Author Archive

A Dangerous Moment in U.S. Middle East Relations

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

This is an extremely crucial and dangerous moment.

If the U.S. follows Trump in siding with Saudi Arabia, we will be effectively supporting ISIS, and potentially creating an ISIS more powerful than any country in the Middle East.

Here is why.

The Saudi interpretation of Islam is the root source of ISIS’s. ISIS might look like Saudi Arabia if had more oil and an alliance with America. Consider what the Sauids already get away with given their oil wealth. Imagine what they could do, if they also had control of Qatar’s natural gas reserve, the single largest in the world…

Yes, yes. The Saudis and Trump say they are blockading Qatar to fight ‘terrorists’, but the real ‘terrorists’ they are fighting are these three things:

1) The democratic aspirations of the region that brought the Arab Spring, which the Saudis and UAE brutally crushed.

– Like ISIS, the Saudis claim democracy is against Islam. In contrast, the list of ‘terrorists’ they are demanding Qatar to hand over, are advocates of democracy (including both “Islamists” like the Muslim Brotherhood, and secularists). Qatar does not push just one line, but believes in open dialogue. That is why they started Al Jazeera – the first free and open news channel in the Arab world – and that is why the first demand of the Saudis is to shut it down.

2) Iran, against whom they have stoked the same kind of anti-Shia sectarian hate that ISIS uses to justify its atrocities, and against whom ISIS recently launched terrorist attacks. Qatar has a significant Shia population that are intermarried with the Sunnis, and they put a high value on coexistence. When the Saudis accuse Qatar of ‘siding with’ Iran and demand them to ‘take a side’, they are demanding that Qatar take the same hard line, anti-Shia stance that the Saudis share with ISIS.

3) Lastly they are fighting their own people, who are suffering under the economic calamity that comes from the mismanagement and corruption typical of unaccountable regimes like the Saudis. That is why they want to control Qatar’s media.

That is also why I worry that they aim to get their hands on Qatar’s petroleum industry. They will then use some of the spoils to placate their large population of unemployed young males.

Imagine the consequences, if the Saudis are allowed to subdue and control Qatar. They would then be in control of the largest reserves of natural gas in the world, in addition to the largest reserves of oil they already have. They would effectively control the Arab world, and there would be no space for alternative information or media within that block. Essentially, the whole Arabian peninsula would become a regional version of what ISIS only aspires to be, in control of the world’s largest natural gas supply as well as its largest oil supply.

Israel would be safe (which is why the Israeli right supports the Saudis), but what about the rest of the world?

We have make this clear to our fellow citizens and put pressure on our elected officials and policymakers to avoid this catastrophic blunder.

Edward Ryan Moad, Ph.D.
Qatar University

“The People’s Lawyer and the Blind Sheikh”

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

[This is an abridged version of Hajj Mauri’s remembrance of Lynn Stewart.]

Remembering Lynne Stewart: “The People’s Lawyer”

By El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan

Unusual among America’s recent political prisoners, Lynn Stewart  was not young, male, or Muslim.

The establishment would have us believe that Lynne Stewart was a lawyer of little consequence before she encountered a certain foreign-born client; and that this particular client became the source of her downfall from anonymous respectability. Nothing could be further from the truth. Long before Lynne Stewart met ‘the blind Egyptian cleric,’ Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, she had already made a name for herself as a ‘people’s lawyer.’

‘The World Can’t Wait,’ a New York-based grassroots organization, had this to say about Lynne’s passing:

“Lynne Stewart, people’s lawyer who defended many political activists and prisoners over 40 years, died March 7 at home in Brooklyn.  After a long struggle, she was released from federal prison three years ago, suffering from cancer, and expected not to live long.  Yet she lived three more years, during which she continued to defend peoples’ rights, in prison, and out.  We will miss her so much.”

Another admirer of Lynne’s, Pakistani neurologist Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui (the sister of another female political prisoner Dr. Aafia Siddiqui), wrote to me that Lynn “was an inspiration and a pillar of courage for people like us.”  Lynne had been imprisoned at the same institution that still confines Aafia Siddiqui – FMC Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas. After Lynne was released she participated in two demonstrations we organized for Aafia despite her cancer.

With that said, let us now examine the case that caused the stature of Lynne Stewart to be elevated in some quarters and hatefully vilified in others, as demonstrated in an article published shortly after Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman died on February 18, 2017 – following 22 years of solitary confinement in U.S. custody – by Benjamin Weiser in The New York Times titled, “Lynne F. Stewart, Lawyer for ‘Blind Sheikh’ Omar Abdel Rahman, Has No Regrets.”

Mr. Weiser first marvels that (by the Grace of ALLAH) Lynne Stewart outlived her 18 month medical prognosis, then at the fact that she was unbowed and unbroken vis-à-vis the opinion she still held regarding her former client. Mr. Weiser then proceeds to paint Lynne Stewart as having been embroiled in her own terrorism conspiracy. Let me set the record straight! Lynne ended up being prosecuted, and having her license to practice law taken away, solely because of her courageous and zealous defense of a vilified client (and that client’s human rights). Her prosecution was also meant to send a chilling message to members of the New York Bar Association, that if you as practicing lawyers cross certain lines, this is what can happen to you!

Following his conviction for “seditious conspiracy” – not for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center – Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman was imprisoned under a SAMs (special administrative measures) order – which entails highly restrictive, and closely monitored, confinement conditions. During a tumultuous period in Egypt (during the Mubarak era), when there was an opportunity to secure some measure of peace, Lynne publicly delivered a message from Sheikh Omar on the matter at hand (via press conference). This was the reason she ended up not just being administratively sanctioned, but criminally prosecuted!

With that said, there does indeed appear to have been a conspiracy to attack a number of targets in New York City in the early to mid-90s, and at the heart of that conspiracy was an Egyptian-born, FBI paid, informant-provocateur by the name of Emad Salem. This government agent had reportedly served in the Egyptian army, and later came to America in search of security and his slice of the American dream.

In his thought-provoking memoir, My Life As A Radical Lawyer, the late William M. Kunstler, wrote (on page 335): “I had evidence that Emad Salem, the government’s confidential informer, was himself involved in the WTC bombing. Not only had he confessed to the crime during a conversation with an FBI agent that he had secretly recorded … but he was hospitalized less than three hours after the blast with a middle ear attack. We had information that Salem was prone to these attacks when exposed to shots or explosions; he has suffered a similar attack when he fired a rifle on a practice range without wearing earplugs.” In the late 90’s, a producer at WBAI-FM presented this writer with an audio copy of that same telephone conversation that Emad Salem had with his FBI handler.

It should also be noted that after Sheikh Omar and his alleged co-defendants were safely put away, Emad Salem received a large sum of taxpayer dollars and a new identity (for services rendered) courtesy of Uncle Sam!

Sheikh Omar told Time magazine, “When I came here, I was fleeing oppression. Now I am facing the same oppression. I came here to avoid prison, and I was put in prison. I came here to smell freedom; I found it to be suffocating [in America].”

I sincerely believe that a significant number of innocent Muslims were wrongfully imprisoned as a result of the “terrorism conspiracy” trials, and the associated entrapments, of the 1990s – and that the post 9/11 era has seen a dramatic increase in the number of “bogus” (to use Lynne’s description) terrorism-related convictions.

With the passing of Lynne Stewart we have one less soldier on the field of battle to help us salvage the American ideal of liberty. May ALLAH be pleased with what she gave; and may we all learn from her example.

The struggle continues…

 

 

 

 

Don’t Blame the Victims: Colonialist Ecosavagery Is Behind the Fires in Palestine

Friday, November 25th, 2016

Over 200 forest fires are raging in Palestine (now renamed the Jewish State of Israel including its occupied Palestinian territories). Many countries are helping put out the fires including four teams of Palestinian firefighters (no body helped Gaza when it was being fire-bombed by white
phosphorous). But the fascist racist government of “Israel” blamed the Palestinians for the fires! Even some decent Israelis pointed out that fires are raging across Western Asia (aka the “Middle East”). Here is a map put out by one Israeli website of location of fires across the region including in Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey: http://bit.ly/2gGbqJU.

Perhaps coincidentally or otherwise, right after war criminal Netanyahu blamed Palestinians, new fires erupted near Palestinian communities. If you really want to know who is to blame for the damage, it is clearly Zionism as I wrote in many articles and books before. In 1901 at the World Zionist Congress and despite objections of conscientious Jews, a Jewish National Fund (Keren Keyemet Li’Israel, or KKL) was established to further “Jewish colonization” (the term they used) of Palestine. One of the tasks was to raise money and they used the gimmick of collecting money for trees. Indeed they did plant trees but it was unfortunately the highly flammable European pine tree. After 1948-1949 when some 500 Palestinian villages and towns were depopulated, their lands (cultivated with figs, almonds, olives and other trees) were razed to the ground and again resinous and inflammable pine trees were planted. The same happened after 1967 when here Palestinian villages were demolished and their village lands planted with the same European pines, one of those villages is the biblical Imwas (see photos before and after here: https://freepaly.wordpress.com/tag/environmental-racism/ ).

The choice of European pine trees was because a) they grow fast, b) they give a European look to the otherwise “Arab” landscape, c) their leaves on the ground make  acidic preventing growth or regrowth of endogenous trees. In total KKL boasts that it planted 240 million pine trees. Resinous pine is like petrol and burns with a ferocity. This was not the only environmentally catastrophic decision by the Zionist movement in Palestine (others include draining the Hula Wetlands and the diversion of the water of the river Jordan and now the Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal).  Environmentally, the current fires are deadly to all living creatures regardless of their
origins and they do spread to the remaining few indigenous forests and to human dwellings (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Atheist without distinction).

We environmentalists (Palestinian and Israeli) have longed warned of the catastrophic consequences of politically driven decisions guided by colonial ideology but devastating to native animals and plants.  So here we are the remaining native Palestinians watching our lands go up in flames and being blamed for it. This is not unusual and we are the victims of others from long ago. We even paid the price of what happened in WWII (by Europeans to fellow Europeans). I am thinking now if a meteor hits earth, we Palestinians will also pay a disproportionate price. 7 million of us are refugees or displaced people.

We in the Palestine Museum of Natural History and Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability (http://palestinenature.org) urge protection of our nature. Environmental conservation is a priority for all decent human beings including guarding biodiversity (and human diversity).

Mazin Qumsiyeh
A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
Professor and (volunteer) Director Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine
http://qumsiyeh.org
http://palestinenature.org

Dr. Taha Jabir Al-Alwani’s Last Article

Friday, April 29th, 2016

[The passing of Dr. Taha Jabir Al-Alwani was a great loss to scholarship in the ummah. I can think of no better epitaph than his last article, which was publicly read by his grandchildren at a program at Howard University on March 8. This is our transcription of his article.]

“I sanctify justice, celebrate freedom, and honor humanity. While demonstrating gentleness with the weak, I remind the strong that there is always someone who is stronger than they. I advise the rich to fulfill the rights of the poor, while I remind the poor that the rich among them have been entrusted with God’s wealth to fulfill the rights of the poor.  I love goodness and gentleness and reject evil. I invite to goodness and reject violence. I cling to the rope of guidance and uphold the truth. I fight lies and deceit and forbid corruption. I seek reconciliation to the extent possible. I yearn for peace and despise war. I love humanity and strive for a good life. Death beckons, yet I believe that this a bridge I must cross, to cross from a fleeting life to one that is eternal. I desire the best ending and seek refuge in God from the contrary. I love heaven and detest hell-fire. I seek security and hate instability. I hat authoritarianism. I am not profane, destructive, or corrupt. My lineage extends from Adam and Hawaa (Eve), for Adam is my father and Hawaa is my mother. All members of humanity are sisters and brothers. I do not disdain, betray or humiliate a single human being. Rather, I work to guide human beings, light their path, and walk with them along that path to paradise. I seek to be a roadblock between them and hellfire. I love the universe and belong to it. I love my neighbors in the universe, including its trees, plants, rocks, animals, mountains, and rivers. God, most Majestic, has created me from this earth. To this earth He will return me, and from this earth He will restore me once again. To this earth I belong, and for its cultivation I call. My desire is to raise the truth; my goal is to spread peace and security in it; my means is to struggle with my own soul in order for peace to be realized and security to  prevail. I invite to God, to Whom is my ultimate return.  Peace is my objective. Security is my desire. Terrorism is my enemy. Conflict is my adversary, Inner peace is my pursuit.

“Do you recognize me? Do you know on this earth anyone who parallels this description? I am a Muslim.”

— Shaykh Taha Jabir Al-Alwani

Muslims and Bell-Tower Controversy

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Muslims and Bell-Tower Controversy

Duke University’s decision to rescind its earlier approval to allow the use of campus bell-tower for a weekly Islamic prayer call has drawn widespread attention. Among the chief opponents of this accommodation to campus Muslims is Reverend Franklin Graham. He says, “It is wrong because it’s a different god. Using the bell tower, that signifies worship of Jesus Christ. Using (it) as a minaret is wrong” (quoted in Atlanta Journal Constitution, 1/16/15).

It is ironic, however, that Franklin Graham’s father, Reverend Billy Graham, was more polite and tolerant about Islam and Muslims. In the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, the elder Evangelical preached, in true Christian spirit, that we “should regard Muslims not as the enemy but as fellow-believers who worshiped the same God” (Washington Post, 9/2/02). Of course, over the centuries, numerous non-Muslim authorities (religious and others) have acknowledged that.

As to the bell-tower, it is a replica of the Islamic prayer-call minaret, brought to Latin-Europe by St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) from his missionary travels to the Islamic lands. While in Egypt , Francis “was deeply impressed by the religious devotion of Muslims, especially by their daily calls for prayer.” And, “the thrice-daily recitation of the Angelus that became current in Europe after this visit was precipitated by the impression made on Francis by the call of the muezzin (just as the quintessential Catholic devotion of the rosary derives from the Muslim prayer beads)” (see Thomas Cahill, “The Peaceful Crusade: Francis of Assisi,” New York Times, 12/25/06).

Incidentally, part of St. Francis’ mission was to convert Egypt’s Sultan al-Malik Kamil (reign: 1218-1238). He didn’t succeed, but he “came away from the peaceful encounter with revolutionary ideas
that called for Christians to live harmoniously with Muslims.” Amen. (See Paul Moses, The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam, and Francis of Assisi’s Mission of Peace, Image Publishers; 2009).

S.M. Ghazanfar
(Emeritus-Prof., University of Idaho)

Women and the American Mosque

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

In a March 27 webinar, seven major organizations (including Women in Islam, ISNA, and CAIR)  released their third report on American Mosques in the US, this time on Women and the American Mosque. The report is simply excellent!  You can read it at: http://www.hartfordinstitute.org/The-American-Mosque-Report-3.pdf

The main findings of the report are that fewer than half of US mosques are welcoming of women, as measured by four criteria: attendance of women at Friday prayers, use of a curtain or divider to separate women (a practice that has actually increased over the past twenty years), women’s programs and groups, and women’s participation in mosque governance. Comparing mosques using the four criteria, it was found that those that were most welcoming to women (i.e., met all four criteria, or 3 out of 4 criteria) were W. Deen Mohammed mosques, while those that scored poorest (0 or 1-2 criteria) followed the Salafi approach. Results are also correlated with ethnicity of the congregation, and birthplace of the Imam. The most interesting results, I thought, classified the mosque according to its approach in interpreting Islam:
– looking to the purposes of Quranic text (what we try to do in our Quran Study class), and interpreting and applying them to meet today’s circumstances (56% of mosques self-identify themselves under this category),
– following great scholars of the past (31% of mosques),
– following a particular school of thought (11% of mosques),
– following the Salafi approach (1%),
and correlating this classification with the measure of whether or not a mosque is friendly to women. The results: no method of interpretation made the mosques predominantly women-friendly, not even the “looking to purposes” approach.

The report recommends that mosques develop a strategic action plan to promote the participation of women, as measured by raising female attendence at Friday prayers from 18% at present to 33% over the next decade, offering space in the main prayer area for women to pray without a curtain if they so desire, including women on the mosque’s board, and supporting women’s inclusion in word and deed (in Friday sermons, programs, newsletters, lectures that interpret Islam, and on websites). The object would be to change the underlying belief that women’s presence in a mosque is a source of “fitnah” to a principle that the very dignity of the American mosque depends upon the presence of women. ISNA has stated that its No. 1 priority going forward will be masjid development, with women’s issues at the top of its list of things to improve.

Sisters, perhaps we should help too.  May I suggest that each of us who attends or lives near to a local mosque should make a copy of this report, and give it to the governing Board with a request that that mosque develops its own action plan to include more women. Let’s see if we can get husbands to help with the request.  They are intended to be our quwamma. All recognize that when women attend mosques, they bring their children, which strengthens the development of a sound Islamic foundation for the entire family.

I know some of us (myself included) have turned away from mosques as places that have failed to reinforce our Islamic faith. Perhaps with the aid of this report, however, it’s time to go back to mosques to make our concerns known. It would be a constructive way to renew the discussion on the interpretation of Islam to its original purpose, that of a protection and a spiritual renewal for men and women alike.

Alphecca Muttardy