June 9, 2016

News and Analysis (6/9/16)

Having achieved the original goals of political Islam to end Tunisian “dictatorship and … the French variant of secularism in which expressions of religious identity are discouraged, if not outlawed, in public”, Ghannouchi says Ennahda now seeks “individual liberty“:

“About 14,000 people are expected for the service Thursday in Louisville, Kentucky, which will be broadcast on TV and streamed live online…. U.S. Muslims hope the service for the Kentucky native will help underscore that Islam, so much under attack … is fully part of American life”:

Rumi is “now the best-selling poet in the United States. ‘Raise your words, not voice’ Rumi teaches us. ‘It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder….’ But casting Leonardo DiCaprio may not be the best way to challenge stereotypical portrayals of Muslims.”:

The self-described “agnostic ex-Catholic” filmmaker says, “I got more out of doing this project than any other I’ve done. I was touched by the honesty and beauty of every individual I interviewed and the outpouring of support from the film community”:

To fight Islamophobia the “wife of this year’s Gold Logie winner … tweeted that she would donate $1 to charity for ‘each hate-filled tweet I get from trolls’…. So far, she’s donated about $4000 to UNICEF, along with the message: The needy children thank you, haters!'”:

“A police [said] that the incident, which took place in mid-May, had been largely resolved. But the question as such probably lives on for many, because it’s a very small issue that is incredibly huge, or a huge issue that is very small, depending on where you are on your life journey”:

“We’re very confused and baffled by what’s going on because those who know Homa either personally or through her academic work know she’s … someone who’s incredibly even-handed and balance. She’s not political. She’s not an activist”:

“If the advances are sustained, they could dislodge Islamic State from its most important base outside the Middle East and provide a boost to the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord”:

June 7, 2016

News and Analysis (6/7/16)

Ali pioneered a new path in this country’s religious life, they said, marrying an all-American bravado with an unapologetic embrace of Islam…. [A] coalition of national groups … have urged Muslims to honor the late boxer this week with special prayers at local mosques” …

… “[T]he image of Muhammad Ali isn’t the same as it was for most Americans 50 years ago. And that says something good about US progress on race relations and religious tolerance… [B]efore there could be a ‘Hamilton’ there had to be an Ali”:

He was involved in the planning, execution and justification of “the intentional killings of their colleagues…. If the Newseum had wanted to foster ‘debate,’ it would presumably have invited Palestinian journalists, human rights defenders or experts on the laws of war to take part”:

In criminal proceedings from which reporters were barred, a former judge and “Egypt’s former top auditor who exposed massive corruption in the country has gone on trial on charges that include spreading ‘false news’ … [and] ‘disturbing’ the country’s security”:

The Saudi cabinet has approved a plan to introduce “a value-added tax (VAT), so-called ‘sin taxes’ on sweet drinks and tobacco, and additional fees imposed on the private sector … [and] to reduce the value of public salaries and wages …, and cut water and electricity subsidies”:

Critics charge that “a system of guardianship of women in Saudi Arabia” can force a woman “to get … divorced on the grounds that they have have married ‘outside their lineage'” but “Islam took away these ignorant and racist traditions and you are resurrecting them” :

As the U.S. and Russia press harder on the self-styled “Islamic State,” the plight of the civilian population gets worse:


June 4, 2016

News and Analysis (6/4/16)

A great American, at one time the most beloved athlete in the world, a passionate, intelligent and spiritual fighter against foreign interventionism and for freedom for all moves on to the next world leaving this one poorer:

“I was so naïve, man. I thought the way law enforcement worked was they actually, like, enforce the law”:

Neither Islam nor Shariah but the corrupting influence of power is the problem with the democratization of the Muslim world:

“After over a decade of not stepping inside a mosque, I was spiritually hungry. Although I maintained a private relationship with Allah, I longed for a nonjudgmental spiritual community where I could meet others like myself”:

“The offensive is the third” of “some of the most aggressive campaigns against Islamic State since it declared its aim to rule over all Muslims from parts of Iraq and Syria two years ago”:


June 1, 2016

News and Analysis (6/1/16)

She was eliminated on the grounds that her factual recitation of the oppression of Palestinians was not uplifting and was offensive to some — presumably those who favor the oppression. The speech, now banned from YouTube as well, can be seen here:

The man called her a “freak” and a “terrorist” until the driver boomed out, “Hey! If you’ve got a problem with her, then you’ve got a problem with me!”:

“Barely a month goes by without a fresh announcement from the government or one of its ministries about West Bank territory being declared ‘state land'”:

Having agreed secretly to “plow billions of their petrodollar revenue back into Treasuries and finance America’s spending,” the Saudis now threaten to flood the market if they are “held liable in U.S. courts for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks”:

“With the exception of four territories – Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan and the Aceh province in Indonesia – where veiling is mandatory, the majority of Muslim women in the world are free to choose what they wear”:

“[T]he assault is … a test of the army’s ability to capture territory while protecting civilians…. 50,000 people are still thought to be trapped inside with limited access to food, water or healthcare”:

“Wednesday’s opening of the Rafah crossing, Gaza’s main gateway to the outside world, is seen as a goodwill gesture ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts next week”:

May 28, 2016

News an Analysis (5/28/16)

Government violations include “interfering with [Anwar’s] ability to challenge the improper conduct of the judiciary, limiting the time available to prepare a defense, withholding key prosecution evidence, and illicitly manipulating key alibi witnesses for the defense”:

Islam is adaptable and fluid in a sense outside of its core principles, and it can adapt to local settings. We have done it in Africa, Central Asia and India, why can’t we do it in Australia?”:

“Muslim students in Switzerland have now been ordered to shake their teachers’ hands. If they refuse to do so, their parents could face a fine of up to 5,000 Swiss francs ($5,000)”:

“You can give somebody else your business. If you can’t be nice, we don’t want you.” — Shop owner’s wife Cindy Ramsay to a bigot “as she returns him $3 he spent on ice cream”:

“[N]otwithstanding his national celebrity and credentials as the youngest-ever chaplain for the New York Police Department, Latif is routinely harassed by the FBI and other government agents”:

“The idea that the first exception might be for a Muslim student was particularly polarizing, given the national discussion and starkly divergent views about the role of Islam in U.S. culture”:

“16 federal states offer some form of Islamic religion classes in their schools, similar to the Catholic and Protestant religion classes they have traditionally had”, but “[r]ivalries and disputes among Islamic associations have complicated efforts”:

May 23, 2016

News and Analysis (5/23/16)

“The biggest challenge for the TDC [Truth and Dignity Commission] is to face the deep state resisting against the change and against all kinds of reform because they are facing an accountability process and they do not want to be accountable of all violations they did”:

“We want religious activity to be completely independent from political activity. This is good for politicians because they would no longer be accused of manipulating religion for political means and good for religion because it would not be held hostage to politics” — Rashid Ghannouchi:

“It is not an accident…. Someone would have to physically go into the safe in Office of the General Counsel, pull out this document, which comes in many parts, … and take the time to physically destroy it. It doesn’t make any sense. It is not how the CIA works”:

“We feel that any kind of political imposition from the government to try and silence people from engaging in these kind of non-violent grassroots initiatives are really an affront to our democracy” — Tyler Levitan of Independent Jewish Voices Canada:

The target of Trebor Gordon’s bigotry says, “The Constitution of the United States gives him the freedom of speech,” and the Council member who employs him “will give him an opportunity to change” but will change Gordon’s title from “Outreach Director to Director of Special projects’:

The selfie as a tool for spreading peace and love?

“When more than half of Muslims, when in doubt, would give Sharia precedence over relevant national laws,’ then ‘something we can no longer control’ will be at work in the country, Petry said.” State control of the people is more important than justice? We’ve heard that before:

“Ms Bi is supported by campaign group Parents Want a Say, which backed John Platt, 44, when he successfully overturned a £120 fine for taking his daughter to Disney Land during term-time by appealing at the High court”:

“Of the 152 detained, 10 went on hunger strike last week and another 11 joined them Saturday…. Three of the hunger strikers were moved to hospital on Saturday according to … a sister of one of them”:

May 19, 2016

No State Institution (Including the Citadel) Has the Right to Deny the Religious Freedom of an American

The Citadel is The Military College of South Carolina, a state institution. The reaction to the school’s decision to refuse to allow a Muslim student to cover her hair with a headscarf has unveiled a woeful ignorance of the nature of America’s strong Constitutional commitment to freedom of religion. I was especially disturbed by Asra Nomani’s statement, quoted in the Washington Post, “Women and girls, of course, should have a right to wear — or not wear — the headscarf in society, if they wish, but it is truly an insult to the struggle for secularism and civil rights in this country to conflate the headscarf with the struggle for religious and civil liberties in the United States.” We fully support Asra Nomani’s right to dissent from the majority opinion on Islamic law, but her presumption that religious freedom in America applies only to religiously mandated rather than religiously motivated action is flat wrong.

The South Carolina Religious Freedom Act was designed to “restore the compelling interest test as set forth in Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), and Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963), and to guarantee that a test of compelling state interest will be imposed on all state and local laws and ordinances in all cases in which the free exercise of religion is substantially burdened.” Those who have argued that the hijab is not mandatory for Muslim women raise a point irrelevant to the question.  The Citadel is an institution of the state and as such must respect religiously motivated acts as well as religiously mandated acts. Beards are not mandatory for men in Islam, but those who wear beards because it is encouraged by the Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) have their rights respected under the standard that this law was intended to restore.  The woman who chooses to wear or not wear a headscarf, like the man who chooses to wear or not wear a beard, is alone responsible to God, the Exalted, for her actions, but no state institution (including the Citadel) has the right to deny the religious freedom of an American citizen without meeting that compelling state interest tests.

The purpose of the religious freedom act is to restore the constitutional standard of strict scrutiny, that the practice of religion may not be infringed unless the purpose of the law is shown to serve a compelling government interest and that it serves that interest in the least restrictive manner possible. Whether a religious act is religiously mandated (as, say, prayer) or religiously motivated (as, say, the skullcap for Jewish men) is irrelevant. The questions the Citadel must answer are: what is the compelling government interest here and is this the least restrictive means of meeting it. If the Citadel’s answer is that the compelling state interest is crushing any semblance of individuality, that “interest” strikes this writer as neither compelling nor desirable. Any truly compelling interest they may have would no doubt apply to the armed services themselves, and they have found less restrictive means of meeting them, with no need to force women to display their hair.

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

News and Analysis (5/19/16)

The good news of Muslims, Christians and Jews defending one another:

“Given that transgender people are 49 –times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population, their exclusion from the high-level meeting will only impede global progress in combating the HIV/Aids pandemic” — Samantha Power in response to a letter written by Egypt:

Egypt was ranked 158 out of 180 countries in the 2015 Press Freedom Index, according to Reporters Without Borders…. In December, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Egypt was second only to China as the world’s worst jailer of journalists in 2015″:

“Montgomery County has been innovative in its approach, especially with its outreach to the sometimes hard-to-get Muslim community” — Officer Sharif Hidayat:

“[I]n the Supreme Court, … petitioner Shayara Bano has challenged the constitutionality of Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 in so far as it seeks to recognise and validate polygamy, triple talaq and nikah halala”:

Less than 1% of the 350 mass shootings in the U.S. “were committed by Muslims, but it was the one committed by Muslims in San Bernardino that was labeled … terrorism,” not Robert Dear’s murders at Planned Parenthood or Dylann Roof’s murders in an African-American church”:

In Israel a conscientious objector has served 111 days in prison so far for refusing to let her body be used as the tool of Israeli oppression …

… while “Roger Waters, Pink Floyd co-founder and BDS advocate, narrates the film, … [which] deconstructs the establishment media’s propaganda efforts” to misrepresent the apartheid state’s dehumanization dispossession, and massacres of the Palestinians as self-defense”:

Her family doctor said she was found by hunters who brought her and her baby home and her uncle said that the baby’s “father died while she was in captivity,” but the military claims that it rescued her and the baby, along with a Boko Haram suspect who claimed to be her husband”:

LA Times warns that “If Congress strips governments everywhere of their protection in U.S. courts, those countries will almost certainly adopt similar policies against the U.S.”:


May 16, 2016

News and Analysis (5/16/16)

A newspaper calls allegations that an official government ministry letter saying that none of the 711 Muslim yoga instructors who applied were granted permission to attend world yoga day is a fraud are “clear attempts to stifle the freedom of the press” …

… while in Egypt protesters were sentenced “to up to five years in prison in a series of short mass trials … for “opposition to the government’s surrender to Saudi Arabia of two Red Sea islands under a deal negotiated in near total secrecy” …

… and even as Iran “arrested eight people out of some 170 people identified as being involved in modeling on social networks including 58 models, 59 photographers and makeup artists”:

… Iran’s FM told Americans, “The Iranian government does not support, nor does it organize, any cartoon festival of the nature that you’re talking about. When you stop your own organizations from doing things, then you can ask others to do likewise”:

“Muslim women are not treated equal to men. None of us are. But further subjugating them to [Western feminist] prejudices will hardly help them achieve equality on their terms”:

“[A]ll Americans are entitled to peacefully exercise their religious beliefs free from discrimination and violence” — DoJ; “Mr. Payne has taken responsibility for his actions and is sorry for them. He is ready to begin the healing process and move forward” — Perp’s attorney:

Two Jewish-Muslim video experiments are conducted on New York streets …

… while, in the West Bank, a project drawing deep underground water to irrigate palms growing “prized Medjool dates … is the first large project to be funded by both Jews and Muslims in the United States … and to be operated by Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims on the ground”:

“The Shi’ite Muslim group is fighting in Syria, backing … al-Assad against a range of Sunni groups including Islamic State and the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front. But a war monitoring group … [says] there had been no shelling by rebels in that area for more than a week”:

“[S]ome western and Arab-backed rebels [are intermingled] with groups such as … the Nusra Front, which the U.N. has designated a terrorist organization … [but] Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have rejected attempts by Russia to get those rebels placed on the U.N. terrorist list”:

Epitomizing “clandestine colonial carve-ups, Sykes-Picot has become the label for the whole era in which outside powers imposed their will, drew borders and installed client local leaderships, playing divide-and-rule with the “natives”, and beggar-my-neighbour with their colonial rivals”:

“Without the protection of family and community, they frequently endure sexual violence, unintended pregnancies, trafficking and even child marriage” — Babatunde Osotimehin, head of the UN’s Population Fund:

May 13, 2016

News and Analysis (5/13/16)

“Who was in charge when torture occurred at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad: the private contractor interrogators, or the US military that hired them?”

The judge wants clarity as to whether “building, health and safety codes as well as labor and wage laws” are being used maliciously without “proper notice of code violations” or “opportunity to appeal” and with illegal searches:

He spent years establishing “established his footprint in the extremist network. But after the 9/11 attacks” he realized he didn’t know his own religion. Spending “two years in Syria studying Arabic and Islamic studies … exposed him to … the ‘spirituality of Islam'”:

Despite the fact that 60% of respondents in a recent poll said that Islam “had no place in Germany” a Muslim woman from the Green Party “took the post in Baden-Württemberg from a member of a populist anti-immigration party on Wednesday”:

When she donned a headscarf after “reading the works of 11th-century Sunni theologian and philosopher Al-Ghazali,” her father feared her new-found religiosity might interfere with her studies. Instead she has become France’s leading Muslim expert on human sexuality:

“Over 600 Egyptian authors … [condemned the] regime that deals with freedoms with ignorant nonchalance, that privileges a discourse of oppression, that mouths terms like ‘morality’ while emptying them – by its actions – of all meaning, that violates the constitution every day”:

The number of “Americans who traveled, or attempted to travel … to the Middle East to join the self-styled Islamic State” has steadily dropped from 6-10 per month “during 2014 and the first half of 2015″ to average just one a month”:

“There was no immediate reaction from the Israeli government, which has authorised at least eight air strikes against targets inside Syria since the start of the civil war five years ago”:

“Bin Salman’s biggest difficulty is likely to be jobs, with a desperate need to reduce dependence on foreigners to get young Saudis into private sector jobs rather than the undemanding and unproductive state positions so many see as their birthright”:

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