim scholar turned fighter turned PoW, turned exile, turned hero to the world, honored by Abraham Lincoln with a gift of dueling pistols and by a small town in Iowa that named itself after him, and by the International Red Cross for being the man whose humane treatment of prisoners of war according to Islamic law inspired the Geneva Conventions. The following account is my impressions of the highlights of the program and is not intended as a transcript.]

Civil Society Voices.

Tamara Shehadah (Our Muslim Voices and The Abdelkader Ambassador Program) said that Abdelkader’s parents taught him to seek and respect diversity. The Abdelkader Ambassador Program focuses on bridge building between different people and cultures, starting with food. She quoted Emir Abdelkader: “Knowledge is the box, the keys are the questions.”

James Patton (International Center for Religion & Diplomacy) explained that telling stories of faith heroes can be a bulwark against recruitment for extreme and violent groups. He feels that the key to encouraging the young by Emir Abdelkader’s example is to present him as one who struck a balance between piety and strength. Promoting him as a model among young people unaccustomed to taking historical figures as heroes may be done through new media. The celebrated values of the Emir could be advanced by highlighting current figures who share his values.

Daisy Khan (WISE), focused on the need to flesh out heroes in the current climate. Muslims around the world are unable to mention a single hero other than the Prophet Muhammad. There are two busts in headquarters of the Red Cross: its founder Henry Dunant and Emir Abdelkader, whom Dunant credited as the inspiration for the Geneva Conventions. He insisted on the respectful treatment of prisoners. He was also admired by an American lawyer in Dubuque who named his settlement in Iowa after him. When the Emir died, the New York Times called him one of the great men of the century. Explaining his protection of Christians, he said, “That which we did for the Christians we did to be faithful to Islamic law.” He believed that after spiritual knowledge the most important knowledge is political knowledge. He was deeply Muslim but he also grew while in prison in France. He saw no conflict among religion, science, and politics, although he “discovered that politics shrinks the spirit while the sacred enlarges it without limit.”

Tamar Miller (AEP) said her first visit to Iowa was to Elkader. She proposed a list of questions to provoke reflection on Emir Abdelkader, starting with “What? Iowa, Islam and Muslims?” Think about the fact that the Mother Mosque of America is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Reflect on the power of words to evoke (jihad, shariah, hijab, ijtihad, etc.). Why did Emir Abdelkader lay down arms after seventeen years? Why did Lincoln give the Emir a pair of colt pistols?

Azhar Hussein (Peace & Education Foundation, Pakistan) spoke of Abdelkader’s Reception in Pakistan. An Urdu version of John Kiser’s book, Commander of the Faithful, was introduced into Pakistan. Al Shariah magazine wrote three articles about the book. An al-Qaeda propagandist criticized the Emir for giving up his fight against the French. Hussein’s organization seeks to expand the program by engagement with religious leaders and work with madrassas. They met with a salafi leader who has completely turned around by the Emir’s story.

Lakhdar Brahimi (Former Algerian Foreign Affairs Minister and UN diplomat) explained that Algeria’s struggle for independence in the 1950s and 60s was a continuation of his struggle against French occupation in the 19th century. If Abdelkader has been Algeria’s George Washington, his struggle took several generations and it is not over today. He is a leader for the 21st century, but not the only one. Among today’s youth are a tiny minority who speak of jihad as random acts of violence and cruelty. (At times the desire to understand is seen as a desire to condone.) There was a call in France to amend the Qur’an put out by those who seem to have no familiarity with it. Are those who divide their compatriots against one another fighting terrorism or are the planting the seeds of further radicalism? Brahimi quoted Muhammad Arkoun’s phrase “the clash of ignorances” (ignorance not only of the Other but of contexts).

“The forms of worship may change but not the Master.”–Emir AbdelKader

Andrea Bartoli, Ph.D. (Seton Hall School of Diplomacy) said that Emir Abdelkader invites us to look at the military in a much different way, something closer to the origin of America when the military was much closer to the people. What do you do when your country is invaded? The Emir’s answer is to look to knowledge–not just military knowledge, but to know your enemy, which is difficult when you are talking about people far away and speaking in another language. The French wondered who is this person who is treating prisoners well and challenging us to do the same. He taught Europeans how to treat prisoners in a way that years later we call the Geneva Conventions. History is made when years later we go back and ask the meaning of what happened. It is appropriate for a Catholic to be speaking at a Protestant seminary about a Muslim and to be grateful we are not killing one another. We need to deepen the American conversation because America is very important. Religious freedom comes to Catholics through American Catholics. Look at how many Sunnis outside America do not consider Shi’a to be Muslims.

Major Matthew H. Peterson (US Marine Corps–NOT speaking for the Marine Corps) told how John Kiser read an article he had written on cultural knowledge and the value of relying on knowledge from people in the region and doing cultural training in advance. “The Cargo Pocket Koran” was born of his meeting with Daisy Khan. Major Peterson noted that whenever we were successful on the battlefield it was because of people we knew and not because of superior firepower. The Qur’an is too big for an infantryman to carry on his back, and thus the need for a condensation that would fit into the pocket of his cargo pants. In primitive languages the word for stranger and enemy are the same. Next year we will be sending young men and women to Afghanistan who were not even born on 9/11. There are one million members in the military compared to a thousand in the state department. The face of America is an armed 19-year-old from a conservative Christian state. For Peterson, the Emir’s main contribution is in the area of just war theory. There are just wars fought unjustly and unjust wars fought justly. John McCain said, “War is wretched beyond description.” Sun Tzu also argues the mastery of war is to win without firing a shot. You can’t defeat thought with military weaponry.

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

News and Analysis (11/28/18)

November 28th, 2018

Khashoggi killing revelations pile up:

Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani warns that lest worker’s legitinmate demands “become an excuse and an instrument for the enemy and creation of disorder in the country … the government must address workers’ problems ‘immediately'”:

A study of Duncan Hunter’s Islam-bashing ad shows that while Democrats who merely “watched the ad were nine points less likely to support Hunter, … Republicans’ support for Hunter dropped 22 points after they read criticism of the ad”:

Haji Mohammad Salish called for banning the Social Democratic Party of India after it protested the play, saying, “Our Constitution has given the right to practise religion freely. If a girl has performed azaan in a play, it is not against Islam”:

A “federal judge says despite ‘serious reservations’ he is dismissing the suit. The judge writes that active-duty personnel, even trainees, cannot sue the military in civil court”:

“Israeli rights group B’Tselem said the high court was “sanctioning the broadest move to dispossess Palestinians since 1967”, when Israel occupied the city, the West Bank and Gaza Strip” …

… “It is difficult to imagine obtaining justice for prisoners when the very foundation of Israel violates international humanitarian law”:

News and Analysis (11/25/18)

November 25th, 2018

“The blacklist has become especially frightening, some activists said, because it’s being used by law enforcement in Israel and the United States”:

“In a historic move, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) may filibuster against massive aid package to Israel. AIPAC issues action alert to pressure Paul, predicts Congress will pass the aid package – largest in US history”:

“Kosovo authorities claim no citizen has joined a fundamentalist group over the past two years, a development partly attributed to the empowering of women through the creation of female Islamic teachers”:

Breitbart falsely accused Ilhan of “arguing against a 2017 bill banning female genital mutilation” for which she actually “had voted in the affirmative to pass….” She responded, “I am perplexed by the number of ‘reporters’ who are so allergic to the truth … Do better, just do better!”:
Javad Zarif “said that allegations about weapons of mass destruction ‘by a country that supported Iraq’s use of CW (chemical weapons) against Iran, then invaded Iraq to allegedly rid it of them is not just obscene, it’s dangerous'” …

… while an analyst’s review of their respective promises over the decades concludes that “Tehran has repeatedly delivered on its promises, while Washington has fallen short and backed Riyadh’s disastrous regional adventures”:

“Israel’s refusal to allow the return of a ‘significant number’ of refugees, as called for by the United Nations Conciliation Commission – created under Resolution 194 – compelled the world body to adopt the humanitarian-aid option”:

“By visiting Tunisia, the group said Bin Salman aims to ‘get out of his isolation’ following the widespread criticism he has faced on charges of involvement in the assassination of Khashoggi”:

“[E]ven if one concedes that at some point … [Xinjiang] had been under Chinese control, a millennium later the people living there did not feel Chinese, look Chinese, speak Chinese, share Chinese values and myths and stories, or, by and large, want be part of China. Thus began a series of rebellions”:

“Israeli forces detained Ghaith in a dawn raid on his home in Silwan neighbourhood in East Jerusalem on Sunday. The Israeli military did not provide any details about the reason for the governor’s detention”:

News and Analysis (11/22/18)

November 22nd, 2018

Thirty years ago “soft power” was associated with “the infectious attractiveness of American music, films and youth culture,” but today many associate the term with “religious soft power in the realm of Islam” projected by Saudi Arabia and Iran”:

Iran resorts to gas rationing instead of ending its absurd gasoline subsidies that push prices at the pump down to under  2 cents per gallon, but fuel “very high levels of smuggling …. Much of it heads across the border to Pakistan, where petrol costs 10 times, and diesel around 40 times, as much as” …

… and “Iran’s labor law does not recognize the right to create labor unions independent of government-sanctioned groups such as the Islamic Labor Council”:

European “[o]fficials acknowledge that European action against Iran over the Denmark operation could well be stronger if the Trump administration wasn’t bullying them on their policies towards Tehran, and other matters such as trade and defence spending”:

“The Quran has 6,236 verses, none of which tell the faithful to stifle blasphemy by force” …

… and “Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa reminded [Malay] Muslims” that Islamic law requires a system of “rahmatan lil alamin” under which everyone prospers” and that “prohibits any form of discrimination based on faith, descent or differences” …

.. yet “[p]olice have arrested four Finnish nationals … for allegedly distributing religious material in a public place”:

Iran’s FM tweeted that Trump “bizarrely devotes the FIRST paragraph of his shameful statement on Saudi atrocities to accuse IRAN of every sort of malfeasance he can think of. Perhaps we’re also responsible for the California fires, because we didn’t help rake the forests— just like the Finns do?” …

… in response to Trump statement defending the Saudi dictator in the murder of a journalist, an act by which Trump “has explicitly done the precise opposite of acting like an isolationist: he’s taken a side in the great power struggle in the Middle East”:

In a mostly Buddhist nation Muslim woman promotes sex education and in the process “has also become something of an ambassador for religious understanding”:

The Catholic convert to Islam “was granted the exemption after waiting years for approval”:

The High Court decision will allow “legal proceedings to evict 700 Palestinians from East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood, even though the process by which it received rights to the land was flawed and raises many questions”:

“Rouhani was quoted on Friday by state television as saying that he wants to raise bilateral trade between the two countries from the current $12bn to $20bn in the coming year”:

Although “U.S. sanctions permit Iranian purchases of humanitarian goods like medicines,” precautions to avoid “accidentally triggering penalties …, along with panic buying and hoarding, mean some drugs are increasingly difficult to find”: