Archive for January, 2008

News and Analysis (1/22/08)

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Federal prosecutors seek to put Padilla and co-defendants behind bars for life for their dangerous intentions, not violent actions, but all get no more than 17 years:

Failure of Ahmedinejad’s policies forces Supreme Leader Khamenei to side with pragmatic conservatives in the latest fiscal confrontation with hardliners:

Independent analyst Gareth Porter finds the evidence does not support claims of Iranian and Hezbollah involvement in the 1994 bombing of Buenos Aires’ Jewish community center:

International Crisis Group report finds a militant group in one of Indonesia’s flashpoints is dismantled, but also warns unaddressed issues of justice and corruption could undermine sustainable peace:

Kuwait’s sole female legislator beats off an attempt to have her removed from parliament based on alleged “mismanagement and endangering traditional religious values”:

Analysts find feudalism and military coups are responsible for the retardation of democratic development in Pakistan:

News and Analysis (1/21/08)

Monday, January 21st, 2008

Times of London confirms national security whistleblower Sibel Edmonds’ recent allegation that the FBI covered up Israeli and Turkish theft of US nuclear secrets:

US-led economic sanctions against Iran hurt small businesses and lower income consumers, but fail to affect hardliners in power:

World Economic Forum poll sees Muslim-Western relations worsening, but majorities in all countries surveyed “do not believe military conflict is inevitable”:

Human Right Watch slams Sudan for appointing a Janjaweed leader accused of genocide to a special government post:

Saudi Prince Faisal al-Turki offers broad interaction in political, social and economic arenas from Arab states in return for full Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories:

News and Analysis (1/19-20/08)

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

Canada backtracks on its who’s who list of torturers after coming under pressure from the US and Israel:

Israeli blockade of Gaza may force its only power plant to shut down during a peak winter demand for electricity:

Building projects like Petro Rabigh, Saudi Arabia races to diversify its economy against a huge youth demographic:

Morocco has female imams, but Shareda Hosein struggles against U.S. Army regulations as well as cultural patriarchy in her bid to become the military’s first female Muslim chaplain:

Seeking to tow an independent line, Pakistani Army Chief Ashfaq Kayani seeks to withdraw the military from politics:

Are we winning in Iraq? Only if winning means ensuring “that U.S. troops won’t be coming home anytime soon” says Prof. Andrew Bachevich:

News and Analysis (1/18/08)

Friday, January 18th, 2008

SecDef Gates begins seeking input from top military brass on the best way to exit Iraq:

DHS gets slammed for wasting $90m on a redundant and ineffective counterterrorism information-sharing network:

Mistreatment of Gitmo detainees earns the US a spot on Canada’s torture watchlist:

UN rights group slams Saudi Arabia for legal male patriarchy hindering women from the right to work, travel, and equal access to police and health services:

Even though accustomed to harsh frontier life, the tough residents of Peshawar are cowed by the Taliban’s violence:

Wearing the same uniform that stirred national controversy, Muslim track runner Juashaunna Kelly sets personal records at regional track meet:

News and Analysis (1/17/08)

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

The feds go after a Christian former Congressman in order to take down another Islamic charity:

Independent government report finds sanctions against Iran are not working:

In a sign of weakening morale, Pakistani soldiers abandon a second tribal outpost the day after one was overrun by Taliban militants:

Bush’s half-hearted support for democracy and national economic woes leave activists worried about Egypt’s political future:

Islamist party makes a farcical attempt to expand its political support among non-Muslims by touting a hardline interpretation shari’a as its political platform:

News and Analysis (1/16/08)

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

CIA spy ops chief Jose Rodriguez says he made the order to destroy the torture tapes because the White House’s silence on the matter gave him tacit consent:

Human Rights First alleges “…unwillingness or inability to systematically investigate or prosecute” possible crimes hold back the ongoing Blackwater probe:

After five and half years of distraction in Iraq, allowing the Taliban to regroup, the Pentagon now decides to send more reinforcements:

Independent analyst Gareth Porter reconstructs how Pentagon manipulation and media carelessness almost turned a mundane encounter, into the next Gulf of Tonkin incident:

Ahmadinejad’s failed economic policies force him to make unusual criticism of morality police in order to keep him from losing further popularity:

Syria’s top Muslim cleric condemns terrorism, but also slams US and Israeli foreign policies toward Palestinians and Arabs:

Although having no problems in past years, stellar Muslim long distance runner Juashaunna Kelly is now disqualified from competing in regional and national meets because of sudden allegations that her tailored Muslim athletic clothing violates sport rules:

News and Analysis (1/15/08)

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Judge expresses concern that federal prosecutors now try to focus on motive in order to get life sentences after “great pains to not have motive in the trial“:

Like Dr. Frankenstein, who suffered the consequences of creating a monster, Pakistan and its intelligence service suffer the consequences of helping to nurture the Taliban’s growth:

Bush appeals to common monotheism as a cornerstone for bringing peace and liberty in the Middle East…

… but also pushes forward with $20 billion Saudi and $30 billion Israeli arms deals with an eye on Iran:

Feeling the logistical strain in combat and antiwar pressures at home, NATO allies are hoping the US will contribute more troops to Afghanistan to bolster their own military efforts:

International human rights group urges end to death by stoning (found in the Old Testament and in some hadith, but contrary to the Qur’an) due to harshness of execution method and disproportionate number of unfair trials convicting women:

UN head Ban Ki Moon backs long-term dialog and civil society building as an alternative to short-term military victories to defeat terrorists:

Is This the Shariah?

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Someone is smearing Islam. This time, however, Muslims can’t blame the Zionists, Christian Fundamentalists, or neoconservatives. This time they can find the culprits in the mirror.

In the past Muslims have been indignant about claims made by non-Muslims that Islamic law calls for the murder of non-Muslims or for female genital mutilation, and they have been quick to note how the Qur’an abhors such acts. Yet, Muslims themselves have smeared the Shariah by insisting that adultery is a capital crime in Islam in the face of Amnesty International’ s call for an end to the practice.

Muslim courts often dismiss adultery charges when the high standard of evidence in such cases (four eye witnesses and/or a convincing confession) has not been met. However, in cases in which a woman becomes pregnant, this can have the consequence that only the man escapes punishment. The Muslim legal scholars who argue on the basis of certain hadith that stoning is the Islamic punishment for adultery are in direct contradiction to the Qur’an. The punishment mandated in the Qur’an for zina (sex outside of marriage, whether fornication or adultery) is specific: one hundred lashes (24:2) and that the society must “Let no man guilty of adultery or fornication marry any but a woman similarly guilty or an Unbeliever nor let any but such a man or an Unbeliever marry such a woman…” (24:3). There is no mention of stoning for adultery in the Qur’an whatsoever. Further, the second part of the punishment, that those guilty of zina may only marry others similarly guilty or unbelievers would be an absurdity if adultery were a capital crime. The Qur’an has explicitly forbidden killing except as punishment for murder or a capital crime (5:35, 24:190-191) and forbids the killing of believers in any case (13:92).

When the Qur’an, which Muslims believe to be the word of God, is so clear, how can so many Muslims be so deceived? Because the Qur’an is a book of moral guidance rather than a systematic code of laws, Muslims have developed their jurisprudence using supplementary sources, chief among them being the traditional reports (hadith) of the sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad and his companions. These reports were originally orally transmitted and canonized in later centuries. Despite the general principle of Islamic jurisprudence that hadith contradicting the Qur’an may never be accepted, the Old Testament punishment of stoning has found its way into some of these reports and provided a means for Muslims to give a pseudo-religious defense to the ancient, but un-Islamic practice of honor killings.

Muslims scholars who know better have failed to stand up to this travesty of justice because of their fear that an admission that such a broadly practiced tradition is a violation of the Qur’an might marginalize their own authority either by triggering a backlash for challenging that tradition or, on the other side, open up a floodgate of new questions about other traditions. While the opinions of scholars are necessary to an informed decision, the direct responsibility of the individual to the Divinity implied in the most fundamental of all Muslim beliefs “There is no god but God,” requires Muslims to follow the advice that the Prophet Muhammad gave to Wasibah when the latter approached him to learn the difference between righteousness and sin. Said the Prophet, “Ask your heart, ask your heart, ask your heart.”

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.


Minaret of Freedom Institute

News and Analysis (1/14/08)

Monday, January 14th, 2008

JC Chairman Mike Mullen believes Guantanamo needs to closed because its prisoner abuses harmed America’s image:

Bush continues his tour of the Middle East and revives his rhetoric of regional democracy promotion, but is likely to contradict himself by reaffirming his close relationship with Saudi Arabia despite its human rights abuses:

Religious scholars and academics find Indonesia has more work to do on embracing religious pluralism despite its advancements:

Despite possible government complicity in his wife Benazir’s death, Ali Asif Zardari does not rule out working with Musharraf, however ordinary Pakistanis want the dictator-in-chief out of office:

American women living in Saudi Arabia deal with the trade-offs of dealing with cultural patriarchy and political authoritarianism masquerading as religion for a safer, family-centered life:

Pentagon Removes Incompetent Ideologue on Muslim Affairs

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

On January 4, Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz reported that Stephen Coughlin, a so-called “specialist on Islamic law and Islamist extremism” had been “fired” from his job at the Department of Defense (DoD). Supposedly, the reason he was terminated from his position was because he was accused of being a “Christian zealot with a pen” by Hashem Islam, a key aide to Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England.

As a result, neo-con and Islamophobic blogs like “Jihad Watch” and media outlets like the Washington Times have been howling over Coughlin’s dismissal as an “act of intellectual cowardice” and claiming the DoD has been “infiltrated”. Ah yes, the bigotry-masquerading -as-anti-politically-correct canard.

Well is it really PC issues and Christian ideological extremism that have to do with Coughlin’s “firing?” First, it should be noted that Coughlin isn’t any direct employee of the DoD, rather he is a contractor. You don’t “fire” contractors, you terminate their contract. But wait! In this case there was no termination, the agreement with Deputy SecDef England simply was not renewed. Do government contractors have a right to have their contracts renewed? It seems that neoconservatism is less conservatism than government entitlements for Islamophobes.

Second, it’s important to understand who Coughlin is. According to the most detailed publicly available biography, his academic background is in History, Russian studies and Strategic Intelligence. He also has a JD from the William Mitchell School of Law. This has one private intelligence analyst, Jeffery Carr of the IntelFusion Center, to speculate Coughlin was let go not only because his understanding of Islam and Islamic Law was very poor, but also due to his lack of academic credentials. Carr opines:

I haven’t found any new information on the conflict, however I’d like to offer the possibility that Coughlin was fired for reasons other than being a “Christian zealot with a pen.” Perhaps someone recognized that he wasn’t qualified to be the Pentagon’s sole expert on Islamic law. Why would I say that? Let’s see:
• He doesn’t have a degree in that subject.
• He doesn’t speak Arabic, or any Middle Eastern language.
• His thesis on the subject doesn’t provide adequate coverage of scholarly sources.

Larry Johnson, a former CIA and State Department official goes further and says:

Coughlin and others of his ilk have been pushing the hysteria that there is only one Islam and all of Islam is intent on conquering the West. (Yes there are some Muslims who believe this, but Islam is not a monolith). Pandering to peoples’ fears is an effective propaganda ploy but it does little to help our soldiers understand the cultural roots and political/religious dynamics they find in the field. You would expect that in a war inside an Arab nation, that is predominantly Muslim, the Pentagon would hire renowned experts on the topics of Islam. Nope. We have Stephen Coughlin. We have a situation in which folks with no real expertise or command of Arabic are making fanciful claims about a religion and cultures they do not know intimately.

It appears that factual reliability, not political correctness is the real reason Coughlin will not be working within the Pentagon for much longer.

Alejandro J. Beutel

Minaret of Freedom Institute