Archive for March, 2015

News and Analysis (3/31/15)

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Shades of Andalusia! The best example of religious freedom and peaceful coexistence in Europe today may be its only Muslim majority state, Albania:

“[H]is wife was imprisoned for two years for wearing a burqa….  As part of the efforts to eliminate extremism, people of all ages have been forced to dance to Chinese pop music and sing ‘red songs’ — in praise of revolution and the Chinese Communist Party”:

Defining “terrorism to include anyone who threatens public order ‘by any means” has drawn criticism from rights groups who charged that [the law] expands the state arsenal of legislation empowering authorities to go after political opponents with few, if any, options to redress miscarriages of justice”:

“One of the two men arrested over the latest murder had been studying at a well-known religious school … [linked] to the hardline Islamic group Hefazat-e-Islam … [that] spearheaded huge protests against secular bloggers in 2013 that left nearly 50 people dead” when police cracked down demonstrators”:

While ISIS features teenagers leading captives to slaughter in its beheading videos, the Muslim Youth League UK “has launched a ‘Jihad against ISIS’ campaign … [that] bluntly states that no matter the victims’ religion, ISIS’s killings are ‘un-Islamic’ and deviate from the Quran’s teachings”:

“‘There are probably lots of reasons why the PDP might have lost, but I think the key one is that the elections just haven’t been rigged,’ said Antony Goldman, a business consultant with high-level contacts in Nigeria” …

… yet reporters were detained by the Nigerian military for “operating without protection, accreditation or due clearance”, but Al-Jazeera said the pair were accredited by the Independent Electoral Commission in Abuja to operate throughout the country as part of [its] election coverage”:

“Many Bosnians, including Muslims, Catholics and Christian Serb Orthodox, view Francis as a worthy pope — similar to their feelings for John Paul II, who is perceived as a champion of inter-faith cooperation and peace. John Paul’s statue decorates a square in the center of Sarajevo”:

Pakistan hesitates over entering the emerging Yemeni quagmire, as a Saudi-led coalition “airstrike killed dozens of civilians Monday at a camp for displaced families in northern Yemen, raising concerns of a humanitarian crisis in the Middle East’s most impoverished country”:

The now-overturned conviction of “326 officers … of plotting to overthrow Erdogan’s Islamic-based government in 2003  … helped curtail the military’s hold on Turkish politics, but … was marred by … long pre-trial confinement and judicial flaws, including allegations of fabricated evidence”:

News and Analysis (3/29/15)

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Why no sanctions on Israel? “The 1987 report’s confirmation of Israel’s advanced nuclear weapons program should have immediately triggered a cutoff in all U.S. aid to Israel under the Symington and Glenn Amendments to the US Foreign Assistance Act of 1961″ …

… and setting a new standard for khutzba, Netanyahu, a critic Iran’s nuclear program, “recently issued a gag order that the smuggling network’s unindicted ringleader refrain from discussing” the project related to his own “hands-on involvement in nuclear weapons–related covert action against America”:

“When children ask searching questions about extremism and religion, parents often close down the debate because they can’t answer theological questions. The lack of religious knowledge among families was recognised as a weakness…. [E]xtremist websites are there awaiting their curiosity”:

“Attackers pulled 29-year-old Kadedija’s veil and threw her to the ground; They also pulled a knife on her and threatened to kill her as they escaped; Baby is unharmed but her husband says she has not stopped crying since”:

“Lokman Abu Sakhra was one of nine armed militants killed in a raid on Saturday, the government says. A spokesman described him as one of Tunisia’s ‘most dangerous terrorists'”:

“CNN recently suggested that the sets were vulnerable after arrests and discoveries of weapons caches near the town of Tatouine, which lent its name to Luke Skywalker’s home planet. The story was picked up widely even though the main Star Wars sets are on the other side of the country”:

“[W]orried the city would try to fire him, so he retired. He won’t get his full pension because he didn’t get 20 years in. Asked whether he’s gotten support from former colleagues, Wade just shook his head…. ‘I became — what do you call it? — persona non grata,’ he said”:

“It was a rare standoff for the movement, which typically keeps a low profile despite having wide support in the country. It has long criticized the monarchy and called for political reform and a state based on Islamic precepts”:

“[T]he peace process is facing a major setback after a botched military operation to bring in internationally suspected terrorists in parts of the Muslim-majority south in January resulted in a bloody gunbattle between government forces and Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters”:

“Egyptian officials say the proposed force would be made up of roughly 40,000 elite troops and backed by jets, warships and light armor”:

Violence in the Name of Religion: Origins Recent Developments, and Transformations

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

[These are my notes from the 6th Annual Al-Alwani Lecture in honor of Dr. Taha Jabir Al-Alwani delivered at the El-Hibri Foundation by  Dr. Amr Abdalla of the Minaret of Freedom Institute Board of Directors. These notes are not a transcription, but a paraphrase intended only to give my perception of the lecture, response, and discussion. Responsibility for any errors is mine alone.]

Violence in the Name of Religion: Origins Recent Developments, and Transformations

Larry Golemon, Washington Theological Consortium (introducing the speaker). Religion is sometimes an obstacle, also a mask, and sometimes a resources.

Amr Abdalla, Addis Ababa University. Some of the people I interviewed as a prosecutor after the assassination of Anwar Sadat are now seen as the founding fathers of the current violence. I learned that, while they were evil, they were not crazy and they thought they were in the right within their cultural ideological and religious foundations. Understanding them without agreeing with their motivations, I was disillusioned with the methods used to counter the problem they posed.

People blame ignorance, poverty, etc., for religious violence, but I do not see that. One factor I do see is their perception of Islam’s glorious past. Islam was in part about liberation of the oppressed, and the prophet was opposed by the political elites of his own city. It was in exile that Muslims started their own city-state. By the time of his death he controlled religiously and politically the entire Arabian peninsula. His immediate successors expanded Muslim territory from Spain to India, establishing both an empire and a civilization, though not really a state. Eventually Muslim civilization fell as European civilization rose, and the period of colonization began.

Starting with the Napoleonic conquests Muslims began to ask what went wrong. The simple answer some came up with was that we were on top when we were good Muslims, and now we are not. Then the answer is to become good Muslims again, but what does it mean to be a good Muslim? There are many answers to this question, but there are two factors that keep coming up: that we are oppressed by local dictators and that they are supported by foreign powers. From their point of view they are fighting to restore their greatness by fighting oppressors and their foreign enemies. Those who turn to violence rely on a methodology called abrogation: they argue that the peaceful passages of the Qur’an are abrogated by a later call to militant jihad, whether viewed defensively or offensively. This leads to an ignoring of 90% of Islamic teachings in order to insist on the application of a few verses out of context. Poverty does not correlate with violence, and lack of education actually anti-correlates. When I worked in criminal prosecution so many of the accused could not read and write that we needed a rubber stamp to take their thumbprint as a signature. In prosecuting political militants, however, that rubber stamp was not needed a single time. All of them could read and write.

The Iranian revolution showed the fallacy of seeing the future as a choice between Communism and Capitalism. Confronted with this wild card the U.S. deployed Saddam Hussein against Iran and the jihadists against the Soviet Union. They thought they could unleash the genie to do their work and then put the genie back into the bottle. But you can’t put a genie back into the bottle.

Some of those whom we imprisoned in connection with the assassination of Sadat have repented of their old doctrine and developed a new one calling for peaceful resistance based on the Qur’an and Sunnah and they have persuaded thousands of young would-be jihadists as well. But doctrinal revision by itself will fail unless accompanied by addressing the grievances which the jihadists resist.  The four Doctrine Revision books (in Arabic) they developed available online.

Amb. Anthony Quainton, Diplomat in Residence & Professor of Foreign Policy, School for International Service, American University. I am not an expert on violence or religion, but I was in Clinton and Carter administrations. In 1095 in Claremont France, Pope Urban urged his audience to go to the Holy Land to reclaim it for Christendom, beginning centuries of bloodshed. Pope Urban promised a place in heaven to all who would’ve their lives in the First Crusade. This has an echo in ISIS’s call for an Islamic state.

One can argue that a thousand years of religious wars had little to do with religion but cannot deny that wars in the name of religion had been around for a long time and will be around for s long time to come. Yet we would do well to remember hat occurs not just between. Muslims and Christians. We can remember Hindus and Buddhist Sunnis v Shia and catholic v Protestants. And the most baptized are of the world I have heard it said Is Rwanda. In Sudan different Christian denominations are associated with different tribes. A foundational hymn in my youth was onward Christian soldiers which had been deleted from most hymnals. Lift high the cross is still sung despite its militant imagery. The enemy is not Islam, but the devil, but some see jihadists as part of satan’s forces.

One suggested solution is an intense reading and analysis of each other’s scriptures. Few Christians have read he Qur’an cover to cover, but then few have read the bible cover to cover. Certainly few Muslims have read the bible cover to cover. Unlike our friends in the Buddhist, Hindu, or Confucian traditions we Muslims and Christians claim to hold the Absolute Truth. This leaves little room for compromise and where there is little room for compromise violence is often the result.

Confronting Political Islam by John Owen suggests we take containment strategy that calls for patience. He exhorts Western societies to be true their highest ideals. But will the materialistic hedonistic values of the West only engender greater resistance from the extremist Muslims?


Quainton. Forgiveness requires reciprocity at some level. This is difficult given our mutual ignorance.

Abdalla. On the Islamic side we are struggling to understand forgiveness despite the richness of the text. The problem is the legal approach to the text that only looks at the legal text. One focuses on the license to retribution when one is wronged but in every case it is followed by the advice to forgive because it better for the one who was wronged, but this is ignored despite the fact that it was what the prophet Muhammad did, only because it does not lend itself to legislation.

Quainton. You have to rethink what is sin. You can only seek forgiveness when you realize you have done something wrong. If you don’t understand what your religion commands you can justify the violence in which you engage.

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

“Making Ethics Theological Through Qur’anic Exegesis”

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

[This is the sixth 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. These notes are NOT a transcript, but a lightly edited presentation of  my perception of the discussion. The proceedings will be published by IIIT at a later time. Responsibility for any errors in the notes is mine alone. Names of participants (other than mine) in the general discussion have been omitted by request of the conference director.]

“Making Ethics Theological Through Qur’anic Exegesis”

Jacquelene Brinton, University of Kansas

I see intervention into faith discourses is also a typical academic discussion about the history of the law. I will engage at the level of popular discourse. I am less interested in what scholars are talking about than about preaching, how information comes down to the people. I want to talk about intentions, capacity, and outcomes. Law is the true locus of the discussion of ethics in Islam. Ethics is the science about the rightness of acts. Law is useful, but in human life there are in-between times. It is by performing righteous deeds that one becomes virtuous; virtue ethics is a process of becoming. To Reinhardt, it is about practice, a way of life, in which the individual relationship to God is not important.

Different discourses are addressed to different audiences. I will look at Shaikh Sharawi, the popular preacher. In my visit to Egypt in 2000 everyone said if you want to know about Islam, watch Shaikh Sharawi. He was everywhere in Egypt, the peoples’ preacher, but ignored here in the US. Trained at al-Azhar, an exegete and TV star, a national preacher, but not innovative in his thinking. he was a renewer, not a reformer. His ideas were definitely Ashari. His exegetical methods were traditional. He was best known for his linguistic abilities, and even Egyptian lawyers admired his ability with language. He was able to simplify ideas and present them to the masses. He made ideas relevant and personal, based on the love between the individual and God. He spoke of the negative, but emphasized the positive. He did have some detractors.

I will speak about theology of action. His ideas were universal, but from an Islamic perspective. He spoke of the empty spaces uncovered by fiqh when we face everyday moral decisions. He was not a systematic thinker. His basic foundation was that God has been bountiful with humanity and provided a system of commandments and prohibitions that require humans to praise God through worship. Revealed legislations should be a moral way of life built on rules but not confined to rules. It is all about reciprocal affection between Creator and man. Worship does not end but begins with daily action. How to behave is informed by revelation and not by human desire. He would not see the rational self as an alternative to revelation, but as a complement. If you follow the commandments and prohibitions of the Qur’an, it develops in you a virtue that allows you to follow God’s will in all aspects of life. For him worship is an act of love, gratitude and remembrance. “Praise of God is not confined to the tongue; it passes through the mind and settles in the heart.” Worship makes one a more loving person.

Talal Asad says people see a tension between teleology and eschatology, but Sharawi spoke about life in this world. Human action is freedom within restrictions. God allows you to walk past a liquor store and you decide whether to walk in or not. These opportunities are connected to the purpose of Creation. Free will was acquired in creation because God offered free will to all Creation, but only humans wanted it. The human choice to obey God is the choice to love God.

Sharawi explains 2:190 by what is happening in the Prophet’s life at the time. Fighting must be “in the way of God” as a response to aggression. The recompense for evil is an equal evil. If I respond in kind, have I committed an evil? God pardons those who are not only just, but who pardon. He did not argue with categorizations, but personalized the arguments. But why would God permit acts that made one a sinner? Moral action is motivated by pleasing God and increasing beauty in the universe.

Response by Asaad al-Saleh, University of Utah.

Sharawi is more authoritative among the masses than among the ulama, in contrast to Bin Baz who is the shaikh for many scholars in the Gulf. He actually was engaged with world events, including the issue of organ transplants. When he announced his opposition to it, some hospitals refused to engage in it. Why is he so popular? How was he popular with both the elite and the working masses? You focused on patterns that interested you, but there are hundreds of others, like his notion of the “catalog” (i.e., the Qur’an).

I think there is a right in Islam not to be asked more than he or she can do. Obligations are paired with rights and obligations are waived when they are impossible.

Response by Katrin Jomaa, University of Rhode Island.

I grew up with Sharawi. I didn’t listen to him (my mother did), but I regret it. In contrast with worship as external he emphasizes that worship begins with the performance of a duty. I sensed a lot of Sufi tendencies. You say his is a philosophy of action, but when it comes to politics he seems to feed into the political quietism of which Islam has been criticized. “One hour of fitna is worse than years of tyranny.”


Brinton. I did go to Egypt and talk to many people. There are two featured apps for Sharawi, one for Khaled Amr, but I could find none for Yusuf Qardawi. Sharawi is still important in Egypt. His talks are played on TV as national propaganda, but yes, he has no school. I’m not sure his legacy will live on after him. There is nobody quite like him. Ghazali and maybe Kishk were like him, but now there is no one. He was emotional, expressive and charismatic. He was interested in law, but he went beyond that interest.

He never officially joined a Sufi order, but he has a lot to say about esoteric thought. I see no contradiction between Ashari and Sufi. There is a contradiction with regard to the political. He was a government preacher on government television, but there was a point in his life when he was untouchable. After the assassination of Sadat he spoke directly to Mubarak about how God can give rule even to the ungodly; it is one of the most watched clips on YouTube. Some say this is speaking truth to power and others say it is not enough. I think he was not really interested in politics, but only sought to restore the ulama as the expositors of religion. His support of Sadat when he made peace with Israel is a controversial part of his work.  He helped the rulers establish an Egyptian national religion. His purpose was to counter the more radical elements in society.

Name omitted. Sharawi did not write tafsîr (exegesis), he delivered it as lecture; and it is not sophisticated exegesis, but he is an important person in contemporary Islamic society. There are three types of religion: world renouncing (like Indian religions); the world affirming religions (like Islam) and the ones in-between (like Christianity). Islam is not world renouncing.  As to your quotation of Abu Bakr, he was not trying to take from the rich and give to the poor; he was saying without zakat the state would not survive.

Name omitted. It was the state that gave Sharawi his platform and he was a tool of the state.

Name omitted. A researcher on the Indian mufassir (“Hamka,” Hajj Amrullah Karim) compared him with Sharawi.

Name omitted. With the fiqh discourse appearing on television, it is opened to a new audience.

Brinton. The state did create this opening for Sharawi, but I would not go so far as to say he was a tool for the state. Once he became the authority through media he was able to take the position on organ donations that adversely impacted the state’s policy. What fascinates me about media is it is no longer about those who write or influencing other scholars. Shaikh Sharawi is kept alive by the apps on Smartphone.

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

News and Analysis (3/26/15)

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

“[W]hile the threat of Muslim-related terrorism attracts headlines, per a 2014 report, only 37 Americans have been killed by such terrorism since 9/11. Meanwhile, in just the last six years, 63 Americans have been killed:

“From conversations about headscarves to how religious teachings regard women, we are rarely given the chance to hear the perspectives of Muslim women themselves. And as CEO Amani Al-Khatahtbeh explains … , Muslim women have long fought the exclusion”:

“Rouhani favors an open-door policy for returnees, whom he calls a ‘huge asset’ who have ‘love for their country.’ But security officials … have pushed back, causing a chill among would-be returnees, with a number of high-profile arrests and detentions among those who have returned”:

“All students in the course must go through a physical examination … [that] involves looking at the chest, abdomen, and legs, and must be performed both by a male and female student”, a requirement objected to by two female “Muslim students, who did not want to be examined by a male”:

Traveling “undercover, masked twofold: as a filmmaker and a homosexual man …” Sharma says he “was very afraid. But at the same time, as a religious Muslim, I felt I would be protected going on pilgrimage—divine intervention, even”:

“Riyadh tends to prize the status quo, if it has a reasonable chance of sustainability for the near to the medium term. But the Brotherhood … is already in a rather weakened position in the region — and the kingdom has a number of other priorities that require all the bandwidth that can be mustered”:

Saudi air :”strikes were a startling turn of events that came as the Houthis, in control of Yemen’s capital for months, barreled south toward the coastal city of Aden, seizing an air base along the way that was evacuated by U.S. Special Operations forces­ last week” …

… contributing to the impression that this war is a “Saudi-Iran confrontation, but that’s a result of Yemen’s real divisions, not the cause of them. [Terrorists] are hoping for a sectarian war, much like the one they got after Al Qaeda … bombed the Askariya shrine in the Iraqi city of Samara in 2006” …

… but in Iraq, “Hadi al-Amiri, who runs an umbrella group of all Shia militias, said US strikes on Wednesday night had not changed the battlefield, and that his forces alone could win the fight”:

“Once these women arrive in Syria and join the Islamic State group, they will be offered ‘mujahideen … as husbands, given to these women by God, the message reportedly said…, comparing the women who choose to come to Syria to the ‘great women’ who accompanied the Prophet Muhammad”:

“This might seem counterintuitive, but the political dynamics in Israel and internationally mean that another term with Mr. Netanyahu at the helm could actually hasten the end of Israel’s apartheid policies.” The election proves  change can’t and won’t come from within Israel:

News and Analysis (3/24/15)

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

“It is one thing for the US and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal US secrets and play them back to US legislators to undermine US diplomacy” — an unnamed senior White House official:

Arab politicians viewed as dishonest Netanyahu’s apology for his offensive comments, made at a gathering at his home to which they were not invited …

… “It is difficult to tell what [liberal Zionists] fear more: the perpetuation of a situation that they increasingly compare to apartheid — or the emergence of a future, single, binational entity that in a trick of history would supplant the Jewish state”:


“[S]urveillance reformers have the opportunity to strictly limit the scope of the Patriot Act by refusing ‘clean’ reauthorization of Section 215 of the bill, which has been interpreted to authorize the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance of telephone records, …even more … than is publicly known”:

One lawyer “argues that Tunisia must find room for Salafis. Most aren’t swayed by party politics since they reject democracy outright. But many of those who admit to violence say they were driven in part by feelings of persecution from mainstream society”:

Evidently, at least one Muslim sees nothing wrong with depicting a prophet; but how did Ridley Scott, who said he couldn’t possibly finance  “Exodus: Gods and Kings” with a cast member named Muhammad, manage to finance an Easter special with a Muslim cast as Jesus?

“The specific trajectory of the 2016 U.S. troop drawdown will be established later in 2015 to enable the U.S. troop consolidation to a Kabul-based embassy presence by the end of 2016”:

“In February, the Northern Christian Leaders’ Eagle-Eyes Forum endorsed Buhari, saying the country needs a leader who can protect both Christians and Muslims. The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops have not formally endorsed a candidate but appear to lean that way as well”:

One lawyer “argues that Tunisia must find room for Salafis. Most aren’t swayed by party politics since they reject democracy outright. But many of those who admit to violence say they were driven in part by feelings of persecution from mainstream society”:

“The specific trajectory of the 2016 U.S. troop drawdown will be established later in 2015 to enable the U.S. troop consolidation to a Kabul-based embassy presence by the end of 2016”:

News and Analysis (3/22/15)

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

“The Islamic Tribunal, a panel of Dallas-area imams, offers to mediate disputes between Muslims for a fee. Catholic dioceses and Jewish synagogues have run similar tribunals for centuries. But the Muslim version is portrayed on websites as the country’s first ‘Shariah court'” …

… while a prisoner “alleges that prison officials denied all 11 of his requests, in accordance with his religious beliefs, to have his meals provided after sundown and before sunrise during last year’s Ramadan” violating not only the Constitution, but the jail’s contract for federal prisoners:

“The sun is not worshipped by us and how can anyone force us to do it? Ever since Modi came to power, Hindutva forces have become powerful. Ghar wapasi is being held and the right wing forces are spewing venom against Muslims and Christians” —  Mohammed Abdul Rahim Qureshi:

The Syriac Catholic “patriarch derided what he described as the ‘machiavellian’ strategy, hypocrisy and lies of the coalition fighting Isis, saying western states must block the group’s provisions of arms and financing” and accused the West of complicity in ISIS’s seizure of Nineveh” …

… while in Yemen, “Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said his decision to mobilize fighters amid accelerating violence in recent days was aimed against Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for bombings that killed more than 130 in the capital Sanaa on Friday, and against al Qaeda”:

A better, albeit less frequent, response to terrorism than counter-violence, crackdowns on civil liberty, or mere profession of Islamic peacefulness “is to put into practice the values of individual liberty and dignity through pluralistic democracy, with state tolerance for all types of faith” …

… but “[u]nfortunately, Shariah experts today remain greatly divided and many of them are intolerant and ultraconservative. There is a dire need for a more tolerant approach to our Islamic teachings”:

Notwithstanding the official affirmation that she did not burn the Qur’an, “[m]obile phone footage circulating on social media shows police at the scene did not save the 27-year-old woman, Farkhunda, who was beaten with sticks and set on fire by a crowd of men in central Kabul”:

“Even by Afghanistan’s standards of often-shifting alliances, a recent meeting between ethnic Hazara elders and local commanders of the Taliban insurgents who have persecuted them for years was extraordinary”:

The founder of the new “digital TV channel that has been compared to Netflix aims to show Islamic culture at its best,” as “an online platform that would fill what he saw as a gap in the market for high quality, engaging content about Islamic culture that would not be overtly religious or sectarian”:

Hofstra religion professor Hussein Rashid thinks America, with its freedom of religion is the natural venue for “a new flourishing of Muslim devotionals” and for Riyaaz Qawwali … to go back to that very exciting, innovative space that qawwali was”, restoring its “ecstatic and devotional” essence:

Conceding many women “wear hijabs and jilbabs to articulate their faith and identity” or to make a political statement, a writer worries about ones who “do so without delving fully into its implications, significance or history. Their choice, even if independently made, may not be fully examined”:

News and Analysis (3/20/15)

Friday, March 20th, 2015

“Cotton proved his absolute fealty to Likudist policy on Iran by sponsoring [legislation] … that would have punished violators of the sanctions against Iran with prison sentences of up to 20 years and extended the punishment to ‘a spouse and any relative, to the third degree’ of the sanctions violator”:

As IS brutality and  terror spreads from Syria to Tunisia and Yemen …

… Iraqi Sunnis complain that “instead of the [Shi`a dominated] government treating us better to win us over, they are treating us even worse”:

“The White House, unmoved by Netanyahu’s effort to backtrack [on rejecting a Palestinian state], delivered a fresh rebuke against him on Thursday and signaled that Washington may reconsider its decades-old policy of shielding close ally Israel from international pressure at the United Nations” …

… while next door to Israel, “[b]y siding with the liberal wing [of the MB], Jordan runs the risk of pushing thousands of conservative members of the Brotherhood into the arms of more radical jihadist organizations, including the self-described Islamic State”:

“Baransu … is accused not of misleading the courts but of handling state secrets, despite the fact that he had handed the leaked documents over to state prosecutors. [With] the military under its thumb, the government now … has turned on the journalist who once made the government’s case”:

“Together, Muneera Williams, 34, and Sukina Owen-Douglas, 33, form Poetic Pilgrimage – a self-described ‘hiphop hijabis’ duo that has created a new type of rap music for the masses that addresses religion, gender and issues of identity”:

“[T]here is a difference between Islamic jurisprudence—a man-made legal scaffolding developed for the specific conditions of medieval Muslim life—and the divine law itself, which is eternal, unchanging and calls for justice… ‘The problem has never been with the text, but with the context'”:

The reaffirmation “that Islam and Buddhism ‘are religions of mercy and compassion committed to justice for all humankind'” and framers intend “to translate their message into as many languages as possible” for Buddhist and Muslim leaders and believers around the world”:

True to its Music City roots, the Islamic Center of Nashville launched in 1979 with a significant donation from Cat Stevens — Yusuf Islam…. Over the decades, it has enjoyed strong relationships with area churches and synagogues, a marked difference from Tennessee’s more rural mosques”:

The judge “said he made the order following evidence that, in at least one other case, young girls had traveled on passports belonging to family members”:

News and Analysis (3/18/15)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

If “his arrest – and that of other people, some of whom were sent straight to jail for one to four years – raised questions about free speech in France”, the sentencing of the comedian who “condemned the attacks without any restraint and without any ambiguity” shows France has no meaningful free speech:

“Most of the shots hit the fence, but one bullet traveled through Abdul’s bedroom window and struck his wife in the thigh while she was sleeping. Abdul said she woke up bleeding and screaming before being taken to a nearby hospital”:

“Today’s attack did not come out of nowhere. In fact, it comes amid ongoing counterterrorism efforts elsewhere in the country. Increasing pressure on terrorist activities … may have squeezed the balloon, with terrorists seeking softer targets with more symbolic impact in the capital” …

… and there is a similar development in Pakistan. “Christian protests started peacefully … [but] turned angry and ugly…. A Muslim wrongly accused of helping the suicide bombers was subsequently lynched on Sunday, and on Monday, two Christians were run over by car”:

“Wardani’s father Youssef believes the [Florida] teacher should have been suspended for at least a year [instead of five days] – if not fired. District administrators said the degree of punishment that could be leveled against Valdes was limited because of a teachers union agreement”:

“This is not about protecting cows. It is all about playing politics.  What one should eat or wear are personal choices and they simply cannot be imposed” – M. B. Rajesh, a member of parliament from Kerala:

“Cast member and aspiring medical student Freyaa Ali said there was a girl who had wanted to participate in the show, but was ultimately prevented from doing so by her relatives. ‘It wasn’t even the boxing and it wasn’t even the speech, it was the dancing we do in the ring'”:

“Visitors not travelling on a package tour have to apply in advance from 15 May – thought to be an attempt to weed out militants and human rights activists”:

Netanyahu’s 11th-hour campaign decision to swerve deep into right-wing territory – reversing his support for a Palestinian state and urging supporters to counter “droves” of Arab voters – has paid off in … a six-seat victory” …

… “By singling out Arab voters as a threat, Mr Netanyahu has trampled on the principle that all citizens are entitled to a legitimate say in their country’s governance…. And by openly burying the prospects of a two-state solution, he has eroded the foundation of all diplomatic efforts since the Oslo agreements“:

“Libya’s political crisis … has left the country with two parliaments and two governments, along with rival militaries and militias. The power struggle and fierce fighting has plunged the country into chaos and paved the way for the Islamic State group’s expansion”:

News and Analysis (12/16/15)

Monday, March 16th, 2015

“News of the imminent fall of Tikrit on Tuesday were exaggerated. On the east bank of the Tigris, Iraqi forces took the town of al-Alam, 6 miles northeast of Tikrit, from Daesh (ISIL or ISIS). But Daesh fighters blew up the bridge over the Tigris, stranding a lot of Iraqi forces to the east” …

… and now with reports of evidence of chlorine gas usage, the ground assault on Tikrit has paused accompanied by calls for more air strikes:

“David Cameron is braced for a diplomatic row with Saudi Arabia and Egypt when the Government today publishes a long-awaited review into the Muslim Brotherhood which is set to clear it of being a terrorist organisation” …

… while in Jordan, some fear “that the government’s apparent divide-and-control policy could backfire by pushing more Brotherhood supporters into the ranks of extremists like the Islamic State group, seen as the main threat to the country’s stability” …

… and some are asking if Sisi’s insistence on blaming violent acts for which more extreme groups take credit on the MB  push younger members into violence as Nasser did to a previous generation?

“Following several public rallies calling for reform in 2012, Prime Minister Najib Razak promised to scrap the country’s sedition laws, which date back to when the country was a British colony. But last year he went back on that pledge and said the laws would stay and even be strengthened”:

“[A]n expert on extremism … de-radicalization programs that focus on women have only started to take shape in Europe in part because until now their motivations have been misunderstood. ‘I think the general perception is that women are victims and that they are passive, which is not the case'”:

“Women say they wear niqab for religious obligation and identity, not because of family or outside pressure,” and in a more significant U. of Michigan survey 56% of Tunisians, 52% of Turks. 49% of Lebanese, and 47% of Saudis also said it should be up to women to decide what to wear”:

There are already many good reason for the NRA to keep America’s #1 conservative coalition builder on its board. Glen Beck provides us with yet another:

“Khadim was a former Taliban commander who had switched allegiance and aligned his followers with the Islamic State group, which controls about a third of Iraq and Syria in a self-declared caliphate. He had allegedly set up an IS recruiting network across southern Afghanistan”:

“Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had at first been concerned about the payment, fearing the CIA knew about the money and had tainted it with poison, radiation or a tracking device, the Times said, and suggested it be converted to another currency”:

“[A]ngry Christian mobs blocked the highway, ransacked bus terminals and burned two people to death who they suspected of being involved in the bombings”: