Archive for September, 2013

News and Analysis (9/30/13)

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Veteran reporter Seymour Hersh says, “The Obama administration lies systematically” about everything from NSA surveillance to the death of Osama bin Ladin, “yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him” …

… Should we add the Kenyan mall attack to the list of disinformation?

After prohibiting Christians from referring to the God of Abraham as Allah, Malaysia goes one step further in its rejection of the Qur’an by prohibiting Muslims from marrying women from the “People of the Book”:

While other nations seek to fight homelessness, Israel mocks the peace process by making more Palestinians homeless …

… and as Rouhani braves domestic criticism seeking improved relations beyond the resolution of the impasses on nuclear development, Israel not only a resolution explores improved relations on a wider front …

… Israel seeks to torpedo the warming relations to protect any possible threat to its nuclear monopoly in the Arabian peninsula:

“The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has confirmed that 186 inmates have launched legal cases in an attempt to win compensation over the error”:

So why the lack of concern over the threat iof driving to male testicles?

Are you old enough to remember the Vietnam-era lunatics who considered the two-fingered peace symbol to a “Communist salute ?” Their ideological offspring now declare the four-fingered tribute to the peaceful demonstrators slaughtered at Egypt’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square to be a “terrorist hand signal”:

Turkeyt’s PM proposes “lowering the 10% electoral threshold, which currently prevents Kurdish and other smaller parties from entering parliament. He says towns will be allowed to take Kurdish rather than Turkish names. He also plans to end the ban on women wearing headscarves in public service”:

“Maybe I don’t do it out of the fear that bureaucracy and racism will prevent me from getting ahead; that lighthearted meetings will be harder when I show up with my head covered”:

“ElBaradei was apparently reacting to reports accusing him of working from abroad to undermine Egypt’s transitional road map in collaboration with the Muslim Brotherhood”:

News and Analysis (9/27/13)

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Well, duh:

“Mr Haji said his father taught him to use a gun to protect their cattle from bandits when he was growing up. Last Saturday, he used his skills to provide fire cover for the Kenyan Red Cross workers and … help to evacuate some of the 1,000 people who escaped the mall in the initial stages of a siege that would last three days and leave at least 72 people dead”:

“Al-Shabab has said the attack, which began Saturday, was revenge for Kenya sending troops into Somalia. But the carnage had just as much to do with the struggles inside the militia and Godane’s desire to make al-Shabab — and himself – stronger and more relevant in the global jihad against the United States and its allies, according to analysts”:

“Speaking at the UN General Assembly for the second time this week, President Hassan Rouhani called for a world disarmament conference to establish a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.” So who could possibly be opposed to that? Oh, of course, we should have guessed …

…. meanwhile, “US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif held a brief yet historic bilateral meeting at the UN Thursday as the Security Council met to discuss Iran’s nuclear program. All sides predict future talks will be ‘substantive’ and ‘ambitious'”:

“Philippine government troops claimed more than a week ago to be mopping up a failed attempt by Muslim rebels to seize the port city of Zamboanga, but news media report continuing clashes and mounting casualties”:

“There are many more artists and writers that reflect not only a more grounded portrayal of Muslims and Arabs but also deeply human one”:

“The compromise draft resolution, seen by Reuters, makes the measure legally binding but provides for no means of automatic enforcement with sanctions or military force.  …[I]f Syria fails tocomply with the resolution, the council would impose punitive measures under Chapter 7, which would require a second resolution that Russia could veto”:

“In a way, Siegel’s documentary operates as a companion piece to ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler….’ According to Siegel, Ali frequently analyzed how African Americans were viewed by the white majority in the mid-1960s. His investigations led him to the Muslim faith, which he viewed as an aggressive vehicle for necessary change”:

“If Lewthwaite indeed embraced the jihadi cause, it would mark a chilling turnaround for the apparently grieving widow who originally condemned the London transit bombings and criticized her late husband, Jermaine Lindsay, for taking part”:

News and Analysis (9/25/13)

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

“The shattered mall, an imposing, Israeli-built symbol of a new prosperity for some in Africa while many remain mired in poverty, lay largely silent overnight, after days of gunfire, explosions and bloodshed. ‘The operation is now over,’ Kenyatta told Kenyans in a televised address. ‘We have ashamed and defeated our attackers'”:

“I listened carefully to the statement made by President Obama today at the General Assembly. Commensurate with the political will of the leadership in the United States and hoping that they will refrain from following the short-sighted interest of warmongering pressure groups, we can arrive at a framework to manage our differences” — Hassan Rouhani:

With the Obama-Rouhani “handshake” delayed as “too complicated” for the Iranians, “the highest level US-Iran meeting is due to take place on Thursday, when Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will meet his counterparts from the six world powers conducting nuclear negotiations with Iran, including US Secretary of State John Kerry”:

“While Israel does not appear to face any immediate threat of global censure, the issue nonetheless could be embarrassing given Israel’s repeated calls for the world to crack down on what it says is an Iranian campaign to develop a nuclear bomb”:

Perhaps aware that an obscure court decision to “cripple the Brotherhood’s extensive network of social service provision across the country” might backfire on the ruling junta

… yet “the Freedom and Justice newspaper, affiliated with the party of the same name, was the latest in a series of escalating measures by Egyptian authorities against the Brotherhood”:

“[T]wo militant groups known for their connections to of the Pakistani Taliban, have taken responsibility for the attack, saying that it was retaliation for drone strikes carried out by the United States in the country’s northern belt. The Pakistani Taliban has condemned the bombings, leaving observers confused as to who is behind the killings, according to the BBC”:

“The statement reflects the lack of unity between the political opposition, based in exile, and the disparate rebel groups fighting President Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria’s civil war, which has killed over 100,000 people so far”:

“Documents released by US whistleblower show extent and aggression of datamining exercises targeting its diplomatic ally”:

News and Analysis (9/23/13)

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Kenyan forces fight to take back Westgate Mall from the al-Shabab terrorists and the expansion of civilian targets, denounced by Muslim leaders, raises concerns over security at commercial malls: 

“An Egyptian court on Monday banned the Muslim Brotherhood from carrying out any activities in the country and ordered the seizure of the group’s funds, widening a campaign to debilitate the Islamist movement of deposed President Mohamed Mursi” …

… while the anti-Brotherhood committee revising the constitution hopes that reducing or removing the public’s ability to vote for political parties will prevent the the Brotherhood from leveraging its popularity into votes:

So far Syria is meeting its commitments, but the rebels inside Syria remain opposed to the rising momentum outside the country for a  negotiated solution, and Assad worries the rebels may prevent inspectors from doing their job:

“[M]ore than 20 young men on bikes who called him a terrorist and shouted “Get Osama!” Singh, who was saved when passersby intervened, was left with injuries including a fractured jaw”:

“Two Islamist militant groups with Taliban links said they ordered the attack to hit back at US drone strikes. Political and religious leaders condemned the attack, but angry crowds nevertheless took to the streets, denouncing the state’s failure to protect minorities”:

Why did Front Page take laziness to a new level by panning “The Muslims Are Coming” after seeing a trailer, without bothering to watch the movie? Co-dirwector Dean Obeidallah says it is because “[t]he people who literally make their living demonizing Muslims … want you to be angry. They don’t care if it’s angry with Muslims or angry with them…. What they don’t want is you laughing at them. That undermines their credibility“:

“The project’s goal is to produce a 25-minute pilot that could lead to a full-length series on the History Channel or another cable network about the life of the warrior-sultan who defeated the European crusaders and recaptured Palestine in the 1100s”:

Netanyahu’s insistance that “the latest signs of moderation by Iran are merely a ploy, the Israeli leader risks finding himself isolated as the international community, including President Barack Obama, tentatively engage the new Iranian president, Hasan Rouhani”:

“Ani Zonneveld, cofounder and president of Muslims for Progressive Values,” claims that “Islam is not intrinsically homophobic” saying that “there are progressive Muslim communities that are totally accepting, while among traditional ones, the attitude is more  ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ but is beginning to shift to a more inclusive stance'”:

News and Analysis (9/20/13)

Friday, September 20th, 2013

The newly elected president  said, “We want the people in their private life to be completely free,”and pledged to create a citizens’ rights commission “in the near future” …

… in an op-ed piece for the Washington Post he talks the talk …

… and he has taken concrete steps to show he can walk the walk …

… while rejecting both nuclear weapons and Israeli hypocrisy on weapons of mass destruction …

… so might one of America’s only two lawmakers accompany Obama to meet Rouhani? …

… and can he help end the Syrian civil war?

It is common for factions to turn against one another once a civil war has overthrown the regime, but when the killing starts before meeting their common objective, that is an ominous sign indeed:

Russia UN Ambassador Vitally “Churkin said that besides the incident in Ghouta the UN mission, which was led by Swedish professor Ake Sellstrom, should investigate other instances of alleged use of chemical weapons ‘including the incident on March 19 near Aleppo as well as incidents of intoxication of Syrian government troops on August 22 and 24-25′”:

Under pressure for its chemical and nuclear weapons policies as well its illegal occupation policies, Israel resorts to abusing diplomats and then threatens to file a complaint against one of its victims:

“Bahrain’s main Shiite opposition group is defying a ban by the island’s Sunni government to have direct contacts with foreign diplomats”:

Nearly 200 clerics say, “The U.S. does not condone torture, but torture has been done by our citizens and in our country’s name. Our national security would be improved by restoring the world’s respect for U.S. integrity on human rights and adherence to the rule of law”:

The small number of British Muslim women who choose to wear the niqab make it clear that what is at stake in the proposed ban is a matter of individual rights:

A Saudi film director pulls back the veil between Western stereotypes and the nuances of her country’s conservative culture:

“The Muslim world’s current turmoil has one key cause that is rooted in neither religious ideology nor sectarian struggle. In Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey, rapidly growing and increasingly assertive middle classes want a say in politics and greater economic opportunity”:

News and Analysis (9/18/13)

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

“Moscow agrees that poison gas was used in a Damascus suburb last month, as detailed in a United Nations inspectors’ report, but Russia’s top diplomat said Tuesday that he’s more convinced than ever that Syrian rebels were behind it, trying to frame Bashar al-Assad” …

… and Jane’s reports that “forces battling Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria now number around 100,000 fighters, but after more than two years of fighting they are fragmented into as many as 1,000 bands. The new study … estimates there are around 10,000 jihadists – who would include foreign fighters … [and a]nother 30,000 to 35,000 are hardline Islamists who share much of the outlook of the jihadists, but are focused purely on the Syrian war rather than a wider international struggle” …

… and as the violence spill over the border with Turkey …

… Israel’s Major-General Yair Golan no prospect of Assad removal in the near-term, even as Israel’s Washington ambassador says that Israel “always wanted Bashar Assad to go” in order to break up Syria’s alliance with Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas”:

Now we are told that Americans’ right to privacy has been taken away for the benefit of a country …

… that will neither “confirm or deny the existence of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons”:

With so many other Muslim Brotherhood leaders murdered or detained, Gehad el-Haddad used Skye to tell hhis story to NewsHour’s Margaret Warner just nine days before his own arrest:

Iran has clearly signaled it is willing it is willing to compromise in nuclear talks as long as its rights to nuclear power under the nonprolifieration treaty are respected. Cam Obama respond in kind?

The one-day strike was called “after journalist Zied El Heni was detained last week for questioning a case against a TV cameraman”:

“The Des Plaines Plan Commission unanimously recommended a zoning amendment to accommodate the center. But in July, the City Council voted down the proposed amendment. The lawsuit alleges that Des Plaines violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act by imposing a substantial burden on the center’s religious freedom and by discriminating against the religious institution based on its Muslim affiliation”:

“Home secretary argues it is not up to the government to tell women what they should wear”:

“We’re just trying to show the world that Islam is beautiful, We are free and the hijab …is our pride,” says one of the contestants who “have undergone three days of ‘spiritual training’ in the run-up to the final in Jakarta, waking up before dawn to pray together and sharpen their Koranic reading skills” in the beauty pageant intended “to show Muslim women there is an alternative to the idea of beauty put forward by the British-run Miss World pageant”:

As a wave of targeted killings hits Libya …

… the state’s rejection of ICC calls to transfer the accused  to the Hague, its inability to convince Gaddafi’s captors to turn him over for trial, and the kidnapping of Senussi’s daughter by gendarmes, increases skepticism that any trial will be fair is extremely high:


Relevance of Ibn Khaldun’s Ideas to the Discourse on Good Governance

Monday, September 16th, 2013


[This is the 14th 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.]

“Relevance of Ibn Khaldun’s Ideas to the Discourse on Good Governance”

by Professor Seifuddein Adem, Institute for Global Cultural Studies, Binghamton University, NY

I try to Islamize modernity using the Afro-Muslim Arab thinker Ibn Khaldun (1332-1374) as the point of entry. He was not an ivory tower theorist, but like Thucydides, participated in great events of his time. He wrote comprehensively of Islamic civilization and his ideas are similar to ones we see today: an alternative conception of world order and post-hegemonic philosophy. We can gain self-understanding from an examination of his thought process.

I will compare his ideas with a random selection of modern thinkers. He is comparable to Descartes in realizing that the ability to think distinguishes man from other living creatures. He systemized thought like John Locke. Is Ibn Khaldun a modern thinker? When does modernity begin?

His relevance today is in the cyclical rather than linear conception of history. Ibn Khldun has been vindicated in his analogy between imperial overstretch to the completion of lifespan.

Why is Ibn Khaldun marginalized? He is aware of complexity, linguistic and cultural factors, and the nature of hegemonic discourse.

Discussant : Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Minaret of Freedom Institute

Descartes (not post-enlightenment) epistemology, Ibn Khaldun ontology. Philosophers, mainly  but not exclusively Muslim, systemized thought before Ibn Khaldun. I do agree that he anticipated Hobbes and that he differs from Hobbes pessimistic view. I am not convinced Ibn Khaldun’s climatic explanations of racial difference differs significantly from the ancients. Is social contract idea the same in Ibn Khaldun and Rousseau? I think Machiavelli is more like the mirror of princes treatment. I think Ibn Khaldun is different in an important way, in that he is normative and not purely deterministic. On the question of when does modernity begin, I side with Khalid Blankenship that it begins in the seventh century. I agree with your analysis of Ibn Khaldun’s obscurity, but I point out that he was more ignored by Muslim society than by Western society.

Adem: We agree more than we disagree. When I compare different philosophers, it is not to say they are saying the same thing but they had similar interests. It is true that IK has been ignored by Muslims as much as by Arabs. I think he was rejecting the prevailing view which is why I see his view as post hegemonic. I will take your points into account.

Discussant Ali Mazrui, SUNY Binghamton

Toynbee called the Muqaddamah the greatest work of its kind in any time or place.

General Discussion:

To what degree is Ibn Khaldun descriptive rather than analytical? I have another maxim: power resides more among those who control the means of distraction than those who control the means of production. History is about power and agency, but there is also a sacred history and we must tap into the broader picture.

Speak of how Ibn Khaldun distinguished himself from the Negroes.

I think it is a mistake to peg Hobbs as someone who sees man as bad; he rather said that man is rational in a dark and mysterious place.

Adem: I don’t read Arabic; my work is based on the translation of Rosenthal. As to the Africanity of Ibn Khaldun, there is uncertainty of his origins, but in his writings he refers to his home of Tunisia as Afriqiyya. As to Hobbs one can be rational and bad at the same time. Nothing in his books indicates that he is optimistic about human nature.

Sub-Saharan Africa came under Islamic influence somewhat late. Whatever Ibn Khaldun’s origins may be, he was a north African thinker and fits into that well. The Muqaddimah was an introduction to his history of the Arabs and the Berbers, but above all he was a judge, a jurist, and belonged to the Islamic religious establishment and made his livelihood not as a historian but as a jurist.

Ahmad:  Ibn Khaldun claimed Arab descent and his climatic views of race would put north Africa in the same climatic belt as Arabia in any case.

Adem: Ibn Khaldun refers to tropical Africa to explain his climatic theory (although not by name). As far as I know he didn’t finish that larger work.

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

News and Analysis (9/16/13)

Monday, September 16th, 2013

<As Mubarak’ lawyers jockey “to blame Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood and foreign forces for the deaths of about 850 people killed in the unrest” that led to Mubarak’s removal,”the judge said on Saturday that all journalists would be barred from the next hearings and forbidden from quoting lawyers”:

In a deal to be enforced by the UN, “Syria must report what chemical stocks it holds within a week, far faster than the month President Bashar al-Assad requested. UN inspectors must be on the ground by November, and the stockpiles destroyed by the middle of next year. Failure to comply … would result in a reference to the UN security council” …

… if implemented, the move would end “a strategic benefit against Israel, with whom [Syria] is formally at war” …

… and Kerry immediately flew to Israel, which has never ratified the chemical weapons treaty, “to reassure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S.-Russia deal to secure Syria’s chemical weapons does not diminish American resolve to prevent Iran from gaining” nuclear weapons like Israel has …

… to soothe Israeli peace jitters sparked by Obama’s statement that “the Geneva deal could pave the way for more general talks involving Russia and Iran aimed at ‘some sort of political settlement that would deal with the underlying terrible conflict'”:

… but for the moment, it’s “back to business” for the Syrian regime:

“According to the Syrian National Coalition, Touma has a history of dissent from the Syrian government going back to 2001, when he joined groups calling for more freedoms and the release of political prisoners”:

YouTube censorship “could lead to the opening up of an entire Pandora’s box of moral policing and dictatorial controls despite the democracy being in place” — Furhan Hussain of Bytes for All”:

“Most Muslims do not care about such fatwas… Muslims have wholeheartedly accepted modern science and technology, including photography and video in their everyday lives. Yes, we don’t see Muslims holding public protests against such ridiculous fatwas, but that does not necessarily mean that they endorse such diktats”  — Maidul Islam, author of a forthcoming book titled Indian Muslims in a Globalized World:

An Italian journalist finally freed after 152 days of captivity says the Syrian revolution has “lost its way and become the property of fanatics and bandits”:

‘The goal of this is political, not educational – to say that Jerusalem is Israeli, not Palestinian’ … [says] an educator at a non-municipality school who  refused to sign a form for his son to join the Israeli curriculum”:

“Amid worst violence since 2008, many fear country is returning to same level of killing that drove it to brink of civil war”:

“Fighting continued for a sixth straight day as Philippines government forces clashed with rogue Muslim separatists on Mindanao. A reported cease-fire negotiated Friday didn’t hold”:

News and Analysis (9/13/13)

Friday, September 13th, 2013

With the American public demanding a diplomatic solution in Syria, Reagan’s advice, “Trust but verify,” applies to both goose and gander:

Last time it ended up being extended for over three decades:

“The Council on American-Islamic Relations wrote a letter this week to Walmart executive William S. Simon expressing hope that the retail giant will accept an apology from the employee, Terry Earsing, “and if possible provide him employment'”:

A judge reverses himself on face veils in court and Birmingham Metropolitan College reverses itself on face veils in the school:

“Amid an international outcry over [officially denied] reports that an eight-year-old girl died of internal bleeding on the night she wed a 40-year-old man”:

“El-Heni’s lawyer … said the detention order was issued without hearing her client’s side of the story. El-Heni said on TV that the prosecutor himself should be charged for detaining someone without basis”:

A “day after the funeral of a 22-year-old protester whose death at a protest has reignited anti-government anger in Turkey” clashes have spread from Hatay to “parts of Ankara and Istanbul”:

“The MNLF signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996 that led to the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. But some of its members continued to fight, claiming Manila did not hold up its end of the deal to develop the impoverished, rural region”:

“Rouhani, who was elected in June, has said Iran will be more transparent and less confrontational in talks with the six powers – the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. But he made clear earlier on Friday he is only ready to go so far, indicating Iran would not give up its right to enrich uranium”:

News and Analysis (9/11/13)

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Many, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hope that Russia’s plan for Syrian abandonment of its chemical weapons will avert an intervention that could turn into a world war …

… but Obama’s measured, yet ultimately unconvincing speech on Syria

… overlooked some critical facts, such as that not everyone is convinced by the “evidence” that Asad was behind the attack, that any strike may provoke retaliation, and even war-hungry Israel is concerned that an attack will undermine U.S. credibility in its long-term struggle against Iran:

As the Egyptian crackdown on religious Muslims now takes aim at the 55,000 “unlicensed” (!!!) preachers …

… critics warn that the interim government’s appointees “to rewrite the country’s constitution … [look] set to repeat the mistakes of the past few years”:

“In court, the trendy clothing retailer argued that the hijab, worn by Muslim women as a sign of modesty, would negatively affect sales. But the judge said in writing ‘Abercrombie failed to offer any evidence from those four months showing a decline in sales'”:

Want an education? Show us some skin! Two girls said, “[W]e would happily show the men at security our faces so they could check them against our IDs, but they won’t let us” and a third protests, “It is a personal choice and I find it absolutely shocking that this has been brought in at a college in Birmingham city centre when the city is so multicultural”:

Islamophobes “once wrote a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, demanding that he fire and deport Mr. Afzal,” but the practicing Muslim chief prosecutor who  is “Britain’s national czar on violence against women” stands firm, “I was born in Birmingham, England, and I’m not going back there”:

Women, Dalia Mogahed says, “’as mothers, teachers, scholars and community leaders play a vital role’ in educating young Muslims to have a strong understanding that the Islam of the Quran is in opposition to the ideology of Al Qaeda”:

The court rejected both her claim “that the sight of bare-chested male pupils breached her religious modesty” and “that accepting the school’s offer that she herself could wear a full-body “burkini” swimsuit in the pool would expose her to discrimination among her peers”:

In part inspired by the Hasidic artist Matisyahu, Sabri turned to “anaasheed,” a variety of hip-hop “with religious Islamic themes, that are beginning to appeal to a broader audience” such as his recent hit, I believe in Jesus that asks “Why does our religion always have to cause division?”

What does it say of the media that the “best analysis of Syria’s conflict” comes from news satire?