Archive for August, 2014

News and Analysis (8/13/14)

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

The secretary of State John Kerry told the reporters during a visit to Australia that the US “will explore more “political, economic and security options,  “but will not send combat troops to Iraq again”…

… while “US air strikes continued on Tuesday, with a drone targeting an IS mortar near Kurdish troops…Tens of thousands of civilians remain trapped by militants” …

… but the current airstrikes are described to be “minimal and fleeting impact on the forces of the Islamic State” …

… and RAF jets are leaving for Iraq, “and will carry out surveillance ahead of further airdrops to refugees”:

The program targeted by the suit “casts a net so wide that it brands innocent, law-abiding residents, like Plaintiffs — none of whom pose a security threat — as ‘national security concerns’ on account of innocuous activity and associations, and characteristics such as national origin”:

“The statement highlighted the fact that the campaign being waged against religious minorities by the Islamic State (Isis) threatens to provoke the biggest crisis in Catholic-Muslim relations since 2006” …

… but supporters of ISIS were seen “canvassing around the busy shopping area of Oxford Circus”:

Britain’s support of Israel “is seen as complicit in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians”, drove thousands to protest Britain’s foreign policy:

A “188-page report, the rights group … called the crushing of the main protester sit-in at Cairo’s Rabaah el-Adawiya Square on Aug. 14, 2013, the ‘world’s largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history'”:

Gazans want to fight against the Israeli siege, but increasingly see the ineffective rocket strikes as counter-productive:

“Maliki’s growing isolation raised hopes of a relatively smooth transfer of power after a tense two-day standoff during which the desperate incumbent deployed security forces to strategic points across the capital”:

“Uighurs have long accused the Chinese government of trying to stamp out their cultural and religious practices, and … banning so-called ‘five abnormal appearances,’ which include headscarves and clothes with Muslim emblems like crescent moons, is just another example, they say”:

As Dean Obeidallah puts it, more Muslims have been persecuted by the terrorist groups than non- Muslims minorities since the rise of terrorism:

News and Analysis (8/11/14)

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki is to be replaced by Haider al- Abadi, who was nominated by the Shia coalition parties to form a new government …

… but Iraq’s problems are far from over:

ISIS continues targeting the Yazidis and Christians, who are fleeing to mount Sinjar, while the RAF aborts its humanitarian aid during night, in fear that people could be injured by the cargo:

Two ” sworn enemies” of the Muslim Brotherhood, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, meet together to discuss militant Islam in the Middle East:

“[A]nti-terrorism laws will be given a bad name if they result in avoidable restrictions on the ability of NGOs to conduct vital humanitarian and peace building operations” said David Anderson on Muslim bank account cancellations in the UK:

In the Central African Republic, the first Muslim prime Minister Mahmat Kamoun was rejected by Seleka, a mainly Muslim group:

Lady Warsi predicts “Cameron’s neglect of ethnic minority voters would cost him an outright victory at next year’s national election”:



News and Analysis (8/10/14)

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

“[T]he Qur’an warns its readers to not be swayed by charismatic figures who, in reality, only spread evil in the world…The  killing  and oppression of innocent people and the destruction of land and property is completely antithetical to Islam’s normative teachings” …

… as demonstrated by the abduction of Yazidi taken by ISIS fighters who have“vicious plans … in a way that contradicts all the human and Islamic values” according to Kamil Amin, a spokesman for Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry …

… and the dissolution of an “an understanding between communities that had survived for generations” …

… while in Indonesia, where the government has banned speech favorable to ISIL, “[l]eaders of the country’s two largest Islamic organizations — Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, which have decried growing local support for ISIL as running  counter to Islam”:

In the Turkish presidential election that could change the office from a symbolic head of state into a dominant political figure, Erdogan is all over the airwaves, while one opposition journalist is arrested and the resignation of another sparks a controversy over freedom of the press:

In reaction to the Australian anti- terrorism laws, Tahmina Rashid, an associate professor at the University of Canberra for International Studies says that  the Muslim community “ should view the measures as designed to protect them as well as the broader Australian community:

Muslim groups protest the suspension of Mike Carlton, a columnist for Fairfax , accused of “offensive language towards readers complaining about a July 26 column and accompanying cartoon about the war in Gaza”:

For multiple of reasons,”The United States is not intervening against Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian regime, as Obama had proposed. Instead, it is striking one of Assad’s biggest enemies” …

.. yet, it plans to be in the half-fought struggle for long time:

With the dead finally bueired Gaza deals with 10,000 wounded …

… as Gaza supporters in Latin America and South Africa show solidarity with Palestine …

… and the Palestinians say they won’t talk to themselves if |Israel won’t come to the peace table:

On the off chance that you didn’t understand the real purpose of declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, the political party that won winners of Egypt’s first elections after the fall of the Mubarak dictatorship, will be dissolved and its assets seized by the state”:

News and Analysis (8/8/14)

Friday, August 8th, 2014

IS, which took advantage of the instability caused by American intervention into Iraq continues its assault on minorities and those Muslims who disapprove  of its actions. The latest victims are the Yazidis, trapped in the mountains with no food or water …

… while President Obama authorizes more military action as the solution:

It’s back to business as usual between Gaza and Israel:

Recent violence between the People of Book is driven by political agendas and uniformed hatred, not by religious differences …

… and Muslims ask, “Would it be unreasonable to ask at this juncture whether our faith has been hijacked? Since when do Muslims evince intolerance towards other Peoples of the Book?”: 

West, “an elected commissioner at the time in the same county that Mohyuddin ran to represent — posted … [on] Facebook … an image showing a man with a double-barrel shotgun aiming, with eye closed. The caption read, How to wink at a Muslim.'” Mohyddin responded by inviting West to dinner:

After making comments on Facebook, questioning the contribution of Muslims to the American society, Bob FitzSimmonds resigned his position in the Republican party:

Now that Palestine’s UN status has been upgraded it can refile to accept ICC jurisdiction and then a preliminary investigation of war crimes in Palestine can begin and perhaps, eventually, “a court might decide just who has been committing war crimes in Gaza”:

“[T]he international development committee (IDC) argues that Israel’s policies – which include restrictions on building, access to water, and 3G and 4G for Palestinian mobile providers – are proving seriously counterproductive” …

… and a political activist opines that Palestine needs a “complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 and … a UN mandate to provide protection for the Palestinian population through a peacekeeping force”: 

“It is very important for us to take this message abroad, because what’s going on in this world, this is not Islam” said Samina Malik, who travels the world every year to meet with translators and spread the true message of Islam:

News and Analysis (8/7/14)

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Feces, urine, vandalism, and graffiti such as “Burn Gaza down” and “Good Arab = dead Arab” were engraved onto a coffee table underscore that “Protective Edge” was about ethnic cleansing, not defense:

“In her resignation letter …Warsi wrote that Britain’s support for Israeli military action against Hamas … ‘is morally indefensible, is not in Britain’s national interest and will have a long term detrimental impact on our reputation'” …

… while a spokesperson for the Tories denies an allegation that the PM was advised that the party “has nothing to gain from taking a harder line against Israel, because the Muslim vote will not be ‘decisive’ in 2015″:

“Mithat Gedik won the traditional German title of Schützenkönig (shooting king)” was almost stripped of his title for being a Muslim …

… while only 44% of Germans polled say Islam is part of German society, yet “53 percent of people believed that it should be treated as seriously as anti-Semitism”:

“UN officials say an estimated 200,000 new refugees are seeking sanctuary in the Kurdish north from Islamic extremists”:

The Australian government support of counter terror laws could possibly deteriorate the relationships between the government and the Australian Muslim community who described them as “deplorable”:

The “clumsy policy is likely to fray nerves further in an already tense region”:

Politically driven warlords use Islam to  recruit Muslims, whose campaign “goes against the peaceful doctrine of Islam, according to religious chiefs”:

A seminar “aimed at uniting American Muslims and others worldwide by exchanging ideas to reduce the tension of terrorism imposed on Muslims” brings together Ugandans and American Muslims to fight terrorism:

Law and Ethics in Islamic Jurisprudence

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

[This is the first in a series of my notes on the International Institute of Islamic Thought conference on Islamic Law and Ethics held in Herndon, VA in June  2014. It sets the stage for the other papers the presentations and discussions of which will be summarized in the remainder of this series. These notes have only been lightly edited and represent my perception of the discussion. The proceedings will be published by IIIT at a later time. Responsibility for any errors in the notes is mine alone. Names of general participants (other than mine) in the general discussion have been omitted by request of the organizers.]

“Law and Ethics in Islamic Jurisprudence”

Prof. Abdulaziz Sachedina, Ph.D., IIIT Chair in Islamic Studies at George Mason University.

The heart of the problem of reform of Islamic thought goes back to juridical studies in Islam. We have labored under our legal heritage. Modern institutions pose a challenge from personal law to the collective responsibilities of citizens to global markets. The ulama were not willing to redefine the parameters of their own methodologies to speak to societies across nations. The institutions of jurisprudence were, and are, constrained to discussion that was the subject of reform. All the issues are new, and some have not been raised at all. For example, the issue of the status of minorities was based on times when the Muslims were in power. All have been talking about ijtihad, making Islamic law pertinent to its time and space. We have found it easy to give a fatwa saying that if you cannot live a Muslim life where you are, you should go back to where you came from, instinctively conceding that the scholars themselves had nothing to offer.

Another question was the potential role of a legislature today. In the 19th century people asked, “Can we have a parliament to make decisions in the areas of traditional jurisprudence?” But what do we mean by reform of education?  If we don’t know psychology and sociology, how are we going to direct the youth living in a modern society? AbdolKarim Saroush dealt with a third question: When can the Shariah become an open system? The ulama resisted. The Hausa were opposed to the university, and the accusation was made that we are submitting to Western domination. But Shatabi and Ghazali spoke about maqasid. Shafi and Abu Hanifa were well aware of the societies in which they operated. Shariah for them was not just a system of jurisprudence, but a system of values. For them the system was not closed. They spoke of istihsân (juristic reference), maslaha (public interest), etc. Now we hear more and more about maqasid, but even maqasid needs a re-evaluation. If we say protection of religion is part of the maqasad, we must ask, “Is freedom of religion is part of that?”

Today’s science is demanding responses from us. In Muslim societies there is mismanagement of resources, of the environment. People have not been taught that plastic is not degradable. Why has Nigeria been unable to fight malaria? We found a drainage site open in the heat and no directions from the religious establishment that you must keep your environment clean. Ibâdat (ritual worship) is only one-tenth of your religion, nine-tenths is mu`amalât–your daily life. There are no rulings on the ethics of commerce, yet ethics is the foundation of the language of Shariah. It can come from the Quran or Sunnah, but what of the cases on which these sources are silent? In Jordan there is not a single course on the history of Islamic law.

The purpose of Shariah is to increase virtue in society, rooted in the rightness or wrongness of human action. There are no courses on `ilm al kalâm (the science of religious discourse). No one is reading anyone from the classical era scholars who sought to understand the nature of human action. Do you human beings have the capacity to know right from wrong? Those who believed in the divine ethics of the Qur’an said the Shariah will tell you. In contemporary Shia teachings there is no discussion of the absolute reprehensibility of telling lies. There are questions in the Qum seminary being confronted for the first time. People talk of halal and haram but not akhliyât (ethics). They ask what does the fatwa say, but Muslim scholars have not learned how to think about what is the divine objective. What is our essential foundational source? We cite the Qur’an, but I must relate to my Jewish and Christian and other colleagues. I propose no solution, but if theological ethics is not introduced we shall have a hard time today. Allah says He gave us the ability to know right from wrong. Will we always wait for the fatwa, or will give our youth the resources for moral reasoning? We speak of ijtihâd ash-shar`i (original critical thinking to understand the law). Farûd (mandates) are provided by the text. Can farûd come from intuitive human reasoning? It is a gift from God given to us so we can use it. I would argue that you cannot be a good faqih without being a good scholar of ethics. Part of jurisprudence is to make it possible to predict the future answer that will come from Shariah. We seek an opportunity for conversation. We want to revive that sense of security that God is guiding me. Do we read Qur’an carefully and study religion carefully? In all the books on human rights today in Arabic, they go back to `ilm al-kalam, knowing the nature of the human being. The mu`tazila were not rationalists; they were textualists. I think we are seeing some results after nine or ten years, but we are still challenged, as we should be. We will not see any changes coming. Have you seen Qaradawi’s fatawa on cloning? There is no discussion of understanding cloning. He asks will we clone one hundred Saddams? But cloning is not photocopying. Can an opinion not properly rooted in the sources be of any value?

DISCUSSANT: Prof. Ebrahim Moosa, Duke University.

Is fiqh law? How has legal formalism killed Islamic thought? Al-Ghazali says fiqh is knowledge that leads to salvation in the afterlife, meaning that we fulfill our fiduciary responsibility towards the Creator. As Islam becomes a canonized tradition, the form of the provocations that shaped the religion takes on a different form. We do not have a deep and complex history of Islamic law. We have a history of the tadwîn of the law, how it was put together, but what were the politico-economic circumstances that generated it? There is one study of punishment, but there is nothing a modern historian would recognize as history.

Abu Ya`rab al-Marzuki asked if revelation ended with Prophet Muhammad, as then the rise of the law schools is a preposterous act that extends the voice of revelation. The paradigms of the canonical law schools have become part of the sacred discourse. Modern scholars have looked at the legacy and treated it as law, or at least law-like. The qadis were judges, but they also engaged in the ethical realm. Muslims internalize a complex discourse only as law and say if we depart from the law we are no longer Muslim. Thus, whenever we talk about Islamization we talk about law.

I think theology is also important. We now call human experience moral philosophy, etc. How do we theorize the human? Muhammad Abdu and others said we must write about theology, but they never did it.

The talk of ijtihad is tiresome, but everyone has to say it. Dusting Shatabi off the shelf and rereading him is not ijtihad, it is taqlid (blind imitation). Fadlallah listens to the world and responds to it, but that is not systematic. Muslims are not comfortable with modern knowledge. We need not fear the modern, [for we can transform it.] Ibn Qayîm, student of Ibn Taymiyyah, said anything that transform justice into tyranny or mercy into cruelty is not part of the Shariah, for the Sharia that God entrusted the Prophet to transmit is the pillar of this world and the next. Ghazali’s contemporary Ibn Yaqil (an idiosyncratic Hanbali), had to rebut a statement of Shafi that there is no siyâsa (politics) except for that which corresponds to, or complies with, the Shar`a. He said governance is that which brings people to the good and takes them away from corruption (fasâd) even if there is no precedent in revelation or Sunnah. Muslims are so intimidated with dealing with the knowledge of the past that they fall silent before it, hobbling Islamic thought so there is no innovation and no credibility. There is no Islamic exceptionalism in knowledge.

DISCUSSANT: Jasser Auda. Shariah, fiqh, akhlâq, for me, are very different from law and ethics. Issues of halal and haram are very sensitive. I don’t see fiqh as systematic, nor should it be. Sharia is about the identity of Muslims. We don’t want to represent ethics as fiqh but from within fiqh.

Q. The age of nahda (reform) was the late 19th and early 20th century. What do we call these people, modernists or salafis–a term coined by Abdu? There have always been creative Muslim thinkers. In the Sunni community there is no central authority; we have voices, but no platform to make the voices heard. The satellite stations we have serve very particular purposes. We should look at our heritage compassionately as well as critically. Bonaventura said we can see further than those before us because we are dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants.

Q. The books of Islamic law reverse the 10-90 split to which you refer. Were the fuquha too intimidated to deal with these questions? What went wrong? Regarding methodology, we find the Malikis used the Madani praxis, the Shafis focused on text, and the Hanafis on legality, but by the ninth century they all used Shafi methodology.

Sachedina. The view that Sharia is not only the sense of identity, but confidence, leaves open the question, “Where shall Shariah be applied?” Why is fiqh not systematic? I don’t think it is haphazard.  The rubrics show a system. The fuquha paid more attention to ibidât than mu`amalat because it lent itself more easily to systemization. With the mu`amalât each region had its own customs and which questions were important differed from one place to another. There was no supporting text for it, which impeded systemization.

Whether Afghani was an Arab or not, he worked in the Arab world, and he did not have a big following in the non-Arab world. He represented the Arab struggle. Nahda (reform) and islâh (revival) were both connected with those informed about the Western progress and paradigm. Abdu and Ridda were thoroughly grounded in the islâh tradition, drawing on it as a source. Afghani is an exception and we can see reverberations even in Khomeini.

Q. Afghani died in Istanbul.

Moosa. We have different definitions of systematic. Even if the founders were not systematic, their work was systematized later. Masâ’il hisâsa (sensitive subjects) doesn’t mean you talk about sensitive subjects. Jamal ad-Din al Qasimi says it’s all about makânat al akhlâkh (place of ethics). Muslim identity is not static. Muslims in the present do not look exactly like those 500 years ago. Identity is mutable. We debate superficial issues and ignore the deeper philosophical issues. Certain law schools say they can identify the wajib and the haram by extension. If Ibn Hazm comes into the room he would say it is the meat, not the skin, of the pig that is haram. Others would disagree. In Qanûn at-Ta’wîl, al-Ghazali says to approach revelation with humility, reason, and a plurality of interpretations, all of which are in tension with each other. Some fatwas give deep reasoning; others do not. Perhaps there are archives where we could find more. We are frightened by the discourse.

Q. We are presenting modernity as if it were a universal system, but modernity itself is an ideology. Also we see the crises of modernity in environment and ideology. Might not scholarly resistance be constructive? Just how intuitive are ethics, even about something as simple as cleanliness?

Q. If the notion of mutability applies in the area of mu`amalât, then what happens to the text, as in inheritance? Some of these terms have been used differently by different scholars. Shariah consists of unchanging norms and values but the application of fiqh can change. Ethical underpinning should be in the domain of Shariah.

Moosa: I suggest that IIIT examine the whole question of modernity at a future time. McIntyre questions the fact/value division in After Virtue, that Aristotle is still valid today. Bruno Latour says we have never been modern. This is our lived reality. We can create alternative realities, but I see a shadow-boxing with liberalism, and some scholars cannot decide of it is a good thing or bad thing. This gathering here in some people’s eyes is an unIslamic gathering, while others would say it is way too conservative. The last time I went on hajj the circumambulation was on three levels. The ibadât are transforming themselves, but we manage it. The Jafaris and Sunnis differ on inheritance. These things are not as black and white as some think.

Q. I think we have misunderstood the issue of siyasi (political). We have entered areas that once were considered untouchable. We must empower the new thinkers to address these issues.

Q. We need to broaden Shariah so it includes modernity, engineering, and medicine. When we say there are problems with democracy people will say, “Yes, but what alternative do you have to offer?”

Q.  At Dar al Ulum I saw a complexity that isn’t always going to be reflected in the khutbas. Clifford Geertz said you can’t have religion without religious institutions. Can’t we speak more about them?

Q.  Does mutability mean that 200-300 years from now Islam will have become more or less what Christianity has become today? Modernity is just a phase we are experiencing, and we should be able to adapt to it. It is contested idea.

Q. What is the medium of forming Islamic reform?

Auda. My point is that Shariah cannot be reformed from without, and I see an ethical approach as being reform from without. The methodology need not be classical, but it must resonate with the classical one. Qaradawy is not as simple-minded as you suggest. He can refer to Saddam in a joke, but this is not how he formulates a fatwa.

Sachedina. “Modern” and “medieval” are human creations. As moderns, we know the modern infrastructure does not leave you alone. There are various ways of confronting it, and our historical experience affects our response. Mutability is an Orientalist question. We are trying to come to terms with the changed circumstances of women. Were I not informed by modern education I might be doing what they are doing in Mecca or Najaf–

Q. In Mecca they are not doing anything.

Sachedina: We memorized the text and mimicked our teachers. We are responding to this question because we are modern. What is the medium of ethical thinking? I ask Muslims, “Do you accept the killing of innocent children?” and they all say no. I say this is akhliyât. I am taking about prima fascia understanding that has been given by God. My text is telling me that Allah (swt) will question me about what He has given me.

Moosa. The Home Depot version of Islam is very shallow, but we must respect the knowledge of the specialists. The ulama may say their critics’ work is shallow, but some of the work of the ulama is also shallow. The modern condition is a condition of anxiety. What Islam will look like in 300 years is not your burden.  The Prophet said my brothers are those follow me without seeing me. It’s easy for Charles Taylor to say things about modernity, but he does not have to deal with the issue of clean water. The alteration of the ethical is from within Shariah, not from outside. The question of modernity is a question of theodicy. Ghazali said the world in which we live is the only world we know. We are part of the modern, but how do we make it better?

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

News and Analysis (8/5/14)

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

A truce, a land grab, and war crimes:

“All governments lie … including Israel and Hamas. But Israel engages in the kinds of jaw-dropping lies that characterize despotic and totalitarian regimes. It does not deform the truth; it inverts it. It routinely paints a picture for the outside world that is diametrically opposed to reality”:

“In order to justify the magnitude of violence necessary to uphold persistent contradictions – to speak of freedom, liberty and self-determination, but to indulge in paternalism, despotism, force and coercion – it is absolutely necessary first to control and dominate memory”:

A new IS battlefield gain forces Maliki to offer help to the Kurds and Iran intervens as well:

The survilliance of Muslims in America and  “particularly politically active ones – has become a routine practice from sea to shining sea… rewarded by intrusive and stigmatizing government scrutiny”:

In Minnesota, “a group of Muslims is using art to fight misconceptions about Muslim-Americans”:

Indian Muslim youth is not immune to ISIS influence, as recently four Indian men from middle class families disappeared from their neighborhoods to go and join the fight in Iraq and Syria with ISIS:

‘[A] prominent activist, pro-Palestine campaigner and chief executive of the Cordoba Foundation think tank, which fosters relations between the West and ‘the Muslim worldA’ received a letter from his bank notifying him that his account was canceled:

Israel is a special state, or rather “small, very close-knit and highly organized ethnic group bent on occupying a specific territory in obedience to ancient religious tradition and highly doubtful historical continuity”:

News and Analysis (8/2/14)

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

In an effort to curb religious extremism in Egypt, the new Sisi government takes the other extreme by trying to limit freedom of religion, faith and expression, controlling mosques and granting a monopoly on Islam to al-Azhar and prohibiting Imam’s from preaching without a government license:

“We want to teach what the Koran actually says in a language they understand…“A lot them don’t have much Islamic knowledge, so they tend to believe what the mullahs say,” said Fatima Akilu:

For Hamas, a “ceasefire at this stage … would mean acknowledging the worst possible defeat. I believe this is the point at which the ground maneuvers should be brought to an end. Hamas can be hit as much as will be required in response to firing” — Israeli Deputy FM:

The Living Islam festival at Lincolnshire “represents an opportunity for the expected 4,500 attendees to discuss the issues pertinent to them in contemporary Britain” …

… and hosted the archbishop of Canterbury, who said that Islam is “rejuvenating ‘British values'” …

… and the festival also highlights the fact that “Many British Muslims won’t know that hundreds of thousands of Muslims served in both world wars”:

“[Y]oung American Muslims work to reshape the faith they grew up with so it fits better with their complex, dual identity, with one foot in the world of their parents’ immigrant beliefs and one foot in the ever-shifting cultural landscape of America”:

The American Civil Liberties Union has challenged the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program which allows the US Citizenship and Immigration Service to delay the citizenship application process:

“Arab American Institute (AAI) released its third biannual poll of American attitudes toward Arabs and Muslims.” From 2010 to 2014, favorable ratings for Arabs dropped from 43 percent to 32 percent. “For Muslims, the ratings dropped from 36 percent … to 27 percent”:

“Rebels fighting in Syria’s civil war crossed into Lebanon and raided a border town Saturday, killing and capturing security force members in the most serious incursion into the tiny country during its neighbor’s 3-year-old conflict”:

Several Virginia Republican leaders asked for the resignation of the State GOP official who made remarks to Obama’s comment on the role of Muslims in the American society, calling it “Pure nonsense,”:

News and Analysis (8/1/14)

Friday, August 1st, 2014

“[I]n an echo-chamber fed by ubiquitous updates on Hamas rocket and tunnel attacks, the minority of local voices that do agonize over Gazans’ suffering are being silenced in a way rarely seen in a country long proud of its spirited, democratic debate” …

… while “Islamic State, the al Qaeda splinter group which has seized parts of Syria and Iraq, has told activists in Syria’s Deir al-Zor province they must swear allegiance to it and submit to censorship, a monitoring group said on Friday”:

Israel says they killed the child by “mistake,” but does this sound like a “mistake” to you? “This is commander. Anything that’s mobile, that moves in the zone, even if it’s a three-year-old, needs to be killed. Over” …

… and in “one of the worst mass-casualty incidents of the three-week war” the number of U.N. schools “in the Gaza Strip to be rocked by explosions during the conflict” rises to six:

IDF shelling kills about 40 Palestinians as Israel terminates the cease-fire claiming Hamas has captured one of its soldiers:

Women were sharing photos on Twitter of themselves laughing … after Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc’s comments that not laughing out loud in public is among requirements of being an honorable woman”, and one wished he would “deal with frequent male violence against women” instead:

“U.S. officials say they are considering ways to help the Kurds defend themselves, but direct provision of arms to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), in the way Washington arms Iraq’s central government in Baghdad, appears highly unlikely”:

“The ACLU says the plaintiffs do not know precisely why they have been scrutinized, and the lawsuit complains that immigrants denied under CARRP are not given a meaningful way to respond, in violation of due process guarantees enshrined in the U.S. Constitution”:

“The murder of a state-backed imam in China’s Xinjiang region underscores an escalation in 18 months of violence and could be part of a bid by extremists to persuade moderate Muslim Uighurs to turn against Beijing’s controlled current of Islam”: