Archive for May, 2012

News and Analysis (5/30/12)

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
“In 2009, when President Obama was first known to have authorized a missile strike on Yemen, U.S. officials said there were no more than 300 core AQAP members. That number has grown in recent years to 700 or more…. In addition, hundreds of tribesmen have joined AQAP in the fight against the U.S.-backed Yemeni government”:

“Far from uncovering radical terror networks, [undercover FBI informant,] Monteilh [,] ended up traumatising the community he was sent into. Instead of embracing calls for jihad or his questions about suicide bombers or his claims to have access to weapons, Monteilh was instead reported to the FBI as a potentially dangerous extremist”:

A comprehensive analysis on the first round of the Egyptian presidential elections:

His swing to the right having procured a place in the runoff election, Morsi now swings back to the center offering “to place Christians in top government jobs” and promising women “full rights in jobs and education” and “to freely choose the attire that suits them”:

Books recently published by Canadian author Irshad Manji feed the debate between “hardline” and “reformed” interpreters and followers of Islam …

… but the fact that puritanical Islamists can ban Western icons from Indonesia, but they are impotent to end the native  “dangdut” entertainment, suggesting that their power in the broader society may be more driven by fears of Western cultural imperialism rather than agreement with their interpretation of religious law”:

“A Pakistan doctor who assisted the CIA in tracking down Osama bin Laden was sentenced to 33 years in prison for conspiring with an Islamist militant commander, a verdict that could make it more difficult for Washington to argue for his release”:
“It was not until the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 and the Iraq-Iran war (1980-1988) culminating with the Iraq war in 2003 that the relationship between the Arab world and Iran was again re-framed in the context of the Sunni-Shiite schism”:

According to a recent survey, “[a]bout 50% of Palestinians said they would vote for jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti when and if he decides to participate in the presidential election… [and] approximately 80% of Palestinians said they preferred ‘peaceful resistance’ against Israel”:

“In the wake of the Houla massacre, the United States and several other countries expelled Syrian diplomats to protest the killings. Survivors blamed pro-regime gunmen for at least some of the carnage in Houla”:

News and Analysis (5/28/12)

Monday, May 28th, 2012

A different way of fighting terrorism:

When the new UAE-based owners of the bank at which she worked issued a dress code requiring “waist-to-heel skirts and head covers for female employees[,] Salameh accepted the uniform, but refused to wear the head cover on grounds that it violated her religious beliefs and since the contract she signed when she was hired did not oblige her to a dress code”:

A nonproliferation expert confirms that the find of  some uranium enriched to 27% (well below the 90% needed for weapons) may only be a consequence of over-enrichment during initial of output adjustment for medical grade uranium:

“Some fans accused police – who refused to issue a permit over concerns about security – of buckling to the will of a small group of thugs”:

His first song of the visit was “The People of the Boxes.” It is a reminder that too many of us feel much more comfortable packaging our own understandings as truth, set the tone for the day’s performance”:

Mubarak’s former PM Ahmed Shafiq, “leftist Hamdeen Sabahy, moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh and former Arab League chief Amr Moussa” filed “complaints about a presidential poll that has left voters with what many see as a painful run-off choice between an Islamist apparatchik and a throwback to Hosni Mubarak’s era”:

“[I]t’s been common practice during the recent unrest to treat anyone wounded as if they are a rebel. There are numerous accounts of doctors being harassed and arrested, along with the injured people they were trying to help”:

News and Analysis 5/25/12

Friday, May 25th, 2012

“The central questions that Salafis and Islamists clash over today are those of liberal democracy, freedom and societal inclusion…. Both … have had an uneasy relationship with elections. At the time of decolonisation, they both hoped for a politico-spiritual revival instead of merely formal independence”:

“Out of a broad field of more than a dozen candidates, the runoff will pit the two most polarizing figures against each other in a reversion to the decades-old power struggle between Egypt’s secular-minded military elite and its longstanding Islamist opposition”:

“[M]y grandfather was able to buy back his own home — a cruel absurdity, but a better fate than that imposed on most of his neighbors, who were never permitted to re-establish their lives in their hometowns…. Israel barred Rabin from detailing in his memoir what he conceded was the ‘expulsion’ of the ‘civilian population of Lod and Ramle, numbering some 50,000’” :

“[T]he narrow, inadequate and reductive analysis of Dooley et al fall short of being able to accommodate a basic truth that so often gets forgotten about cultures that face widespread demonisation: that they are as human as we are” …

… “[T]hose who hate Islam paint the entire faith with the sins of … extremists. There is no nuance, no sophistication to their analysis – whatever the terrorists do is ‘real Islam,’and the actions of the overwhelming majority of peaceful Muslims is a ruse, or taqiyya (dissimulation)”:

“Egyptians have made it clear … that they are unconcerned about the color of the cat so long as it catches mice.” That is, can the MB “revive Egypt’s economy, create jobs for its youth, stimulate foreign investment, modernize its banks, rebuild its schools and infrastructure, and domesticate and professionalize its military”?

“City officials on Thursday recommended sensitivity training for all city inspectors of taxis, limousines and wrecker services after one of them said in an interview that most of the city’s drivers are Muslim and ‘a lot of them blow up places’”:

Abdo was foiled not by religious profiling or some sting operation, but because, in the words of his prosecutor, “The people who work in businesses like this are vigilant … and risked being embarrassed if their suspicions turned out to be nothing, but that’s what we want people to do”:

A Sufi teacher and author describes his experience with pluralism and mystic prayer this blog entry:

News and Analysis 5/23/12

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

As warily optimistic Egyptians go to the polls for their first free Presidential election, an opinion piece by a political sociologist and a scholar of comparative Islamic Law discusses the prospects of freedom within Islam and through Sharia:

“Egyptians make a distinction between Islam and Islamism – despite the best efforts of the MB and the Salafi movements in Egypt. Islam to them is a religion that produced a civilization of more than a millennium – Islamism is a political attempt to change Egypt which only recently came out of the shadows in the last year”:

As fresh talks begin, Ahmadinejad declares, “Based on Islamic teachings and the clear fatwa (edict) of the supreme leader, the production and use of weapons of mass destruction is haram (forbidden) and have no place in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s defence doctrine”:

Although recent reforms to the “much-despised criminal codes, which were created more than a century ago by the colonial British rulers of India to put down tribal revolts” will allow Afridi to appeal, “the harsh sentence appeared likely to reinforce perceptions in Washington that Islamabad is increasingly hostile to U.S.” policies …

… such as continuing drone strokes which provoked a closing of supply routes over which a U.S. Senate panel has reportedly responded by voting “yesterday to cut Pakistan’s aid by 58 percent for the 2013 fiscal year”:

.. but the “drone attacks have created a tremendous blowback effect, even among liberal Pakistanis who once supported the war against radical Islamist militant groups”:

50,000 tickets have been sold for the show, 150 of them purchased by a militant group that wants not to watch, but to disrupt, but Jakarta police say the show may go on as long as Gaga, who ” also encountered protests in the Philippines from conservative Christian groups,”  “is dressed appropriately and does not violate cultural norms in this country”:

“Later, an executive from the company that runs security at the mall called Salaam to apologize. Salaam said that she appreciated the apology, but would not go the same mall in future”:

“One of the unintended results of my activism is that it has made me feel more rooted and adjusted to my own religion of Christianity”:

“Lebanon’s foreign minister has said that Lebanese Shia pilgrims abducted in Syria over the weekend have been located” and although “negotiations are ongoing[, ] … the captives should be ‘released very soon'”:

“Pentagon press secretary George Little disputed some of the allegations” and “denied that the cooperation was an attempt to boost President Barack Obama’s election chances” since “the movie would not be out until after the election”:

News and Analysis (5/21/12)

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Only days before Egypt’s presidential elections, polling shows doubts about the sincerity of the leading Islamists’ campaign posturing has cut into their support, helping both Mubarak’s PM into the top three and a sdar-horse socialist who has snagged the support of the Coptic Church that had earlier denied that it would support any candidate:

“Algeria’s May 10 legislative elections resulted in a crushing win for two pro-government parties, with more than 60 percent of the seats.Opposition parties have said the election was rigged”:

An “eye-opening, eyebrow-raising, 127-page document just uploaded to the internet gives a unique glimpse into the motivations of the increasing numbers of young men now fighting in the ranks of Somalia’s Al Qaeda affiliate, Al Shabab”:

The clashes followed the killing of an anti-Assad Sunni cleric and his colleague at an army checkpoint in north Lebanon on Sunday, triggering angry protests in Sunni districts of northern cities and the capital… Protests over the shooting spread on Sunday night to Beirut where gunmen firing rocket-propelled grenades and machineguns clashed”:

“Board general secretary Maulana Syed Nizamuddin demanded the right of inheritance to Muslim women, including widows, divorcees and married daughters. The Board drew attention to the fact that in UP this privilege vests only with the unmarried daughters while the rest of the categories have been arbitrarily left out”:

Ethiopian Muslims demand elections to the supreme Islamic council should be held in mosques rather than government buildings because, in the words of computer science teacher Ibrahim Hassan, “There must not be interference of government in such tasks”:

The Kuwiati defendant “told police that he did not write the comments and that his Twitter account was hacked” and his lawyer “argued that [he] should be granted bail because Kuwaitis charged with similar crimes had been granted it in the past” …

… while Pakistani “activists suspect the democratically-elected civilian government is using the sensitive topic of blasphemy as cover for constricting the space for political debate ahead of national elections”:

“The video footage raises grave suspicions that the soldiers present did not act to prevent the settlers from throwing stones and firing live ammunition at the Palestinians,” said B’Tselem. “The soldiers did not try to remove the settlers and in fact are seen standing by settlers while they are shooting and stone throwing”:

“The closed route has been a bone of contention between the US and Pakistan ever since NATO forces attacked two military checkpoints in Salala, along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, killing 24 Pakistani soldiers and injuring an additional 13”:

News and Analysis (5/20/12)

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Iranians are hoping to “reach an agreement and draw up a new framework to answer [IAEA] questions and clear up ambiguities” …

… but some Western diplomats signal they will not accept anything less than the abandonment of Iran’s medical enrichment program:

As Obama uses “the Nato summit to press the Afghan leader Hamid Karzai to engage with greater urgency with the Taliban about a political settlement in Afghanistan” …

… the Taliban, citing recent polling that 69% “of Americans thought the U.S. should not be at war in Afghanistan,” asks how “NATO member countries who claim to be the elected representatives of its people and consider their government the people’s government — by the people, for the people” will “answer the call of their people in this summit?”

“Privately owned Al-Dar newspaper was suspended for three months in March after a court objected to articles supporting Shi’ite Muslim communities and activists in the Sunni Muslim-led states of Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia”:

“His death is to be deeply regretted. As someone who attended the trial I have never taken the view that Megrahi was guilty. Megrahi is the 271st victim of Lockerbie” — David Ben-Ayreah, a spokesman for the victims of Lockerbie families:

“Criticized for stiff and sometimes meandering public addresses, Mursi has been described as a Brotherhood functionary rather than a visionary. His speeches are heavy on religious references that reflect his conservative credentials. But he failed to win the support of the Nour Party, the hardline Islamist party which has endorsed Abol Fotouh”:

“A leading Bahraini opposition activist accused of insulting authorities remained in jail on Sunday, despite being granted bail, because he faces a second charge of organizing illegal protests”:

“Report comes after South Africa says only recognizes State of Israel within borders demarcated by UN in 1948; move is in line with U.K. recommendation from 2009”:


News and Analysis (5/18/12)

Friday, May 18th, 2012
“Islamic law and traditions embrace the principle of providing protection to those who seek asylum,” and “forbids the forced return of those asylum seekers. Both of these principles are cornerstones of international refugee law” — Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees …

… but with the burden falling on “those least able to carry it,” the international ministerial conference on “Refugees in the Muslim World” is “brainstorming ideas on how to improve conditions in countries from where people are displaced”:

Kuwait’s ruler has blocked a proposal by 31 of the 50 elected members of parliament to amend the constitution to make all legislation in the Gulf Arab state comply with Islamic law, an MP said yesterday:

In “calling on the ulama to come up with “rebuttals to counter” Irshad’s ideas” and for her explulsion from Malaysia, is the president of the Persatuan confessing that “he has, himself, no answer to her points of view? And having no answer, his solution then is to have her shoo-ed out of the country, so no one gets to hear her views?”

A token in several respects, the newly appointed “mouthpiece for ‘Hollandism'” is a woman, an immigrant, and an unobservant Muslim:

The proposal for a Gulf Union was the main topic at this week’s GCC summit. Although no final decisions were made, Bahrain, whose unrest prompted movement toward a union, continues to struggle with its triangle of conflict:

“Presiding judge Alphons Orie said he was delaying the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal case due to “significant disclosure errors” by prosecutors, who are obliged to share all evidence with Mladic’s lawyers” and that “judges will analyze the ‘scope and full impact’ of the problem and aim to set a new starting date as soon as possible:

“We do believe there is time. Some time, not an unlimited amount of time. But at a certain point, we may have to make a judgment that the diplomacy will not work,” said United States ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, concerning Iran’s  nuclear program.”

News and Analysis (5/16/12)

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Having badly hurt its chances to defeat Amr Moussa by splitting votes with expelled candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, the FJP desperately tries to widen its base with a swing to the right to collect votes that would have gobe to the disqualified Nour party candidate:

Using the power of the market to reject Westernization, ” Islamists engage in consumer activism as a way to “moralize the market” and embrace products (like gender-segregated resorts and alcohol-free perfumes) that reflect their values”:

“Correspondents say the move is a blow to reconciliation efforts with Hamas, the Islamist group which governs Gaza”:

Majid Nawaz, who abandoned Hizb ut-Tahrir to found an anti-extremist group, denounced the notion of “implementation of the Sharia” as”politically naive,” because “when imposing Sharia, a society chooses a particular interpretation of Islam and closes the door on ijtehad. ‘Islam must be kept free of political interference,’ he said”:

“We are conscious that we have not allowed our womenfolk to get their due, as mandated by Islam in India, allowing a lot of backward traditions to corrupt what is rightly the due of our sisters, daughters, mothers and wives” — Mahmood Madani, leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind — “which runs the largest number of madrasas in the country”:

The struggle over this shrine in Zlitan … is the story of Libya as it struggles to re-shape itself after Gaddafi’s rule. It is the story of the battle for the right to define what it means to be a Muslim in Libya, of theological arguments being settled by weapons, and of an interim government that is so weak that it cannot impose its authority over opposing factions”:

“At one point, Mladic responded to a defiant gesture from a spectator by drawing a finger across his throat in a slitting gesture, prompting censure from Presiding Judge Alphons Orie for “inappropriate interactions” with those watching the proceedings”:

“Now that Socialist Francois Hollande has replaced the conservative Sarkozy as France’s president, Turkey hopes he will be more sympathetic to the candidacy of a country that has one of the world’s fastest growing economies and is becoming a regional diplomatic player”:

Iran and the U.S. begin in a race to arm Syria:

News and Analysis (5/15/12)

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

“This is Abu Ghraib by power point and lectern…. What they are talking about is essentially genocide,” of Muslims — Mikey Weinstein, president of the nonprofit Military Religious Freedom Foundation:

“[W]hen it halted the arms deal last year, State Department officials promised to monitor Bahrain’s response to the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), which investigated the crackdown, when deciding whether to resume the deal. The BICI found evidence of systematic abuse … including torture of protesters”:

“Israel will end solitary confinement for all prisoners and allow around 400 prisoners from Gaza to receive family visits.” Those imprisoned “without charge or trial, the key issue behind the hunger strike[, ]will not have their terms renewed without fresh information or evidence being brought before a military judge”:

“Lehava, the extremist Jewish organization for the prevention of assimilation in the Holy Land, has come up with a new gimmick that is creating a stormy debate on the issue of mixed marriages between Jews and Arabs,” distributing “an imaginary wedding invitation between Michal and her chosen groom, Mohammad”:

“Najafi denied his song focused on the revered Shia imam or was meant to criticise Islam. The song takes the form of a prayer to the ninth century Naqi and expresses ironic reverence for many contemporary Iranian figures [w]ith references ranging from Iranians’ love of nose jobs to economic sanctions and the contested 2009 presidential election”:

After being “nearly wiped out during Syria’s last revolution, during which government forces killed as many as 25,000 people in Hama in 1982”:

“Twenty-four year old Majid Jamali Fashi was hanged at Tehran’s Evin Prison after being sentenced to death in August last year for the murder of Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, Iran’s state news agency quoted the central prosecutor’s office as saying. It said he had confessed to the crime”:

“General Shah knows that he owes his selection to his military background. The community expects him to use baton and toughness to restore discipline, end nepotism and ensure uniform application of laws in the campus. He, however, promised to give priority to students by raising their living standards and ensuring quality education”:

“MI5, which carried out routine security vetting in 2006 for Scotland Yard, warned that he could have visited a training camp—which Mr Rahman vehemently denies. Pc Rahman was never charged, but had his security clearance removed—which effectively made him unemployable as a cop”:

News and Analysis (5/12/12)

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

The course had “been teaching that America’s enemy is Islam in general, not just terrorists, and suggesting that the country might ultimately have to obliterate the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina without regard for civilian deaths, following [WW-II] precedents of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima or the allied firebombing of Dresden”:

“Ghannouchi … had promised that Salafi parties would be licensed as long as they embrace democracy, offering them a stake in the new system rather than locking them out as Ben Ali had done.” Opening the doors for Salafi participation in the political process is consistent with democracy and appreciative of the radicalizing consequences of suppression:

An 18-month-old girl ordered off a plane at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after her parents say officials told them her name was on a no-fly list …

… underscores the merits of other Muslim-Americans suit to get off the no-fly list:

“I believe this bill is unconstitutional (and) intolerant…. I think this bill will set Kansas out as a place not to go if you believe any other way than particularly a very small religious-right perspective … This country is based on freedom. And it isn’t ‘You can only be free if you think like me’” – Sen. Tim Owens, R:

Among the Salafi reasons for support of Aboul Fotouh are his relative strength among “Islamists in the running; … that Egypt is ready only for baby steps toward their puritanical goals; … [fear of] Brotherhood … control of both the presidency and the Parliament; and … [of] the Brotherhood’s demands for obedience from its members, even in politics”:

“The defeat of the Islamist coalition is likely to exacerbate the already-widespread view that power in Algeria remains in the hands of a predatory elite detached from the needs of the vast majority of the population”:

“[T]he jockeying to succeed him has quietly begun, and Iran is positioning its own candidate for the post, a hard-line cleric who would give Tehran a direct line of influence over the Iraqi people, heightening fears that Iran’s long-term goal is to transplant its Islamic Revolution to Iraq”:

“The former adviser, 81, sparked an uproar in 2010 when he said that a woman could be alone or even appear without her veil in front of an unrelated adult male if he drinks her breast milk because it establishes a mother-son bond…. That reasoning is rejected by most Islamic scholars”: