Archive for January, 2013

News and Analysis (1/30/13)

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

“Muhammad’s story should — on its surface merits, anyway — appeal at least as much as Christianity to a U.S. culture that values small, independent businessmen, and fighting tooth and nail against government oppression. That third pillar of monotheism that will soon be the Earth’s largest faith? Muhammad built that”:

“Even within the Brotherhood, a decades-long debate on reconciling Islam as a revealed religion with liberal democracy has yet to be settled, resulting in splits and high-level defections. A younger generation in the group wants to rely on persuasion to gain support while an old guard sticks to al-sama’ wa’l-ta’a, or ‘hearing and obeying'”:

“Against the backdrop of the currently frozen peace process, all six argue – to varying degrees – that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is bad for the state of Israel” …

… and we are reminded of Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights, as it violates Lebanese airspace to attack Syria:

France says it has no plans to occupy Mali and will leave it to the locals and African troops to clean up the mess:

“Ahmed Rehab … says that he is hoping to change the narrative around the world jihad. ‘We kind of got tired sitting there watching people tell us what we believe or what we don’t believe’”:

“[I]t feel[s] good right now to be a Muslim woman living in the West, free to be in harmony with my religion and to celebrate my feminine identity” — model Hajer Naili:

Ani Zonneveld, cofounder of Muslims for Progressive Values argues that rather than leave Islam, gay and lesbian Muslims should “access scholarly writings which will help them understand the story of Lot and other religious interpretations better. Relearning Islam empowers you”:

“Earlier this month, US intelligence types told news reporters that the Iranian government was behind the “sophisticated” attacks. But information security experts said the theory was unsubstantiated by any technical evidence and probably just hawkish sabre-rattling”:

A search for good Muslim children’s books reveals, “There are books out there that present God as merciful and loving and not eager to fling punishments on wayward souls. There are books out there with strong female characters, and books that reflect the diversity of our heritage and community and the values of compassion and serving others”:


News and Analysis (1/28/13)

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Israeli triple-threat: ethnic cleansing in the guise of crowd control, …

… racial purity in soccer, …

… and eugenics against African immigrants:

Mursi’s declaration of a state of emergency in the face of violent protests is not helping the Muslim Brotherhood domestically or abroad:

As the “man subjected to homophobic abuse by a self-styled Muslim patrol gang has contacted police after a public appeal”, “Shayh Shams Ad Duha, speaking at the mosque which the sharia vigilantes claimed to be protecting, condemned their actions as wholly ‘unprecedented in the books of sharia'”:

“The manuscripts survived for centuries in Timbuktu on the edge of the Sahara hidden in wooden trunks, boxes beneath the sand and caves. The majority are written in Arabic, with some in African languages, and one in Hebrew, and cover a diverse range of topics including astronomy, poetry, music, medicine and women’s rights. The oldest dated from 1204”:

“When Muslim students began praying during the school day at Parkdale, she said, some Christian teachers got upset and told the students that “it was a Christian school.” She said she explained to the students that public schools are not religious, but are legally allowed to accommodate students to practice their religion in some ways”:

Iran continues its arrests of independent journalists as it denies an explosion at a nuclear enrichment facility and boasts of shooting a monkey into space:

“[W]ith the outbreak of unrest in Iraq, [Ayatollah Sistani] has reissued the message. ‘There is no real difference between Shiite and Sunni beliefs, and I am the servant of all Iraqis [either Sunni or Shiite]…. I love everyone, and this religion [Islam] is the religion of love'”:

“Hundreds of rebels of the Moro National Liberation Front, which signed an autonomy deal with the government in 1996, have encamped in the foothills of mountainous Patikul town on southern Jolo island for two weeks to negotiate the release of foreign and Filipino hostages long held by the Abu Sayyaf in its jungle lairs”:

“Drawing a parallel from the recent movie ‘Oh My God’ where he alleged that Hindu culture is depicted in a very bad light, Shankar said that he advised against protesting because ‘protesting and banning a movie only gives them more publicity'”:

News and Analysis (1/25/13)

Friday, January 25th, 2013

“As opposed to the Jewish-Israeli participants in the reality show ‘Living in La La Land,’ Sameh Zakout emerges as the one with the open mind while his housemates come off as xenophobes”:

“I request Muslim brethren to give up their demand to ban Vishwaroopam… Please discuss with Kamal how to make changes without affecting the storyline…. Kamal’s screening for Muslims before the theatrical release shows his love and regard for them” —

Details of the ALgerian hostage incident come to light …

… and Yvonne Ridley, once held hostage by the Talibnan argues, “The bottom line is Dr Aafia Siddiqui should not be in prison and as long as this injustice continues she will become a rallying call for anyone who wants to pick a fight with America” — former hostage Yvonne Ridley:

With French and African troops helping a “Malian army accused of executions and human rights violations[,]” Malians who welcome the French intervention see it as fighting one set of foreign invaders with another, but polls in France indicate the French public just hates Islam:

“Abu Mohammad, in his forties, gathered enough courage to leave his job. He said the tipping point for him was when he saw an imam being tortured in front of his eyes”:

A British MP is condemned for expressing his sadness that those “who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza” …

… while in the US an attorney for students who heckled an Israeli ambassador charges they were convicted under a statute that “makes completely lawful political speech a criminal act, and the 1st Amendment was never intended to allow that”:

“Hundreds of anti-government protesters have clashed with riot police in Bahrain’s capital after authorities denied a request for a major opposition rally”:

With five suspects now in custody, the police are asking the victim of homophobic insults to step forward:

With little changed in the two years since Tahrir Square, Egyptians return to the streets and one commemorative demonstration turns violent:


News and Analysis (1/23/13)

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Is Lupe Fiasco America’s Pussy Riot? Concert organizers insist that the critic of  “Obama’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” who “has said that he does not vote in elections because of his anti-establishment views” was kicked off the stage for annoying the audience, not for rapping “Gaza Strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say [expletive deleted]”:

“Bangladesh says that during the nine-month war, Pakistani troops, aided by their local collaborators, killed 3 million people and raped about 200,000 women. International human rights groups have raised questions about the conduct of the tribunals …— including the disappearance of a defense witness outside the courthouse gates”:

The police make two arrests after the gang, condemned by local mosque authorities, harasses a man they perceive to be gay:

“Women’s rights activists on Tuesday welcomed Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid’s announcement, but said it was only a first step in reforming a penal code that doesn’t do enough to stop violence against women in” Morocco …

… while Hind Jarrah, executive director of the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation says, “We have a major, major responsibility as an organization to try to … make people realize that no way on earth does your faith tell you that you have to be beaten by your husband”:

A decade after “McDonald’s agreed to donate $10 million to Hindu and other groups in the U.S. to settle lawsuits that accused the chain of mislabeling french fries and hash browns as vegetarian,” it’s the Muslims turn to cash in:

The Indian movie superstar “became so sick of being mistaken for some crazed terrorist ” with the same name that he made a film subtitled “My Name Is Khan’ (and I am not a terrorist) to prove a point” but then, ironically, “was interrogated at the airport for hours about [his] last name when [he] was going to promote the film in America for the first time”:

“Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi … is quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying that Egypt has welcomed the offer and is now consulting with the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany to finalize” the offer:

The Civil State and a New Fiqh of Citizenship

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013


[This is the third in a series of my notes on the International Institute of Islamic Thought conference on Good Governance in Islam: Classical and Contemporary Approaches held in Herndon, VA. These notes have only been lightly edited and represent my perception of the discussion. The proceedings will be published by IIIT at a later time. Responsibility for any errors in the notes is mine alone. Names of participants (other than mine) in the general discussion have been omitted by request of the organizers.]

“The Civil State and a New Fiqh of Citizenship”

David Warren, Doctoral Candidate, Islamic Studies, University of Manchester, UK

This talk will focus on a loose collection of scholars headed by Yusuf Qaradawi, who is the unofficial figurehead of hizb-al-wasat, which is the school of the middle way, and his search for a notion of citizenship in a civil state. What is the future of non-Muslims in new Islamic states? Will they pay the jizyah? Is the rejection of secularism at odds with democracy? Is there authentic precedent for a citizenship bond that will include non-Muslims? The Charter of Medina is such a precedent. Normally ummah refers to a Muslim community, but in Medina it referred to Jews as well, based on their geographical location. Further, the notions of maqâsid allow for flexibility. In particular, Qaradawi’s notion of secularism is not that different from his notion of citizenship in a civil state.  Not secularism, but the laicism of Turkey and France is at odds with Muslim civil state. We note that Tunisians have retained the family laws of the previous secular state.

Qaradawi’s influence is not formal, but it is enormous, as witnessed in the popularity of his TV program. Weber distinguishes between power and leadership. Qaradawi is a charismatic leader. He speaks with real authority as a faqîh, a Muslim jurist. This is relevant to his notion of a Muslim civil state. He says there is no difference between a state governed by the Sharia and a state governed by the people, because it is the people who interpret the Sharia.

The significance of the “constitution” of Medina is that it was a negotiated agreement between Jews and Muslims as equals and it refers to the Jews and Muslims as one ummah.  The Jewish and Muslim residents of Medina had an equal bond to the land. For Qaradawi this shows that shared ties to a homeland are a valid bond apart from the bond of religion. Medina is distinct from Najran, which was to coordinate relations between people of different nations while the Medina charter was for people with something like a shared nationhood.

The Islamic civilization concept allows that Muslims and Christians share in the Muslim civilization. This is to say that there is a difference between a Muslim civil state and Islamic state. Qaradawi’s notion of citizenship, national belonging and patriotism, seem at odds with the Western notion, yet Qaradawi writes approvingly of certain aspects of Western liberal philosophy, praising its neutrality. He sounds surprisingly secular, but the tone is not constant, especially when one jumps from one language to another.

Secular notions can be expressed in religious terms. Qaradawi says to have the Sharia as a reference is to have the people as a reference, since it is the people who interpret the Sharia. We need to be aware of al-Ghazali’s distinction between Sharia and fiqh. It invalidates non-jurists’ interpretation of Sharia. Qaradawi says that while a few things from the legal legacy are beneficial, most of it is not binding in its entirety.

Ghannouchi is perhaps Qaradawi’s most prominent student. The VP of the Constituent Assembly, writing the new Tunisian constitution, says there is no need to mention Sharia in the constitution since it already is a source of Tunisian law. The ultimate objective is for modern notions of dignity, social justice, etc., to merge with the Qur’anic notions. Not only has the personal status act that is credited with advancing women’s rights (e.g., abolition of polygyny) been incorporated into the new constitution, but it has been elevated so that its repeal would be more difficult.

The Christian Democrats in Europe also provide a model, like the Islamic parties, more defined by what they oppose than what they favor, and claiming to represent a third way that rejects both capitalism and state socialism.

Three common principles between Qaradawi and liberal democracy are neutrality, shared bond of patriotism, shared commitment to the nation’s prosperity. They also share a rejection of chauvinistic nationalism, a widespread institutional base, and a qualified endorsement of democracy.

Dr. Jasser Auda, Faculty of Islamic Studies, Qatar Foundation

David has given a precise and deep presentation of ideas that are quickly becoming mainstream in the Islamist movement in the Middle East. I would like to add some clarity to ideas in currency these days. There is still vagueness in ad-dîni al-madanî. If you view ad-dîni and al-madanî as circles, laicité says these circles can have no intersection, even to the point that some have argued that brothers and sisters should be allowed to marry one another. For many Salafi groups the circles overlap heavily, even to the point where they deny any validity to the notion of civil state. The wasati approach admits the circles overlap, but there is reinterpretation of the governing scripts of Islamic history, such as reinterpreting dawîla [statehood] in a modern form.

I will present some ideas of an Islamic way of looking at ad-dîni al-madanî in a way that takes the discourse forward rather than Islamizing it by stagnating it as concentric or congruent. We should instead see the circles as overlapping, with some areas of each not intersecting with the other. Calling a view in Islam as secular is misleading; it is like calling a Western political party mu`tazila. We see Islamists and liberals cooperating on what the Islamists call Islamic values and the liberals call civil values. While leftists exist in the Arab world, among the Islamists everyone is on the right on economic issues.

Some of the ahkâm (values or ordinances) called for law or government organizations or projects in their own right. Apart from the clearly dîni and the clearly madini, there are three contested areas. People have no problem with capital punishment. Parallel legislation includes family legislation, so that Islamic, Christian, and other laws can coexist under an Islamic framework. In Egypt there is a call to return to the pre-Suzanne-Mubarak family laws, while others call for yet more reform. The third area includes hudûd and riba (or transformation to an Islamic economy).

There are many new ijtihads in the area of hudûd. One is the call for changing the hadd on ridda (apostacy). Recently it has been proposed to enlarge the civil service in order to give it powers in the gray area. For example, there are plans to separate the awqâf from the government and Islamic affairs from the government to free the Islamic groups from the state. There are also plans to separate the media from the government and to abolish the ministry of information. There are calls for education to promote chastity rather than for government enforcement of morals. There is a move from ahkâm towards maqâsid. Sadat kept Islam as a source rather than the source of Egyptian law. The move now is to make the maqâsid the source of Egyptian law. This is both an Islamization and a liberalization. The Salafis are not happy since they want he ahkâm to rule every area, even the “uncontested” areas. Letting the people develop the maqâsid is itself a maqsid. More common ground is being formed between the Islamic trend and the serious liberals. There is still contestation in the area of family law, however, as the liberals seek more liberalization and the Islamists want to go back to earlier forms of family law.

A new development is “politics to the left” which is not the typical liberal or capitalist approach. The Labor Party is back and growing. Many who left the Islamic groups to join Aboul-Fatouh’s campaign are forming new parties and trend very much to the left on economic policies, and I think that is where the future lies.

Discussant: Yahya Michot

I know little about the modern era. I see Muslim societies fighting with concepts that are very foreign to those societies, trying their best to accommodate concepts imported during colonization. We have to go back a little bit to the medieval period. In Mawardi and ibn Taymiyyah we see what are really treaties, rather than the organization of civil society, being called politics, although they have little to do with what the Greeks called politics and have little to do with the modern period. You can’t speak of second class citizenship when there is no citizenship, which is a modern concept. Those who had the power and the ability to kill had no other responsibility in society. Sending the military back to the barracks invokes the image of the Mamluks in their citadels. That is what the Turks are doing. It is a first step in undoing a state in which those who have the power to kill insinuate themselves into every aspect of society. Deconstructing the state may be the way forward, with one exception: control of the economy. We are more in the classical texts when we talk about the economy than about politics. I think the Islamists bet on the wrong horse by focusing on political power rather than economic power. If you control the economy you are in a better position to control those who have the power to kill. We see this in Turkey.

One of our problems is that we do not have a historical dictionary of the Arabic language, so we think dawla, that now means state, meant state to the Ottomans or in the tenth century. We must do work of conceptual archeology.

Disussant: Abdallah al Sheikh Sidahmad

The nation state came out of the Treaty of Westphalia in the 15th century. The state is giving way to transnational organizations. When the Prophet was driven from Mecca he confessed his attachment to the land and said he would not have left it had he not been driven out. The homeland of the Muslim is where his `aqîda is. The Ottomans had the millat system that gave each denomination the right to self-governance.

General Discussion

The notion of what’s authentic in the Islamic tradition requires acknowledging that the constitution of Medina was a failure, with the Jews expelled or killed. The notion that America is closer to Greece than Egypt doesn’t ring true to me.

Islamists are divided between revolutionaries and reformers. Reform takes concepts like the state and Islamizes it, but the state itself hasn’t been redefined. There is a minority that I call the revolutionaries (Islamic and not) who believe in the redefinition of state rather than its Islamization, but the redefinition is a work in progress.

What is the difference between an Islamic state and a nonalcoholic beer?

The big states are similar to empires. The compact of Medina lost its point of reference with the expansion of the Muslim state. In my view deconstructing the state is a rather far-fetched dream. With all its flaws people have chosen the Western parliamentary system.

This is a problem of hermeneutics. Bernard Russell says there is misunderstanding between Muslims and the West: dîn does not mean religion, Jesus does not man Muhammad, Allah does not mean God, etc. Why did I hate secularism in Iraq and love it America? In America, it means  separation of church and state; in France, it means Denial of religion; in the Arab world government literally fights religion.

It would helpful if IIIT would commit itself to the development of the historical Arabic dictionary and add to it a substantive meanings beyond nomenclature. There tyranny of the majority is not a new concern. Are we Americans Muslims part of the Muslim world? In what sense?

We can’t take the Muslims into the pre-modern era. We live here. Whatever heritage we have is not binding except what we glean from the Qur’an and sunnah. The rest is theorizing. The Egyptians said down with hukm al-murshid (the Muslim Brotherhood’s shaikh) as well as down with the regime. The oath of allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood says they will be loyal soldiers who will listen and obey except if there is a violation of the rule of Allah. From a political science perspective this is a claim of political legitimacy. Murshid said he would release Mursi from his bay`a to him when he became president. What of the civil servants in the Muslim Brotherhood? Why not just do away with the bay`a.

There is a lot of internal debate in the Muslim Brotherhood not only about bay`a but about all kinds of things that may be moot since the revolution, including secrecy, rankings, and hierarchal structure. But it is not that serious.

I don’t remember the complete wording of the sahîfa madaniyya but I seem to recall pagan Arabs included. Qardawy and Ghazali were not the first to make the distinction between Safiha and fiqh. Is Tariq Ramadan part of this discussion in Egypt?

Every single tribe is mentioned in the Medina Compact, not just Muslims and Jews.

Tariq Ramadan is part of the debate but not allowed in Egypt.

I tied to include the Christian experience. It was not long ago that notions of loyalty to the Pope was an issue.

Even in America, with Kennedy.

Ahmad: And even now with Romney and the living prophet of the Mormons.

I don’t think IIIT should try to take control over the meanings of words.

Edward Said said beginnings are choices. When you describe something as authentic, that is a choice you make that enables you to build a structure on a foundation. It is legitimate for IIIT to say we have a scheme that describes important terms in particular periods. The West has made choices in the definition of disciplines. Knowledge is always a contested terrain.

My proposal was not to make a choice but to show how choices are made.

We are talking about how people conceptualize Islam and the state and identity politics, but, especially in the case of Egypt, the problem of military must be addressed, especially in a state built on kleptocracy.

The notion of ummah is transnational until the Day of Judgment. I think we have been misguided by the discourse of dîni and madani. Rather we should compare dawla madani (civil state) and dawla askari (military state). Notions of civil, religious, and military states have been manipulated by those in power. In internal Muslim discourse we should distinguish between Shariah, fiqh, and law. “People will not be governed by a law until it is their own law.”

Given your optimism for civil society in Egypt, can they articulate these principles of Sharia? How important in the world of modern states is the place of the universal declaration of human rights. Is this what we should aspire to rather going back in history to reinvent the wheel.

A state has a monopoly on violence within a border. That violence must be used wisely and within the rule of law. Another issue is that the violence should be at the borders and not in the streets. People must elbow the armies sometimes. There can be a consensus, although some people have a problem with anything called Sharia. Al-azhar is rising above the differences among Islamic opinions. History is about identity.

Argentina and Brazil put the generals on trial and sent them to jail. I’m more tempted to agree that the words ummah and Sharia can have a positive effect and we need a balance between identity and history.

Are we constrained by the existing model to degree that the reforms are unrealistic? Although states evolve, today’s states are more redefined by economics than anything else.

Is Qaradawi’s model more consistent with group or individual rights? How does this inform and be informed by his emphasis on diversity.

It has been said an Islamic state is for everyone and a Muslim state is for Muslims. In archeology you must be careful not to contaminate your samples.

I think the priority for the Arab spring is not redefining the state but dealing with problems left by the previous regime like corruption and militarization.

I feel sorry for the Christian churches here for their low profile in policy debates like immigration and health care. There are some things we never would have thought of were it not for Western dominance. When you were trying to limit hudûd were you limiting yourself to a single category? I think the A HISTORICAL DICTIONARY WAS not needed until now because the Qur’an stabalized the language.

It was said, “Please give us the Sharia because the Sharia says the robber should only have his hand cut and not be crucified.”

The book on migrants speaks about both Muslim minorities and majorities. Qaradawi is a migrant. He has Qatari citizenship but not Egyptian.

Justice is not happening so you MUST reform and it can come only from the principles, not the politics. Pressure is from the unfair reality on the ground. A moratorium on hudûd is the best response you can have until you re-establish justice. The principles could be Western principles. There is an intersection between the European view and the Islamic view. You must be as revolutionary as you can without violence. Reformists without revolution are toothless; what is happening is perfect. Tunisians before were considered insufficiently ikhwâni but now they have more of a hearing, although they are still thought of as too French.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

News and Analysis (1/20/13)

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Reports emerge that the hostage takers in Algeria include Egyptians, Tunisians, a Syrian, and are led by a Canadian, as the hostage death count rises:

“[T]his was not a movie about how America lost its values en route to a great strategic victory. No, this was a straight-up ‘hero catches bad guys’ movie, and the idea that audiences weren’t supposed to identify with Maya the torturer is ludicrous”:

“The admission, made in a court hearing, was likely to fuel concerns about the conduct of Pakistan’s security establishment in its battle against a domestic Taliban insurgency during the past several years”:

“Unlike the clean slates enjoyed by Islamists in post-revolution Tunisia, Egypt and Libya — where former autocrats had been overthrown — Jordan’s Brotherhood is competing with the entrenched and still relatively popular Hashemite monarchy. King Abdullah II’s regime has so far proved resilient even in the face of widespread anger over rising prices”:

“The hate speech by All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi was vociferously condemned by us. He was arrested for the same but why does the same law not apply to [those who read from Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses in public]” — Mujahid Naqvi of Milli Council:

From the beginning Israel has sought to drive out the Muslims and Christians, but now many Isreali Jews want out, feeling alienated from the dominant ideology and seeking a more comfortable environment:

“Political efforts to resolve the conflict have largely faltered because of the rebels’ failure to form a unified front and because world powers are backing opposing sides”:

Before their expulsion Tamil-speaking Muslims “made up 5 percent of Northern Province’s population” but their Tamil ethnicity was denied by their Hindu and Christian countrymen because of their religion, and Tamil Tigers separatists feared the formation of  “a new national Muslim political party undermined [their] goal of a mono-ethnic Tamil state”:

“Esawi was one of the architects of the Sahwa tribal resistance that helped to subdue al Qaeda-linked insurgents battling U.S. troops in the Sunni heartland of Anbar at the height of the conflict of the last decade. Posing as a worker, the attacker hugged Efan al-Esawi before detonating an explosive vest, killing them both on the spot “:

News and Analysis (1/18/13)

Friday, January 18th, 2013

The emerging picture, still incomplete, indicates the disastrous Algerian rescue attempt has not ended the hostage crisis triggered by the French intervention in Mali:

As West Africans states join the French intervention in Mali …

… “analysts are grappling with the scale of operations thought necessary to retake northern Mali from the rebels – with many commentators questioning how France could have underestimated the strength of its adversary”:

U.S. officials compare their restraint in Mali to the successful strategy in Somalia where “[p]olitical progress … appeared to catch up with military gains in September, when a newly elected parliament chose Mohamud as president, ending years of “transitional” governments deemed ineffective and corrupt” …

… and the al-Shabab rebels have PR problem due to the rift with a tweeting Alabama native “whom the FBI named as one of its most-wanted terrorists in November”:

“[A]bout 1,300 Muslim Brotherhood members and others, united in the election boycott and in demands that King Abdullah II cede some of his powers and give parliament more say in the country. Holding up small yellow cards mimicking a judge’s warning to players in soccer games, the protesters chanted: “Freedom, freedom. This is not a royal gift, but our right’”:

Vigelantes forcing Muslims to dump beer and harassing women to cover up earn the ire of mainstream Muslims and provide Islamophobes an opportunity to rabble-rouse:

The early elections spoil the PPP’s aim to be the first “civilian government to complete a full term,” but according to one political risk analyst, “the upside is that this situation remains constitutional and, as of now, it appears that a peaceful and democratic transition of power could still be in the cards”:

“A South Florida Muslim cleric who was jailed for 20 months on allegations he sent money to terrorists was freed Thursday by a judge who found the case so lacking in evidence he threw it out”:

“At the centre of its concerns, the IAEA wants access to the Parchin military complex southeast of Tehran where it believes explosives tests relevant for nuclear weapons development may have taken place, something Iran denies”:

“Residents said protesters threw stones at the local church after midday Friday Islamic prayers. Police fired tear gas to scatter the crowd, which is in one of Egypt’s poorest areas”:


News and Analysis (1/16/13)

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

“You cannot impose things by issuing decrees and directives — a choice imposed by force has no value whatsoever…. In some universities, female students are forced to wear the chador (covering the whole body, leaving only the face exposed), but the way they are forced to wear it… it is better not worn since it becomes worthless” — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

“Egypt’s beleaguered educational system has long been run by Cairo, with poor results. Only Mongolia and Honduras rank lower among comparable economies. Egyptians now demand better” …

… but the role of religion in that reform is the subject of debate:

He might have a point is the college doesn’t already have at least than 25 books and one DVD on Judeo-Christian culture:

Is France leading the U.S. into yet another quagmire?

Amid political and economic consternation over the prime minister;s arrest …

… both the military and Qadri, who backed “a military coup in 1999 [and] … is calling for … the installation of a caretaker administration to oversee electoral reforms” deny “that the army, which has a long history of meddling in politics, has tacitly endorsed his campaign in an effort to pile more pressure on a government it sees as inept and corrupt”:

Someone, we don’t know who, found the message “Welcome to Sydney. Love for all, hatred for none” to be intolerable:

It’s a concession that sanctions have had an affect, but Ahmadinejad’s declaration that Iran must diversify and decentralize the economy, he points the way for the nation to emerge stronger:

The U.S. condemns Mursi’s impolitic statements against Zionist aggression made long before his election to the Egptian presidency, but has no comment on Israel’s current all-out frontal attack on Palestinian rights:

“The manuscripts are said to have come from a remote area near the borders of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, wild terrain largely controlled by warlords. Jews probably migrated there in the early Middle Ages to engage in commerce along the Silk Road” and constitute “actual physical evidence of the Jewish life and culture within the Iranian culture of the 11th century”:

Malaysia beats Saudi Arabia on “criteria including the level of safety in a country, the ease of access to halal food and prayer facilities, and whether hotels cater to the needs of Muslim guests”:

News and Analysis (1/14/13)

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Islamophoibia is the key to the far-right move into the mainstream, according to the Centre for Fascist, Anti-Fascist and Post-Fascist Studies at Teesside University:

“Al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels in Mali launched a counter-offensive on Monday after three days of strikes by French fighter jets on their strongholds in the desert north, vowing to drag France into a long and brutal ground war” …

… while in Afghanistan, “well-connected militia chiefs … reluctant to disarm or cede influence” are “the legacy of the decade-long fight against the Soviets in the 1980s”:

“The Obama administration wants Saudi Arabia to keep supplying arms to Syrian rebels to force the ouster of Bashar al-Assad and to continue pumping oil at levels that keep gasoline prices low. In return, the United States says little or nothing publicly about human rights abuses in the kingdom”:

After unprecedented protests of the murder of 86 Shia in Baluchistan that went beyond the affected minority communities, the  federal government has dismissed the provincial government:

“King Abdullah’s decrees come against the backdrop of heavy restrictions on women, who are not allowed to travel, work, study abroad, marry, get divorced or gain admittance to a public hospital without permission from a male guardian”:

“Reports of the arrest of women-affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood organization in the UAE stirred national and international controversy, particularly regarding the claims of a “Muslim Sisterhood” particularly in the parent organization”:

“Western governments have built waivers into the sanctions regime – aimed at persuading Tehran to curb its nuclear programme – in an effort to ensure that essential medicines get through, but those waivers are not functioning, as they conflict with blanket restrictions on banking, as well as bans on ‘dual-use’ chemicals”:

An American who stayed behind “‘has absolutely no regrets’ about his … refusal to seek sanctuary in the embassy, saying[,] … ‘How dare we preach human rights and democracy and run at the first time we’re facing paper felonies…[?] To me [his Egyptian colleagues] are the future of this country and they’re worth fighting for”:

With neither a military nor diplomatic resolution of the Syrian tragedy imminent, some seek to turn to the International Criminal Court:

News and Analysis (1/11/13)

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Over the past two years the outgoing central bank chief had drained half of Egypt’s foreign reserves trying to prop up the pound; now Mursi’s government is putting “together a plan for halting the economic slide, which is likely to include the reduction of some vital subsidies on foodstuff and fuel that Egypt’s poor rely on”:

Although the Libyan “party won only 17 out of 80 seats that were competed for under party labels[, of] … people running as independents, about 60 have since joined a Brotherly caucus…. Its cohesion enabled the party to play kingmaker during the selection of a prime minister, blocking candidates it deemed unfriendly”:

“Iran welcomes Egypt’s bid to resolve the Syrian crisis before foreign troops intervene, and reports that Indonesia, Pakistan and Malaysia are interested in going the effort”:

“Fatimah Jackson, an African American convert to Islam, is professor of biological anthropology at the University of North Carolina…. She knew and taught evolution before her conversion to Islam in the 1970s and has never considered the two to be in conflict. She took the position that science only tells us ‘how’ things happen, and not ‘why'”:

A move to prevent elopement in an Indian village by banning, among other things, girls from using cell phones is slammed as habing “nothing to do with Muslims or Islam” and rather being “a product of Indian society, feudal Indian society,” of councilmen who are “anti-women, anti-modern, anti-minority; they are against anything, which is different”:

“Pakistan’s minority Shiite Muslims have increasingly been targeted by radical Sunnis who consider them heretics, and a militant Sunni group claimed responsibility for Thursday’s deadliest attack – sending a suicide bomber into the packed pool hall and then detonating a car bomb five minutes later. It was one of the deadliest days in recent years”:

“Women and girls were in the forefront when the uprising began nearly two years ago with peaceful protests, in part because they were considered less likely than men to arouse the suspicions of the government’s security apparatus. But now … they are playing a more traditional role in humanitarian relief, bringing food, medicine and clothing to refugees”:

An escape of prisoners, some associated with al-Qaeda, and a government threat to use force against Kurdish exporters highlight the deteriorating situation in Iraq:

“The strikes are seen as a way to weaken adversaries of the Afghan government before the withdrawal and serve notice that the United States will still be able to launch attacks”: