Archive for September, 2007

News and Analysis (9/29-30/07)

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and 13 other “high value” detainees are finally given the right to seek legal counsel after it being denying to them for almost five years:

“It is as if he is trying to sound like the ‘agents of [in]tolerance’ he once critiqued, thinking that will cause Christian conservatives to like him. It is a sad performance.”—David Kuo, former Deputy Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

In response to recent smears alleging past incitement of violence, local Muslim activist Essam Omeish held a press conference denying such allegations and claimed his remarks were misinterpreted and taken out of context:

Destruction of the holy Shi’a shrine that touched off sectarian violence responsible for killing thousands is to be rebuilt the help of the EU and UNESCO:

Celebrating Rumi’s 800th birthday today, the world reflects on his universal message of love and peace:

In the midst of a massive crackdown on protesters that saw several prominent opposition and government figures get attacked, the Pakistani government bars private television stations from broadcasting images of the melee for several hours:

News and Analysis (9/28/07)

Friday, September 28th, 2007

15 Independent Egyptian papers forge a consensus on protesting the government’s recent clampdown on journalists and papers, refusing to publish in early October, while local Tunisian civil society groups score a small, but important win for freedom of speech as persistence combined with raised awareness in the international community wins the freedom of prominent dissent Mohammad Abbou and 21 other political prisoners:

Iraq’s most prominent Sunni Muslim group denounces the US Senate’s non-binding resolution to decentralize power in Iraq to ethno-sectarian regions and weaken the federal government:

New York Times editorial slams the Bush administration for continuing to ask for more eye-popping amounts of cash to an immoral, ineffective and counterproductive war:

“… if Bollinger had invited President Bush to Columbia and made those same unvarnished remarks to him, and Bush had toughed it out and struggled to answer half a dozen unfiltered, critical questions from an audience not made up of his handpicked supporters…. Well, that too would have been free speech at its best.”–Columnist Rosa Brooks.

Much to the disappointment of Pakistan’s opposition groups, the Supreme Court rules that he can still run, while resignations are taking place local and provincial governments:

News and Analysis (9/27/07)

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Christian Science Monitor editorial points out that the Burmese Buddhist monks’ protests are just the latest movement in a tradition of faith-based pro-democracy activism that includes the Catholic Church’s involvement in liberating Eastern Europe from Communism and the Indonesian Muslim Nahdlatul Ulama’s contributions to overthrowing the dictator Suharto:

Federal judge strikes down parts of the Patriot Act because they permit the executive branches to “conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause of the Fourth Amendment”:

Sunni Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi meets with Grand Ayatollah Sistani and unveils a document with a series of proposals designed to bring national reconciliation, including a “blanket pardon for Iraqis who took up arms against the government and the US-led coalition in exchange for laying down their arms and joining the political process”:

While some Arab states have seen a marked rise in corruption from last year, according to Transparency International, one Arab country with the least corruption in the region, the United Arab Emirates, reaps the rewards of this status as foreign investment from huge firms like the Carlyle Group continue to flow into their country:

Egypt’s lashes back at the American government for criticism of its human rights abuses including arrests of independent journalists and the forced closing of local human rights organization:

In a reversal of an earlier decision, the Bureau of Prisons has decided to return purged religious literature to facilities’ libraries, but supports a revised list of banned material:

As Musharraf formally announces his bid for Presidency, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry rules that hundreds detained opposition members must be freed:

News and Analysis (9/26/07)

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

While some Iranians were receptive to Ahmadinejad’s boldness to speak in New York, others found the insults and jeers at Columbia University to be counterproductive, taking attention away from needed reforms and substantive dialog:

Former three-star vice admiral argues that a bi-partisan plan to withdraw from Iraq is possible if Democrats are willing to allow the necessary time to fully account for efficient withdrawal of troops and logistics, while the Republicans need to be more willing to diplomatically engage Syria and Iran to make the withdrawal easier and quicker:

“A second Iraq is going to be created where people of the country will suffer more than the regime” – Nazila Noebashari, head of Traf Co. Ltd.

Former top US intelligence official asserts that aging North Korean-made missiles with chemical warheads, not a “nuclear facility” was targeted by Israelis in Syria:

American-educated South African Muslim intellectual is allegedly barred from entering America due to vocal criticism of American foreign policies

In the latest development of the deadly Blackwater outrage, documents reveal State Department instructions telling the private security firm to not say a word unless given the green light from the White House:

News and Analysis (9/25/07)

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

As Ahmadinejad comes to New York City to deliver speeches at the UN and Columbia University, Iran releases the fourth and final Iranian-American detained:

Judges under kangaroo court system say that its planned trials for Guantanamo detainees can finally go ahead now that the prisoners’ formal status as “unlawful enemy combatants” have been resolved:

While military statisticians split hairs over what exactly determines a “sectarian” attack, the US intelligence community goes beyond the numbers and takes into account how Iraqis subjectively perceive their own lives:

In a rather late, but unusually strong worded statement, the US chastises the Musharraf government for suppressing domestic political opposition, while for opposition candidate and former Supreme Court judge, Wajihuddin Ahmad, professes his run for the nation’s top spot is about upholding democratic principles, not electoral viability:

Lebanon’s parties continue to remain at a standstill as the first round of presidential elections in the parliament ends quickly due to a lack of a two-thirds quorum necessary to cast a vote:

News and Analysis (9/24/07)

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Seeing the success of Bi’lin as an example, Palestinians are beginning to re-shift tactics away from militancy and back to the non-violent methods of the First Intifada:

Washington Post columnist details and laments over the Bush administration’s abandonment of supporting Egypt’s fledging independent press:

The gloomy possibility of further fragmentation in Somalia is raised, as splits within the provisional government appear to be emerging amid continued clashes between Ethiopian-backed government forces and Islamist-led rebels:

While independent observers find Pakistan’s electoral system is “poorly prepared and… highly vulnerable to fraud” Musharraf’s strongest challenge to his presidential bid is not from weak opposition candidates, but legal petitions submitted to the Supreme Court disputing his eligibility to run:

In a move likely to further polarize Lebanon along political and sectarian lines, Hezbollah-led opposition groups refuse to participate in parliamentary vote to elect new President if a “consensus” candidate cannot be found:

Like religious fundamentalists who believe that certain interpretations of religion are taboo to question, one of Turkey’s secular counterparts states that the current interpretation of secularism implanted the national constitution “should not be a topic of discussion”:

News and Analysis (9/22-3/07)

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

Despite tough talk from Maliki, his government won’t remove Blackwater from his country; but the Interior Ministry continues its investigations to see what that company’s involvement may have been in other shooting incidents as well as if weapons were being illegally smuggled into Iraq:

Seeking to put an end to a very old and brutal culturally established practice, Islamic scholars use the death of Zahra al-Azzo to debunk the popular notion that honor killing is condoned by Islamic teachings:

U.S. stymies German attempts to try CIA Agents accused in connection with the kidnapping, torture, and illegal detention of two German citizens:

Musharraf aims to ensure victory for himself through more illegal arrests and detentions of opposition leaders from mostly conservative parties rather than hard campaigning and adhering to the rule of law:

Deep political divisions along largely sectarian lines bar parliament from convening the necessary number of members to elected a new president:

“They are trying to go back to the old game to keep putting pressure until people start censoring themselves”—Gasser Abdel Razak, Human Rights Watch activist

News and Analysis (9/21/07)

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Further ominous signs of Iraq’s political implosion manifest themselves as Shi’a on Shi’a violence is suspected behind the deaths of two prominent aides to Ayatollah Sistani, while an Iraq government report concludes that the “Blackwater company is considered 100 percent guilty through this investigation” of the unprovoked killing of eight Iraqis and recommends removing private contractors’ immunity from the law:

Musharraf appoints personal friend to head of nation’s internal security service and changes leadership in Pakistan’s most important garrison as lawyers announce plan to hit the streets and protest in favor of scrutinizing the general’s election nomination papers:

Israel’s further restrictions on thousands of Palestinians to worship in Jerusalem at the Al-Aqsa mosque and its rejection of a recent Palestinian attempt to ease restrictions on Gazans are signs of an increasingly hard line that complicates further efforts toward peace:

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) never asked the authorities to arrest the woman who insulted him (in fact he inquired after her health when she failed to dump garbage on him one day), but the Banghladeshi government thinks it is okay to suspend a newspaper for publishing a cartoon with a cat named “Muhammad:”:

News and Analysis (9/20/07)

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Emotions and tensions run high in Lebanon and 14th Lebanese politician since Rafiq Hariri’s death was successfully assassinated:

Egyptian society and how it applies Islam to everyday life, on one hand undergoes rapid changes as more couples seek a legal temporary marriage, but adjust at a much slower pace as efforts to stop the culturally established practice of female genital mutilation hit strong stumbling blocks:

Iran releases Iranian-American academic Kian Tajbakhsh, making him the third such person set free:

Inciting the fear of terrorism once more, the administration seeks to expand warrantless wiretapping into a permanent law:

Outlook in Pakistan looks hotter and heavier as Musharraf announces national elections to take place shortly on Oct. 6th and opposition leader Benazir Bhutto outlines her plan to restore democracy and stability to Pakistan upon her return on Oct. 18th, while militants encourage Pakistanis to overthrow Musharraf:

News and Analysis (9/19/07)

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

In response to tit-for-tat attacks between Israelis and Gazan Palestinians, Israel has collectively punished the entire strip first by choking off trade and now declaring it an “enemy entity” and cutting off its fuel and power supplies, meanwhile some analysts speculate that the recent attack in Syria was a dry run for later possible operations against Iran:

Trial over illegal kidnapping and case of mistaken identity of Muslim vacationer by the CIA will shape the future boundaries of invoking “state secrets privilege” in courts:

“As far as I’m concerned, the Muslim anti-Semites and those [Islamophobes] who want them to win are on the same side of the faith divide.”—Eboo Patel, Executive Director of Interfaith Youth Core

A congregant is charged with lying to avoid losing his job over his association with a fiery local Muslim leader who walks up to line between free speech and incitement without crossing it:

The defense and prosecutors make their closing arguments in the Holy Land Foundation trial:

Couched in drive to replace military constitution with new legal texts based on individual rights in accordance with EU standards, Turkish PM Erdogan seeks to lift ban of the female headscarves at public universities: