News and Analysis 6/9/22

June 9th, 2022

A U.N. commission finds Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and discrimination against Palestinians are the key root causes of the recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict in the region”:

Amnesty International says Haqiqi and his colleagues were coerced into apologizing for a video showing him laughing at a man with a speech impediment struggling to recite Qur’an “ina comical voice”:

International pressure has pushed the BJP propaganda machine into high gear:

“PayPal operates in Israel’s illegal settlements – but is refusing to provide service to Palestinians in Gaza and [the] West Bank, in direct violation of UN guidelines”:

“This is one story of one girl. We cannot represent all two billion Muslims and South Asians, but this is definitely a good start”:

Accused of presenting early Muslim caliphs as terrorists, the film’s producer denies that any Muslim consensus against depicting the Prophet:

American airstrikes to defend Yazidis and Shia besieged by ISIS came at a price:

“Videos from an Uttar Pradesh village show locals slapping and harassing three Muslim fakirs (ascetics) who were begging for alms”:

News and Analysis 6/6/22

June 6th, 2022

“The proportion of positive and negative articles was close to 50-50 (Catholics, Jews and Hindus). By contrast, 80% of all articles related to Muslims were negative”:

Under pressure from her own party after international outrage, a BJP politician withdraws  her insulting remarks,:

“The strike, which began on Monday, is the latest in a series of escalating moves by Tunisia’s politicians, institutions and civil society” against Kais Saied’s political coup:

“This year, 14 children have been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank, including six since May” …

… and “holds the bodies of 103 Palestinians in refrigerators, and an additional 256 have already been buried without allowing families to perform their last rites”:

“Historians say that Prime Minister Modi and his allies’ depictions of the Mughal ruler stretch historical truth for political gain”:

“[I]n stark departure from his campaign promises, Raisi’s administration has kept Iran’s netizens on a tight leash by refusing to order bandwidth expansion in the face of growing demand”:

“By the 16th century, Timbuktu hosted 150 to 180 Qur’anic schools … [and] built great mosques, not only for spiritual practice, but also as centers of learning of mathematics, law, grammar, history, geography, [and] astronomy”:

“The New York Times reported that an official briefed on official intelligence has confirmed Israel informed US officials that they were responsible for” killing the colonel but denies killing the scientist:

Indian Muslims plead that “Parliament has mandated that history and its wrongs shall not be used as instruments to oppress the present and the future” …

… but while the BJP is only started to rid India of Muslims, but on July 7 it shall already have rid its own ranks of any Muslims in Parliament:

News and Analysis 6/4/22

June 4th, 2022

As Israeli extremists scream “Death to Arabs,” IDF forces kill, kill, kill:

The “Editors Guild of India, Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and other free speech advocacy groups” have condemned the arrest of a young man for questioning about an article he could had nothing to do with”:

The truce has been integral to the lowering of fatalities and the allowing of humanitarian aid to those most affected by the devastating conflict“:

Muslim “suspicion of Moscow has deep roots”:

The Center for Islamic Studies at the National University in Jakarta has trained “about 1,000 Islamic clerics who practice environmental protection and provide education in various villages across the country — and the number is growing”:

A “‘source familiar with the case’ said that officers hit Ghaleh-Golab ‘with their fists and kicked him” during his arrest, adding that he is being detained without charge at an undisclosed location and not being allowed to contact his family'”:

“Islam has not given permission for jihad to commit atrocities on a minority or any other person or to kill the person” — Maulana Fayaz Amjadi calls for protection of “minorities in Kashmir” and to all “in the entire country”:

“Despite my white-passing face, my blue eyes and my honest intentions, here I was reduced simply to my name, my place of birth and what was left unspoken in the margins”:

News and Analysis 6/1/22

June 1st, 2022

Embarrassed by the storming of Al-Aqsa on Sunday the UAE banned press from Israel’s signing of its “first big trade accord with an Arab state”:

Humans and vegetation are both targets of Israeli violence …

… while Israel hides its “illegal acts as an occupying power” under the cover an exploitative environmentalism:

The BJP move to overrule Islamic scripture violates the Indian constitution’s  guarantee [of freedom to practice and propagate religion]”:

Supporters of the apartheid state plan “to spend over $1 million” to get African-Americans to vote against Tlaib”:

“She was the first Rohingya refugee to be deported from among 170 who were detained by authorities in the region in March 2021″:

“Minneapolis became the first large city in the United States to allow the Islamic call to prayer, or adhan, to be broadcast publicly by … mosques”:

Eight Muslims have been fired as “demand for chicken kormas, chicken changezis, and niharis has gone down after the ban on meat”:

Has Trump’s withdrawal form the Iran deal reached its predictable endpoint?

One of two new Muslim ministers, Australia’s Minister for Industry and Science took his oath office holding a pink Qur’an:

News and Analysis 5/29/22

May 29th, 2022

Pew “found that more than half of America’s youngest adults view Israelis and Palestinians favorably — a departure from the views of older generations”:

The chair of the Anti-racism Coalition of Newfoundland and Labrador questions whether the police response to incident is adequate:

A class action suit described as “aggressive threatening” and a “vicious attack on freedom of speech” succeeds in suppressing student speech:

As with the similar split ten years ago, the government sides with the hawks against those in the intelligence community concerned that war is not in Israel’s best interests:

Iranian spokesman finds military actions in other countries are unhelpful, “have had serious humanitarian consequences and will further complicate the situation in the region”:

“Israelis reportedly throw stones at Palestinian homes near settlement of Homesh; troops block left-wing activists, confiscate yeshiva equipment”:

Israel continues shooting teenagers both in  West Bank and in Israel:

“Authorities acknowledge the building’s owner and corrupt government officials allowed construction to continue … concerns over its shoddy workmanship”:

“You rightly called for accountability, but Israel has enjoyed impunity for so long, it does not know what the hell you are talking about”:

Economic realities offset political sanctions:

News and Analysis 5/26/22

May 26th, 2022

Iran calls the Greek seizure of the ship after it called for help due to bad weather and technical problems “international piracy” which they claim cones “under pressure from the United States”:

While still professing its commitment to justice for Palestinians, the student council caved due to its fear funds would “be unnecessarily spent defending legal proceedings”:

Muslim girls say both the prospectus and interviews indicated that “the head-scarf was part of the uniform for the students who wear it”:

“Based on traditional Jewish religious law restricting entry into the site, and the agreed-upon status quo of the compound, Israel allows Jews to visit on condition they refrain from praying there”:

The “decision has evoked strong criticism from all mainstream opposition parties, including the national conference, who have described it as a  as a move to erase the history of Jammu and Kashmir”:

The performance reflected “solid manufacturing-company listings serving” the young domestic population and the including the “poor and middle-class in privatization:

“Without Islam, there would be no Shakespeare” — Mathew Dimmock, Professor of Early Modern Studies (English) at the University of Sussex:

Yet Israel pressures the U.S. not to go back to the deal, even though its former top intelligence analyst says withdrawal “brought Iran closer to a nuclear weapon”:

Both Israel and India clamp down on opposition to their respective occupations:

What Can the U.S. Do to Restore Democracy in Tunisia?

May 23rd, 2022

[On May 23, 2022, Radwan Masmoudi moderated a Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy panel discussion of what the United States can do to restore democracy in Tunisia. This is my summary of highlights of the program, not a transcript. Use of the first person is for convenience only. For a video of the entire discussion click here.]

Sharan Grewal (College of William & Mary; Brookings Institution). We should learn from the mistakes we made in responding to the coup in Egypt.  Aid restatement must be clear about what Kais Saied must do to restore suspended aid. We should delegate decision to restore aid to a third party to depoliticize the decision. We should call the coup a coup since the word is effective in delegitimization. The belief that Saied has the popularity to sell IMF reforms to the Tunisian public is misplaced.  He has already lost popularity and would not want to delegitimate it further by alienating his remaining base who are leftist Nasserists, not Islamists or free market supporters. He needs an off-ramp, a means of being able to claim victory even as democracy is restored. This requires a negotiated solution.

Sara Yerkes (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace). Partially agreed with Sharan.  There is more the international committee needs to do to stop Saied’s power grab that is harming Tunisia. The threat of a new constitution means we have only a couple of months to act. Constitutional referenda usually pass. This will allow him to claim popular support. I do not believe aid suspension will work. I know Tunisia is not Egypt. Sharan made good points about things that could have been done better. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi knew the U.S. would never abandon Egypt. But the language to trigger aid cutoffs is military coup, which does not apply to Tunisia, so while it may affect the conversation, it makes no legal difference. The aid to Egypt was much larger, and it didn’t matter because others stepped in, as they would in the case of the much smaller aid to Tunisia.  Russia needs friends now and could easily fill the gap. Removing aid only removes what leverage we do have. Further, cutting aid could adversely affect Tunisian security on both its borders and internally. Economically it would be counterproductive in that it would hurt not Saied, but the common people.  I suggest a different approach. Keep existing aid levels but rejigger it by giving the money not to the government but to the civil society among whom we have strong partners on the ground.  Redirect aid out of hands of the police. Reward Saied for good behavior by offering to increase the total amount of aid. I agree with conditioning IMF loan on reforms, but you need more than that.  Offer diplomatic carrots like a visit to the White House. Offer clear, public benchmarks. Vague goals like “return to democracy” won’t do the trick.

Shadi Hamid (Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings; Fuller Seminary). This is a the conversation we should have had nine months ago. We must act in the next few months or throw in the towel. I called for suspension of aid and IMF talk last year. Responses that Tunisia is different from other coups have been proven wrong. Partial aid cuts don’t work. The failed aid cut in Egypt was incredibly partial, consisting of only 8% of the aid. It  dilutes the message. Even U.S. officials were unsure of what it meant. Kerry said to his Egyptian counterpart aid is “a very little issue.” I would agree that aid cuts are not the only answer.  I call for the maximalist option in which the IMF is our primary lever. It is a little messy to involve the IMF in political questions, but the U.S. has the ability to do it if it has the political will and brings its European partners on board. Anything less than a full-throated approach runs the risk of alienating Saied without affecting things. Tunisia is at risk of default. IMF support also opens up other financial lines and is the key to the Tunisian economy. Tunisia needs the U.S. much more than we need them. There is no excuse to tiptoe around Kais Saied when he is in such a weak position. We say that the struggle between democracy and authoritarianism is the most important struggle of our time, but we suffer from Middle East exceptionalism in which we act as if we do not believe democracy is appropriate to the Middle East.

Larry Diamond (Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, Stanford University). We should not be overly offended by the Biden administration’s lack of attention to democracy in the Middle East because the administration has similarly slighted the issue elsewhere, including India, where Muslims make up one of the largest minority groups anywhere in the world. The same for the Philippines. There are few countries in the world that have so disproportionate an impact on the future of democracy for their population size as Tunisia. Although the law banning aid to countries in which a coup has taken place refers to military coups, the signaling impact of calling this a coup is essential to undermining its legitimacy. If we do not call a spade a spade here, where in the world shall we do so? The difference between Sharan and Sara’s positions may not be as great as it sounds because the impact of cutting government-to-government aid cannot be overstated. If we can cultivate training and lending for small and medium enterprises in Tunisia, it can help to separate the regime from the people while emphasizing our commitment to the Tunisian people. The goal of private diplomacy can and should be to manipulate the cost/benefit analysis. We must make clear to Saied what will happen to him if he continues down the path of institutionalizing this coup.  It is simply not correct to say constitutional referenda always succeed. We should urge our friends to not boycott the election.

Radwan Masmoudi (Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy).  As head of a civil society organization, I would welcome support for civil society; but I have been very disappointed by civil society in Tunisia which has been largely silent and in some cases supported the coup. Civil society organizations in Tunisia are afraid of standing up to Saied. The military has supported Saied in shutting down the parliament. Why don’t we have leverage on the military, which cares about its relationship with the United States?

Grewal. I agree that the military’s actions suggest support of the coup. They might argue that they are just following orders, but the order is unconstitutional, and they have resisted unconstitutional orders in the past. I think if a message is sent from the U.S. military to the Tunisian military, it would be effective in leveraging U.S. military aid. Although this is a presidential rather than military coup, presidential coups are becoming more common, and that increases the importance of sending the right message. Although Algeria and the Saudis have given some money to Tunisia, I am not sure that our taking a stronger stance would increase the aid. Even if it does, let it happen; the Tunisians need the money.

Yerkes. The U.S. has used the IMF as leverage since day one, but it has not worked. It is a good idea, but it is not sufficient. Suppose we cut off all aid and end IMF involvement: the result is starvation of the Tunisian people. I don’t see how that helps. I agree that the military should exert pressure.

Hamid.  We have not used the IMF lever to this point.  We are talking about suspending talks (including talks about talks) if certain conditions are not met. There is no prospect of Tunisia moving towards Russia or China. The equipment we have given Tunisia can’t run on Russian or Chinese support.

Diamond. Russia is so overextended now that a Tunisian turn to Russia does not seem plausible. When a military has been trained by the United States, we have a lot of leverage; but when the boom is lowered it sets into a motion a new set of dynamics.  A careful evaluation of costs and benefits is needed, but we should try to separate Saied both from the Tunisian people and the Tunisian military.

Grewal. Sarah’s proposal to redirect aid to civil society is clever. Another approach would be to reinstate aid in stages as incremental goals are met.

Hamid.  The United States has actively supported authoritarians in the Middle East. It has been a bipartisan strategy that goes back for decades. It cannot be changed at the margins. It requires a major change in strategy.

Grewal. The question has been raised: “Is Saied a rational actor?” There is one overriding issue for him: a new republic.

Yerkes. The U.S. had no interaction with Tunisia before the Arab Spring. We care about Tunisia because we care about democracy in Tunisia.

Hamid. I do not deny American political actors prefer democracy, but when they calculate cost and benefits democracy carries little weight. Otherwise we would not have seen the moral stains of the last twenty or thirty years.

Diamond. We all agree that the next few months are critical and that the Biden administration must be pressed to act.

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

News and Analysis 5/22/22

May 22nd, 2022

“Shareholders of both firms will soon vote on resolutions that would mandate reconsideration of a project they fear has grave human rights consequences”:

Noting that setting the blood money for a female victim at half that of a male is not found in the Qur’an, the Council calls it an “intellectual and moral evil that was rejected by jurists”:

Muslim leaders in Nigeria are calling for stronger laws to criminalize vigilantes engaged in murder in the pretext of fighting blasphemy …

… while one group seeks to take legal action against a pastor whose vile insults seem to them calculated to start a religious war:

The BJP assertion that its repression of Kashmir would enhance Hindu security proves delusional. “This new Kashmir is not secure for us, it is not secure for anybody” …

… including the “the tiny Dogra Rajput community”:

“Ariel Sharon is recorded saying …, ‘We have an interest in expanding and enlarging the shooting zones there, to keep these areas, which are so vital, in our hands'”:

Despite scarce data, studies exist indicating that mental health struggles Muslims face include high suicide risk, PTSD, adjustment disorder, and anxiety disorder:

“Israel is blocking the work of the European Parliament” — Manu Pineda:

Men engaged in polygyny not only violate the conditions under which it is permitted, but refuse to listen to scholars as to their responsibilities:

A CENTCOM spokesman “said a U.S. Air Force refueling tanker had conducted a ‘dry refueling mission'” with Israel that “was ‘not tied to’ Israel’s ongoing ‘Chariots of Fire’ exercise”:

News and Analysis 5/21/22

May 21st, 2022

“I cannot continue to support the existence of a coalition that disgracefully harasses the society I came from”:

“The accused Dinesh Kushwah … is said to be the husband of a local BJP leader”:

Forbidden to fish, “Muslim fishermen in Gujarat have sought permission from the Gujarat High Court to undergo collective euthanasia”:

“Kashmiri carries the uncertainty of not having its own alphabet because of certain religious, political and historical ideologies and biases”:

“A new video that begins moments before Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed has emerged showing relative calm and quiet, contrary to claims by Israeli officials”:

The proposal “was originally put forward by the …  student government body” and passed by the student body”:

The victim’s family “no longer have faith in the Palestinian court system after learning the 14 suspects linked to the case were released from prison without a judicial order”:

News and Analysis 5/19/22

May 19th, 2022

“[T]he Jerusalemite … arrested at his home in the Shuafat area in the early hours of Monday morning … [has] been held in solitary confinement since his arrest”:

What American White supremacists call the “great replacement” theory, Israeli Jewish supremacists call “demographic time bombs” …

… as Israel looks forward to repeat of a demonstration that last year featured marchers “outside one of the entrances to the walled Old City, chanting ‘death to Arabs'”:

The Timesfalsely reported that Al Jazeera and the Palestinian Health Minister said that Shireen Abu Akleh was shot during ‘clashes'”:

Israel “has chosen to prioritise the establishment of Jewish-only settlements and infrastructure in occupied Palestine, which is in itself a war crime”:

American refueling planes will participate in a simulation of an attack on Iran:

Indian “cities are being renamed to erase traces of Muslim history, while Muslims in metropolitan areas face ghettoization on account of structural biases”:

“Even if it doesn’t pass, it becomes a moment of the historical record and it becomes another seed planted,” — Palestinian-American human rights attorney Noura Erakat: