News and Analysis (11/11/16)

November 11th, 2016

Are American Muslims under attack in the wake of Trump’s victory? Well, yes and no …

… “After Trump’s victory, non-Muslim allies let their Muslim and Sikh friends know they’re loved and supported”:

“An American drone strike thought to have struck Islamist militants in Somalia actually killed 10 members of a regional force allied with the United States, according to results of a Pentagon investigation” yet to be made public:

The protests have been “dubbed the “revolution of the poor” and authorities have accused Islamist groups like the banned Muslim Brotherhood of engineering the protests to cause chaos”:

“Obama has come to prioritize the counter­terrorism mission in Syria over efforts to pressure President Bashar al-Assad to step aside, as al-Nusra is among the most effective forces­­ battling the Syrian government”:

“The state which is built upon the ethnic cleansing of the majority of the indigenous Palestinian people is inching its way towards banning the call for prayer”:

Use government  funds to pressure Israeli artists to entertain violent extremists in the illegal settlements may backfire to intensify pressure for a cultural boycott of Israeli companies when they try to tour overseas:

“Ebrahim Sharif of the Waad Party, who himself has been detained by the island’s Sunni rulers, said he hoped the Prince of Wales brought up human rights issues behind closed doors with leaders here”:

“[M]ore than 110,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants have been suspended or dismissed and 36,000 formally arrested in a crackdown that President Tayyip Erdogan’s critics say is quashing legitimate opposition”:

“Although Afghanistan will likely have a difficult time caring for the potential influx of approximately 2.5 million refugees, Afghanistan’s president says that he welcomes their return”:

News and Analysis (11/7/16)

November 7th, 2016

“[T]he World Justice Project’s rule of law index placed Turkey 99th of 113 countries, just behind Iran and Myanmar. It has reclaimed its place as the world’s main jailer of journalists.” Some analysts now fear to be quoted …

… “authorities have arrested 37,000 people, … closed down more than 200 media outlets and publishing houses, more than 100 universities and hospitals, and expelled 100,000 teachers, academics and civil servants”:

“[B]ecause of their high concentration in key swing states such as Ohio, Florida and Michigan[, Muslims] … could help decide the outcome of an election, community organizers say”:

Skepticism surrounds the appointment of an ambassador to Saudi Arabia to a commission on the Muslim Brotherhood that overlooks such important things as its deposition by military coup and “subsequent repression of its supporters”…

… and a “report criticises the Foreign Office for using the term to describe both groups that embrace “democratic principles and liberal values” and others that instead hold ‘intolerant, extremist views'”:

“Kurdish-led Syrian forces backed by the U.S. … [are] clashing with the extremists north of the Syrian city and warning neighboring Turkey not to interfere in the operation”:

In MUSLIM GIRL: A Coming of Age, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh delovers a “potent message …, a skillful unraveling of the myth of the submissive Muslim woman and a timely introduction to … kids who bear the destructive burden of” 9/11:

The leader of the women’s group “said that rather than following the clerics, Muslims should abide by what is written in the Quran. This would also ensure that there is no tinkering with the basic spirit of the Muslim Personal Law”:

“[I]nstant triple talaq, which is called Talaq-i-Bid’ah, is the biggest sin in Islam. In the era of Hazrat Umar, a man giving such divorce was punished with 50 lashes. Today, the practice continues but lashes have disappeared”:

News and Analysis (11/4/16)

November 4th, 2016

“[F]ive principles … comprise the goal of Shariah – preserve life, preserve mind, preserve religion, preserve posterity, and preserve property – any action that is to be considered in line with Shariah must lead to these five results”:

Despite the fact that Islamic law requires the agreement of both parents to cease breast-feeding, this man prevented his wife from feeding their child, leading to the child’s death citing an absurd pseudo-Salafi argument:

Is Salafism or democracy to blame for the use fallacious interpretations of Islam in politics? “it is important to be continuously reminded that bigots are everywhere,” says one observer:

Soon after “the FBI exposed a plot to murder 120 Somali immigrants” in the state, the Republican Party of has distributed “an image of an Islamic State fighter holding a machine gun” and asking, “Have you met the new neighbors?”

The Turkish government now stoops to arresting elected legislators and accusing critics of the practice of supporting terrorism:

The author of The Trouble with Islam Today has learned from her followers that her mission is not the reform of Islam, but the “more universal mission … [of] moral courage … [which] means doing the right thing in the face of your fears”:

The chaplain’s Muslim critics have “distributed Islamic resources … that include a description of the household of Prophet Muhammad, whose wives … showed autonomy, providing positive role models to Muslim couples“:

Afia, who started posting her beauty videos to show that her scarf doesn’t stop her from doing whatever she wants now hopes Cover Girls’s campaign “will show  that brands care about us as consumers and we’re important”:

Fikri “he was crushed to death by a garbage truck … after the unauthorized swordfish he was selling was thrown out by police and … [he tried]to retrieve it from the garbage”:

News and Analysis (11/2/16)

November 2nd, 2016

“I do not think we should have pushed for an election in the Palestinian territories…. [I]f we were going to push for an election, then we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win”:

“The proposed role and powers … do not furnish sufficient protection from potential violations of the constitutional rights of those law-abiding Muslims and believers in Islam … in this city” Federal Judge Charles Haight Jr.:

To prevent rival Christian denominations from soaking the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in one another’s blood, a Muslim “family keeps the key, while [another] opens up the church door every morning and locks it in the evening”:

“At a certain point, you realize that you need to call out inappropriate behavior. I think the time had come to say this is embarrassing for us as Jews” — Rabbi David Lerner, President of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis:

“Personnel from the so-called ‘Israeli Nature Authority’ – backed by large numbers of Israeli forces – stormed the historical Bab al-Rahmeh cemetery and knocked down eight graves” — Islamic cemeteries in Jerusalem, preservationist:

“[M]ost of the world considers settlement construction there and in the West Bank illegal or illegitimate”:

“The rise in modest fashion over the last decade has come hand in hand with the emergence of ‘Generation M’: Muslims who believe that faith and modernity go hand in hand” — Shelina Janmohamed, VP of Ogilvy Noor:

“[G]ender-just reforms have to be introduced into the Muslim community … through equality-seeking interpretations of the Qur’an and Islamic law, not through a universal family law imposed on the community from above”:

UK’s “Sharia councils” get mixed reviews, with some women saying that while some are “misogynistic and unfair to women,” but others complaining “that the inquiries are aimed at banning – not reforming – Sharia councils”:

News and Analysis (10/30/16)

October 30th, 2016

From 1944-1968 the Democrats were the war party. They take back the title now with the score of countries bombed “Obama 7 – Bush 4” by adding Yemen, Libya and Syria to Bush’s list of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Somalia …

… and five peace groups demand to know why John Kerry is receiving a peace prize in Tipperary when the US is “using Shannon Airport to wage wars of aggression in the Middle East”:

“Thousands of academics, teachers and health workers were among those removed through a new emergency rule decree … while 15 media outlets, almost all of which reported from the largely Kurdish southeast, were shut down”:

“Al-Mehwar has been airing promos for the interview for several days and it was due to be aired on Saturday night. Instead the network replaced it with a soap opera”:

Elizabeth “did her best to convince Sultan Murad that Protestantism and Islam were two sides of the same coin” inviting and Islamic influence that even changed the English language:

“If even natural-seeming allies are preoccupied fighting each other about tactics, what hope is there prevailing in the fight against real bigots?”

“Katya says that in Islam women are free, contrary to the stereotype of Muslim women…. A wife can work if she wants to, and … her husband is obliged to support her”:

News and Analysis (10/27/16)

October 27th, 2016

The placement of American drone bases in threatens to undermine the most promising democratic reform movement in the Arab world …

… adding to the horrors inflicted by drones not only on he victims of American military intervention abroad, but our own soldiers suffering “guilt, anxiety, moral injury, PTSD, sleep disorder, despair” and sometimes suicide”:

The imamah says that resistance from more conservative Muslims has been “quite moderate” but that she has “received threats from right-wing extremists on social media”:

“There are a lot of feminist undertones with the decision to veil parts of yourself in order to make other parts of yourself shine” — Layla Shaikley, NASA intern and cofounder of TedxBaghdad and of software startup Wise Systems :

Erdogan is more fearful of the Kurds than Asad or ISIS:

His father reminded him that his scholarship to Bennington College was “donated by wealthy Americans” and educating a poor African Muslim is “as Islamic as building a mosque” and kept the US “elevated in the eyes of Allah”:

“[M]ore than 14 million people, over half of Yemen’s population … are short of food, with much of the country on the brink of famine, according to the United Nations”:

News and Analysis (10/24/16)

October 24th, 2016

The Togolese soccer player explains how his conversion enables him to more truly follow Christ:

“[A] bill to strengthen legislation on violence against women … [c]hampioned by Ennahdha, a conservative reformist party with Islamic roots and a clutch of dynamic female MPs and officials … is expected [pass] by the end of 2016″:

A cartoon showing President al-Sisi diving in after  a drowning man only to steal his watch “captures the mood of desperation and anger among Egyptians clobbered by tax rises, soaring food price inflation and cuts in state subsidies” …

… while an Oxford professor notes the similarities between Sisi and Trump:

“They may just stay home. There are third-party candidates, and for Muslims they’re very real possibilities. I don’t think anyone can take a Democratic vote from a Muslim for granted”– Dalia Mogahed:

Under the occupation “thousands of Palestinian laborers in the economically depressed West Bank … have no choice but to work” at menial jobs in the illegal settlements”:

A 21-state survey in anticipation of the final FBI report expected next month indicates a shocking increase for Muslims as a percentage of hate crime targets from 2.7% in 2014 to 4.8% in 2015:

“The leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah says his parliamentary bloc will vote for former army commander Michel Aoun for president” making the Christian the probable winner of the parliamentary balloting session”:

“Islam does not encourage divorces and permits only in exceptional circumstances and it must be resorted to only when there is no alternative, and that to, in the most amicable manner”:

“The Bern court ruled that …. a headscarf can only be grounds for termination in cases where it makes it impossible to carry out duties described in the employment contract or if it ‘substantially affects’ the working environment”:

News and Analysis (10/21/16)

October 21st, 2016

“60 prisoners remain in Guantánamo, 19 of whom have been cleared for release. With time running out, President Obama must double down and … end the unlawful and unjust practice of indefinite detention”:

From their viewpoint, “critics of collective responsibility claim that Muslims should “stand up against the state and its violence against Muslims in general”:

“Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms says officials raided its Cairo base, raising fears of revived crackdown”:

“[E]lite Iraqi special forces joined the fight Thursday, unleashing a pre-dawn assault on an Islamic State-held town east of the besieged city, and the U.S. military announced the first American combat death since the operation began”:

“The attack was repelled by local security forces, who said six of the militants had been killed in the operation”:

“Carter, acknowledging it was a delicate issue, declined to explicitly say whether he thought Turkey should be allowed to participate in the operations in Iraq. Washington in the past has deferred that matter to Baghdad”:

The Middle East and the Next Administration: Challenges, Opportunities and Recommendations

October 19th, 2016

[These are selected highlights excerpted from Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr.’s address to the Middle East Policy Council’s 86th Capitol Hill Conference. The complete video and transcript of the entire conference are available at:]

The Middle East and the Next Administration: challenges, opportunities and recommendations [Excerpts selected by Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D., Minaret of Freedom Institute]

CHAS W. FREEMAN, JR. (Chairman, Projects International Inc.; Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia; Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense; Former President, Middle East Policy Council)

I think Osama bin Laden must have died happy. He devoted the last third of his life to creating animosity between the West and Islam and to driving a wedge between Saudi Arabia and the United States. Today, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey are all estranged from our country. And as an unexpected bonus, so is Israel….

America is less secure, we are less prosperous as Americans, and we are less free than we were as this century began. In life Osama was transformative. In death he continues to shape the world he left behind. Can a new administration change this? Will it…?

I do not believe that we are about to elect a president able to govern effectively and to end dysfunction in Washington. Whoever we choose as our president seems certain to be regarded as illegitimate and opposed by supporters of her or his rival…. [A]t heart, the two candidates faithfully reflect the narratives, prejudices and conventional policy approaches of the nation they propose to lead…. This gives them so much in common that I think it’s more efficient to discuss them together rather than separately. So I will refer to Candidates Clinton and Trump as one gender-fluid person, “Candidate Clump.” (Laughter.) Candidate Clump is on the payroll of the Israel lobby’s major donors, wants to isolate Iran, and loves sanctions and other forms of economic warfare more than trade and investment. Clump was for the invasion of Iraq before “hesh” was against it. (Laughter.) Hesh is more interested in poking at the Middle East than in understanding it….

When elected, President Clump will give Israel whatever it must have to fend off its political tantrums … [and] is very unlikely to lead an intelligent interagency or national discussion about what must be done to dig ourselves out of the very large and deep sinkhole in the Middle East that we’ve fallen into….

What situations will our president, Congress and Supreme Court inherit in the Middle East…? [T]here are at least 12 distinct but overlapping wars going on in Syria, maybe more. Saudi Arabia is at war with Iran; foreign-backed insurgents with the Assad government; Hezbollah, Iraqi militias and Iran with the insurgents; Islamists with secularists; foreign-backed forces with Daesh, the Islamic State; Shiites with Sunnis; Kurds with Arabs; Kurds with Kurds; Turks with Kurds; and the United States separately with the Assad government, with Daesh and with Russia.

The United States is indirectly or directly involved in about half of these Syrian wars, aligned with and against Assad and with and against the insurgent forces, sometimes with Turkey and sometimes against Turkey, sometimes with the Kurds but always against Russia. Oh, and Israel continues to bomb Syrians whenever it feels like it….

Assad remains in power. The Gulf Arabs feel let down. Sectarian strife swells. Foreign interventions wax and wane. Iran retains their preeminent political role in the Levant. Turkey turns this way and that. Kurdish self-determination looms and recedes. Turkey and Europe drown in refugees. The U.S. and Russia are ever closer to war. All sides, including the United States, remorselessly violate both international law and the basic canons of human decency. And Daesh revels in its martyrdom. And the slaughter continues….

We accept no responsibility for the 450,000 or more dead Syrians or the 11 million displaced from their homes. Our politicians and public oppose taking in the refugees from the anarchy we have helped to foster. This is craven, dishonorable, and a reproach to our moral standing and prestige. But let’s leave such quibbles aside. This is, after all, Washington, where both common sense and moral accountability come to die….

Part of our reason for joining Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE in attempting to overthrow the Assad government was to show solidarity with them – complicity instead, I should say…. [T]here is no silver lining to be seen in the dark cloud of Syria’s agony

Parallel contradictions are at work in Iraq, which our 2003 invasion and occupation also thrust into anarchy…. As in Syria, our policies appear to align every which way….

Occasionally, presidential candidates hint that they have a plan that diagrams how Americans can end our misadventures in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, but the last box on their plan seems to read “a miracle happens here.” It’s the Middle East, so where miracles are said to have happened in the past so I suppose you can’t rule that out, but it’s hard to consider this much of a plausible probability….

[W]ith the cult of the warrior ascendant in our culture and few Americans dying, the Washington playbook is likely to prevail. We will continue on autopilot but deploy more firepower. Anti-American terrorism with global reach will therefore continue to grow…. Whether homegrown or foreign, our attackers see themselves as humiliated, persecuted, bullied or otherwise victimized. They’re looking for a cause larger than themselves in which to cloak their criminality…. We mistake their terrorist doctrine for their motivation. But they are psychotic, not pious. They are gangbangers, not theologians.

Bombing the so-called Islamic State and snuffing Muslims from the air with drones don’t help cure anti-American terrorism with global reach. They feed the very paranoid delusions on which it thrives. Eliminating the Islamic State’s control of parts of Syria and Iraq will not eliminate the causes of terrorism directed at the West.

It’s time for a different approach. The place to start, I think, is Syria … [where reliant on external support, combatants] have not needed to court popular support by avoiding atrocities against civilians. Cutting off overt and covert aid to combatants would help restore their incentive to do so, meaning to take account of the feelings of the people they are victimizing in Syria.

[All parties] would all be better off if we and all other external parties agreed to mutual restraint and an end to the supply of weapons and training and fighters to Syria … [and] would also bring the world back into conformity with the principle that one should do no harm and mark a return to respect for international law….

As part of a search for a regional détente, the United States needs to have a serious discussion with the Saudis about a war termination strategy for Yemen … [which could] help detoxify the U.S.-Saudi relationship. It’s become politically poisonous in both countries, as illustrated by the blossoming of American Islamophobia, Saudi vituperation against America, and the recent override of President Obama’s veto of JASTA, the cynically named Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. This is actually the “shyster’s relief act” of 2016.

Despite decades of efforts by the United States to broker peace between Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab and Muslim worlds, the so-called peace process is now dead and buried. It cannot be exhumed and it will not be resurrected … [meaning that] the United States will have no political cover internationally at all for its continuing subsidies to the Israeli settlement enterprise or for its protection of Israel from international condemnation and punishment for its gross violations of the rights of its captive Arab populations, illegal territorial expansion, and intermittent military assaults on neighbors….

Israel has become one of the wealthiest countries on the planet. It dominates its region militarily yet U.S. taxpayers will pay, or more likely borrow, $3.8 billion each year for the next 10 to subsidize it – this despite the fact that Israel contemptuously opposes most U.S. policies in its region. It goes out of its way to demonstrate its defiance of U.S. and international opinion of its policies and seems to many to be hell-bent on doing itself in. Unconditional support for Israel does grave harm to Israel by enabling it to behave in ways and take risks with its future that it otherwise would not….

U.S. attempts to advocate human rights, oppose racism, promote the rule of law, empower women or support the democratization of government as insincere, hypocritical or downright duplicitous. Americans speaking out for our values in the Middle East now persuade no one there. We just remind them of our unflinching complicity in Israeli policies and practices that mock the ideals we claim to champion.

On its way out, the Obama administration has begun speaking more honestly – which means more harshly – about the extent to which Israeli statements and behavior now trouble Americans, including, by the way, the great majority of American Jews. But in the region this just comes across as: Who are you going to believe, America or your lying eyes?

… [T]he probable result of doing more of the same is more of the same. That’s really too bad, both for us and for everyone in the Middle East….


News and Analysis (10/19/16)

October 19th, 2016

After years of pretending that Asad had a monopoly on chemical weapons in Syria, the U.S. finally admits to (some of the) evidence that his opponents have used them:

Unless the Sunni population’s antipathy to Iraq’s “Shia-dominated government … changes, the military defeat of … Isis … within Iraq will mutate into a … sectarian conflict that will usher in the next mutation of Wahhabi extremism”:

Recently freed movement “leaders have sworn to liberate Ethiopia from the western backed Tigrayan ethnic minority regime presently ruling the country.” Muslims are the majority and Islam forbids ethnic discrimination:

As a counter-terrorism computer scientist he risks facing violence in Pakistan, but he prefers that to what his family endured in the US:

The Muslims visited by the gymnast showed him “what they learn & the true meaning behind there religion of peace” and he now says he would not use his video as an endorsement of free speech but as a example of bad taste:

“You can always count on the authorities to make us look stupid” — a Malaysian Facebook commentator:

When Lindsay Lohan began her study of Islam, “the reaction from her fellow Americans was negative and somewhat shortsighted.” But an online fan says, “If Islam is helping her find and keep her sobriety, that’s awesome”:

“The issue of openly demonstrating religious signs becomes increasingly touchy in secular France as it also becomes more politicized” …

… but Macron challenges the prevailing French view that there should be no religion in public life, “If the state should be neutral, which is at the heart of secularism, we have a duty to let everybody practice their religion with dignity”:

The picture of a Muslim supporter in Trump’s ad has two tiny problems: he’s a Sikh and he’s not supporting Trump: