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:

 

July 10, 2014

News and Analysis (7/10/14)

Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in the US congress, says that the FBI and NSA tracking of American Muslims is “ troubling” because it shows that they are targeted because of their religion, which undermines the nations progress towards freedom …

… in contrast, “Islam places immense emphasis on privacy in ways that Western governments today have only begun to match with privacy laws.” The “NSA likely violated the U.S. Constitution, and definitely violated the Qur’an’s powerful teachings on privacy”:

A civil rights advocacy group said that Muslims have come a long way in this country, and found acceptance in Metro Detroit, and nation wide, but more effort is needed to eliminate intolerance:

Brigadier General Moti Almoz said, ‘We have been instructed by the political echelon to hit Hamas hard…’ The government had known almost from the beginning that the boys were dead. It maintained the fiction that it hoped to find them alive as a pretext to dismantle Hamas’ West Bank operations …

… and with no Israeli casualties from the rocket barrage from Gaza,  the death toll rises in Palestine/ Gaza, mostly civilians, as Israel threatens a ground invasion …

… and the UN Secretary-General warns that “the Middle East could not afford “another full-blown war”…

… and the Israeli settlements and expansion continue, leading twelve members of the European Union to publish warnings “urging their citizens to refrain from engaging in business, economic activity and investment in settlements”:

Mustafa Akyol argues that capitalism need not be synonymous with greed, and that, “founded by a merchant (Prophet Muhammad), and directed by a scripture (the Quran) whose longest verse is about how to write a proper loan contract, Islam, at its core, is a capitalist religion”:

The Muslims in the Balkans dismiss ISIL declaration of an Islamic State as “insane”, saying that “saying it lacked any Islamic or realistic aspects”:

Concerned about the number of British Muslims who have joined extremist organisations in Syria, Kauser Akhtar wants the Muslims and Non- Muslims to reach out to each other and integrate, saying that “better communication between different groups is the key to harmony at home” …

… while Muslims in Britain share their experience on a blog, describing what it means to be a Muslim and British, challenging the stereotypes and bigotry on Islam and Muslims:

In Iraq, the Kurds are fed up as Maliki insists on seeking a third term in office, while the country is falling apart:

 

July 9, 2014

News and Analysis (7/9/14)

Five American Muslims “monitored by the NSA and FBI have all led highly public, outwardly exemplary lives. All five vehemently deny any involvement in terrorism or espionage, and none advocates violent jihad or is … implicated in any crime, despite years of intense scrutiny by the government and … press”:

… and one of the victims, and Bush administration official speaks out, protesting that he is “a very conservative, Reagan-loving Republican,” who sent his children to Catholic school, and who has never voiced “any ill feelings toward the United States,” …

… meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Committee will review an issue of the surveillance issue in Japan, where Muslims are solely “profiled based on their religion without any indication of criminal activity or any connection to wrongdoing”:

“If corporations have religious rights that warrant protection under the law, why don’t men imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay? A federal judge has given the US government until Tuesday evening to answer that question”:

As it escalates its conflict with the Palestinians, Israel continues to defy the International Law, violates human rights and attempts to discredit the families of the victims and the eyewitnesses. As Israel pursues  collective punishment, it targets more civilians by systematic violation of human rights …

… “And yet, to point out that one side suffers disproportionately – the side that is weaker of the two and doesn’t have a state of its own – is treated by many in Israel and among its friends abroad as the height of bias”:

The execution of 13 Sunni Muslim clerics last month in Mosul constitutes “a very clear case of atrocities committed against their own people, against religious leaders from Sunni Islam who probably have a less simplistic understanding of what Islam means” …

… while amid the escalating violence in which unidentified civilians are killed, …

… ISIS has captured the town of Muthanna, taking control over “control of a vast former  chemical weapons facility north-west of Baghdad” :

“Each time I return from Canada, I get detained by US Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security for six hours, which adds up when you have a Canadian fiancée. This is especially insulting because I have no criminal record”:

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/08/4223130/un-islamic-state-executed-imam.html#storylink=cpy

July 8, 2014

Middle Eastern Awakening and the Dilemmas of Globalization: Arab and Turkish Experience

[This is the eighth 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.]

“Middle Eastern Awakening and the Dilemmas of Globalization: Arab and Turkish Experience”

Prof. Ali Mazrui, Binghamton University

The Arab awakening has lasted more than two years, longer and stronger than the current Turkish experience. The Arab unrest is a contagious political uprising. The Turkish unrest is not contagious. The Arab unrest is a multi-state quest for an open society; the Turkish experience is a single state quest for an open society. Turkey is a bi-continental country. The demilitarization of politics was an objective in both Turkey and the new Egypt. The AKP is seen as the most successful Islamic party in the world, in a class by itself in the transition from secularism to some degree of Islamism, and more successful once Islamist. There is a willingness to pay respect to Islam. Restrictions on the sale of alcohol were unexpected given the celebration of “the two drunken Turks” in the past. We contrast anti-Erdogan demonstrations in Istanbul with the pro-Erdogan demonstrations in Ankara. A war between another two cities Benghazi and Tripoli was the inception of the Libyan civil war.

As Arab influence in Africa declines, Turkish influence expands. There were only a handful of Turkish embassies in African capitals a few years ago; now there are 34.  I have heard of major projects planned for Africa. Last week at the opening of an AU conference at UN I noted the difference between the African view of Qaddafi and the Arab view.  The big issue is whether Syria will be abandoned by Turkey as Qaddafi was abandoned by the Arab league. The number of flights from Arab airports to Arab airports has declined as the number of Turkish flights has increased. Turkey aspires to be a big power. Its population is smaller than that of the big powers but it has a history of a larger scale. The involvement of Turkey on African education is major.

Egypt almost invented the female head of state. The question is did Egypt lose its capacity to produce female heads of state after it acquired its Islamic personality. If so why? Turkey and four other Muslim non-Arab states have produced female heads of state in the modern era. What is the significance of this distinction?

The most spectacular case of democratization on a Muslim society from above is Turkey. The most dramatic attempts from below are Tunisia and Egypt. Ataturk asked “Can we democratize without culturally Westernizing?” His answer was to regard cultural Westernization as a precondition for liberalization and scientific attitudes. The most dramatic step was the abolition of the sultanate followed by the establishment of the Turkish republic. The opportunity of creating a Muslim Vatican, carved out of Turkey, was lost when the caliphate was abolished in 1923. Turkey’s secularization and modernization was above all, Westernization, until literally ten years ago that began to change.

Ataturk invited Jon Dewey to help reform the school system. He addressed “the gender question” including the right of women to run for parliament. The Turkish language has changed almost beyond all recognition in less than a century. This is a combination of change from above. Even when changes from above are democratic, it is an imposed democracy, and things are lost. For a while, the Turks were almost lost by the military. If Tunisia and Egypt can pull off democratization from below it will produce dramatic changes. Never in the history of Islam have there been so many uprisings driven neither by Islam nor by anti-imperialism, but by a desire for liberalization and democratization.

Q. I think it would be interesting to compare Turkey and Iran. Iran’s secularization avoided changing the language and the script. Ridda wrote a book on the caliphate but couldn’t decide where the Islamic Vatican should be located nor who should occupy the throne. To what extent were the big powers involved in the abolition. Reza Shah was not exactly like Ataturk, but he did many things to break away from Iran’s past.

Mazrui: Including Iran would be interesting.

Imadx-ad-Dean Ahmad: The Arabs turned against Qaddafi once he identified himself more with Africa than Arabia.

Mazrui: It is true that in the last two decades of his life Qaddafi regarded himself more African than Arab, and I found myself defending Arabs before this man. To my surprise he asked for a book not by me, but by my father, written in Arabic and translated into English.  It was part of his preoccupation with reversion to African identity and rediscovered brotherhood. Only the African Union sought a peaceful resolution when the Libyans were fighting with one another. But once the NATO had sided with the rebels, they had no interest in the position of the African states, who were humiliated, and the Security Council played a war game. The UN audience to which I spoke regarded him as a martyr. His humiliation of the Palestinians preceded his African alignment. He may be the only post-colonial leader to have been “lynched.” Even the Arabic alphabet has modifications to accommodate the Turkish language.

Q. Wouldn’t it be helpful to compare the societies themselves, since the outcome of attempted reform will depend on the ability of the society to accept such reform?

Q. The Islamic government in Turkey lasted 600 years. No other modern state has lasted as long.

Q. Turkey did not introduce political liberalism but rather a liberal lifestyle. We had liberalism without liberals, turning liberalism into a form of oppression. What we see in Turkey is not protests for a liberal order but an attempt to sabotage the elected government to return to an illiberal order retaining the liberal lifestyle.

Mazrui: Societies do respond differently, and the Arab world is taking a longer time to establish a liberal order. To Ataturk, it made sense for a liberal lifestyle to be a precondition for democratization, unlike the Japanese at the end of the 19th century. But in fairness to the Turks, it would not have lasted so long if it were just a lifestyle. There was a shift in values. There is a notion that Hassan al-Banna and forms of populism have worked in the Arab world but have encountered impediments from governments as in Egypt. Some of us admired Nasser for his response to imperialism rather than to his treatment of fellow Egyptians, but his legacy did not last as long as that of Ataturk. Why did it die as soon as he died?

Q. It died before he died.

Mazrui: Perhaps, but it was about the year he died. That’s a subject for another day.

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

 

News and Analysis (7/8/14)

The racialization of Islamophobia has reached absurd proportions as a Latina Muslim loses her scholarship on the grounds that her Muslim religion makers her ineligible for a Latina scholarship:

The purpose of Ramadan is to strengthen one’s will power, and Muslims in China say that the government’s attempt to ban the fast “has only prompted them to become more devout in following Islamic custom” :

American interventions, especially the invasion of Iraq in 2003, have exacerbated the region’s myriad animosities and security challenges, threatening Afghanistan and Pakistan directly and in the process, India …

… but the American VP’s proposed solution to evade responsibility for the disaster is not federalism, but division:

When Coldplay posted a video by the band OneWorld, advocating Palestinian freedom, an angry Zionist response  threatening to boycott the video and demanding “an apology to Israel”, while accusations that the link constituted  Internet “abuse” prompted Facebook to block the link:

A study shows that “Researchers claim the murder of Lee Rigby was the initial ‘trigger’ for a surge in anti-Muslim hatred in 2013 … [and] that 40 per cent of attackers had links to far-right anti-Muslim groups such as the English Defence League and Britain First, which are rapidly growing in popularity”:

In Myanmar, “the  military continues to wage brutal campaigns against ethnic minorities [Muslims]..  [who] struggle to rebuild their homes that have been destroyed in the violence”:

Minaret of Freedom Institute holds that “hudud” punishments are maximal limits and not mandatory minimums. According to Feisal Abdul Rauf argues,the prophet (puh) implemented hudud (limits) on some occasions, but not in other, and called for forgiveness:

Within the past two weeks, three Copts have been imprisoned on charges ranging from insulting Islam, to “allegedly reporting false information about discrimination against Copts,” to “liking a Facebook page … by Christian converts — so much for the secular utopia we conjured in our imagination”:

 

 

 

July 7, 2014

News and Analysis (7/7/14)

The caliphate “plagued by intrigue, division and bloodshed. Three of the first four ‘rightly guided caliphs’ were assassinated.” Later, the famous Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid caliphates “were constantly at war with one another. Not quite the golden age of the Islamist imagination” …

… but IS’s reincarnation threatens to be even more senseless in its violence, as “fighters from the Islamic State have demolished numerous Shia shrines and mosques in northern Iraq”:

… and Iraqis and other Muslims are repelled:

To save face, Israel pledged to find and bring to justice those responsible for burning a Palestinian-American teenager alive, and thus “demonstrate that the state of Israel is a country that abides by laws, and treats terrorist the same” …

… yet in their collective punishment rampage, Israeli forces severely beat and later arrested the murdered young man’s 16-year-old cousin, now under house arrest for nine days after having to pay to bail him out …

… even as they again batter the Gaza strip …

… and as press conferences and events are being held to inform the world about the plight of the Palestinian people, and to raise awareness about their situation …

… including a demonstration in front of the White House, calling on the president to stop financing the IDF; ignored by the Western press, the demonstrators chanted, “Deny our existence, expect our resistence”:

The “longest continuously serving American official in Iraq”  explains why he pushed for Maliki’s ascension, why he came to regret it, and why Maliki is still in office despite the obvious disaster of his administration:

“We are not doing anything parallel to the judicial system and we don’t say that any order passed by a Qazi is binding on all. Our sole motto is to resolve a matter with the consent of two parties involved in accordance with sharia,” — Imam Khalid Rasheed Farangi: 

“I urge the Buddhists in these countries to imagine an image of Buddha before they commit such a crime. Buddha preaches love and compassion. If the Buddha is there, he will protect the Muslims whom the Buddhists are attacking” — Dalai Lama:

“The Somali militant Islamist group al-Shabab said it was behind the killings … with a growing use of armed units rather than grenades, improvised explosive devices and single targeted assassinations” :

Sisi will allow himself to raise prices, but not the market, and “some taxi drivers going on strike to protest the steep fuel rises, which they complain were not translated into a proportionate hike in fare rules”:

Ramadan is  “a month that teaches Muslims to think of the hungry and the destitute. It is not only about food and water. It is about giving charity to the needy and to undergo a process of self-accountability” :

July 5, 2014

News and Analysis (7/5/14)

Initial autopsy findings from the body of an East Jerusalem youth who Palestinians believe was kidnapped and killed by far-right Jews showed that he was burned alive …

… while the father of the brutally beaten American says that if this had happened in America, action would have been taken to prevent it happening again to another victim, but “Not in Israel;” the mother says such abuse is a matter of daily life for Palestinians, but as an American, she doesn’t accept it:

The self-appointed caliph echoed the original Abu Bakr, saying, “I am the wali [defender] who presides over you, though I am not the best of you, so if you see that I am right, assist me. If you see that I am wrong, advise me and put me on the right track, and obey me as long as I obey God in you”:

“On Friday, al-Sistani lamented the inability of political leaders to quickly agree on a new prime minister, urging them to redouble their efforts …. But al-Maliki’s statement … suggested that he intended to fight any attempt to find a replacement for him, and … to remain until the insurgents are defeated”:

If there were an independent Kurdish state, what would its borders be?

July 7 was carried out by four Muslim males, with an incorrect ideology. Potentially, had their mothers been equipped and empowered, and nurtured their children, we may have prevented that attack from happening” –  Sajda Mughal, the only known Muslim below ground survivor of 7/7 London bombings:

“[A]fter 14 years of wars and 57,000+ American killed or wounded, the American public is ready for answers from peaceful Muslims and intelligent Christians alike”:

“This conviction of Badie comes on top of two death sentences which were previously levied against him following last year’s coup”:

“[T]he alienated ‘angry’ Muslim youth is … a fully comprehensible historical inevitability. For many of them … the ummah and caliphate is … an escape to history, from poverty, alienation, oppression and foreign occupations. To understand that is to truly tackle the roots of violence”:

“NEMLEC can’t have it both ways. The same authority that allows them to participate in high risk warrant service, forced entry, and arrests of individuals also means they must be subject to public records law” – Jessie Rossman, staff attorney for the ACLU of Massachusetts:

July 3, 2014

News and Analysis (7/3/14)

“[A]fter 11 years of a struggle; a 6-month jury trial; years of litigation; decades of pervasive, inflammatory, negative press and accusations against Dr. Al-Arian, … the government has done the right thing and moved to dismiss the case and a judge granted the order” — Linda Moreno, Al-Arian’s former attorney:

“A spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress, which promotes democracy, human rights and freedom for the indigenous Uyghur (Uighur) people, said authorities encouraged Uighurs to eat free meals, and inspected homes to check whether families were observing the fast”:

When Egypt’s “army kicked [democracy] down, we didn’t hear too much gnashing of teeth in the citadels of freedom in the West. It would be a great mistake to think that this sort of double standard goes unnoticed, or that it doesn’t play its full part in the disillusionment and chaos seen in places like Iraq”:

British Muslims want a greater variety of halal food, and the  market is giving it to them:

The Israelis, who rushed to judgement as to who killed three Israeli hitchhikers take their time investigating the murder of a Palestinian teen, even delaying his funeral:

ISIL’s conquest has Baghdad scrambling for sleeper cells, the Saudis scrambling troops to the border, the Kurds scrambling for independence and Maliki scrambling for a successor:

“In terrifying scenes that have been repeated numerous times in Myanmar over the past two years, scores of Buddhist men on motorcycles converged on a Muslim neighborhood in Mandalay brandishing swords, yelling anti-Muslim slogans and ransacking Muslim shops, witnesses said”:

One of the writers says, “I’m really aiming for folks who have felt that they couldn’t hold being queer and being a person of faith at the same time…. I think the purpose of the show is also to be a vessel for the message ‘/there is space for all of us in God’s creation’”:

“Although it did not ask about ISIL, the [Pew] survey’s findings suggest there would be little support for a call on Tuesday by its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for Muslims worldwide to take up arms to avenge what he said were wrongs committed against Islam”:

July 2, 2014

News and Analysis (7/2/2014)

The Iraqi government tries to solve the crisis by holding parliamentary meetings to resolve differences and form a new government, but to no avail. “[T]he meeting quickly descended into farce, with Sunnis and Kurds using an unscheduled recess to withdraw their legislators, ensuring the session collapsed” …

…amid these unresolved differences, Massoud Barazani, president of the Regional Kurdistan Government, “publicly declared he would schedule a referendum on independence”  from Iraq … 

… and “the surge in unrest in Iraq has caused [political pundit and hitherto military interventionist Glenn] Beck — like so many others — to change his opinion on what was one of the most important foreign policy issues the United States has faced in decades”:

“In Syria these guys are fighting and killing U.S.-backed Sunni rebels. In Iraq we are deploying advisors alongside them,”‘ said Michael Knights, a former U.S. government advisor in Iraq…. ‘There area lot of strange contradictions in the U.S. positions in Iraq and Syria, but this is the starkest’”:

Unsatisfied with one life for a life, the Israelis, who have already killed at least five Palestinians since three young men, subsequently found murdered, first disappeared, is accusing Hamas and is reeking random retaliation on Palestinians:

… but Hamas denies involvement in the kidnapping and murder and and responds to the Israeli violence with threats of its own …

… while the kidnapping and of a Palestinian teenager as well as the differences between Israeli and Arab coverage of the crisis demonstrate that in the Middle Eats sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander:

The Muslim American journalist who stirred a controversy by attending a Republican convention wearing a headscarf says, “[T]his is not about me; it is about three things: the desensitization of hate towards Muslims, the Constitution and misconceptions”:

A European court has shocked human rights activists by insisting that French women have no right to decide for themselves whether or not to display their face in public:

In Nigeria, the acts of violence by “insurgent group in the country was a common enemy and was not representing Islam in any way” :

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