Archive for March, 2015

News and Analysis (3/12/15)

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

When the FBI assured the local police that the Islamic endowment in town was legitimate and no threat, the village manager emailed the Clarion project asking if they knew something the FBI didn’t, the Islamophobic propaganda outlet behind the report did not respond:

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges’s “accrediting commission noted that Zaytuna had developed rigorous standards and has a driven student body”:

“The letter by American senators indicates the collapse of political ethics in the United States. Governments are bound to their commitments by international laws and would not violate their obligations with a change of government”:

“U.S.-trained and armed Iraqi military units, the key to the American strategy against ISIS, are under investigation for committing some of the same atrocities as the terror group”:

Turkey’s foreign minister “didn’t say which country the spy was working for, but said it was not the European Union or the United States“:

They are more likely to be stopped and searched, more likely to plead not guilty and more likely to be tried. These disparities… are often part of a complex mix of educational, employment, health and social inequalities that have characterised many of their live”:

“The statement goes on to criticise ‘the continued public targeting of Muslims through endless ‘anti-terror’ laws,’ adding that there have been 10 such pieces of legislation since the year 2000. Such legislation gives ‘huge power to the state’, while fuelling ‘media hysteria’, it claims”:

“The guards were demanding the job go to a southerner, instead of the current western holder, illustrating the regional and political divisions that have plagued the North African country since the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi four years ago” …

… and “Libya turmoil has provided fertile ground for IS-allied militants, who control the eastern city of Darna and also Sirte”:

“You are dead. We are going to kill you.” “The North Carolina shootings were just the beginning.” “You are not Americans, don’t fly our flag.” Subjected to such remarks, it’s no wonder that “the local Muslim community believes that the murder of a Muslim man in Dallas on March 5, 2015 was a hate crime”:

News and Analysis (3/10/15)

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Is it treason? Insulting the President isn’t good enough for some Congressional Republicans who now step up the game to insult the American government itself by telling their already paranoid hardline counterparts in Iran that the U.S. cannot be trusted to adhere to any deal it might sign:

During the 10 months ISIS held French journalist Didier François captive, did they (a) force him to read Qur’an, (b) invite him to read Qur’an, (3) allow him to read Qur’an, or (d) not want him to have access to the Qur’an? The correct answer is (d) and the reason why  is important to understand …

… Far from being the source of the problem, [Sheikh Wesam] Charkawi [based at the Auburn mosque in western Sydney] says the Qur’an and Islamic religious tradition provide the pathway out of violence.” His success in dissuading boys “flirting openly with the idea of joining” ISIS is proof:

“[T]he NYPD admitted that when it came to generating actual leads, the program was a resounding failure.” Now a lawsuit “seeks a permanent injunction against the resumption … [and] calls for all surveillance records to be expunged, in order to protect the reputations of innocent individuals”:

Accusing the “government of blurring the line ‘between a real security threat and simple prejudice,” Trudeau charged, “It is a cruel joke to claim you are liberating people from oppression by dictating in law what they can and cannot wear” …

… and a Muslim group blasts the Tories for pretending a picture of chained girls in a Shia ceremonial re-enactment symbolizing the sister of the prophet Mohammad’s grandson being taken to Damascus after he was beheaded is actually a photo of girls “being led away to forced marriages”:

“According to the testimonies of former Israeli soldiers, civilians with no connection with militant activity are usually selected for such exercises. ‘We used houses, streets, people like cardboard practice targets,’ said one” …

… while ISIS does the reverse, pretending real executions are mock:

“A US Neo-Nazi website … [called] for people to ‘flood this towel head subhuman vermin with as much racial and religious abuse as we possibly can. ‘Stormer troll army, you know what needs to be done,’ they wrote online. Be as vulgar, hateful, hurtful, extreme and offensive as possible'”:

“In 2010, the Middle East was the only region outside of Europe where 50 percent of news presenters on radio, and 44 percent on television, were female…. In North America, only about 40 percent of radio presenters and 32 percent of television reporters were female [in that] period”:

“A few weeks ago when I was showing Swiss parliament members around Hebron and explaining to them what was happening, I was arrested by the Israeli army and detained for six hours. The Swiss diplomats were left confused, but this is a normal situation for me”:

“The attack last Friday … was part of a series of deadly assaults on Libya’s oil lucrative infrastructure by the Islamic State group … [that] have forced Libya to declare 11 fields non-operational … and invoke a force majeure clause that exempts the state from contractual obligations”:

Muslims Are Losing the Race

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Last Sunday, I was one of only seven people to attend a rally called outside the Pakistani Embassy by Mauri Saalakhan of the Peace and Justice Foundation to show support for the call for an independent medical panel to investigate the condition of Dr. Aafia Siddiqi. She is the neuroscientist who seems to be losing her mental balance after the disappearance of her children and five years of secret incarceration followed by her sentencing to 86 years in prison on charges she still denies despite having lost all hope of appeal. I made an observation that related our disappointment at the small turnout at the rally to a movie I had seen the day before and to a verse of the Qur’an. Mauri asked me to publish my observation, so here it is.

The movie I saw was “Selma.” It depicts the events leading up to and following the “Bloody Sunday” when police brutally attacked and beat unarmed demonstrators peacefully marching for voting rights at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King called on clergy from across the U.S. to join the demonstrators on the next day, and they did. The movie depicts one white cleric from Boston coming out of a diner and being confronted by a local who announces that the only thing they hate worse than “n*****s” are “White n*****s” and then proceeds to beat the Bostonian to death.

The verse of the Qur’an is God’s call to the people of different faiths to “compete with one another (as in a race) in good works” (2:148). Hundreds of Christians and Jews called on by Dr. King traveled thousands of miles on short notice to face possible death to march for vote enfranchisement. Of the local Muslims called to rally on a mild day with no hint of danger or discomfort, only seven troubled to come the few miles to engage in the simple humanitarian act of rallying for an independent medical team to see a woman who, regardless of whether she committed the act of which she is convicted, seems to be losing her mind after years harsh treatment.

My fellow Muslims, God called us to race towards the good. We are losing the race.

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

News and Analysis (3/8/15)

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

“Members of Egypt’s security services were due to be questioned on Sunday by defence lawyers over their claims that the Al-Jazeera English journalists had conspired with terrorists to falsify news reports. But for the second hearing in a row, the witnesses failed to attend court” …

… while a man “[s]ecurity sources have described … as a ‘radical Islamist’ who is not officially a Brotherhood member” is hanged:

“The pledge of allegiance offered to Islamic State (Isis) by the Nigerian terrorist group, Boko Haram over the weekend … may … be more of a cry for help, given a recent string of defeats sustained by Boko Haram”:

Netanyahu spoke “of Haman – (of ancient Persia) who tried to wipe out the Jews … [but] he didn’t mention Cyrus, the potentate … who … liberated the Jews from the Babylonian captivity” nor of the “Palestinian children that he himself has blown up while he’s having peace talks with the” PA:

The one-two punch of Iranian-back militias and Iraqi government troops is likely to prevail in the unfolding battle for Tikrit …

… “Sunni farmer Marwan al-Bayati fled his home to the nearby city of Kirkuk when Shiite militiamen approached his militant-held village last September. As he prepared to return a month ago, he received anonymous phone calls warning that death awaited him if he and his family returned”:

“The attack on antiquities by ISIS militants at the Nineveh Museum in Mosul, Iraq, last week might not have been as damaging as appears in the video. Experts say many of the statues destroyed in the propaganda piece were actually replicas”:

Tawfiq Abu Riala, 32, was killed and two other Gaza fishermen were arrested” for having “deviated from the designated [and overfished] fishing zone” close to shore:

“In 2007, when she was just 18, Saarah enrolled with a flying school in the US. ‘Those days most Muslim students were being denied US Visas. When she got the Visa without any trouble I saw it as a final message from God,’ says the deeply religious Ahmed:

Questionable motives. “Campaigning for re-election, world soccer body FIFA president Sepp Blatter … [called] on Iran to lift its ban on women attending male sports events in stadia [while ignoring] Saudi Arabia, which is even more restrictive given its refusal to promote woman’s sports”:

“Raif Badawi was arrested in 2012 after writing articles critical of Saudi Arabia’s clerics on a liberal blog he created…. His lawyer, prominent human rights defender Waleed Abul-Khair, is serving a 15-year sentence for insulting the judiciary, among other charges related to his political activism.”

News and Analysis (3/6/15)

Friday, March 6th, 2015

“I was spying on innocent people. They were not involved in criminal activity.  They were not espousing terrorist rhetoric, but I was still spying on them and giving the FBI the information they wanted”:

“Iraqi forces pressed their offensive against the Islamic State group Friday, expecting to reach the outskirts of the militant-held city of Tikrit within hours, a day after the extremists reportedly ‘bulldozed’ a famed archaeological site in the area”:

“[M]ilitants with sledgehammers destroy[ed] ancient artifacts at the Mosul museum…. Last year, the militants destroyed the Mosque of the Prophet …  Jonah…. They also threatened to destroy Mosul’s 850-year old Crooked Minaret, but residents surrounded the structure” …

… “Islamic State militants have set fire to oil wells in the Ajil field east of the city of Tikrit to try to hinder aerial attacks aimed at driving them from the oilfield, a witness and military source said”:

“At least 121 deaths have been reported in police stations since the beginning of 2014, many caused by deprivation of medical care or torture, Amnesty International said in a report released Wednesday that pointed to a “near total lack of accountability for abuses” by security forces”:

“Netanyahu would have us believe the Iranian regime wants to exterminate all Jews. But that’s hard to square with the continuous presence of a Jewish community in Iran—today the largest in the Muslim Middle East.” The “people who gave us the disastrous Iraq war and ISIS—must be repudiated”:

“Turkish law can play both ways, however. This week, a judge ordered Erdogan to pay 10,000 Turkish Lira ($4,000) in compensation for insulting an artist” and before election to national office Erdogan was once jailed for “inciting hatred based on religious differences“:

“[L]etters to parents said their children had been friends with [another girl who had disappeared by going abroad two months earlier], and asked for permission to take a formal statement. But instead of delivering the letters to the parents, police handed them to the girls themselves, who hid them”:

“[F]ormer extremists have a central role to play in the argument against radical temptations. They have a credibility that governments lack”:

“Jurisprudential Methodologies and Contemporary Challenges“

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

[This is the fifth 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 participants (other than mine) in the general discussion have been omitted by request of the conference director.]

“Two Shi`i Jurisprudential Methodologies to Address Contemporary Challenges: Traditional Ijtihad and Foundational Ijtihad “

Presentation by Hamid Mavani, Ph.D., McGill University.

I will speak about the overtaxed and overused term ijtihad from the view of the Jafari school. The doctrine of imâma (leadership) is essential. You know that at the beginning there was no Sunni and no Shia. The two points of view emerged gradually over whether the ummah was to select Muhammad’s successor as community leader or whether he had selected his successor. In reality, Ali lived peacefully and compassionately with the other companions, but the dispute over whether Ali’s authority was usurped continues to fester. There is a story that Umar went to the house of Ali and demanded Ali’s bay`a (allegiance) coercively, even causing his wife to miscarry. This story fuels hostility. For the Twelvers the imamate goes through Hassan to Hussein, etc. to the twelfth imam, although there were many splinter groups as to who will be the Mahdi who will inaugurate the era of peace and justice. The 12th imam was born in the year 869 C.E. and went into a period of occultation under which he was not available directly to the public but indirectly through his intermediaries. For Shia jurists the hadith of the Imams have equal authority with those of the Prophet, both with regard to exoteric and esoteric knowledge. There is dispute as to whether they equal or are superior to the distinguished prophets. Prof. Mahmoud Ayoub has suggested that Shiism began radical and moderated beginning with the sixth imam. Later he went into occultation when he is unavailable directly or indirectly. This begins the process of indirect delegation, in which the jurists have the knowledge and piety to interpret even in the absence of texts. The jurists do not claim infallibility. Their enterprise is ijtihad. There is no more yaqîn (certainty) and we are now in the realm of (likelihood).

Shariah is the body of universal norms and principles and is static while fiqh is a human enterprise to try to understand the Shariah. Some use the term differently, but I use ijtihad to refer to deductive reasoning, clear cut analogy and other sources as well. Zamân (time), makân (place), darûrah (necessity), hâja (need), mashakka (hardship) are among the devices invoked, but these devices are removed from the usûl (fundamentals) and deal with contingencies that do not represent the norm. It is a band-aid that does not resolve the ethical dilemmas. We try to excavate the sources to support our position regardless with how distant they are from our situation. Some have argued that if you take a grain of rice in ribâ’ (usury) you have committed a sin equivalent to committing adultery on top of the ka`ba. To get around this, loopholes and stratagems and tricks are used under the rubric ijtihâd ad-darûr (original critical thought born of necessity) which may fool other people but not Allah. This is hîla shari`a, playing games with the law. Ayatollah Kadivar is on the cutting edge of structural ijtihad dealing with the furûd (mandates) and not just trimming the edges. Shabashtari also has some interesting ideas, and bookstores won’t even carry his books. Damad, Jannnati, etc., are to some extent dabbling in ijtihad at the structural level. Both would agree that essentials, ritual, and eschatology are exempt from review. We don’t know the `illa (purpose) of the number of raka in prayer, but if we can rationalize mu`alamât in the Qur’an we can do it with regard to prayer as well. This is a slippery slope. We need some structure from allowing this to turn into a completely open field. Those of us who favor ijtihâd al-usûl need to bring in the other sciences. Thus, the need for collegial ijtihâd. The term ayatollah al-`uzma (the grand jurists) raises the question of who is the grandest of all. We know mahr (bridal gift) changes with time and place. Ayatollah Khomeini, who was very sharp, realized that hands were tied in issues of governance, and he said the state has authority to transcend even the injunctions of prayer and fasting. Perhaps there is a better solution by including other sciences like hermeneutics and cosmology.

“Adapting Religious Tradition to the Modern Western Nation-State [Law and Ethics in the Wake of the Arab Revolutions]”

Second Presentation  by Usaama al-Azami, Princeton University

My dissertation deals with Islamist political thought. Jasser Auda would be considered an example, although atypical because of his Western education. Substantive ethics are inspired in part by extra-scriptural sources. Do human beings have the ability to assess good and evil? Auda represents a new trend that seeks accommodation with the West rather than rejection in the style of Sayyid Qutb, who holds Western values have no normative authority whatsoever.

One question that comes up is the question of justice. The Shariah is overall concerned with upholding justice. The Shariah is about wisdom that in every case aims at justice, and any ruling that leads to injustice or subverts mercy is not part of the Shariah even if it has been introduced into the Shariah. But what is justice? In the West, especially since Rawls, the definition of justice has merited much discussion, but Auda is satisfied to simply adopt justice as a standard. Is the Islamist concept of justice influenced by hard naturalism like the Mutazilite conception, as opposed to voluntarist conceptions like Asharite (although I am open to the argument that Asharism actually occupies a middle position)? Is x good because God commands it or does God command it because it is good?

The view of soft naturalism, the maslahah discourse of usûl al-fiqh, is that God made the world accessible to human understanding and therefore knowledge of the good is accessible outside the religious sources. Shatabi as well as many modern scholars embrace this discourse. Auda prefers mabâdi (principles) over ahkâm (provisions). Is it the principles of Shariah or the specific interpretations of the Shariah that should govern the constitutions of Muslim states? By using the term mabâdi he is opening new terrain and allowing a shift outside the juristic tradition, but as we saw yesterday, he will still seek precedence within the tradition because we must have continuity with the tradition in order to succeed practically. Auda is hardly new in this regard, but he has a fairly rigorously articulated usûl. I think he is taking into account pluralistic concerns brought about by modernity. One could argue that Auda is capitulating to Western pressure, but ironically his adoption of the term “human rights” frees him from a hegemonic definition of those rights to pursue a truly universal understanding of human rights that may go against certain interpretations of human rights but at the same time allows him to oppose the imposition of Western definitions of human rights on other cultures.

When we look at how the Prophet organized his armies we cannot consider them binding on us because circumstances are different, but Auda wants the same freedom to contextualize Qur’anic verses on the spoils of war. In the same way he says jizya is a maqasid-based consideration that need not be applied any longer. He treats hudûd in the same way. In some ways this is uncontestable. Even the most literalist reader of the Qur’an would agree that the command to prepare one’s horses for war must be understood contextually. In deciding what questions are decided by maqasid and what are to be decided by the tradition, Auda will defer to the ulama to decide.

RESPONDENTS.

Abdulaziz Sachedina, George Mason University. What is the purpose of taking up methodology in a discussion of imâma? We need a clearer picture of what ijtihad is. Ijtihâd ash-shar`i is deductive with only the limit that it should not contradict the clear text. The Hausa are probing sociology and psychology. They no longer wish to ignore modern knowledge. Rather than dwelling on the imâma you need to consider the historic period between the pre-modern and the modern and explain why you take up the distinction between tradition and modern ijtihad. The classical jurisprudence worked in the context of empire whereas the moderns operate in the context of the nation-state. Their judicial authority has been constitutionally enacted. This is the question raised during the Rushdi crisis. Mabâdi are based on precedents.

David Vishanoff, University of Oklahoma. We cannot know the Prophet’s intention from what he did. Zakat has a strong social, even political, dimension, yet it is considered a matter of ibâdat. We want to say that whether we are bound to imitate a certain action is based on the category in which it falls. Often times in Islamic legal theory our categorization (ibidât vs. mu`amalât) becomes a rhetorical strategy for promoting our end as to whether a rule should be permanent or contextual. You note that one can do almost anything with the traditional methodology and find that unsatisfying. You list other things, like egalitarian justice, that we need even more. Can the notion of justice evolve, or is egalitarian justice the universal principle? Are we to be guided by methodology or by Muslim popular opinion? We need to consider the role of culture, and not just Islamic culture, in determining what is Islamic.

GENERAL DISCUSSION.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad: Paradigm shifts are implemented by new generations. I understand that Auda is addressing Yusuf Qaradawi, but Tajdîd will come from young people when they accede to positions of authority. I do not see that it is necessary for ijtihad to operate within the nation-state. That paradigm is also eroding.

[Name Omitted]: The first Muslim community was, like the early Christian church, an eschatological movement. The Prophet deputized certain services. The Shia, in placing the imam out of history, have placed him into eschatology. While eschatology did not disappear in the Islamic view of the world, it plays a different role now than it did in early Islam.

[Name Omitted]: It seems to me that Jasser is seen as an outsider. David’s point on categorization is interesting and I would like to hear more about the matter in Jasser’s work.

[Name Omitted]: The imâma is foundational in the Twelver worldview. It shows the transmission of authority from the Imam to his disciples and this becomes more expansive in occultation and then is expanded even further by when Khomeini as head of the nation state gives himself authority equal to that of the Imam. Montatal-farâgh is the vacuum in which the state may operate. When the scholars changed their minds on organ donations on grounds of muslaha they said you can take an organ from non-Muslims but not give one to them. When it was pointed out this would give Muslims a bad name, they allowed leaving organs to non-Muslims in one’s will. When one jurist was asked about taqiyya (dissimulation) by the infallible imams, he said, we jurists do it because we fear the repercussions of our rulings on the masses that they may rebel against us. Many scholars are waiting for the proper time to reveal their actual opinions.

[Name Omitted]: I agree with Abdul-Aziz more on the importance of the nation-state. Conceiving of the Shariah bound within the nation-state is a radical departure. I deal with Jasser Auda’s ideas and approach, not with the question of how to implement tajdîd.

[Name Omitted]: What is it about Auda’s methodology that you seek to articulate that he has not articulated himself?

[Name Omitted]: I think we still operate within the boundary of the nation-state. I was intrigued that Auda is categorized as an Islamist when from the Indonesian point of view we see him as a moderate. Indonesians are tolerant of Christians and Hindus but not of Ahmadis. Auda wants to legitimize the maqasid in the precedent of fiqh.

[Name Omitted]: I want to address people’s rights to limit themselves. In Dubai you cannot have organ donations from living human beings. If we cannot take things from outside, we can’t take Al-Ghazali’s ideas of qiyas that come from Greek philosophy.

[Name Omitted]: Some people will idealize some scholars or demonize others. Muhammad Abdu, for example, was both idealized and denounced as a non-Musim. We know Sayyid Qutb’s views were affected by his imprisonment, but I see no discussion of this from the people contemporary with him.

[Name Omitted]: Jewish rituals were changed a long time ago from being public to being limited to the private sphere. German Muslims have changed their prayer time. Lived Islam is going on.

[Name Omitted]: I want to question the notion that our methods are not addressing our problems. Will we accept the outcome of our methodology even if we dislike the results? We must not lose the tradition as a source of critique of modernity.

[Name Omitted]: In Shiism the door of ijtihad is still open. Thus we see Shaikh Fadlullah as more liberal and modern. Is this not the case in Iran? I hear of the tyranny of tradition, but I thought that the individual scholars had more flexibility. You are saying that people are fearful of popular backlash.

[Name Omitted]: I agree there is more flexibility in the Shia approach, a more Mu`tazili approach. But tradition has its own inertia. Ayatollah Fadlallah has been reprimanded often for his scholarly opinions. Even Ayatollah Borujerdi had to restrain himself. We all censor ourselves. Is justice something that evolves?

[Name Omitted]: Jeffrey Stark says people who strongly believe in the truth of their faith tradition may approach their tradition with pre-commitments that make them uncomfortable within their own tradition. We need dialectic rather than a one-way street. I acknowledge Umar made changes in the spoils of war, but he had unusual leadership abilities.

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

News and Analysis (3/4/15)

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Netanyahu’s “argument was long on appeals to emotion – he pointed out Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel in the audience while calling Iran a ‘dark and murderous regime’ – and short on facts and reasonable alternatives” …

… “I’ve never seen anything like that press conference by House Democrats… Full rejection of the propriety & substance of Netanyahu’s speech” — Matt Lee of AP:

“The hawkish Israeli Lobby’s massive strength in Congress depends for its power upon a myth—that it represents nearly all American Jews. Instead, today it depends upon others, especially Bible Belt Republican evangelicals—… [but] the idea of imminent Armageddon is wearing thin” …

… “The [Israeli] lobby’s power is waning because … Jews are no longer monolithic on Israel. Ideas of Jewish nationalism and separation are as discredited by the Israeli experiment as Communism was by the Soviet one. Young Jews are bridling … and Netanyahu has fostered that, [G]od bless him”:

Last words form the beloved Jewish actor recall that as with the characters in Theodore Sturgeon’s Star Trek episode “Let This Be your Last Battlefield”, Palestinians and Israelis are “prepared to battle to the death to defend the memory of their people who died from the atrocities committed by the other”:

Why is it so hard for the press to admit that a beloved hero is a Muslim? A great athlete is now hailed as “a new kind of public intellectual” in an article whose single allusion to the beloved man’s Muslim faith is an oblique reference to his observance of the Hajj pilgrimage as “visiting Mecca” (!):

They call this secularism. Muslims “are estimated to be 60 percent of the 67,000 inmates in French prisons … [but only] about 182 Muslim prison chaplains [compared to] about 562 Christian chaplains, a disparity largely attributed to the country’s Roman Catholic history and traditions”:

“IS not only misreads the texts it cites, most clerics say, it also ignores Quranic verses and a long body of clerical scholarship requiring mercy, preservation of life and protection of innocents, and setting out rules of war — all of which are binding under Islamic Shariah law” …

… yet, “Saudi Arabia embraces the same capital punishment techniques on convicted criminals as the Islamic terrorist group does on innocent hostages”:

“Human Rights Watch accuses high-ranking officials of allowing extrajudicial killings and brutal practices to flourish after fall of Taliban”:

After past abuse of vaccination programs to gather intelligence for foreign assassins has terrified parents to the point that there were 306 new polio cases in Pakistan last year , the government resorts to incarceration to force parents to submit to the program:

News and Analysis (3/2/15)

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Another case of government manufactured terrorism is added to the list:

“He smoked drugs, drank and was violent towards other boys. The fact he portrays himself as a strict Muslim is laughable and shameful. I never saw him pray or wear Islamic dress – he would not even mention religion at all…. [H]e is a total hypocrite” — a member the accused’s former gang …

… “Emwazi’s transition from angry teen to militant was a series of missed opportunities. Then, years of conflict and frustration with the British security services pushed him to act on his radicalism and leave Britain to join IS”:

“My tomatoes are Spanish, and so are the potatoes I sell. Please explain this to me! Do I need to sell pork to be a traditional Spanish business? Do I need to sell wine?” —  Nouari Benzawi, an Algerian immigrant who runs a kebab shop and halal grocery store:

On the “same day another Egyptian court listed the [entire] Palestinian group Hamas [and not just it’s armed wing]  as a terrorist organisation”:

“Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, could retain control of the country’s lawmaking process for the foreseeable future, after the supreme court ruled that a law governing upcoming elections was unconstitutional”:

“The weirdest question I got was if I’m showering with my hijab. And I’m just — no, I don’t shower with hijab, how should I do that? No one showers with their clothes on” — Danish Muslim Sarah al-Mousllie:

“The reality is people don’t abuse me just because I’m a woman or because my name is Mariam or because I’m Middle-Eastern. They abuse me because I have a scarf on my head and because I’m a Muslim”:

“[T]he Saudi blogger who was sentenced to a decade in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam, now faces being beheaded for renouncing the religion, his family have said” despite his already having been cleared of that charge …

… while a suspect arrested in 2013 “for threatening an imam who performed funeral prayers for an atheist blogger” and arrested Monday in the case of a Dhaka murder of an American blogger by “attackers wielding meat cleavers” had threatened to kill [the recent victim] in posts on Facebook”

The “campaign [is] aimed at driving them out of the mainly Sunni Muslim province of Salahuddin”: