Archive for June, 2014

News and Analysis (6/30/14)

Monday, June 30th, 2014

ISIL’s declaration of Islamic statehood “and its demand that Muslims swear oaths of fealty to its leader – could prove the most disastrous piece of jihadi overreach since Al Qaeda in Iraq‘s routine use of torture and beheadings spurred a Sunni Arab backlash in 2006″ …

… and Gulf News Editorializes, “[I]t is important that genuine Muslims around the world unite to discredit this small and dangerous organisation and make clear that it has no standing in the global Muslim ummah (community) in any way”:

“The displacement of 500,000 of the 600,000 residents in North Waziristan has created a logistical nightmare for the government…. [C]haritable arms of militant groups are emerging as the quickest and best organized in caring for the displaced”:

Ramadan is the holy month of fasting when kindness and good deeds should increase:

“More than half of Islamophobic attacks in Britain are committed against women, who are typically targeted because they are wearing clothing associated with Islam” …

….”Brits think that Muslims make 24% but the real number is only 5%. A survey shows that ” a significant proportion of the British population hold negative views of Islam, and by extension British Muslim communities” :

The Russians deliver Sukhoi Su-25 “Frogfoot” to Iraq upon the request of Nouri Al Maliki for air force aid, complaining that the US was too slow in responding to the militants:

The representation of Islam and Muslims as ” Islamic extremist[s], has become almost as familiar a Hollywood cliché as the noble savage or gold-hearted hooker…Hollywood has put their faith very much in the foreground, often cast in an ominous light”:

“What comes next could be an escalation in an already sweeping government crackdown in the West Bank that could push the Palestinian Authority (PA) of Mahmoud Abbas – a partner of sorts for Israeli security interests in the West Bank – towards the brink of collapse”:

The first Mosque in England, reopened after renovation. Once owned by Abdullah Quilliam, who was a convert to Islam, and later founded the Mosque in Brougham Terrace, Kensington:



News and Analysis (6/27/14)

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Linda Sarsour, the Director of Arab American Association of New York, rebuts Bridgette Gabriel’s accusations that “anywhere from 180-300 million Muslims worldwide [are] violent extremists”:

A George Washington University study ranked 208 countries on “ Islamicity Index” … “the ‘Islamicity’ of a country is based on many factors: rule of law, human and civil rights, natural resource management, income distribution and eradication of poverty, among others”:

Islamic Banking has been in Britain for “over 30 years, and Britain is the first country outside the Islamic world to issue bonds. Islamic finance is open to everyone, not just Muslims”:

“The husband of a Sudanese Christian woman facing threats after her apostasy death sentence was overturned has expressed relief that the family has been given refuge at the US embassy in Khartoum”:

“The Obama administration is trying to rally wealthy Arab states to help extinguish support for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a Sunni militant group, among Iraq’s disaffected Sunnis” …

… while inside Iraq, “Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who commands unswerving loyalty from many Shi’ites in Iraq and beyond, said political blocs should agree on the next premier, parliament speaker and president before the newly elected legislature meets on Tuesday …

… and Maliki agrees to call parliament into session even as he rejects the call for a national salvation government:

Even if it wanted to, the US is clearly incapable of resolving Iraq’s larger problems …

… as the US urges “Maliki to work to unite fractious political leaders and find a diplomatic solution to the crises that has now brought Iraq to the brink of another all out-civil war” …

… a “[p]oll released Tuesday shows that 71 percent of those surveyed think the war in Iraq ‘wasn’t worth it,’ while only 22 percent believe that the war was worth the effort…. The criticism of the Iraq war runs across all ages” …

… but as more political and religious leaders round the world call for volunteers to defend their sect, “thousands of Muslims in India have signed up to defend Iraq’s holy shrines and, if need be, fight Sunni Islamist militants” …

… while in Canada, an Imam warns against joining the fight in Iraq,” imams from across the country have issued a statement warning Muslim youths against travelling abroad to fight in foreign conflicts”:

From the “quasi-concentration camps” in Myanmar to the “tit-for-tat violence” in the CAR, to the targeting of the Uighur in China, to the uncertainties over Modi’s intentions in India, to the banning of Islam in Angola, and the many case of ethnic cleansing in  variety of hotspots:

“Every morning, after I’d taken my last sip of water before dawn, I prayed to God, crying and thanking Him for giving me back my ummah (Arabic for the global Muslim community)…. [P]eople I had estranged myself from and hadn’t spoken to in years … were embracing me”:



News and Analysis (6/26/14)

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Islam in Australia arrived around 1500-1600, where Makassans, sea cucumbers Muslim traders left a legacy and “Islamic beliefs [ that] influenced Aboriginal mythology… Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples had regular contact with Muslims long before the arrival of Christian colonizers” …

…. After the Bendigo Mosque debate, a Victorian woman  protests by unleashing colorful balloons as a “peaceful counter-protest to a fierce campaign raging against the development of a mosque in the regional city of Bendigo” :

In Ukraine,  Mufti Said Ismagov urges Ukrainain Muslims to remain neutral and stay out of civil war… saying “We were free to practice Islam, perform prayers and fast during the Holy Ramadan. Moreover, there is plenty of ethnic Ukrainians who converted to Islam”:

Under US pressure, Iraqi PM Nouri al Maliki struck “a conciliatory tone as he called for political unity to tackle al-Qaeda inspired militants as they swept forward in the western province of Anbar” …

… and as ISIS continues its march towards Baghdad, seizing oil fields and attacked one of Iraq largest airbase, “U.S. special forces troops and intelligence analysts arrived to help Iraqi security forces counter a mounting Sunni insurgency” …

… but John Kerry “ruled out U.S. air strikes in Iraq so long as its government remains fractured along sectarian lines and incapable of combating extremist Sunni militants who are capturing towns in the country’s north,” warning that there’s nothing there that provides the capacity for success” :

Despite solicitation of not always heeded advice from one Muslim group, MPAC, “The Tyrant” has come under fire from another, CAIR, but TV critics have been appalled on their own.  One calling it “clumsily written and stultifyingly acted … with tired and terribly broad notions of Muslim culture”:

The lawyer calling for Bala’s release seeks a second opinion to dispute claims of “the father and physicians … [that] Bala has psychological problems that predate his renunciation of Islam” to sue “because it is against Nigerian law and constitutional human rights to hold someone against their will”:

“Muslims up and down the country contribute a huge amount to their local communities, as local councilors, school Governors, charity trustees and in countless other roles,” said the deputy PM of Britain in a statement to the largest Islamic group:

Meanwhile in Brazil, the world cup has attracted many fans, but also, served as an occasion to attract those who are interested in Islam, where “Mission Da`wah from the British Islamic Education and Research Academy” took the chance to explain the teachings of Islam:


News and Analysis (6/24/14)

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

“[T]he Sudanese have assured the U.S. that the family is not under arrest and that they are safe…. U.S. officials are continuing to work on getting them out of the country” …

… while in Malaysia, ‘The highest court has rejected a challenge to the ban on Christians using the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God, in a highly divisive legal case in the Muslim-majority nation… Malaysian authorities say its use by Christians could confuse Muslims and lead some to convert to Christianity”:

A “2011 Gallup survey found that American Muslims are significantly more likely than American Christians, Jews, Mormons, or Atheists to oppose attacks on civilians … whether they are enacted by military force or by a small group” and fervently condemn violence perpetrated by Muslims:

Harris Zafar, an author, a lecturer, a teacher and speaker on Islam tries to answer important questions regarding Islam and Peace.  In a book called “ Demystifying Islam: Tackling the Tough Questions” he answers to misconceptions about Islam as a religion of war:

As the political Sunni/ Shiites struggle escalates in Iraq, religious leaders of Detroit Michigan come together “to reaffirm a unity pact in an effort to ward off tension between Shiite and Sunni Muslims in Metro Detroit”:

Yes, Tony Blair, Saddam would have been targeted by the Arab Spring if you and “W” had not rashly jumped the gun.  His comments came days after he published an essay saying that the invasion of Iraq is not to blame for the current crisis …

… in which events escalate as ISIS advances and seizes the key oil refinery of Beiji, north of Baghdad, that “supplies a third of Iraq’s refined fuel”, leading to gas rationing.” The refinery is “essential if the rebels are to keep control of the areas they have conquered and to supply Mosul with energy” …

… meanwhile, John Kerry visits Baghdad urging the Iraqi leaders to fight ISIS and promising “intense and sustained” support to Iraq, and that “[t]he very future of Iraq depends on choices that will be made in the next days and weeks” …

… but “the Kurdish president told Kerry that ‘We are facing a new reality and a new Iraq'” …

… and as Iraq’s instability continues, so does the death toll, the result of summary executions, killing after abduction, and the encounter of unidentified bodies on river banks. “At least 1,075 people – mostly civilians – have been killed in Iraq during June”:

“Since the abduction of three Israeli teens, Israel has arrested about 350 Palestinians, conducted sweeps of 1,800 locales, and raided 64 Islamic charities with suspected links to Hamas. Concerns are growing about resulting Palestinian unrest”:

“The election was called a month ago amid government claims that a renegade general was plotting a coup. General Khalifa Haftar denied the allegation, but launched a military offensive against Islamist militias…. At least 70 people were killed in the ensuing battles”:

“Any efforts to raise the stakes by acting against migrants from Bangladesh in India could have international ramifications by alienating the India-friendly government of the neighbouring country and provoking anti-Hindu sentiment there”:

“Islamic extremists have abducted 60 more girls and women and 31 boys from villages in northeast Nigeria, witnesses said…. Security forces denied the kidnappings. Nigeria‘s government and military have been widely criticized for their slow response to the abductions of more than 200 schoolgirls”:

(6/22/14) News and Analysis

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

The multiple stabbing death of a Muslim student “has sparked threats of violent revenge on social media websites including Facebook and Twitter, which police officers are monitoring as part of the murder investigation”:

“Amnesty International described the verdicts as ‘the latest example of the Egyptian judiciary’s bid to crush dissent.’ There was no immediate reaction on the ruling from the Brotherhood, whose members are either in jail or on the run” …

… while “[h]undreds of disappeared Egyptians are being tortured and held outside of judicial oversight in a secret military prison, according to Guardian interviews with former inmates, lawyers, rights activists and families of missing persons”:

Israel’s response to the kidnapping of three civilians is to murder a thirteen year-old:

Britain’s most prominent Muslim organization announced “a new drive to tell its followers that female genital mutilation is contrary to Islam and should be shunned to save girls from serious damage to their health” and that one of the basic principles of Islam that followers shouldn’t harm themselves or others:

A critic of the extremist Buddhist group behind the recent violence “has been found beaten and unconscious near Colombo…. Wataraka Vijitha Thero was found undressed and with numerous cuts on his body in the district of Panadura” :

As ISIS takes more of Anbar, there are some voices worth listening to:

Local Muslims say the young Welch convert appearing in hirabist recruitment video was radicalized online to join hundreds of others recruited by ISIS:

Tensions rise as thousands of Shias loyal to Muqtada Al Sadr, parade through the streets. Muqtada called for a military parade across the country, meanwhile, the ISIS militias continue to advance as more and more Shia Iraqis volunteer to fight back after a call from Sistani:

Hamid Al- Bayati, the former Iraqi representative to the U.S. Al- Bayati explains that in the past, Iraq’s ethnic groups lived in peace and harmony.

(6/20/14) News and Analysis

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Sara Harvard responds to the question, “Can you tell me who the head of the Muslim peace movement is?” by noting, “there are numerous Muslim organizations that dedicate themselves to peace, non-violence, and interfaith and cross-cultural partnerships”:

Councillor claims that she “doesn’t mind Muslims praying in Bendigo, but can’t think of a proper location for a mosque, however, argues that a mosque would ‘overthrow the Australian Constitution, increase violence in the region and see an influx of Islam believers “descend” on Bendigo'”:

“Islam’s solution to stop violence against women is … [for] men to safeguard their chastity, treat women with equality, take ownership over their own behavior, and respect a woman’s body and right to self-determination;” in the Prophet’s (pbuh) words advising gentleness with women, “Mind the crystal”:

Research shows that identifying with a religion can be a problem when searching for a job, especially for Muslims who” faced the sharpest discrimination with 38 percent fewer emails and 54 percent fewer phone calls to the voice mailboxes set up by the researchers” :

As ISIS takes over one of the biggest oil refineries in Iraq…

Iraq Battles Militants For Key Oil Refinery In Beiji (NPR)

… Obama announces that the U.S. is ready for “targeted and precise military action” against the ISIS but “troops will not return to Iraq” …

… but “U.S. intervention, already once disastrous, can only delay the day when Iraqis must deal with each other again. We cannot fix it…. The U.S. already destroyed the political, economic and social infrastructure of Iraq, turning it into an anarchic free-for-all of every clan for itself”:

Although Obama is urging the Iraqi PM Nouri Al- Maliki to bring the country together, while US lawmakers call for Al-Maliki to step down, Al- Maliki answer is that he will not quit his position:

The neoconservatives blame Obama’s administration for the current security issues in Iraq, claiming that the intervention in Iraq was the right action, and its Obama’s fault because ” he basically walked away from it,” still convinced that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons:




Islam and Politics after the Uprisings: Problems of Governance

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

[This is the seventh in a series of my notes on the International Institute of Islamic Thought conference on Islamic Reform Movements After the Arab Spring held in Herndon, VA. It sets the stage for the other papers the presentations and discussions of which will be summarized in the remainder of this series. The official proceedings will be published by IIIT at a later time. Names of participants (other than mine) in the general discussion have been omitted by request of the organizers.]

“Islam and Politics after the Uprisings: Problems of Governance”

Prof. Peter Mandaville, George Mason University

How can we talk about post-Islamism when the Islamists appear to have won? I will argue that we are still in the time of post-Islamism and the elections are evidence of that fact. We can ask about the democratic vs. authoritarian nature of such governments and their effectiveness. We are still in the early stages of transition. Only Egypt has completed the constitutional process. It is tempting to say it is too early to evaluate Islamists in power, but we can offer some tentative observations. These groups have embraced the procedural aspects of elections, but they have not yet embraced political pluralism let alone liberalism.

The crisis before us today seems to be a result of the failure of the establishment of political pluralism, an inability to provide a space for different groups to get together to negotiate how to move forward. From a position of denying they sought the presidency or a majority in the parliament we now see the FJP trying to consolidate its power. The FJP sees the judiciary as political appointees left over from the previous regime. However, much of Mursi’s and the FJP’s behavior can be seen as a product of Egypt’s broken political system. Other than the sukûk bond law, it is difficult to identify particularly Islamic legislation that the FJP has pursued. With the prominence of social (as opposed to political) Salafis, women and minorities need more protection today. It is still possible to see the outlines of an Islamist strategy. Those who thought they could detect Islamism with their Islamism radar were mistaken on two counts. In the first place the MB has always been a gradualist movement in its methodology. Also, they are savvy politicians and they knew that if they came forward with an explicit Islamic manifesto they would lose the buy-in they needed from the broader society.

When Mursi apologized for certain mistakes, I think he has the constitution in mind. Let’s dive into the constitution. In article 2 we find principles of sharia are the source of the legislation, but this is precisely the same wording as the 1971 constitution. But what are the principles of sharia? Art. 219 explains what these principles are. Here is language that will sound strange to any not schooled in usûl al fiqh.  The awkwardness of phrasing betrays its multiple authorship, rolling together Salafi, Ikhwani, and Azhari language. Salafis are assured there will no heterodox or Shia interpretations, Azharis will find it bears the hallmark of the plural school tradition, and Ikhwanis will see that it gives definition to the principles, all without specifically articulating the principles.

This brings us to article 4 that specifically requires consultation with al-Azhar. In the past, the Azhari approach pervaded the constitutional court because it was a state controlled institution. It would be awkward for someone to get an opinion from al-Azhar and then modify it. What I see is a deferral of the question of the role of religion in state. Politics will decide how this eventually works. Islamists, old hands at confrontationalist politics, are neophytes in governance. Further, some of their most pragmatic members have left or been driven out. They seem confused and frustrated. Their best hope to deal with the economic crisis is an IMF bailout that no one wants to be associated with, at least before the elections.

Of course they are trying to accrue political power. That’s what politicians do. But when you are writing of a constitution you bear the extra burden of making the process as inclusive as possible, running the country as if you won 100% of the vote when you actually won less than half. According to polls only 30% of Egyptians think their country is on the right track, precisely where they were on the eve of Mubarak’s ouster. Ultimately what people will care about is whether things are getting done. They need to see results.

I see two paradigms of post-Islamism in the literature. It was first used by Asif Bayat to describe pragmatic politics under Rafsanjani in Iran. More recently he has used it in an aspirational sense as the aspiration of young people in the Muslim world. I respect his ability to foresee the uprisings, but I don’t find this use of the term very useful. For Olivier Roy, Islam as an ideology has lost its distinctiveness in the process of making itself palatable to a mass audience.  I position myself in relation to and against these. I don’t see it as a label to be applied to movements and to people but rather as a characterization of what Islamism is anymore. For me it is a broad overarching signifier the Gulen movement and even the global rise of salafism.

Q. Islamic principles are in the hearts of the Egyptian people. Why can’t there be an Egyptian democracy? How do you account for the hardness of the oppositions?

Mandaville. I am less interested in whether one is for Sharia than what does it mean to you? That is what I see as the sticky spot moving forward. There are a good many opposition groups who are acting like bad losers. But just as the MB have legitimate fears that there are remnants of the opposition lurking to ambush them, the opposition has legitimate concerns that there are plans to permanently exclude them. I fear that something might happen this weekend to reset the country back in the hands of SCAF. [Prof. Mandaville was speaking on June 28, 2013 and his fear was born out.—Ed.] I think it is a political struggle by people who think they are ideological.

Q. The US has an interest in the success of these transitions. Nationalism failed, military rule failed. A transitional period is necessary for them to learn how democracy works. Educational programs are needed.

Q. The MB will never include anyone outside as an inferior. The only solution is for them to leave power. You need to include state security, NDP and the business community and to give up power. There are a handful of stupid people at the center of the MB who are harming the MB. Only if you can divide the MB into four different groups can you save them. FJP has always accepted neoliberalism, but I see it leading to a catastrophe. We produce nothing and there is a global economic crisis.

Q. What is the perspective of US policymakers towards the Arab spring. Do you think that a culture of trust analysis as discussed by Robert Putnam is a perspective for looking at Egypt.

Mandaville. Re: the characterization of Western interests, I agree there is a role for international community in these three areas, but the historical legacy of the US in providing democracy assistance to Egypt is a joke. The regime became very good at talking the talk and co-opted American efforts to promote democracy because they knew the US didn’t really want democracy. US democracy money is perceived as meddling to get states aligned to US interests (Israel, overflights, counter-terrorism, etc.). One of the saddest things I’ve seen is the US attempt to recreate that authoritarian bargain with Mursi. What is crucial to this transition is understanding that it takes place against a backdrop of changing power. Brazil, Indonesia, etc. are relevant. There have been successful transitions in Latin America. They may be better mentors than the US. I’d like to see a genuinely multilateral process.

I agree that the security apparatus is still there. In post-war Germany and post-war Iraq mistakes were made preventing anyone affiliated with the deposed regimes from inclusion. There are complexities that need to be determined to the satisfaction of all parties involved. Most discussions of post-Islamism are against a backdrop of a triumphant neoliberalism. I do not say there problems are rooted in Islam, but in the fact they are reproducing a neoliberal model that has problems for Islamic social justice. Having sat inside the policy machine, I did not see a room full of conspirators out to split Muslims, but people entrenched in an old pattern of behavior, genuinely interested in democracy but trapped by their own habits.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad: Does “post-Islamist” refer to an era?  If so, where do you draw the dividing line? And if not, then what are you talking about?

Mandaville: I’m tempted to say yes, it is when not what is post-Islamism, related to the FIS fiasco in Algeria. But there is more and I think I need to do more theorizing.

Q. What important thing can Egypt learn from Indonesia?

Mandaville. I am so used to hearing people at the state department saying, Indonesia, that’s a nice Islam, if only we could transplant it into the Arab world. Indonesian Islam is a product of the unique history of Indonesia and can’t simply be transplanted. The aspects that I see as relevant regard technical issue like control of corruption in contexts that resemble the Egyptian situation. There are already NGOs working on civil society and democratization issues. There is also a similarity in the military’s involvement in the economy.

Q. We see fragmentation, both in MB and in Nour. How do you see the secularists as the religion loses its spirituality? What do the polls show about popular influence of the ulama? How would apply this to Syria, at least the early stages?

Q. Islamophoboia comes from Ikhwanophobia. If the Ikhwan succeed in Egypt, what is the US’s next step?

Mandaville: Do I agree with Olivier Roi that the military has reinvented itself? Up until the late 1980s I thought I understood what Islamists stood for and wanted. That is harder today when its vibrancy relies on its constituency in society understands the role of institutionalized politics. It could be the attenuation of that view that Islam in social life depends on involvement in politics, turning instead to everyday life. It suggests an astute reading of Foucault and LeFevre. Islamize life rather than use state to Islamize people.

Pew asks people should religious leaders have a role in politics and people agree but it is stated in the abstract, and doesn’t necessarily mean, as the Neocons would like that they want a state run by clerics. For most Muslims in the Muslim world Sharia means not cutting off hands and stoning adulterers but the personal status laws. Bob Heffner showed his own polling that in a certain country 70% wanted to stone adulterers. It was Indonesia. I think there is a methodology problem. They engage the respondents as Muslims asking do you support Sharia and then ask specifics about what they understand its correlates are good.

Q. Is the opposition defending the Western notion of democracy? Senegal and South Africa have also gone through successful transition.

Mandaville: I don’t think US policymakers have ever been averse to taking to Islamists, except in the Middle East. I mean it is not an ideological aversion to Islam or Islamism. The problem is those in the national security realm and the Islamophobic element in society reflected in the US Congress—esp. in the House. For them it was like the US doing business with terrorists, something they are willing to do elsewhere anyway.

Q. It was the head of the Iraqi Engineers Union who explained why socialism and nationalism had failed. To apply socialism you need socialists, to apply nationalism, you need nationalists, to apply Islam, you need Muslims, to apply democracy, you need democrats. We have none. If the majority is unable to rule how can a divided minority opposition rule? How do we produce democrats?

Mandaville: Your portrayal of the crux of the problem is accurate and important. If we had rules of the game, it would be easier; but it is precisely the rules of the game that are being contested. Mursi’s offer to amend the constitution is appropriate but I fear it comes too late. The momentum to June 30 has already built.

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

(6/18/14) News and Analysis

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

“Politico media critic Dylan Byers has criticized Dana Milbanks’ column about the treatment of Sara Ahmad, concluding that she “was actually treated graciously by the panelists” …

… but an Irish Muslim explains that he is tired of defending Islam, when “Islam is not a violent, barbaric faith; rather, it teaches tolerance, love and forgiveness. The Holy Qur’an makes it very clear that there is no compulsion in Islam and that right is clearly distinct from wrong” …

“Khatallah’s capture was a victory for Obama, who has been accused by Republicans of playing down the role of al Qaeda in the 2012 attacks for political reasons and being slow to deliver on promises of justice”:

“President Uhuru Kenyatta today told surprised Kenyans that the grisly murders of 60 people in recent days – some while watching the World Cup – were not carried out by the terror group Al Shabab, but by local “networks” organized by his political opponents”:

In Sri Lanka, “At least three people have been killed and 52 injured after Buddhist mobs rampaged through Muslim areas in southwest Sri Lanka,” where “Muslim homes and shops were gutted in the violence, which has prompted Muslims in the region to gather in mosques for safety”:

In the week since it captured Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, a Muslim extremist group has tried to win over residents and has stopped short of widely enforcing its strict brand of Islamic law, residents say. Churches remain unharmed and street cleaners are back at work. Getting around is easier now”:

With militants 35 miles from Baghdad “led by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), and other Sunni groups around the city of Baquba, have been held back by Shi’ite militias and security forces” …

… “[t]he prime minister of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region … believes Iraq may not stay together as Sunni areas feel neglected by the Shia-dominated Iraqi government.” Meanwhile, “[t]he US is deploying up to 275 military personnel to protect staff at its huge embassy in the capital” …

… and the Iraqi PM calls on the Sunni Leaders to join him in fight against the ISIS, after the U.S insisting that he takes measures to include minority Sunnis, before the US can intervene and help his government …

… and as Obama contemplates his options,  US Veterans reflect on the futility of their past sacrifices:

John Stewart mocks the neoconservatives who led the Iraq war and the irony of its pending collaboration with Iran:

Among the surprises for a woman who converted to Islam is, “I wasn’t and I am still not, and have no desire to become such a thing. And most likely neither are you. Having strong opinions doesn’t make one an expert”:

“Making reconciliation work requires Fatah and Hamas to merge two parallel security forces, pay overdue salaries, and resolve differences on everything from the rule of law to freedom of expression – as well as heal social divisions that have left many embittered” …

… while an unnamed source has told Haaretz that Israel has decided “to expand the treatment of Hamas in the West Bank, and use the upcoming days to arrest anyone ‘infected’ with Hamas”:





(6/17/14) News and Analysis

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

ISIS pushes towards Baghdad, but “[t]he Times questions the authenticity of the ‘massacre’ images circulating online…Its deputy picture editor Elizabeth Orcutt cautions that the pictures look too high-quality, too composed and are unusual for being shot by a stills camera rather than on video” …

… and public figures pile onto Tony Blair for call for more military intervention and his denial that his policies lead to the current crisis …

… and President Obama, who “never thought the US should be there in the first place” is urgently deploying several hundred armed troops in and around Iraq and considering sending an additional contingent of special forces soldiers as Baghdad struggles to repel a rampant insurgency …

… but “where are the interventions that have gone well? Recent examples aren’t encouraging”:

“This may be called the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act…. It will debar unilateral triple talaq, discourage polygamy and establish women as natural guardian of kids. Marriage, maintenance and divorce will take place on principles laid down by the Quran” — Noorjahan Safia Niaz, BMMA founder:

“The riots … followed a protest march by a hard-line Buddhist group …which is led in part by monks. Its name roughly translates as Buddhist Power Force. Shops and homes in the area, many of them owned by Muslims, were set ablaze and vandalized in violence that continued throughout the night”:

“Somali-linked Islamist militants have killed at least eight people in a second night of attacks on Kenya‘s coast, after a raid on the town of Mpeketoni left at least 50 dead, the Kenya Red Cross and the Somali rebel group have said”:

“Fresh clashes broke out in Benghazi on Sunday after a rogue general launched a fresh assault on Islamist militants…. The clashes on Sunday were said to have been some of the worst since Gen Haftar began his offensive against Islamists, dubbed ‘Operation Dignity,’ in May”:

“What began as a session purportedly about “unanswered questions” surrounding the September 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Libya deteriorated into the ugly taunting of a woman in the room who wore an Islamic head covering”:

“The Kurdish forces, or Peshmerga, spent years co-existing uneasily with the Iraqi army, but many government troops abandoned their posts when the ISIS-led insurgency moved in. Peshmerga forces are now solely in charge of security in the region”:


News and Analysis (6/15/14)

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

“The condemnations revive a long-standing debate among conservatives as well as militants about the rectitude of the world’s most popular sport”, but “the late Osama Bin Laden, Hamas’ Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh and Hezbollah chief sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, … are avid soccer fans”:

“A number of towns have been retaken from the rebels, but they still control the key cities of Tikrit and Mosul” …

… and while “there is no short term solution for radical politics…. [P]roper process is key in social change. With the exception of Tunisia, current attempts at limiting the power of Islamist movements have been so far undemocratic and consequently counterproductive”:

Techniques of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) that modern educators would do well to emulate are “tailoring instruction to their specific needs and abilities” of the student, “the use of questions, dialogue, metaphor and analogy in order to develop critical and creative competencies”, and “lived experience”:

Jon Stewart mocks Fox News for insisting Bowe Berghdal’s father is “a high ranking Taliban official” because he tells his son to “ follow his conscience”….

… while Bowe’s writings indicate that as he planned his alleged desertion he was contemplating, not the Qur`an, but Islamophobe Pamela Geller’s preferred scripture, Atlas Shrugged:

Although “the majority of Muslim scholars agree that a woman is not obliged to wear the face veil … but believe that it is up to women to decide whether to cover her face,” militants “have rounded up around 100 women and ordered them to comply with a strict Islamic dress code or risk” a whipping …

… in the UK, Muslim women come together to  discuss “[f]eminism, political revolution and ‘honor based’ violence…. They “run anti-war campaigns, are protest artists, establish women’s refuges and girls’ schools, and assert their rights to decide themselves whether to wear traditional religious clothing”:

“The incident tests ties between Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which were frayed by his power-sharing deal in April with Hamas … [and] coincides with a hunger strike by some 300 Palestinian prisoners protesting against detention without trial”:

The UK ruled out any military intervention in Baghdad, but provides “an initial £3m in emergency aid to help civilians fleeing the Islamist insurgency in Iraq, the government has said” with a package that includes “clean water, medicine and protection for vulnerable women” …

… while Rouhani denies Iran has “sent troops to fight in Iraq. However, an Iraqi source told the BBC that 130 Iranian Revolutionary Guards had entered the country to provide military training and advice”:

“Predictably, some anti-Muslim reaction has appeared, … [but t]hanks to all the free publicity, Saffron Road’s sales shot up by 300 percent during that Ramadan”:

“Several prominent Muslim-American leaders [who] they believe homosexual acts are sins … also believe Muslim communities should not ostracize gays.” A Brandeis Muslim chaplain said “God created them. God gave them freedom to choose this way. Who am I to tell someone what they should do?”