July 23, 2014

News and Analysis (7/23/14)

As the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” attacks Baghdad, killing more than 33 in its most recent attack, in addition to claiming “responsibility for a wave of bombings in Baghdad, including several blasts on Saturday which killed 27 people” …

Today in Iraq more human rights are violated than it were under Saddam’s regime. “The Center for Public Integrity claimed that the Bush administration manipulated intelligence records”, and its ultimate goal was the removal of Saddam …

… and cyber war in Iraq is an extension of the current conflict, where “cyber-thieves are also using the conflict to help trick people into opening booby-trapped messages” to gather intelligence:

More than 200 Iraqis gathered in front of a Catholic Church in Baghdad, holding “slogans to show solidarity after a radical Islamist group evacuated Christians from their homes in the northern city of Mosul” …

… Iraqi Christians have been in Iraq for more than 2000 years. If fanatics continue their actions, “they will be annihilating centuries of civilization”:

“[W]hen Muslims are collectively depicted as terrorists or extremists, it’s a hell of a lot easier to look the other way when they are spied on”:

In Lansing, Michigan, “The Council on American-Islamic Relations says three people allegedly attacked a 26-year-old woman…attempted to pull the victim’s dress and face veil off before knocking her down and shouting obscenities at her” …

… and Muslims in Brooklyn are experiencing “racial slurs and even eggs being thrown at worshipers wearing traditional Muslim clothing” as a result of the Gaza, Israeli conflict: 

Not shocked by the surveillance and the Informants on Muslims in the United States, Muslims answer is ” We need to be visible, to be active, and to speak up when the government uses our religion as the basis for persecution”:

PLO executive member Hanan Ashrawi described Israels actions as ‘war crimes’ and warned that Palestine will seek the International Criminal Court if Israel continues its violence against civilians …

… and “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has backed calls by Hamas for an end to the economic blockade of the Gaza Strip as a condition for a ceasefire”:

Aming the issues still unresolved are limits on enrichment capacity, “ the heavy water Arak reactor, sanctions relief and the Fordow enrichment site”:

“The two reports differed in their conclusions, although neither found evidence of extremism in the schools.” One “said there had been a coordinated attempt to introduce an ‘aggressive Islamist agenda’” but the other “said individuals had encouraged certain Islamic principles … to ‘raise standards’”:

The CAR Muslims are “ gripped by ethnic and religious violence since the Muslim-led Seleka rebels, seized power in the mainly Christian nation in 2013, “feel that they have been “abandoned”:  

July 22, 2014

News and Analysis (7/22/14)

Exploring a “phenomenon that has been far more pervasive than the media, government officials, or community leaders have acknowledged” the new film “shines a light on the informants … actively enlisting young men who never demonstrated any inclinations toward engaging in violence”:

As the carnage continues …

… pro-Palestine protests continue throughout the world, as well as in D.C, where thousands marched down Constitution Ave, asking the government to stop using American tax money to fund Israeli crimes; …

… while in Denver, protesters from both sides rallied in downtown to urge a cease-fire; …

… and “in Paris, despite a rare police ban and warnings from President Francois Hollande, hundreds began massing for their march but clashed with police who blocked their route”:

… and Israel is losing the media war because “American audiences are seeing the story of the conflict, perhaps more than ever before, through Palestinian eyes”:

“All major religions promulgate rules, but they also teach tolerance and compassion. For some sad reason … the doctrinal and punitive aspects of historical Islam … overshadow the religion’s compassionate teachings and practices. Resetting the balance … is best done from within”:

Instead of Boycotting Obama, Muslims should work within the system to have more representation in the American government, says Shadi Hamid:

A new Islamic group established to  end to religious violence in the Muslim world, by traveling to conflict zones and promoting peace in the region:

ISIL has driven the Christians out of Mosul, but the local Muslims defy the self-declared terrorist government with graffiti protesting “We are all Christians”:

“When questioned by The Tennessean …, Kelly was unable to cite any specific instance when Mohyuddin made such statements.” Mohyuddin said, “I have never ever said any words even close to that in public or in private. It is absolute lies”:

A report by “the former head of the Metropolitan police’s counter-terrorism command said there was no evidence of radicalisation, violence or encouragement of terrorism, but” found true accusations of “efforts to remove headteachers who did not conform with the wishes of governors”:

Rand Paul opines that after the Iraq war, “Today the Middle East is less stable than in 2003″:

July 20, 2014

News and Analysis (7/20/14)

From London to New Zealand, from Libya to the Vatican, public expressions of solidarity with and concern for the people of Gaza …

… while in France, protests violate a city wide ban on pro- Palestinian demonstrations, and peaceful demonstrators were met with ” teargas and Tasers”; while some were injured, others were arrested …

… and Nelson Mandela’s 1990 remarks remind us that the root problem is apartheid, “We identify with them…because we do not believe it is right for the Israeli government to suppress basic human rights in the conquered territories” …

… and the Hamas chief says, “the US president and his administration’s officials have tied their own hands with illogical laws that prevent them from having direct contacts with Hamas, which hasn’t made any act of aggression against America. Those laws don’t serve America’s interests”:

A survey conducted by the Pew Project using a “feeling thermometer” to see Americans feelings towards the different religious groups, where Muslims and Atheists ranked in ” The cold area” :

Islam recognizes the importance of equality between all humanity, without any distinctions, including rights to life, women’s rights and individual’s rights:

In Burma, about “140,000 minority Rohingya Muslims who have been forced to live in camps where disease and despair have taken root” are underrepresented in the media:

An immigrant Muslim- Moroccan girl scores the highest marks on examinations, is named France top high school student:

“What is being done by the Daesh terrorist gang against our Christian citizens in Ninevah province, and their aggression against the churches and houses of worship in the areas under their control reveals beyond any doubt the extremist criminal and terrorist nature of this group” …

… “the order was issued after Christian leaders failed to attend a meeting called by” IS in a letter saying “that Christians must either convert to Islam, pay a tax on non-Muslims known as jizya, or give up their possessions and leave the city. Failure to do so would result in a death penalty, ‘as a last resort’” …

… meanwhile, the UN issues a report accusing IS (a/k/a ISIL) of crimes against humanity, “focused on a range of violations committed against civilians”:

Muslims fro Tulsa to Singapore are feeding the hungry during their month of fasting:

” Assets of Islamic banks grew at an average rate of 17% per year between 2008 and 2012… However, usury or riba is also prohibited under sharia law so in principle banks cannot charge fees or interest for money lending”:


July 19, 2014

What Is the Future of Islamic Reform Movements?

[This is the ninth in a series of my notes on the International Institute of Islamic Thought conference on Islamic Reform Movements After the Arab Spring held in Herndon, VA. It sets the stage for the other papers the presentations and discussions of which will be summarized in the remainder of this series. The official proceedings will be published by IIIT at a later time. Names of participants (other than mine) in the general discussion have been omitted by request of the organizers.]

“What Is the Future of Islamic Reform Movements?”

Nathan Brown, George Washington University

My focus must be narrow because my expertise is in the Arab world, especially those on the model of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). I think this is a critical moment in the transformation of these movements, and by moment, I mean these few days [on and around June 30, 2013]. The movements are discovering that, in a moment of what looks like extreme triumph, events are controlling them when they thought they would control events. The focus of these movements is reform, in their own eyes and in fact. For this reason these movements have never seen politics as the primary, let alone only, avenue for their efforts.

The Arab regimes took a wary eye towards any movement that might have political impact. At best they would allow them to pursue certain activities, even political activities, as long as they did not take their political activities too seriously. What was the best path for the movements to respond? As the environment became slightly less harsh, they decided to move into whatever avenues were opened to them: student government, election as independents, etc., out of which a pattern developed, the consequences of which we now face. They were able to establish a broad presence on the ground so that once politics turned electoral they were well-placed for action. There was a cat and mouse game in which the Islamists would calculate what is the best they could do without threatening the regimes. In the 70′s and 80′s the regimes had no grand design, but acting ad hoc, gave the Islamists an opportunity to actually win an election, as in Algeria; but they learned that if they win, they will pay a high price. When I asked the Jordanian Brotherhood how many seats will you contest? He did not give a number but said only, “We will not repeat the disaster of Hamas.”

In 2011 we had a very different environment. Both obstacles seemed to have dropped. Domestic opportunities suddenly arose, and the reaction of international actors, especially the US, was not alliance to the MB, but an absence of opposition. The MB heard the US saying they would not object if the MB would agree to observe Egypt’s international obligations, especially the treaty with Israel.  But the MB made a gigantic, although understandable (given the forces arrayed against them), mistake in 2011. Through a series of short term decisions it decided to contest more seats that originally intended and the presidency as well. They were ill-suited to that task. They did not have the political skill set for the transformation from a repressed opposition to the leader of a majority government. They did not know how to talk to the opposition or the fence-setters. Further they underwent no period of experience in local government. The third problem was that events went very fast. The best time to talk to these movements is a year after the election. These are movements that reflect and learn; but when they happen as fast as they did in Egypt, there is no opportunity to learn. There is nothing that goes wrong in the country today that is not blamed on Muhammad Mursi. The movement and Mursi himself are acting like a deer caught in the headlights. I think that, as with Hamas, abrupt political success has changed their emphases in a way that is harming them.

Discussant: Abdullah al-Arian, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University (Qatar)

It is hard enough to understand what’s happening now, let alone the future. I think there has been an emphasis in looking at Islamist movements through their ideology and its connection to traditional Islamic thought rather than by looking at practical politics and immediate realities. What defines these movements is not tradition and ideology, but their departures from them in their actual policies. They try to justify their actions in ideology, but there is an evolution taking place.  Remember that they used to consider political parties as completely abhorrent. There is no sense in which any party in Egypt can effectively succeed the ousted regime. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has been unable to understand and reform the structural impediments in the military, the judiciary, and the media. This is not to say they do not believe in democracy–that is the one thing we know they believe in–but they do not know what to do. They shy away from the challenges they do not understand and end up mired in debates over questions that are irrelevant and unhelpful, like the role of Islam in a future Islamic state. Ghanouchi has tried to avoid these traps, if not completely effectively, more so than the MB. The claim that Mursi is totally in the control of the Guidance Council is an exaggeration. Binaries like those between technocrats and ideologues are floating around. Where are the Islamist technocrats? How can this be remedied? The obstacle is a limited understanding of what constitutes Islam? We see Wasat, other new parties, and the youth movement promising to follow that path.

Q. The army has given the politicians  8 hours to solve the problem or they will impose their own solution. How will the opposition react?

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad: The disaster of Hamas was an accident. George Washington, too, opposed political parties, but has there ever been a no-party democracy?

Q. My understanding of the bureaucracy is that it is a kind patrimonial system. Is that dismantled?

Brown: A week ago the military said they had one week, so if they say 48 hours that’s an extension. There are elements in the opposition openly trying to provoke military intervention, but the opposition is very diverse and I think some groups will not accept it. In democracy you need some kind of civilian oversight and the Egyptian military has made it clear that it sees itself as an independent actor. There are ways out, such as a government of national unity; or, the President can call a binding referendum, but he would need to formulate a referendum acceptable to the opposition, and the two sides are too far apart. The opposition thinks the president is already dead and the MB thinks it won the election and there is a violent (witness the attack on their HQ) attempt to overthrow them.

Some members of top leadership knew by December that they were going to win, but they had no discussions as to what to do about it. They put their foot to the accelerator and threw away the steering wheel.

I won’t speak of the bureaucracy, but talk about the “deep state” in Egypt is misleading. The state is not so deep as it is wide, with strong bodies like the military and al-Azhar, that are part of the state but difficult to control. It acts not of grand design, but is still difficult to control and guide.

Al-Arian: I think a no-party system is theoretically possible. The military used the failure to allocate independent seats properly as an excuse to annul the results completely. I agree with Nathan’s answer about the bureaucracy. If you roll back the clock by inviting the military in, you have done irreparable harm to democratization, setting it back for fifty years. Remember that many powerful elements in the opposition, like remnants of the NDP, oppose democracy.

Brown: Are we going to see a return to the 1950s?

Q. For years there were stories that the MB was just waiting for an opportunity to take down the government and now the originators of those stories are the ones seeking to overthrow the government. Given the nature of the previous regime, who could have had the experience to take over government other than those in the previous regime? What is the role of al-Azhar in all this?

Q.  “One man one vote one time.” Before the 1990s the head of the family voted for the entire family. It was the Islamic movement that demanded one man vote, meaning votes for women.

Brown: Over and over during the past week, the Egyptian opposition has seen itself as democratic and with the majority on their side. The argument, “If I can live with George Bush for 8 years you can live with Mursi for three more,” had no resonance. Their response is, you’re an American so your pro-Ikhwan. There is a constitution but the opposition does not accept it. There is no single Egyptian people. Al-Azhar sees itself as speaking for Islam. They know that what they say is not binding, but they still think it is correct. The General Guide is practitioner of veterinary medicine and the president is an engineer. Only a very small minority want to see the MB repressed, most simply want them out of power. By giving an ultimatum, the military has already intervened; I don’t know how far they will go.

Q. I hope the MB would draw on their experience from the 50s and 60s.

Q. My personal experience from sub-Saharan Africa justifies the worry that letting the soldiers come in “temporarily” means they will stay for 50 years. The Egyptian state is the oldest state in the Muslim world, going back thousands of years. Why do they act like newly decolonized state?

Q. Because they were ruled by foreigners even from the time of the pharaohs. Q. Iran also goes back thousands of years.

Q. It is sad to see what is happening in Egypt. It was once part of the Persian Empire. We have good relations. After the Iranian Revolution we had the same chaos, but the clerics came to power. Khomeini wanted to give some space to the opposition groups, but we faced an armed group, the Mujahidin-e-Khal. Khomeini felt that building his own army was justified. The invasion by Iraq also contributed to this. These armed opponents and American machinations were used to justify the authoritarian turn. Some have concluded that we Easterners do not deserve democracy and soon we shall decide we need a new despot. Khomeini took a lesson from the 1906 revolution in which most of the clerics were involved but secularists took over. Khomeini was careful to prevent this, denouncing Mossadiq as a kâfir, which he was not. When we asked Khomeini why he had done this, he said it was to prevent him from becoming a “banner” or public hero. All fuquha have always said a tyrant is better than fitna, and I fear al-Azhar will come to the same conclusion.

Q. In Iran peaceful demonstrators were brutally suppressed four years ago. Mursi seems to be a bit more tolerant and that is good. In Iran democratization from below is taking place in spite of the Islamic movement. The election of Rowhani makes us proud. You may say he is part of the establishment, but what he is saying is very good. In Egypt I think democracy is also coming from below, although it may be murkier since the Iranians do not have Egyptian’s fascination with the Islamic movement.

Al-Arian: This mutual demonization in Egyptian society is very harmful. Takfîr has gotten attention, but the same thing is happening on the other side, where the Islamists are painted as some kind of foreign invasion. The least extreme thing is we’ll give them fair trials before we put them back in prison. Egyptians should know better than to lump all Islamic groups together as Ikhwan.

Q. Twenty million signatures for the opposition is a myth, since some people signed many times. Since the opposition refuses to meet with Mursi, what can he do? If the police will not keep the peace, what choice does the army have?

Q.  What about the Copts?

Q. What are Egyptians going through in their daily lives since the revolution? What simple, even band-aid, reforms could improve life?

Brown: This is an extremely difficult situation for any government. It should be clear that the Egyptian presidency is a job no one should want. I think the FJP made a strategic calculation a year ago that made sense then, but has come back to haunt them. They feared the remnants of the old regime (military, judiciary) rather than the popular opposition, which they dismissed as unruly youth unworthy of attention. They postponed decisions of governance. I don’t know what will happen next, but I think we should remember the historical perspective. Even if thrown out of power now, they are not going away and they need to do long-term strategic thinking.

Al-Arian: Some of the things for which Mursi is being blamed (flight of capital, deployment of police out of neighborhoods where they were needed) were done by elements of society who wanted to see him fall. During these 48 hours I think they will stand pat.

Brown: Coptic reaction ranges from nervousness to outright panic so those who have reacted at all lineup with the opposition.

Q. Is the army unified? Does it mean a new Mubarak?

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

July 18, 2014

News and Analysis (7/18/14)

As Israel promises more carnage …

… details emerge about the bizarre iftar at which President Obama defended Israel’s right to defend itself while ignoring Palestinian’s rights to defend themselves, demoralizing all the attendees except Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer who milled about isolated in the adjacent White House Green Room …

… while Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of attempting a “systematic genocide” on the Palestinians, condemning the Muslim world for remaining silent, and saying that “ humanity has been destroyed there, as well as the honor of Muslims” …

… and photographs of a the father of one of the Palestinian boys who were killed by an Israeli air strike on the beach of Gaza, goes viral. Israel’s response was “the strike had been intended for Hamas militants,” calling the death of the children “a tragic outcome” …

… but NBC yanks the reporter who “owns” the story, refusing to explain, except for a vague comment about “security concerns (are they afraid Israel will attack Rockefeller Center in retaliation?) …

… and Parisian police will ban pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Paris, following  “accusations by Jewish community leaders that the demonstrations promote discrimination against France’s Jews,” despite the fact that many of the demonstrators are Jews …

… yet “European political expression on matters Israel-Palestine is vastly different in scope and content than here in the US, certainly compared to what one hears when listening to members of Congress or to American TV”:

The wife of the targeted MB entrepreneur Khairat Al-Shater says he “is jailed in the Tora prison and has been denied the right to visits, denied access to external food and clothing, and deprived of everything … [but] [t]hey will not benefit from the injustice and oppression. Tomorrow is not far away….”:

Here are seven points of religious symbolism from his sermon that resonated deeply among observant Muslims, but were missed by most outsiders who looked on aghast at Ibrahim al-Baghdadi’s triumphalism …

… but ISIL’s demolition of religious sites of other faith is demolishing Islam’s image. A Pakistani scholar opines, “If ISIL members were true Muslims, they would respect different beliefs”:

The invasion of Iraq “continues to bedevil the [Obama] administration today, with the rise of the Sunni extremist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)” …

… and in a rare convergence of opinions, Senators John McCain and Rand Paul both point at George W. Bush to explain the disaster in Iraq:

Ameenah Rusul, a Muslim who taught her students that “women were guided to see themselves as leaders, entrepreneurs, educators, property owners, informed mothers and wives” passed away:

“Hamas desperately needed a way out of its increasing isolation. It had lost Syrian and (much of) Iranian support in 2011 when it sided with the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad” and more recently the new Egyptian junta “closed the tunnels … that had enabled Gaza’s survival:

Lara, a Canadian born Scandinavian, became a Muslim after learning about Islam from “authentic Islamic book” saying that Islam “seems so right”:

A study shows that “Mosque attenders were no more likely to participate in anti-regime protests than were non-attenders…[but] Koran readers are significantly more likely to support democracy and to perceive unequal treatment from the government” :

July 17, 2014

News and Analysis (7/17/14)

The minute the UN humanitarian truce ended, Israel initiated its threatened ground invasion …

… but some “Israelis have chosen to commemorate the dead in the latest Gaza conflict by spray painting surfaces in the southern city of Beersheva with biographical details of name and age. The names of the Gaza dead now appear across many neighborhoods in this desert Israeli town”:

“Some of those community leaders have already come under fire for attending the White House dinner. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee urged a boycott over the surveillance and administration support for Israel during the current Gaza offensive”:

A female “Muslim scholar who sits on the Birmingham Mosque Sharia council … says: ‘Sharia is … based on equity, compassion, human dignity. I don’t think there is a conflict between Sharia and equalities legislation, the issue is with texts being applied literally without the historical context’”:

“The petition, signed by Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Ken Loach, Brian Eno and Jeremy Hardy, accused the corporation of pro-Israeli bias and said it would ‘like to remind the BBC that Gaza is under Israeli occupation and siege [and] that Israel is bombing a refugee population’”:

“Kurds going in to fight are from everywhere — Turkey, Iran, Syria and others. Even some Kurds based in Europe are saying they want to go fight” in Kobane, a strategically important Kurdish city between Raqa — the jihadists’ main bastion — and Aleppo, where IS has made recent advances”:

“I have many customers who want to grow their beard and hair out because they are going back to repent. Even those who fought [ISIS] are repenting and pledging allegiance” – Abdel Qader Mahzoud, a barber in the southeastern Turkish border town of Akcakale:

“Supporters of Syrian rebels and of President Bashar al-Assad see, experience and feel entirely different wars. But the Palestinian narrative may be so entrenched, and the emotional resonance of Israeli attacks on Palestinians so intense, that it overwhelms this tendency toward fragmentation”:

“The covert war waged by the US and Israel against Iran’s nuclear program has seen the assassination of five Iranian scientists, malicious computer viruses like Stuxnet, espionage, and unexplained explosions, as well as several apparent attempts by Iran to fight back in kind”:

In a video interview Edward Snowden warns Americans that the most intimate details of their lives are being turned over to the government under such poor safeguards that a 29-year-old was able to walk off with it:

July 16, 2014

News and Analysis (7/16/14)

With the cease fire truce between Hamas and Israel foredoomed because “the proposal fashioned by Egypt was not discussed with Hamas leaders, who feel it suits Israel far more than them” …

… the bombardment of Gaza continues …

… while Israelis, feeling secure under their “Iron Dome” from the Palestininan’s rockets, take a stroll down the road in Siderot, sit down, watch the airstrikes on Gaza … “about a dozen locals who cheered on their military from plastic chairs while eating popcorn”:

“Israel is guilty either of aggression in violation of the UN Charter or is in flagrant violation of its obligations as the Occupying Power under the Geneva Convention”:

Since the invasion, Iraqi refugees have been fleeing the country, seeking refugee in neighboring countries, such as Syria and Jordan, but, there  are yet more to flee under the current circumstances with ISIS:

In efforts to salvage Iraq from division, the Iraqi parliament elected a moderate Sunni speaker. The decision  “represented something of a breakthrough since it starts the clock for setting up the entire government”:

“[C]reating the Islamic State” is “playing Shiites against Sunnis,” said a Turkman rice farmer who blamed the Iraqi government for the crisis there, while some minorities say they are ” better off” since the Kurds moved into Kirkuk:

“Three Israeli Jews who were arrested for the murder of a Palestinian” are expected to claim insanity:

Looking back on the Iraq policy that has turned part of the country over to a self-appointed extremist “Caliph,” and moved the the rulers of Iraq into the arms of Iran, the former VP has no regrets; he does regret that the current President prefers spending on highways and food stamps over killing:

Muslims, Christians and Jews get together for interfaith Iftar “to extend a mutual gesture of peace” in response to the recent events between Gaza and Israel: 



July 15, 2014

News and Analysis (7/15/14)

Hamas’s inability to halt the impotent rocket barrage while it debated whether or not to accept the Egyptian proposed cease-fire allows Netanyahu to launch at least five Israeli airstrikes just as he makes the announcement blaming Hamas for his continuation of the predominantly civilian massacres:

Muslims are to boycott the White House Annual Iftar dinner on Monday over Gaza, and the government’s silence towards the Israeli airstrikes when “committing a massacre in Palestine with the possibility of an all-out ground assault”:

Over 100 Imams in the UK signed their names in an open letter, advising British Muslims to continue their support to the Syrians but in a ” safe and responsible way” and only from the UK:

In his own words, Wiremu Curtis, who now goes by the name of Haroon, “left violent gang life for a life of peace.” yet, the government decided to cancel his passport after he converted to Islam and “went from patched gang member to devout Muslim”:

Arabs and Muslims in the US still face bias and prejudice today, thirteen years after 9/11 attacks. The fear of Muslims and American Muslims “”It has spilled over to the political arena and gotten worse.” said Jack Shaheen:

The young Pakistani activist Malala has made a statement, appealing to the release of the abducted Nigerian girls. saying that Boko Haram is “misusing the name of Islam” …

… and a Nigerian imam says, “It is now time for us as Muslims to let the world know that the destruction going around across the world today has either some political or economy connection. We as Muslims know that it is the Sunnah of the holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to always love our neighbours”:

In Malaysia, “The Deputy Prime Minister said the teachings in the Quran could make Malaysia a respected Muslim country if they were fully understood and incorporated into the lives of the people”:

In efforts to stop emergence of jihadist groups in North Africa, France has decided to send troops to the Sahel region of North Africa, to counter Islamic insurgency:

July 14, 2014

News and Analysis (7/14/14)

“Israeli drones are a constant presence in the skies over Gaza, buzzing loudly as they watch and attack targets in the Strip. But the Palestinian drone is a new turn in this conflict, now entering its second week. More than 170 people have been killed in Gaza … with around 1,300 wounded”:

His offer to open “his home in northern Israel to residents from the south of the country to allow them a brief respite from the stress of living under the round-the-clock threat of incoming Hamas rockets” is obviously symbolic, but a welcome change nonetheless:

“The applicants argued that the by-law forbidding religious symbols on the beach established by the mayor amounted to ‘religious discrimination’ that ‘violates the principles of the Republic’”:

“Archbishop of Canterbury says number of young people travelling to Syria is ‘extraordinarily small’”:

“At a news conference with both presidential candidates — Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah — Kerry stated: ‘Every single ballot that was cast will be audited’”:

“While volunteers have signed up to defend Shiite shrines in Iraq, Iran is leery of entanglement and suspicious of US motives. Iraq’s parliament remains deadlocked on forming a new government”:

Status quo ante. Muslim Brotherhood is banned; NDP is back …

… so it’s no surprise that Egypt’s “new rulers, who ousted an Islamist president last year, may be less keen on helping Hamas this time”:

“The US military has concluded he walked away from his base without authorisation before his capture but has stopped short of accusing him of desertion”

“Many activist groups had criticised Young’s announcement of an Israeli concert”, but now Young says “that he and Crazy Horse would be making donations to two charities … ;that teach music to Palestinian and Israeli youth simultaneously by enabling them to play music together’”:

July 12, 2014

News and Analysis (7/12/14)

The Chinese government continues the its hopeless effort to force Muslims to break their fast, even forcing students “to dine with their professors, [so] those who refused risked sanction from university officials”:

The “ceaseless Israeli bombing campaign, with airstrikes every five minutes, has turned the frenetic hub of the Gaza Strip into a virtual ghost town, emptying streets  …

… and the intended target of an Israeli bombing wasn’t in, but eight disabled noncombatants were, helpless to escape the Israeli onslaught …

… Not only the war is not equal, but the media is no longer sure who started the war. As the conflict escalates, Israel considers invading the Gaza strip …

… Despite the rise in death toll in Palestine, Netanyahu refuses to halt his airstrikes, saying ” “I am not speaking with anyone about a ceasefire. That is not under consideration”:

… Even with the international pressure on Israel, it refuses to halt its airstrikes, with Netanyahu insisting, “I will end it when our goals are realized. And the overriding goal is to restore the peace and quiet.” Is this a euphemism for extermination of the Palestinians? 

… For although Israel claims to be “only attacking Hamas” its obvious that it has set itself out to kill as many Palestinians as possible. When it hits a mosque, claims its a Hamas breeding ground, when it hits a charity building, it calls it an accident …

… frustrating Palestinian elders trying to reign in angry youth and leaving them asking, “They [Israelis] are asking us to calm down our children – how can we do this when they are burning our children alive?”…

… On the redeeming side, abc News now admits to, and apologizes for, misidentifying the Palestinian victims of Israeli violence as Israeli victims of Palestinian violence …

… and believers among Muslims and Jews in America come together for Iftar, showing that they have “have much in common, and can enjoy each others’ food and company”; asked how they will deal with the escalating conflict, one Chicago Muslim responded, “There will probably be a lot of prayer” :

The claim that Islam is the “ideology” that is driving the acts of violence or terrorism is a fallacy that “distracts us from the more obvious societal ills such as lack of education, employment, security, resources and hope”, as if  “thugs … are driven by some well-thought-out theological position”: 

Despite his perpetuation of Bush policies in the Muslim world and spying on Muslims in the US, not to mention Guantanamo Bay, Obama’s respectful rhetoric towards Islam has earned him a 72% rating among American Muslims in a new Gallop poll,  “his best rating among religious groups — by far”:

Daily Wonkette has fun mocking Breirbart’s pathetic Islamophobic alarm that Muslim terrorists are flooding across the Mexican border disguised as teenage Guatamalans:

Muslim leaders in Britain condemn the acts of terrorist carried by ISIS, saying that “ ISIS does not represent the majority of Islam…Violence has no place in religion, violence has no religion. It is prohibited for people to present themselves for destruction” :

“The judgment has held that fatwa is a legal opinion only which binds none except those who voluntarily agree to abide” — Feroz Khan Ghazi, Secretary General of  South Asian Minorities Lawyers Association:

Islam requires scholarship, because its a religion that favors the educated and the aware. To overcome extremism, the President of Singapore launched  “a  Resource and Counselling Centre  that aims to counter misinterpretations of Islam in Singapore:

“The mass extrajudicial killings may be evidence of war crimes or crimes against humanity, and appear to be revenge killings for atrocities by (Islamic State)” — Han Right Watch:


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