Archive for July, 2014

News and Analysis (7/17/14)

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

The minute the UN humanitarian truce ended, Israel initiated its threatened ground invasion …

… but some “Israelis have chosen to commemorate the dead in the latest Gaza conflict by spray painting surfaces in the southern city of Beersheva with biographical details of name and age. The names of the Gaza dead now appear across many neighborhoods in this desert Israeli town”:

“Some of those community leaders have already come under fire for attending the White House dinner. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee urged a boycott over the surveillance and administration support for Israel during the current Gaza offensive”:

A female “Muslim scholar who sits on the Birmingham Mosque Sharia council … says: ‘Sharia is … based on equity, compassion, human dignity. I don’t think there is a conflict between Sharia and equalities legislation, the issue is with texts being applied literally without the historical context'”:

“The petition, signed by Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Ken Loach, Brian Eno and Jeremy Hardy, accused the corporation of pro-Israeli bias and said it would ‘like to remind the BBC that Gaza is under Israeli occupation and siege [and] that Israel is bombing a refugee population'”:

“Kurds going in to fight are from everywhere — Turkey, Iran, Syria and others. Even some Kurds based in Europe are saying they want to go fight” in Kobane, a strategically important Kurdish city between Raqa — the jihadists’ main bastion — and Aleppo, where IS has made recent advances”:

“I have many customers who want to grow their beard and hair out because they are going back to repent. Even those who fought [ISIS] are repenting and pledging allegiance” – Abdel Qader Mahzoud, a barber in the southeastern Turkish border town of Akcakale:

“Supporters of Syrian rebels and of President Bashar al-Assad see, experience and feel entirely different wars. But the Palestinian narrative may be so entrenched, and the emotional resonance of Israeli attacks on Palestinians so intense, that it overwhelms this tendency toward fragmentation”:

“The covert war waged by the US and Israel against Iran’s nuclear program has seen the assassination of five Iranian scientists, malicious computer viruses like Stuxnet, espionage, and unexplained explosions, as well as several apparent attempts by Iran to fight back in kind”:

In a video interview Edward Snowden warns Americans that the most intimate details of their lives are being turned over to the government under such poor safeguards that a 29-year-old was able to walk off with it:

News and Analysis (7/16/14)

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

With the cease fire truce between Hamas and Israel foredoomed because “the proposal fashioned by Egypt was not discussed with Hamas leaders, who feel it suits Israel far more than them” …

… the bombardment of Gaza continues …

… while Israelis, feeling secure under their “Iron Dome” from the Palestininan’s rockets, take a stroll down the road in Siderot, sit down, watch the airstrikes on Gaza … “about a dozen locals who cheered on their military from plastic chairs while eating popcorn”:

“Israel is guilty either of aggression in violation of the UN Charter or is in flagrant violation of its obligations as the Occupying Power under the Geneva Convention”:

Since the invasion, Iraqi refugees have been fleeing the country, seeking refugee in neighboring countries, such as Syria and Jordan, but, there  are yet more to flee under the current circumstances with ISIS:

In efforts to salvage Iraq from division, the Iraqi parliament elected a moderate Sunni speaker. The decision  “represented something of a breakthrough since it starts the clock for setting up the entire government”:

“[C]reating the Islamic State” is “playing Shiites against Sunnis,” said a Turkman rice farmer who blamed the Iraqi government for the crisis there, while some minorities say they are ” better off” since the Kurds moved into Kirkuk:

“Three Israeli Jews who were arrested for the murder of a Palestinian” are expected to claim insanity:

Looking back on the Iraq policy that has turned part of the country over to a self-appointed extremist “Caliph,” and moved the the rulers of Iraq into the arms of Iran, the former VP has no regrets; he does regret that the current President prefers spending on highways and food stamps over killing:

Muslims, Christians and Jews get together for interfaith Iftar “to extend a mutual gesture of peace” in response to the recent events between Gaza and Israel: 



News and Analysis (7/15/14)

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Hamas’s inability to halt the impotent rocket barrage while it debated whether or not to accept the Egyptian proposed cease-fire allows Netanyahu to launch at least five Israeli airstrikes just as he makes the announcement blaming Hamas for his continuation of the predominantly civilian massacres:

Muslims are to boycott the White House Annual Iftar dinner on Monday over Gaza, and the government’s silence towards the Israeli airstrikes when “committing a massacre in Palestine with the possibility of an all-out ground assault”:

Over 100 Imams in the UK signed their names in an open letter, advising British Muslims to continue their support to the Syrians but in a ” safe and responsible way” and only from the UK:

In his own words, Wiremu Curtis, who now goes by the name of Haroon, “left violent gang life for a life of peace.” yet, the government decided to cancel his passport after he converted to Islam and “went from patched gang member to devout Muslim”:

Arabs and Muslims in the US still face bias and prejudice today, thirteen years after 9/11 attacks. The fear of Muslims and American Muslims “”It has spilled over to the political arena and gotten worse.” said Jack Shaheen:

The young Pakistani activist Malala has made a statement, appealing to the release of the abducted Nigerian girls. saying that Boko Haram is “misusing the name of Islam” …

… and a Nigerian imam says, “It is now time for us as Muslims to let the world know that the destruction going around across the world today has either some political or economy connection. We as Muslims know that it is the Sunnah of the holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to always love our neighbours”:

In Malaysia, “The Deputy Prime Minister said the teachings in the Quran could make Malaysia a respected Muslim country if they were fully understood and incorporated into the lives of the people”:

In efforts to stop emergence of jihadist groups in North Africa, France has decided to send troops to the Sahel region of North Africa, to counter Islamic insurgency:

News and Analysis (7/14/14)

Monday, July 14th, 2014

“Israeli drones are a constant presence in the skies over Gaza, buzzing loudly as they watch and attack targets in the Strip. But the Palestinian drone is a new turn in this conflict, now entering its second week. More than 170 people have been killed in Gaza … with around 1,300 wounded”:

His offer to open “his home in northern Israel to residents from the south of the country to allow them a brief respite from the stress of living under the round-the-clock threat of incoming Hamas rockets” is obviously symbolic, but a welcome change nonetheless:

“The applicants argued that the by-law forbidding religious symbols on the beach established by the mayor amounted to ‘religious discrimination’ that ‘violates the principles of the Republic'”:

“Archbishop of Canterbury says number of young people travelling to Syria is ‘extraordinarily small'”:

“At a news conference with both presidential candidates — Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah — Kerry stated: ‘Every single ballot that was cast will be audited'”:

“While volunteers have signed up to defend Shiite shrines in Iraq, Iran is leery of entanglement and suspicious of US motives. Iraq’s parliament remains deadlocked on forming a new government”:

Status quo ante. Muslim Brotherhood is banned; NDP is back …

… so it’s no surprise that Egypt’s “new rulers, who ousted an Islamist president last year, may be less keen on helping Hamas this time”:

“The US military has concluded he walked away from his base without authorisation before his capture but has stopped short of accusing him of desertion”

“Many activist groups had criticised Young’s announcement of an Israeli concert”, but now Young says “that he and Crazy Horse would be making donations to two charities … ;that teach music to Palestinian and Israeli youth simultaneously by enabling them to play music together'”:

News and Analysis (7/12/14)

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

The Chinese government continues the its hopeless effort to force Muslims to break their fast, even forcing students “to dine with their professors, [so] those who refused risked sanction from university officials”:

The “ceaseless Israeli bombing campaign, with airstrikes every five minutes, has turned the frenetic hub of the Gaza Strip into a virtual ghost town, emptying streets  …

… and the intended target of an Israeli bombing wasn’t in, but eight disabled noncombatants were, helpless to escape the Israeli onslaught …

… Not only the war is not equal, but the media is no longer sure who started the war. As the conflict escalates, Israel considers invading the Gaza strip …

… Despite the rise in death toll in Palestine, Netanyahu refuses to halt his airstrikes, saying “ “I am not speaking with anyone about a ceasefire. That is not under consideration”:

… Even with the international pressure on Israel, it refuses to halt its airstrikes, with Netanyahu insisting, “I will end it when our goals are realized. And the overriding goal is to restore the peace and quiet.” Is this a euphemism for extermination of the Palestinians? 

… For although Israel claims to be “only attacking Hamas” its obvious that it has set itself out to kill as many Palestinians as possible. When it hits a mosque, claims its a Hamas breeding ground, when it hits a charity building, it calls it an accident …

… frustrating Palestinian elders trying to reign in angry youth and leaving them asking, “They [Israelis] are asking us to calm down our children – how can we do this when they are burning our children alive?”…

… On the redeeming side, abc News now admits to, and apologizes for, misidentifying the Palestinian victims of Israeli violence as Israeli victims of Palestinian violence …

… and believers among Muslims and Jews in America come together for Iftar, showing that they have “have much in common, and can enjoy each others’ food and company”; asked how they will deal with the escalating conflict, one Chicago Muslim responded, “There will probably be a lot of prayer” :

The claim that Islam is the “ideology” that is driving the acts of violence or terrorism is a fallacy that “distracts us from the more obvious societal ills such as lack of education, employment, security, resources and hope”, as if  “thugs … are driven by some well-thought-out theological position”: 

Despite his perpetuation of Bush policies in the Muslim world and spying on Muslims in the US, not to mention Guantanamo Bay, Obama’s respectful rhetoric towards Islam has earned him a 72% rating among American Muslims in a new Gallop poll,  “his best rating among religious groups — by far”:

Daily Wonkette has fun mocking Breirbart’s pathetic Islamophobic alarm that Muslim terrorists are flooding across the Mexican border disguised as teenage Guatamalans:

Muslim leaders in Britain condemn the acts of terrorist carried by ISIS, saying that “ ISIS does not represent the majority of Islam…Violence has no place in religion, violence has no religion. It is prohibited for people to present themselves for destruction” :

“The judgment has held that fatwa is a legal opinion only which binds none except those who voluntarily agree to abide” — Feroz Khan Ghazi, Secretary General of  South Asian Minorities Lawyers Association:

Islam requires scholarship, because its a religion that favors the educated and the aware. To overcome extremism, the President of Singapore launched  “a  Resource and Counselling Centre  that aims to counter misinterpretations of Islam in Singapore:

“The mass extrajudicial killings may be evidence of war crimes or crimes against humanity, and appear to be revenge killings for atrocities by (Islamic State)” — Han Right Watch:


News and Analysis (7/10/14)

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in the US congress, says that the FBI and NSA tracking of American Muslims is “ troubling” because it shows that they are targeted because of their religion, which undermines the nations progress towards freedom …

… in contrast, “Islam places immense emphasis on privacy in ways that Western governments today have only begun to match with privacy laws.” The “NSA likely violated the U.S. Constitution, and definitely violated the Qur’an’s powerful teachings on privacy”:

A civil rights advocacy group said that Muslims have come a long way in this country, and found acceptance in Metro Detroit, and nation wide, but more effort is needed to eliminate intolerance:

“Brigadier General Moti Almoz said, ‘We have been instructed by the political echelon to hit Hamas hard…’ The government had known almost from the beginning that the boys were dead. It maintained the fiction that it hoped to find them alive as a pretext to dismantle Hamas’ West Bank operations …

… and with no Israeli casualties from the rocket barrage from Gaza,  the death toll rises in Palestine/ Gaza, mostly civilians, as Israel threatens a ground invasion …

… and the UN Secretary-General warns that “the Middle East could not afford “another full-blown war”…

… and the Israeli settlements and expansion continue, leading twelve members of the European Union to publish warnings “urging their citizens to refrain from engaging in business, economic activity and investment in settlements”:

Mustafa Akyol argues that capitalism need not be synonymous with greed, and that, “founded by a merchant (Prophet Muhammad), and directed by a scripture (the Quran) whose longest verse is about how to write a proper loan contract, Islam, at its core, is a capitalist religion”:

The Muslims in the Balkans dismiss ISIL declaration of an Islamic State as “insane”, saying that “saying it lacked any Islamic or realistic aspects”:

Concerned about the number of British Muslims who have joined extremist organisations in Syria, Kauser Akhtar wants the Muslims and Non- Muslims to reach out to each other and integrate, saying that “better communication between different groups is the key to harmony at home” …

… while Muslims in Britain share their experience on a blog, describing what it means to be a Muslim and British, challenging the stereotypes and bigotry on Islam and Muslims:

In Iraq, the Kurds are fed up as Maliki insists on seeking a third term in office, while the country is falling apart:


News and Analysis (7/9/14)

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Five American Muslims “monitored by the NSA and FBI have all led highly public, outwardly exemplary lives. All five vehemently deny any involvement in terrorism or espionage, and none advocates violent jihad or is … implicated in any crime, despite years of intense scrutiny by the government and … press”:

… and one of the victims, and Bush administration official speaks out, protesting that he is “a very conservative, Reagan-loving Republican,” who sent his children to Catholic school, and who has never voiced “any ill feelings toward the United States,” …

… meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Committee will review an issue of the surveillance issue in Japan, where Muslims are solely “profiled based on their religion without any indication of criminal activity or any connection to wrongdoing”:

“If corporations have religious rights that warrant protection under the law, why don’t men imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay? A federal judge has given the US government until Tuesday evening to answer that question”:

As it escalates its conflict with the Palestinians, Israel continues to defy the International Law, violates human rights and attempts to discredit the families of the victims and the eyewitnesses. As Israel pursues  collective punishment, it targets more civilians by systematic violation of human rights …

… “And yet, to point out that one side suffers disproportionately – the side that is weaker of the two and doesn’t have a state of its own – is treated by many in Israel and among its friends abroad as the height of bias”:

The execution of 13 Sunni Muslim clerics last month in Mosul constitutes “a very clear case of atrocities committed against their own people, against religious leaders from Sunni Islam who probably have a less simplistic understanding of what Islam means” …

… while amid the escalating violence in which unidentified civilians are killed, …

… ISIS has captured the town of Muthanna, taking control over “control of a vast former  chemical weapons facility north-west of Baghdad” :

“Each time I return from Canada, I get detained by US Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security for six hours, which adds up when you have a Canadian fiancée. This is especially insulting because I have no criminal record”:

Read more here:

Middle Eastern Awakening and the Dilemmas of Globalization: Arab and Turkish Experience

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

[This is the eighth 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.]

“Middle Eastern Awakening and the Dilemmas of Globalization: Arab and Turkish Experience”

Prof. Ali Mazrui, Binghamton University

The Arab awakening has lasted more than two years, longer and stronger than the current Turkish experience. The Arab unrest is a contagious political uprising. The Turkish unrest is not contagious. The Arab unrest is a multi-state quest for an open society; the Turkish experience is a single state quest for an open society. Turkey is a bi-continental country. The demilitarization of politics was an objective in both Turkey and the new Egypt. The AKP is seen as the most successful Islamic party in the world, in a class by itself in the transition from secularism to some degree of Islamism, and more successful once Islamist. There is a willingness to pay respect to Islam. Restrictions on the sale of alcohol were unexpected given the celebration of “the two drunken Turks” in the past. We contrast anti-Erdogan demonstrations in Istanbul with the pro-Erdogan demonstrations in Ankara. A war between another two cities Benghazi and Tripoli was the inception of the Libyan civil war.

As Arab influence in Africa declines, Turkish influence expands. There were only a handful of Turkish embassies in African capitals a few years ago; now there are 34.  I have heard of major projects planned for Africa. Last week at the opening of an AU conference at UN I noted the difference between the African view of Qaddafi and the Arab view.  The big issue is whether Syria will be abandoned by Turkey as Qaddafi was abandoned by the Arab league. The number of flights from Arab airports to Arab airports has declined as the number of Turkish flights has increased. Turkey aspires to be a big power. Its population is smaller than that of the big powers but it has a history of a larger scale. The involvement of Turkey on African education is major.

Egypt almost invented the female head of state. The question is did Egypt lose its capacity to produce female heads of state after it acquired its Islamic personality. If so why? Turkey and four other Muslim non-Arab states have produced female heads of state in the modern era. What is the significance of this distinction?

The most spectacular case of democratization on a Muslim society from above is Turkey. The most dramatic attempts from below are Tunisia and Egypt. Ataturk asked “Can we democratize without culturally Westernizing?” His answer was to regard cultural Westernization as a precondition for liberalization and scientific attitudes. The most dramatic step was the abolition of the sultanate followed by the establishment of the Turkish republic. The opportunity of creating a Muslim Vatican, carved out of Turkey, was lost when the caliphate was abolished in 1923. Turkey’s secularization and modernization was above all, Westernization, until literally ten years ago that began to change.

Ataturk invited Jon Dewey to help reform the school system. He addressed “the gender question” including the right of women to run for parliament. The Turkish language has changed almost beyond all recognition in less than a century. This is a combination of change from above. Even when changes from above are democratic, it is an imposed democracy, and things are lost. For a while, the Turks were almost lost by the military. If Tunisia and Egypt can pull off democratization from below it will produce dramatic changes. Never in the history of Islam have there been so many uprisings driven neither by Islam nor by anti-imperialism, but by a desire for liberalization and democratization.

Q. I think it would be interesting to compare Turkey and Iran. Iran’s secularization avoided changing the language and the script. Ridda wrote a book on the caliphate but couldn’t decide where the Islamic Vatican should be located nor who should occupy the throne. To what extent were the big powers involved in the abolition. Reza Shah was not exactly like Ataturk, but he did many things to break away from Iran’s past.

Mazrui: Including Iran would be interesting.

Imadx-ad-Dean Ahmad: The Arabs turned against Qaddafi once he identified himself more with Africa than Arabia.

Mazrui: It is true that in the last two decades of his life Qaddafi regarded himself more African than Arab, and I found myself defending Arabs before this man. To my surprise he asked for a book not by me, but by my father, written in Arabic and translated into English.  It was part of his preoccupation with reversion to African identity and rediscovered brotherhood. Only the African Union sought a peaceful resolution when the Libyans were fighting with one another. But once the NATO had sided with the rebels, they had no interest in the position of the African states, who were humiliated, and the Security Council played a war game. The UN audience to which I spoke regarded him as a martyr. His humiliation of the Palestinians preceded his African alignment. He may be the only post-colonial leader to have been “lynched.” Even the Arabic alphabet has modifications to accommodate the Turkish language.

Q. Wouldn’t it be helpful to compare the societies themselves, since the outcome of attempted reform will depend on the ability of the society to accept such reform?

Q. The Islamic government in Turkey lasted 600 years. No other modern state has lasted as long.

Q. Turkey did not introduce political liberalism but rather a liberal lifestyle. We had liberalism without liberals, turning liberalism into a form of oppression. What we see in Turkey is not protests for a liberal order but an attempt to sabotage the elected government to return to an illiberal order retaining the liberal lifestyle.

Mazrui: Societies do respond differently, and the Arab world is taking a longer time to establish a liberal order. To Ataturk, it made sense for a liberal lifestyle to be a precondition for democratization, unlike the Japanese at the end of the 19th century. But in fairness to the Turks, it would not have lasted so long if it were just a lifestyle. There was a shift in values. There is a notion that Hassan al-Banna and forms of populism have worked in the Arab world but have encountered impediments from governments as in Egypt. Some of us admired Nasser for his response to imperialism rather than to his treatment of fellow Egyptians, but his legacy did not last as long as that of Ataturk. Why did it die as soon as he died?

Q. It died before he died.

Mazrui: Perhaps, but it was about the year he died. That’s a subject for another day.

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


News and Analysis (7/8/14)

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

The racialization of Islamophobia has reached absurd proportions as a Latina Muslim loses her scholarship on the grounds that her Muslim religion makers her ineligible for a Latina scholarship:

The purpose of Ramadan is to strengthen one’s will power, and Muslims in China say that the government’s attempt to ban the fast “has only prompted them to become more devout in following Islamic custom” :

American interventions, especially the invasion of Iraq in 2003, have exacerbated the region’s myriad animosities and security challenges, threatening Afghanistan and Pakistan directly and in the process, India …

… but the American VP’s proposed solution to evade responsibility for the disaster is not federalism, but division:

When Coldplay posted a video by the band OneWorld, advocating Palestinian freedom, an angry Zionist response  threatening to boycott the video and demanding “an apology to Israel”, while accusations that the link constituted  Internet “abuse” prompted Facebook to block the link:

A study shows that “Researchers claim the murder of Lee Rigby was the initial ‘trigger’ for a surge in anti-Muslim hatred in 2013 … [and] that 40 per cent of attackers had links to far-right anti-Muslim groups such as the English Defence League and Britain First, which are rapidly growing in popularity”:

In Myanmar, “the  military continues to wage brutal campaigns against ethnic minorities [Muslims]..  [who] struggle to rebuild their homes that have been destroyed in the violence”:

Minaret of Freedom Institute holds that “hudud” punishments are maximal limits and not mandatory minimums. According to Feisal Abdul Rauf argues,the prophet (puh) implemented hudud (limits) on some occasions, but not in other, and called for forgiveness:

Within the past two weeks, three Copts have been imprisoned on charges ranging from insulting Islam, to “allegedly reporting false information about discrimination against Copts,” to “liking a Facebook page … by Christian converts — so much for the secular utopia we conjured in our imagination”:




News and Analysis (7/7/14)

Monday, July 7th, 2014

The caliphate “plagued by intrigue, division and bloodshed. Three of the first four ‘rightly guided caliphs’ were assassinated.” Later, the famous Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid caliphates “were constantly at war with one another. Not quite the golden age of the Islamist imagination” …

… but IS’s reincarnation threatens to be even more senseless in its violence, as “fighters from the Islamic State have demolished numerous Shia shrines and mosques in northern Iraq”:

… and Iraqis and other Muslims are repelled:

To save face, Israel pledged to find and bring to justice those responsible for burning a Palestinian-American teenager alive, and thus “demonstrate that the state of Israel is a country that abides by laws, and treats terrorist the same” …

… yet in their collective punishment rampage, Israeli forces severely beat and later arrested the murdered young man’s 16-year-old cousin, now under house arrest for nine days after having to pay to bail him out …

… even as they again batter the Gaza strip …

… and as press conferences and events are being held to inform the world about the plight of the Palestinian people, and to raise awareness about their situation …

… including a demonstration in front of the White House, calling on the president to stop financing the IDF; ignored by the Western press, the demonstrators chanted, “Deny our existence, expect our resistence”:

The “longest continuously serving American official in Iraq”  explains why he pushed for Maliki’s ascension, why he came to regret it, and why Maliki is still in office despite the obvious disaster of his administration:

“We are not doing anything parallel to the judicial system and we don’t say that any order passed by a Qazi is binding on all. Our sole motto is to resolve a matter with the consent of two parties involved in accordance with sharia,” — Imam Khalid Rasheed Farangi: 

“I urge the Buddhists in these countries to imagine an image of Buddha before they commit such a crime. Buddha preaches love and compassion. If the Buddha is there, he will protect the Muslims whom the Buddhists are attacking” — Dalai Lama:

“The Somali militant Islamist group al-Shabab said it was behind the killings … with a growing use of armed units rather than grenades, improvised explosive devices and single targeted assassinations” :

Sisi will allow himself to raise prices, but not the market, and “some taxi drivers going on strike to protest the steep fuel rises, which they complain were not translated into a proportionate hike in fare rules”:

Ramadan is  “a month that teaches Muslims to think of the hungry and the destitute. It is not only about food and water. It is about giving charity to the needy and to undergo a process of self-accountability” :