Archive for April, 2014

News and Analysis (4/30/14)

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

“Villagers said the stone mosque was built in 2008, and that soldiers removed prayer rugs and holy scriptures before tearing it down. Other razed buildings included three one-storey family houses, animal shelters and a communal well. Locals said around 30 people were made homeless”:

“Mr. Erdogan said that … he expected the United States, a close NATO ally of Turkey, to respond positively to the request” for Gulen’s extradition, but it seems doubtful Turkey can satisfy both requirements that the crime be “recognized in both jurisdictions, and there must be a reasonable belief that the person did commit the crime”:

“The question of who used chemical weapons has been the most bitterly contested of a long list of atrocities in Syria’s three year war, which has seen more than 150,000 people killed, around nine million people exiled and large parts of the country destroyed” as both sides target civilians:

“We made a mistake…. We were not aware that some of its passages could be in breach of Czech law. Our association certainly does not hold any extremist views” — representative of Muslim organizations overseeing the publication of the banned Czech edition of Bilal Philips’ book that sparked the raids:

As “Amnesty International details journalists’ claims of harassment, intimidation and attacks at the hands of military intelligence” …

… a House of “Commons committee said the UK was still giving large sums of money to a state ‘that has failed to adequately mobilise the substantial resources of the country to help its poor'”:

With a Muslim decapitated and human rights groups under attack, the CAR may be in for a long period of violent instability:

“The BBC found more than a hundred instances of inappropriate editing, vandalism and deletion made by computers accessing Wikipedia through the two IP addresses known to be used by government machines” including a gratuitous assertion that “All Muslims are terrorists”:

“The Abu Sayyaf had links to international militant networks, including al-Qaida, but a U.S.-backed Philippine military crackdown has weakened it considerably in recent years. The group, which is on the U.S. list of terror groups, has about 300 fighters and is now much more focused on ransom kidnappings than global jihad”:

“Libya has been plagued by instability since armed groups toppled Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011…. It is unclear who was behind the disturbance…. The BBC’s Rana Jawad in Tripoli says Libya’s national congress has been stormed on dozens of occasions by gunmen over the past year and a half”:

The Arab Spring between the End of History and the Clash of Civilization

Monday, April 28th, 2014

[This is the second in a series of my notes on the 2013 International Institute of Islamic Thought conference on Islamic Reform Movements After the Arab Spring 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. The official proceedings will be published by IIIT at a later time.]

The Arab Spring between the End of History and the Clash of Civilization

Prof. Seifudein Adem, Binghamton University

I will compare the ideas of Francis Fukiyama, Samuel Huntington, James Rosenau, Ibn Khaldun, and Ali Mazrui.

I share concern about the use of imprecise concepts in discussing the events in the Middle East. Mazrui’s book Protesting Power introduces a typology of protest: Conservation, restoration (nostalgic seeking of a destroyed past), transformation (disaffection with the existing system), corrective measure (reform of the existing system). We can talk about both protest from below and protest from above.

The “end of history,” inspired by the fall of communism, was popularized by Fukiyama and saw the victory of liberalism foretold by Kant. Critiques changed after 9/11 and again after the Iraq War. An empirical challenge was that it is illiberal democracy, or electoral authoritarianism that was spreading. After 9/11 it was objected there was no movement towards convergence and there was a reciprocal vulnerability” and the center was vulnerable to the periphery, in this case, non-state actors none of whom aspired to Westphalian nation-statehood.

The Iraq War was seen as the last nail in the claim. Fukiyama responded that the vast majority of the great powers “stable prosperous liberal democracies.” Such arguments, including the claim that democracies do not engage in war against one another, were weak arguments. It is easy to draw analogies between democratic peace and theocratic peace.

Huntington’s claim that self-awareness of civilizations must lead to clashes is not logical. Why did Sunni Iraq invade Sunni Kuwait? He himself contradicts it in anticipating a Confucian-Islamic alliance. In any case the major source of arms to the Middle East is the West, not Asia. Before 9/11 this was neglected by mainstream academic discourse. After 9/11 there was a paradigm shift and the rise of the neoconservative administration of GW Bus. The distorting simplicity of us-vs-them and of superior vs inferior civilization made it popular.

Does the Arab Spring vindicate Fukiyama or Huntington or both? The Arab Spring looks like the end of history because “liberty” appears to be the discourse. But Arab Spring is not really for anything, but only against authoritarianism. It is a vindication of James Rosenau’s “skills revolution.” Ibn Khaldun also may be relevant.

In my view history has not ended nor are we in a clash of civilizations. There are three schools of thought on the future of the nation state: that it is in decline, that not much has changed, or that the nation state has been consolidated. There is evidence for each of these positions and I am not prepared to take sides. The end of history idea was very short-lived, but the clash of civilizations has become the main paradigm in the circle of policymakers.

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


News and Analysis (4/28/14)

Monday, April 28th, 2014

As number of members of  largest social organization sentenced to death doubles…

… increasingly lower level members are pushed into the front lines, and internal splits such as those between the younger and older members and the rise of a “‘Brotherhood abroad’ … may lead to some sort of organizational division or to the emergence of new centers of power within the Brotherhood”:

A teacher in the case of “alleged infiltration by Muslim fundamentalists has said there was a campaign to have more Muslim teachers and governors, but … described allegations that Islamic fundamentalists from the Wahabi or Salafi sect had too much influence as ‘ludicrous'”:

“Both Abdullah and Ahmadzai have promised a fresh start with the West and have vowed to move ahead a security pact with the U.S. that Karzai has refused to sign. That pact would allow a small force of American soldiers to stay in the country to continue training Afghan army and police to fight the Taliban”:

She says Muslim men denied her abusive husband’s claim that divorce was Western vice, including an Algerian imam who, “helped me … to love myself again and reminded me … [that] Islam guides us to treat our spouse with supreme kindness and love and if we are unable to, then they must leave them with respect and kindness”:

“Washington said it would withhold deliveries of tanks, fighter aircraft and other military equipment, as well as $250 million in cash, until the government made progress on democracy and human rights. But last week, Washington said it would deliver 10 attack helicopters to help the government”:

“Christian militants descend on mosque and force thousands from the capital amid further ‘ethnic cleansing’ in the region” …

… and others killed at “least 22 people, including 15 local chiefs and three members of staff of the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières”:

The “government had vowed to complete the removal of its 1,300 tonnes of chemical substances on April 27, after missing several deadlines. [The] head of the joint mission of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, [said the] UN hoped Syria would meet the [UN’s] June deadline”:

“Battles between the regime and rebels, many of whom took shelter in the clusters of palm and date trees skirting the ruins, created the perfect opportunity for plunder”:

“The Palestinian people, who suffer from injustice, oppression and (are) denied freedom and peace, are the first to demand to lift the injustice and racism that befell other peoples subjected to such crimes”:


News and Analysis (4/25/14)

Friday, April 25th, 2014

“[A]n interfaith advisory group of clergy members … overwhelmingly took strong exception to the film, believing some of the terminology in it casts aspersions on all Muslims, and requested changes…. In March, the sole imam in the group resigned to make clear that he could not endorse its contents”:

“Dale Brantner is CEO of Lemoyne, Pennsylvania-based Cure International. He says in a telephone interview Christians with strong beliefs are generally respected in the Muslim world”:

“At Christian and Muslim gatherings prayers have been offered for the girls’ safety”:

The so-called “Salafists” are the latest of the coup supporters to be targeted by the military they helped to come to power:

“[T]he worst part of the speech — which borders on the criminal — is when he dishonestly insinuates that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was violent, and he justifies the anti-democratic coup that overthrew it last year”:

“Amending the SC [Schedujle Caste] criteria – currently available to Hindus and Buddhists — will allow ‘dalit’ Muslims and Christians to access quotas and has been strongly opposed by BJP on the ground that there is no caste-based discrimination in both religions”:

Jonathan Brown says “Muslim scholars were always willing to be critical [of] hadiths” contary to the view that “hadith tradition is kind of this gullible, fideistic, uncritical approach to scripture … and they don’t want to use their brains, they don’t want to look critically at the context of the hadith, that’s not true at all”:

“Israel criticized Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for siding with a terrorist group [the pot calling the kettle black!] instead of pursuing peace with Israel. But Mr. Abbas can’t enforce peace without unity”:

“The disbanding of the Zone Assessment Unit could signal the beginning of the end of this (persecution) experience. But as long as the rest of the surveillance apparatus remains intact, it may be little more than a rebranding of the same old toxic tactics”:

News and Analysis (4/23/14)

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

“The no-fly list is supposed to be about ensuring aviation safety, but the FBI is using it to force innocent people to become informants,” said Ramzi Kassem, associate professor of law at the City University of New York. “The practice borders on extortion”:

“Some rights groups have voiced opposition to the initiatives, warning that they could ‘potentially allow the authorities to bring a terrorism case against virtually any peaceful activist'” …

… but that hasn’t stopped the Obama administration continuing arm sales in flagrant violation of U.S. law:

Under the proposed plan “the amount of plutonium produced in the Arak reactor could be reduced drastically … [but]  would not reduce the usefulness of the reactor for making radioisotopes and conducting research…. Thus, this approach would meet Iran’s needs and would address the concerns of the international community”:

In Iran’s appeal over the Obama administration’s “unique” attempt to block “permanent representative to the U.N. “, the Committee on Relations with the Host Country has chosen to punt. “North Korea, Cuba and Belarus spoke up in support of Iran” but “no other country spoke in support of the U.S. position”:

The agreement “to begin negotiations to form a unity government within the coming weeks … comes as peace talks between the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israel face collapse”:

Moammar Gaddafi considered himself an anarchist, but as events in Libya since his execution have demonstrated, there’s anarchy and then there’s anarchy …

… meanwhile, an official briefing prepared for AFRICOM chief General David Rodriguez in the fall of 2013 … highlights the U.S. military’s penchant for simple solutions to complex problems — with a well-documented potential for blowback in Africa and beyond”:

“The history of both Persian and Arab bourgeois nationalism is solidly predicated on a sustained genealogy of racist bigotry…. Today the legitimate criticism of the Islamic republic easily degenerates into a nasty Islamophobia among a wide spectrum of Iranian bourgeois liberalism that fancies itself ‘secular'”:

“He just took his shoes and socks off and said, ‘You can take these, don’t worry about me — I live close by and can walk'”:

Is India at a tipping point in abandoning secularism?

News and Analysis (4/21/14)

Monday, April 21st, 2014

“‘We all want Sissi [to be president], and that’s it,’ one gray-haired patron yelled at the young men, referring to Egypt’s popular presidential candidate, Abdel Fatah al-Sissi. Another man accused Mustafa and his friends of endangering the country’s stability with their views and threatened to call the police”:

“[A]n appeals court overturned the acquittal last month on the eve of a byelection …where he was tipped to become chief minister. Not only did the conviction rely on a witness of doubtful testimony, the appeal was led by the government and the lead prosecutor suddenly did an about-face and switched to Anwar’s defence team”:

“A tale of two rock throwing teens, highlights disparities in Israeli justice system in the West Bank, where Israelis are live under civilian rule and Palestinians are governed by military law”:

Criticizing “those who consider women’s presence society as a threat,” President Rouhani said, “We will not accept the culture of sexual discrimination”:

“Riyadh sees the Brotherhood, which has embraced politics, as an ideological rival and a model that threatens its own governance, since some of the strongest domestic opposition comes from Sunni Islamist groups … [and senses] a window of opportunity with Qatar’s relatively young and untested emir”:

Imam Suhail Mulla said that “imams at a regional religious leaders’ meeting in January … agreed that, while they will not modify traditional Islamic teachings on sexuality, they do not want to drive gay Muslims away from mosques.” He said, “We’re not going to shun people from our community”:

It wasn’t clear if a ransom had been paid for their release, nor which group in Syria’s civil war held the men…. [A]t least 30 journalists are being held and 52 have been killed since Syria’s civil war began in early 2011. The widespread seizure of journalists is unprecedented, and has been largely unreported” …

… “while Of the estimated 150,000 killed in Syria in the last three years, at least 58,000 were regime fighters – an estimated 20,000 more than the opposition”:

Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani, a prominent imam and scholar, has taken a stand for coexistence with the country’s Baha’i minority. He has reminded us that Islam is a religion of peace that recognises diversity of every kind as part of God’s design for his creation

“Yemeni military officials say a US drone struck a vehicle carrying suspected al-Qaida militants as well as a passing car carrying civilians Saturday”:



News and Analysis (4/18/14)

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Shutting down the ill-conceived spy operation could be a boon to counter-terrorism, but first a stake may need to be driven through its heart:

“Iran has completely diluted half its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium to lower levels. It has also converted more than half the remaining stockpile for use as nuclear fuel – rendering it almost useless for any weapon application. That means Iran has cut by some 75 percent a stockpile that stood just above 200 kilograms in January” …

… even as “US prosecutors unveiled plans Thursday to sell an Iran-owned Manhattan skyscraper in the largest terror-related seizure ever, and distribute proceeds to families affected by attacks linked to Tehran”:

“[T]his generation of Muslims is abandoning the traditional professions expected from immigrant parents (doctors, engineers, business people) and entering fields we all once thought were closed to us. The last decade has seen a steady and sure emergence of American Muslims as artists, writers, performers, activists, media personalities and intellectuals“:

Some Muslim students welcome the initiative to offer so-called “sharia-compliant loans,” but others object that the size of the fees is more important that whether or not they are called interest:

Reports that “one of country’s foremost Muslim theologians and lectures at Cambridge University” called the video improper are untrue and Prof. Timothy Winter, a/k/a Sheikh Abdul-Hakim Murad, “himself told The Independent that he was ‘happy to be involved’ in the project, which he said cuts the Muslim community free of the “negative images which oppress it”:

In their mixed marriage her Muslim husband is less upset at the prejudices of friends and professional than she because, as he tells her, “the greatest jihad (or struggle) of our lives is the one that takes place in our hearts: the battle to overcome our egos and become more wise, generous and patient for the sake of humanity”:

“I grew up being an outsider, feeling like an outsider, and there wasn’t any moment really after the Boston Marathon where I had that feeling of being an outsider again…. I grieved with everyone…. I could understand their feelings, and they could understand mine, without there being an asterisk next to it”:

The offender, who shouted obscenities against the girl and the Muslim people was “charged with attempted assault, aggravated harassment, and menacing, … [and] has over 40 prior arrests dating back to the 1980s, including busts for petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property”:

“Gul said Friday he opposes a model similar to that of Russia where the president and prime minister have traded places and one has ruled in the other’s shadow. Gul suggested he would not oppose Erdogan if he chose to run for president in the election in August”:

News and Analysis (4/16/14)

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

“The New York Police Department has abandoned a secretive program that dispatched plainclothes detectives into Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and built detailed files on where people ate, prayed and shopped”:

“With an 11-month-old state of emergency in three northeastern states failing to bring relief, the attacks are increasing calls for President Goodluck Jonathan to rethink his strategy in confronting the biggest threat to the security of Africa’s most populous nation”:

MPAC officials “said the Boston attack, which killed three people and injured 264, had highlighted the need for Muslim communities to intervene more effectively with troubled youths…. ‘The path to violence can be stopped, reversed and prevented with the right kind of support,’ said Alejandro Beutel, …who developed the council’s plan”:

The government justifies its attempt to control the madrassas as means of modernizing the curriculum, but in “Darul Uloom’s computer lab, nearly 350 students use dozens of old desktop computers for classes on how to type, or surf the web. By contrast, only 39 percent of government schools in Pakistan have electricity”:

A “sinister genre of direct action has developed around symbolically and physically imposing pork products on Muslims. The French ‘anti-white racism’ group Bloc Identitaire has occupied mosques and tried to organise a march to kick back against the ‘racist refusal’ of Muslims to eat pork”:

“The court, in the coastal northern city of Alexandria, ordered military-installed authorities on Tuesday to reject the candidacies from members of the group, which has swept all elections since the 2011 revolution” …

… in the meantime, “communities who are not part of the ongoing power struggle between Islamists and the military are being left to fix their own problems”:

“Largely in protest over Washington’s reluctance to get involved militarily in Syria, he reportedly told European diplomats in October that Saudi Arabia would be scaling back its co-operation with the CIA over arming and training rebel groups seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad”:

President Rouhani declares, “We will prove to the world through these negotiations that what has been said about Iran is a lie. Iran has never pursued nuclear weapons and never will”  …

… and a senior official says that “Iran expects to get a fifth installment this week of previously blocked overseas funds, … a payment that would confirm Iranian compliance with a landmark deal with world powers to curb its nuclear program”:

“Boycotting is the main form of protest against an election that 77-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is expected to win despite his glaring absence, because powerful institutions of the state are firmly wedded to maintaining Algeria’s status quo”:

“The report reveals high numbers are getting information from unofficial ‘disseminators’, individuals not affiliated to any militant group. It identifies spiritual authorities who fighters look to for guidance. ‘This is the most socially mediated conflict in history”:


News and Analysis (4/14/14)

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Erdogan swore to hit his opponents hard after the election, but his choice of first target may surprise you:

“It is hoped that a decline in political support for anti-Muslim bigotry will lead to toning down of the rhetoric in mainstream circles. The results of the election should also serve as a reminder that the image of Quebecers as an intolerant people is need of review”:

An “unsigned and undated [letter] … which was sent to local authorities and teaching unions as far back as last year” has stirred up a firestorm by accusations of Muslim conspiracy to take over the schools and  has prompted anonymous “whistle-blowers” to make allegations denied by school trustees as “a witch-hunt”;

“Both sides agree that poison gas was used in the village of Kfar Zeita, but each says the other side is responsible”:

“The first results from Afghanistan’s presidential election show the country is headed for a runoff next month between former ministers, with two other candidates securing enough of the vote to potentially act as kingmakers”:

“He is the second Libyan prime minister to leave his post in as many months, underlining the North African nation’s instability three years after the ouster and killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi” …

… and as Ghadafi’s sons are tried in absentia, the ICC and human rights organizations remain “concerned over the fairness of Libya’s justice system although the government won the right last year to try Gaddafi’s former spy chief domestically instead of at the ICC”:

No reason was given as to why FBI agents questioned an attorney “who assists with the handling of classified evidence … at the start of what was supposed to be a hearing into whether defendant Ramzi Binalshibh is mentally competent to stand trial. The judge adjourned the hearing until Tuesday while officials explore the legal implications of the investigation”:

The land seizure is reportedly “the largest in years and could eventually lead to the expansion of several settlements and authorization of [a decade-old unauthorized] settler outpost” and “is based on an Israeli interpretation of an Ottoman-era law that allowed the confiscation of tracts that had not been planted or cultivated for several years in a row”:

“Iran has insisted it will not replace its new envoy to the UN in New York and accused the US of acting illegally by refusing a visa to the diplomat. A senior Iranian official said they would “pursue the matter via legal mechanisms” with the United Nations”:

News and Analysis (4/11/14)

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Although systematic “use of state-sponsored sexual harassment against women … is not new…, nothing matches the current level and the extent…. On the very day of the coup … more than 100 women were raped by a pro-coup mob celebrating their “victory”. Ever since, the targeting of female protesters has become a weapon of choice for the security forces and military”:

“In addition to misleading policymakers, the Senate report charges the CIA with selectively and leaking classified and inaccurate information to journalists in order to portray the program in a positive light[, …] manipulated the media … [and] provided factually inaccurate information to Bush administration lawyers”:

“Indonesia’s Muslim parties enjoyed a surprise jump in support in the legislative elections this week, but analysts put it more down to anger with a corrupt ruling party than with the growing popularity of political Islam” …

… while in India, Muslim voters may be the deciding factor, but it will not be for reasons of religious identity”

Has American intervention enabled “growing Al Qaeda sanctuaries in three countries – Iraq, Libya, and Syria”?

Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, who “recently resigned as military commander to run for the presidency – oversaw in February the mobilization of scores of army bus drivers to thwart a strike led by Mahmoud’s union. Sissi’s allies have included some of the corrupt businessmen and politicians who grew rich under former autocrat Hosni Mubarak”:

Observing that since the end of Islam’s Golden Age, Muslims have “taken up superstitious and irrational thinking habits they had … dropped when they originally accepted the Message of Prophet Muhammad”, a Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience opines that modern Muslims turn to “professional debaters to learn about science” rather than to professional scientists or theologians:

“Twenty-five years after making their first bid for membership, the Palestinians can join the Geneva Conventions governing the rules of war and military occupations, the Swiss government said Friday. Israel [a frequent violator of the Geneva conventions] had opposed the move” …

… and Israel takes strong action in retaliation …

… even as the illegal settlers it defends have “turned on the soldiers charged with protecting them”:

“The movie … is not the first horror movie made by a Muslim American. The late Moustapha Akkad produced several films from the ‘Halloween’ franchise. But the release of ‘Jinn’ is a sign that there are a growing number of Muslims in the American film industry who are ready to introduce audiences to stories from their cultural traditions, even in the form of a horror movie”:

“One panel, made up of young adults, was the embodiment of variety. They included an African-American woman without a hijab (head covering), an African-American woman with a hijab, a Pakistani-American with a hijab, an Afghan-American with an ethnic-style beard and even a Muslim who was raised Jewish”: