Archive for October, 2006

News and Analysis (10/13/06)

Friday, October 13th, 2006

Muslim economist uses market solution to fight poverty:

A Buddhist leader advises his Catholic peer:

Muslim writer lauded for explorations of pluralism:

Here’s an idea: ignorance as the cure for terrorism.

We didn’t kill them, they died of poor health!

Panel denies democracy is possible, suggests stability is:

News and Analysis Update (10/12/06)

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

Israeli flyover violate the sovereignty of Lebanon: “”Would the United States allow flyovers of Russian planes?”

Article highlights Muslim practices during Ramadan: “Throughout the day, you are mentally, emotionally, spiritually and socially developing a bond of brotherhood and sisterhood with the community of believers who are also fasting,”

Sadat’s nephew, an outspoken parliamentary member, to be tried secretly in military court for criticizing military’s role in uncle’s death.

How many Deaths Has the Invasion Caused?

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

In an interview today with Alex Sarotin of Radio Free Europe I discussed the dispute over The Lancet’s publication of a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Study that the number of fatalities in Iraq attributable to the war is substantially higher than the 30,000 cited by the Bush administration. The 655,000 number bandied about in the press is a kind of upper limit that is probably excessive because it includes data from Fallujah, which is probably not representative of Iraqi society as a whole because of the unusual intensity of the violence there. However, excluding Fallujah, the research team claims there are approximately 98,000 additional deaths attributable to the war, still more than three times that quoted by the Bush administration. What’s the story?

The research here was a random sampling of household clusters which was mathematically extended to the country as a whole. There are three main sources of error with which we must be concerned: (1) systematic error due to the fact that the sampling is not truly representative; (2) random errors due to the fact that the study is statistical rather than a comprehensive survey and can never be as accurate as a comprehensive survey; and (3) blunders by the research team, i.e., the possibility that the research team simply did not do its job right.
The authors of the Lancet article discuss the systematic errors in great detail. As mentioned above they properly caution about the Fallujah cluster, although the press naturally has ignored that when writing their shocking “655,000 deaths” headlines. However, there are other systematic errors that imply the 98,000 figure is an underestimate. For example, the fact that they sampled by interviewing households means that those households that were completely destroyed are not included. Being totally destroyed they could be a significant factor. Further the fact that the 98,000 figure excludes Fallujah means that it will be an underestimate.

The authors also provide the range of random error due to the fact that their study is statistical. While estimating that the death rate (excluding Fallujah) after the invasion as one and a half times what it was before the invasion, the authors not that here is a 95% chance that the actual value is somewhere between 1.1 time and 2.3 times higher. This means that there is a 2.5% chance that in fact the Bush administration estimates are not far off; but there is 2.5% also that the excess deaths are more than 194,000.

The last concern is the ability of the researchers, but that is not seriously in question here. The team is affiliated with a top-notch institution and the paper was peer reviewed four scientists before acceptance by The Lancet. The bottom line is that there have been many civilian deaths due to the invasion of Iraq. Every one recognizes this.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad

News and Analysis Update (10/11/06)

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

Johns Hopkins Team says the real number of Iraqi civilian deaths is 655,000:

Fear and loathing in Europe:

Naguib Mahfouz, honored novelist, depicter of the Muslim world passes on:

Is Iraq turning into Afghanistan under the Taliban?

Defense lawyers prepared to argue that alleged murderers were playing by the rules:

“After 4 1/2 years, you ought to be able to get the evidence or decide you can’t”-IMF Money Laundering specialist:

Exploring Islam and Liberty

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

On Friday, October 6, 2006, the Minaret of Freedom Institute and the Institute for Humane Studies co-hosted an iftar bringing together alumni of the Institute for Humane Studies, supporters of the Minaret of Freedom Institute, and local Muslims students. The event at George Mason University was successful in bringing together this diverse group to explore the relationship between Islam and liberty. Thanks go to MFI prgram assistant Sarah Swick for organizing a highly successful event.

Below is the abstract of the talk I presented at the event on Islam, Liberty, and the Rule of Law:

I shall address the relationship between Islam and liberty, emphasizing the significance of the rule of law as the connecting cord. The core teaching of Islam is that every human being is directly responsible to the Almighty. The core principle of libertarian analysis is that no person or group has the right to initiate force or fraud against others to seek to attain their values. These ideas are certainly compatible. When analyzed within a context of the concept of the “rule of law” they prove to be supportive of one another, both analytically and historically.

Shari`ah is not any particular system of laws, but the notion that there is a fixed law supreme not only over individual human actions, but collective institutions as well, including the institutions of government. Islam is neither democracy nor theocracy, but nomocracy. The law is to be discovered by the human intellect through rational study of human nature and the divine texts. In the context of a worldview in which religion governs all spheres of life the commandment of the Qur’an “let there be no compulsion in religion” amounts to a restatement of the non-aggression principle.

The importance of economic and property rights in Islam can be seen from a variety of perspectives. Theologically, man requires property in order to fulfill his function as the khalîfah. Legally, property has been sanctified in Islamic law. Morally, theft, fraud, and injustice have been prohibited by the shari’ah. Practically speaking the objective of falâh cannot be achieved without respect for economic realities. Historically, Islam has been favorable to the merchant beginning with the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his wife Khadijah (may God be pleased with her). The adoption of democratic formalisms will not relieve the Muslim world of its economic stagnation if it is not accompanied by a return to historical civil society institutions like the awqâf, free markets, just government, and a well-defined and protected system of private property.

The Achilles’ heel of a fixed law is the danger of an inflexibility that will lead to stagnation. For hundreds of years Islamic civilization avoided this problem by a willingness to reinterpret the law as conditions changed and new knowledge became available. This flexibility of interpretation was gradually dropped during the declining years of the classical Islamic civilization as the door to ijtihâd (original legal thinking) was considered closed, and the backwardness of the modern Muslim world is the fruit. Reopening the doors to critical thinking so that the eternal truths that underlie not only Islam, but all revealed religions, may be re-considered in the light of the progress made in all branches of learning in the time since the Qur’an was originally interpreted is the fresh air that can lead to a revival of the Muslim world and overcome the misunderstandings, stereotyping, and outright demagoguery that poisons relations between the major civilizations of the world today.

News and Analysis (10/10/06)

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

Successful Palestinian-American businessman struggles to stay in Palestine as Israel sees his success as a threat:

Syrian President discusses why U.S. cannot be the key mediator in Mid-east peace, “How can you talk about peace and you adopt the doctrine of pre-emptive war?”

Ethiopian troops, spotted inside Somalia, threaten to escalate violence:

Are Arab countries the real target of Iran’s nuclear ambition?

Hailed in the UK, banned from the US and Saudi Arabia, Tariq Ramadan believes Muslims must shift “away from the monopoly of theologians and closer toward experts in fields like science, economics and the arts.”

In response to offensive video by extremist group, Danish PM says, “Their tasteless behavior does in no way represent the way the Danish people or young Danish people view Muslims or Islam.”

The failure of US media to get the story right, but “after all, these were only Palestinians”:

News and Analysis (10/9/06)

Monday, October 9th, 2006

President-elect of the National Lawyers Guild says new law permits the U.S. President to name American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants”…

… details available here:

The smoking gun on why the war on Iraq has nothing to do with 9/11:

Al-Qaida Wants the U.S. to Stay the Course:

News and Analysis Updates (10/7/06)

Saturday, October 7th, 2006

“These people say the dowry, its gold, is the woman’s right under the Koran. But when it comes to the dinners, the parties, the salons — this is not Islam.”

writer of what is being called “Iraq’s ‘Daily Show’ insists “I don’t support this government. I don’t support any government”:

Imagine if the Muslim extremists tried to blame this on Thomas Jefferson the way that Islamophobes blame Muslim atrocities on Muhammad (peace be upon him):

On the other hand, if the oil industry were privatized perhaps a fair distribution of the shares could be negotiated economically instead of warring over a political solution:

Not so much of a conversion as a show of solidarity:

Advice to Condi Rice: Ignoring the immoderation of the other side is no way to mobilize allies.

News and Analysis (10/05/06)

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

Judges question government’s reasons and excuses for holding an innocent Muslim man in jail following 9/11

ACLU can proceed with case against the Patriot Act

Despite increase in oil revenue, Saudi unemployment also increases. But is ‘Saudi-isation’ really the answer?

Turkey puts yet another writer on trial, this time for ‘insulting’ Ataturk

Appeals court overturns judge’s order to immediately halt government wiretapping, allowing for continuation of the program until an appeal is heard:

Violence in Palestine: “It is the good old Israeli experiment called ‘put them into a pressure cooker and see what happens,’ and this is one of the reasons why this is not an internal Palestinian matter.”

News and Analysis (10/4/06)

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

“No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.”

“Never again is now.”

Security guard recalls torment of self and hotel receptionist at hands of UK troops:

Inflation and corruption have not been addressed:

Turning Iraq into Afghanistan:

Rice offers to “redouble … efforts to improve the conditions of the Palestinian people…” A quid pro quo?

Zoroastrians complain of “unprecedented” persecution: