August 10, 2015

News and Analysis (8/10/15)

Kurds complain that even after technical problems causing “initial transfers to the state oil company [to be] lower than required” were resolved, the central governments persisted in sending reduced payments:

“An all India survey … reveals that 92.1 per cent of the surveyed Muslim women were opposed to … a form of unilateral divorce that does not give room for reconciliation, and 91.2 per cent were against polygamy”:

“The development comes after almost a year of holding a sit-in protest…. [T]he victim families had said some of the victims have already converted to Islam in protest against the atrocities of upper caste Hindus”:

Rather than some “longstanding natural bond between the” Judeo-Christian traditions, “the history of Jews in Spain and Portugal suggests … the multicultural bond with the greater historical resonance was Judeo-Muslim”:

“Insurgents have regained control of several villages in northwest Syria from government forces and have advanced beyond them, edging closer to a coastal stronghold of President Bashar al-Assad”:

“One of the most puzzling aspects of this new phase of American involvement is that it is in no way expressly intended to provide protection for civilians”:

“A heat wave pushes Iraqis to demand the kind of honest government that can keep the power on and air conditioners running… Many protesters claimed corruption to be a worse enemy than the terrorists of Islamic State”:

A “Farmersville resident who opposes the cemetery told me she was suspicious of the Buddhist meditation center in town because they’re ‘too quiet….’ Raise your voices, Americans. For God’s sake, raise your voices”:

News and Analysis (8/8/15)

To Paul’s “I want to collect more records from terrorists, but less records from innocent Americans,”  Christie demanded how can you tell the difference? It’s called a warrant, counselor, and shame on you for having to ask:
“If Pastor McConnell is convicted and imprisoned I will go to prison with him,” said imam, Muhammad Al-Hussaini, expressing “deep dismay” at criminal proceedings against someone who never “incited physical harm to anyone”:

“[T]he first military prisoner from Afghanistan to be tried in a US federal court … faces a maximum penalty of life in prison….” Now when are going to close Gitmo so other guilty parties may be convicted and the innocent set free?

“Islam gets a bad rap – mostly because it is not understood by large populations of uneducated followers who misinterpret the content and context …  guided primarily by the cultural context of the countries where they reside”:

Accusations that the chlorine gas has been used by Asad  has thus far been circumstantial and ignores evidence that the rebels were supplied with chlorine by an arms supplier to the rebels allied to the US:

Eleven members of “an elite counter-terrorism force” and four Bangladeshi workers were killed. A “previously unheard of Islamic State affiliate, which calls itself Hijaz Province of the Islamic State, claimed responsibility”:

“A Palestinian official told reporters that before the funeral in Duma, a postmortem would be held to provide evidence for a complaint to the international criminal court (ICC) in The Hague”:

Placing UK troops “under foreign authority … [to carry] out combat operations in Syria despite a 2013 parliamentary vote banning military action in Syria” puts “trust and confidence” in the government “at risk” …

… while the “experience [Baathist veterans] bring [to ISIS] is a major reason for the group’s victories in overrunning large parts of Iraq and Syria”:

Like many companies, we used a third party to check all requests. Because this particular request only included the requester’s name, which matched with a number of names and aliases on the denied persons list, it was flagged”:

August 5, 2015

News and Analysis (8/5/15)

Some residents expressed concern that the cemetery is a stalking horse for a mosque or a school if not a nefarious plot to poison the local water supply …

… but “the first Baptist in America, Roger Williams, founded Rhode Island as a haven of religious freedom, not only for fellow Baptists, but for ‘Turks,’ as he called them. That’s right, Muslims”:

A Brotherhood veteran “risked arrest to urge the movement to stay peaceful” and now that he has been arrested, he is being “mocked … on social media as naïve, unrealistic and hypocritical”:

“Muslim mothers’ established social role is one of the few constants across an otherwise heterogeneous religious group. This may be why [ISIS] sidesteps Muslim mothers by reaching out directly to young recruits in … cyberspaces”:

“The Muslim battalion is part of growing relations between Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians…. [The] Turkic and religiously Sunni Islam minority … faced decades of religious and political persecution under Russian rule”:

“The protesters accused the government of trying to impose a little-known Islamic sect called Al Ahbash on the country’s Muslim population”:

“I was humiliated in front of 1,200 students and my Constitutional right was violated. She made us go on stage and forced us to sing the prayer in front of everybody. She scolded me … when I mispronounced a few Sanskrit words”:

“The same people praised me when I took positions against the violence and moral policing of the Hindu right. But I quickly became unpopular when I … [criticized] Islamist groups that were trying to enforce the burkha”:

“There will be civil war in Libya … We will kill one another in the streets…. We will need 40 years to reach an agreement on how to run the country, because … and everybody will want to run the country”:

“There is definitely a shift on the ground…. Young girls don’t feel embarrassed to talk about the problems of the practice in front of their parents … It’s a very important shift in attitude” Mona Amin, anti-FGM activist:

August 3, 2015

News and Analysis (8/3/15)

Egypt’s imprisonment of journalists is at an all-time high,” and “authorities [are] using the argument of ‘national security’ to crack down on press freedoms … and the threat of jail is used to censor critical voices” …

… but Egypt denies the accusations while cozying up to John Kerry, even as it prolongs the ordeal of three of the journalists:

“The extension to Israelis of … ‘administration detention,’ a practice commonly applied to Palestinian … suspects and condemned internationally, laid bare authorities’ frustration at failing to curb … ultra-nationalist attacks”:

Mustafa Akyol explains why “modern-day Muslims don’t have to blindly obey [post-Qur’anic] these medieval interpretations of Islam” and why “Muslims “have more flexibility in our religious sources than most of us assume”:

Surprisingly, “the majority of the reports were … nuanced, positive and accurate. [It was a] … slam dunk for the coverage and for the basketball team.”:

The women who cheated IS are “unlikely face any punishment for fraud since it would require IS to file a complain”:

Rejecting the false choice between submission to or defeat of others Rouhani offered a vision of “constructive cooperation … without war or pleading or surrender, but with logic, negotiation and diplomacy in a legal path”:

“The allegations are based on what is claimed to be a WikiLeaks cable the authenticity of which has been challenged by the organisation itself” because it lacks any link to an authentic Wikileaked cable:


August 1, 2015

News and Analysis (8/1/15)

The settlers’ murder of a Palestinian infant has even Netanyahu using the T-word …

… and Israeli forces add to the death toll during the ensuing protests:

Zarif argues that while non-nuclear-weapon states, like Iran, [comply] with the non-proliferation regime, states possessing destructive weapons … rejected the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and customary international law”:

“Owning guns is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution. The Constitution either protects all of us or none of us. Our position is that you can’t let our enemies win by allowing us to divide ourselves as Americans”:

Cartoon superheroes are well and good, but for real life role models for Muslim girls, check these nineteen amazing flesh and blood women:

“Uzbekistan has banned beards, outlawed Islamic dress, shut restaurants that refuse to sell alcohol and warned teahouses not to celebrate the nightly end of the Ramadan fast with “Iftar” meals” …

… but Russia’s “strained relations with the US and Europe have the Kremlin looking to strengthen ties with other parts of the world, in particular China and countries in the Middle East that have large Muslim populations”:

“There’s been a couple of instances where people have come up to me after a show … [to say], ‘I came into this show with so much anger and negativity in my heart towards Muslims, and you have completely destroyed that'”:

“We are concerned by continuous and credible reports of unlawful killings by the police and see these as proof of the urgent need for renewed momentum behind police reform” — the EU representative to Kenya:

“Born with female anatomy, … Alex prays on his own now, studying the Koran to work out what it really seems to say about gender and sexuality”:

“Mullah Omar’s oldest son, said he and three other senior leaders had walked out of a meeting called to elect a new leader, and were now demanding a wider vote”:

July 29, 2015

News and Analysis (7/29/15)

Shutting down Muslims’ bank accounts over dubious accusations of terrorist links encourage extremism by “sending the message to law-abiding Muslims that they are excluded from simple privileges”:

As central Asian countries are trying to crack down on Islamist extremists, they continue to violate people’s rights regarding religious freedom:

The real importance of the Iran nuclear deal is that “at a crucial moment and without a shot being fired, the United States and Iran have come to a turning point away from an era of outright hostility”:

Qaradawi says that the victims of the Israeli occupation are no longer exempt from the ban on suicide bombings “since Palestinians are now able to hit Israel with rockets, missiles, and mortars, the use of suicide bombers”:

“‘God says, I have created you all different so that you can know one another and befriend one another and not despise one another” — Nadia Hassan, quoting the Quran:

Is he dead or alive? “This month, a written message from Mullah Omar suddenly appeared, to mark the Islamic Eid Festival”, saying that “peaceful interactions with the enemies is not prohibited” by Islamic law:

“Many … democratic leaders have rallied to the sides of Muslims in the community, condemning the actions of these two “members of the “Northern League party [which] has built a reputation for xenophobia”:


July 28, 2015

News and Analysis (7/28/15)

It’s bad enough when an “expert” witness on terrorism doesn’t know his subject; how much worse when his biases are withheld from the record:

These Muslim-American siblings write Islamic children’s books, because they want “young Muslims to see themselves in the books they read”:

In entertainment, Maz Jobrani thought he could “play anything,” but instead he is “the latest iteration in Hollywood’s long history of racist casting, reducing his religion and culture to a bunch of villainous, cartoonish psychopaths” …

… while in the world of education, “At a minimum the selectivity and psychology of treating Islam in this way will have a tendency to discourage any better approaches to the subject matter”:

“The trial, which involved more than 30 former Qaddafi-regime officials, is being severely criticized as both unfair and unprofessional. It could also deepen Libya’s political chaos”:

Mustafa Akyol explains why an honest look at “jurisprudential facts might help Muslims today to develop a more tolerant attitude toward gays,” citing Islamic scholar Ihsan Eliacik’s reminder that “Islam stands with the downtrodden”:

Since Syrian Kurds have been aided by the US but targeted by Turkey, it complicates cooperation between the two countries in creating a IS-free zone on the Turkish-Syrian border:

“I am sorry that my precious listeners in Iran will be denied my music for sometime, but I will not apologise for performing in Palestine,” says Sami Yusuf’s after his music was banned for performing in Nazareth:

“The U.S. Government, its allies and … apologists constantly propagate standards that have no purpose other than to legitimize all of their violence while de-legitimizing [that of] their enemies in the ‘war’they have declared”:

Recent fatal bombing by Islamist terrorist group Al-Shabab raises fear that their violence is escalating:

Overlooked Consequences of the Iran Nuclear Deal

On July 14th, Iran and the US reached a historic deal concerning Iran’s nuclear proliferation. Essentially, what the deal means is that the US and five other countries will stop enforcing sanctions on Iranian products, while “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will [they] seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons” (look here for the full text of the deal, or here for a simplified version).

The deal has sparked heated criticism. Republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio told Reuters that he is not going to “support a deal with Iran that allows the mullahs to retain the ability to develop nuclear weapons, threaten Israel, and continue their regional expansionism and support for terrorism.” This is by no means unique to Senator Rubio. House Speaker John Boehner claims that “[the deal is] going to hand a dangerous regime billions of dollars in sanctions relief while paving the way for a nuclear Iran,” as do several other Republicans. Many Democrats are also skeptical about the deal, and the Israeli Prime Minister warns that the deal is a threat both to Israel and to the US. He (dis)informs us that Iran has “killed a lot of Americans. It’s killing everybody in sight in the Middle East.”

Moving away from the scaremongering rhetoric, the criticism against the deal is largely based on a belief that the deal will be ineffective in preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons; that it will threaten the security of the region and eventually lead to an armed conflict. Those who support the deal claim that the deal actually will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons; Iran will still be allowed to enrich uranium, but inspections will be conducted regularly to ensure that the enrichment is insufficient for the purpose of developing nuclear weapons.

Most of the media coverage focuses only on whether the deal will be successful in preventing Iran’s development of nuclear weapons or not, the salubrious effects of lifting the sanctions on future Iranian policies seem to have been overlooked. To the extent the removal sanctions are covered, they are only related to Iran’s increased capacity to use wealth to fund foreign terrorist groups. According to CIA, however, it is unlikely that Iran will spend a game-changing amount of the sanction relief funds on terrorist groups. Furthermore, similar critique can (and arguable should) be made towards the Saudisas they have funded Al-Qaeda (and some say, ISIS).  Still, the US remains a close ally to Saudi Arabia.


By overlooking the implications of lifting the sanctions, the media has ignored what may be the most important argument in support of the deal – the argument concerning the effect of free trade on interstate conflict. The notion that countries that trade with each other do not go to war with each other is an old one; Montesquieu said in 1748 that “[p]eace is the natural effect of trade. Two nations who differ with each other become reciprocally dependent; for if one has an interest in buying, the other has an interest in selling; and thus their union is founded on their mutual necessities.”

In addition to this, more recent empirical data show a significant negative correlation between trade and interstate conflict. Economists Polachek and Seiglie found in their paper that “overwhelming evidence indicates that trade reduces conflict regardless of the proxies used to capture the gains from trade and conflict.” Further, they argue that “[t]he policy implication of [their] finding is that further international cooperation in reducing barriers to both trade and capital flows can promote a more peaceful world.” Thus, with this in mind, it should be clear to any reader that the lifting of sanctions against Iran will actually decrease the risk that Iran will go to war, in contradiction to what skeptics to the deal are arguing.

Not to be forgotten, sanctions traditionally hurt civilians the most; when the country have to be more self-sufficient, the population cannot concentrate on doing what they are best at – utilizing their comparative advantage – but have to produce more things by themselves. This leads to a decrease in consumption possibilities for the populations. This has also been the case in Iran, where people have struggled to acquire food and medicine. Therefore, it is also likely that the Iranian population will be better off as a result of the sanctions being lifted, and hostile attitudes towards the US might change.


This is not saying that the deal is perfect. It is not even saying that the deal will nullify the risk of Iran going to war. There is important research suggesting that it is not only trade, but economic freedom as a whole, that prevents countries from going to war – something that Iran still lacks (as they are ranked 171/178 on the Economic Freedom Index). What this is saying, however, is that the risk of Iran engaging in warfare will decrease as a result from the recent nuclear deal. As more countries trade with Iran, they will have less reason to go into interstate conflict, and considering their military history (the Islamic Republic has never invaded another country), the risk of an Iran-initiated war seems diminishingly small. Therefore, in order to support a more peaceful world, one should support the Iran nuclear deal.

Eva Forslund
2015 Summer Intern
Minaret of Freedom Institute

July 27, 2015

News and Analysis (7/27/15)

In an effort to debunk Islamophobia and radicalization, a group of Muslims are releasing educational videos online to show what Islam really teaches:

The complexity of why young women are radicalized to join ISIS is addressed as a perfect storm between seeking identity and freedom, trying to follow one’s faith, and giving in to curiosity:

“The solution to extremism lies through strategies that enable rather than constrain the space for Muslim free expression”:

An eyewitness says that the victim was unarmed and  dead man’s family charges that the FBI “engaged in a concerted effort to manipulate and conceal the evidence concerning the brutal death of Abdullah'”:

An Irish Muslim leader thinks the “likelihood of widespread radicalisation in Ireland … is minimal”, yet warns, that unless Muslims must actively combat any radical interpretation their children face Islamophobia” …

… for regardless of the issue, “be it cultural practice or immigration rules, regardless of how religious they are or how much they practise, by simply being Muslim the youth are made to feel that they are on the wrong side” …

… and across the ocean, Canadian converts are subject to prejudice as well. “When people hear I’m a convert, they go, ‘you chose this? There’s something wrong with you. What rational modern person chooses this religion?'”:

Incarcerated journalist Mohamed Fahmy worries about the violations of freedom throughout the world, “as a realist, I know the true meaning of free speech does not exist, but I also believe we have to fight toward reform”:

“If a Muslim had a similar website, which includes bomb manuals and details about assassinations and establishing paramilitary groups, then you can be sure action would be taken” — Nick Lowles, Hope Not Hate chief executive:

After his mother refused to pray at a mosque because the ablution room was unsanitary, 22-year-old Sultan al-Subhi invented a robot to help Muslims keep it clean:

“Turkey’s unexpected move to launch raids against Kurdish rebels at the same time it is cracking down on the Islamic State group risks ending a period of relative calm that has been a boon for Turkey’s democracy and economy”:

July 26, 2015

News and Analysis (7/26/15)

A Muslim woman tells her would-be male atheist savoir: “I have the agency to tell you that Islam is a feminist religion and informs my role and positions on women’s rights issues. I am a feminist because I am Muslim”:

Nasrallah said freezing U.S. assets “does not make a slightest difference to our brothers” since the Hezbollah members have no money in the U.S.:

“MPs approved the bill on Saturday by a margin of 174-0 with 10 abstentions,” but Human Rights Watch fears the bill will “open the way to prosecuting political dissent as terrorism”:

“Yemeni forces allied with a Saudi-led coalition fought Houthi militia for control of the country’s largest air base north of Aden on Sunday, … hours before a humanitarian truce declared by the coalition was meant to start” …

… “after Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed at least 80 people and injured at least 150 more in [a] Yemeni province…. [T]he Saudi-led coalition nullified [an previous truce] within hours”:

Cut off by heavy rain that washed out roads and with no reinforcements flown in to assist police at the large base after three days of attack, “they had no option: They had to join the Taliban”:

“Police said that a young Jewish man on Sunday attempted to enter while wearing … small leather boxes containing sacred texts worn by Orthodox men at prayer” and then bit “a policeman who tried to remove him”:

Th managing director charged with overseeing the school insists the situation “is no different from if a school rented space from a Catholic church that then used those proceeds to fund other activities”:

“There is no connection between these air strikes against PKK and recent understandings to intensify U.S.-Turkey cooperation against ISIL” — Brett McGurk, deputy special presidential envoy for the counter-IS coalition:

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