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Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities => Politics & Religion => Topic started by: Crafty_Dog on October 13, 2006, 04:34:48 PM

Title: Islam in Arabic/Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 13, 2006, 04:34:48 PM

No Dates, No Dancing
Why Pakistan's university students are embracing the fundamentalist life

Like many other universities around the world, Punjab University in Lahore is a tranquil oasis far removed from the rest of society. But to Westerners, there's little else about Punjab U. that seems familiar. Walk around the leafy-green 1,800-acre campus, and you will encounter nothing that resembles frivolous undergraduate behavior. Musical concerts are banned, and men and women are segregated in the dining halls. Many female students attend class wearing headscarves that cover everything but their eyes. This fall, when the university's administrators tried to introduce a program in musicology and performing arts, the campus erupted in protest. "Pakistan is an Islamic country, and our institutions must reflect that," says Umair Idrees, a master's degree student and secretary-general of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba ( I.J.T.), the biggest student group on campus. "The formation of these departments is an attack on Islam and a betrayal of Pakistan. They should not be part of the university curriculum."

What's most striking about that climate of conservatism is that it is being driven not by faculty or administrators or government officials but by students. At Punjab U., I.J.T. is the most powerful force on campus, shaping not just the mores of student life but also larger debates over curriculum, course syllabuses, faculty selection and even degree programs. Nationwide, the group has more than 20,000 members and 40,000 affiliates active at nearly all of Pakistan's 50 public universities. Students who defy I.J.T.'s strict moral code risk private reprimands, public denouncements and, in some cases, even physical violence.

In a country where most politicians cut their teeth as student activists, the rise of groups like I.J.T. provides clues to Pakistan's political future. Although the country is officially aligned with the U.S. in fighting terrorism, it is beset by an internal struggle between moderate citizens and the fundamentalists who aim to turn the country into an Islamic state. As the hard-line demands intensify, President Pervez Musharraf has backed away from some policies sought by the Bush Administration, such as cracking down on radical religious schools, known as madrasahs, and curbing Pakistani support for the fundamentalist Taliban across the border in Afghanistan. Observers say that Musharraf's retreats on contentious issues have only strengthened the radicals. "The universities reflect what you are seeing in the larger political landscape," says Samina Ahmed, South Asia director for the International Crisis Group, a think tank. "The moderate parties have been deprived of their experienced cadre of potential recruits, but the religious parties haven't."

College campuses in Pakistan are becoming prime battlegrounds in the war for the country's soul. Political organizations have been banned from schools since 1992, when violent clashes between the student wings of rival political parties led to the deaths of dozens of students. But by outlawing political activity, the government opened the door to religious organizations such as I.J.T., which acts as an advocacy group that serves as a liaison between students and administration. Founded in 1947, I.J.T. has hundreds of thousands of alumni who provide the group with organizational and financial support, with the goal of "training the young generation according to Islam so they can play a role in Pakistan's social and political life," Idrees says.

A visit to Punjab University reveals what that means in practice. About 2,400 of the university's 24,000 students belong to I.J.T. Members are expected to live morally and to abide by the Koran's injunction to spread good and suppress evil. For many, that involves adopting an austere lifestyle. Members meet for regular study sessions and must attend all-night prayer meetings at least once a month. Outside the classroom, complete segregation of the genders is strictly observed. When asked, many members are critical of the U.S. and its policies toward the Muslim world; although the group has no ties to terrorism, it's likely that some members sympathize with al-Qaeda.

And yet for some, the appeal of I.J.T. has less to do with ideology than a desire for a platform to voice their grievances. Rana Naveed, 22, a soft-spoken communications student who sports just the beginnings of a beard and wears tight, acid-washed jeans, is troubled by some of I.J.T.'s more extreme pronouncements, especially its stand on the proposed new music program. But he is excited about the prospect of becoming a full-fledged member in a few weeks, when he will take an oath of loyalty and then work to spread his faith and dedicate himself to the welfare of other students. "There are certain things I don't agree with," says Naveed. "But as a member, I will have to submit to their way. I.J.T is the only platform to put forward my proposals to the administration, because they turn a deaf ear to regular students."

An atmosphere of moral rigidity governs much of campus life. I.J.T. members have been known to physically assault students for drinking, flirting or kissing on campus. "We are compelled by our religion to use force if we witness immoral public behavior," says Naveed. "If I see someone doing something wrong, I can stop him and the I.J.T. will support me." Threats of a public reprimand or allegations of immoral behavior are enough to keep most students toeing the I.J.T. line. There is no university regulation segregating men from women in the dining halls, but students know that mingling is taboo. "If I talk to a girl in line at the canteen, I.J.T. members will tell me to get my food and get out," says Rehan Iqbal, 25, an M.B.A. student, who is sitting on the floor of a hallway with female classmate Malka Ikran, 22. It's a nice autumn day, and a shady green lawn beckons through an open window, but they dare not sit outside. It's too public. "There are certain places where I know I can't talk to my male friends," says Ikran. When asked what would happen if she talked to a boy at the library, for example, she just shrugs. "I don't know. I would never try it. I'm too afraid."

It's not just students who feel stifled by the I.J.T.'s strict moral code. Faculty members at Punjab University say that if I.J.T. objects to a professor's leanings, or even his syllabus, it can cause problems. It doesn't take much to raise questions about a teacher's moral qualifications. "Those who could afford to leave, did so," says Hasan Askari Rizvi, a former professor of political science who is now a political analyst. "Those who stayed learned not to touch controversial subjects. The role of the university is to advance knowledge, but at P.U. the quality of education is undermined because one group with a narrow, straitjacketed worldview controls it."

Groups like I.J.T. are likely to grow more influential, not less, as its graduates move into the political arena. For those students aiming to become social activists on campus, and later politicians on the national stage, involvement in I.J.T. is the only forum available to learn the necessary skills. I.J.T. groups across the nation have embraced the opportunity to mold Pakistan's future politicians. In addition to taking classes on the Koran, members learn how to debate, how to present and defend their views and how to write persuasive proposals. " I.J.T. trains and promotes leadership qualities," says Mumtaz Ahmad Salik, president of the P.U. staff association and a professor of Islamic studies. "When a national political party catches anyone who has been trained by I.J.T., they benefit." Most I.J.T. members who choose to enter politics after graduation go on to join Jamaat-e-Islami or other fundamentalist political groups. Some sign up with more centrist parties, although they bring with them fundamentalist thinking that has contributed to the general turn toward conservatism in national politics.

For now a future in politics is far from the minds of most P.U. students, who just want to enjoy their last few years on campus. "We would love to have a student union," says Iqbal. "Then we could plan events and activities and take care of the students' problems ourselves. Right now, only I.J.T. has that kind of power. If the I.J.T. had competition, that would change. Then you would see what students really think." But until free elections and campaigning are permitted, the religious groups will continue to walk large on campus. The same could be said of Pakistan.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 15, 2006, 05:35:24 AM
I'm moving this post by GM on the Israel thread to here:

Turkey's Anti-Americanism

By Theodoros Karakostas  |  July 13, 2006 Anti-Americanism and Islamic fundamentalism are faring quite well in Turkey today. 

"Here we have the Director of the American College beaten and robbed, American sailors in uniform fired upon, and an American-non commissioned officer robbed and maltreated by Turkish troops who were sufficiently under control to obey the command of a Turkish officer when they were going too far."
Excerpt from "The Great Betrayal" A Survey of the Near East Problem" by Edward Hale Bierstadt,

The incident described above remains forgotten because it occurred following the entry of Turkish troops in the City of Smyrna in September 1922 when the soldiers of Mustafa Kemal Pasha began slaughtering the Greek and Armenian Christian populations. The story is told by Edward Hale Bierstadt, an American who was the executive of the United States Emergency Committee which provided aid and assistance to Greek and Armenian Christian refugees who were being displaced by the Turkish Kemalists. The anti-American outbursts which took place during this tragic period comes to mind because of what is transpiring in present day Turkey.

Anti-Americanism and Islamic fundamentalism are faring quite well in Turkey today. On February 14, 2006, the New York Times published an article entitled, "If you want a film to fly, make Americans the heavies". The article described the success of a film shown in Turkish movie theatres entitled, "Valley of the Wolves- Iraq". This film depicts American soldiers (as well as a Jewish American doctor) as carrying out atrocities and massacres against Turkish and Iraqi Muslims. The article by Sebnem Arsu notes "Anti-American novels, including one that portrays a war between the United States and Turkey, have been selling briskly, and Hitler's "Mein Kampf" was a best seller last year."

Since 1994, the myth of a secular and western Turkey has been undermined by the Islamic upheaval in Turkey. In March of that year, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (now Turkish Prime Minister) was elected Mayor of Constantinople (Istanbul). Erdogan's Islamic mentor Necmettin Erbekan became Prime Minister as head of a coalition government in 1996. By 1997, the Generals (known as Kemalists because of their devotion to the nationalist theories of Mustafa Kemal) temporarily disrupted the Islamist rise to power. The Turkish Military has traditionally established a cult of personality around Kemal in the manner that the Soviets had established cults around Lenin and Stalin, and sought to restore Kemal to his status as a venerated ruler.

Despite praises from his western admirers, Kemal was a brutal dictator who completed the genocide of Greek, Armenian, and Assyrian Christian populations and ultimately established a ruthless dictatorship which abolished the Islamic Caliphate and secularized Turkey. The secularization of Turkey, however, was never any stronger or more secure than that in Nasser's Egypt, Asaad's Syria, or Saddam's Iraq. The Islamists in fact were underground and when opportunistic politicians such as Prime Minister Adnan Menderes needed them to participate with Turkish nationalists in the infamous anti-Greek pogroms of 1955, they were readily available.

In November 2002, one year after the 9/11 attacks, the Justice and Development Party finished first with an outright majority in Turkey's national elections. This should have been perceived by American officials and media as a blatant insult, coming as it did following the 9/11 attacks and the exposure of the fanatical excesses of the Taliban. A genuinely secular society does not elect Islamists following 9/11, and when the Taliban, Iran, and Saudi Arabia serve as models for an Islamic State.

The film, "Valley of the Wolves- Iraq," came three years after Turkey refused to allow use of American bases in Turkey for the war on Iraq. This demonstrates that the outpouring of support for Islamists like Erdogan and blatant anti-Americanism have not diminished. There has long been an ominous trail firmly demonstrating that Turkey was not what its American and British supporters claimed it was.

The anti-Greek pogroms of September 1955 alluded to above included the participation of Islamic extremists and secular ultranationalists who were supported by the Turkish government of Premier Adnan Menderes. This is a blatant example of Turkish state sponsorship of terrorism. On a terrible September night, mobs of extremists unhindered by authority proceeded to attack Greek property and to assault the members of the Greek minority who were living in the former Capital of Byzantium. Orthodox Churches were profaned and religious Icons, Bibles, and Crucifixes were burned while chalices used for holy communion were used by thugs for urinating. Greek Orthodox Bishops were forcibly circumcised on the street.

In one night, 100,000 or so Greeks were left homeless with nothing but the clothes on their backs while their homes were completely demolished and their holy places desecrated. The significance of these outrages was minimized by the State Department of John Foster Dulles and the NATO alliance, which refused to take action against Turkey. The American reaction to these outrageous pogroms reflect the misguided support for Turkey over the period of many decades. In additon, Turkey invaded Cyprus during the summer of 1974 under the guise of upholding the accords which established the independence of Cyprus in 1959 and occupied thirty seven percent of Cyprus.

Over 200,000 Greek Cypriots were ethnically cleansed as many young girls were raped by Turkish soldiers. To date, over 1,600 Greek Cypriots remain missing. The Turkish invasions of Cyprus have been presiding over the Islamicization of the island. Greek Orthodox Monasteries dating to the Byzantine era are either being converted into Mosques or destroyed. In April 2004, there was a referendum held in the free and occupied parts of Cyprus. The citizens of the free parts of Cyprus voted against the United Nations plan that would have in effect sealed the Turkish occupation and denies native Cypriots such basic rights as freedom of movement.

The American news media failed to distinguish between the Republic of Cyprus which is the legal authority over the whole of Cyprus but which controls only sixty three percent of the island Republic, and the occupied parts of Cyprus which remain under the control of the Turkish military. Greek Cypriots voting in free Cyprus were blamed while "Turkish Cypriots" were praised for allegedly accepting the U.N. Plan. The reality is that the referendum in the Republic of Cyprus was conducted in a free atmosphere while the referendum in the occupied territories took place under the auspices of 30,000 Turkish soldiers and with the participation of 100,000 Turkish settlers from Anatolia who have no Cypriot origins. The Plan of U.N. Secretary General Annan for Cyprus was intended to legitimize the Turkish occupation, but the Greek majority of Cyprus apparently irritated Annan and his supporters by practicing democracy.

The ultimate result of decades of American and Western appeasement of Turkey is the film "Valley of the Wolves- Iraq". At the present time, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios I, who holds a primacy of honor among Eastern Orthodox Churches and who continues to reside in Constantinople like his 269 predecessors which include Saint Andrew the Apostle, is the victim of demonstrations of hate. Members of the infamous "Grey Wolves" routinely demonstrate outside the Ecumenical Patriarchate and burn his holiness in effigy, while the Greek Orthodox School of Theology known as Halki, is not permitted to open by the Turkish authorities.

The history of Turkey is long and bloody, and most of it was been perpetrated by the dictator Kemal. This history has been mostly unreported in the West. Considering the new Turkish Islamism and the success of a propagandistic film espousing hatred against America, it might be time to come to terms with the Turkish reality. The Turks have never been there for America, German allies during World War One, and neutral during the Nazi conquest of Europe.

The United States should not count on the Kemalists displacing the Islamists. The Islamic movement in Turkey is too strong, and ultimately the Kemalists who ruled for eighty years opened the door for the Islamists by suppressing democratic opposition. It is in the interests of the United States to contain and isolate the hostile Turkey that is emerging. Washington should push for the expulsion of all Turkish troops and Muslim settlers from Cyprus. The United States should also give maximum support to democratic Greece whose border with Turkey is the border between the West and militant Islam.

Guest columns do not necessarily reflect the views of Accuracy in Media.


Karakostas is the founder of the Byzantine Cultural Project.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 18, 2006, 05:31:47 AM
Darkness in Dhaka
A gadfly Bangladeshi journalist runs for his life.

Sunday, October 15, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

Meet Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. As these lines are being written, Mr. Choudhury, a gadfly Bangladeshi journalist, is running for his life. Assuming he survives till Thursday, he will face charges of blasphemy, sedition, treason and espionage in a Dhaka courtroom. His crime is to have tried to attend a writers' conference in Tel Aviv on how the media can foster world peace. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Welcome to Bangladesh, a country the State Department's Richard Boucher recently portrayed in congressional testimony as "a traditionally moderate and tolerant country" that shares America's "commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law." That's an interesting way to describe a country that is regularly ranked as the world's most corrupt by Transparency International and whose governing coalition, in addition to the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, includes two fundamentalist Islamic parties that advocate the imposition of Shariah law. There are an estimated 64,000 madrassas (religious schools) in Bangladesh. The Ministry of Industries is in the hands of Motiur Rahman Nizami, a radical Islamist with a reputation of a violent past. In March the Peace Corps was forced to leave the country for fear of terrorist attacks. Seven other journalists have also been brought up on sedition charges by Ms. Zia's government, most of them for attempting to document Bangladesh's repression of religious minorities.

But few stories better illustrate the Islamist tinderbox that Bangladesh has become than Mr. Choudhury's. "When I began my newspaper [the Weekly Blitz] in 2003 I decided to make an end to the well-orchestrated propaganda campaign against Jews and Christians and especially against Israel," he says in the first of several telephone interviews in recent days. "In Bangladesh and especially during Friday prayers, the clerics propagate jihad and encourage the killing of Jews and Christians. When I was a child my father told me not to believe those words but to look at the world's realities."

With that in mind, Mr. Choudhury, then 38, began publishing articles sympathetic to Israel in the Weekly Blitz while reaching out to Jewish and Israeli writers he encountered on the Web. That led to the invitation by the Hebrew Writers' Association, and to Mr. Choudhury's only crime: By attempting to travel to Israel in November 2003, he violated the Passport Act, which forbids citizens from visiting countries (such as Israel and Taiwan) with which Bangladesh does not maintain diplomatic relations. Violations of the Passport Act are usually punishable by a fine of $8.
But that wasn't the sentence meted to Mr. Choudhury. Following his arrest he was taken into police custody and, as he tells it, blindfolded, beaten and interrogated almost incessantly for 10 days in an attempt to extract a confession that he was spying for Israel. He refused to offer one. He spent the next 16 months in solitary confinement in a Dhaka jail, where he was denied medical treatment for his glaucoma.

By then, Mr. Choudhury's case had come to the attention of Congressman Mark Kirk (R., Ill.), who intervened with Bangladesh's ambassador to the U.S. to secure Mr. Choudhury's release on bail, though the charges were never formally dropped. Help also came from Richard Benkin, a Chicago-area activist who has taken up Mr. Choudhury's cause, and the American Jewish Committee, which invited Mr. Choudhury to the U.S. in May to receive its Moral Courage Award. But Mr. Choudhury says he decided to forgo the trip after a government minister warned him, "If you go, it will not be good for you."

In July, the offices of the Weekly Blitz were bombed by Islamic militants. In September, a judge with Islamist ties ordered the case continued, despite the government's reluctance to prosecute, on the grounds that Mr. Choudhury had hurt the sentiments of Muslims by praising Christians and Jews and spoiling the image of Bangladesh world-wide. Last week, the police detail that had been posted to the Blitz's offices since the July bombing mysteriously vanished. The next day the offices were ransacked and Mr. Choudhury was badly beaten by a mob of 40 or so people. Over the weekend he lodged a formal complaint with the police, who responded by issuing an arrest warrant for him. Now he's on the run, fearing torture or worse if he's taken into custody.

Much of Mr. Choudhury's current predicament can be traced to Ms. Zia's reluctance to cross her Islamist coalition partners, who are keen on the case of the "Zionist spy" and would like nothing more than to see him hang. It doesn't help that a powerless caretaker government will take charge later this month in preparation for next January's elections. The U.S. Embassy in Dhaka has kept track of Mr. Choudhury and plans to send an observer to his trial. But mainly America's diplomats seem to have treated him as a nuisance. "Their thinking," says a source familiar with the case, "is that this is the story of one man, and why should the U.S. base its entire relationship with Bangladesh on this one man?"
Here's an answer: Bangladesh does not mean much strategically to the U.S., except for the fact that it is home to some 120 million Muslims, many of them desperately poor and increasingly under the sway of violent religious notions imported from Saudi Arabia. The Bush administration, which every year spends some $64 million on Bangladesh, has made a priority of identifying moderate Muslims and giving them the space and cover they need to spread their ideas. Mr. Choudhury has identified himself, at huge personal risk, as one such Muslim. Now that he is on the run, somewhere in the darkness of Dhaka, will someone in the administration pick up the phone and explain to the Bangladeshis just what America expects of its "moderate and tolerant" friends?

Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.

Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 18, 2006, 04:05:50 PM

Italian's kidnappers set terms for release: website

Tue Oct 17, 9:28 PM ET

The kidnappers of an Italian photojournalist in Afghanistan have demanded the return of an Afghan Christian convert living in Italy in exchange for keeping the reporter alive, an Italian online newspaper reported.

The PeaceReporter website said the kidnappers of 36-year-old Gabriele Torsello had made the demand in a telephone call to Italian non-governmental organisation Emergency and had given four days for their demand to be met.

"We want this issue resolved before the end of Ramadan," the PeaceReporter website quoted them as saying. The holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan ends this year on October 24.

Earlier this year Italy granted political asylum to 41-year-old Afghan Abdul Rahman, who faced possible execution under Islamic Sharia law in Afghanistan for converting to Christianity.

Rahman was freed in secret in late March after the Afghan Supreme Court said it had doubts about his mental capacity to stand trial.

That decision reassured Kabul's Western allies, who had put unprecedented pressure on the new democratic government to honour freedom of religion. But it caused outcry among hardliners in Afghanistan, who are now demanding that Rahman be extradited.

On Tuesday the abductors of photojournalist Torsello demanded Rahman's return in a phone call to a security official at a hospital run by Emergency in Lashkar Gah, provincial capital of the volatile southern province of Helmand.

Torsello, an independent reporter who has converted to Islam, was allowed to exchange a few words with the official and told him he was "so-so". On Monday night he had phoned the same official to say he was all right.

Italian Foreign Minister Massimo d'Alema said on Monday the government had activated "all its contacts" to secure the release of the reporter, who was kidnapped on October 12.

The Italian media said on Sunday that Torsello had been accused by the Taliban of spying but a spokesman for the radical Islamic movement, Yusuf Ahmadi, told AFP he was not aware of any kidnapping.

Torsello, married with a son, is based in London and has worked in hotspots including Kashmir and Nepal.

Supporters of the former Taliban regime, which was toppled in a US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, have stepped up attacks in southern and eastern Afghanistan this year.

Fighting has been particularly intense in Hemland, where the US-led military coalition and Afghan forces are focusing their biggest anti-Taliban operation since 2001.

But on Tuesday British troops pulled out of the Musa Qala district of Helmand, following a request from war-weary locals.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 19, 2006, 05:50:26 AM
Mr. Erdogan's Turkey

October 19, 2006; Page A18

Five years into the war on terror, inept U.S. diplomacy risks undercutting a key democracy (and ally) that President Bush once called a model for the Muslim world. The future of Turkey as a secular, Western-oriented state is at risk. Just as in Gaza and Lebanon, the threat comes from parties using the rhetoric of democracy to advance distinctly undemocratic agendas. Turkey has overcome past challenges from terrorism and radical Islam; always its system has persevered. But now, as Turkish politicians and officials work to defend the Turkish constitution, U.S. diplomats interfere to dismiss Turkish concerns and downplay the Islamist threat.

A crisis has simmered for months, but earlier this month Ankara erupted. On Oct. 1, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer warned parliament, "The fundamentalist threat has not changed its goal to change the basic characteristics of the state." The next day, as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the Oval Office, Gen. Yasar B?y?kanit, chief of Turkey's armed forces, warned cadets of growing Islamic fundamentalism and promised "every measure will be taken against it." Usually such warnings are enough to keep those transgressing on the constitutional separation of mosque and state in check.

Enter U.S. Ambassador Ross Wilson. At an Oct. 4 press conference he said: "There is nothing that worries me with regards to Turkey's continuation as a strong, secure, stable and secular democracy." He dismissed opposition concern about the Islamism of Mr. Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (known in Turkish as the AKP) as "political cacophony." His remarks were consistent with those of his State Department superiors. Last autumn, Daniel Fried, assistant secretary of state for European Affairs, said "The development of the AKP into a democratic party . . . has mirrored and supported the development of Turkish political society as a whole in a liberal and democratic direction." He described the AKP as "a kind of Muslim version of a Christian Democratic Party."

Why are so many Turks angry at Washington's dismissal of their concerns? While democrats fight for change within a system, Islamists seek to alter the system itself. This has been the case with the AKP. Over the party's four-year tenure, Mr. Erdogan has spoken of democracy, tolerance and liberalism, but waged a slow and steady assault on the system. He endorsed, for example, the dream of Turkey's secular elite to enter the European Union, but only to embrace reforms diluting the checks and balances of military constitutional enforcement. After the European Court of Human Rights upheld a ban on headscarves in public schools, he changed course. "It is wrong that those who have no connection to this field [of religion] make such a decision . . . without consulting Islamic scholars," he declared. Then in May 2006, his chief negotiator for accession talks ordered the removal, from a negotiating paper, of reference to Turkey's educational system as secular.

The assault on the secular education system has been subtle but effective. Traditionally, students had three choices: enroll at religious academies (so-called Imam Hatips) and enter the clergy; learn a trade at vocational schools; or matriculate at secular high schools, attend university and pursue a career. Mr. Erdogan changed the system: By equating Imam Hatip degrees with high-school degrees, he enabled Islamist students to enter university and qualify for government jobs without ever mastering Western fundamentals. He also sought to bypass checks and balances. After the Higher Education Board composed of university rectors rejected his demands to make universities more welcoming of political Islam, the AKP-dominated parliament proposed to establish 15 new universities. While Mr. Erdogan told diplomats his goal was to promote education, Turkish academics say the move would enable him to handpick rectors and swamp the board with political henchmen.

Such tactics have become commonplace. At Mr. Erdogan's insistence and over the objections of many secularists, the AKP passed legislation to lower the mandatory retirement age of technocrats. This could mean replacement of nearly 4,000 out of 9,000 judges. Turks are suspicious that the AKP seeks to curtail judicial independence. In May 2005, AKP Parliamentary Speaker B?lent Arin? warned that the AKP might abolish the constitutional court if its judges continued to hamper its legislation. Mr. Erdogan's refusal to implement Supreme Court decisions levied against his government underline his contempt for rule of law. Last May, in the heat of the AKP's anti-judiciary rhetoric, an Islamist lawyer protesting the head scarf ban shouted "Allahu Akbar," opened fire in the Supreme Court and murdered a judge. Thousands attended his funeral, chanting pro-secular slogans. Mr. Erdogan was absent from the ceremony.

There have been other subtle changes. Mr. Erdogan has replaced nearly every member of the banking regulatory board with officials from the Islamic banking sector. Accusations of Saudi capital subsidizing AKP are rampant. According to Turkish Central Bank statistics, in the first six months of this year, the net error -- money entering the Turkish economy for which regulators cannot account -- has increased almost eightfold compared to 2002, the year the AKP came to power. According to the opposition parliamentary bloc, debt amassed under Mr. Erdogan's administration is equal to total debt accrued in Turkey between 1970 and 2000. Erkan Mumcu, a former AKP minister who now heads the center-right Motherland Party, accused the AKP in June of interfering in Central Bank operations. Accordingly, President Bush's Oval Office statement, based on State Department talking points -- congratulating "the prime minister and his government for the economic reforms that have enabled the Turkish economy to be strong" -- may have hampered transparency, if not reform.

In the past year, the AKP anti-secular agenda has grown bolder. AKP-run municipalities now ban alcohol. Turkish Airlines recently surveyed employees about their attitudes toward the Quran. On July 11, Mr. Erdogan publicly vouched for the sincerity of Yasin al-Qadi, a Saudi financier identified by both the U.N. and U.S. Treasury Department as an al Qaeda financier.

When Mr. Erdogan began his political career, he did not hide his agenda. In September 1994, while mayor of Istanbul, he promised, "We will turn all our schools into Imam Hatips." Two months later he said, "Thank God Almighty, I am a servant of the Shariah." In May 1996, he called for a ban on alcohol. In the months before his dismissal from the mayoralty, his cynicism was clear. "Democracy is like a streetcar," he quipped. "You ride it until you arrive at your destination and then you step off."

Diplomacy should not just accentuate the positive and ignore the negative. When a country faces an Islamist challenge, PC platitudes do far more harm than good. At the very least, U.S. diplomats should never intercede to preserve the status quo at the expense of liberalism. Nor should they even appear to endorse a political party as an established democracy enters an election season. It is not good relations with Ankara that should be the U.S. goal, but rather the triumph of the democratic and liberal ideas for which Turkey traditionally stands.

Mr. Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: bjung on October 19, 2006, 07:58:22 AM
In March the Peace Corps was forced to leave the country for fear of terrorist attacks.

That was me!!!! Some ne'er do wells threatened to kidnap my friends. Though during this time, the government also caught the two men in charge of the largest terrorist organization in Bangladesh, and things have reportedly gotten better. That said, the government often cites a conspiracy from the press to malign bangladesh's image and reporters were often killed or disappeared. The guy in this article will probably be dead soon.

I think part of the problem is that literacy is so low in Bangladesh, that they rely on others to tell them what the Koran says or rely on the interpretations coming the arab world. One guy who can read and has a microphone can hold considerable sway among the people.Though there is also a strong sense of Bengali first and muslim second ever since thier war against pakistan.
I met Bengalis who converted to Christianity, and although they were looked down upon, i dont think they faced the death threats that those in Afghanistan/Pakistan have faced. Much more prevalent was the Hindu/Muslim divide. Some ugly stuff takes place.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 22, 2006, 11:24:28 AM
A very nice piece , , ,


The selfless and the dead
An Iraqi burial society pays its respects to unclaimed war victims.
By Raheem Salman and Doug Smith, LA Times Staff Writers
October 22, 2006

Twice a week, the large delivery truck from Baghdad rolls into the vast cemetery in this holy Shiite Muslim city. A bus follows, bearing wooden caskets on its roof. Half a mile beyond the cemetery gates, at the edge of the desert, the passengers get out of the bus and set to work unloading the truck's grim cargo. On an average trip, there will be 70 to 100 bodies, victims of the sectarian bloodletting that has gripped Iraq.

 The men belong to a word-of-mouth burial society for the unclaimed dead, formed during the 1980s war with Iran, starting small and growing with the need. Today, about 500 men ? laborers, professionals, clerics and tribal leaders ? are members of the legation of the dead in this country where deep piety and terrible brutality have repeatedly intertwined.

The society has no name and no officers. It adheres to no religious sect or political agenda. Thirty to 60 men make each trip. Some go every time; those who have to take time off from work may go only once every few weeks. They pay their own expenses and have rejected government compensation.

"We told them that if there will be money for this work we withdraw, as an act cannot be evaluated with money," said taxi driver Hashim Saadi, 53. "We want the blessing of God only."

Many who belong were drawn to it by their own experiences.

"When I look at them, I feel deeply sad," Saadi said. "Each one of them I see as my son, who was kidnapped five months ago. He was in his last year in the college of economy and administration at Baghdad University. I expect to see his body any time with any group we are bringing."

Mohammed Sabbar, an official with the Iraq Board of Tourism, said he joined the society after his brother disappeared about a year ago and later turned up in the morgue. The family suffered for weeks not knowing his fate.

"I did not go to my work today, preferring to join this act, which is filled with human feelings," Sabbar said. "We feel sad for them. Sometimes I weep. Repeatedly doing this has elicited a sort of acceptance of the sight, but feelings of sadness are still there."

The depth of his commitment is astonishing.

Each two-day trip begins at 4 a.m. after morning prayers. Sabbar walks three-quarters of a mile from the Ur neighborhood of Baghdad to a mosque in Sadr City, where several of the men converge. At the mosque, they pick up two or three caskets, which they tie to the roof of the bus. The bus drives to the Baghdad morgue, an impersonal building of yellow brick, where other men arrive in their cars.  They load the truck with bodies that have been unclaimed for two weeks ? at that point, the morgue has to clear them out to make room new ones. Leaving Baghdad at 7 a.m., they must traverse Latifiya, an insurgent stronghold and one of the most dangerous places in Iraq. Kidnappings, shootings and roadside bomb attacks occur there almost daily.

The caskets on the bus could be a liability in the Sunni Arab city, giving the impression that the men are Shiites on the road to Najaf. But they also ensure speedier passage through the many checkpoints on the 110-mile highway. Mourning parties are less likely to be stopped for identity checks.

About noon, the bus arrives at the cemetery. The men say their midday prayers before they unload the bodies on stretchers into the desert heat, loudly chanting, "There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the prophet of God." They remove the bodies from black nylon sacks. To each they attach a tag bearing all that is known about the deceased.

Some are headless, some bloated and purple. If the body is too decomposed to wash, the men perform what is called the tayamum, rubbing the face and hands with clean sand, in accordance with Islamic tradition.

They return the body to a sack sprinkled with camphor and pungent leaves. Then they wrap the body with a white cloth. They lower bodies into double graves according to their morgue numbers, odd on one side, even on the other. The graves are marked with flat stones that say "Unclaimed."

"When I look at any one of these victims, we feel that he is my brother or father," said Abu Muntadhar, 44, who receives a government salary to drive one of the delivery trucks but has volunteered for this job. "We cry as if they are our relatives. I imagine how their wives will behave if they see them, or their children."

Caring for the unclaimed began as a charity supported by wealthy residents of Baghdad to provide proper burials for the indigent, said Sheik Mehdi Abdul Zahara, one of about 100 burial brokers who work out of tiny offices at the cemetery. Paid by families of the dead, they acquire plots, hire gravediggers and maintain monuments.

The numbers of dead have grown with each traumatic turn in Iraq's course.

During Saddam Hussein's brutal repression after the failed 1991 Shiite uprising, 30 to 40 bodies arrived each month. After the overthrow of Hussein, the number jumped to 30 a week and kept climbing. Now a truck carrying 70 to 100 bodies comes twice a week, and a separate truck carries as many to Karbala, another holy city. Traditionally, charitable donations paid for burials of the unclaimed. With the increasing numbers, the Health Ministry recently took over. Zahara and his gravediggers do the work for reduced pay.  Bodies go unclaimed mostly because the morgue can't identify them. Relatives may check with police and hospitals or wait for a ransom note, hoping for any information that their loved one is alive. Even when family members go to the morgue, the deteriorated condition of some bodies may give them reason to delay positive identification in the hope that it is someone else.

Zahara does a little detective work of his own, hoping to relieve families of the pain of not knowing. Once, he received a beheaded man and found an address book in his shoe. He telephoned someone who turned out to be a brother.

"He was afraid, thinking that I was a terrorist or a kidnapper," Zahara said.

The brother called back several times before deciding to trust Zahara. The sibling came at night, accompanied by three carloads of family and friends, who were there to provide support, but also protection in the event of a trap.

"They were too sad for the killing of their son, but at least this put an end to their suffering and searching," Zahara said.

The unofficial leader of the group, Sheik Jamal Soodani, has been going on the burial trips since their outset. He is responsible for the roster of volunteers and attends every journey.  Although he has been accused of having political or sectarian motives, he and other members of the group have no aim but getting closer to God, Soodani said.

"We bury the Sunni, Shiite, Christian, Muslim and non-Iraqi," he said. "We deal with the human being as a human being, regardless of considerations like color and religion."

At the end of each day's work, the men are tired and it is too late to return to Baghdad. They retire instead to a rented two-room house at the edge of the cemetery.  They sleep on mattresses spread across the floor like gravestones. Others sleep on the porch outside ? they prefer the fresh air.

Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: G M on October 23, 2006, 04:22:27 AM
A New Terrorist Haven
The frightening advance of Islamists in Somalia.
by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Bill Roggio
10/30/2006, Volume 012, Issue 07

WHEN FIGHTERS from the radical Islamic Courts Union (ICU) seized Mogadishu, capital of Somalia, in early June, the Western world briefly noticed. Analysts and talking heads were concerned that the country could become a terrorist haven. Then the media largely lost interest, though the situation remains dire. The ICU is on the verge of winning an even bigger strategic victory, and its links to international terrorism have become impossible to deny.

After Mogadishu fell, Somalia's beleaguered transitional government holed up in the south-central city of Baidoa and watched as the ICU won a rapid series of strategic gains. It took control of critical port cities--most recently, Kismayo, captured on September 25--that give it access to the Indian Ocean. The ICU's advances have met with little resistance, as typified by the capture of the town of Beletuein on August 9. The governor, escorted by a couple of "technicals"--pickup trucks mounted with machine guns--fled to Ethiopia shortly after fighting broke out between his forces and ICU militiamen.

Now, in late October, the ICU controls most of the country's key strategic points. It can move supplies from south to north, and ICU troops effectively encircle Baidoa. In the past month, the ICU has begun to make overt moves against the transitional federal government. The most dramatic came on September 18, when the presidential convoy faced a multi-pronged suicide car bombing attack just minutes after President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed delivered a speech to the transitional parliament. Six government officials died in what was the first suicide strike in Somalia's history. There were further casualties in an ensuing gun battle, but President Ahmed escaped unscathed.

That attack occurred against the backdrop of ICU-inspired protests in Baidoa. The ICU used local supporters to organize demonstrations against the transitional government, forcing government police to disperse a crowd with gunfire.

The bottom line is that Baidoa is a city under siege, as evidenced by a stream of defections from the transitional government's military to the more powerful ICU. Over 100 government fighters stationed near Baidoa have defected. All that prevents the transitional government's destruction is the presence of some Ethiopian soldiers. Early this month, witnesses saw at least thirty Ethiopian armored vehicles pass through Baidoa en route to military barracks about twenty kilometers east of the city, and these troops have set up roadblocks in an effort to protect the transitional government.

Intelligence sources, however, doubt the Ethiopian forces can prevent Baidoa from falling. Some believe that the main reason the ICU hasn't yet mounted a full assault is a desire to prevent the transitional government from escaping to Ethiopia or another sympathetic country and becoming a permanent thorn in the ICU's side: The radicals would like to see all major figures in the transitional government killed or captured.

The primary reason Westerners should care about these developments is the ICU's increasingly clear support for international terrorism. Longtime al Qaeda ally Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys has been appointed head of the ICU's consultative shura council. The United States named Aweys a specially designated global terrorist in November 2001. He is one of three individuals believed responsible for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania who are currently sheltered by the ICU. Aweys's prot?g?, Aden Hashi 'Ayro, reportedly received terrorist training in Afghanistan as the United States was preparing to attack the Taliban in 2001.

These men have seized power in a country that contains 17 operational terrorist training camps, as described in a confidential report prepared by the nongovernmental group Partners International Foundation in 2002. The claim in this report has been confirmed by a military intelligence source. Today, hundreds of terrorists from Afghan istan, Chechnya, Iraq, Pakistan, and the Arabian peninsula are said to be flocking to Somalia to train in or staff these camps. According to a military intelligence source, the camps provide training in the use of improvised explosive devices to counter Ethiopian vehicles.

According to press accounts, the ICU has received funding from the Arabian peninsula that allows it to arm its fighters with new weapons. Sheikh Aweys told a group of 600 fighters at the Hilweyne training camp, "This is the beginning, but thousands of other gunmen will be trained. You are the ones who will disarm civilians, restore law and order, and help enforce sharia law."

But the presence of foreign fighters in Somalia suggests that Sheikh Aweys and the ICU have ambitions beyond Somalia. Some ICU leaders, such as Sheikh Yusuf Indohaadde, have denied the presence of foreign fighters in the country in order to distance themselves publicly from al Qaeda. In a late June press conference, Sheikh Indohaadde said, "We want to say in a loud voice that we have no enemies, we have not enmity toward anyone. There are no foreign terrorists here." Within a few weeks of this unequivocal statement, how ever, the Associated Press obtained a copy of an ICU recruiting videotape directed at both Somali and Arab audiences (with Arabic subtitles) that showed Sheikh Indohaadde in the desert alongside fighters from Arab Gulf states.

Another senior ICU leader, Sheikh Hassan "Turki" Abdullah Hersi, openly admitted foreign involvement in Somalia during a speech to supporters after the seizure of Kismayo. "Brothers in Islam, we came from Mogadishu and we have thousands of fighters, some are Somalis and others are from the Muslim world," he said. "If Christian-led America brought its infidels, we now call to our Muslim holy fighters to come join us."

Nor is the ICU's support for international jihad lost on the movement's highest leaders. In an audiotape released in late June, Osama bin Laden stated, "We will continue, God willing, to fight you and your allies everywhere, in Iraq and Afghanistan and in Somalia and Sudan, until we waste all your money and kill your men and you will return to your country in defeat as we defeated you before in Somalia"--a clear nod to the rise of the Islamic courts. In July, bin Laden issued an even stronger statement: "We warn all the countries in the world from accepting a U.S. proposal to send international forces to Somalia. We swear to God that we will fight their soldiers in Somalia and we reserve our right to punish them on their lands and every accessible place at the appropriate time and in the appropriate manner."

The rise to power of the ICU is reminiscent of the Taliban's rise in the 1990s. Both radical groups are allied with al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists. And like the Taliban, the ICU is now instituting an extremely strict version of sharia.

In Somalia, as in Afghanistan in the 1990s, the implementation of sharia is facilitated by lawlessness and desperate poverty. The Taliban im posed its harsh rule on what Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid called an "exhausted, war-weary population," many of whom saw the movement "as saviors and peacemakers." Likewise, Somalia, since the toppling of President Muhammad Siad Barre in 1991, has been at the mercy of rival warlord factions known for indiscriminate violence. Rapes and other crimes have been commonplace. It is thus unsurprising that many Somalis view the ICU as a force that can deliver the stability they crave.

In both countries, however, many citizens were unable to accept the radicals' draconian regime. By the time the Taliban was ousted from power in 2001, few Afghans were sad to see them go. Likewise, the influx of tens of thousands of Somali refugees into Kenya shows that not all of the ICU's subjects are happy with their rule.

Where it has taken power, the ICU attempts to regulate virtually every facet of Somali citizens' lives, even barring them from watching soccer matches. ICU forces shot at least two people who demanded to watch a World Cup semifinal this summer. And in mid-September, in the course of raiding a Mogadishu hall where a crowd was watching an English Premier League soccer match, they shot and killed a 13-year-old boy. The ICU has also conducted mass arrests of citizens watching videos, cracked down on live music at weddings, and arrested a karate instructor and his female students because the lessons constituted mixing of the sexes.

Beyond the religious basis for these laws, there is clearly a desire to cement the ICU's control. This can also be seen in the ICU's crackdowns on the media. The Islamic courts have closed several radio stations to stifle dissent. On October 8, they gave the press in Mogadishu 13 rules of conduct that the press freedom advocacy group Reporters sans Fronti?res describes as a "draconian charter." It prohibits publishing information "contrary to the Muslim religion," information "likely to create conflicts between the population and the Council of Islamic Courts," and the use of "the terms which infidels use to refer to Muslims such as 'terrorists,' 'extremists,' etc." A Reporters sans Fronti?res press release contends that this charter would result in "a gagged, obedient press, one constrained by threats to sing the praises of the Islamic courts and their vision of the world and Somalia."

The ICU is also moving to disarm the population. In mid-October, the Islamic courts announced the door-to-door collection of weapons owned by Somali citizens and organizations. Only ICU-affiliated Somalis would be allowed to retain their firearms. This move, ostensibly designed to instill order, clearly diminishes citizens' ability to resist the Islamic militia.

Although the situation in Somalia looks grave, the United States has more options for dealing with the ICU than it has in some other areas where terrorist factions have made gains lately, such as the Waziristan region of Pakistan.

Ethiopia's military presence--still relatively light, and meant principally to help the transitional government escape once Baidoa falls--creates an initial opportunity for the United States. Back in the mid-1990s, Ethiopia intervened in Somalia to destroy the predecessor of the ICU, the al Qaeda-backed al-Ittihad al-Islamiya, which was sponsoring Islamic separatist groups in the Ethiopian border province of Ogaden. The Islamic courts are unlikely to be friendlier to Ethiopia than their predecessor. Sharif Ahmed, the head of the ICU's executive council, has openly called for a jihad against Ethiopian soldiers in the country. ICU military commanders have made similar calls.

Nor is Ethiopia the only neighbor concerned about the ICU's rise. On October 5, the ICU moved 15 of its technicals to the village of Liboi, in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya. While an ICU spokes man claimed that this was intended to "check the security in the area," the Kenyans viewed the move as provocative. Concern about the ICU's intentions had already prompted senior Kenyan officials to undergo anti terrorist and counterinsurgency training; when the ICU advanced to Liboi, Kenyan military helicopters responded with a show of force. Kenyan defense minister Njenga Karume later announced that "anybody who might touch Kenya will face the full force of our military."

Since then, Kenya has deployed forces along its border with Somalia. Moreover, the governments of the semiautonomous regions of Puntland and Somaliland are hostile to the Islamic courts.

The United States has significant assets at Camp Lemonier in neighboring Djibouti, where the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa is made up of Marines, Special Operations forces, civil affairs teams, and a U.S. and international naval task force. The Combined Joint Task Force's primary missions have been patrolling the East African coast and the straits of the Bab el Mandeb oil choke point, training regional militaries to fight the spread of Islamic terror groups, performing goodwill missions designed to improve the lives of Africans, and undertaking covert intelligence and hunter-killer missions. A Predator drone said to be operating from Djibouti killed Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, al Qaeda's chief operative in Yemen, in November 2002.

All is not lost in Somalia. While the transitional government has no power base to rely on, there is enough concern in the region about the ICU's rise that the United States has potential partners with whom it could fashion an appropriate response if it wanted to. The critical question is whether we can muster the will--or for that matter even the awareness--to address the problem.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is a senior consultant for the Gerard Group International and author of the forthcoming book My Year Inside Radical Islam (Tarcher/Penguin). Bill Roggio is an independent military blogger who served in the Army from 1991 to 1995.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: G M on November 05, 2006, 04:29:17 AM
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 20, 2006, 03:51:32 AM

Activists of an opposition Islamic alliance chant slogans to protest against amendments to Pakistan's Islamic laws in Karachi November 17, 2006. Rights activists welcomed on Thursday amendments to Pakistan's Islamic laws that will allow rape victims to seek justice without the need for four male witnesses but said the laws should be scrapped altogether.

A friend comments:

? need for four male witnesses? Qur?an 24:13


This is only one of many surprising dictates in the Qur?an.  Qur?an 2:282  states that a women?s testimony in court is worth  half as much as that of a man.  I highly recommend reading Robert Spencer?s books (Islam and the Crusades, The Truth About Muhammad.  It appears from my reading that moderate Muslims chose to ignore the parts of the Qur?an they find uncomfortable in this day and age.  However, they lose the theological debate if challenged.  I think this could be the main reason that the Muslim community has been largely muted in response to terrorist acts.   Muhammad stated that ?War is deceit? and all is fair when dealing with non Muslims (infidels). 

It will be truly interesting to see if this proposed amendment stands because it goes directly against what Allah allegedly (and conveniently) told Muhammad (Qur?an 24:13) after Mohammad?s favorite wife Aisha was accused of having an affair.   The Qur?an is supposed to be the exact word of Allah and not subject to interpretation.  Could this amendment, if passed, set a huge precedent for further amendments more in vogue with our current century?


I also found it interesting that the vast majority of Muslims are not Arabs yet everyone who recites the Qur?an is instructed to use ancient Arabic.  It is highly doubtful that most Muslims understand the words they are saying when reading and praying even if they are Arabs.

Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 23, 2006, 05:04:31 AM
Rape case has Saudis asking questions about legal system
Woman who says she was raped faces punishment
AL-AWWAMIYA, Saudi Arabia -- When the young woman went to the police a few months ago to report that she was gang-raped by seven men, she never imagined that the judge would punish her -- and that she would be sentenced to more lashes than one of her rapists received.
The story of the Girl of Qatif, as the alleged rape victim has been called by the media here, has triggered a rare debate about Saudi Arabia's legal system, in which judges have wide discretion in punishing a criminal, rules of evidence are shaky and sometimes no defense lawyers are present.
The result, critics say, are sentences left to the whim of judges. These include one in which a group of men got heavier sentences for harassing women than the men in the Girl of Qatif rape case or three men who were convicted of raping a boy. In another, a woman was ordered to divorce her husband against her will based on a demand by her relatives.
In the case of the Girl of Qatif, she was sentenced to 90 lashes for being alone in a car with a man to whom she was not married -- a crime in this strictly segregated country -- at the time that she was allegedly attacked and raped by a group of other men.
In the sleepy, Shiite village of al-Awwamiya on the outskirts of the eastern city of Qatif, the 19-year-old is struggling to forget the spring night that changed her life. An Associated Press reporter met her in a face-to-face interview. She spoke on condition of anonymity.
Her hands tremble, her dark brown eyes are lifeless. Her sleep is interrupted by a replay of the events, which she describes in a whisper.
That night, she said, she had left home to retrieve her picture from a male high school student she used to know. She had just been married -- but had not moved in with her husband -- and did not want her picture to remain with the student.
While the woman was in the car with the student, she said, two men intercepted them, got into the vehicle and drove the couple to a secluded area where the two were separated. She said she was raped by seven men, three of whom also allegedly raped her friend.
In a trial that ended this month -- in which the prosecutor asked for the death penalty for the seven men -- four of the men received one to five years in prison plus 80 to 1,000 lashes, the woman said. Three others are awaiting sentencing. Neither the defendants nor the plaintiffs retained lawyers, as is common here.

"The big shock came when the judge sentenced me and the man to 90 lashes each," the woman said.
The sentences have yet to be carried out, but the punishments ordered have caused an uproar.
Justice in Saudi Arabia is administered by a system of religious courts according to the kingdom's strict interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia. Judges -- who are appointed by the king on the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council -- have complete discretion to set sentences, except in cases where Sharia outlines a punishment.
Saudis are urging the Justice Ministry to clarify the logic behind some rulings. In one recent case, three men convicted of raping a 12-year-old boy received sentences of one to two years in prison and 300 lashes each. In contrast, another judge sentenced at least four men to six to 12 years imprisonment for fondling women in a tunnel in Riyadh.
Saleh al-Shehy, a columnist for Al-Watan, asked Justice Minister Abdullah Al-Sheik to explain why the boy's rapists got a lighter sentence than the men in last year's sexual harassment case.
"I won't ask you my brother, the minister, if you find the ruling satisfactory or not," wrote al-Shehy. "I will ask you, 'Do you think it satisfies God?' "
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 24, 2006, 07:19:37 AM

Canadian Press
Published: Friday, November 24, 2006 ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) - Two Turkish men who converted to Christianity went on trial Thursday for allegedly insulting "Turkishness," and of inciting religious hatred against Islam, the Anatolia news agency reported.

The trial opened just days before a visit to Turkey by Roman Catholic Pope Benedict, during which the pontiff was expected to discuss improved religious rights for the country's tiny Christian minority who complain of discrimination.
Hakan Tastan, 37, and Turan Topal, 46, are accused of making the insults and of inciting hate while allegedly trying to convert other Turks to Christianity.
The men were charged under Turkey's notorious Article 301, which has been used to bring charges against dozens of intellectuals - including Nobel prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk.
The law has widely been condemned for severely limiting free expression and European officials have demanded that Turkey change the law as part of its bid to join the European Union.
Prosecutors accused the two of allegedly telling possible converts that Islam was "a primitive and fabricated" religion and that Turks would remain "barbarians" as long they remained Muslims, Anatolia reported.
The prosecutors also accused them of speaking out against the country's compulsory military service, and compiling databases on possible converts.
Tastan and Topal, who could face up to nine years in prison, denied the accusations in court.
"I am a Turk, I am a Turkish citizen. I don't accept the accusations of insulting 'Turkishness,' " Anatolia quoted Tastan as telling the court. "I am a Christian, that's true. I explain the Bible ... to people who want to learn. I am innocent."
"I am a Turk, I am a Turkish citizen, it is impossible for me to insult 'Turkishness,"' echoed Topal, according to Anatolia.

? The Canadian Press 2006
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 07, 2006, 07:56:49 AM
Somalia Town Threatens to Behead People Who Don't Pray 5 Times Daily

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Residents of a southern Somalia town who do not pray five times a day will be beheaded, an official said Wednesday, adding the edict will be implemented in three days.
Shops, tea houses and other public places in Bulo Burto, about 124 miles northeast of the capital, Mogadishu, should be closed during prayer time and no one should be on the streets, said Sheik Hussein Barre Rage, the chairman of the town's Islamic court. His court is part of a network backed by armed militiamen that has taken control of much of southern Somalia in recent months, bringing a strict interpretation of Islam that is alien to many Somalis.

Those who do not follow the prayer edict after three days have elapsed, "will definitely be beheaded according to Islamic law," Rage told The Associated Press by phone. "As Muslims we should practice Islam fully, not in part, and that is what our religion enjoins us to do."
He said the edict, which covered only Bulo Burto, was being announced over loudspeakers throughout the town.
Somalia's Islamic courts have made varying interpretations of Koranic law, some applying a more strict and radical version of Islam than others. Some of the courts have introduced public executions, floggings of convicts, bans on women swimming in Mogadishu's public beaches and on the sale and chewing of khat, a leafy stimulant consumed across the Horn of Africa and in the Middle East.

After complaints about the lack of consistency from residents in the capital, Mogadishu, the umbrella Council of Islamic Courts set up an appeals court with better educated judges in October.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 21, 2006, 06:53:06 PM
'Hungry For Asian Islam'
December 21, 2006

AMMAN, Jordan -- As the Bush administration continues to puzzle over Middle East reform, a clear example of success might just be a Malaysian greasy spoon in the desert kingdom of Jordan.

The waiters at the Al-Rufaqa dinette in downtown Amman serve more than green tea and samosas. They're missionaries on behalf of a Malaysian cleric, Sheikh Ashaari Muhammad, whose preach-and-fry restaurant and gift shop has franchises as far west as Syria, Egypt and soon, Iraq. It isn't so much the content of Sheikh Ashaari's controversial take on Islam -- purveyed in books and pamphlets displayed beside the dining hall -- that bodes well for Arab Muslim societies; it's the fact a growing number of patrons appear curious enough to take it in.

"Asian Islam is pluralistic, tolerant and antiextremist," says Jordanian cleric Mustafa Abu Rumman. Mr. Rumman preaches at a government-controlled mosque across the street from a Kentucky Fried Chicken in the West Amman suburb of Swayfiya. "Arabs are tired of militant ideologies and hungry for an alternative. If the largest Islamic movements of Malaysia and Indonesia started sharing their teachings with Arabs the way Sheikh Ashaari does, they would find many followers and friends here."

In my travels through the region over the past three months, I've heard this view echoed by civic and spiritual leaders -- from quietists to militants -- spanning Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and the Mediterranean. Even a turbaned champion of the Iraqi insurgency, former Saddam Hussein confidante Sheikh Abd al-Latif al-Humayyim, told me in November that he has his eye on the Muslim East. "After the Americans depart," he said confidently, "Iraqis will look to models in Malaysia, Indonesia and India to try and resolve our problems. These exemplars are crucial to the future of Iraq."

What kind of effect will Asia's Islamic influence have on Arab lands? That depends on the institutions and networks put in place to bridge the disparate cultures. Until now, it's been Saudi and Iranian coffers pouring money and manpower into madrassas, fostering a hard-line Islamist bent. But the beginnings of a more moderate trend are forming -- and a nudge from the U.S. may prove vital to the effort.

America has done relatively little so far to promote progressive Islam in Asia -- and even less to help advance the liberal Islamic tendencies manifest in Indonesia, for example, beyond that country's borders. But a pending bill in Congress manifests a heightened appraisal of the importance of Asian Islamic culture to the region. Among other stipulations, the bill allocates modest funds to support "moderation and tolerance" within Indonesian Muslim communities. What's more, it calls for the exportation of Indonesian ideals region-wide: "The Committee recognizes the significant achievements of the Indonesian people in consolidating and strengthening their democratic processes and institutions, and believes this experience should be widely shared with other Islamic countries."

Such initiatives are crucial, judging from moderate Muslim leaders in Indonesia who lament their own government's disinclination to pursue a like-minded policy. "There's a reason Indonesian Islamic pluralism and tolerance don't get similarly exported," says Jakarta-based Islamic University rector Azyumardi Azra, one of Southeast Asia's most prominent Muslim liberals. "Our government doesn't finance such programs because Indonesia is not an Islamic state." Nor have homegrown grass-roots efforts filled the government's void -- perhaps due in part to the formidable language and cultural barriers separating much of Asia from the Arab world.

Nonetheless, Mr. Azra felt the need to impart his country's ideals to Arab Muslim intellectuals. Back in April, he traveled to Alexandria, Egypt and addressed the Cairo Center for Human Rights Studies on how Indonesian Muslims effectively reconcile Islam and democracy. A month later, he flew to Amman and urged a Jordanian policy conference to learn more about Jakarta's example of peaceable political Islam. His ideas had potential to win broad audiences in both countries; both Egypt and Jordan are still reeling from al Qaeda suicide bombings, which claimed scores of local civilian lives and provoked a popular backlash. But it's unclear whether Mr. Azra's hit-and-run lectures to policy circles trickled down to the clerical elite, let alone the Arab street.

Contrast Mr. Azra's brief visits with the long-term relations forged by Sheikh Ashaari, the Malaysian cleric and restaurateur. The jury is out on whether Sheikh Ashaari's brand of Islam represents the best of what Asia has to offer. His movement was banned by Kuala Lumpur in 1994 on allegations of "deviationist teachings." (He allegedly claimed to have held personal dialogues with the spirit of the prophet Muhammad, for example.) Still, mainstream Asian religious leaders could learn something from his outreach strategies.

Beginning in the 1980s, Sheikh Ashaari sent small delegations of young Malaysian followers into the Middle East to study Arabic, befriend the local population and build long-term spiritual bonds. The missions were largely self-sustaining, with the Sheikh's young emissaries staffing the restaurant chain and other businesses alongside their studies. Some of the brightest students returned to Malaysia and translated the Sheikh's writings into Arabic for dissemination.

Sheikh Ashaari's grass-roots Arab outreach has proven that, against tough odds, Asian Muslims can reach deep into Arab societies and win followers and friends. In the struggle to counter Saudi- and Iranian-backed extremist teachings, the Sheikh's model could be appropriated and customized, on a grand scale, by the largest Muslim movements in Asia: Spreading liberal Islam in the Middle East is a vital step toward countering the roots of Islamist militancy in the Far East and beyond.

Any concerted push for a westward flow of Muslim ideals from Asia will find natural allies not only in Asia but also in the U.S. and across the Arab world. Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, who advocates the quietist teachings of "Islam Hadhari," now serves as chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, an umbrella group of 57 mostly Muslim nations. He could use his position to press for exchange programs that bring large numbers of Asian clerics to Arab Muslim seminaries -- and students from Arab countries to Islamic institutions in Asia. Such an approach would be consistent with the keen interest Mr. Abdullah expressed in a speech last year to export these principles to "Pakistan, India, the Middle East, Jeddah, Dubai, England, New Zealand and many other places I have spoken on Islam Hadhari."

Former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, a leader of his country's 30 million-strong spiritual movement, the Nahdatul Ulama, influences a vast network of progressive Islamic boarding schools, pesantren, in Java and beyond. This formidable base of education could have a profound mark on countries to its west -- if it's sufficiently focused on building the language, media and networking competencies necessary to reach out to Arab Muslims at the grass roots.

But the chances of success without widespread institutional support are slim. As an eccentric Malaysian sheikh has shown, Arab societies are as hungry for Asian Islam as they are for Asian fried dishes. For the sake of tolerance and pluralism, perhaps it's time more spiritual leaders from the East joined him in the Asian hospitality business.

Mr. Braude is a columnist for The New Republic and author of "The New Iraq" (Basic Books, 2003).
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 28, 2006, 09:23:43 AM
A human portrayal of the mindset in Afghanistan
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 15, 2007, 06:12:24 PM
Saudis May Ban Letter ‘X’

A group of Islamic clergy in Saudi Arabia has condemned the letter "X” because of its similarity to a hated banned symbol – the cross.
The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which has the ultimate say in all legal, civil and governance matters in the kingdom, issued a fatwa, or religious edict, against the "X.” It came in response to a Ministry of Trade query about whether a Saudi businessman could be granted trademark protection for a new service with the English name "Explorer.”

The request from the businessman, Amru Mohammad Faisal, was turned down. "Experts who examined the English word ‘explorer’ were struck by how suspicious that ‘X’ appeared,” Youssef Ibrahim writes in the New York Sun.

"In a kingdom where Friday preachers routinely refer to Christians as pigs and infidel crusaders, even a twisted cross ranks as an abomination.”

In response to the turndown, Faisal wrote an article that appeared on several Arabian Web sites, sarcastically suggesting that the authorities might consider banning the "plus” sign in mathematics because of its similarity to the cross. Among the commission’s earlier edicts is the 1974 fatwa declaring that the Earth is flat.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 22, 2007, 10:02:56 AM
The Murder of Hrant Dink
January 22, 2007; Page A15

ISTANBUL -- "I feel like a pigeon," Hrant Dink wrote in his last article. "Like a pigeon I wander uneasily amidst this city, watching my back constantly, so timid and yet, so free." That pigeon was gunned down Friday by a young Turkish fanatic on one of the most crowded streets of Istanbul.

Few people can inspire a whole nation in their lifetime, fewer still with their death. Hrant Dink did both. He was a prominent journalist, the editor of the Armenian weekly Agos, an outspoken intellectual, a peace activist, a true citizen of Istanbul and a dear friend. When the news of his assassination broke, thousands poured into the streets, chanting, "We are all Hrant Dink, we are all Armenian!" People slept in front of his office, guarding the spot where he'd fallen with candles and flowers.

The next day, all the main Turkish papers, left or right, spoke in a chorus of outrage on their front pages. Even more hard-line writers sincerely mourned his loss, asking where things had gone wrong. His death shattered the country and the grief cut across all sorts of ideological and social divides. His funeral will be attended by people from all religions, ethnicities and political inclinations. For Hrant Dink was a man impossible not to love, and far from "denigrating Turkishness," the crime which an Istanbul court convicted him of (under the anti-free-speech Article 301), for talking about the killings of Armenians in the closing days of the Ottoman Empire, he truly loved this land.

That his death was interpreted by some beyond Turkey as proof that Turks don't belong in the European Union would have upset Hrant. Without close ties to the EU, and the West as a whole, he worried that the country will become less democratic and more insular. His Turkey is a tapestry, a place where conflicting voices coexist. His best friends, companions and colleagues were Muslim Turks.

Yet Hrant Dink was, since his early childhood, used to discrimination. As he was getting ready to appeal his six-month sentence (eventually suspended) to the European Court of Justice, he wrote that, "I had no other option left. Why is it that although everyone tried under Article 301 has been acquitted one way or another, I have been sentenced to prison? Is it because I am Armenian and they wanted to intimidate me, teach me my limits?" Hrant knew the price to be paid for being in the political and ethnic minority, and still refused to withdraw into a glass ghetto.

Surrounded with friends and family, Hrant Dink was in many ways a lonely man. As critical as he was of Turkish ultranationalism, he had little time for Armenian ultranationalism. At his talks in the U.S., Europe and Australia to Armenian groups, he never played to the gallery. The biases and generalizations about Turkey and Turks in the Armenian diaspora frustrated him. "There is a big difference between Armenians in the diaspora and Armenians in Turkey," he once said. "You guys are Armenian one day a year, on the 24th of April" -- the commemoration of the 1915 massacres and deportations -- "whereas we are Armenian every day of the year but on that one."

Hrant opposed a French bill last year that sought to criminalize denial of the Armenian genocide, as well as a similar law now under discussion in the U.S. Congress. "If they pass the law in France, I will go there," he said, "and though I believe the opposite, I will openly say that there was no genocide." As a genuine supporter of freedom of expression, Hrant believed that it should be up to people, Turks and Armenians together, to find the means to reconcile, not to politicians to pass judgment on that history.

Many people asked Hrant why he didn't leave Turkey for Europe or America. The answer he gave was the inspiration for one that a Turkish-Armenian characters in my last novel, "The Bastard of Istanbul," offers.

"But why would I want to do that? This city is my city. My family's history in this city goes back at least 500 years. Armenian Istanbulites belong to Istanbul, just like the Turkish, Kurdish, Greek and Jewish Istanbulites do. We have first managed and then badly failed to live together. We cannot fail again."

Ms. Shafak is the author of "The Bastard of Istanbul" (Viking, 2007).

Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 22, 2007, 11:06:40 AM
Another one on this:

A Murder in Istanbul
January 22, 2007
The fatal shooting of Turkey's most prominent ethnic Armenian Friday was an act of individual madness. But the outpouring of grief and outrage speaks volumes about Turkey's national character.

In condemning Hrant Dink's killing almost in unison, Turkey's ruling and opposition parties and thousands of citizens -- nationalists, Islamists and many more in between -- understand that their entire nation was impugned. That doesn't make the tears and chants of "We are all Hrant Dink, we are all Armenians" any less heartfelt. This spontaneous reaction, rather than the crime itself, is the true reflection of Turkish society today.

Turkey's democracy is as healthy and vibrant, and its economy as booming, as never before. Tremendous changes in recent years are the result of broadly backed efforts to modernize. Mr. Dink, a journalist, was among the champions, knowing well that Turkey's small Armenian community, and an honest discussion of the painful past, were best served by expanding freedoms in Turkey. He bravely stood up to anti-Turkish voices in the Armenian diaspora who sought not truth but belated revenge for massacres of Armenians in the closing days of the Ottoman empire. He was braver still, in hindsight, for fighting Turkish hardliners who wanted him silenced for openly discussing those far-off times. No one knows for sure what motivated Mr. Dink's alleged killer, a teenager who confessed late Saturday, but speculation centers on the nationalist fringe.

One of the remaining weaknesses of Turkish democracy is the criminalization of free speech. A rogue nationalist lawyer opposed to membership in the European Union has exploited Article 301, which forbids "denigrating Turkishness," to tarnish his country's good name. Among dozens of writers brought up on charges, including novelists Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak (who writes on the next page), Mr. Dink was the only one who was actually convicted -- not a good signal, either, since he was the only prominent Armenian Turk -- and received a six-month suspended sentence. He is now the first fatality of Article 301.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government, previously reluctant to anger the nationalists in an election year, can pay no better tribute to Hrant Dink than to rescind this misguided law. It would also send a strong message about Ankara's commitment to reform and democratization, which had been cast in doubt before Friday. For beyond Turkey, this murder will surely be used to try to erect more barriers on its path, not least toward the EU. It would be doubly tragic if the killing of Mr. Dink, a man committed to making Turkey a freer and better place, ends up undermining his life's work.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 31, 2007, 05:31:22 PM

The Nightmare of Being a Saudi Woman
Abeer Mishkhas,
HERE WE go again and this time, it is official. A woman in Saudi Arabia has no right to choose her husband; she is forced to marry whomever her family chooses and, what is most shocking of all, a Saudi woman can be divorced from her husband against her will if that is the wish of her family. Add to this all the “normal” limitations in her life which if we start listing them, we’ll fall into a vicious cycle of repetition. But repetition or not, a serious crime is taking place in front of us and just because we have gotten used to hearing about it does not make it any less serious.

All our anger and frustration aside, the latest news concerning the much-written about Fatima is very unsettling. She is the woman who was happily married to a husband whom her father approved of; after his death, however, her half-brothers decided she should divorce Mansour since, in their eyes, he was not her social equal. And they set about going to the court and divorcing the couple even though Fatima and Mansour were happily married with two children. The court has ruled in favor of the half-brothers so the couple is now “legally” divorced. There is nothing in Islam or its laws that allows such a thing to happen but nonetheless, the court has issued its verdict.

Now Fatima is facing being forced into her brothers’ custody who are threatning to revive the accusation of “khulwa”, or being alone with Mansour, for which they were originally arrested. She now has to face being given over to her brothers, being charged for being alone with her husband (as the court ruled that they are divorced), and having to live with the feeling that her life has been taken away from her unjustifiably and by force.

Fatima no doubt feels that her life has been taken completely, unjustly and unjustifiably away from her. To take things a step further, we are facing a situation which could become the nightmare of every woman in Saudi Arabia. A woman is not secure in her marriage; she is at the mercy of her brother, or half-brother or any male relative who can tear her life apart and get a court to support the action. The question is clear: Where and when will this madness stop? One of my colleagues pointed out something that is definitely not encouraging — the verdict in this particular case was handed down very swiftly and very clearly. There are thousands of other cases involving husbands and wives in which a verdict is sorely needed but which has been delayed by maneuverings and machinations. Many women in Saudi Arabia are waiting for a verdict that will free them from an abusive husband, father or male relative; far too many of them have been refused justice since their sufferings have been deemed to be unimportant. The men continue their abuse and the women suffer. Other women have had their children taken away from them as there are no laws granting them visitation rights, let alone the right to take care of their children. Other women are beaten up and forced to go back to their abusers and still the courts do not intervene in the name of justice. In none of these cases has it been recognized that women have rights and that they are being threatened on a daily basis.

To look at the whole story, Fatima’s case also proves that men can also be caught in the same web. Her husband is as much a victim as she is, and maybe his case will widen the issue and make it more of a human rights case than one involving only a mere woman.

Fatima’s verdict was announced on the day I learned about a case that made me explode with questions and exclamations. Here are the details: A young Saudi woman living in the UK went to a hospital with injuries and it turned out that she had been beaten by her husband. The woman doctor at the hospital was very sympathetic and supportive and listened carefully to the details of the assault; she did not hide her anger or disgust at the man who did this. She then alerted the social services and also reported the matter to the police. The police began investigating and used the woman’s own statement. No one told her, “We can’t believe you because you don’t have proof” which had happened to her previously in the Kingdom. The police sent a team to arrest the husband and the woman was absolutely incredulous. “I can’t believe that they are listening to me, believing what I said and actually acting,” she exclaimed.

Her amazement increased with each passing day with calls from social services and the police, checking to see that she was living comfortably and that her children were all right and offering any help that she needed. All of this support occurred at the same time she began to get threats from her husband’s family in Saudi Arabia. You see, she had dared to complain. His family has threatened to take her children away from her as soon as she returns to Saudi Arabia. And guess what? They can do exactly that if they feel like it. Not because they have a right to but because as a woman, she cannot demand her rights in the Kingdom. If she returns, she faces a long humiliating process — probably coupled with social ostracism and disgrace — and the final result is by no means guaranteed.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 03, 2007, 06:16:49 PM
Cruellest cut in the name of Islam

Genital mutilation and forced marriage occurs even among educated Muslims in some countries, writes Ayaan Hirsi Ali in a shocking account of her early life in Somalia, in her new book
February 03, 2007

KORAN school was a shed down the road. The other pupils were from the neighbourhood. At first I liked it. I learned to mix ink from charcoal, water, and a little milk, and to write the Arabic alphabet on long wooden boards. I began learning the Koran, line by line, by heart. It was uplifting to be engaged in such an adult task.
But the kids at madrassah (Islamic religious school) were tough. They fought. One girl, who was about eight years old, they called kintirleey, "she with the clitoris".
I had no idea what a clitoris was, but the kids didn't even want to be seen with this girl. They spat on her and pinched her; they rubbed sand in her eyes, and once they caught her and tried to bury her in the sand behind the school.

The madrassah teacher didn't help. Once in a while he called her dammin, dunce, and kintirleey, too. My teenage cousin Sanyar used to pick me up after madrassah. One day she arrived just as a girl hit me in the face. Sanyar took me home and told the story. "Ayaan didn't even defend herself," she said in horror. "Coward!" my family jeered.

The next day Sanyar waited for me outside the madrassah with another teenager, the older sister of the girl who had hit me the day before. They caught hold of the two of us and tugged us over to an open space, then ordered us to fight. "Scratch her eyes out. Bite her," Sanyar hissed at me. "Come on, coward, think of your honour."

The other girl got the same encouragement. We flew at each other, fists tight, hitting, wrestling, pulling each other's hair, biting. "Ayaan, never cry!" Sanyar called out. The other children cheered us on. When they let us stop, our dresses were torn and my lip was bleeding, but Sanyar was delighted. "I don't want you to ever let another child hit you or make you cry," she said. "Fight. If you don't fight for your honour, you're a slave."

Then, as we walked away, the other girl shouted after me, "Kintirleey!" Sanyar winced. I looked at her, horror dawning on me. I was like that other girl? I, too, had that filthy thing, a kintir? In Somalia, like many countries across Africa and the Middle East, little girls are made "pure" by having their genitals cut out. There is no other way to describe this procedure, which typically occurs around the age of five.

After the child's clitoris and labia are carved out, scraped off, or, in more compassionate areas, merely cut or pricked, the whole area is often sewn up, so that a thick band of tissue forms a chastity belt made of the girl's own scarred flesh. A small hole is situated to permit a thin flow of pee. Only great force can tear the scar tissue wider, for sex.

Female genital mutilation predates Islam. Not all Muslims do this, and a few of the peoples who do are not Islamic. But in Somalia, where virtually every girl is excised, the practice is always justified in the name of Islam. Uncircumcised girls will be possessed by devils, fall into vice and perdition, and become whores. Imams never discourage the practice: it keeps girls pure.

Many girls die during or after their excision, from infection. Other complications cause enormous, more or less lifelong pain. My father Abeh was a modern man and considered the practice barbaric. He had always insisted that his daughters be left uncut. In this he was quite extraordinarily forward-thinking. Though I don't think it was for the same reason, Mahad, who was six, had also not yet been circumcised.

Not long after that first fight of mine at the madrassah, Grandma decided that the time was right for us to undergo the necessary and proper dignity of purification. My father was in jail and my mother was away for long periods, but Grandma would ensure that the old traditions would be respected in the old ways.

After she made the arrangements, Grandma was cheerful and friendly all week long. A special table was prepared in her bedroom, and various aunts, known and unknown, gathered in the house. When the day itself came I was not frightened, just curious. I had no idea what was going to happen, except that there was a festive atmosphere in the house and we - all three of us - were going to be cleansed. I wouldn't be called kintirleey any more.

Mahad went first. I was driven out of the room, but after a while I stole back to the door and watched. Mahad was on the floor, with his head and arms on Grandma's lap. Two women were holding down his spread-eagled legs, and a strange man was bending down between them. The room was warm and I could smell a mixture of sweat and frankincense.

Grandma was whispering in Mahad's ears, "Don't cry, don't stain your mother's honour. These women will talk about what they have seen. Grit your teeth." Mahad wasn't making a sound, but tears rolled down his face as he bit into Grandma's shawl. His face was clenched and twisted in pain.

I couldn't see what the stranger was doing, but I could see blood. This frightened me. I was next. Grandma swung her hand from side to side and said, "Once this long kintir is removed you and your sister will be pure."

From Grandma's words and gestures I gathered that this hideous kintir, my clitoris, would one day grow so long that it would swing sideways between my legs. She caught hold of me and gripped my upper body in the same position as she had put Mahad. Two other women held my legs apart. The man, who was probably an itinerant traditional circumciser from the blacksmith clan, picked up a pair of scissors. With the other hand, he caught hold of the place between my legs and started tweaking it, like Grandma milking a goat. "There it is, there is the kintir," one of the women said.

Then the scissors went down between my legs and the man cut off my inner labia and clitoris. I heard it, like a butcher snipping the fat off a piece of meat. A piercing pain shot up between my legs, indescribable, and I howled. Then came the sewing: the long, blunt needle clumsily pushed into my bleeding outer labia, my loud and anguished protests, Grandma's words of comfort and encouragement. "It's just this once in your life, Ayaan. Be brave, he's almost finished." When the sewing was finished, the man cut the thread off with his teeth. That is all I can recall of it. But I do remember Haweya's bloodcurdling howls. Though she was the youngest - she was four, I five, Mahad six - Haweya must have struggled much more than Mahad and I did, or perhaps the women were exhausted after fighting us, and slipped, because the man made some bad cuts on Haweya's thighs. She carried the scars of them her whole life.

I must have fallen asleep, for it wasn't until much later that day that I realised that my legs had been tied together, to prevent me from moving to facilitate the formation of a scar. It was dark and my bladder was bursting, but it hurt too much to pee. The sharp pain was still there, and my legs were covered in blood. I was sweating and shivering. It wasn't until the next day that my Grandma could persuade me to pee even a little.

By then everything hurt. When I just lay still the pain throbbed miserably, but when I urinated the flash of pain was as sharp as when I had been cut.

It took about two weeks for us to recover. Grandma tended to us constantly, suddenly gentle and affectionate. She responded to each anguished howl or whimper, even in the night. After every tortured urination she washed our wounds carefully with warm water and dabbed them with purple liquid. Then she tied our legs again and reminded us to stay completely still or we would tear, and then the man would have to be called again to sew us back up.

After a week the man came and inspected us. He thought that Mahad and I were doing well, but said Haweya needed to be resewn. She had torn her wound while urinating and struggling with Grandma. We heard it happening; it was agony for her. The entire procedure was torture for all of us, but undoubtedly the one who suffered the most was Haweya.

Mahad was already up and about, quite healed, when the man returned to remove the thread he had used to sew me shut. This was again very painful. He used a pair of tweezers to dig out the threads, tugging on them sharply. Again, Grandma and two other women held me down. But after that, even though I had a thick, bumpy scar between my legs that hurt if I moved, at least my legs didn't have to be tied together any more, and I no longer had to lie down without moving all day.

It took Haweya another week to reach the stage of thread removal, and four women had to hold her down. I was in the room when this happened. I will never forget the panic in her face and voice as she screamed with everything in her and struggled to keep her legs closed. Haweya was never the same afterward. She became ill with a fever for several weeks and lost a lot of weight. She had horrible nightmares, and during the day began stomping off to be alone. My once cheerful, playful little sister changed. Sometimes she just stared vacantly at nothing for hours. We all started wetting our beds after the circumcision. In Mahad's case, it lasted a long time.

When Ma came back from her trip this time, she was furious. "Who asked you to circumcise them?" she yelled, more angry with her mother than I had ever seen her. "You know their father doesn't want it done! Allah knows, I have never in my life been so betrayed as by you. What possessed you?"

Grandma turned on my mother in fury. She yelled that she had done Ma a huge favour. Everyone was cut.

ONE Friday afternoon at the end of January 1992, my father Abeh came straight from the mosque to our flat. He never did that - never paid us a visit these days - and when he arrived he was completely excited. "Ayaan, my daughter, I have good news for you - the best news - my prayers are answered!" he crowed. "Today in the mosque a blessed man came to me with a proposal of marriage, and I offered him your hand!"

I remember letting him talk while I felt my heels sinking into the ground. I cleared my throat and said no, but he didn't hear me. I said, "I'm not going to marry a stranger!" and my father, bubbling with enthusiasm, answered, "But he's not a stranger! He's not a stranger at all! He's your cousin! He's an Osman Mahamud!" He began chanting back all of this man's names.

I said, "Not a stranger in that sense, Abeh," and he answered, "In what sense, then?" "But I haven't even met him!" I wailed. My father told me, "That's fine - you will meet him tomorrow."

My father had given me away to a man called Osman Moussa, a fine young Somali man who had grown up in Canada. He had come to Nairobi to find and rescue family members who had been stranded by the civil war, and also to find a bride. He thought the Somali girls in Canada were too Westernised, by which he meant that they dressed indecently, disobeyed their husbands, and mixed freely with men; they were not baarri, which made them unworthy of marriage. And the civil war meant that daughters of the best families in Somalia were available for practically nothing.

My father had met this young man in the mosque barely two hours before. He was tall, he told me, with strong bones and white teeth, well fed on milk and meat in North America. Osman Moussa must have approached him. I can imagine the scene, the respectful recitation of lineage, finally the request: "You are the father of daughters, and I seek a bride." My father must have felt so very happy.

There was no bride price. Because of the civil war, it would have been indecent to ask for one. But this was a strategic marriage; Osman Moussa could boast that he was married to a Magan, and we would now have relatives in Canada. There were all kinds of reasons for my father to be happy about this match.

I summoned the strength to say to my father "Abeh, what if I am already with some other person?" but he wasn't even listening. He said, "Allah has sent us the answer." He was overcome with his own cleverness. The next day, my father came to the house with Osman Moussa.

The living room was clean, and everyone was excited except me. I just wore normal clothes, a loose dress and headscarf. I wasn't going to dress up for this.
This man came in. He wanted to shake my hand. He was very tall, and wore enormously long blue jeans; he looked like a basketball player, with a shaved head and a baseball cap. I was polite. I said, "Hello, come in. I am Ayaan," without looking him in the eye, and fetched my mother.

My father and mother both remained in the room with us - Ma and I sat on the bed - and this man talked about Canada, where he had lived since he was a small boy, and about the refugees and the war. We didn't make eye contact. Osman Moussa was talking with my mother, trying to pass muster. When I could look up, I scrutinised him - the way he talked, his face - thinking, "Will I like this man?" I was supposed to make a home and a life with him; cook, bear his kids, respond to his whims. And what did I know of him? His Somali was poor, half-learned. He seemed earnest.

He neither repelled nor attracted me. I felt indifferent, completely without feeling. I didn't detect that he had any special interest in me, either. The marriage was set for Saturday, six days away.

Our second meeting was more intimate. Osman Moussa and his sister came, and I asked Haweya and Mahad to be with me, to help me evaluate this man. Ma left us five young people alone. I asked about prayer; I wanted to find out how religious this Osman Moussa was. I felt I had to make some sort of decision fast, even though there seemed to be no way I could stop the arrangement from proceeding.

I asked, "What do you expect of a wife?" Osman's sister was mortified, and said, "Maybe we shouldn't be here if you're going to discuss such things!" But Osman Moussa belly-laughed and said, "You're going to give me six sons. We will be a home for all the Osman Mahamud."

We grilled him subtly in the Somali epics we had learned from our mother, some of them composed by the Abdihalin brothers' greatgrandfather, to our eternal wonder. He knew none of them. Worse still, instead of admitting his ignorance he pretended he knew what we were talking about, which made him seem small. We asked him Grandma's old riddles; he failed them.

We switched to English - we assumed this man's English must be better than his limping Somali - and Haweya asked him what kind of books he read. He said, "Hmya. I read, you know, stuff." I realised his English was half-learned, too, and he clearly read nothing at all.

I summoned enough courage to ask him to take off his baseball cap, which he did. I thought perhaps I might fall in love with his head of hair or something. But though Osman was only 27 years old, his head was already as bald as the bottom of baby Abbas. Baldness is associated with wisdom among Somalis, but this man had nothing to show for losing so much hair at such an early age.

He thought the Osman Mahamud were the chosen people; he was dull, trite, and a bigot, a dyed-in-the-wool Brotherhood type. I remember thinking, "No, surely Abeh could not do this to me?"

When Osman Moussa finally left I tried to pull together the courage to take matters into my own hands. I put on my coat and went to Buruburu, where my father was living. When he opened the door I said, "Osman Moussa came to our house today and Haweya and Mahad and I tested him. We think he's a pea-brain. He's not eloquent, he's not brave enough to admit his shortcomings, and he's a bigot."

Just like that. That way my father couldn't ignore what I was saying, as he mostly did. He had me come and sit down and said, "Now tell me."

"I don't think this man and I are compatible," I said.

He said, smiling broadly, "On the basis of one afternoon?" I told my father, "You thought on the basis of one minute that we would be compatible, so I may think on the basis of one afternoon that we are not."

But Abeh said, "No, I know more than that. He is the son of the son of the son of" - he quoted the lineage. "He has a good job in Canada, he doesn't chew qat, he is clean and a conscientious worker, he is strong. I am giving you to him to ensure your safety."

He went on, "The ceremony will be Saturday, at Farah Goure's house. The sheep have been bought, the qali has been hired. Your saying you don't want this - it's not a question. We are living in bad times. Surely you won't reject my choice of a husband for you just because he doesn't read novels." He reduced it to the smallest thing. Imagine how trivial my opposition would sound to Abeh if I added: but he has no hair!

Still, I sat up straight and told him, "I am not going to do it." My father said, "I can't accept a no from you for something you haven't even tried."

I asked, "You mean I can't say no before I get married?"

He answered, "Of course not. Everything is all arranged." Nobody tied me up. I was not shackled. I was not forced at gunpoint. But I had no realistic way out.

Edited extract from Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, to be published next week by Free Press (an imprint of Simon & Schuster), $34.95.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 22, 2007, 05:58:00 AM
Egyptian Court Sentences Blogger Charged With Insulting Islam to 4 Years in Prison

Thursday , February 22, 2007

An Egyptian blogger was convicted of insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak and sentenced to four years in prison on Thursday in Egypt's first prosecution of a blogger.
Abdel Kareem Nabil, a 22-year-old former student at Egypt's Al-Azhar University, an Islamic institution, had pleaded innocent to all charges, and human rights groups had called for his release.
Nabil, who used the blogger name Kareem Amer, had sharply criticized Al-Azhar on his Web log, calling it "the university of terrorism" and accusing it of suppressing free thought. He also often criticized Mubarak's regime on the blog.
In one post, he said Al-Azhar University "stuffs its students' brains and turns them into human beasts ... teaching them that there is not place for differences in this life."
He was a vocal critic of conservative Muslims and in other posts described Mubarak's regime as a "symbol of dictatorship."
The university threw him out last year and pressed prosecutors to put him on trial.
The judge issued the verdict in a brief, five-minute session in a court in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. He sentenced Nabil to three years in prison for insulting Islam and inciting sedition and another year for insulting Mubarak. Nabil had faced a possible maximum sentence of up to nine years in prison.
Nabil, wearing a gray T-shirt and sitting in the defendants pen, gave no reaction and his face remained still as the verdict was read. He was immediately taken from the pen and put in a prison truck and did not comment to reporters.
Egypt arrested a number of bloggers last year, most of them for connections to Egypt's pro-democracy reform movement. Nabil was arrested in November, and while other bloggers were freed, Nabil was put on trial — a sign of the sensitivity of his writings on religion.
Hafiz Abou Saada, head of the Egyptian Human Rights Organization, described the verdict as "very tough"
"This is a strong message to all bloggers who are put under strong surveillance that the punishment will very strong," he told the Associated Press.
Two U.S. congressmen also expressed deep concern about the arrest of Nabil — who also goes by the blogger name of Kareem Amer — and called for the charges to be dropped.
"The Egyptian government's arrest of Mr. Amer simply for displeasure over writings on the personal Web log raises serious concern about the level of respect for freedoms in Egypt," Reps. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., and Barney Frank, D-Mass., wrote to U.S. Ambassador Nabil Fahmy.
The Bush administration has not commented on Nabil's trial, despite its past criticism of the arrests of Egyptian rights activists.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 07, 2007, 12:22:27 PM
Saudi Kidnap, Rape Victim Faces Lashing for 'Crime' of Being Alone With Man Not Related to Her
Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A 19-year-old Saudi woman who was kidnapped, beaten and gang raped by seven men who then took photos of their victim and threatened to kill her, was sentenced under the country's Islamic-based law to 90 lashes for the "crime" of being alone with a man not related to her.

The woman is appealing to Saudi King Abdullah to intervene in the controversial case.

"I ask the king to consider me as one of his own daughters and have mercy on me and set me free from the 90 lashes," the woman said in an emotional interview published Monday in the Saudi Gazette.

"I was shocked at the verdict. I couldn't believe my ears. Ninety lashes! Ninety lashes!" the woman, identified only as "G," told the English-language newspaper.

Five months after the harsh judgment, her sentence has yet to be carried out, "G" said she waits in fear every day for the phone call telling her to submit to authorities to carry out her punishment.

Lashes are usually spread over several days. About 50 lashes are given at a time.

The woman's ordeal began a year ago when she was blackmailed into meeting a man who threatened to tell her family they were having a relationship outside wedlock, which is illegal in the desert kingdom, according to a report in The Scotsman newspaper.

She met the man at a shopping mall and, after driving off together, the blackmailer's car was stopped by two other cars bearing men wielding knives and meat cleavers.

During the next three hours, the woman was raped 14 times by her seven captors.

One of the men took pictures of her naked with his mobile phone and threatened to blackmail her with them.

Back at home in a town near the eastern city of Qatif, the young woman did not tell her family of her ordeal. Nor did she inform the authorities, fearing the rapist would circulate the pictures of her naked. She also attempted suicide.

Five of the rapists were arrested and given jail terms ranging from 10 months to five years. The prosecutor had asked for the death penalty for the men.

The Saudi justice ministry, however, said rape could not be proved because there were no witnesses and the men had recanted confessions they made during interrogation.

The judges, basing their decision on Islamic law, also decided to sentence the woman and her original blackmailer to lashes for being alone together in his car.

The Saudi Gazette and The Scotsman contributed to this report.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 25, 2007, 11:11:13 AM

Islamic groups impose tax on Christian “subjects”
Islamic militias in Baghdad and Mosul order Christians to pay the jizya, a poll tax which dates back to the period of the Ottoman Empire, which guaranteed non Muslims the right to practise their religion as well as Muslim protection; the groups are ordered “not to reveal their activities” to Iraqi authorities while all contributions are given in alms to the Mosques.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – “Non Muslim subjects must pay a contribution to the jihad if they wish to be allowed to live and practise their faith in Iraq”. These orders are being imposed on the Christians of Mosul and Baghdad by Islamic militias. Besides these threats of extortion, thousands of non Muslims are also being forced to leave their homes by letters assigning their house to Muslim citizens. The initiative is part of the general campaign to Islamafy the entire country, which begun with the imposition of the veil on all women. The website was the first to carry news of this latest development; the website has eye witness accounts of Iraqi refugees in Erbil, in the semi autonomous region of Kurdistan.

The fourth anniversary of the US military’s arrival in Baghdad, March 20th 2003, brings with it little improvement in the conditions of the ever decreasing Christian community. Bomb attacks, kidnappings and threats continue to mark the daily existence of those few who so far have not been able to leave. The latest sign of the increasingly worrying situation is news that the community is now being forced to pay the jizya, a “poll tax” requested from non Muslims according to the Koran, guaranteeing “protection” form the Islamic umma. The tax was once extracted by the Ottoman Empire until its collapse in 1918, but now Baghdad and Mosul’s Mosques have ordered it be put in place again, “without revealing it to authorities”.

According to local Christians it really is a contribution to the holy war, which – the jihad maintains - will also protect their community from external aggression. The monies collected are then given over to Mosques, but “without the knowledge of authorities”.

Other accounts tell of letters being left in gardens or the entrance to Christian homes, notifying the families that they must leave their dwellings because they have been assigned to others, whose names and surnames are listed in black and white in the letters. 


For three translations of sura 9 verse 29 below. See

YUSUFALI: Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
PICKTHAL: Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.
SHAKIR: Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.

Title: Saudi Woman kicks butt
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 12, 2007, 03:06:38 PM
Saudi woman kicks butt
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: G M on April 15, 2007, 04:31:56 PM
Clerics issue edict over sinful hugging

By SADAQAT JAN, Associated Press Writer
Sun Apr 15, 6:56 AM ET

Pakistan's tourism minister says she fears for her life after clerics at a radical mosque issued an edict accusing her of sinning by hugging her French parachute jumping instructor, the state news agency reported.

Minister of Tourism Nilofar Bakhtiar told a parliamentary committee of her fear on Saturday following the Taliban-style edict against her by Islamic clerics at Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, in Islamabad, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

The clerics said the hug was "an illegitimate and forbidden act" and "without any doubt, she has committed a great sin."

Two clerics at the mosque issued the edict against Bakhtiar last Sunday, demanding that she be sacked, her family punish her and she be made to ask for forgiveness after pictures in the Pakistani media showed Bakhtiar hugging her parachute jumping instructor at a fundraising jump in France.

Hundreds of students from an Islamic seminary attached to the mosque have been running an anti-vice campaign in Islamabad, threatening music shops and brothels, in a bold challenge to President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, a U.S. ally who has pledged to promote moderate Islam.

The mosque's chief cleric, Maulana Abdul Aziz, has threatened to stage suicide attacks if authorities try to raid the mosque.

Bakhtiar rejected the edict last week, saying she had only received a pat from her instructor for her jump in France last month to raise money for victims of a devastating earthquake in Pakistan in 2005.

Bakhtiar was not immediately available for comment on Sunday.

"I have strengthened my security after the fatwa (edict) from the so-called Shariat court and the killing of Punjab provincial minister Zil-e-Huma," APP quoted Bakhtiar as saying, referring to the shooting death in February of a female provincial official by a man who told police he was opposed to women holding high offices.

Last month, an anti-terrorism court sentenced to death the man who attacked Zil-e-Huma Usman, who was minister for social welfare in Punjab province.

Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 16, 2007, 10:03:46 PM
The Arab Invasion
Indonesia's radicalized Muslims aren't homegrown.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

JAKARTA, Indonesia--The headquarters of the Front for the Defense of Islam is reached by a narrow alley just off a one-lane street in a residential neighborhood near downtown Jakarta. But step inside the carpeted reception area, decorated by a mural of a desert mosque and partially open to the sky, and it's as if you've arrived in a bedouin kingdom.

Your host is Habib Mohammad Rizieq Shihab, 41. He is dressed entirely in white, a religious conceit far from typical of most Indonesian ulama, or experts in Islamic theology. To the question, "Where are you from?" Mr. Rizieq is quick to explain that he is descended from the Quraishi tribe, from what is now Yemen. Just how he knows this isn't clear, but it's the symbolism that counts: The Prophet Mohammad was a Quraishi, and the tribe is entrusted with the responsibility for protecting God's House, the Qe'eba, in Mecca. Mr. Rizieq, in fact, is a native of Jakarta.

For the better part of the past decade, Mr. Rizieq and his Front--known by its Indonesian initials FPI--have played a prominent role in Indonesian political life, although the FPI is not a political party. It is an Islamist vigilante group, with the self-appointed mission of policing and, if necessary, violently suppressing "un-Islamic" behavior. Squads of FPI militants have forcibly shut down hundreds of brothels, small-time gambling operations, discos, nightclubs and bars serving alcoholic beverages. They have also stormed "unauthorized" Christian houses of worship, attacked peaceful demonstrators from Indonesia's renascent Communist party, trashed the office of the National Commission on Human Rights and rampaged through airports looking for Israelis to kill.
"Non-Muslims from Dar el-Harb [countries at war with Muslims], if they are in Indonesia, then it is the duty of Muslims to oppose them to the last drop of blood," he says. "George Bush can be killed, too." As for the legitimacy of attacks on American diplomats and civilians, "this is a dilemma," though after a moment's reflection he concludes that they "cannot be disturbed" since they are here with the consent of a Muslim government.

The source of Mr. Rizieq's views--and of the Islamic radicalism that increasingly infects this country--becomes a little clearer as he tells his life story. A poor child but talented student, he won a full scholarship to study at King Saud University in Riyadh. He says he was "not influenced by Wahhabism," which he found excessively literal in its readings of the Quran and Islamic law. As evidence of his moderation, he observes that in his future Shariah state, authorities would not "cut off people's hands for stealing right away. First, you have to raise people up."

Still, Saudi attitudes plainly rubbed off on Mr. Rizieq, particularly in their obsession with religious purity. "I violently reject the mixing of non-Islamic and Islamic theology," he says in reference to the syncretic practices of Indonesian Muslims who often incorporate such pre-Islamic rituals as communing with the spirits of the dead. Muslims who do not pray five times a day, or do not fast during Ramadan, are "infidels, deviants." The same goes for heterodox Islamic sects such as the Ahmadiyya, as well as the great 13th century Sufi mystic Ibn . He is just as opposed to pancasila, Indonesia's secular and pluralist official ideology, which he contrasts invidiously with the Islamic concept of dhimmitude. "The status of being a dhimmi [religious minority] is an exalted one because you are under Islam and you are protected as long as you respect its rules."

Mr. Rizieq claims to have five million followers; in an apparent joke, he proposes to send them to New York "to study and learn." The real figure is probably in the tens of thousands at most. But there is no question Mr. Rizieq has magnified the FPI's influence with his modulated (and so far non-lethal) use of violence, which has helped stave off a full-scale government crackdown while allowing him to bully businesses, communities and individuals at will. He has also reportedly benefited from the support of the so-called Green (Islamic) generals, who rose to prominence in the last years of the Suharto era as the dictator, in a pattern common to ostensibly secular Muslim leaders, sought to shore up his regime by appealing to his "Islamic" constituency.

Less clear is whether the FPI also gets financial support from abroad; knowledgeable observers suggest Mr. Rizieq gets all the money he needs by extorting the victims of his Islamic purification campaigns. But as Imdadun Rahmat, a leading scholar of Islamic extremism in Indonesia, notes, "the radicals are all drinking from the same breast," by which he means the ideological inspiration and financial support provided by Saudi Arabia. The Mecca-based Muslim World League, for example, is notorious for sending its representatives to Indonesia with suitcases of cash to fund its pet projects, often extremist religious boarding schools. The Saudi religious affairs office in Jakarta finances the publication of a million books a year translated from Arabic into Indonesian, according to Angel Rabasa of the Rand Corporation.

Then there is the Institute for Islamic and Arabic Studies, or LIPIA, a Saudi-funded university in Jakarta, which offers full scholarships to top students. "LIPIA was designed to create cadres," says Mr. Rahmat. Its graduates include Jafar Umar Thalib, the founder of Laskar Jihad, a terrorist group responsible for the death of thousands of Indonesian Christians in the Moluccas.
For his part, Mr. Rizieq tries to distance himself from that kind of violence--although not by much. "If I wanted to I could always bomb these places," he says. "I'd rather have a physical confrontation." He adds that he is in contact with Jemaah Islamiyah, responsible for the 2002 Bali bombing, but only in order to persuade it to change its ways. Why would he set his troops upon mere gamblers or prostitutes while conversing with murderers? "When there is universal agreement among Muslims on [the immorality of] adultery or fornication then we will act violently. When there is no agreement [on issues like terrorism] then the approach is dialogue."

It's a curious form of tolerance, conceived by a man who arrogates to himself the right to define what is and is not Islamic. Is it a harbinger for Indonesia? That will depend on whether his country seeks to remain a part of Asia, or become a satellite of the Middle East.

Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.

Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 25, 2007, 06:28:16 AM

Published: April 25, 2007
NY Times
ISTANBUL, April 24 — Turkey’s ruling party on Tuesday chose a presidential candidate with an Islamic background, a move that will extend the reach of the party — and the emerging class of devout Muslims it represents — into the heart of Turkey’s secular establishment for the first time.

The selection has focused the worries of secular Turks who fear that sexual equality, as well as drinking alcohol and wearing miniskirts, could eventually be in danger.
Abdullah Gul, 56, the foreign minister, whose wife wears a Muslim head scarf and who is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s closest political ally, is expected to be confirmed as president by Parliament in several rounds of voting that begin Friday. That will boost Turkey’s new political class — modernizers from a religious background.

“These are the new forces, the new social powers,” said Ali Bulac, a columnist for a conservative newspaper, Zaman, in Istanbul. “They are very devout. They don’t drink. They don’t gamble. They don’t take holidays. They are loaded with a huge energy. This energy has been blocked by the state.”

Turkey is a Muslim country, but its state, founded in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, is strictly secular, and the presidency is its most important office. The current president is Ahmet Necdet Sezer, a secularist with a judicial background whose term is expiring.

Mr. Gul, an affable English speaker who has long been his party’s public face abroad, nodded to secular concerns in a news conference in Ankara after his nomination, saying, “Our differences are our richness.” His candidacy was a concession: the choice most distasteful to the secular establishment was Mr. Erdogan himself, who deftly bowed out.

Still, if Mr. Gul is confirmed, his party would occupy the posts of president, prime minister and parliamentary speaker, a lineup that the opposition party leader, Deniz Baykal, called “unfavorable.” His party later announced that it would boycott the vote.

In the Middle East, where mixing religion with government has been seen as poisonous for modernity, Turkey’s very light blend stands out as unusual, even unique.

“This party has done more for the modernization of Turkey than all the secular parties in the previous years,” said Joost Lagendijk, a member of the European Parliament who heads a committee on Turkish issues. “They were willing to open up the system, to challenge the elite.”

The party that Mr. Gul helped found, known by its Turkish initials, AK, sprang from the Islamic political movements of the 1990s. But the AK became significantly more moderate after taking power on a national scale in 2002. Since then, it has applied pragmatic policies that helped create an economic boom and opened up the state in ways that the rigid secular elite, which relied heavily on state control, had never imagined, in part to qualify for membership in the European Union.

Although the party is publicly adamant about keeping religion separate from policy, bristling at shorthand descriptions of it as pro-Islamic, it draws much of its support from Turkey’s religiously conservative heartland. Once on the periphery, these traditional Turks are now emerging as a powerful middle class that has driven Turkey’s boom. The economy has nearly doubled in the four years that the AK has been in power, largely because it has stuck to an economic program prescribed by the International Monetary Fund.

Mr. Gul’s candidacy goes to the heart of the secular-religious debate, because the presidency is such a revered symbol with real powers — he is commander in chief and has a veto. Turkish military leaders in the past have remarked that they would refuse to visit the presidential palace if a woman in a head scarf were living in it.

“How can she now become the host of a palace that represents the very same principles?” said Necmi Yuzbasioglu, a professor of constitutional law at Istanbul University.

Mehmet A. Kislali, a columnist with the newspaper Radikal, who has contacts with the military, said: “The military should not be underestimated. Thousands of officers are watching the developments.”

But the party’s only real application of Islam has been its grass-roots approach. In practices that would be familiar to Shiite Muslims in Lebanon or to Palestinians in Gaza, women’s groups go door to door offering aid, community centers offer women’s literacy classes and sports centers give free physical therapy to handicapped children.

The question of religion aside, economic progress under the AK has been extraordinary, with a steady rise in entrepreneurship. In Istanbul, fuel-efficient taxis zip down tulip-lined streets. New parks have sprung up. The air is less polluted.

Mustafa Karaduman, a textile designer and fashion house owner, is among the new entrepreneurs. He is from Anatolia, a capital of middle-class production, and the homeland of Mr. Gul. His fashion house has turned into an empire, supplying Islamic clothing for women in Europe and the Middle East. He is 50, has seven children, and is an outspoken opponent of the miniskirt.

“My mission,” he says, “is to cover all women around the world.”


In Turkey, a Sign of a Rising Islamic Middle Class

(Page 2 of 2)

The country’s wealth has drawn more observant Turks into public life. Some religious schools now teach English, unheard of a decade ago, improving the chances of students from religious backgrounds on university entrance exams.

At the Kartal Anadolu Imam Hatip High School in a conservative middle-class neighborhood, 16-year-old girls in head scarves and sweatshirts played basketball last week in brightly patterned Converse sneakers. (Skulls were a popular choice.) Last year, 94 students were admitted to universities, up from almost none a decade ago, said Hadir Kalkan, the school’s principal, pointing to students’ career choices in marketing, broadcasting, psychology and finance. Just 14 chose to continue religious training.

The city pool and gym in the lower-middle-class neighborhood of Okmeydani is a testament to the ascendancy of the pious middle class. Few observant women attended in 1996, when the pool opened, an attendant said. Now they fill treadmills and lap lanes.

“I always wanted to but there were no places to go,” said Dondu Koc, a 46-year-old in yellow sweat pants as she pedaled an exercise bike in a room full of women on Wednesday. Before Mr. Erdogan’s stewardship as mayor of the city, there was only one public pool. Now there are three, and five are under construction.

The complex is separated by sex, an arrangement Ms. Koc likes because it lets her and other covered women pedal, jog and swim without their head scarves. But the division irritates secular Turks.

“There shouldn’t be a split like this,” said Tamis Demirel, 47, a homemaker whose hair was still wet from her swim. “We sit next to each other; we should swim next to each other, too.”

The remark seemed to answer the question of Elif Demir, a 19-year-old office clerk at a youth rally for Mr. Erdogan on Sunday. “We have no problem with women wearing miniskirts,” she said, “but why are they so bothered with our head scarves?”

That frustration took the form of a public scolding at a meeting on the far edge of Istanbul on Friday night, where a man who supports Mr. Erdogan’s party complained about what he said was weak party support for religious schools.

“What about Koran courses?” he asked a party representative. “We are looking for generations that have morality.”

The apartment where the meeting took place bore the traces of upper-middle-class life: a running machine, a washing machine and a dryer. Brightly colored scarves covered the hair of the hostesses.

The representative, Kenan Danisman, paused as the evening prayer began. He then offered some pragmatic advice. “If you transfer this prayer into practical support, in three to five years, the problems that hurt peoples’ consciences will be resolved.”

It is precisely the open question of religion’s role in society that makes secular Turks so uncomfortable. Mr. Erdogan may be explicit in his opposition to Islam’s entering policy, but what about the rank and file who are filling jobs in public administration — what is their view of sexual equality? Secular Turks worry that their conservative worldview will lead to a reinterpretation of the rules and lower tolerance for a secular lifestyle.

“People like me are not calculating the economy or what sort of policies they are making,” said Basak Caglayan, 35, a financial consultant who will be married next month. “The life we expect, we want, for our children, is changing. I worry about that.”
Title: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 29, 2007, 06:56:09 AM
Like most things from the NY Times, caveat lector-- but a very interesting read nonetheless.
At 2 in the morning, a few days after I arrived in Cairo last month, a text
message beeped into my cellphone: "Mahmoud Ghozlan, MB Guide Bureau, is
being arrested NOW." Ghozlan was only the latest prominent member of the
Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization that commands deep loyalty in
Egypt, to be hauled off by the dawn visitors of President Hosni Mubarak's
security apparatus. In recent months, leaders of the organization,
businessmen thought to be financial backers and other members of the
brotherhood's Guidance Bureau have been arrested on a variety of charges.
Forty members of the group have been indicted under Egypt's emergency laws
and put under the jurisdiction of a military tribunal, which is likely to
give them long jail sentences.

Skip to next paragraph
Enlarge This Image

Khaled Desouki/Agence France-Presse
Nay Sayed Askar, a Muslim Brotherhood member of the Egyptian Parliament,
voices dissent.

The arrest and imprisonment of political opponents is nothing new in Egypt,
which has been ruled by a succession of authoritarian leaders since 1952;
secular democrats are in jail along with the Islamists. Egypt is generally
rated as one of the more repressive countries in the world's most repressive
region. But two years ago, responding in part to White House pressure, the
regime of President Hosni Mubarak allowed parliamentary elections to take
place under conditions of unprecedented political freedom - at least
initially. And the brotherhood, though a banned organization that had to run
candidates as independents, dominated the contest until the government
cracked down in later rounds of voting. The organization still took 88 of
the 454 seats in Egypt's lower house, the People's Assembly, becoming, in
effect, the first opposition party of Egypt's modern era.

But it is not simply numbers that make the brotherhood a threat from the
regime's point of view. While Mubarak and his allies regularly denounce the
brothers as fundamentalists bent on turning Egypt into a theocracy, the new
legislators have made common cause with judges, liberal intellectuals and
secular activists in calling for increased political freedom. They have
steered clear of cultural or religious issues. Abdel Monem Abou el-Fotouh,
one of Ghozlan's colleagues on the Guidance Bureau, said to me flatly, "We
are not a religious body." Only one of his 15 fellow guides, he said, is a
sheik, or religious authority - "and even he is political." While many
secular critics fear that the brotherhood harbors a hidden Islamist agenda,
so far the organization has posed a democratic political challenge to the
regime, not a theological one; and that makes it all the more dangerous.

In his 2005 Inaugural Address, President Bush traced out the logic of a new,
post-9/11 American foreign policy. "For as long as whole regions of the
world simmer in resentment and tyranny," he declared, violence "will gather
. . . and cross the most defended borders" - i.e., our own. Therefore, he
announced, "it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the
growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture,
with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." Thus was born the
Freedom Agenda; and Egypt occupied the bull's-eye on this new target. Egypt
was an authoritarian state that had supplied much of the leadership of Al
Qaeda. It is also the largest nation in the Arab world and, historically,
the center of the region's political and cultural life. Progress in Egypt's
sclerotic political system would resonate all over the Islamic world. The
nearly $2 billion a year in military and economic aid that the U.S. had been
providing since the Camp David accords in 1979 offered real leverage. And
Egypt's early experience of democratic government (from 1922 to 1952),
mostly under British occupation, and its lively community of democratic and
human rights activists gave political reform a firmer foundation than it had
elsewhere in the Arab world.

As it happened, presidential and parliamentary elections were scheduled for
2005. Not long after his inaugural address, President Bush called Mubarak to
urge him to allow independent monitors to oversee the elections and to loose
the asphyxiating controls on political activity and the press. For his part,
Mubarak needed to respond not only to Washington but also to a rising tide
of domestic dissent - and to the continued enfeeblement of his own National
Democratic Party, which performed badly in legislative elections five years
earlier. He agreed to hold Egypt's first contested presidential elections
and to permit unprecedented, if carefully circumscribed, political freedom.
The U.S. Agency for International Development, which in years past had
allowed the regime to control the hundreds of millions of dollars it spent
in Egypt, earmarked $50 million for democracy and governance; much of the
money went to the training of political party activists and election

The Muslim Brotherhood was not at that time a major force in national
electoral politics. Since its founding in 1928, the brotherhood had sunk
deep roots in the country's urban working and middle classes, and especially
among the professions, establishing a powerful base in the "syndicates" that
represent doctors, lawyers, journalists and others. The organization began
dipping its toes in the water of parliamentary electioneering in the mid-'80s;
in 2000 it gained 17 seats. But the group responded to the new climate of
openness by fielding a much larger slate of candidates for the 2005
elections - 160 in all. Candidates from old-line Nasserist and left-wing
parties ran as well.

After decades of quiet organizing, the Islamists proved to be far more
popular, and more disciplined, than the isolated leaders of Mubarak's ruling
party expected. In the first of three rounds of voting, the brothers won so
many seats that the regime grew alarmed. In the second round, the police
restricted access to polling areas in brotherhood strongholds; the Islamists
still won most of the seats they sought. In the third round, the regime
pulled out all the stops: despite the presence of hundreds of
American-trained election monitors, security forces beat up and arrested
opposition activists and shut down voting booths. In the end, election
violence would claim 14 lives. Video footage showed old women in head
scarves and veils scaling ladders to reach polling places - this in a
country notorious for dismal turnout. The regime had feared a surge of
support for secular opposition forces like Ghad, a new party founded by
Ayman Nour, a charismatic figure who also opposed Mubarak in the
presidential race, or Tagammu, the traditional party of the left. These were
the groups that the Bush administration's democracy agenda was designed to
promote. But they proved to have relatively little national following; few
voters risked arrest to cast a ballot in their behalf.


(Page 2 of 5)

The brotherhood quickly proved that it was not only popular, but savvy. The
leaders understood that it was not in their interests to provoke a
confrontation with the regime and its hair-trigger security forces. They
fielded candidates in only a fraction of the districts they could have won.
According to Joshua Stacher, an American scholar of Egyptian politics who
lives in Cairo, a brotherhood politician who projected winning 17 seats in
his governorate was instructed by his superior to come back with a smaller
number. Only when he whittled the figure to seven was he told to go ahead.
The brotherhood won six of the seats. Stacher also notes that when the
brotherhood held a press conference (which he attended) four days after the
election to introduce their new legislators, a reporter asked Muhammad Akef,
the "supreme guide," if they would be prepared to talk to the Americans. And
Akef answered, "Yes, but they should forward the request to the Egyptian
Foreign Ministry." He was saying both that the brotherhood was open to
dialogue and that it had nothing to hide from the regime.

The brotherhood bloc took Parliament a great deal more seriously than the
ruling party did. The entire 88-person contingent moved into a hotel in
Cairo in order to be able to work and live together while the People's
Assembly was in session. Merely showing up changed the dynamic of this
torpid body, since N.D.P. lawmakers had to attend as well lest they be
outvoted. The brothers formed a "parliamentary kitchen" with committees on
various subjects; the committees, in turn, organized seminars to which
outside experts were regularly invited. The Islamists formed a coalition
with other opposition legislators, and with sympathetic members of the
N.D.P., to protest the extension of emergency rule. They stood in solidarity
with judges who were protesting growing infringements on their autonomy;
hundreds of protesters, including some of the brotherhood's major figures,
were arrested during several weeks of demonstrations in central Cairo. In an
article in the journal Middle East Report, Joshua Stacher and Samer Shehata,
a professor at Georgetown, concluded, "Brotherhood M.P.'s are attempting to
transform the Egyptian parliament into a real legislative body, as well as
an institution that represents citizens and a mechanism that keeps
government accountable."

Many members of Egypt's secular opposition remain deeply skeptical of the
brotherhood, which they see as the regime's silent ally in blocking their
hopes for an open, pluralist society. Egypt's ruling elite has, in turn,
traditionally worried far more about the secular opposition than about the
Islamists. Anwar el-Sadat, the president from 1970 to his assassination in
1981, made peace with religious forces by initiating a thoroughgoing
Islamization of Egyptian society. Sadat rewrote the educational curriculum
along religious lines and amended Article 2 of Egypt's extremely progressive
constitution to stipulate that Shariah - Islamic law - was the "main source"
of the nation's laws. Mubarak, who was Sadat's vice president, continued
this practice. Some secularists fear that the brotherhood, perhaps in
collaboration with the military, would establish an authoritarian theocracy.
"I have no doubt that they would implement Shariah if they ever came to
power," says Hisham Kassem, a leading publisher in the progressive media. "I
see them as a menace."

But opinions are shifting. After holding a symposium on free speech, Negad
al-Borai, a democracy activist and human rights lawyer, says that he
received an emissary from the supreme guide. "He came and said: 'We accept
everything in your initiative as a beginning to the democratic process. The
only thing we ask is that if issues arise where we wish to state our
opposition according to our own views, we can have our own voice.' "
Al-Borai readily agreed, and the brotherhood endorsed untrammeled free
speech. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, the Egyptian dissident most widely known in the
West, says that the performance of the brotherhood's parliamentary bloc over
the last year has allayed his own concerns. The regime, he says, is
brandishing the Islamist threat in order "to scare the foreigners and the
middle class and the Copts" Egypt's ancient Christian minority, who fear
being treated as "nonbelievers."

Indeed, since the 2005 election and the brotherhood's subsequent
performance, the regime has turned the full force of its repressive energies
on it. Last April and May, when brotherhood members demonstrated in
solidarity with Egypt's judges, who had been seeking greater autonomy,
security forces waded in, arresting hundreds of the brothers. The campaign
of arrests resumed earlier this year, aiming at leading figures like Mahmoud
Ghozlan, the Guidance Bureau member, as well as financiers; the government
has frozen assets of brotherhood supporters said to amount to $2 billion.
And there could be no mistaking the intent of the constitutional "reforms"
submitted last December. Article 5, which lays the basis for the regulation
of political parties, was rewritten to stipulate that "political activity or
political parties shall not be based on any religious background or
foundation." This prohibition seemed to directly contradict the language of
Article 2, which made Shariah the foundation of Egyptian law. How can a
self-professed religious state prohibit political activity with a "religious
background"? When I posed this question to Hossam Badrawi, a leading member
of a group of young politicians who profess to be reforming the N.D.P. from
within, he asked me in return, "If I go to Germany and I want to start a
Nazi Party, would I be allowed to do that?"

"Is that a fair analogy?"

"Yes, because they don't respect the constitution, which lays out a separate
role for politics and religion." Except that it doesn't or didn't, until
just now.


(Page 3 of 5)

This is the kind of language that, as Saad Eddin Ibrahim put it, is bound to
scare foreigners and the middle class. President Mubarak has called the
group a threat to national security. Mohamed Kamal, a political scientist
who is close to Gamal Mubarak, the president's son and heir apparent, and
who now serves as the N.D.P.'s semiofficial spokesman to the Western media,
says of the brotherhood: "They're fundamentalist in their ideology. I'm not
saying necessarily that they're terrorists; they want to establish a
religious state based on their interpretation of the Koran and the Shariah."
While some of their leaders "pay lip service to democracy, women's rights
and so on," Kamal says, the grass roots are deeply reactionary.

Is that so? One night I drove out to the far northeastern edge of Cairo - a
trip that took an hour and a half through the city's insane traffic - to
meet with Magdy Ashour, a member of the brotherhood's parliamentary bloc.
The caucus is heavy with lawyers, doctors and professors, but Ashour is an
electrician with a technical diploma. The neighborhood he represents,
al-Nozha, is a squalid quarter of shattered buildings and dusty lanes.
Ashour had established himself in what seemed to be the only substantial
structure in the area, a half-completed apartment building; I walked through
plaster dust and exposed wiring to reach his office. Ashour hurried in from
the evening prayer. He was a solemn, square-jawed 41-year-old with short
hair and unfashionable glasses, a brown suit and a brown tie. He grew up, he
said, in the neighborhood, and as a young man often gave the Friday sermon
at the local mosque. He joined the brotherhood when he was 23. Why? "From my
reading and my earliest meetings with brotherhood members," he said through
a translator, "I could see that they were moderate, that they don't impose
their religion on people, but at the same time they're not loose with their
religious principles."

I asked Ashour if the spate of arrests had him worried, and he said that he
indeed feared that the state might be seeking an "open confrontation" with
the brotherhood. Might not that provoke the group's supporters to violence?
Ashour answered by citing an aphorism he attributed to the brotherhood's
founder, Hassan al-Banna: "Be like trees among the people: They strike you
with stones, and you shower them with blessings." Ashour then embarked on a
brief oration: "We would like to change the idea people have of us in the
West," he said, "because when people hear the name Muslim Brotherhood, they
think of terrorism and suicide bombings. We want to establish the perception
of an Islamic group cooperating with other groups, concerned about human
rights. We do not want a country like Iran, which thinks that it is ruling
with a divine mandate. We want a government based on civil law with an
Islamic source of lawmaking." If Magdy Ashour was a theocrat - or a
terrorist - he was a very crafty one.

As it has fully entered the political arena, the brotherhood has been forced
to come up with clear answers on issues about which it has been notably
ambiguous in the past. Some are easy enough: There seems to be little
appetite among them for stoning adulterers or lopping off the hands of
thieves; and all deprecate the jizya, or tax on nonbelievers, as a relic of
an era when only Muslims served in the military. Some are not so easy. I
asked Magdy Ashour about the drinking of alcohol, which is prohibited in
Saudi Arabia, Iran and other Islamic states. He was quite unfazed. "There is
a concept in Shariah that if you commit the sin in private it's different
from committing it in public," he explained. You can drink in a hotel, but
not in the street. This was flexibility verging on pragmatism. I wondered if
Ashour, and the other brotherhood candidates, had offered such nuanced
judgments on the stump; a number of detractors insist that the group's
campaign rhetoric was much more unabashedly Islamist.

There are, of course, more fundamental questions. In the course of a
three-hour conversation in the brotherhood's extremely modest office in an
apartment building in one of Cairo's residential neighborhoods, I asked
Muhammad Habib, the deputy supreme guide, how the brotherhood would react if
the Legislature passed a law that violated Shariah. "The People's Assembly
has the absolute right in that situation," he said, "as long as it is
elected in a free and fair election which manifests the people's will. The
Parliament could go to religious scholars and hear their opinion" - as it
could seek the advice of economists on economic matters - "but it is not
obliged to listen to these opinions." Some consider grave moral issues, like
homosexual marriage, beyond the pale of majoritarianism; others make no such
exception. Hassan al-Banna famously wrote that people are the source of
authority. This can be understood, if you wish to, as the Islamic version of
the democratic credo.
Title: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Part Two
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 29, 2007, 06:57:18 AM
(Page 4 of 5)

The acceptance of democracy is itself a proxy for something else - the
repudiation of violence and terrorism. Here the brotherhood has a fair
amount of history to answer for. The organization was established in 1928 in
the wake of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's secularization of Turkey and his
abolition of the caliphate, the line of religious rulers that stretched back
to the Prophet Muhammad. Hassan al-Banna, the charismatic founder, aspired
to revitalize the spirit of Islam among the umma, the worldwide body of
believers, and ultimately to restore the caliphate and Shariah. But for all
al-Banna's emphasis on peaceful evangelizing, he also created a paramilitary
wing, like Mussolini's brown shirts, known as al-nizam al-khas - the Special
Apparatus. During the '40s, when Egyptians fought to free themselves from
British rule, brotherhood operatives engaged in a campaign of bombings and
assassinations. The organization was banned in 1948; soon afterward, a
member of the group assassinated Egypt's prime minister. Al-Banna denounced
the deed, but he was himself murdered by government security forces. And
when a brotherhood plot to assassinate Gamal Abdel Nasser miscarried, most
of the leading figures were jailed and tortured.

In 1964, the most prominent of the jailed leaders, Sayyid Qutb, produced a
tract, "Milestones," which magnified the militant side of the brotherhood
and rejected al-Banna's faith in the merits of instruction and moral
example. Islamic regimes that failed to establish Shariah were apostates, he
declared no better than the infidels themselves. Egypt was, of course, just
such a state. "Milestones" was read as a call to revolution. Qutb was
sentenced to death and hanged in 1966, making him a martyr throughout the
Middle East. Among his disciples were the radical Islamists who conspired to
murder Sadat in 1981 including Ayman al-Zawahiri, now Al Qaeda's second in
command. Osama bin Laden was deeply influenced by Qutb's works and regularly
attended lectures given by Qutb's younger brother, Muhammad. "Milestones" is
now considered the founding manifesto of jihadism.

Qutb remains a heroic figure for many Egyptians. But Ibrahim Hudaybi, the
young activist who sent me the text message about the arrest, pointed out to
me when we met the next day that his own grandfather, Hasan Hudaybi, who
replaced al-Banna as supreme guide and was jailed along with Qutb, wrote a
book from prison, "Preachers, Not Judges," designed to reassert the
brotherhood's commitment to peace and to open debate. Hudaybi was a
thoroughly modern figure; we met in a coffee shop near the American
University in Cairo, where he recently received his master's in political
science. He was now working as a business consultant. Hudaybi wanted to see
the brotherhood deal explicitly with the legacy of Qutb, even if doing so
might not play well in the hustings. Other, more senior figures I spoke to
insisted rather implausibly that Qutb had been misunderstood; but all swore
by the philosophy of tolerance and the program of gradual reform laid out in
"Preachers, Not Judges."

The brotherhood is an international organization. It has, however, no
Comintern, no central apparatus. In Sudan, brotherhood members have formed
an alliance with a deeply authoritarian ruling party. The brotherhood in
Jordan and Morocco is considered relatively moderate. But in the Palestinian
territories, the organization mutated into Hamas. Policy makers and
academics in the West tend to be more concerned with the brotherhood's views
of Hamas than with its understanding of Shariah. And here there is little
satisfaction to be had. When I asked Muhammad Habib about Hamas attacks on
Israeli civilians, he said, "With the continuous crackdown and ongoing war
launched by the Israeli Army, which does not distinguish between civilians
and noncivilians, you cannot speak about the Palestinians disregarding
Israeli citizens." Brotherhood figures do not, at bottom, accept Israel's
right to exist. Seif al-Islam, the son of Hassan al-Banna and a venerated
elder of the group, said to me, in his stylized version of English: "Not any
Palestine man or Egypt man feels that Jews who come from the outside have
the right to stay in Palestine. At the same time, the Palestinian people on
the outside cannot have a grave to bury in. This is not religion."

The more worldly among the brotherhood's legislators and thinkers understand
that Israel is a test just as Qutb is a test, and that the Western audience
matters even if it doesn't vote. Hazem Farouk Mansour, a dentist who is the
head of the foreign-policy committee of the parliamentary bloc, says of Camp
David, "We accept it as an agreement, whether we like it or not." Essam
el-Erian, a clinical pathologist who is head of the brotherhood's political
committee and perhaps its most sophisticated thinker, said to me: "Look,
this is a historical and ideological and religious crisis. It cannot be
solved in a few years. Every part in this conflict can be put forth for
dialogue." Like virtually all of his colleagues, el-Erian urged me not to
get too hung up on this or any other question of what the brotherhood might
do in some unimaginably remote future in which the regime had somehow
relinquished its grip on power. "We can solve the problem of our society,"
he said, "to have democratic reform respected by Europeans and Americans,
whatever happens to the Palestinians."


Page 5 of 5)

From what I could tell, in fact, the brotherhood in its public oratory
sticks to issues of political process, while voters worry about the kind of
mundane issues that preoccupy people everywhere. Magdy Ashour said that few
voters knew or cared anything about issues like constitutional reform. He
agreed to let me sit by his side one evening as he met with constituents.
None of the dozen or so petitioners who were ushered into the tiny, bare
cell of his office asked about the political situation, and none had any
complaints about cultural or moral issues. Rather, there were heart-rending
stories of abuse by the powerful, like the profoundly palsied young man
confined to a wheelchair who sold odds and ends from a kiosk under a bridge,
and who was ejected, along with his meager goods, when a road-improvement
project came through. (Ashour promised to go with him to the police station
the following morning.) Mostly, though, people wanted help getting a job.
One ancient gentleman with a white turban and walking stick wandered in as
if from the Old Testament. He was accompanied by his daughter and 3-year-old
granddaughter. His daughter's husband had abandoned her, and she needed a
job. Ashour explained that since the woman had a business degree, she might
find work in a private school.

The old man shook his head. "She must have a government job," he said. "She
has three girls. I am too old to take care of her. She needs security."
Ashour later explained to me that while a private job might pay $90 a month
and a public one only $35, the government job would carry a guaranteed $15
pension, which felt like insurance against destitution. Only a government
job was considered real; Ashour himself had worked as the superintendent for
lighting infrastructure for a portion of Cairo. Nasser caught the bug of
socialism half a century earlier, and the government continued to dominate
the economy and to sap the energies needed for private initiative. Egypt's
arthritic economy and its deeply corrupt public administration were much
more salient problems for Ashour than was, say, debauchery on TV.

___?___ arrived in Cairo in the middle of a heated national debate over
Mubarak's proposed reform of the constitution. During the presidential
campaign, Mubarak promised to reduce his own powers in favor of the
Legislature and the cabinet and to loosen restrictions on political parties.
Only trace elements of those vows remained; in fact, the reforms seemed
designed to consolidate, rather than dissipate, the regime's authority.
Article 88, which had stipulated that elections be held "under the
supervision of members of the judiciary authority," now granted that control
to "a higher commission marked by independence and impartiality." Since no
such bodies had been known to exist in Egypt, few figures outside the ruling
party were willing to take the proposal at face value. And a new
anti-terrorism provision allowed the state to set aside civil liberties
enumerated elsewhere in the constitution in the pursuit of suspected
terrorists. Mohamed Kamal described this measure to me as the equivalent of
the USA Patriot Act, but political activists are convinced that it will be
used to snuff out opposition. (The brotherhood may be the chief target,
since the regime regards it as a quasi-terrorist body.) Amnesty
International described the package as the gravest threat to human rights in
Egypt since Mubarak took power.

In mid-March, on the day the proposed amendments were presented to the
People's Assembly, the brotherhood legislators and the dozen or so members
of the secular opposition staged a joint protest. The entire group stood
silently inside the gates of Parliament wearing black sashes that read, "No
to the Constitutional Amendments," and carrying signs that read, "No to
Electoral Fraud," "No to Dawn Visitors" and so on. The muezzin's call led to
an interval of prayer, and then legislators squeezed one by one through the
gates, backing the scrum of reporters and photographers into a busy two-way
street. Drivers honked furiously while legislators struggled to be heard
over the din. I had the impression that the brotherhood hadn't yet gotten
the hang of press relations.

The entire opposition boycotted the debate; the regime, unimpressed, carried
the day with the near-unanimous support of the N.D.P. and then scheduled the
mandatory national referendum for the following week, presumably to prevent
the opposition from mobilizing. But the tactic failed; opposition
legislators urged supporters to boycott the ballot. All of the brotherhood
legislators I spoke to that day said that the polling places in their
constituency were literally empty. Civic groups canvassing Cairo and other
major cities came to the same conclusion. Estimates of turnout varied from 2
to 8 percent. When it was over, government officials pegged turnout at 27
percent - a figure so improbable that it scarcely seemed intended to be
believed. Perhaps the implicit message was that the regime didn't care if it
was believed or not.

In June 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delivered a landmark
address at the American University in Cairo in which she bluntly declared,
"The day must come when the rule of law replaces emergency decrees and when
the independent judiciary replaces arbitrary justice." Egypt's democracy
activists were enthralled - though they were to become increasingly
disappointed, and then embittered, as the administration offered no public
response to Mubarak's crackdown. But Rice's call to the political barricades
was carefully modulated, perhaps in order to limit the offense to the
regime. Asked after the speech about the Muslim Brotherhood, Rice said
flatly, "We have not engaged the Muslim Brotherhood and . . . we won't." In
fact, American diplomats had been in regular contact with brotherhood
officials over the years; Rice was declaring - in fact, making - a new
policy. And that policy still largely obtains. Rice's spokesman, Sean
McCormack, told me, "We do not meet with the Muslim Brotherhood per se, as
we don't want to get entangled in complexities surrounding its legality as a
political party." He added, however, "Consistent with our practice
elsewhere, we will nonetheless meet with any duly elected member of the
parliamentary opposition." In fact, American officials in Cairo included
leading brotherhood parliamentarians in a group of legislators who met
recently with Representative Steny Hoyer, the Democratic majority leader of
the House.

But why not engage the brotherhood openly? Is what is gained by mollifying
the Mubarak regime worth what is lost by forgoing contact with the
brotherhood? "Americans," Essam el-Erian said to me, "must have channels
with all the people, not only in politics, but in economics, in social, in
everything, if they want to change the image of America in the region." Of
course, that principle applies only up to a point. The administration has,
understandably, refused to recognize the democratic bona fides either of
Hamas or of Hezbollah in Lebanon. But the Muslim Brotherhood, for all its
rhetorical support of Hamas, could well be precisely the kind of moderate
Islamic body that the administration says it seeks. And as with Islamist
parties in Turkey and Morocco, the experience of practical politics has made
the brotherhood more pragmatic, less doctrinaire. Finally, foreign policy is
no longer a rarefied game of elites: public opinion shapes the world within
which policy makers operate, and the refusal to deal with Hamas or Hezbollah
has made publics in the Islamic world dismiss the whole idea of democracy
promotion. Even a wary acceptance of the brotherhood, by contrast, would
demonstrate that we take seriously the democratic preferences of Arab

In general, I found the brothers deeply suspicious of American designs in
the world but also curious about America itself. When I took my leave of
Magdy Ashour once the crowd of petitioners thinned out, he asked if he could
pose some questions of his own. "I've heard," he said, "that even George
Bush's mother thinks he's an idiot; is that true?" And, "Why did George Bush
say that America is going on a Christian crusade against the Muslim people?"
And finally, "Is it true that the Jews control and manipulate the U.S.
economy?" These are, alas, the kinds of questions - with the possible
exception of the first - that people all over the Middle East ask.

Then Ashour said that he was thinking about visiting America. I asked how he
could afford such an expensive journey, and he explained that the
brotherhood has offered each legislator one free trip anywhere in the
world - a remarkable program for an organization said to be bent on
returning Egypt to the Middle Ages. "I would," Ashour said, "like to see for
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 02, 2007, 05:50:24 AM
The WSJ on recent events in Turkey:

Turkish Turmoil
May 2, 2007; Page A20
The Muslim world's liveliest democracy has long been a work in progress, but the stakes just got a lot higher for Turkey and the greater Mideast. Turkey's future as a pluralistic, free society is on the line.

Amid a presidential campaign marked by street protests and divisive rhetoric, the powerful military inserted itself into politics late Friday by threatening a coup. The generals and their secularist allies in the civil service and professions are trying to derail the ruling party's selection for president. Yesterday the country's highest court sided with the secularists.

The crisis erupted last week when the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, by virtue of its majority in Parliament, nominated one of its own for the presidency. The job is currently held by a secularist, and the AKP choice would give a party with roots in the Islamist movement control over all branches of government for the first time. Despite the belief of some secularists that the AKP's "secret agenda" is to implant political Islam in Turkey, its five years in power have done more to entrench democracy and free markets than have most previous governments.

The AKP's candidate, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, is a pro-Western moderate who spearheaded Turkey's political and economic reforms and helped secure an invitation to start membership talks with the European Union. But Mr. Gül got his political start in the Islamist movement and -- the greatest sin in secular eyes -- his wife wears a headscarf.

The battle came to a head Friday, when Mr. Gül failed by a slim margin to get the two-thirds needed to win. Then the military weighed in just before midnight with a statement posted on its home page. "It should not be forgotten that the Turkish armed forces takes sides in these debates and is the absolute defender of secularism," the missive read. "When necessary they will display their attitudes and actions very clearly." The message was lost on no Turk.

Yesterday the court annulled Friday's vote, ruling in favor of the opposition party that had boycotted the vote. The judges, all staunchly secular, ruled that a two-thirds quorum must be present in the legislature for a vote -- even though the constitution says nothing firmly about a quorum and past presidents were elected with less than two-thirds.

Turkey has done well under the political stability and sound economics brought by the AKP, which took office in late 2002, and party leader and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan may feel confident enough to keep pressing back. As a soft Islamist who has taken a few false steps -- pushing a law banning adultery and cozying up to Hamas -- he has stronger democratic credentials and more legitimacy than the secularists, who fall back on the generals.

The court decision, while unfortunate, could show a way out of the problem. The public demonstrations indicate that Mr. Erdogan continues to make a large chunk of the Turkish public uneasy. Though Mr. Gül is a capable politician, a different candidate may calm the public storms without compromising the AKP's right to choose that figure. Down the road, the AKP's oft-mooted ideas about a directly elected president could be part of a broader constitutional overhaul. Mr. Erdogan said yesterday that early parliamentary elections are likely.

The immediate need for anyone concerned about Turkey's future must be to get politics played by the rules and by the civilians. The military made important contributions to Westernizing the country, but its current behavior is a danger to Turkish progress. The best thing that can be said about the high court's decision is that early elections are better than tanks in the street. But the damage done to Turkey's institutions might have been avoided by sticking to the rules set down in the constitution.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 08, 2007, 09:04:01 AM
Trouble in Turkey
May 8, 2007; Page A19

ISTANBUL -- There is a perfectly logical temptation to take the position of much of the non-native press on the current political crisis in Turkey. The argument goes something like this: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his "mildly Islamic" Justice and Development Party (AKP) are good for the country. They proposed Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul for president. Under the current constitution, parliament elects the president. Thus the AKP has a freely elected majority in parliament and represents the will of the people, therefore Mr. Gul should be president.

The rest, observers argue, is just loud noise, such as the two massive demonstrations in 10 days in Ankara and Istanbul (the latter of a million or more people) in tandem with grim warnings by the military against any AKP violation of secularist principles. AKP, the argument goes, has played by the rules and democracy is all about due process, which produces stability over time.

Turkey must accept that it is culturally Eastern but politically Western. Otherwise the EU will never take it, foreign investment will dry up and the country will remain excluded from the Western world. So goes the argument in favor of Mr. Erdogan as well as Mr. Gul, who withdrew his candidacy on Sunday.

There are a number of critical flaws in this argument, the first being that such a country will ultimately neither belong to an Eastern nor a Western club. It might serve, distantly, as an example to other Muslim countries, but the EU will certainly not accept it because the EU considers itself as much a civilization as a political alliance.

The pro-AKP argument suffers from other critical flaws. Mr. Erdogan's party won only 35% of the vote, but under a constitution rigged to create a two-party system, AKP has 65% of parliamentary seats. Besides, even that 35% derived in part from voters disgusted by the corrupt incompetence of the secular parties, not from pro-Muslim sentiment.

The results in no way suggest that a majority of the country regards itself as politically Islamic or nonsecular, and under such conditions AKP has no mandate for foisting a partisan figure onto the presidency, an office that is supposed to rise above party dogma and represent the country and constitution. This is why most nominees for the presidency rarely survive the painstaking but necessary business of consultation and compromise between parties. It's a somewhat uncodified process but it works to ensure a unifying, rather than divisive, outcome.

Mr. Erdogan did the exact opposite. He pushed the system's limits for his own ends until it gave way at the seams. He didn't select a compromise candidate but tried to impose his choice on the country through his technical parliamentary majority. In the event, the other parties simply didn't turn up for the vote on Mr. Gul's confirmation. They then appealed to the Constitutional Court which held that without them the numbers would be inquorate, leaving Mr. Gul unelected. The Court intentionally sent the country to a June or July national election which is, surely, the best place to settle the entire matter.

Mr. Erdogan has responded with predictable acuity, proposing new parliamentary term-lengths and direct elections for presidency, thus offering his AKP as the party that most trusts in the ballot box. If he wins, he simply rewinds to the beginning. With prime minister, president and house speaker all AKP figures, he can make such structural changes as to shift the national polity for a several generations.

So what, some say, Mr. Erdogan is hardly a fundamentalist. Sure, he and Mr. Gul have said hair-raising things in the past -- an old Gul remark made in the 1990s that "the Republic is over" recently surfaced in the press -- but politicians become pragmatic once in power. What have he and Mr. Gul done concretely in the last four years to be alarmed about? One hears this question particularly from foreign observers who don't understand or can't credit the Islamic concept of "Takkiye," meaning dissimulation.

The answer, of course, is that they have palpably tried to influence the army, universities and the Constitution itself, only to have their efforts stymied by those same institutions. Even so, disturbing incidents abound. In the city of Van a university dean is sacked because he resisted the request of a fully veiled female student for a go-between to deal with male teachers. He is later reinstated. In Istanbul's Uskudar district the municipality treats beer bars like a red-light zone and you can barely get alcohol anywhere. The national newspaper Sabah is taken over by state officials and soon the political commentators are being told what to write. Yasin El Kadi, a Saudi sought by the U.S. for financial links to terrorism, is publicly supported by Mr. Erdogan. Everywhere, barely qualified madrassa graduates replace more qualified secular technocrats in the civil service.

But the headscarf controversy and the bogeyman of military intervention eclipse such incremental dangers. Mr. Erdogan knows how to play the symbols and polarize for political ends. One side effect, no doubt unintended but predictable, is the spike in Islamic political violence: the murder of a Catholic nun near the Black Sea, of Protestant missionaries in the town of Malatya and so on. Pulled on either side by Europe and the Middle East, both Turkey and Turkish identity are as constantly in flux as its institutions are in danger of drifting out of control. That this never quite happens is in part due to the military threatening to step in periodically to restore democracy, a very Turkish paradox.

A military coup is always a disastrous option, but without past coups would there even be a Turkey today? One need only look at Iraq, a democracy without an effective army, or indeed Lebanon, to imagine the possibilities.

Turkey's democratic history shows that politicians can too easily lead the country, whether by drift or design, to such dangerous political extremes as to threaten national stability. It's wise to judge the merit of a Turkish politician by asking where his policies will ultimately lead.

Does Mr. Erdogan's populism suggest stability or a hidden drift to extremes? The voters will decide soon enough. They have got it wrong before. With such leaders, who can blame them?

Mr. Kaylan is an Istanbul-born writer living in New York.
Title: NY Times: Turkish City Counters Fear of Islam’s Reach
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 15, 2007, 09:01:57 AM

KONYA, Turkey, May 12 — In the not too distant past here in Turkey’s religious heartland, women would not appear in public unless they were modestly dressed, a single woman was not able to rent an apartment on her own, and the mayor proposed segregating city buses by sex.

Fears of such restrictions, inflamed by secularist politicians, have led thousands of Turks to march in major cities in the past month. A political party with a past in Islamic politics led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tried to capture the country’s highest secular post.

Once it succeeds, the secularists’ argument goes, Turkey will be dragged back to an earlier era when Islam ran the state. [Another march drew a million people in Izmir on Sunday.]

But here in Konya, a leafy city on the plains of central Turkey, Mr. Erdogan’s party has done no such thing. In the paradox of modern Turkey, the party here has had a moderating influence, helping to open a guarded society and make it more flexible.

Konya is still deeply attached to its faith. Mosques are spread thickly throughout the city; there are as many as in Istanbul, which has five times the population. But in a part of the world where religion and politics have been a poisonous mix and cultural norms are conservative regardless of religion, it is an oasis: women here wear relatively revealing clothing, couples hold hands and bus segregation is a distant memory.

“We’ve been wearing the same dress for 80 years, and it doesn’t fit anymore,” said Yoruk Kurtaran, who travels extensively in Turkey. “Things used to be black and white.”

Now, he said, “there are a lot of grays.”

The shift shows the evolution of Turkey’s Islamic movement, which has matured under Mr. Erdogan, abandoning the restrictive practices of its predecessors and demonstrating to its observant constituents the benefits of belonging to the European Union.

It also follows a pattern occurring throughout Turkey, where the secularists who founded the state out of the Ottoman Empire’s remains are now lagging behind religious Turks in efforts to modernize it.But secular Turks, like those who took part in the recent protests, do not believe that Mr. Erdogan and his allies have changed.

The mayor who proposed segregation, for example, is now part of Mr. Erdogan’s party. The protesters argue that the party may say it wants more religious freedom for its constituents, for example allowing observant women to wear their head scarves in universities, but it has never laid out its vision for how to protect secular lifestyles.

Mr. Erdogan’s party has been the most flexible and open of all parties that consider Islam an important part of Turkish society. Its politics have so far been respectful of secular freedom in most cases. But there are harder-line members who would like to see a more religious society, and secular Turks fear that highly personal questions like their children’s education and rights for unmarried women could be threatened.

In the country as a whole, religious Turks have felt like second-class citizens for generations, in part a legacy of Ataturk’s radical, secular revolution in the early 20th century. Now, elevated by a decade of economic growth, they are pressing for a bigger share of power.

In Konya some of the change started from the top. In 2003, around the time Mr. Erdogan’s party came to power, an irreverent ophthalmologist and a veterinarian with long hair were appointed to run Selcuk University in Konya. They immediately began challenging the sensibilities of this conservative city, organizing concerts and encouraging student clubs.

Kursat Turgut, the veterinarian, who became vice rector, said he had been confronted by a group of students who went to his office and demanded that he cancel a concert because they did not like the singer. He refused.

“Change is the most difficult thing,” Mr. Turgut said, sitting in the rector’s office, where paintings lined the walls. “It takes time to change a mentality.”

The students were from a nationalist group with an Islamic tinge that for years had used scare tactics to enforce a strict moral code on campus. When Umit, who did not want to give his last name, started at the university’s veterinary school five years ago he was chastised by students from the group for cuddling with his girlfriend and, on another occasion, for wearing shorts.

“They thought they were protecting honor and morals,” said Aliye Cetinkaya, a journalist who moved here 12 years ago for college. “If we crossed the line there was a fight.”


Mr. Turgut and the rector, Suleyman Okudan, shut down the group’s activities. Now, four years later, there are more than 80 student clubs, students like Umit behave and dress any way they choose, and Mr. Turgut’s concerts, open to the public, draw large crowds.

“It is like a different century,” Ms. Cetinkaya said.

She still faces limitations. When she covered a demonstration in Konya early last year against the Muhammad cartoons published in Denmark, stones and shoes were thrown at her because she was not wearing a scarf. But such incidents are rare, and far outweighed by improvements. For example, there were only about 50 women in the two-year degree program she attended a decade ago. Now the number is above 1,000, she said.

The deep-rooted religiosity in Konya found public expression in politics in the late 1980s, when the city became one of the first in the country to elect a pro-Islamic party — the Welfare Party of Necmettin Erbakan, the grandfather of the Turkish Islamic movement — to run the city. Mr. Erbakan himself was elected to Parliament from Konya.

The administration was restrictive: it was a Welfare Party mayor, Halil Urun, who proposed, unsuccessfully, segregating the buses in 1989. But the city kept electing the party until the late 1990s, when it was shut down by the state establishment for straying from secularism.

Then, in 2000, a young member of the banned party, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, began the Justice and Development Party. Mr. Erdogan had made a concerted effort to take Islam out of politics altogether — aware that continuing to push religion would lead to the same end — and it was unclear whether Konya voters would accept it.

They did. Of the 32 members of the City Council, all but two are now members of Mr. Erdogan’s party.

It was economics that convinced Ahmet Agirbasli, 57, a businessman who sells car parts and pasta. When he was younger he did not shake hands with women. For years he voted for Mr. Erbakan’s party. He did not believe that Turkey’s future was with Europe, but he changed his mind after Mr. Erdogan’s party began reforms with the intention of joining the European Union, and his business began to grow.

“Erbakan didn’t have an open mind,” Mr. Agirbasli said, eating a club sandwich in a hotel restaurant. “He didn’t believe the country needed links with the rest of the world.”

Now he sells macaroni to 50 countries. Five years ago he sold to only 10.

Akif Emre, a columnist at Yeni Safak, a conservative newspaper in Istanbul, argues that Mr. Erdogan has helped to bridge the gap between Turkey’s religious heartland and urban, secular Turks.

“They really accept secularism,” he said of Mr. Erdogan and his allies. “They are changing the mentality. Conservative people changed their lifestyle toward a more secular way.”

Religious Turks, for their part, still harbor an unspoken wariness of the state. New civil organizations are more focused on building mosques than engaging in public debate, and people scrupulously avoid talking about politics.

Religious extremists have been found on the fringes. In January the authorities arrested a man they said was the leader of Al Qaeda in Turkey, and in 2000 a pile of bodies that showed signs of torture was found buried under a villa rented by a homegrown Islamist group called Hezbollah.

“Konya is one of the main hubs of traditional and conservative, anti-Ankara countryside,” said Ersin Kalaycioglu, a professor of political science at Isik University in Istanbul. “It has a structure that takes religion very seriously and formulates social life around it.”

Rahmi Bastoklu, the leader in Konya of the secularist Republican People’s Party and the only one of the Konya district’s 16 members of Parliament who is not from Mr. Erdogan’s party, put it bluntly: “People have to leave Konya to enjoy themselves.”

But an unspoken understanding between Konya’s religious Turks and the secular state is in place, in which the mosques are left alone, but religious Turks do not press too many demands on the state. The balance is often held steady by Mr. Erdogan’s party.

Still, pushing too hard against the secular establishment might mean the loss of recent gains. “It’s not a useful thing to talk about,” said Ilhan Cumrali, 36, sitting in his clothing store among racks of floor-length skirts. “We are trying to find the right path. If we do it too aggressively there will be a negative reaction.”

Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 15, 2007, 09:06:36 AM
Second post of the morming.  From the Political Journal of the WSJ:

We Won't Take Any More of Your Shiite, Iran
The New York Times reports on an encouraging development in Iraq:

The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, one of the country's most powerful Shiite parties, announced Saturday that "revolution" would be dropped from its name and that Iran's top cleric would cease to be the party's dominant spiritual leader.

The change--made to the party's platform at a meeting here on Friday, leaders said--reflected an effort by the group to shore up support among nationalist Iraqis and American officials who have questioned its loyalties because of its Iranian roots.

The Supreme Council was formed in Iran more than 20 years ago with a stated goal of installing a government in Baghdad modeled on Iran's Islamic revolution. But with Saddam Hussein gone and the newly named Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council controlling roughly 25 percent of the seats in Parliament, the need for radical change has passed, the group's leaders said.

"The name should be consistent with the facts on the ground, so there is no need to talk about revolution anymore," said Jalal al-Din al-Sagheer, a Supreme Council leader in Parliament and a hard-line cleric. "The word means change, and we have achieved the changes through the Constitution."

The New York Times-owned Boston Globe reports from Tehran that the influence of Iraqi Shiites is growing even there:

Some Iranians are intrigued by the more freewheeling experiment in Shi'ite empowerment taking place across the border in Iraq, where--Iraq's myriad problems aside--imams can say whatever they want in political Friday sermons, newspapers and satellite channels regularly slam the government, and religious observance is respected and encouraged but not required.

In Tehran's storied central bazaar, an increasing number of merchants are sending their religious donations, a 20 percent tithe expected from all who can spare it, to Iraq's most senior Shi'ite cleric--rather than to clerics closer to Iran's state power structure, said Jawad al-Ghaie, 48, a wholesaler of false eyelashes and nail extensions and a respected lay donor.

Speaking carefully to avoid directly challenging the Iranian government, he and several fellow merchants suggested that Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani holds more spiritual sway because of his lifelong commitment to quietism. That is the school of thought that says Shi'ite leaders should stay out of government, and Sistani has stuck to it despite the great temptation to wade into the chaos of Iraqi politics.

Yet even as the Times and its daughter paper report on these excellent results of Iraq's liberation, the crazies on the Times editorial page want to put the whole thing to a stop. It's a crazy mixed-up world on West 43rd Street.

Mistaking Words for Weapons
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 15, 2007, 09:12:13 AM
Third post of the morning.

One notes that these Iranians most definitely are NOT in Iran :wink:

Iranians against Antisemitism


By Gholam Reza Afkhami and over one hundred others

Tuesday, Juanuary 23, 2007

We the undersigned Iranians,

Notwithstanding our diverse views on the IsraeliˆPalestinian conflict;

Considering that the Nazis' coldly planned "Final Solution" and their ensuing campaign of genocide against Jews and other minorities during World War II constitute undeniable historical facts;

Deploring that the denial of these unspeakable crimes has become a propaganda tool that the Islamic Republic of Iran is using to further its own agendas;

Noting that the new brand of anti-Semitism prevalent in the Middle East today is rooted in European ideological doctrines of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and has no precedent in Iran's history;

Emphasizing that this is not the first time that the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has resorted to the denial and distortion of historical facts;

Recalling that this government has refused to acknowledge, among other things, its mass execution of its own citizens in 1988, when thousands of political prisoners, previously sentenced to prison terms, were secretly executed because of their beliefs;

Strongly condemn the Holocaust Conference sponsored by the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Tehran on December 11ˆ12, 2006, and its attempt to falsify history;

Pay homage to the memory of the millions of Jewish and non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and express our empathy for the survivors of this immense tragedy as well as all other victims of crimes against humanity across the world.

Abadi, Delnaz (Filmmaker, USA) Abghari, Shahla (Professor, Life University, USA)
Abghari, Siavash (Professor/Chair, Department of Business Administration, Morehouse College, USA)
Afary, Janet (Faculty Scholar/Associate Professor of History, Purdue University, USA)
Afkhami, Gholam Reza (Senior Scholar, Foundation for Iranian Studies, USA)
Afkhami, Mahnaz (Executive Director, Foundation for Iranian Studies/Women's Rights Advocate, USA)
Afshar, Mahasti (Arts/Culture Executive, USA)
Afshari, Ali (Human Rights Advocate/Political Activist, USA) Ahmadi, Ramin (Associate Professor, Yale School of Medicine/Founder, Griffin Center for Health and Human Rights, USA)
Akashe-Bohme, Farideh (Social Scientist/Writer, Germany) Akbari, Hamid (Human Rights Advocate/Chair/Associate Professor, Department of Management and Marketing, Northeastern Illinois University, USA)
Akhavan, Payam (Jurist/Senior Fellow, Faculty of Law of McGill University, Canada) Amin, Shadi (Journalist/Women's Rights Activist, Germany)
Amini, Bahman (Publisher, France)
Amini, Mohammad (Writer/Political Activist, USA)
Amjadi, Kurosh (Human Rights Advocate)
Apick, Mary (Actress/Playwright/Producer/Human Rights Advocate, USA)
Ashouri, Daryoush (Writer/Translator, France)
Atri, Akbar (Student Rights and Political Activist, USA)
Bagher Zadeh, Hossein (Human Rights Advocate/Former Professor, Tehran University, Great Britain)
Bakhtiari, Abbas (Musician/Director, Pouya Iranian Cultural Center, France)
Baradaran, Monireh (Human Rights Advocate/Writer, Germany) Behnoud, Massoud (Writer/Journalist, Great Britain)
Behroozi, Jaleh (Human Rights Advocate/Iranian Mothers' Committee for Freedom, USA)
Beyzaie, Niloofar (Theater Director/Playwright, Germany) Boroumand, Ali-Mohammad (Lawyer, France)
Boroumand, Ladan (Historian/Research Director, Boroumand Foundation, USA)
Boroumand, Roya (Historian/Human Rights Advocate, USA) Chafiq, Chahla (Sociologist/Writer/ Women's Rights Advocate, France)
Dadsetan, Javad (Filmmaker)
Daneshvar, Abbas (Chemist, Netherlands) Daneshvar, Hassan (Mathematician, Netherlands)
Daneshvar, Reza (Writer, France)
Davari, Arta (Painter, Germany)
Djalili, Mohammad Reza (Professor, L'Institut Universitaire de Hautes Études Internationales, Switzerland)
Ebrahimi, Farah (USA)
Eskandani, Ahmad (Entrepreneur, France)
Fani Yazdi, Reza (Political Activist, USA)
Farahmand, Fariborz (Engineer, USA)
Farssai, Fahimeh (Writer, Germany)
Ghahari, Keivandokht (Historian/Journalist, Germany)
Ghassemi, Farhang (Professor in Strategic Management, France) Hejazi, Ghodsi (Professor/Researcher, Frankfurt University, Germany)
Hekmat, Hormoz (Human Rights Advocate/Editor, Iran Nameh, USA)
Hojat, Ali (Entrepreneur/Human Rights Advocate, Great Britain) Homayoun, Dariush (Writer, Switzerland)
Idjadi, Didier (Professor/Associate Mayor, France)
Jahangiri, Golroch (Women's Rights Advocate, Germany) Jahanshahi, Marjan (Professor, Institute of Neurology, University College London, Great Britain)
Karimi Hakkak (Director, Center for Persian Studies, University of Maryland, USA)
Kazemi, Monireh (Women's Rights Advocate, Germany) Khajeh Aldin, Minoo (Painter, Germany)
Khaksar, Nasim (Writer, Germany)
Khazenie, Nahid (Remote Sensing Scientist/Program Director, NASA, USA)
Khodaparast Santner, Zari (Landscape Architect, USA) Khonsari, Mehrdad (Political Activist, Great Britain)
Khorsandi, Hadi (Poet/Writer, Great Britain)
Khounani, Azar (Educator/Human Rights Advocate, USA) Mafan, Massoud (Publisher, Germany)
Malakooty, Sirus (Composer/Chairman, Artists Without Frontiers, Germany)
Manafzadeh, Alireza (Writer, France)
Mazahery, Ahmad (Engineer/Political Activist, USA)
Mazahery, Lily (Lawyer, President of the Legal Rights Institute/Human Rights Advocate, USA)
Memarsadeghi, Mariam (Freedom House, USA)
Mesdaghi, Iraj (Human Rights Advocate/Writer, Sweden) Milani, Abbas (Director, Iranian Studies Program, Stanford University, USA)
Mohyeddin, Samira (Graduate Student, University of Toronto, Canada)
Moini, Mohammadreza (Journalist/ Human Rights Advocate, RSF, France)
Molavi, Afshin (Journalist, USA)
Monzavi, Faeze (Women's Rights Advocate, Germany)
Moradi, Golmorad (Political Scientist/Translator, Germany) Moradi, Homa (Women's Rights Advocate, Germany)
Moshaver, Ziba (London Middle East Institute, SOAS, Research Fellow, Great Britain)
Moshkin-Ghalam, Shahrokh (Ballet Dancer/Actor, France) Mourim, Khosro (Sociologist, France)
Mozaffari, Mehdi (Professor of Political Science, Denmark) Naficy, Majid (Poet/Writer, USA)
Nafisi, Azar (Writer/Johns Hopkins University, USA)
Nassehi, Reza (Human Rights Advocate/Translator, France) Pakzad, Jahan (Teacher/Researcher, France)
Parham, Bagher (Writer/Translator, France)
Parsipour, Shahrnush (Writer, USA)
Parvin, Mohammad (Human Rights Advocate/Founding Director of Mehr/Adjunct Professor, California State University, USA) Pirnazar, Jaleh (Professor, Iranian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, USA)
Pourabdollah, Farideh (Human Rights Advocate, USA) Pourabdollah, Saeid (Human Rights Advocate, USA)
Rashid, Shahrouz (Poet/Writer, Germany)
Royaie, Yadollah (Poet, France)
Rusta, Mihan (Human Rights Advocate/Refugee Adviser, Germany)
Sadr, Hamid (Writer, Austria)
Sarchar, Houman (Independent Scholar, USA)
Sarshar, Homa (Journalist, USA)
Satrapi, Marjane (Writer, France)
Sayyad, Parviz (Actor/Playwright, USA)
Shahriari, Sheila (World Bank, USA)
Soltani, Parvaneh (Actor/Theater Director, Great Britain) Tabari, Shahran (Journalist, Great Britain)
Taghvaie, Ahmad (Founding Member, Iranian Futurist Association, USA)
Toloui, Roya (Human Rights Advocate, USA)
Vaziri, Hellen (Germany)
Wahdat-Hagh, Wahied (Social Scientist, USA)
Zarkesh Yazdi, Fathieh (Human Rights and Refugee Rights Advocate, Great Britain)
Ziazie, Arsalan (Writer, Germany)
Title: Algerian Women
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 26, 2007, 04:40:55 AM

ALGIERS, May 25 — In this tradition-bound nation scarred by a brutal Islamist-led civil war that killed more than 100,000, a quiet revolution is under way: women are emerging as an economic and political force unheard of in the rest of the Arab world.

Algerian Women’s Growing Participation in Society
Women make up 70 percent of Algeria’s lawyers and 60 percent of its judges. Women dominate medicine. Increasingly, women contribute more to household income than men. Sixty percent of university students are women, university researchers say.

In a region where women have a decidedly low public profile, Algerian women are visible everywhere. They are starting to drive buses and taxicabs. They pump gas and wait on tables.

Although men still hold all of the formal levers of power and women still make up only 20 percent of the work force, that is more than twice their share a generation ago, and they seem to be taking over the machinery of state as well.

“If such a trend continues,” said Daho Djerbal, editor and publisher of Naqd, a magazine of social criticism and analysis, “we will see a new phenomenon where our public administration will also be controlled by women.”

The change seems to have sneaked up on Algerians, who for years have focused more on the struggle between a governing party trying to stay in power and Islamists trying to take that power.

Those who study the region say they are taken aback by the data but suggest that an explanation may lie in the educational system and the labor market.

University studies are no longer viewed as a credible route toward a career or economic well-being, and so men may well opt out and try to find work or to simply leave the country, suggested Hugh Roberts, a historian and the North Africa project director of the International Crisis Group.

But for women, he added, university studies get them out of the house and allow them to position themselves better in society. “The dividend may be social rather than in terms of career,” he said.

This generation of Algerian women has navigated a path between the secular state and the pull of extremist Islam, the two poles of the national crisis of recent years.

The women are more religious than previous generations, and more modern, sociologists here said. Women cover their heads and drape their bodies with traditional Islamic coverings. They pray. They go to the mosque — and they work, often alongside men, once considered taboo.

Sociologists and many working women say that by adopting religion and wearing the Islamic head covering called the hijab, women here have in effect freed themselves from moral judgments and restrictions imposed by men. Uncovered women are rarely seen on the street late at night, but covered women can be seen strolling the city after attending the evening prayer at a mosque.

“They never criticize me, especially when they see I am wearing the hijab,” said Denni Fatiha, 44, the first woman to drive a large city bus through the narrow, winding roads of Algiers.

The impact has been far-reaching and profound.

In some neighborhoods, for example, birthrates appear to have fallen and class sizes in elementary schools have dropped by nearly half. It appears that women are delaying marriage to complete their studies, though delayed marriage is also a function of high unemployment. In the past, women typically married at 17 or 18 but now marry on average at 29, sociologists said.

And when they marry, it is often to men who are far less educated, creating an awkward social reality for many women.

Khalida Rahman is a lawyer. She is 33 and has been married to a night watchman for five months. Her husband was a friend of her brothers who showed up one day and proposed. She immediately said yes, she recalled.

She describes her life now this way: “Whenever I leave him it is just as if I am a man. But when I get home I become a woman.”

Fatima Oussedik, a sociologist, said, “We in the ’60s, we were progressive, but we did not achieve what is being achieved by this generation today.” Ms. Oussedik, who works for the Research Center for Applied Economics and Development in Algiers, does not wear the hijab and prefers to speak in French.

Researchers here say the change is not driven by demographics; women make up only a bit more than half of the population. They said it is driven by desire and opportunity.


Published: May 26, 2007
(Page 2 of 2)

Algeria’s young men reject school and try to earn money as traders in the informal sector, selling goods on the street, or they focus their efforts on leaving the country or just hanging out. There is a whole class of young men referred to as hittistes — the word is a combination of French and Arabic for people who hold up walls.

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Algerian Women’s Growing Participation in Society
Increasingly, the people here have lost faith in their government, which draws its legitimacy from a revolution now more than five decades old, many political and social analysts said. In recent parliamentary elections, turnout was low and there were 970,000 protest votes — cast by people who intentionally destroyed their ballots — nearly as many as the 1.3 million votes cast in support of the governing party.

There are regular protests, and riots, all over the country, with people complaining about corruption, lack of services and economic disparities. There are violent attacks, too: bombings aimed at the police, officials and foreigners. A triple suicide bombing on April 11 against the prime minister’s office and the police left more than 30 people dead.

In that context, women may have emerged as Algeria’s most potent force for social change, with their presence in the bureaucracy and on the street having a potentially moderating and modernizing influence on society, sociologists said.

“Women, and the women’s movement, could be leading us to modernity,” said Abdel Nasser Djabi, a professor of sociology at the University of Algiers.

Not everyone is happy with those dynamics. Some political and social analysts say the recent resurgence in radical Islamist activity, including bombings, is driven partly by a desire to slow the social change the country is experiencing, especially regarding women’s role in society.

Others complain that the growing participation of women in society is a direct violation of the faith.

“I am against this,” said Esmail Ben Ibrahim, an imam at a neighborhood mosque near the center of the city. “It is all wrong from a religious point of view. Society has embarked on the wrong path.”

The quest for identity is a constant undercurrent in much of the Middle East. But it is arguably the most complicated question in Algeria, a nation whose borders were drawn by France and whose people speak Berber, Arabic and French.

After a bitter experience with French occupation and a seven-year revolutionary war that brought independence in 1962 at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives, the leaders here chose to adopt Islam and Arab identity as the force to unify the country. Arabic replaced French as the language of education, and the French secular curriculum was replaced with a curriculum heavy on religion.

At the same time, girls were encouraged to go to school.

Now, more than four decades later, Algeria’s youth — 70 percent of the population is under 30, researchers said — have grown up with Arabic and an orientation toward Middle Eastern issues. Arabic-language television networks like Al Jazeera have become the popular reference point, more so than French television, observers here said.

In the 1990s radical Islamist ideas gained popular support, and terrorism was widely accepted as a means to win power. More than 100,000 people died in years of civil conflict. Today most people say the experience has forced them to reject the most radical ideas. So although Algerians are more religious now than they were during the bloody 1990s, they are more likely to embrace modernity — a partial explanation for the emergence of women as a societal force, some analysts said.

That is not the case in more rural mountainous areas, where women continue to live by the code of tradition. But for the time being, most people say that for now the community’s collective consciousness is simply too raw from the years of civil war for Islamist terrorists or radical Islamic ideas to gain popular support.

There is a sense that the new room given to women may at least partly be a reflection of that general feeling. The population has largely rejected the most radical interpretation of Islam and has begun to return to the more North African, almost mystical, interpretation of the faith, sociologists and religious leaders said.

Whatever the underlying reason, women in the streets of the city are brimming with enthusiasm.

“I don’t think any of this contradicts Islam,” said Wahiba Nabti, 36, as she walked through the center of the city one day recently. “On the contrary, Islam gives freedom to work. Anyway, it is between you and God.”

Ms. Nabti wore a black scarf covering her head and a long black gown that hid the shape of her body. “I hope one day I can drive a crane, so I can really be financially independent,” she said. “You cannot always rely on a man.”
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 06, 2007, 09:10:02 AM
There's a major front page piece in today's LA Times by a woman reporter on her experiences in Saudi Arabia.  I'm on my way out the door for a very full day of teaching.  Would someone be so kind as to cut and paste it here?

Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: G M on June 06, 2007, 09:34:38 AM,0,4669523.story?coll=la-home-center
From the Los Angeles Times

In Saudi Arabia, a view from behind the veil
As a woman in the male-dominated kingdom, Times reporter Megan Stack quietly fumed beneath her abaya. Even beyond its borders, her experience taints her perception of the sexes.
By Megan K. Stack
Times Staff Writer

June 6, 2007

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia — THE hem of my heavy Islamic cloak trailed over floors that glistened like ice. I walked faster, my eyes fixed on a familiar, green icon. I hadn't seen a Starbucks in months, but there it was, tucked into a corner of a fancy shopping mall in the Saudi capital. After all those bitter little cups of sludgy Arabic coffee, here at last was an improbable snippet of home — caffeinated, comforting, American.

I wandered into the shop, filling my lungs with the rich wafts of coffee. The man behind the counter gave me a bemused look; his eyes flickered. I asked for a latte. He shrugged, the milk steamer whined, and he handed over the brimming paper cup. I turned my back on his uneasy face.

Crossing the cafe, I felt the hard stares of Saudi men. A few of them stopped talking as I walked by and watched me pass. Them, too, I ignored. Finally, coffee in hand, I sank into the sumptuous lap of an overstuffed armchair.

"Excuse me," hissed the voice in my ear. "You can't sit here." The man from the counter had appeared at my elbow. He was glaring.

"Excuse me?" I blinked a few times.

"Emmm," he drew his discomfort into a long syllable, his brows knitted. "You cannot stay here."

"What? Uh … why?"

Then he said it: "Men only."

He didn't tell me what I would learn later: Starbucks had another, unmarked door around back that led to a smaller espresso bar, and a handful of tables smothered by curtains. That was the "family" section. As a woman, that's where I belonged. I had no right to mix with male customers or sit in plain view of passing shoppers. Like the segregated South of a bygone United States, today's Saudi Arabia shunts half the population into separate, inferior and usually invisible spaces.

At that moment, there was only one thing to do. I stood up. From the depths of armchairs, men in their white robes and red-checked kaffiyehs stared impassively over their mugs. I felt blood rushing to my face. I dropped my eyes, and immediately wished I hadn't. Snatching up the skirts of my robe to keep from stumbling, I walked out of the store and into the clatter of the shopping mall.


THAT was nearly four years ago, a lesson learned on one of my first trips to the kingdom. Until that day, I thought I knew what I was doing: I'd heard about Saudi Arabia, that the sexes are wholly segregated. From museums to university campuses to restaurants, the genders live corralled existences. One young, hip, U.S.-educated Saudi friend told me that he arranges to meet his female friends in other Arab cities. It's easier to fly to Damascus or Dubai, he shrugged, than to chill out coeducationally at home.

I was ready to cope, or so I thought. I arrived with a protective smirk in tow, planning to thicken the walls around myself. I'd report a few stories, and go home. I had no inkling that Saudi Arabia, the experience of being a woman there, would stick to me, follow me home on the plane and shadow me through my days, tainting the way I perceived men and women everywhere.

I'm leaving the Middle East now, closing up years spent covering the fighting and fallout that have swept the region since Sept. 11. Of all the strange, scary and joyful experiences of the past years, my time covering Saudi Arabia remains among the most jarring.

I spent my days in Saudi Arabia struggling unhappily between a lifetime of being taught to respect foreign cultures and the realization that this culture judged me a lesser being. I tried to draw parallels: If I went to South Africa during apartheid, would I feel compelled to be polite?

I would find that I still saw scraps of Saudi Arabia everywhere I went. Back home in Cairo, the usual cacophony of whistles and lewd coos on the streets sent me into blind rage. I slammed doors in the faces of deliverymen; cursed at Egyptian soldiers in a language they didn't speak; kept a resentful mental tally of the Western men, especially fellow reporters, who seemed to condone, even relish, the relegation of women in the Arab world.

In the West, there's a tendency to treat Saudi Arabia as a remote land, utterly removed from our lives. But it's not very far from us, nor are we as different as we might like to think. Saudi Arabia is a center of ideas and commerce, an important ally to the United States, the heartland of a major world religion. It is a highly industrialized, ultramodern home to expatriates from all over the world, including Americans who live in lush gated compounds with swimming pools, drink illegal glasses of bathtub gin and speak glowingly of the glorious desert and the famous hospitality of Saudis.

The rules are different here. The same U.S. government that heightened public outrage against the Taliban by decrying the mistreatment of Afghan women prizes the oil-slicked Saudi friendship and even offers wan praise for Saudi elections in which women are banned from voting. All U.S. fast-food franchises operating here, not just Starbucks, make women stand in separate lines. U.S.-owned hotels don't let women check in without a letter from a company vouching for her ability to pay; women checking into hotels alone have long been regarded as prostitutes.

As I roamed in and out of Saudi Arabia, the abaya, or Islamic robe, eventually became the symbol of those shifting rules.

I always delayed until the last minute. When I felt the plane dip low over Riyadh, I'd reach furtively into my computer bag to fish out the black robe and scarf crumpled inside. I'd slip my arms into the sleeves without standing up. If I caught the eyes of any male passengers as my fingers fumbled with the snaps, I'd glare. Was I imagining the smug looks on their faces?

The sleeves, the length of it, always felt foreign, at first. But it never took long to work its alchemy, to plant the insecurity. After a day or two, the notion of appearing without the robe felt shocking. Stripped of the layers of curve-smothering cloth, my ordinary clothes suddenly felt revealing, even garish. To me, the abaya implied that a woman's body is a distraction and an interruption, a thing that must be hidden from view lest it haul the society into vice and disarray. The simple act of wearing the robe implanted that self-consciousness by osmosis.

In the depths of the robe, my posture suffered. I'd draw myself in and bumble along like those adolescent girls who seem to think they can roll their breasts back into their bodies if they curve their spines far enough. That was why, it hit me one day, I always seemed to come back from Saudi Arabia with a backache.

The kingdom made me slouch.


SAUDI men often raised the question of women with me; they seemed to hope that I would tell them, either out of courtesy or conviction, that I endorsed their way of life. Some blamed all manner of Western ills, from gun violence to alcoholism, on women's liberation. "Do you think you could ever live here?" many of them asked. It sounded absurd every time, and every time I would repeat the obvious: No.

Early in 2005, I covered the kingdom's much-touted municipal elections, which excluded women not only from running for office, but also from voting. True to their tribal roots, candidates pitched tents in vacant lots and played host to voters for long nights of coffee, bull sessions and poetry recitations. I accepted an invitation to visit one of the tents, but the sight of a woman in their midst so badly ruffled the would-be voters that the campaign manager hustled over and asked me, with lavish apologies, to make myself scarce before I cost his man the election.

A few days later, a female U.S. official, visiting from Washington, gave a press appearance in a hotel lobby in Riyadh. Sporting pearls, a business suit and a bare, blond head, she praised the Saudi elections.

The election "is a departure from their culture and their history," she said. "It offers to the citizens of Saudi Arabia hope…. It's modest, but it's dramatic."

The American ambassador, a bespectacled Texan named James C. Oberwetter, also praised the voting from his nearby seat.

"When I got here a year ago, there were no political tents," he said. "It's like a backyard political barbecue in the U.S."

One afternoon, a candidate invited me to meet his daughter. She spoke fluent English and was not much younger than me. I cannot remember whether she was wearing hijab, the Islamic head scarf, inside her home, but I have a memory of pink. I asked her about the elections.

"Very good," she said.

So you really think so, I said gently, even though you can't vote?

"Of course," she said. "Why do I need to vote?"

Her father chimed in. He urged her, speaking English for my benefit, to speak candidly. But she insisted: What good was voting? She looked at me as if she felt sorry for me, a woman cast adrift on the rough seas of the world, no male protector in sight.

"Maybe you don't want to vote," I said. "But wouldn't you like to make that choice yourself?"

"I don't need to," she said calmly, blinking slowly and deliberately. "If I have a father or a husband, why do I need to vote? Why should I need to work? They will take care of everything."

Through the years I have met many Saudi women. Some are rebels; some are proudly defensive of Saudi ways, convinced that any discussion of women's rights is a disguised attack on Islam from a hostile Westerner. There was the young dental student who came home from the university and sat up half the night, writing a groundbreaking novel exploring the internal lives and romances of young Saudi women. The oil expert who scolded me for asking about female drivers, pointing out the pitfalls of divorce and custody laws and snapping: "Driving is the least of our problems." I have met women who work as doctors and business consultants. Many of them seem content.

Whatever their thoughts on the matter, they have been assigned a central, symbolic role in what seems to be one of the greatest existential questions in contemporary Saudi Arabia: Can the country opt to develop in some ways and stay frozen in others? Can the kingdom evolve economically and technologically in a global society without relinquishing its particular culture of extreme religious piety and ancient tribal code?

The men are stuck, too. Over coffee one afternoon, an economist told me wistfully of the days when he and his wife had studied overseas, how she'd hopped behind the wheel and did her own thing. She's an independent, outspoken woman, he said. Coming back home to Riyadh had depressed both of them.

"Here, I got another dependent: my wife," he said. He found himself driving her around, chaperoning her as if she were a child. "When they see a woman walking alone here, it's like a wolf watching a sheep. 'Let me take what's unattended.' " He told me that both he and his wife hoped, desperately, that social and political reform would finally dawn in the kingdom. He thought foreign academics were too easy on Saudi Arabia, that they urged only minor changes instead of all-out democracy because they secretly regarded Saudis as "savages" incapable of handling too much freedom.

"I call them propaganda papers," he said of the foreign analysis. "They come up with all these lame excuses." He and his wife had already lost hope for themselves, he said.

"For ourselves, the train has left the station. We are trapped," he said. "I think about my kids. At least when I look at myself in the mirror I'll say: 'At least I said this. At least I wrote this.' "


WHEN Saudi officials chat with an American reporter, they go to great lengths to depict a moderate, misunderstood kingdom. They complain about stereotypes in the Western press: Women banned from driving? Well, they don't want to drive anyway. They all have drivers, and why would a lady want to mess with parking?

The religious police who stalk the streets and shopping centers, forcing "Islamic values" onto the populace? Oh, Saudi officials say, they really aren't important, or strict, or powerful. You hear stories to the contrary? Mere exaggerations, perpetuated by people who don't understand Saudi Arabia.

I had an interview one afternoon with a relatively high-ranking Saudi official. Since I can't drive anywhere or meet a man in a cafe, I usually end up inviting sources for coffee in the lobby of my hotel, where the staff turns a blind eye to whether those in the "family section" are really family.

As the elevator touched down and the shiny doors swung open onto the lobby, the official rushed toward me.

"Do you think we could talk in your room?" he blurted out.

I stepped back. What was this, some crazy come-on?

"No, why?" I stammered, stepping wide around him. "We can sit right over here." I wanted to get to the coffee shop — no dice. He swung himself around, blocking my path and my view.

"It's not a good idea," he said. "Let's just go to your room."

"I really don't think … I mean," I said, stuttering in embarrassment.

Then, peering over his shoulder, I saw them: two beefy men in robes. Great bushes of beards sprang from their chins, they swung canes in their hands and scanned the hotel lobby through squinted eyes.

"Is that the religious police?" I said. "It is!" I was a little mesmerized. I'd always wanted to see them in action.

The ministry official seemed to shrink a little, his shoulders slumped in defeat.

"They're not supposed to be here," he muttered despondently. "What are they doing here?"

"Well, why don't we go to the mall next door?" I said, eyes fixed on the menacing men. "There's a coffee shop there, we could try that."

"No, they will go there next." While he wrung his hands nervously, I stepped back a little and considered the irony of our predicament. To avoid running afoul of what may be the world's most stringent public moral code, I was being asked to entertain a strange, older man in my hotel room, something I would never agree to back home.

I had to do something. He was about to walk away and cancel the meeting, and I couldn't afford to lose it. Then I remembered a couple of armchairs near the elevator, up on my floor. We rode up and ordered room-service coffee. We talked as the elevators chimed up and down the spine of the skyscraper and the roar of vacuum cleaners echoed in the hallway.


ONE glaring spring day, when the hot winds raced in off the plains and the sun blotted everything to white, I stood outside a Riyadh bank, sweating in my black cloak while I waited for a friend. The sidewalk was simmering, but I had nowhere else to go. As a woman, I was forbidden to enter the men's half of the bank to fetch him. Traffic screamed past on a nearby highway. The winds tugged at the layers of black polyester. My sunglasses began to slip down my glistening nose.

The door clattered open, and I looked up hopefully. But no, it was a security guard. And he was stomping straight at me, yelling in Arabic. I knew enough vocabulary to glean his message: He didn't want me standing there. I took off my shades, fixed my blue eyes on him blankly and finally turned away as if puzzled. I think of this as playing possum.

He disappeared again, only to reemerge with another security guard. This man was of indistinct South Asian origin and had an English vocabulary. He looked like a pit bull — short, stocky and teeth flashing as he barked: "Go! Go! You can't stand here! The men can SEE! The men can SEE!"

I looked down at him and sighed. I was tired. "Where do you want me to go? I have to wait for my friend. He's inside." But he was still snarling and flashing those teeth, arms akimbo. He wasn't interested in discussions.

"Not here. NOT HERE! The men can SEE you!" He flailed one arm toward the bank.

I lost my temper.

"I'm just standing here!" I snapped. "Leave me alone!" This was a slip. I had already learned that if you're a woman in a sexist country, yelling at a man only makes a crisis worse.

The pit bull advanced toward me, making little shooing motions with his hands, lips curled back. Involuntarily, I stepped back a few paces and found myself in the shrubbery. I guess that, from the bushes, I was hidden from the view of the window, thereby protecting the virtue of all those innocent male bankers. At any rate, it satisfied the pit bull, who climbed back onto the sidewalk and stood guard over me. I glared at him. He showed his teeth. The minutes passed. Finally, my friend reemerged.

A liberal, U.S.-educated professor at King Saud University, he was sure to share my outrage, I thought. Maybe he'd even call up the bank — his friend was the manager — and get the pit bull in trouble. I told him my story, words hot as the pavement.

He hardly blinked. "Yes," he said. "Oh." He put the car in reverse, and off we drove.


DRIVING to the airport, I felt the kingdom slipping off behind me, the flat emptiness of its deserts, the buildings that rear toward the sky, encased in mirrored glass, blank under a blaring sun. All the hints of a private life I have never seen. Saudis are bred from the desert; they find life in what looks empty to me.

Even if I were Saudi, would I understand it? I remember the government spokesman, Mansour Turki, who said to me: "Being a Saudi doesn't mean you see every face of Saudi society. Saudi men don't understand how Saudi women think. They have no idea, actually. Even my own family, my own mother or sister, she won't talk to me honestly."

I slipped my iPod headphones into my ears. I wanted to hear something thumping and American. It began the way it always does: an itch, an impatience, like a wrinkle in the sock, something that is felt, but not yet registered. The discomfort always starts when I leave.

By the time I boarded the plane, I was in a temper. I yanked at the clasps, shrugged off the abaya like a rejected embrace. I crumpled it up and tossed it childishly into the airplane seat.

Then I was just standing there, feeling stripped in my jeans and blouse. My limbs felt light, and modesty flashed through me. I was aware of the skin of my wrists and forearms, the triangle of naked neck. I scanned the eyes behind me, looking for a challenge. But none came. The Saudi passengers had watched my tantrum impassively.

I sat down, leaned back and breathed. This moment, it seems, is always the same. I take the abaya off, expecting to feel liberated. But somehow, it always feels like defeat.


Stack reported in Saudi Arabia repeatedly during her tenure as The Times' Cairo Bureau chief from September 2003 until last month.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: DogBrian on June 06, 2007, 01:26:35 PM
Dateline runs a story about Jews living harmoniously in Iran.

Part 1
Part 2

I don't see any yellow badges on the Jews like our trusting media told us they would have to wear....,7340,L-3252934,00.html
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 15, 2007, 10:27:33 AM
Good Catch
June 15, 2007; Page A16
Chalk one up for the good guys. This week's arrest of an alleged leader of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) is the most notable victory yet for Indonesia's four-year-old crack counterterrorism squad. It's also a sign of what committed antiterror governments can accomplish, even in countries with majority-Muslim populations.

Abu Dujana is a major catch by any measure. A long-time terrorist, he started his training in explosives, small arms and guerrilla tactics as early as 1986. While fighting with the mujahadeen in Afghanistan, he befriended other future leaders of JI, including Hambali, mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings; Zulkarnaen, JI's military operations leader; and Abu Rusdan, who helped shelter at least one of the Bali bombers before serving as JI's No. 1.

Dujana is believed to have been critical to JI's ability to function as a broad-based terror network, stretching from Indonesia to the southern Philippines. His loss could prove a major disruption to JI's training, logistics and weapons-procurement efforts -- especially if he rats out his fellow terrorists. More broadly, Dujana was one of the few leaders who bridged operational factions within JI. His arrest doesn't necessarily presage JI's dissolution, but it will complicate life for any successor.

The heroes here are members of Detachment 88, Indonesia's elite counterterrorism security squad. Organized with U.S. and Australian support in the wake of the Bali bombing, the force has steadily gained expertise and morale over its brief life. As each new raid has yielded more information about JI's terrorist network, arrests have been growing in number and frequency; the unit can claim 250 JI kills or captures. The raid that snared Dujana and seven alleged accomplices followed a similar round-up in March.

Detachment 88's strengths are offset by the weaknesses of an Indonesian court system that is still woefully inadequate to tackling complex terrorism cases, as the muddled 2005 prosecution of Bali mastermind Abu Bakar Bashir showed. And Indonesian prisons are becoming hotbeds of radicalization, not least because many jails don't separate terror suspects-cum-proselytizers from potential recruits. Looming in the background is Jakarta's failure to ban Jemaah Islamiyah, largely for domestic political reasons.

Nonetheless, Indonesia has come a long way in a short time, and Detachment 88 shows what a small but elite squad can accomplish. Indonesians have been especially successful at collecting human intelligence and combining it with more high-tech intelligence programs. Dujana's arrest is another sign that the U.S. is not alone in resisting radical Islam's terror methods.
Title: Turkey
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 24, 2007, 04:45:29 AM

Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 25, 2007, 08:08:08 AM

I found this article to be very interesting and thought the victory comments of Erdogan hit the right notes.


Turkey's Illiberal Seculars
July 25, 2007

ISTANBUL -- Sunday's general elections in Turkey were seen by some commentators as the vote that would shape the upcoming decades of this overwhelmingly Muslim and yet resolutely secular republic. While it was widely expected that the incumbent Justice and Development Party, also known by its Turkish initials, AKP, would come out as the strongest party, very few predicted the extent of its victory. The AKP gained 46.6% of the votes and 340 seats in a parliament of 550 -- an astounding electoral triumph that has many implications for Turkey and the broader Islamic world.

Although the AKP has been in power since 2002 and has carried out a very successful program of political and economic liberalism -- in the classic sense -- Turkey's staunchly secular establishment never fully trusted the party that had started as a liberal offshoot of a more radical Muslim movement. While the AKP leaders define themselves as "conservatives," Turkey's secularists continue calling them "Islamist," a label designed to tarnish their image, at home and abroad, as Taliban-style Muslim totalitarians. Therefore the political battle in Turkey, which reached its tipping point when Turkish generals issued a harsh "secularism memorandum" on the night of April 27, has commonly been defined as a power struggle between "Islamists" and "secularists." For the uninitiated foreigner, it is easy to presume that the former is bigoted and xenophobic, and the latter is open-minded and pro-Western.

The true picture is exactly the opposite. While the AKP is a strong proponent of free markets, civil liberties and Turkey's European Union bid, the secularist opposition, led by the People's Republican Party, rejects all these objectives. The secularists actually think that most of the liberal reforms the AKP has spearheaded during the EU process are in fact part of a plot cooked up by Western "imperialists" designed to dilute Turkey's national sovereignty. A series of recent bestsellers by a die-hard secular conspiracy theorist, Ergun Poyraz, is a good indicator of this zeitgeist. His "investigative" books make the paranoid argument that the AKP leaders -- and their head-scarved wives -- are in fact crypto-Jews who collaborate with the "Elders of Zion" to destroy Turkey's secularism.

The correct way of interpreting Turkey's power struggle would in fact be to define it as a conflict between liberal Muslims and illiberal secularists. The mindset of the latter camp is shaped by a very rigid and outmoded ideology, which is known as "Kemalism." The term comes from Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the hero of Turkey's war of liberation, and the founder of the modern-day Turkish republic. Although Atatürk was undoubtedly a great leader, he never claimed to have a political theory. And yet that's precisely what his followers ascribed to him. After his death, a personality cult was created around this "Supreme Leader," and his policies were turned into everlasting principles. One such principle is "statism," which dictates that the economy should be managed by the state. That's why most contemporary Kemalists fiercely oppose privatization and foreign direct investment.

Turkey's much debated principle of secularism -- which, unlike the First Amendment in the U.S., leaves very little room for religious freedom -- is another sacred pillar of Kemalism that reflects the mood of the early 20th century. At the time, most European thinkers believed that religion was an irrational myth that must be replaced by science during the course of modernization. Hence Kemalists not only want to keep religion out of the state -- a principle that the AKP accepts -- but out of society altogether. Today, many philosophers and social scientists believe that religion and modernity are indeed compatible. But the Kemalists neither know of nor care about such novel concepts. For them, all the basic truths that the Turks require have already been decreed by Mustafa Kemal. All the nation needs to do is to safeguard this transmitted wisdom.

While the Kemalists have frozen themselves in this unholy scholasticism, Turkey's more devout Muslims, who have been regarded for decades as the underclass, have caught up with and even outdone the secularist nomenclature in terms of modernization. They have integrated far better into the globalized world. Additionally, the more they realized that free countries such as the U.S. or Britain give their Muslim citizens all the religious freedoms that are absent in Turkey, the more they appreciated Western style democracy. That's why Turkey's flourishing Muslim bourgeoisie and the rising Muslim intelligentsia have become defenders of democracy and liberalism. Kemalists oppose both, and, in return, praise "the Republic," which has become a euphemism for secularist oligarchy.

The main argument of the secularist camp is that AKP leaders are Islamic-oriented, and when Islam influences politics in any form, it becomes a tyrannical force. While it is certainly true that the synthesis of Islam and totalitarianism -- a lethal blend that has created al Qaeda and its ilk -- is horrific, the synthesis of Islamic values with liberal democracy might well be a blessing. Perhaps that's why the AKP's policies toward the Kurds are much more tolerant and generous: While the Kemalists still wish to turkify all Kurds -- an 80-year-old policy which derives from the cult of Turkishness, the secular alternative to Islam -- Mr. Erdogan's party respects Kurdish identity and refers to the common Ottoman past of the Turks and the Kurds. No wonder that in Sunday's elections, the AKP won a great victory in Kurdish cities, and gained more votes than the Kurdish nationalists who ran as independent candidates.

Interestingly, when compared to the Kemalists, the AKP is much more tolerant to Turkey's non-Muslim minorities, too. That's why some prominent Turkish Christians, including the Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan, declared their sympathy for the ruling party before the elections. Once again, the values of the Ottoman/Islamic tradition, which represent the peaceful co-existence of the three monotheistic faiths, seem to be more pluralistic than the Kemalist principles that require a strictly homogeneous nation.

In short, the AKP's election victory is good news for all those who wish for a more open and democratic Turkey. It might also be a source of inspiration for other Muslim nations who have been suppressed throughout the 20th century by either secular autocrats or Islamist tyrannies. Now the AKP proves that a political movement led by devout Muslims can embrace capitalism, democracy and secularity. That's precisely the example that the Muslim world needs to see.

Mr. Akyol is the deputy editor of the Turkish Daily News.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 16, 2007, 05:52:02 AM
As we all know, Saudi Arabia is the home of the Muslim religion, and SA is the home of AQ.  Here is one particular take on the SA government and its relation with Islam:
============= - The Christian Science Monitor Online
from the August 15, 2007 edition -

A tipping point in Saudi Arabia
By favoring merchants over clerics, Abdullah is making crucial reforms.
By Dana Moss and Zvika Krieger

Brussels; and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

When Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud was crown prince of Saudi Arabia, one
of his most infamous decisions was banning the use of camera phones in 2004
- a demand from the country's Wahhabi clergy who claimed the devices were
"spreading obscenity."

But the decision was quickly reversed when King Abdullah faced pressure from
his government ministers and, allegedly, from a cadre of foreign businessmen
who threatened to pull their companies from Saudi Arabia. "Abdullah was
presented with a choice between the Wahhabis and good business," says one
Riyadh-based businessman. "His decision [for the latter] was clear."

It is a decision that Abdullah has made time and again over the course of
his reign as king, which hit its two-year mark this month. By sidelining the
traditional clergy in favor of the merchant classes and more progressive
religious voices, Abdullah has been challenging the "great bargain" of the
Saudi state - namely the empowerment of the Wahhabi ulema (hard-line Islamic
scholars) in exchange for their sanction of the House of Saud.

This unlikely reformer, who has unofficially led the kingdom since King
Fahd's stroke in 1995, has propelled the country through a radical
transformation. From accession to the World Trade Organization to the
billion-dollar overhaul of the educational system to increased criticism of
the religious "police" who enforce a strict interpretation of Islamic sharia
law, the closed kingdom is beginning to crack open.

'The oil boom is over'

These reforms come at a critical time. Saudi Arabia is barreling toward an
economic and social crisis if it does not act fast. Almost 75 percent of
Saudi citizens are under age 30 and youth unemployment is approaching 30
percent - a potential breeding ground for terrorists and regime dissidents.
Current high oil prices are not enough to paper over the economic ravages of
the past two decades. "The oil boom is over and will not return," Abdullah
told his subjects. "All of us must get used to a different lifestyle."

Economic restructuring of the kingdom is no easy task, nor can it be
separated from social reform, such as increasing women's participation in
economic life and creating a business environment and laws suitable for
foreign companies.

Faced with resistance from the conservative official ulema, Abdullah has
adopted a strategy of "circumvention" to coerce these reforms - officially
toeing the Wahhabi line, but quietly giving more leeway to the private

Education, for example, had traditionally been firmly under Wahhabi control,
with a focus on creating more imams than businessmen. But this won't help a
country striving to become an international powerhouse. So private
universities - previously shunned by the religious elite because of their
relative independence - have recently been legalized, with a half-dozen
Western-style institutions slated to open soon. The new King Abdullah
University for Science and Technology, the kingdom's first coeducational
institution, is an Abdullah initiative to create a global leader in
technological innovation. He tasked the relatively secular Ministry of
Petroleum and Mineral Resources with running the project, keeping it away
from the fundamentalists.

By sidelining the ulema, Abdullah has been forced to find a new source for
religious legitimacy in order for him and his successors to rule over "the
land of the two holy mosques."

His strategy has been to allow a wider base of voices to speak for Islam,
both Sunni and Shiite. He instituted an annual forum titled "National
Dialogue," which invited a variety of prominent intellectuals to make their
views heard.

The forum included Sunni scholars such as Safar al Hawali, a former member
of an opposition grouping called the "Awakening Sheikhs," many of which had
been previously imprisoned for their biting criticism of palace policy.

Other invitees included prominent Shiite thinkers - a distinct change from
earlier years, when the highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia had
declared Shiites to be "apostates." Most important, the official ulema were
pointedly left off the guest list.

Some have criticized the weak translation of the forum's rhetoric into real
action. Yet even its existence is an accomplishment, and a new building has
been set up in Riyadh to host this forum. This is a sign, in the words of
Saudi Arabia expert Jean-François Seznec, of how the "National Dialogue" is
becoming "systematized and routinized," reflecting long-term changes in the
regime's attitude.

Of course, Abdullah's reforms have been highly limited when compared with
Western expectations.

The country is still an iron-fisted dictatorship: The much-heralded
municipal elections of 2005 excluded women, and the trumpeted majlis
(parliament) remains a body undemocratically appointed by the king. Women
can't drive, and religious freedom is nonexistent. Fundamentalist forces
also remain significant in the kingdom, with characters such as Prince Naif,
the ultra-conservative interior minister, still wielding enormous power.

Economic impetus for reform

At 83 years old, Abdullah's time left in office may be short, and it is
uncertain that those next in line to the throne will have the will or the
ability to continue making crucial reforms.

The challenges facing the desert kingdom require highly tuned maneuvering
skills. Reformers are counting on the durability of Abdullah's reforms
regardless of his successor. His legacy is likely to be protected by the new
economic elite he is helping to create.

"You can't bury your head in the sand and expect to become a global economic
power," said one administrator at a new Western-style university in Saudi
Arabia. "The king knows this, and he's ready to accept the consequences of

. Dana Moss is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the
Transatlantic Institute in Brussels. Zvika Krieger is a Middle East-based
special correspondent for Newsweek magazine.

Title: The Boys of the Taliban
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 09, 2007, 05:59:55 AM

Just recently, the Taliban issued a new set of 30 rules to its fighters.

Many of the instructions were to be expected: rule No. 25 commands the murder of teachers if a warning and a beating does not dissuade them from teaching. No. 26 outlines the exquisite delicacy of burning schools and destroying anything that aid organizations might undertake -- such as the building of a new road, school or clinic. The essence of the other rules are easily left to the imagination, basically involving what militant Islam is about: vile hate, death and destruction.


But there is a curious rule that the Western media has typically ignored. Rule No. 19 instructs that Taliban fighters must not take young boys without facial hair into their private quarters.




(Cough and clearing of the throat).


Aside from the question of what is permitted if a young boy does happen to have facial hair, this new Taliban commandment brings light to a taboo pathology that underlies the structures of militant Islam. And it is crucial to deconstruct the meaning of this rule -- and the horrid reality that it represents -- because it serves as a gateway to understanding the primary causes of Islamic rage and terror.


Rule No. 19 obviously indicates that the sexual abuse of young boys is a prevalent and institutionalized phenomenon among the Taliban and that, for one reason or another, its widespread practice has become a problem.


The fact that Taliban militants’ spare time involves sodomizing young boys should by no means be any kind of surprise or eyebrow raiser. That a mass pathology such as this occurs in a culture which demonizes the female and her sexuality -- and puts her out of mind and sight -- is only to be expected. To be sure, it is a simple given that the religious male fanatic who flies into a violent rage even at the thought of an exposed woman’s ankle will also be, in some other dysfunctional and dark secret compartment of his fractured life, the person who leads some poor helpless young boy into his private chambers.


The key issue here is that the demented sickness that underlies Rule No. 19 is by no means exclusive to the Taliban; it is a widespread phenomenon throughout Islamic-Arab culture and it lies, among other factors, at the root of that culture’s addiction to rage and its lust for violence, terror and suicide.


There is a basic and common sense empirical human reality: wherever humans construct and perpetuate an environment in which females and their sexuality are demonized and are pushed into invisibility, homosexual behaviour among men and the sexual abuse of young boys by older men always increases. Islamic-Arab culture serves as a perfect example of this paradigm, seeing that gender apartheid, fear of female sexuality and a vicious misogyny are the structures on which the whole society functions.


It is no surprise that John Racy, a psychiatrist with much experience in Arab societies, has noted that homosexuality is “extremely common” in many parts of the Arab world. [1] Indeed, even though homosexuality is officially despised in this culture and strictly prohibited and punishable by imprisonment, incarceration and/or death, having sex with boys or effeminate men is actually a social norm. Males serve as available substitutes for unavailable women. The key is this: the male who does the penetrating is not considered to be homosexual or emasculated any more than if he were to have sex with his wife, while the male who is penetrated is emasculated. The boy, however, is not considered to be emasculated since he is not yet considered to be a man. A man who has sex with boys is simply doing what many men (especially unmarried ones) do. [2] And this reality is connected to the fact that, as scholar Bruce Dunne has demonstrated, sex in Islamic-Arab societies is not about mutuality between partners, but about the adult male's achievement of pleasure through violent domination. [3]


While secrecy and taboo surround this phenomenon, some courageous Arabs have dared to discuss and expose it. Walid Shoebat, for instance, a former Palestinian terrorist, has openly related the abuse of young boys in Palestinian Muslim society. He himself witnessed a line of shepherd boys waiting for their turn to sodomize a five-year-old boy. [4] Amnesty International has also reported that Afghan warlords routinely sexually victimize young boys and film the orgies. [5] (The sexual abuse of young girls in this environment is also obviously widespread). [6]


While she was in Afghanistan in 1961, author and scholar Phyllis Chesler saw homosexuals roaming the streets, holding hands in broad daylight and gazing into each other’s eyes. “One of the pair,” she writes, “might sport a flower behind his ear; another might be wearing lipstick or have rouged cheeks.” At the same time, Chesler observed that everyone, including her Arab husband, was in denial about this common social reality, refusing to admit that this widespread behaviour was, in fact, homosexuality. [7]


In the dysfunctional and morbid paradigms of this culture, the idea of love is, obviously, completely absent from men's understanding of sexuality. Like the essence of Arab masculinity, it is reduced to a form of prison sex: hurting others with violence. A gigantic rupture inevitably develops between men and women, where no harmony, affection or equality is allowed to exist. [8]


The sexual confusion, humiliation, and repression that develop in the mindset of many males in this culture are excruciating. And it is no surprise that many of them find the only avenue for personal gratification in the act of sexually abusing young boys and, of course, in humiliating the foreign "enemy," whose masculinity must be violated at all costs -- just as theirs once was.


Islamist terror, therefore, is, in part, very much a release of the terrorists’ bottled-up sexual rage in connection to sexual frustration and desperation -- and to the humiliation connected to feelings of emasculation, which culminates in the act of striking out against “the enemy” and violating his masculinity. The inner workings of this mindset explain why Islamic terrorists consistently engage in sexual mutilation of their victims. Psychiatrist David Gutmann notes this phenomenon in the context of Arab Jew-hatred:


The Israelis perform in this Arab psychodrama of gender as a potent, destabilizing threat: to begin with, as a people they broke out of the deprecated but tolerated status of Dhimmi - a kind of submissive "woman" - to the "masculine" status of pioneer, rebel, warrior and nation builder. In retaliation, in their wars and Intifadas the Arabs strive to castrate the uppity masculinizing Jew -- and this project is carried out quite literally on the battlefield, where the bodies of fallen Jews have been mutilated in the most obscene ways. [9]


This lust for violence against “the enemy” and the accompanying yearning to die in the process are fuelled by the morbid earthly existence that is engendered by militant Islam. Indeed, there exists very few reasons for males to value their time on earth; their freedom of action and ability to experience joy and pleasure are extremely limited in terms of what is allowed. To be sure, most young men have absolutely no experience in love, sex, affection or friendship with females, and they have no outlet for their libido, which, to further pathologize the mindset, they regard as evil temptation. Killing and dying, therefore, become the only areas where free will can be exercised.


This lust for death is further compounded by the theological underpinnings of Islam itself, which promises the Muslim male sexual treats in the afterlife which are forbidden to him on earth. Indeed, if a Muslim male dies in the cause of jihad, he will enjoy a blissful union with virgins in paradise (Suras 78:31, 37:40-48, 44:51-55). And for those Muslim warriors for whom women are not of interest, there will be young pre-pubescent boys at their service -- and they will be like “scattered pearls” of “perpetual freshness” (Suras 52:24, 56:17, 76:19).


Thus, for the Taliban fighters who are frustrated with the new obstacles posed by Rule No. 19, there no doubt exists an even greater incentive to get to paradise a little faster.


In essence, suicide through jihad represents a form of perverted liberty through which an individual can express himself. In so doing, the Islamic radical strikes out at what tempts him, avenges his own emasculation and, through the act of suicide, cleanses himself of his own temptation by ridding himself of his earthly existence.


Theodore Dalrymple offers a profound analysis of this phenomenon in the context of the Muslim fundamentalist’s agonizing hate and self-hate inside a Western society. Analyzing the motivations of the Pakistani suicide bombers who struck in London in June 2005, he demonstrates that they saw no way out of their confrontation with freedom and modernity except death:


What more convincing evidence of faith could there be than to die for its sake? How can a person be really attached or attracted to rap music and cricket and Mercedes cars if he is prepared to blow himself up as a means of destroying the society that produces them? Death will be the end of the illicit attachment that he cannot entirely eliminate from his heart. The two forms of jihad, the inner and the outer, the greater and the lesser, thus coalesce in one apocalyptic action. By means of suicide bombing, the bombers overcome moral impurities and religious doubts within themselves and, supposedly, strike an external blow for the propagation of the faith. [10]


All of these inter-related phenomena serve as windows of understanding for us, through which we become able to grasp the demented and psychopathic psychology that creates the need for a rule such as the Taliban’s No. 19. It is a rule that exposes a fanatic mindset that holds the sight and reality of an unveiled woman to be a horrific nightmare and the greatest sin, yet simultaneously considers the forced rape of a young prepubescent boy to be in the normal swing of things.


It is on this eerie and putrid plateau that we come to see the factors that spawn the yearning for death and suicide inside militant Islam. Circumscribed in the most vicious and sadistic of ways, the men imprisoned in these cages long to regain a masculinity and humanity that was violently robbed from them as children. In a setting where healing through contact with feminine affection is denied and considered evil, self-extinction through hurting the “enemy” -- and the tempter -- becomes the only way out. 




[1] David Pryce-Jones, The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs (Chicago: Irvin R. Dee, 2002), p.131.


[2] Bruce Dunne, “Power and Sexuality in the Middle East,” Middle East Report, Spring 1998. For a further discussion on the widespread homosexuality among men in Muslim societies in North Africa and South Asia, and how married men having sex with boys and other men is considered a social norm, and not “homosexual,” see Arno Schmitt and Jehoeda Sofer (eds.), Sexuality and Eroticism Among Males in Muslim Societies (New York: Harrington Park Press, 1992).


[3] Dunne.


[4] Chesler, The Death of Feminism, (Macmillan: New York , 2005), p.144.


[5] Chesler, p.144.


[6] Author Nawal El Saadawi, gives an account of the horrifying and widespread sexual abuse of young girls in the Muslim-Arab world, a crime for which the perpetrators are exonerated. See Sadawwi, The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World, pp.12-24. While it is obvious that this abuse, as with the abuse of young boys, is connected to the unavailability of women for men in the culture at large, Chesler notes that the widespread sexual abuse of female children in the Muslim world “is one of the main ways of traumatizing and shaming girls into obedience and rendering them less capable of rebellion or resistance when they grow up.” (Chesler, p.145)


[7] Chesler, p.88 and p.144.


[8] Dunne.


[9] David Gutmann, “Symposium: Purifying Allah's Soil,”, January 27, 2006.


[10] Theodore Dalrymple, “The Suicide Bombers Among Us,” City Journal, Autumn 2005.

Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 14, 2007, 08:17:33 AM
Women Drivers
September 14, 2007; Page A12
'Cats and dogs in the developed world have more rights than Arab women," says Wajeha al-Huwaider, the Saudi writer and human rights activist. With that in mind, she has co-founded, along with Fawzia al-Uyyouni, the League of Demanders of Women's Right to Drive Cars in Saudi Arabia.

Don't laugh; such a movement will strike many as quixotic considering the current status of women in the desert kingdom. In Saudi Arabia, the fairer sex can't work, travel, study, marry or see a doctor without the permission of a male "legal guardian." Strict dress codes are enforced by the vice police. Dissent, by men or women, isn't tolerated. Ms. al-Huwaider says she is taking one step at a time.

The league is now collecting signatures for a petition to be delivered to King Abdullah on September 23, the country's national holiday. Published on the liberal Arab Web site Aafaq last week, the petition demands that the King "return that which has been stolen from women: the right to (free) movement through the use of cars," according to a translation by MEMRI media research institute. As of this writing, the petition has collected 220 signatures. Those are 220 brave people.

There have been small signs of recent progress for women in Saudi Arabia, especially in the workplace. King Abdullah issued a decree last year saying women should be encouraged to work in all fields; and an increasing number of workplaces, including in government, are establishing separate sections for female employees. A year ago women were admitted to law school for the first time. Now if only they were free to drive themselves to school or work.

Title: The Depravity of Dog Ownership
Post by: buzwardo on September 15, 2007, 06:50:29 AM
Iran: Tehran Officials Begin Crackdown On Pet Dogs

Dogs are taken from their owners and kept at a detention center
(Courtesy Photo)

In an unprecedented move, Iran's police have created a dog "prison" in Tehran. The move is part of a crackdown on what officials describe as immoral and un-Islamic behavior, during which thousands of young men and women have been detained or received warnings about the way they are dressed. Radio Farda reports that Tehran pet-owners are now also among those under pressure from the authorities.

September 14, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Since the creation of the Islamic republic in Iran in 1979, the acceptability of dog ownership has been debated by the authorities.

Iranian officials say that according to Islam, dogs are considered to be dirty animals, and people who own dogs are viewed as being under Western influence. Some conservative clerics have denounced dog ownership as "morally depraved" and say it should be banned.

Friday prayer leader Hojatoleslam Gholamreza Hassani, who is known for his hard-line stances, was quoted a few years ago as saying that all dog owners and their dogs should be arrested.

In the past, dog owners have received warnings or were forced to pay fines for having a pet dog. Despite such harassment, dog ownership has increased over the years, especially among young people in Tehran.

One of them is 23-year-old Banafshe, whose dog was recently detained in Tehran for 48 hours and then released on bail. Banafshe says she was walking her young puppy, Jessica, when Iranian police snatched the dog and took her to a dog "jail." The dog's crime was "walking in public."

Banafshe claims the police insulted her, but out of fear for her dog, she didn't protest. She said she told the police that Allah says in the Koran that nothing bad has been created in this world.

"They said, 'We want to get rid of Western culture,'" Banafshe said. "They said, 'You live in an Islamic country, it's not right to have dogs. Are you not Islamic? Why does your family allow you to own a dog?' They insulted me, they even told me that they hope my dog will die. But there was nothing I could do but cry. You can't imagine how badly I was insulted."

'The Police Must Be Laughing'

The new clampdown on dogs follows a recent order by the head of Tehran's security forces, Ahmad Reza Radan, who said it is against the law for dogs to walk in public. The order has left many people baffled.

Nadja, whose sick dog was arrested right after it had surgery, considers the clampdown on dogs ridiculous. "One day it's dogs, the next day it's [crime prevention], tomorrow they have to catch birds. The police themselves must be laughing at this," Nadja said.

Another dog owner in Tehran, who did not want to be named, said that instead of detaining dogs, officials should concentrate their efforts on improving the country's economy and other important issues.

Some say they see the move as government interference in their lives.

All detained pets are taken to a newly created detention center. Radio Farda reports that some dogs are housed amid piles of garbage and debris. Others reported that a very large dog was confined to a cramped cage within the dog "prison."

Dr. Javid Aledavud, the head of Iran's Society to Defend the Rights of Animals, told Radio Farda that conditions at the center are very poor and unsuitable for pets. He says there are no passages in the Koran about dogs being dirty.

He adds that sniffer dogs are being used in Iran in the fight against drug trafficking.
Iranian security forces say the ban against walking dogs in public is meant strictly to fight Western influences.

Reza Javalchi, the secretary of the Society to Defend the Rights of Animals, says dog ownership, more common in the West, is considered by Iranian officials to be a sign of Western influence. "But that is not the case," he said. "If we want to speak about symbols of Western civilization then maybe wearing a suit is also Western. These are issues that have become part of human life. Based on our research, domestic dogs were kept in Iran for hunting and guarding maybe long before it became widespread in the West."

Last month, a young person was arrested in Tehran for posting ads of his lost dog.

According to Mehdi Ahmadi, a spokesman for Tehran's police force, such ads spread depravity by encouraging dog ownership.

Activists say that officially no legal prohibition exists in Iran against keeping dogs as pets. But that is little solace to the dozens of dogs that kept in the detention center, or their owners waiting for the return of their beloved pets.

(Radio Farda's Mohammad Zarghami, Keyvan Hosseini, and Azadeh Sharafshahi all contributed to this report.)
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 20, 2007, 07:02:11 AM

KAFR AL MANSHI ABOU HAMAR, Egypt — The men in this poor farming community were seething. A 13-year-old girl was brought to a doctor’s office to have her clitoris removed, a surgery considered necessary here to preserve chastity and honor.

At a symposium on female circumcision in Tanta, Egypt, a poster reads, "The Beginning of the End, No to Female Circumcision."
The girl died, but that was not the source of the outrage. After her death, the government shut down the clinic, and that got everyone stirred up.

“They will not stop us,” shouted Saad Yehia, a tea shop owner along the main street. “We support circumcision!” he shouted over and over.

“Even if the state doesn’t like it, we will circumcise the girls,” shouted Fahmy Ezzeddin Shaweesh, an elder in the village.

Circumcision, as supporters call it, or female genital mutilation, as opponents refer to it, was suddenly a ferocious focus of debate in Egypt this summer. A nationwide campaign to stop the practice has become one of the most powerful social movements in Egypt in decades, uniting an unlikely alliance of government forces, official religious leaders and street-level activists.

Though Egypt’s Health Ministry ordered an end to the practice in 1996, it allowed exceptions in cases of emergency, a loophole critics describe as so wide that it effectively rendered the ban meaningless. But now the government is trying to force a comprehensive ban.

Not only was it unusual for the government to shut down the clinic, but the health minister has also issued a decree banning health care workers— or anyone — from conducting the procedure for any reason. Beyond that, the Ministry of Religious Affairs also issued a booklet explaining why the practice was not called for in Islam; Egypt’s grand mufti, Ali Gomaa, declared it haram, or prohibited by Islam; Egypt’s highest religious official, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, called it harmful; television advertisements have been shown on state channels to discourage it; and a national hot line was set up to answer the public’s questions about genital cutting.

But as the men in this village demonstrated, widespread social change in Egypt comes slowly, very slowly. This country is conservative, religious and, for many, guided largely by traditions, even when those traditions do not adhere to the tenets of their faith, be it Christianity or Islam.

For centuries Egyptian girls, usually between the ages of 7 and 13, have been taken to have the procedure done, sometimes by a doctor, sometimes by a barber or whoever else in the village would do it. As recently as 2005, a government health survey showed that 96 percent of the thousands of married, divorced or widowed women interviewed said they had undergone the procedure — a figure that astounds even many Egyptians. In the language of the survey, “The practice of female circumcision is virtually universal among women of reproductive age in Egypt.”

Though the practice is common and increasingly contentious throughout sub-Saharan Africa, among Arab states the only other place where this practice is customary is in southern Yemen, experts here said. In Saudi Arabia, where women cannot drive, cannot vote, cannot hold most jobs, the practice is viewed as abhorrent, a reflection of pre-Islamic traditions.

But now, quite suddenly, forces opposing genital cutting in Egypt are pressing back as never before. More than a century after the first efforts to curb this custom, the movement has broken through one of the main barriers to change: It is no longer considered taboo to discuss it in public. That shift seems to have coincided with a small but growing acceptance of talking about human sexuality on television and radio.

For the first time, opponents said, television news shows and newspapers have aggressively reported details of botched operations. This summer two young girls died, and it was front-page news in Al Masry al Yom, an independent and popular daily. Activists highlighted the deaths with public demonstrations, which generated even more coverage.

The force behind this unlikely collaboration between government, nongovernment organizations, religious leaders and the news media is a no-nonsense 84-year-old anthropologist named Marie Assaad, who has been fighting against genital cutting since the 1950s.

“I never thought I would live to see this day,” she said, reading about the subject in a widely circulated daily newspaper.


Page 2 of 2)

Dr. Nasr el-Sayyid, assistant to the minister of health, said there had already been a drop in urban areas, along with an aggressive effort in more than 100 villages, mostly in the south, to curb the practice. “Our plan and program over the next two years is aiming to take it down 20 percent nationwide,” he said.

 World View With Michael Slackman (mp3)The challenge, however, rests in persuading people that their grandparents, parents and they themselves have harmed their daughters. Moreover, advocates must convince a skeptical public that men will marry a woman who has not undergone the procedure and that circumcision is not necessary to preserve family honor. It is a challenge to get men to give up some of their control over women.

And it will be a challenge to convince influential people like Osama Mohamed el-Moaseri, imam of a mosque in Basyoun, the city near where the 13-year-old girl lived, and died. “This practice has been passed down generation after generation, so it is natural that every person circumcises his daughter,” he said. “When Ali Gomaa says it is haram, he is criticizing the practice of our fathers and forefathers.”

But the movement against genital cutting has matured and is increasingly prepared for these arguments. At first, Ms. Assaad and a group of intellectuals who together created a task force simply lectured their neighbors, essentially calling the practice barbaric.

“At the beginning we preached and said this is wrong,” she recalled. “It didn’t work. They said, ‘It was done to our mothers and grandmothers, and they are fine.’ ”

She and her colleagues sounded like out-of-touch urban intellectuals, she said. But over time, they enlisted the aid of Islamic scholars and health care workers, hoping to disperse misconceptions — like the idea that cutting off the clitoris prevents homosexuality — and relate to people’s lives.

“Circumcision is a very old custom and has absolutely no benefits,” Vivian Fouad, who helps staff the national hot line, said to a caller wondering what to do with her own daughter. She continued: “If you want to protect your daughter, then you have to raise her well. How you raise your child is the main factor in everything, not mutilating your daughter.”

Egypt is a patriarchal society, but women can be a powerful force. So Ms. Assaad helped persuade two important women, elite and privileged, who like herself could not believe the practice was as widespread as it was, to join her battle.

The first was Suzanne Mubarak, the wife of President Hosni Mubarak and a political force in her own right. The second was an ally of Mrs. Mubarak, Mosheira Khattab, head of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, a government agency that helps set national health and social policies.

Mrs. Khattab has become a force in pressing the agenda. Her council now has a full-time staff working on the issue and runs the hot line. She toured the Nile Delta region, three cities in one day, promoting the message, blunt and outraged that genital cutting had not stopped.

“The Koran is a newcomer to tradition in this manner,” she said. “As a male society, the men took parts of religion that satisfied men and inflated it. The parts of the Koran that helped women, they ignored.”

It is an unusual swipe at the Islamists who have promoted the practice as in keeping with religion, especially since the government generally tries to avoid taking on conservative religious leaders. It tries to position itself as the guardian of Islamic values, aiming to enhance its own wilted legitimacy and undercut support for the Muslim Brotherhood, the banned but popular opposition movement.

But the religious discourse concerning genital cutting has changed, and that is credited to Ms. Assaad’s strategy of reaching up to people like Mrs. Mubarak and out to young women like Fatma Ibrahim, 24. When Ms. Ibrahim was 11 years old, she said, her parents told her she was going for a blood test. The doctor, a relative, put her to sleep and when she woke, she said she could not walk.

The memory haunts her now, and though she says that her parents “will kill” her if they find out, she has become a volunteer in the movement against genital cutting, hoping to spare other women what she endured.

“I am looking to talk to the young, the ones who will be parents in 10 years,” she said. “This is my target group. I talk to the young. When I get married, inshallah, I will never, ever circumcise my daughter.”

Title: Nigeria
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 07, 2007, 06:39:14 AM

Homes, churches destroyed as 500 people are displaced; government slow to respond.

TUDUN WADA DANKADAI, Nigeria, October 5 (Compass Direct News) – A Muslim rampage last week in this town in the northern state of Kano resulted in the killing of 10 Christians and the destruction of nine churches, according to eyewitnesses.

Another 61 people were injured and more than 500 displaced in the September 28 disturbance, touched off when Muslim students of Government College-Tudun Wada Dankadai, a public high school, claimed that a Christian student had drawn a cartoon of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, on the wall of the school’s mosque.

Christian students said no one saw the alleged cartoon and that no one in the tiny minority group of Christians would have dared such a feat, especially during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Of the student population of 1,500 at the high school, only 14 are Christians. Seven of them live on campus.

Iliya Adamu, an 18-year-old student at the school, told Compass that he had been preparing to go to class when a group of Muslim students stormed into his dorm and began to beat him.

“I was surprised that they were beating me without telling what I did,” Adamu said. “I asked to know what was happening, and they claimed that one Christian student had gone to their mosque to draw a cartoon of Muhammad. In spite of my denying the act, they kept beating me.”

Adamu said he saw them beating a Christian classmate, Sule La’azaru. Sensing that he would be killed, he ran to the principal’s office to take refuge. Soon the remaining Christian students escaped and joined him in the principal’s office.

Sensing danger, Muslim teachers locked the Christian students in the principal’s office. They were kept there for about 30 minutes before the school principal, Alhaji Garba Wajume, arrived at the chaotic scene.

Disregarding the appeal of their Muslim teachers to calm down, Muslim students began throwing stones at the Christian students through the window of the principal’s office, wounding the head of student Ayuba Wada.

“I was inside the office of our principal, with the others, when suddenly the Muslim students began throwing stones at us,” Wada said. “It was through this way that my head was broken. I was bleeding, and no help came as the situation became more riotous.”

Trapped in the Principal’s Office
The Muslim students eventually broke into the office, but the timely arrival of the principal saved Wada’s life.

Apart from his head wound, Wada also suffered cuts on his legs. He was taken to Hayin Yawa Clinic, where he was treated and smuggled to Doguwa village. Two of his colleagues also were taken to the clinic and subsequently escaped the carnage. The Christian students remaining in the principal’s managed to escape from the Muslim mob unaided.

Christian student Shehu Bawa told Compass that when he arrived at the school that morning, he noticed there were no students on the assembly grounds as there normally would be.

“I then went to my class, however, after about 10 minutes I heard shouts of ‘Allahu Akbar [God is Great]’ all over the school,” he said. “The Muslim students were now attacking every Christian student on sight. Four of us ran into the office of the vice principal, but when it was finally broken into by the Muslim students, we ran out and escaped.”

The Christian students denied that any of them could have drawn a cartoon of Muhammad. “How can we take such a risk when we know that we are a minority and cannot stand [against] them?” Bawa told Compass. “This is a lie created to have a reason to attack us.”

Adamu added that no one saw the alleged cartoon.

“We suspect that either one of the Muslim student in the school did this to create an excuse for us to be attacked, or that a Muslim fanatic from the town might have done this to spark off a fight among Muslims and Christians,” he said. “How could we have done this when Muslim students are always around the mosque day and night because of the Ramadan?”

Having attacked Christian students in the school, Muslim students poured into the streets of Tudun Wada, joined in the mayhem by other Muslims. Burned down churches, vandalized Christian property and unrestrained killings marked the next four hours.

The churches burned included St. Mary’s Catholic Church, St. George’s Anglican Church, Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), Assemblies of God Church, First Baptist Church, and a Pentecostal church, the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church.

Other churches destroyed by the Muslim militants were an African independent church, the Cherubim and Seraphim Church, and two other Pentecostal churches, The Chosen Bible Church and Deeper Life Bible Church.

Among the 10 Christians murdered were Augustine Odoh and his younger brother Cosmos Odoh, both members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Another Catholic, Joseph Eze, was also killed. At press time, the corpses of the three Catholics were lying at the City Hospital in Kano city.

Seven other Christians killed were buried in a common grave by officials of the government of Kano state on Wednesday (October 3), as government workers did not allow relatives or church leaders to identify the corpses.

Those injured were being treated at the Assumpta Clinic, Nomansland in Sabon Gari area of Kano city.

Musa Ahmadu Haruna, priest of St. George’s Anglican Church, Tudun Wada Dankadai, whose church was burned, told Compass that he believes no Christian student in the school could have drawn an image of Muhammad.

“None of these students is capable of drawing a cartoon on a mosque,” he said. “That is a frame-up to find a reason to attack us.”

Part 2

Town in Flames
Rabiu Danbawa, pastor of area ECWA church, said that when he heard of an outbreak of violence against Christians, he decided to move closer to the town center to see what was happening.

“I stood as they set fire on our churches one by one,” he said.

Danbawa said he helped evacuate a member of his church, Juliana Lawal, on his motorcycle before returning for his own family. By the time he approached his home, the storming Muslims had already set fire to the structure, part of the church building already in flames.

Danbawa said he stood about 500 meters from the church as it burned.

“There was nothing I could do,” he said. “I did not know the fate of my wife and my children. I prayed asked for their protection, even as I did not know whether they were killed in the fire in the church or not. However, a few days later, I found my wife and children safe.”

Danbawa said he went to the police station, only to find the police dispersing the many Christians who had run there to escape the attack.

“We were told to leave, as our safety could not be guaranteed,” he said, in tears. “Women and children all scampered to the bush, only to be attacked by the Muslims who had already hid themselves in the bush awaiting their Christian prey.”

Many Christians, Danbawa said, were killed in the surrounding foliage as they tried escaping. Other Christian victims corroborated this statement.

Danbawa and his family are now refugees in Dogon Kawo village alongside other Christian victims. Other Christians are also taking refuge in Kalgo village. None of them have food or shelter, he said.

Christian survivors of the attack told Compass that their survival was a miracle. While Kano state was the site of religious violence in which hundreds died in 2004, the destruction in Tudun Wada, they said, is unprecedented.

The Rev. Father Emmanuel Koro, parish priest of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in the town, told Compass that Muslim fanatics intent on killing him his hand cut with a machete.

“That I survived this attack is a miracle,” Rev. Koro said. “When I had the cut on my hand and was bleeding, it was not possible for me to do anything. Schoolchildren on the church premises were crying for help from me, but there was nothing I could do. I had to be helped out through a back fence in the parish to escape.”

The slashing of his hand, it turned out, may have saved his life, as it seemed to signal the aborting of a plan to burn Koro alive; they had already poured gas on him, he said, in preparation for doing so. He was rescued and taken to the police station, and then moved to a cathedral in Kano city.

Policemen who are Christians were not spared from attack; the Muslim rowdies attacked about 30 officers and their families, looted their household items and set their rooms on fire. Eyewitnesses said the Muslim fanatics also extended their attacks to Christians living in Kumbarau (Yarkawu) village.

Christian Shops Destroyed
The attack comes on the heels of a call in July by the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar III, to Muslims in northern Nigeria to rise against Christianity. Kano state government has led the implementation of sharia (Islamic) law throughout northern Nigeria.

Haruna of St. George’s Anglican Church estimated property damage at his church alone at 5 million naira (US$40,718). Haruna said that in the carnage, not only churches but Christian businesses were attacked.

“All shops and businesses of Christians were looted and burnt,” he told Compass at Tudun Wada police station. “Christians have been killed, and all homes of Christians burnt too.”

Afiniki Andy Luka, a Christian widow, told Compass at the Tudun Wada police station that she missed the carnage because she was in Kano city.

“I was phoned and told not to come back to the town, but my children were alone in the house,” she said. “God in his way led them through the carnage as they escaped to the police station. I found them among displaced persons the following day.”

Luka said no house belonging to a Christian in town, nor a church, remains – they have all been destroyed.

“There is not a single church standing in this town as they have all been burned,” she said. “I had two shops, but the Muslims looted them and then burned every other thing in them. I have now been forced to become a refugee in my country with no home to stay in, no husband and no means of survival.”

Dr. Chudi Nwoye, medical director of Assumpta Clinic, told Compass that the victims of the crisis have not only been violated but traumatized.

“These people have been dehumanized and traumatized,” Dr. Nwoye said. “Religious conflicts have become recurrent problems in Kano. It is terrible that these victims have been made to experience deep emotional trauma for not committing any wrong.”

He said there is the urgent need at the moment for these Christians to be rehabilitated.

Mark Lipdo, director of the Stefanos Foundation, a ministry to the persecuted in Nigeria, told Compass that it is shocking that the Nigerian government has done nothing to assist the injured and the displaced.

“It is surprising that an overwhelming thing like this that has displaced thousands of Christians is not known to the Nigerian government,” he said, as the government initially downplayed the extent of the tumult. “The government must act to check such unprovoked attacks against Christians.”

Haruna of St. George’s Anglican Church said, “We are living under persecution in Kano state, and yet, we are being told that we are under a democratic government. Do Muslims really want us to co-exist together as a nation? I doubt so.”

Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 03, 2007, 07:07:03 AM

Saudi Marriage 'Expert' Advises Men in 'Right Way' to Beat Their Wives

Friday, November 02, 2007
Move over, Dr. Phil, there's a new relationship expert in town.
He's Saudi author and cleric, "Dr." Muhammad Al-'Arifi, who in a remarkable segment broadcast on Saudi and Kuwaiti television in September, counseled young Muslim men on how to treat their wives.
"Admonish them – once, twice, three times, four times, ten times," he advised. "If this doesn't help, refuse to share their beds."
And if that doesn't work?
"Beat them," one of his three young advisees responded.
"That's right," Al-'Arifi said.
Click here to view the segment at
He goes on to calmly explain to the young men that hitting their future wives in the face is a no-no.
"Beating in the face is forbidden, even when it comes to animals," he explained. "Even if you want your camel or donkey to start walking, you are not allowed to beat it in the face. If this is true for animals, it is all the more true when it comes to humans. So beatings should be light and not in the face."
His final words of wisdom?
"Woman, it has gone too far. I can't bear it anymore," he tells the men to tell their wives. "If he beats her, the beatings must be light and must not make her face ugly.
"He must beat her where it will not leave marks. He should not beat her on the hand... He should beat her in some places where it will not cause any damage. He should not beat her like he would beat an animal or a child -- slapping them right and left.
"Unfortunately, many husbands beat their wives only when they get mad, and when they start beating, it as if they are punching a wall – they beat with their hands, right and left, and sometimes use their feet. Brother, it is a human being you are beating. This is forbidden. He must not do this."
Take that,!,2933,307680,00.html
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 15, 2007, 02:33:22 PM
A court in the ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia is punishing a female victim of gang rape with 200 lashes and six months in jail, a newspaper reported on Thursday.

The 19-year-old woman -- whose six armed attackers have been sentenced to jail terms -- was initially ordered to undergo 90 lashes for "being in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the rape," the Arab News reported.

But in a new verdict issued after Saudi Arabia's Higher Judicial Council ordered a retrial, the court in the eastern town of Al-Qatif more than doubled the number of lashes to 200.

A court source told the English-language Arab News that the judges had decided to punish the woman further for "her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media."

Saudi Arabia enforces a strict Islamic doctrine known as Wahhabism and forbids unrelated men and women from associating with each other, bans women from driving and forces them to cover head-to-toe in public.

Last year, the court sentenced six Saudi men to between one and five years in jail for the rape as well as ordering lashes for the victim, a member of the minority Shiite community.

But the woman's lawyer Abdul Rahman al-Lahem appealed, arguing that the punishments were too lenient in a country where the offence can carry the death penalty.

In the new verdict issued on Wednesday, the Al-Qatif court also toughened the sentences against the six men to between two and nine years in prison.

The case has angered members of Saudi Arabia's Shiite community. The convicted men are Sunni Muslims, the dominant community in the oil-rich Gulf state.

Lahem, also a human rights activist, told AFP on Wednesday that the court had banned him from handling the rape case and withdrew his licence to practise law because he challenged the verdict.

He said he has also been summoned by the ministry of justice to appear before a disciplinary committee in December.

Lahem said the move might be due to his criticism of some judicial institutions, and "contradicts King Abdullah's quest to introduce reform, especially in the justice system."

King Abdullah last month approved a new body of laws regulating the judicial system in Saudi Arabia, which rules on the basis of sharia, or Islamic law.

Copyright AFP 2007, AFP stories and photos shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium
Title: Counseling AQ in SA
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 29, 2007, 07:37:06 PM
URL=1,500 Qaeda Members Freed After Counseling]1,500 Qaeda Members Freed After Counseling[/URL]

1,500 Qaeda Members Freed After Counseling
BY ELI LAKE - Staff Reporter of the Sun
November 27, 2007

WASHINGTON — On the eve of the Annapolis summit on the Middle East conflict, the Saudi royal family released 1,500 members of Al Qaeda from prison, requiring them only to promise to refrain from jihad within the Arabian Peninsula.

The presence of the Saudi foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, at the peace parley has been touted by the White House and the State Department as an important diplomatic breakthrough.

Mr. Faisal has said he was reluctant to attend the meeting, the first time the Saudis would be formal participants in an international peace conference dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict. In an interview with Time magazine, he said he would not shake the Israeli prime minister's hand and that he was only interested in a response to his kingdom's peace offer, a full withdrawal from the territory Israel won in 1967 in exchange for peace.

However, while the State Department was wooing the Saudi foreign minister, the kingdom's Interior Ministry released about 1,500 Al Qaeda members arrested in crackdowns that began in 2003 against the group headed by Osama bin Laden.

The story first broke over the weekend in the Saudi newspaper Al Watan. In an interview with the newspaper, a member of a special committee to reform jihadists in the kingdom, Muhammad al-Nujaimi, said the newly released prisoners had been reformed.

"The committee has met around 5,000 times to offer counseling to 3,200 people, who were accused of embracing the takfir ideology. The committee has successfully completed reforming 1,500 people," he said.

The ideology of takfir is prevalent in both fundamentalist interpretations of Sunni and Shiite Islam, and it holds that there are separate rules that allow Muslims to kill, lie to, and steal from nonbelievers.

While the Saudi state has at times been targeted by Muslims embracing the philosophy of takfir, its mosques and Ministry of Culture and Information also have been exporting the strain of Islam that encourages this doctrine.

Yesterday, an American intelligence analyst who was following the story said he was wary about the release of the prisoners. "This Saudi process of reform has been so opaque. What no one knows right now is whether the people who have gone through this program have pledged to stop practicing terror or whether they are only pledging to stop terror inside the kingdom."

Mr. Nujaimi told Al Watan that the reformed prisoners have pledged to end their campaign to rid the Arabian Peninsula of infidels. "After several graded sessions with the committee, and having been convinced of their misguided vision, they renounced their erroneous ideologies, including the concept of driving out all infidels from the Arabian Peninsula," he said.

The director of the Gulf and Energy program at the Washington Institute for Near East Affairs, Simon Henderson, told the New York Sun yesterday that he did not think the prisoner release was connected to Mr. Faisal's visit. "I don't see this as being connected with the Saudi decision to take part in the Annapolis meeting," he said.

Nonetheless, Mr. Henderson was skeptical about the program. "This would appear to be 1,500 people reformed so far out of 3,200 who have entered the so-called counseling process," he said. "By my calculation, that is less than a 50% success rate. And what is success? They don't use violence in the kingdom. Does this mean they can use this elsewhere, for example, in Iraq?"
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 30, 2007, 02:46:55 AM
November 29, 2007
Guilty Verdict in Sudan for British Teacher

KHARTOUM, Nov 29 (Reuters) - A British teacher accused of insulting Muslims after her class called a teddy bear Mohammad was found guilty and jailed for 15 days, a defence lawyer said on Thursday.

Gillian Gibbons, 54, was ordered to be deported after she had completed her sentence.

"She was found guilty of insulting religion and the sentence is 15 days (in jail) and deportation," defence lawyer Ali Ajib said after the trial in a Khartoum courtroom, which lasted less than a day.

Robert Boulos, head of Unity high school where Gibbons worked, said: "We are happy with the verdict. It is fair. There were a lot of political pressures and attention."

He added: "We will be very sad to lose her."

When asked what he thought of the verdict, the head of Gibbons's defence teams, Kamal al-Jazouli, said: "It was not bad."

Gibbons was on Wednesday charged with insulting Islam, inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs because of the toy's name. Under Sudan's penal code, she could have faced 40 lashes, a fine, or up to one year in jail.

In court, judge Mohammed Youssef listened to two accounts -- one from school secretary Sarah Khawad, who filed the first complaint about the teddy bear's name, and one from the official who has been investigating the case, court sources said.

Teachers at the school say that calling the teddy bear Mohammad, the name of the prophet of Islam, was not her idea in the first place and that no parents objected when Unity High School sent parents circulars about a reading project which included the teddy bear as a fictional participant.

In London, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband had earlier told the Sudanese ambassador he was concerned about Gibbons.

"We believe that this was an innocent misunderstanding," Miliband said in a statement.

Sudan has had poor relations with Britain, the United States and most European countries for several years, mainly because of their disagreements over how to handle the conflict in the Darfur region in western Sudan.

The U.N. Security Council, of which Britain is a permanent member, wants to deploy a joint U.N.-African force to Darfur to restore order and help displaced people return home. Khartoum reluctantly agreed but is disputing many details.

Several British Muslim groups said they supported Gibbons.

"This (charging Gibbons) is a disgraceful decision and defies common sense. There was clearly no intention on the part of the teacher to deliberately insult the Islamic faith," said Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary-General of the MCB, Britain's largest Muslim organisation.
Title: Malaysia
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 15, 2007, 08:29:38 PM
This piece is from the once venerable name of Reuters, now often a source that is less than honest in its shadings:


Indonesia cleric warns of big disaster if bombers executed
Sat Dec 15, 2007 12:42am EST

CILACAP, Indonesia, Dec 15 (Reuters) - A controversial Indonesian Muslim cleric warned on Saturday that the country would suffer a big disaster if three Bali bombers on death row were executed.

Abu Bakar Bashir, accused by some foreign governments of once heading the Jemaah Islamiah militant group, spoke before visiting the three Islamic militants awaiting execution for their role in the 2002 nightclub bombings on the resort island.

"I'm worried if they were executed there would be a big disaster," Bashir told reporters on the way to Nusakambangan, an island prison complex off the southern coast of Java where the three are being held. Bashir said he wanted to advise the convicts -- Amrozi, Imam Samudra and Mukhlas -- to be patient and to seek God's forgiveness for their wrongdoing.

"It is true they were defending Muslims but their methods were wrong. That is why they are now fasting to pay for the loss of innocent lives," Bashir said. He did not say if the innocent lives included those of foreign holidaymakers, the majority of 202 people who died in the attack.

In an interview with Reuters in October, the three militants said they had no regrets, except for the fact that some Muslims had died in the blasts.

No date for the execution of the three Bali bombers has been set although the Supreme Court has rejected their final appeal.

The Bali bombings and several other deadly attacks have been blamed on militants from Jemaah Islamiah, of which Bashir was alleged to have been the spiritual leader and co-founder. Bashir was jailed for 30 months for conspiracy over the Bali bombings but was later cleared.

Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous country, with about 85 percent of its more than 220 million population following Islam.

While the vast majority of Indonesia's Muslims are moderate, the country has seen the emergence of an increasingly vocal militant minority.

Although there has been no major bomb attack since 2005, police say Indonesia still faces a considerable threat from Islamic militants. (Writing by Ahmad Pathoni; editing by Roger Crabb)
Title: Wear Hijab or die!
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 20, 2007, 12:38:26 PM

Tehran, 19 Dec. (AKI) - A top Muslim cleric in Iran, Hojatolislam Gholam Reza Hassani said on Wednesday that women in Iran who do not wear the hijab or Muslim headscarf, should die.

"Women who do not respect the hijab and their husbands deserve to die," said Hassani, who leads Friday prayers in the city of Urumieh, in Iranian Azerbaijan.

"I do not understand how these women who do not respect the hijab, 28 years after the birth of the Islamic Republic, are still alive," he said.

"These women and their husbands and their fathers must die," said Hassani, who is the representative of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei in eastern Azerbaijan.

Hassani's statements came after two Kurdish feminists in Iran were accused of being members of an armed rebel group and of carrying out subversive activities threatening the security of the state.

It is believed that his statements and the arrests could spark a fresh crackdown on women who do not repect the Islamic dress code in Iran.

Thousands of women in Iran have already been warned this year for their "un-Islamic dress" such as wearing tight, short coats and skimpy headscarves.
Title: In prison in Morocco
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 31, 2007, 05:05:19 AM
Published: December 31, 2007
NY Times
CASABLANCA, Morocco — Ahmed Rafiki sprawled on the makeshift couch in his cell, a fresh red henna dye in his long hair and beard.

Known to other militants as the father of Moroccan jihadists, he was convicted in 2003 of leading young men to fight Americans in Afghanistan. But here in Oukacha Prison, Mr. Rafiki, an Islamist cleric, is serving the final months of his sentence in style.

His kitchen and larder are stocked three times a week by his two wives. His curtained doorway leads to a private garden and bath. He has two radios and a television, a reading stand for his Koran and a wardrobe of crisply ironed Islamic attire.

“In my case,” he said with a smile, “the people treat me well.”

Hardly a scene of harsh interrogation and detention for which Moroccan prisons are known, Mr. Rafiki’s plush prison life is evidence of an awkward balancing act between the crackdown on militants in many countries and the power those militants can hold over the authorities.

Through hunger strikes and protests, Mr. Rafiki and Oukacha’s 65 other militant inmates have won perks — including exclusive use of the conjugal rooms — that make them the envy of the prison’s 7,600 other inmates.

One recent morning, a prisoner advocate handed the warden a long list of inmates not linked to terrorism cases who were demanding equal time with their wives.

“‘Why do they get much more rights than we get here?’” the advocate, Assia El Ouadie, said the other prisoners constantly asked her. “‘Do you want us to become terrorism prisoners, and then we will get those rights?’”

Even as more and more militants are imprisoned around the world — often by governments with records of conducting extreme interrogations — the prisoners are managing to gain a kind of crude leverage over security officials who are struggling to figure out how to handle them.

Draconian, or even strict, treatment of radical inmates can lead to prison unrest and public condemnation, particularly in countries with sizable Muslim populations. At the same time, officials fear that militants given free rein are more likely to turn prisons into prime grounds for radicalization and recruiting.

“More than any time in the modern history of terrorism, the prisons have become a key front in the war on terror,” Dennis Pluchinsky, a former senior intelligence analyst at the State Department, wrote in a report for the United States government earlier this year.

He estimated that there were 5,000 jihadi inmates and detainees worldwide, not counting those held in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that only 15 percent had received life sentences or the death penalty, meaning the rest would eventually be set free.

Here in Morocco, across the Arab world and in European countries like Spain and France, there is a growing realization that catching and convicting militants is hardly the end of the problem. Many are getting sentences of only a few years, and Arab governments continue to release hundreds every year through mass pardons aimed at quelling fundamentalist Islamic movements.

Last April, a meeting in Morocco on radicalization of Islamic prisoners drew representatives of 21 countries. “There is some confusion as to how, in overcrowded and underfinanced prison systems, you deal with these special case prisoners,” said a British official who helped run the meeting, who spoke anonymously, citing normal diplomatic strictures. British officials acknowledge that they erred in the early 1980s when they gave Irish Republican Army prisoners their own cellblock, only to see them carry out fatal hunger strikes that won public support. But the authorities say militant Islamic inmates are even more sophisticated.

Manuals from Al Qaeda instruct prisoners on how to resist interrogations, wage hunger strikes and use prison time to strengthen religious convictions. This month, Australian officials said a group of 40 Muslim inmates, not previously considered extremists, were found using guidance from a manual to organize themselves and stage protests at a prison near Sydney. Officials responded by scattering them among other prisons.

But that is hardly a fail-safe strategy. When members of the Qaeda-inspired group Fatah al Islam, which fought the Lebanese Army for three months this year, were locked up in Roumieh Prison near Beirut, Lebanese authorities found they had been using smuggled cellphones to contact other jailed militants and their families outside.


Page 2 of 3)

Some Middle Eastern and European countries are using moderate imams in prisons in hopes of quelling the extremist fervor. “You have to fight their ideology with Islam and against their wrong interpretation of Islam,” said a top Syrian security official.

The biggest concern is that militants will return to the fight once released, despite having been imprisoned, or perhaps because of it.

That is what Mohammed Mazouz did after he was freed in 2004 from the American detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He was picked up last fall in Morocco as he was preparing to leave for Iraq to fight American troops. “I can’t forget what they did with me,” he said of his American captors, during an interview in a Moroccan prison. “I can’t forget all my life. I hate it.”

He was released two days later.

Rise of Fundamentalism

Morocco had few Islamic militants in its prisons during the 1990s, when leftists, angered by the country’s poverty and official corruption, posed more of a threat to the monarchy. King Mohammed VI began a series of liberalizations after assuming the throne in 1999. Yet a new challenge was rising, as the Islamic fundamentalism sweeping the Arab world gathered public support in Morocco. While the most popular Muslim leaders professed nonviolence, radicals began planning terrorist attacks.

In May 2003, eight weeks after the United States invaded Iraq, Morocco was hit by its worst terrorist attack ever. A dozen suicide bombers struck a cafe, a hotel and Jewish establishments in Casablanca, killing more than 30 people. The struggle between the militants and the government landed in Morocco’s prisons.

Hundreds of suspects were detained. In prison interviews with The New York Times, five men said they had been tortured during interrogations, subjected to a method of anal rape known as “the bottle treatment.”

In all, more than 1,400 men were convicted of terrorism-related charges and imprisoned. In May 2005, the militants started a 28-day hunger strike, using contraband cellphones to rally compatriots throughout the prison system.

A militant former convict, Abderahim Mohtad, started a prisoner advocacy group and stirred public support for the strikers. “Their strength comes from their belief in God,” he said in his storefront office, where one wall is covered with pictures of militant inmates. “You tortured him, you didn’t get anything from him. You arrested him and you didn’t get anything from him. You judged them, and some of them had been judged with death, and they are still laughing.”

While the Casablanca bombings had dampened public sympathy for terrorist groups, animosity toward the United States ran strong. The jailed militants were seen as motivated by the war in Iraq and by Morocco’s role in America’s campaign against terrorism.

Morocco has participated in a Sahara-wide counterterrorism effort financed by the United States, by helping to gather and share intelligence and by detaining terrorism suspects.

Many inmates protested that they had no role in the bombings, and Moroccan authorities acknowledged in recent interviews that many had been arrested simply for embracing an extreme ideology.

When the strike ended, courts reduced the sentences of some militants, and the king pardoned several hundred more. Those who remained in prison began to get special privileges.

“They started with hunger strikes and problems,” said Abdelati Belghazi, director of Zaki Prison, north of the capital, Rabat. “The media and organizations started to get involved, and because we wanted them to stop, we had to give them some of the things that they have requested. And then they started to feel much stronger because they saw that they received what they wanted. They requested more and more.”

More Space in Cells

At Zaki, one of two prisons where The Times interviewed militant inmates and prison officials, the 309 prisoners held as terrorists have much more space — averaging 3 men in each cell, compared with 22 per cell for the prison’s 3,500 regular inmates, a prison official said.

They also have a system for lodging complaints, a fact that at times irritates Ms. Ouadie, the prisoner advocate appointed by the king to mediate disputes.


Page 3 of 3)

“The guards threw a Koran on the ground,” a militant representative in Zaki, Yassine Aliouine, complained. Since the guards are Muslims, too, Ms. Ouadie said, it is more likely that the book simply fell.

“Yes, but they saw it and didn’t pick it up,” Mr. Aliouine replied.
When Ms. Ouadie raised the issue with the prison director, Mr. Belghazi, he played a videotape of the search where the Koran was said to have been abused, and a startlingly different scene emerged.

The video showed the guards collecting a bucketful of contraband electronics, including cellphones. They found a poster that listed militant groups and their leaders. They discovered a jackknife baked in a loaf of bread, and the warden dumped a dozen more blades on a table that he said the militants had tossed out of their windows.

Despite such periodic seizures, militant inmates in several Moroccan prisons were able to call Times reporters, both before and after the visits.

Oukacha, in Casablanca, is arguably the best address for jailed militants. Even the director, El Maati Boubiza, said he was amazed when he took the job last year. “Their cell doors were open 24 hours,” he said. “Only they could use the conjugal rooms, and they were using them starting at 6 a.m.”

Cellblock 5, where many of the militants live, functions like a small village. The inmates hold boxing matches. Sheep are slaughtered for the holidays. In one of the two kitchens, a cook proudly displayed his cutlery and an array of containers that held fresh deliveries from inmates’ families.

Down the hall, Hassan Kettani, a Islamic theorist renowned in global jihad circles, declined to be interviewed on videotape — until he changed out of his everyday clothes.

A few minutes later, he sauntered down to the lobby, unescorted, and posed in a white robe and golden headdress. “We were in very bad shape when we were captured,” he said of the days before the first hunger strike. “It was hard.”

The militants have also sought to draw public support by writing letters to local newspapers and jihadist Web sites, alternately complaining about their incarceration and presenting it as a duty gladly fulfilled.

“In our religion, we believe in destiny, and I believe that God has written this to me and I have to go through that,” said Mr. Rifiki, the militant cleric, whose group, Salafia Jihadia — or Fight of Ancestors — is considered a terrorist organization that reaches from North Africa to Europe.

Moderating the views of the hardest militants may be an impossibility, but Ms. Ouadie said prison authorities could help stop the cycle of radicalization by separating moderate Islamist prisoners from the more extreme ones. “I would arrange Islamic teachings and also treat them in a humane way,” she said.

Still, the terrorist attacks continue in Morocco and, despite the concessions to militant inmates, so do harsh interrogations by the police and intelligence agents, according to interviews with inmates.

Allegations of Torture

While Moroccan officials declined to comment on the allegations of torture, the accusers include a former investigations officer with the national security service, Abderahim Tarik, who was arrested last year on suspicion of ties to a militant group, which he denies.

Mr. Tarik said that for six days at a police station named Temara, he was beaten with sticks, stripped naked, doused with cold water and shocked with an electric prod on his feet and anus. “They started to tell me we will bring your wife tomorrow and rape her directly in front of you,” he said.

Abdelfattah Raydi exemplifies the cycle of arrests, incarceration and attacks.

Mr. Raydi, arrested in 2003 as a militant sympathizer, said in a letter he wrote in Oukacha to a human rights group, obtained by The Times, that he underwent both physical and psychological torture. “He beat me until I fainted,” he wrote of one of his questioners. Abdelfatif Amarin and two other cellmates of Mr. Raydi’s said that Mr. Raydi told them that he had been given the “bottle treatment.”

“I remember that he had nightmares and cried during his sleep,” said one inmate, asking not to be identified for fear of reprisal by prison officials. “He told me several times, ‘I swear to God, if I would have known that they would do this to me, I would have killed myself before.’”

In prison, Mr. Raydi spent time with a militant leader named Hassan al-Khattab, according to inmates, and they were both released in the king’s mass pardon in 2005. Mr. Raydi married, found work and moved away from the shantytown where he was raised with six brothers in a one-room shack, friends and relatives said.

Then last year, according to the authorities, he joined Mr. Khattab in a disrupted terrorist plot. Mr. Khattab was tried and awaits sentencing. But Mr. Raydi evaded capture, and was being sought by the authorities when he walked into an Internet cafe this March and blew himself up when the owner grew suspicious and called the police.

Chased by the authorities, Mr. Raydi’s brother and four other men wearing suicide vests blew themselves up in the following weeks, and the manhunt has produced dozens of new arrests.

On Nov. 8, 51 suspects, including one woman and two of Mr. Raydi’s brothers, made their first appearance in court. Among them was the son of a man arrested in the 2003 sweeps. “Do they treat you well, Hamid?” his grandmother asked after the hearing, pressing her hand to the glass partition. “How is your health?”

“All is good, grandmother,” he replied. “Are you coming to visit me later?”
Title: Dubai
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 12, 2008, 10:13:06 AM
Title: Sentenced to death for drinking
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 06, 2008, 08:36:49 AM
LA Times

Man Sentenced to Death for Drinking

An Iranian court has sentenced a 22 year old man to death for violating the Islamic Republic's ban on drinking alchohol several times, a news agency said.

Under Iran's Islamic Sharia law, a person who is caught drinking for a fourth time and confesses faces possible capital punishment, even though legal experts say executions for the offense are very rare.

The man, identified only by his first name, Mohsen, can appeal
Title: WSJ: Head Scarves in Turkey
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 11, 2008, 11:49:12 AM

Head Scarves and Liberty
February 11, 2008; Page A18
When Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited us in New York a few years ago, he said his daughters chose to study in the U.S. in part because it was illegal to wear head scarves at Turkish universities. Saturday, Turkey's Parliament voted to lift that ban.

There's probably no more contentious issue in Turkish public life, and thousands of secularists took to the streets in protest. The debate goes back to the founding of modern Turkey, when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk banned the fez, veil and head scarf in many public places. When the military outlawed head scarves at public universities after a 1980 coup, it said the move was necessary to push back against Islamists.

Our own view is that lifting the ban is a sign of Turkey's democratic maturity. Mr. Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has Islamic roots, rightly argued that the restriction violated freedom of religion. The vote to amend the constitution and permit head scarves on campus passed by 411 to 103, and included support from the big secular MHP party. The ban on face-covering veils remains.

Mr. Erdogan would nonetheless be foolish to ignore the concerns of secular democrats. The head scarf is not always merely an expression of female piety. It can also be a symbol of subjugation to political Islam. The challenge is to make sure that the freedom to wear one doesn't evolve into social compulsion to cover up. Some professors say the ban has protected secular students from peer pressure to cover their hair. The trend goes in the other direction, however. According to the European Stability Initiative, a research institute, the number of Turkish women appearing uncovered in public rose to 37% in 2006 from 27% in 1999.

The AKP, in power since 2002, has already demonstrated that a government with Islamist roots can coexist with democracy and free markets. Our hope is that lifting the ban on head scarves is another move toward a modern Muslim state.
Title: SA bans Valentine's Day
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 12, 2008, 07:09:41 PM
Saudi Arabia bans all things red ahead of Valentine's Day

Story Highlights
Saudi Arabia has banned red gift items like red roses until after Valentine's Day
Islamic conservatives consider the celebration of such a holiday a sin
Celebration seen as encouraging immoral relations between the unmarried
(CNN) -- Saudi Arabia has asked florists and gift shops to remove all red items until after Valentine's Day, calling the celebration of such a holiday a sin, local media reported Monday.
"As Muslims we shouldn't celebrate a non-Muslim celebration, especially this one that encourages immoral relations between unmarried men and women, " Sheikh Khaled Al-Dossari, a scholar in Islamic studies, told the Saudi Gazette, an English-language newspaper.
Every year, officials with the conservative Muslim kingdom's Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice clamp down on shops a few days before February 14, instructing them to remove red roses, red wrapping paper, gift boxes and teddy bears. On the eve of the holiday, they raid stores and seize symbols of love.
The virtue and vice squad is a police force of several thousand charged with, among other things, enforcing dress codes and segregating the sexes. Saudi Arabia, which follows a strict interpretation of Islam called Wahhabism, punishes unrelated women and men who mingle in public.
Ahmed Al-Omran, a university student in Riyadh, told CNN that the government decision will give the international media another reason to make fun of the Saudis "but I think that we got used to that by now."
"I think what they are doing is ridiculous," said Al-Omran, who maintains the blog 'Saudi Jeans.' "What the conservatives in this country need to learn is something called 'tolerance.' If they don't see the permissibility of celebrating such an occasion, then fine -- they should not celebrate it. But they have to know they have no right to impose their point of view on others."
Because of the ban on red roses, a black market has flowered ahead of Valentine's Day. Roses that normally go for five Saudi riyal ($1.30) fetch up to 30 riyal ($8) on February 14, the Saudi Gazette said.
"Sometimes we deliver the bouquets in the middle of the night or early morning, to avoid suspicion," one florist told the paper.
Saudi Arabia has often come under criticism for its treatment of women, most recently in a United Nations report that blasted the kingdom for widespread discrimination. Under Saudi law, women are subject to numerous restrictions, including a prohibition against driving and a requirement that they get a man's permission to travel or have surgery.
A businesswoman told the Times of London this month that she was detained and strip-searched by the religious police for holding a meeting in a coffee shop with male colleagues.
Two years ago, a teenager was raped by seven men who found her alone with a man unrelated to her. The government sentenced the 19-year-old woman to 200 lashes and six months in prison for being in the company of a man who wasn't a family member or her husband. She was later pardoned. The seven rapists were sentenced to two to nine years in prison.
CNN's Saeed Ahmed contributed to this report
All AboutSaudi Arabia
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 14, 2008, 10:44:17 AM
International fury over Saudi Arabia's plans to behead woman accused of being a witch

The Saudi Arabian king today faced international outcry over the planned beheading of a woman accused of being a witch.

Fawza Falih turned two men impotent, a court heard in the ultra-religious state where performing supernatural occurrences is considered an offence against Islam.

Judges were also told she cast a spell to bring about the return of a divorced man's ex-wife.

But international charity Human Rights Watch said King Abdullah's religious police had forced a confession out of her.

And they claim the judges who tried her in the northern town of Quraiyat never gave her the opportunity to prove her innocence in the face of "absurd charges that have no basis in law."

The court also relied on the statements of witnesses who said she had "bewitched" them to convict her in April 2006, according to HRW.

Fawza later retracted her confession in court, claiming it was extracted under duress, and said that as an illiterate woman, she did not understand the document she was forced to fingerprint.

An appeals court ruled in September 2006 that Fawza could not be sentenced to death for witchcraft as a crime against God, because she had retracted her confession.

After that, the lower court judges re-sentenced her to death on the court's "discretionary" basis, for the benefit of "public interest" and to "protect the creed, souls and property of this country."

HRW's Joe Stork said: �The fact that Saudi judges still conduct trials for unprovable crimes like 'witchcraft' underscores their inability to carry out objective criminal investigations.

"Fawza Falih's case is an example of how the authorities failed to comply even with existing safeguards in the Saudi justice system.

"The judges' behavior in Fawza Falih's trial shows they were interested in anything but a quest for the truth," Mr Stork added.

"They completely disregarded legal guarantees that would have demonstrated how ill-founded this whole case was."

The statement did not mention Fawza's nationality but said she has relatives in Jordan. Also, Falih's age is unknown.

The case is one of several that have triggered criticism of the Saudi legal system, which does not have a written penal code that spells out the elements of a particular crime.  The Law of Criminal Procedure issued in 2002 grants defendants the right to be tried in person, to have a lawyer present during interrogation and trial and to cross-examine any prosecution witnesses.  But in practice, lawyers are often banned from courtrooms, rules of evidence are shaky and sentences often depend on the whim of judges. 

The most frequent - and recently, most high-profile - victims of such whimsical rulings are women, who already suffer severe restrictions in their daily life in Saudi Arabia.  Women there cannot drive, appear before a judge without a male representative or travel abroad without a male guardian's permission. 1
Title: Condemned Afghan man's defenders seal his fate (WTF?)
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 18, 2008, 06:38:24 PM
LATimes.  Note the *ssbackwards thought process of the article-- no surprise, its the Left Angeles Times.

CLASH OF VALUES: Afghans in Jalalabad protest the death sentence of student and journalist Sayed Parwez Kaambakhsh, convicted for downloading an Internet article questioning a Muslim precept. A Western outcry may stiffen conservatives’ resolve.
An international outcry is brewing on behalf of the 23-year-old, condemned to death on blasphemy laws. But protests may increase religious conservatives' resolve to assert their independence.
By Bruce Wallace, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
February 18, 2008

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- Family members describe Sayed Parwez Kaambakhsh as a frightened young man, sitting in a cramped Afghan prison cell alongside 30 hard-core criminals, hoping an apology will save him from execution for blasphemy.

But to the outside world, the 23-year-old student and journalist has become a cause: a symbol of Afghanistan's clashing constitutional commitments to freedom of expression yet also to Islamic law that allows apostasy to be punished by death. His sentence, imposed after a closed-door trial during which he was not permitted a lawyer or a hearing, has become a rallying cry for foreign critics who want Afghanistan to hew to international norms on human rights.

The question now is whether international protests will save Kaambakhsh from a firing squad, or instead stiffen the spines of religious conservatives who fear that Afghanistan's morals are being diluted by imported Western values.

The student's troubles began when he downloaded an article written by an Iranian writer living in Europe that questioned the Islamic precept of allowing men to take several wives. Kaambakhsh, a journalist in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, was arrested in October after he circulated copies of the article at the city's Balkh University.

He was convicted and sentenced to death on Jan. 22. Kaambakhsh has told his family he expects to die, but many Afghans expect the death sentence to eventually be rescinded. The student still has the right to appeal to two higher courts and, as a last resort, President Hamid Karzai has authority to commute his penalty to a jail term.

"We have talked to experts in Sharia [Islamic] law who say there are no executions for blasphemy when the accused apologizes," said Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, the condemned man's brother. "And my brother has apologized lots of times."

But many Afghans also say the mounting international pressure against the death sentence is creating a populist backlash against foreign meddling in the country's justice system. That hostility complicates matters for Karzai, whose room to maneuver is already limited by his deepening unpopularity and the perception that he is a U.S. puppet.

"These are the worst kinds of cases for Karzai," said Sherin Aqa Manawi, deputy head of the Ulema Council, Afghanistan's central body of religious scholars. "It was a normal case before the courts until the West made it into a big deal. But when the West interfered, they cornered Karzai.

"He is caught between showing the West that he's bringing democracy and human rights to Afghanistan," said Manawi, "and on the other hand showing Afghans that he supports their religious leaders."

Kaambakhsh's brother calls the sentence "a very emotional decision by the court," whose prosecutor and judges lacked the sophistication to understand the difference between downloading an article and writing it.

"The judges did not even know the difference between a keyboard and a monitor," Ibrahimi said.

Afghans who are aware of the debate are divided over the sentence. Some, -- such as Ahmad Romal, a 21-year-old Kabul University student -- argue, "If there is no death penalty, then these kinds of un-Islamic activities will continue."

Others say the sentence represents the religious extremism that was supposed to have been banished with the defeat of the Taliban in 2001. "We shouldn't let anyone implement laws like the Taliban did," said Mohammed Abraham, 65, a former teacher. "I hope they forgive him and give him a chance."

Organizations ranging from the United Nations mission in Afghanistan to Reporters Without Borders have joined a Western chorus urging Karzai to spare Kaambakhsh.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband raised the case with the Afghan president during meetings this month in Kabul. And NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer warned last week in a major speech to a security conference in Munich, Germany, that "there should be understanding from our Afghan friends that we have great difficulty to accept a death sentence for a young journalist for downloading an article from the Internet."

"Public support in our societies for our soldiers' presence in Afghanistan will erode," he said, "if we do not agree on the universal values we are defending, together with our Afghan friends."

Karzai has said only that "at the end of the day, justice will be done in the right way."

Afghan critics of Kaambakhsh's death sentence fear that the foreign pressure could prove counterproductive.

"The international community should know that Afghanistan has its rules and laws," said Habiba Danesh, a parliament member who agrees that Kaambakhsh should have been allowed a defense lawyer and an open trial. Still, she said, "Afghanistan should be left to make its decision in light of its judicial system."

There is also lingering ill will from a 2006 case in which an Islamic court passed a death sentence against Abdur Rahman, a Muslim who converted to Christianity. After a storm of international protest led by the Bush administration, his conviction was dismissed for technical reasons and Rahman fled to Italy.

Some Afghans still argue that Rahman escaped justice. And they are suspicious about Kaambakhsh's motives. Manawi of the Ulema Council accuses many young journalists of "intentionally creating trouble in order to get famous, or even as a way to get citizenship in Western countries."

The condemned man's brother said pressure on Karzai from foreign governments can be helpful if it remains low-key.  Letters to Karzai and the Supreme Court are fine, Ibrahimi said. But a drumbeat of foreign criticism could further sour public opinion.

"Afghans are an emotional people, and they take decisions emotionally.  If there is pressure from outside, and people see it on TV, it will cause a big reaction by fundamentalist groups. Fundamentalist groups want to make an example of this case. They want to shock young Afghans.  The mullahs can turn people against my brother," he said.
Title: Young Iraqis are losing their faith in religion
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 04, 2008, 01:52:41 PM
Young Iraqis are losing their faith in religion

BAGHDAD: After almost five years of war, many young Iraqis, exhausted by
constant firsthand exposure to the violence of religious extremism, say they
have grown disillusioned with religious leaders and skeptical of the faith
that they preach.
In two months of interviews with 40 young people in five Iraqi cities, a
pattern of disenchantment emerged, in which young Iraqis, both poor and
middle class, blamed clerics for the violence and the restrictions that have
narrowed their lives.
"I hate Islam and all the clerics because they limit our freedom every day
and their instruction became heavy over us," said Sara Sami, a high school
student in Basra. "Most of the girls in my high school hate that Islamic
people control the authority because they don't deserve to be rulers."
Atheer, a 19-year-old from a poor, heavily Shiite neighborhood in southern
Baghdad, said: "The religion men are liars. Young people don't believe them.
Guys my age are not interested in religion anymore."
The shift in Iraq runs counter to trends of rising religiousness among young
people across much of the Middle East, where religion has replaced
nationalism as a unifying ideology. While religious extremists are admired
by a number of young people in other parts of the Arab world, Iraq offers a
test case of what could happen when extremist theories are applied.
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Fingers caught smoking were broken. Long hair was cut and force-fed to its
owner. In that laboratory, disillusionment with Islamic leaders took hold.
It is far from clear whether the shift means a wholesale turn away from
religion. A tremendous piety still predominates in the private lives of
young Iraqis, and religious leaders, despite the increased skepticism, still
wield tremendous power. Measuring religiousness furthermore, is a tricky
business in Iraq, where access to cities and towns that are far from Baghdad
is limited.
But a shift seems to be registering, at least anecdotally, in the choices
some young Iraqis are making. Professors reported difficulty recruiting
graduate students for religion classes. Attendance at weekly prayers appears
to be down, even in areas where the violence has largely subsided, according
to worshipers and imams in Baghdad and Falluja. In two visits to the weekly
prayer session in Baghdad of the followers of Moktada al-Sadr last autumn,
vastly smaller crowds attended than had in 2004 or 2005.
Such patterns, if lasting, could lead to a weakening of the political power
of religious leaders in Iraq. In a nod to those changing tastes, political
parties are scrubbing overt references to religion.
"In the beginning, they gave their eyes and minds to the clerics, they
trusted them," said Abu Mahmoud, a moderate Sunni cleric in Baghdad, who now
works deprogramming religious extremists in American detention. "It's
painful to admit, but it's changed. People have lost too much. They say to
the clerics and the parties: You cost us this."
"When they behead someone, they say 'Allah Akbar,' they read Koranic verse,"
said a moderate Shiite sheik from Baghdad. "The young people, they think
that is Islam. So Islam is a failure, not only in the students' minds, but
also in the community."

A professor at Baghdad University's School of Law, who would identify
herself only as Bushra, said of her students: "They have changed their views
about religion. They started to hate religious men. They make jokes about
them because they feel disgusted by them."
That was not always the case. Saddam Hussein encouraged religion in Iraqi
society in his later years, building Sunni mosques and injecting more
religion into the public school curriculum, but always made sure it served
his authoritarian needs. Shiites, considered to be an alternate political
force and a threat to Hussein's power, were kept under close watch. Young
Shiites who worshiped were seen as political subversives and risked
attracting the attention of the police.
For that reason, the American invasion was sweetest to the Shiites, who for
the first time were able to worship freely. They soon became a potent
political force, as religious political leaders appealed to their shared and
painful past and their respect for the Shiite religious hierarchy.
"After 2003, you couldn't put your foot into the husseiniya, it was so
crowded with worshipers," said Sayeed Sabah, a Shiite religious leader from
Baghdad, referring to a Shiite place of prayer.
Religion had moved abruptly into the Shiite public space, but often in ways
that made educated, religious Iraqis uncomfortable. Militias were offering
Koran courses. Titles came cheaply. In Abu Mahmoud's neighborhood, a butcher
with no knowledge of Islam became the leader of a mosque.

A moderate Shiite cleric, Sheik Qasim, recalled watching in amazement as a
former student, who never earned more than mediocre marks, whizzed by
stalled traffic in a long convoy of sport utility vehicles in central
Baghdad. He had become a religious leader.
"I thought I would get out of the car, grab him and slap him!" said the
sheik. "These people don't deserve their positions."
An official for the Ministry of Education in Baghdad, a secular Shiite,
described the newfound faith like this: "It was like they wanted to put on a
new, stylish outfit."
Religious Sunnis, for their part, also experienced a heady swell in mosque
attendance, but soon became the hosts for groups of religious extremists,
foreign and Iraqi, who were preparing to fight the United States.
Zane Muhammad, a gangly 19-year-old with an earnest face, watched with
curiosity as the first Islamists in his Baghdad neighborhood came to
barbershops, tea parlors, and carpentry stores before taking over the
mosques. They were neither uneducated nor poor, he said, though they focused
on those who were. Then, one morning while waiting for a bus to school,
Muhammad watched a man walk up to a neighbor, a college professor whose sect
Muhammad did not know, shoot him at point-blank range three times and walk
back to his car as calmly "as if he was leaving a grocery store."

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"Nobody is thinking," Muhammad said in an interview in October. "We use our
minds just to know what to eat. This is something I am very sad about. We
hear things and just believe them."
By 2006, even those who had initially taken part in the violence were
growing weary. Haidar, a grade school dropout, was proud to tell his family
he was following a Shiite cleric in a fight against American soldiers in the
summer of 2004. Two years later, however, he found himself in the company of
Young militia members were abusing drugs. Gift mopeds had become gift guns.
In three years, he saw five killings, mostly of Sunnis, including that of a
Sunni cabdriver shot for his car.
It was just as bad, if not worse, for young Sunnis. Rubbed raw by Al Qaeda
in Mesopotamia, they found themselves stranded in neighborhoods that were
governed by seventh-century rules. During interviews with a dozen Sunni
teenage boys in a Baghdad detention facility on several sticky days in
September, several expressed relief at being in jail, so they could wear
shorts, a form of dress they would have been punished for in their
Some Iraqis argue that religious-based politics was much more about identity
than faith. When Shiites voted for religious parties in large numbers in an
election in 2005, it was more an effort to show their numbers, than a
victory of the religious over the secular.
"It was a fight to prove our existence," said a young Shiite journalist from
Sadr City. "We were embracing our existence, not religion."
The war dragged on, and young people from both sects became more broadly
involved. Criminals had begun using teenagers and younger boys to carry out
killings. The number of juveniles in American detention was up more than
sevenfold in November from April, and Iraq's main prison for youth, in
Baghdad, has triple the prewar population.
But while younger people were taking a more active role in the violence,
their motivation was less likely than adults to be religion-driven. Of the
900 juvenile detainees in American custody in November fewer than 10 percent
claimed to be fighting a holy war, according to the American military. About
one-third of adults said they were.
A worker in the American detention system said that by her estimate, only
about a third of the adult detainee population, which is overwhelmingly
Sunni, prayed.

"As a group, they are not religious," said Major General Douglas Stone, the
head of detainee operations for the military. "When we ask if they are doing
it for jihad, the answer is no."
Muath, a slender, 19-year-old Sunni with distant eyes and hollow cheeks, is
typical. He was selling mobile phone credits and plastic flowers, struggling
to keep his mother and five young siblings afloat, when a recruiter, a man
in his 30s, a regular customer, offered him cash in western Baghdad last
spring to be part of an insurgent group, whose motivations were a mix of
money and sectarian interests. Muath, the only wage earner, agreed. Suddenly
his family could afford to eat meat again, he said in an interview in

Indeed, at least part of the religious violence in Baghdad had money at its
heart. An officer at the Kadhamiya detention center, where Muath was being
held this autumn, said recordings of beheadings fetch much higher prices
than those of shooting executions in the CD markets, which explains why even
nonreligious kidnappers will behead hostages.
When Muath was arrested last year, the police found two hostages, Shiite
brothers, in a safe house that Muath revealed. Photographs showed the men
looking wide-eyed into the camera; dark welts covered their bodies.
Violent struggle against the United States was easy to romanticize at a
"I used to love Osama Bin Laden," proclaimed a 24-year-old Iraqi college
student. She was referring to how she felt before the war took hold in her
native Baghdad. The Sept. 11, 2001, strike at American supremacy was
satisfying, and the deaths, abstract.
Now, the student recites the familiar complaints: Her college has segregated
the security checks; guards told her to stop wearing a revealing skirt; she
covers her head for safety.
"Now I hate Islam," she said, sitting in her family's unadorned living room
in central Baghdad. "Al Qaeda and the Mahdi Army are spreading hatred.
People are being killed for nothing."
Parents have taken new precautions to keep their children out of trouble.
Abu Tahsin, a Shiite from northern Baghdad, said that when his extended
family built a Shiite mosque, they purposely did not register it with the
religious authorities, even though it would have brought privileges, because
they did not want to become entangled with any of the main religious Shiite
groups that control Baghdad.

In Falluja, a Sunni city west of Baghdad that had been overrun by Al Qaeda,
Sheik Khalid al-Mahamedie, a moderate cleric, said that fathers now came
with their sons to mosques to meet the instructors of Koran courses.
Families used to worry most about their daughters in adolescence, but now,
the sheik said, they worry more about their sons.
"Before, parents warned their sons not to smoke or drink," said Muhammad Ali
al-Jumaili, a Falluja father with a 20-year-old son. "Now all their energy
is concentrated on not letting them be involved with terrorism."
Recruiters are relentless, and, as it turns out, clever, peddling things
their young targets need. Stone describes it as a sales pitch a pimp gives
to a prospective prostitute. American military officers at the American
detention center said it was the Al Qaeda detainees who were best prepared
for group sessions and asked the most questions.
A Qaeda recruiter approached Zane Muhammad, on a college campus with the
offer of English lessons. Though lessons had been a personal ambition of
Muhammad's for months, once he knew what the man was after, he politely
avoided him."When you talk with them, you find them very modern, very
smart," said Muhammad, a nonreligious Shiite, who recalled feigning disdain
for his own sect to avoid suspicion.
The population they focused on was poor and uneducated. About 60 percent of
the American adult detainee population is illiterate and is unable to even
read the Koran that religious recruiters are preaching.
That leads to strange twists. One young detainee, a client of Abu Mahmoud's,
was convinced he had to kill his parents when he was released, because they
were married in an insufficiently Islamic way.
There is a new favorite game in the lively household of the Baghdad
journalist. When they see a man with a turban on television, they crack
jokes. In one of them, people are warned not to give their cellphone numbers
to a religious man.

"If he knows the number, he'll steal the phone's credit," the journalist
said. "The sheiks are making a society of nonbelievers."
Kareem Hilmi, Ahmad Fadam and Qais Mizher contributed reporting.
Title: Indonesia
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 21, 2008, 01:52:01 PM
Intolerance in Indonesia
April 22, 2008

In the global debate about the compatibility between Islam and democracy, Indonesia is often held up as an example of the possible. Ten years after General Suharto's downfall, the world's most populous Muslim country has institutionalized free elections and the peaceful transfer of power, nurtured a lively press, and rolled back a panoply of racist laws that once targeted the country's ethnic Chinese minority. But the ongoing persecution of the Ahmadiyya, a small Muslim sect founded in late 19th century India, underscores Indonesia's – and the Muslim world's – trouble guaranteeing a bedrock democratic value: freedom of conscience. Without it, the country's proud claim to be the world's third-largest democracy will remain lacking.

The most recent assault on the Ahmadiyya comes from a government body that manages to sound Orwellian and Kafkaesque at the same time – the Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society. Last Wednesday this august grouping recommended a ban on Ahmadiyya in Indonesia. The reason: Though Ahmadiyya Muslims revere the prophet Muhammad and follow the Quran, they also contend that their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908), was a prophet as well. This contradicts the mainstream Islamic assertion that all divine revelation ended with Muhammad, the so-called – and it might be noted, self-proclaimed – "seal of the prophets."

Since arriving in Indonesia in the 1920s, Indonesia's tiny Ahmadiyya community, a fraction of the country's 200 million Muslims, had lived peacefully. Ahmadiyyas tend to emphasize education and reject the idea of violent jihad. But in 2005, the Council of Indonesian Ulama, a collection of powerful mullahs, dusted off an obscure 25-year-old religious ruling, or fatwa, and declared the community to be "deviant and misled." Since then mobs have sacked Ahmadiyya mosques while police stood by, local governments have flouted federal laws and imposed bans on Ahmadiyya worship, and leaders of a thuggish vigilante group, the Islamic Defenders Front, have publicly called for the sect's followers to be murdered. Through all this, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has dithered, preferring not to stick out his political neck for an unpopular cause.

Mr. Yudhoyono ought to know better. What's at stake is not merely the safety and well-being of a somewhat offbeat religious group but a much more fundamental question: What kind of country does Indonesia want to be? Will it be, as its founding fathers envisioned, a land where people of all faiths live as equals, or one where non-Muslims and heterodox Muslims are effectively second-class citizens? Will it be a country that respects an individual's right to worship as he pleases, or indeed not to worship at all, or one where such matters are determined by safari-suited officials and bearded clerics? Will it be ruled by the law or by the mob?

For now the signs don't augur well, for ironically the deepening of Indonesian democracy has gone hand in hand with a darkening intolerance. As the country's famously easygoing brand of folk Islam gives way to a triple-distilled orthodoxy imported from the Middle East – among the more noxious side-effects of globalization – the live-and-let-live attitude that underpinned Indonesian pluralism has come under sustained assault. In 21st century Indonesia, non-Muslims and heterodox Muslims can find themselves jailed for such medieval-sounding offenses as "being heretical," "tarnishing the purity of Arabic," or "denigrating religion." Christians often bear the brunt of these new attitudes. Christian groups estimate that 110 churches were forcibly closed between 2004 and 2007 alone, and permission to build new ones is increasingly hard to come by.

Belligerence toward religious minorities at home has gone hand in hand with a heightened sensitivity to insults, real and imagined, to Islam abroad. As though to make up for lost time, Indonesia has propelled itself to the front rows of the global culture wars between Islam and the West. During the cartoon crisis of 2006 the Danish embassy in Jakarta was among the first attacked. The following year mobs converged upon the offices of a toned down (no nudity) local edition of Playboy and forced it to relocate to the Hindu island of Bali. Earlier this month, Indonesia briefly blocked the popular video sharing website YouTube and the social networking site MySpace for allowing users to watch the movie "Fitna," Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders's much-derided anti-Islam screed.

As Indonesia mulls the fate of its Ahmadiyyas, its leaders ought to draw lessons from others' mistakes. In 1974 the charismatic Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto sought to appease Pakistan's strident Islamists by declaring the Ahmadiyyas to be non-Muslims. Bhutto's placing of petty politics above principle is now generally regarded as a turning point in his country's long slide toward obscurantism and lawlessness. If this isn't enough, those perpetually exercised about guarding Islam's "image" ought to consider the irony that it is in Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Washington, rather than among their co-religionists in Karachi, Riyadh or Jakarta, that Ahmadiyya Muslims can live with dignity and practice their faith without fear.

Mr. Dhume is a fellow at the Asia Society in Washington, D.C. His book about the rise of radical Islam in Indonesia, "My Friend the Fanatic: Travels with an Indonesian Islamist," will be published by Text Publishing in Australia in May.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.
Title: AQ feuds with Iran
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 22, 2008, 11:48:33 AM
Al-Qaida No. 2 says 9/11 theory propagated by Iran

By MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press Writer2 hours, 48 minutes ago

Osama bin Laden's chief deputy in an audiotape Tuesday accused Shiite Iran of trying to discredit the Sunni al-Qaida terror network by spreading the conspiracy theory that Israel was behind the Sept. 11 attacks.
The comments reflected al-Qaida's No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahri's increasing criticism of Iran. Al-Zawahri has accused Iran in recent messages of seeking to extend its power in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and through its Hezbollah allies in Lebanon.

The authenticity of the two-hour audio recording posted on an Islamic Web site could not be independently confirmed. But the voice sounded like past audiotapes from the terror leader, and the posting where it was found bore the logo of Al-Sahab, al-Qaida's official media arm.
It was the second of two messages answering questions that were posted to Islamic militant Web sites earlier this year.

One of the questioners asked about the theory that has circulated in the Middle East and elsewhere that Israel was behind the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Al-Zawahri accused Hezbollah's Al-Manar television of starting the rumor.
"The purpose of this lie is clear — (to suggest) that there are no heroes among the Sunnis who can hurt America as no else did in history. Iranian media snapped up this lie and repeated it," he said.
"Iran's aim here is also clear — to cover up its involvement with America in invading the homes of Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq," he said.
Iran cooperated with the United States in the 2001 U.S. assault on Afghanistan that toppled al-Qaida's allies, the Taliban.
Answering questions about Iraq in Tuesday's tape, al-Zawahri said the insurgent umbrella group led by al-Qaida, called the Islamic State of Iraq, is "the primary force opposing the Crusaders and challenging Iranian ambitions" in Iraq, he said, referring to the Americans.
As he often does in his messages, al-Zawahri denounced the "Crusader invasion" of Iraq, but in Tuesday's tape he paired it with a mention of "Iranian complicity" or "Iranian agents."

In the latest tape, al-Zawahri was also asked if the terror group had further plans to attack Western countries that participated in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and subsequent war.
"My answer is: Yes! We think that any country that has joined aggression on Muslims must be deterred," he replied.
In response to a question signed by the Japanese news agency Kyodo asking if Japan remains a target because it once had troops in Iraq, al-Zawahri said "Japan provided help under the banner of the crusader coalition ... therefore it participated in the Crusader campaign against the lands of Islam."
Japan deployed non-combat troops to southern Iraq in 2003 to carry out reconstruction work. It withdrew its troops from Iraq in 2006 and now conducts airlifts to help supply U.S.-led forces in that country.
Al-Zawahri spoke on a wide range of issues, even global warming, which he said reflected "how criminal, brutal and greedy the Western Crusader world is, with America at the top."
He predicted that global warming would "make the world more sympathetic to and understanding of the Muslims' jihad against the aggressor America."

Asked if there are any women in al-Qaida, the terror leader answered simply: "No." In a follow-up answer, he said: "There are no women in al-Qaida jihadi group, but the women of the mujahedeen are playing a heroic role in taking care of their houses and sons."
In several parts of Tuesday's audio message, Al-Zawahri claimed that the Taliban took over 95 percent of Afghanistan and is sweeping Pakistan as well.
"The Crusaders and their agents in Pakistan and Afghanistan are starting to fall," he said.
In another answer Tuesday, al-Zawahri said it was against Islamic religious law for any Muslim to live permanently in a Western country because in doing so they would "have permanent stay there under the laws of the infidels." Al-Qaida's media arm, Al-Sahab, announced in December that al-Zawahri would take questions from the public posted on Islamic militant Web sites and would respond "as soon as possible." Queries were submitted on the main Islamist Web site until the cutoff date of Jan. 16.
Title: WSJ: Muslim and Indonesian
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 11, 2008, 04:49:18 AM
Muslim and Indonesian
June 11, 2008

If the war on terror teaches anything, it's that radical Islam cannot tolerate religious pluralism. So it's worrying, and dangerous, to see the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, Indonesia, restrict a moderate religious group at the behest of a radical fringe. This is no way for a democracy to behave.

The government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono Monday ordered "all Ahmadiyah followers to stop their activities" or face jail. The Ahmadiyah is a small Muslim sect concentrated mostly in South Asia, with about 200,000 adherents in Indonesia. Its followers revere the Quran and have formally renounced the idea of violent jihad. They respect interfaith dialogues.

By restricting the Ahmadiyah, the President isn't acting in accordance with the country's constitution, which guarantees "all persons the right to worship according to their own religion or belief." Instead, he's kowtowing to the thuggish Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which beat up a peaceful gathering of religious moderates in Jakarta last week and called for the Ahmadiyah to be banned.

The President's refusal to stand up for the Ahmadiyah is part of a pattern. In 2005, the Council of Indonesian Ulama issued a fatwa banning the Ahmadiyah as a "heretical sect" because the group recognizes its founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, to be a prophet like Mohamed. The President's office said nothing. In recent years Ahmadiyah mosques have been forced to close by angry mobs. Again, the President's office was silent. Last year, a few local governments banned the faith. Once more, no word from Jakarta.

Last week the President waited 48 hours before ordering the arrests of the FPI members who led the violence in central Jakarta – until after local media exploded in outrage. The police chief explained that arresting the FPI members immediately would only have "triggered bigger riots." Which tells you something about Jakarta's resolve to enforce its own laws.

Mr. Yudhoyono's decree increases the danger for Ahmadiyah members, who now have had targets painted on their chests. It's also dangerous for any other religious minorities to whom the FPI or other radical Islamists object. They have done so in the past. From 1999 to 2002, to take one example, Muslim extremists carried out execution-style killings of more than a thousand Christians in Poso on Sulawesi Island.

The FPI thug who allegedly led the June 1 Jakarta attacks said in a televised video that attacks on women and unarmed men were justified by the government's inaction on banning Ahmadiyah. He turned himself in to police Monday, claiming his mission was accomplished. Violence against Christians is also starting to percolate in conservative Muslim areas, like West Java.

It is unclear how local governments will interpret the President's edict. Will Ahmadiyah mosques be shuttered? Will members be allowed to worship in their homes? The government already has had to dispatch police around the country to protect Ahmadiyah worshippers. Where will it end?

Citizens in a democratic society must be free to worship as they please. Anything but full religious freedom is a betrayal of Indonesia's pluralism and a dangerous precedent for the country's future.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.

And add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.
Title: Stratfor: Indonesia
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 11, 2008, 03:44:39 PM
More on this story:

Indonesia’s government has issued restrictions on the Ahmadiyah sect of Islam, but stopped short of banning the group. The decision will provoke the radical Islamic Defender’s Front to increase its attacks, which in turn will legitimize the ruling coalition’s efforts to form militias and root out extremism. The country’s two most powerful political factions are driving these confrontations as they jockey for position ahead of the Southeast Asian nation’s 2009 presidential election.

Indonesia passed a law June 9 restricting the Ahmadiyah sect of Islam, a religious minority that has become a focal point of political controversy in the Southeast Asian country. The decree has provoked outrage among the numerous political and religious factions in Indonesia and led to large protests. Liberals and many mainstream Muslims blame the government for violating freedom of religion, while Islamist radicals are calling for the sect to be completely banned and forcefully dissolved.

The controversy over the Ahmadiyah movement is not just legal or religious in nature. Instead, Indonesia’s major political factions are using Ahmadiyah as a tool while battling for influence in the run-up to the 2009 Indonesian presidential election.

Ahmadiyah is a religious group with 200,000 members in Indonesia. Members associate themselves with Islam, though mainstream Muslims consider them unorthodox and unaffiliated with Islam. In Indonesia the group has become symbolic of the struggle between secular and Islamic ideals, with the country’s Islamists accusing the Ahmadiyah sect of heresy and seeking for decades, often violently, to banish it.

The joint ministerial decree issued yesterday under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono seems to strike a balance between the Islamists and those who support constitutional freedom of religion, since it calls for Ahmadiyah to stop spreading the faith but does not proscribe practicing it. But this appearance of compromise is misleading because neither group actually gets what it wants from the decision; it neither preserves freedom of religion nor purges heresy. Instead, it merely makes life harder for Ahmadiyah believers, who are irrelevant to the interests driving the political players in Jakarta.

In fact, the decree will almost certainly stir up fiercer flames between the country’s most powerful parties and their proxies.

There are hundreds of political parties scattered throughout the thousands of islands that make up Indonesia. Two of the strongest parties existed before the country’s independence from the Netherlands.

On one side stands Nahdatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia’s largest and most politically influential Islamist group with a 40 million-strong constituency. Former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid leads NU, which was founded in 1926 by his grandfather, Ulema Hasyim Asyari. Wahid also founded the related National Awakening Party (PKB). NU mainly comprises moderate Muslims who reject radical Islamism and hope to preserve Indonesia’s secular credentials to maintain ties with Western and non-Muslim allies and business partners. At present, NU is allied with Yudhoyono.

On the other side stands Muhammadiyah, a coalition of stridently conservative Muslims as well as a number of radical Islamist groups. With 29 million followers, the party represents a formidable opposition to the government. It has some strong backers in the government — mainly in the departments overseeing religious affairs and education — but draws the bulk of its strength from an influential cadre of retired generals. Some rogue elements in the Indonesian army are suspected of orchestrating riots against Wahid in 1999 through the radical Islamic Defense Front (FPI), which leans toward Muhammadiyah.

With a presidential election approaching in 2009, NU and Muhammadiyah are vying for position. Political transitions in Indonesia always see the emergence of radical groups, which often receive surreptitious backing from bigger parties. Small factions have always been used as instruments of major parties in Indonesia, with student protests partially engineered in this way overthrowing Suharto in 1998.

Accordingly, FPI has increased attacks and vandalism against the Ahmadiyah sect to revive a nationally polarizing issue and pressure Yudhoyono’s government. Recently, FPI wounded Wahid in an outburst of violence, leading him to redouble his efforts against FPI. FPI also struck out against peaceful NU demonstrators June 1 at the Monas in Jakarta. Since FPI is a relatively small, radical group comprising mostly young Islamists who are sometimes implicated in vandalism, the massive protests against the government’s decision yesterday implies that a larger force — rumors in Jakarta implicate former generals — is backing it financially. A small group like FPI hardly could have orchestrated such a large demonstration (requiring multiple buses for transporting protesters) on its own.

In response, NU and PKB have begun forming special militias to retaliate against FPI. The stated mission of these militias, which will have roughly 300 members, each armed with knives and machetes, is to protect the public and force FPI to disband. Yudhoyono and Wahid have allied to pioneer this operation, which already has led to the June 5 arrest of FPI leader Habib Rizieq Shihab.

For Yudhoyono, retaining power in 2009 means counterbalancing the opposition factions. He probably did not wish for the Ahmadiyah question to be revived or to make an executive decision on it. But political necessity forced him to make a move, so he chose a path that will prove less aggravating for foreign investors and suppliers sensitive to religious freedom since he did not formally banish the group. He must have known that a merely soft restriction of Ahmadiyah would provoke the FPI into further attacks, and that he (and Wahid’s NU) can use the FPI’s attacks to their advantage by pointing to them as justifications for a crackdown on FPI through the new special militias.

If Yudhoyono manages to shut down FPI, he will have destroyed a potentially destabilizing force that could obstruct his bid for re-election. FPI is not popular enough for such a crackdown to spawn a backlash against Yudhoyono, so putting FPI under his heel might even allow him to present himself as a strong leader in the national elections.

Whatever happens, the competition between Indonesia’s political factions can be expected to get fiercer during the build-up to the 2009 elections.
Title: Indonesia
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 25, 2008, 01:57:37 AM
Jakarta's Slippery Slope
June 25, 2008

With the World Peace Forum under way in Jakarta today, Indonesia is happy to boast of its commitment to interfaith dialogue. The 200,000 members of the Ahmadiyah sect would disagree.

On Thursday, Islamic radicals sealed off more than 10 Ahmadiyah mosques in Indonesia. This was the predictable outcome of a June 9 government ruling barring the Ahmadiyah from "dissemination activities," whatever that means. Their crime? Peacefully worshipping a liberal form of Islam.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono sold the ruling as a way to forbid a "deviant" Islamic group from propagating their ideas but not banning them outright. But it was really a cave-in to radicals such as the Islamic Defenders Front, who advocate strict interpretations of Islam and have made their views known by beating up people in the streets.

Now, a coalition of Islamic fanatics, the Forum Umat Islam, has taken the ruling as a pretext to shut down Ahmadiyah mosques. In response, Mr. Yudhoyono has ignored the Indonesian constitution's freedom of religion clause and done nothing.

Perhaps he is worried about sparking wider violence if he opposes the well-funded and well-organized Forum Umat Islam. Or perhaps he wishes to court what he perceives as the "Muslim vote." But short-term gain could have serious long-term consequences.

If radical thugs are allowed to target Ahmadiyah houses of worship today with impunity, what prevents them from targeting other kinds of Muslims tomorrow? Or Christians? Or Sikhs? The government's refusal to protect the Ahmadiyah threatens the underpinnings of Indonesia's tolerant society. It's a familiar theme in history, and one that has not boded well for liberal democracies.

Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 04, 2008, 08:18:24 AM
The trend recently in Indonesia has not been good, but nice to see the government arresting bad guys:

9 Terrorism Suspects Detained in Indonesia After a Raid Uncovers Bombs
 Achmad Ibrahim/Associated Press
An Indonesian police officer with one of the nine terrorism suspects arrested on Thursday in Sumatra. An antiterrorism official said the men were planning an attack on Westerners in Jakarta.

Yahoo! Buzz

Published: July 4, 2008
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian police transferred nine terrorism suspects, bound and wearing black hoods, to the capital, Jakarta, on Thursday after their arrest in southern Sumatra.

According to the police, a raid on Wednesday in the Sumatran port city of Palembang by an elite Indonesian counterterrorism team turned up more than a dozen homemade bombs and a cache of ammunition. A police spokesman refused to give further details, saying that the prisoners were being interrogated about the nature of their plan and their roles within the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network.

Indonesian news outlets quoted an antiterrorism official as saying that the men were planning an attack on Westerners in Jakarta, but no details were given.

Jemaah Islamiyah is believed to have a vast network throughout the island of Sumatra.

The police confirmed that at least one of the suspects was Singaporean, but experts dismissed rumors that he might be Mas Selamat Kastari, who is suspected of being the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah. He escaped from a Singapore prison in March.

Sidney Jones, a terrorism expert who is the director of International Crisis Group in Jakarta, however, said the escapee was not among those caught in the Wednesday raids. “They are all certainly members of Jemaah Islamiyah,” Ms. Jones said. “And at least one is Singaporean, but he is definitely not Mas Selamat.”

The authorities suspected that Noordin Top, a Jemaah Islamiyah militant from Malaysia, was hiding in Palembang in early 2007, and some analysts have said that he may have started a splinter terrorist group. He is believed to be responsible for several major bombings in Indonesia.

Jemaah Islamiyah has been blamed for most of the major attacks in Indonesia in recent years, including the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed more than 200 people.

The militant wing of Jemaah Islamiyah, however, has been seriously weakened in recent years after the loss of several important leaders, including the group’s master bomb maker, Azhari Husin, who was killed in a shootout in 2005.

Indonesia’s success in fighting terrorism prompted the Bush administration to renew military ties with the country. And the State Department lifted a travel advisory last month that had warned Americans of possible terrorist attacks.

Australia, which has worked closely with Indonesia in its fight against the militant network, has refused to lift its travel warning for Indonesia, however, saying there is still evidence that terrorists are planning attacks.

Despite its setbacks, Jemaah Islamiyah has proven resilient. The group relies on a grassroots recruiting effort focused heavily on Indonesia’s many Islamic boarding schools. One of the suspects arrested Wednesday, Ms. Jones said, was the director of an Islamic school in Palembang.

Title: Reform efforts in Malaysia
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 26, 2008, 08:01:10 AM
It's Déjà Vu for Malaysia's Opposition Leader
July 26, 2008; Page A7

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

"I was dumped into this high-security police lockup for, you see, these high-level criminals. . . . On the cement floor, without any mattresses. That explains why I have to be back on this." Anwar Ibrahim gingerly peels up his shirt to reveal a corset-like back brace. And then he bursts into laughter.

Ismael Roldan 
For a man released from a night in jail only a few days earlier, Mr. Anwar is an awfully jolly man. Malaysia's opposition leader has been accused of sodomy by a former aide -- a criminal offense in this Muslim-majority country that could send him to jail for up to two decades. It's a bizarre déjà vu for the bespectacled politician, who spent 1998-2004 behind bars on a trumped-up sodomy charge the last time he challenged for political power.

But he's pushing ahead: On Wednesday, Mr. Anwar vowed to run for parliament "imminently" in a by-election, with the aim of toppling the government by September. If he's successful, he could be the next prime minister of Malaysia.

None of this would matter much outside Southeast Asia were it not for the fact that Mr. Anwar's political coalition espouses something unusual in the Muslim world: the virtues of a secular, free-market democracy. More Muslims live in Asia -- Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh -- than in the Middle East.

Mr. Anwar is unusually suited to bridge East-West divides. A Muslim, "though never typically very religious," he chuckles, he is a good friend of Saudi Arabia and the U.S. alike -- a man who memorized "hundreds of Elvis Presley, Paul Anka and Ricky Nelson tunes" in his youth, but also attended weekend religious classes and, in his 20s, founded the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia. He has never been afraid to argue that democracy and Islam are compatible forces -- or to make that case to undemocratic Arab regimes.

In many ways, Malaysia -- though it sports big urban centers and modern wonders like the Petronas Towers -- seems stuck in a time warp. The media is largely state-controlled, and the executive branch still locks up political dissidents without trial under the British colonial-era Internal Security Act.

Mahathir Mohamad's 22-year rule, which ended in 2003, did bring economic development to Malaysia. But Mr. Anwar says only a "fringe few" would ignore the widespread corruption that also occurred. Mr. Anwar, who was Dr. Mahathir's deputy at the time, found himself accused of sodomy in 1998 when he started pushing for reform. His arrest and imprisonment brought thousands of people onto Kuala Lumpur's streets.

And the recent accusation against him? It is "unfortunate," Mr. Anwar said as we settled into conference room chairs at his People's Justice Party's new headquarters in a strip mall in a Kuala Lumpur suburb last week. But it's a sign that "the system is crumbling."

"Malaysia was resilient -- at least in the late '80s and '90s -- primarily because it was able to attract foreign investment," Mr. Anwar says. "It has lost that. So we have to see why? Well," he answers his own question, "economic policies considered obsolete -- particularly the New Economic Policy." He's referring to the pervasive pro-Malay affirmative-action program that reaches deeply into almost every corner of the economy and the university system. "There's no rule of law, endemic corruption and general incompetence" in Malaysia, he adds.

Malaysia's current government is trying harder than any other Asian regime -- save the little kingdom of Brunei -- to push closer to the Middle East, luring investment and Arab tourists to its shores. Women shrouded from head to toe are common sights in Kuala Lumpur's upscale shopping district. The country is an emerging center for Islamic finance, and Saudi-backed mosques are popping up everywhere.

Mr. Anwar thinks there's another way forward: by incorporating conservative Muslims into the democratic fold, and enforcing a secular rule of law without exception. He also made this point in a chat we had at his home in Kuala Lumpur last month. "You need a free media and free and fair elections. Moderate democracies and parties don't accept radicalism. You must give them space. Muslims can't be made to feel that democracy can only be applied to certain groups. That's not healthy."

Mr. Anwar's party is largely Malay, and secular. But his three-party coalition also includes a Chinese party and a conservative Muslim party that advocates Islamic law. The latter, the Parti Islam se-Malaysia, has supported measures such as segregated grocery store lines for men and women, bans on lipstick and antifornication laws. Why does Mr. Anwar's multiethnic coalition include a party that embraces such a platform?

"We took some years to cement this relationship because I don't want it to be seen purely as a politically expedient exercise," he says. "We base it on a clear reform agenda. So what we did instead of using labels -- Islam, secularism, liberal -- we spell out what we want. So in the agenda, for example, we believe in 'democracy and freedom.' By this we mean freedom of religion, or worship, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience. Which means all laws to the contrary will have to be rejected."

Mr. Anwar returned to Malaysia in 2006 -- after teaching stints at Georgetown University and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies -- to launch a political comeback. He utilized every tool at his disposal outside the state-run media -- "SMSes, blogs, Web sites" -- to get out his message of anticorruption, freedom and religious tolerance. His coalition romped home in March with more than one-third of the seats in the national Parliament, and the leadership of five of Malaysia's 13 states. The result stunned the ruling United Malays National Organization, which has dominated Malaysian politics since independence in 1957.

Mr. Anwar gets almost giddy when I query him about the result: "People on the ground, they couldn't care two hoots about this scurrilous attack on my character," he exclaims, referring to the latest sodomy accusation. "They want to hear me talk about change . . . I think the old system -- the center cannot hold. Remember that brilliant piece by Yeats?" Mr. Anwar is referring, aptly, to the poem, "The Second Coming."

He thinks political change in Malaysia could reverberate outside the country's borders, setting a "crucial" example for the rest of the Muslim world. But is the rest of the Muslim world ready to hear his message? What about Iran?

"I respect Iran as a nation, with such a great civilization, with great potential," Mr. Anwar says, evading the question with a grin. But "they know my views on democracy. They know my engagement with the West and with the Americans."

Being pro-American isn't popular in Malaysia, and Mr. Anwar is careful to stress his distance from Washington. "For example, the occupation of American forces in Iraq. I disagree, I totally disagree. But I don't treat America as my enemy. And I believe that we would gain immensely by maintaining very good diplomatic and economic relations, trade relations, with America. But it doesn't mean we must agree with them on many issues, or most issues."

It also doesn't mean that Mr. Anwar agrees with other Islamic powers, either. On a recent trip to Saudi Arabia, he met government officials and heard them talk of their modern education system. "I said I was impressed," but "quality education" needs "a liberal democratic space" and "creativity."

Could Malaysia serve as an example for the rest of the Islamic world, as a tolerant, Muslim-majority and multiethnic democracy? "Right now, it's certainly a very poor example," he says, laughing out loud. "But it has this enormous potential in terms of gender equality. Although you know, my wife wouldn't agree with that term. She says it's not that equal for now. . . . You should say, moving toward gender equality." Mr. Anwar's wife and one of his daughters are members of Parliament.

The sodomy accusation is meant not just to discredit Mr. Anwar, but to rip apart his nascent coalition. It was levied a few days before Mr. Anwar was scheduled to announce his candidacy for parliament. Fearing the worst, he fled to the Turkish embassy -- another moderate Muslim democracy -- for refuge. Since then, photos purportedly showing his accuser meeting with high-level government officials began to circulate. The government denies any involvement.

"To allow for some segment or sector, groups, within the system to resort to these dirty machinations is pathetic," he says, then pauses. "To them, it may be necessary to pre-empt our next move, my contesting the by-election."

Malaysia's most prominent mufti, or religious scholar, Perak Mufti Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria, has backed Mr. Anwar's cause. Around 2,000 supporters flocked to the police station last week when word got out that Mr. Anwar was spending the night there. "I've advised my supporters to remain calm," he says. "Don't overreact, don't be provoked. Because that's exactly what they want. In any authoritarian system, what they want to present is a near chaos so they can declare a state of emergency."

Why not pack it all in and retire with his wife and six children? "You come in with a clear conviction, that you believe in freedom, you believe in democracy," Mr. Anwar replies. "And you have so much affection for the people. You love your country. You want the country to succeed. And this is one, unique, multiracial, multireligious country with a Muslim majority that should prove to the world that we can co-exist and succeed with a vibrant economy. Now, there's a lot of intimidation, a lot of efforts to derail this. If I choose to surrender, keep quiet, then it would adversely affect the process."

He asks a rhetorical question: "If I, in my position, with my experience, have no courage, just because I was beaten up before, humiliated, then what do you expect from the people? What sort of leadership do you provide?"

Mr. Anwar's aides are gesticulating to him at the window outside his office -- he's late for his next appointment. "It's going to be tough," he says. "But this time, I am certain -- as we say, inshallah, God willing, we are going to make it." He laughs, and walks away, still smiling.

Ms. Kissel is the editor of The Wall Street Journal Asia's editorial page.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: HUSS on August 01, 2008, 06:22:28 AM
Saudi Arabia Bans Sale of Dogs and Cats in Capital in Effort to Keep Sexes Apart,2933,395341,00.html

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Every single man knows: Walking a dog in the park equals sure babe magnet. Saudi Arabia's Islamic religious police, in their zeal to keep the sexes apart, want to make sure the technique doesn't catch on here.

The solution: Ban selling dogs and cats as pets, as well as walking them in public.

The prohibition went into effect on Wednesday in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and authorities in the city say they will strictly enforce it — unlike previous such bans in the cities of Mecca and Jiddah, which have been ignored and failed to stop sales.

Violators found outside with their pets will have their beloved poodles and other furry companions confiscated by agents of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the official name of the religious police, tasked with enforcing Saudi Arabia's strict Islamic code.

The commission's general manager, Othman al-Othman, said the ban was ordered because of what he called "the rising of phenomenon of men using cats and dogs to make passes at women and pester families" as well as "violating proper behavior in public squares and malls."

"If a man is caught with a pet, the pet will be immediately confiscated and the man will be forced to sign a document pledging not to repeat the act," al-Othman told the Al-Hayat newspaper. "If he does, he will be referred to authorities."

The Saudi-owned Al-Hayat announced the ban in its Wednesday edition, saying it was ordered by the acting governor of Riyadh province, Prince Sattam, based on an edit from the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars and several religious police reports of pet owners harassing women and families.

Commission authorities often do not formally announce to the public new rules that they intend to implement. Officials from the commission and Riyadh city government could not be reached for comment on Thursday, which is a weekend day in Saudi Arabia. The English-language Arab News reported on the ban on Thursday.

So far, the new prohibition did not appear to have any effect in Riyadh. It's extremely rare, anyway, to see anyone walking a dog — much less carrying a cat in public — in the capital, despite the authorities' claims of flirtatious young men luring girls with their pets in malls.

Salesmen at a couple of Riyadh pet stores on Thursday said they did not receive any official orders from the commission banning the sale of pets. Cats and dogs were still on display.

"I didn't hear of the ban," said Yasser al-Abdullah, a 28-year-old Saudi nurse, who was at one pet store with his 3-month-old collie, Joe.

Al-Abdullah, who also owns an 8-month-old Labrador, said a couple of Western friends had been told to get off the streets by the religious police for walking their dogs.

"I won't allow the commission to take my dogs from me," he said.

The religious police prowl streets and malls throughout the kingdom, ensuring unmarried men and women do not mix, confronting women they feel are not properly covered or urging men to go to prayers.

They also often make attempts to plug the few holes in the strict gender segregation that innovations bring. In 2004, they tried to ban cameras on cell phones, fearing that men and women would exchange pictures of each other — though the prohibition was quickly revoked. Every year, religious police warn against marking Valentine's Day, even trying to prevent people from wearing red clothing on the holiday, which they consider a Western creation that encourages vice.

There was no word whether commission authorities intend to expand the dog and cat ban beyond the capital.

The prohibition may be more of an attempt to curb the owning of pets, which conservative Saudis view as a sign of corrupting Western influence, like the fast food, shorts, jeans and pop music that have become more common in the kingdom.

Pet owning has never been common in the Arab world, though it is increasingly becoming fashionable among the upper class in Saudi Arabia and other countries such as Egypt.

In Islamic tradition, dogs are shunned as unclean and dangerous, though they are kept for hunting and guarding. In large cities around the Middle East, stray dogs often wander the streets and are considered pests.

The ban on cats is more puzzling, since there's no similar disdain for them in Islamic tradition. One of the Prophet Muhammad's closest companions was given the name Abu Huraira, Arabic for "the father of the kitten," because he always carried a kitten around with him and took care of it.

A number of hadiths — traditional stories of the prophet — show Muhammad encouraging people to treat cats well. Once, he let a cat drink from the water that he was going to use for his ablutions before prayers. Another time, Muhammad said a woman who kept a cat locked up without feeding it would go to Hell.

Street cats are also plentiful, and people will often feed them or play with them — but it isn't a widespread custom to keep one in the home, and many cannot afford it.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: ccp on August 01, 2008, 07:02:31 AM

Are all marriages arranged in SA?

Another question?  What is it about pets that attracts the women?  The association with status, money, or simply a conversation piece?

It sounds like women like the corruptive influence from the West.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: G M on August 01, 2008, 07:14:08 AM

Are all marriages arranged in SA?

**Most all, if not all. Usually to a first cousin. No joke.**

Another question?  What is it about pets that attracts the women?  The association with status, money, or simply a conversation piece?

It sounds like women like the corruptive influence from the West.

**The wahabists are always on the lookout for corruptive western influences.**
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: HUSS on August 12, 2008, 05:13:53 AM

Saudi Arabia: Mother moves to block child marriage

Riyadh, 11 August (AKI) - The Saudi Arabian mother of an eight-year-old girl is trying to stop her marrying a middle-aged man who made a marriage contract with the girl's father in the province of al-Qasim, in the centre of the country.

The father's consent is needed to validate the marriage contract between the man, who is in his fifties and the child. He reportedly agreed to the union in exchange for an undis closed sum of money.

According to the Saudi newspaper, Okaz, the news emerged after the mother of the child reported her husband and took him to court to prevent the marriage from going ahead.

Referring to another case where a man in his seventies was charged for marrying a ten-year-old girl in the area of Asir, south of Mecca, the woman also sought the help of local human rights groups.

The mother of the girl said her husband has two other wives, and considering the age of the child, asked for the contract to be withdrawn to allow her to have a normal childhood.

According to human rights lawyers, there are many cases of this kind before the Saudi courts.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 24, 2008, 06:02:36 AM,2933,408644,00.html

Friday , August 22, 2008

Hundreds of Christian theology students have been living in tents since a mob of angry Muslim neighbors stormed their campus last month wielding bamboo spears and hurling Molotov cocktails. The incident comes amid growing concern that Indonesia's tradition of religious tolerance is under threat from Islamic hard-liners.
In talks since the attack, the Arastamar Evangelical School of Theology has reluctantly agreed to shut its 20-year-old campus in east Jakarta, accepting an offer this week to move to a small office building on the other side of the Indonesian capital.
"Why should we be forced from our house while our attackers can walk freely?" asked the Rev. Matheus Mangentang, chairman of the 1,400-student school.
The government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, which relies on the support of Islamic parties in Parliament, is struggling to balance deep Islamic traditions and a secular constitution. With elections coming next April, the government seems unwilling to defend religious minorities, lest it be portrayed as anti-Islamic in what is the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.
The July 25 attack, which injured 18 students, was the culmination of years of simmering tensions between the school and residents of the Kampung Pulo neighborhood.
Senny Manave, a spokesman for the Christian school, said complaints were received from neighbors about prayers and the singing of hymns, which they considered disturbing evangelical activity.
Several neighbors refused to comment, saying they feared that could further strain relations. A prominent banner, signed by scores of people, has been hung over an entrance to the neighborhood.
"We the community of Kampung Pulo demand the campus be closed and dissolved," it says.
The assault began around midnight, when students woke to the crash of stones falling on their dormitory roof as a voice over a loudspeaker at a nearby mosque cried "Allah Akbar," or "God is great" in Arabic.
The unidentified speaker urged residents to rise up against their "unwanted neighbors," said Sairin, the head of campus security, who goes by a single name.
The attack followed a claim that a student had broken into a resident's house, but police dismissed the charge.
Uneasy relations date to 2003, when neighbors began to protest the school's presence. Last year, residents set fire to shelters for construction workers to try to stop the campus from expanding deeper into the neighborhood. Some also questioned the legality of the school's permit.
Christian lawmaker Karol Daniel Kadang accused property speculators of provoking last month's incident to clear the land for more profitable use, after the school refused to sell out.
He also blamed the government for failing to build interfaith relations, which he and others believe are beginning to fray.
"People are still tolerant, but there is a growing suspicion among Muslims of others," said Prof. Franz Magnis-Suseno, a Jesuit priest who has lived in Indonesia for half a century.
He added that the police have failed to prevent both attacks on minorities and the forced closure of Christian churches and nontraditional mosques by mobs incited by radical Muslims.
"The state has some responsibility for this growing intolerance, namely by not upholding the law," he said.
A mob stormed a church service last Sunday in another east Jakarta neighborhood, forcing dozens of Christian worshippers to flee, said Jakarta Police Chief Col. Carlo Tewu. No arrests have been made.
Since being driven from campus, nearly 600 female students have been sleeping under suspended tarps at a nearby scout camp, where they had to dig trenches to keep water out during downpours. Classes are held with megaphones in the sweltering summer heat, under trees or the tarps. A similar number of male students live in a guesthouse. The remainder have returned to their families.
Food, water and school supplies are donated by church groups and community charities.
"We feel like refugees in our own country," said Dessy Nope, 19, a second-year student majoring in education. "How can you study here? I only followed 20 percent of my last lesson. It's difficult to concentrate."
Christians have not been the only targets for Muslim hard-liners, who this year set fire to mosques of a Muslim sect, Ahmadiyah, that they consider heretical.
In June, the government ordered members of the sect to return to mainstream Islam, sparking concern among activists who fear the state is interfering in matters of faith and caving in to the demands of radicals.
"We're living in a country where there are many religions, but the government cannot prevent the actions of fundamentalist groups," said Manave, the school spokesman. "The government cannot protect minorities."
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 31, 2008, 04:01:18 PM

Saturday, August 30th 2008, 10:41 PM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A Pakistani lawmaker defended a decision by northwestern tribesmen to bury five women alive because they wanted to choose their own husbands, telling stunned members of Parliament to spare him their outrage.

"These are centuries-old traditions, and I will continue to defend them," Israr Ullah Zehri, who represents Baluchistan province, told The Associated Press Saturday.

"Only those who indulge in immoral acts should be afraid."

The women, three of whom were teenagers, were first shot and then thrown into a ditch.

They were still breathing as mud was shoveled over their bodies, according to media reports, which said their only "crime" was that they wished to marry men of their own choosing.

Zehri told a packed and stunned Parliament on Friday that Baluch tribal traditions helped stop obscenity and then asked fellow lawmakers to stop making such a fuss about it.

Several lawmakers stood up in protest, describing the so-called honor killings as "barbaric."

Human rights groups accused local authorities of trying to hush up the executions, which according to local media reports and activists took place a month ago in Baba Kot, a remote village in Jafferabad district.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 21, 2008, 08:13:28 AM
Ali, who became an international celebrity after refusing to accept her marriage to a man three times her age and winning a divorce, is now back to a semblance of a normal life in Sana.
By Delphine Minoui and Borzou Daragahi, Special to The Times
September 20, 2008

SANA, YEMEN -- Still groggy, the schoolgirl brushed her hair, struggled to pull on her socks and snuggled into her school uniform: a green gown and a white head scarf.

By the time she gathered up her books and strapped on her backpack she was smiling and enthusiastic, her nervousness eclipsed by anticipation of the first day of class.  Like children across the world, 10-year-old Nujood Ali went back to school this month after a lengthy break. But Nujood hadn't been lazing about or playing hide-and-seek with her friends during the summer.  Instead, after she was pulled out of the second grade by her father earlier this year, she was married off to a man three times her  age, who beat her and sexually abused her.

For many girls in this traditional society, where tribal custom and conservative interpretations of Islam dominate, that would have been the end of the story. But Nujood was outraged. She gathered up her courage and on the advice of an aunt went to court in April. She got the help of a lawyer and filed for divorce.

A judge quickly granted it.

And on Tuesday morning, the divorcee, possibly the world's youngest, once again became a schoolgirl.

"I'm very happy to be going back to school," she said, waiting in her ramshackle home for her younger sister Haifa to get ready. "I'm going to study Arabic, the Koran, mathematics and drawing. I will do that with my classmates and I will definitely make friends there."

Nujood's unusual story of rebellion made her an international celebrity. Since The Times wrote of her in June, CNN, Elle magazine and other international media have come to this mountaintop capital to chronicle her tale.  Hordes of nonprofit organizations offered to help her get back to school, some even willing to foot the bill to send her abroad or to a fancy private academy, though they ignored Haifa, Nujood's little sister and best friend.

In the end, Nujood opted for a small, government-run public school relatively close to her home. She would begin where she left off, starting the second grade again.

Even then, it wasn't easy. One teacher said she worried that Nujood might disturb other students by talking about her sexual experiences.  The night before she went to school, Nujood said she dreamed of notebooks, drawings and new friends.

"When I left school, I learned how to count from one to 100," she said. "Now, I am going to learn how to count until a million."

Nujood said she wanted to study hard, to be able to attend university and become a lawyer like Shada Nasser, the well-known Yemeni human rights advocate who helped her get her divorce.  The girl's experience, and her ambition, have even served as an inspiration to her parents, uneducated rural people who moved to the capital's outskirts a few years ago and say they married her off to protect her from the dangers of the city.

"We were never asked if we wanted to go to school when we were children," said her father, Ali Mohammed Ahdal, who has two wives and 16 children.

"If we had a choice, we would have loved to study like Nujood."

On Tuesday morning, Nujood and Haifa climbed into a yellow taxi paid for by an Italian aid group and drove through the capital's smog-choked streets, passing vendors of the mildly narcotic khat leaves and the occasional shepherd.

Outside the schoolhouse, Nasser stood waiting, eager to share a day she had anticipated. "I can't believe we finally made it," said the attorney, who agreed to drop the rest of her caseload to take up Nujood's cause after the girl showed up alone in a Sana courthouse in April.
Nujood and Nasser were welcomed by Njala Matri, the principal of the school in Rawdha, a lower-middle-class neighborhood along the road to the city's international airport.

"You are welcome here. You can feel at home," she said, smiling at Nujood.

Only about half of Yemeni girls attend primary school. Last year, one of the school's 1,200 girls, a 13-year-old, dropped out to marry, though the legal age of consent is 15. "Now, she's a mother," Matri said in dismay.

Women's rights activists say child marriage is part of a vicious circle. Girls drop out of school and bear too many children, contributing to Yemen's high female illiteracy and exploding birth rate.  But on Tuesday, Nujood stepped through the school's gates into a vast courtyard, disappearing into a swarm of noisy classmates. Some paid her no mind, while others approached the girl who had become a local and international media star.

"I am so excited," she said, playing nervously with her hands.

A bell sounded and the students quieted down, forming lines for roll call before shuffling into classrooms of about 50 students each. 
Nujood took a seat in the third row, neither at the front nor the back of the classroom.  The teacher, dressed in an all-covering black abaya, hushed the students and began the day's lesson by asking them to recite the national anthem as well as passages from the Koran.

Small hands shot into the air.

"Who can recite the Surat al-Hamd?" the teacher asked, referring to the first chapter of the Koran.

She saw Nujood's hand, and called her name.

"Nujood?" she said.

Nujood stood up and began, ending with: "Show us the straight path. The path of those whom You have favored. Not the path of those who earn Your anger nor of those who go astray."

"May God bless you," said the teacher.

"Let's give her a round of applause."

The others clapped as Nujood sat down, a little girl once again.

LA Times
Title: Fatwa for Zardini
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 02, 2008, 10:33:20 AM
I suppose I could have posted this in the Gender thread as well  :lol:

Flirting with Palin earns Pakistani president a fatwa

A leading religious leader condemned Asif Ali Zardari's comments to Sarah Palin at the UN.

By Issam Ahmed | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor from the October 2, 2008 edition
Lahore, Pakistan - After the flirtation came the fatwa.
With some overly friendly comments to Gov. Sarah Palin at the United Nations, Asif Ali Zardari has succeeded in uniting one of Pakistan's hard-line mosques and its feminists after a few weeks in office.
A radical Muslim prayer leader said the president shamed the nation for "indecent gestures, filthy remarks, and repeated praise of a non-Muslim lady wearing a short skirt."

Feminists charged that once again a male Pakistani leader has embarrassed the country with sexist remarks. And across the board, the Pakistani press has shown disapproval.

What did President Zardari do to draw such scorn? It might have been the "gorgeous" compliment he gave Ms. Palin when the two met at the UN last week during her meet-and-greet with foreign leaders ahead of Thursday's vice presidential debate with opponent Sen. Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee.

But the comments from Zardari didn't end there. He went on to tell Palin: "Now I know why the whole of America is crazy about you."
"You are so nice," replied the Republican vice presidential hopeful, smiling. "Thank you."

But what may have really caused Pakistan's radical religious leaders to stew was his comment that he might "hug" Palin if his handler insisted.
Though the fatwa, issued days after the Sept. 24 exchange, carries little weight among most Pakistanis, it's indicative of the anger felt by Pakistan's increasingly assertive conservatives who consider physical contact and flattery between a man and woman who aren't married to each other distasteful. Though fatwas, or religious edicts, can range from advice on daily life to death sentences, this one does not call for any action or violence.

Last year, the mosque that issued the fatwa, Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad, condemned the former tourism minister, Nilofar Bahktiar, after she was photographed being hugged by a male parachuting coach in France.
Clerics declared the act a "great sin" and, though less vocal about it, similar sentiments were shared by many among Pakistani's middle classes. The Red Mosque gained international infamy in July 2007 after becoming the focal point of a Pakistan Army operation.

For the feminists it's less about cozying up to a non-Muslim woman and more about the sexist remarks by Zardari.

"As a Pakistani and as a woman, it was shameful and unacceptable. He was looking upon her merely as a woman and not as a politician in her own right," says Tahira Abdullah, a member of the Women's Action Forum.
Dismissing the mosque's concerns as "ranting," she, however, adds: "He should show some decorum – if he loved his wife so much as to press for a United Nations investigation into her death, he should behave like a mourning widower," in reference to former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto, a feminist icon for millions of Pakistani women.
The theme of decorum was picked up by English daily Dawn, whose editorial asked: "Why do our presidents always end up embarrassing us internationally by making sexist remarks?"
The incident bears some resemblance to yet another charm offensive by a senior Pakistani politician. Marcus Mabry's biography of Condoleezza Rice includes a passage in which he relates a meeting between former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Ms. Rice, in which Mr. Aziz was said to have stared deeply into the secretary of State's eyes and to have told her he could "conquer any woman in two minutes."
There are some, however, who see things as having been blown out of proportion.
"It was a sweet and innocuous exchange played as an international incident on Pakistani and rascally Indian front-pages with one English daily [writing] it in a scarlet box, half-implying Mrs. Palin would ditch Alaska's First Dude and become Pakistan's First Babe. As if," wrote columnist Fasih Ahmed in the Daily Times.
For most, it will soon be forgotten in a country dealing with terrorism, rising food prices, and a struggling economy. "We don't care that much how they [politicians] behave – what really matters is keeping prices down," says Nazeera Bibi, a maid in Lahore.
Title: Hanged for being a Christian in Iran
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 13, 2008, 05:41:30 PM
Hanged for being a Christian in Iran

Eighteen years ago, Rashin Soodmand's father was hanged in Iran for converting to Christianity. Now her brother is in a Mashad jail, and expects to be executed under new religious laws brought in this summer. Alasdair Palmer reports.


A month ago, the Iranian parliament voted in favour of a draft bill, entitled "Islamic Penal Code", which would codify the death penalty for any male Iranian who leaves his Islamic faith. Women would get life imprisonment. The majority in favour of the new law was overwhelming: 196 votes for, with just seven against.

Imposing the death penalty for changing religion blatantly violates one of the most fundamental of all human rights. The right to freedom of religion is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in the European Convention of Human Rights. It is even enshrined as Article 23 of Iran's own constitution, which states that no one may be molested simply for his beliefs.

And yet few politicians or clerics in Iran see any contradiction between a law mandating the death penalty for changing religion and Iran's constitution. There has been no public protest in Iran against it.

David Miliband, Britain's Foreign Secretary, stands out as one of the few politicians from any Western country who has put on record his opposition to making apostasy a crime punishable by death. The protest from the EU has been distinctly muted; meanwhile, Germany, Iran's largest foreign trading partner, has just increased its business deals with Iran by more than half. Characteristically, the United Nations has said nothing.

It is a sign of how little interest there is in Iran's intention to launch a campaign of religious persecution that its parliamentary vote has still not been reported in the mainstream media. (Guess at this point any criticism of that "tiny country that does not pose a threat" might be bad for the Obamination and his campaign, so it's better to pretend shit like that isn't happening.)

For one woman living in London, however, the Iranian parliamentary vote cannot be brushed aside. Rashin Soodmand is a 29-year-old Iranian Christian. Her father, Hossein Soodmand, was the last man to be executed in Iran for apostasy, the "crime" of abandoning one's religion. He had converted from Islam to Christianity in 1960, when he was 13 years old. Thirty years later, he was hanged by the Iranian authorities for that decision.

Today, Rashin's brother, Ramtin, is also held in a prison cell in Mashad, Iran's holiest city. He was arrested on August 21. He has not been charged but he is a Christian. And Rashin fears that, just as her father was the last man to be executed for apostasy in Iran, her brother may become one of the first to be killed under Iran's new law.

Not surprisingly, Rashin is desperately worried. "I am terribly anxious about him," she explains. "Even though my brother is not an apostate, because he has never been a Muslim – my father raised us all as Christians – I don't think he is safe. They assume that if you are Iranian, you must be Muslim."

Her brother's situation has ominous echoes of her father's fate. Rashin was 14 when her father was arrested. "He was held in prison for one month," she remembers. "Then the religious police released him without explanation and without apology. We were overjoyed. We thought his ordeal was over."

But six months later, the police came back and took her father away again. This time, they offered him a choice: he could denounce his Christian faith, and the church in which he was a pastor – or he would be killed. "Of course, my father refused to give up his faith," Rashid recalls proudly. "He could not renounce his God. His belief in Christ was his life – it was his deepest conviction." So two weeks later, Hossein Soodmand was taken by guards to the prison gallows and hanged.

Life for Rashin, her siblings and her mother became extremely difficult. Some Muslims are extremely hostile to people of any other religion, never mind to those who they consider apostates: Ayatollah Khomeini declared that "non-Muslims are impure", insisting that for Muslims to wash the clothes of non-Muslims, or to eat food with non-Muslims, or even to use utensils touched by non-Muslims, would spoil their purity.

The family was supported with financial and other help from a Christian church based in Iran. That support became even more critical as Rashin's mother began to lose her sight. Rashin herself was eventually able to leave Iran. She now lives in London, married to a fellow Christian from Iran who successfully applied for asylum in Germany.

It took years for Rashin to understand how her father could have been legally executed simply for becoming a Christian. In 1990, there was no parliamentary law mandating the death for apostates. What, then, was the legal basis for Hossein Soodmand's execution?

"After the revolution of 1979, Iran's rulers wanted to turn Iran into an Islamic state, and to abolish the secular laws of the Shah," explains Alexa Papadouris of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a human rights organisation that specialises in freedom of religion. "So the clerics instituted a mandate for judges presiding over criminal cases: if the existing penal code did not include legislation on whether a certain kind of behaviour is an offence, then the judges should refer to traditional Islamic jurisprudence." In other words: sharia law.

"That automatically created problems" says Mr Papadouris, "because Islamic jurisprudence is not codified law: it is a series of formulations developed across generations by scholars and clerics. Depending on the Islamic school or historical era, these formulations can differ and even contradict each other."

On one subject, however, sharia law is unequivocal: men who change their religion from Islam must be punished with death. So when the judge heard the case of Rashid's father, he could refer to sharia and reach a straightforward decision: the death penalty. There was no procedure for appeal.

Nevertheless, in the 18 years since Hossein Soodmand's execution, there have been no judicially sanctioned killings of apostates in Iran, although there have been many reports of disappearances and even murders. "As the number of converts from Islam grows," notes Ms Papadouris, "apostasy has again become a serious concern for the Iranian government." In addition to 10,000 Christian converts living in Iran, there are several hundred thousand Baha'is who are deemed apostates.

There is another factor: President Ahmadinejad. "The President didn't initiate the law mandating the death penalty for apostates," says Papadouris, "but he has been lobbying for it. It is an effective form of playing populist politics. The Iranian economy is doing very badly, and the country is in a mess: Ahmadinejad may be calculating that he can gain support, and deflect attention from Iran's problems, by persecuting apostates."

The new law is not yet in force in Iran: it requires another vote in parliament, and then the signature of the Ayatollah. But that could happen within a matter of weeks. "Or," says Papadouris, "it could conceivably be allowed to drop, were there a powerful enough international outcry".

Time may be running out for Rashin's brother. She believes that the new law will be applied in an arbitrary fashion, with individuals selected for death being chosen to frighten others into submission. That is why she fears for her brother. "We just don't know what will happen to him. We only know that if they want to kill him, they will."
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: G M on October 13, 2008, 06:35:55 PM

Islam, Apostasy, and Human Rights

Ibn Warraq

Here is the full text of an enormously important paper that was presented by Ibn Warraq at a panel discussion on "Apostasy, Human Rights, Religion and Belief" held at the the 60th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva on April 7, 2004. Ibn Warraq, of course, is the outstandingly courageous author of Why I am not a Muslim and the editor of The Origins of the Koran; The Quest for the Historical Muhammad; What the Koran Really Says; and Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out.

The very notion of apostasy has vanished from the West where one would talk of being a lapsed Catholic or non-practicing Christian rather than an apostate. There are certainly no penal sanctions for converting from Christianity to any other religion. In Islamic countries, on the other hand, the issue is far from dead.
The Arabic word for apostate is murtadd, the one who turns back from Islam, and apostasy is denoted by irtidad and ridda. Ridda seems to have been used for apostasy from Islam into unbelief ( in Arabic, kufr ), and irtidad from Islam to some other religion. A person born of Muslim parents who later rejects Islam is called a Murtadd Fitri - fitri meaning natural, it can also mean instinctive, native, inborn, innate. One who converts to Islam and subsequently leaves it is a Murtadd Milli, from milla meaning religious community .The Murtadd Fitri can be seen as someone unnatural, subverting the natural course of things whose apostasy is a willful and obstinate act of treason against God and the one and only true creed, and a betrayal and desertion of the community. The Murtadd Milli is a traitor to the Muslim community, and equally disruptive.

Any verbal denial of any principle of Muslim belief is considered apostasy. If one declares, for example, that the universe has always existed from eternity or that God has a material substance, then one is an apostate. If one denies the unity of God or confesses to a belief in reincarnation, one is guilty of apostasy. Certain acts are also deemed acts of apostasy, for example treating a copy of the Koran disrespectfully, by burning it or even soiling it in some way. Some doctors of Islamic law claim that a Muslim becomes an apostate if he or she enters a church, worships an idol, or learns and practises magic. A Muslim becomes an apostate if he defames the Prophet’s character, morals or virtues, and denies Muhammad’s prophethood and that he was the seal of the prophets.


It is clear quite clear that under Islamic Law an apostate must be put to death. There is no dispute on this ruling among classical Muslim or modern scholars, and we shall return to the textual evidence for it. Some modern scholars have argued that in the Koran the apostate is threatened with punishment only in the next world, as for example at XVI.106, “Whoso disbelieveth in Allah after his belief –save him who is forced thereto and whose heart is still content with the Faith but whoso findeth ease in disbelief: On them is wrath from Allah. Theirs will be an awful doom.” Similarly in III.90-91, “Lo! those who disbelieve after their (profession of) belief, and afterward grow violent in disbelief, their repentance will not be accepted. And such are those who are astray. Lo! those who disbelieve, and die in disbelief, the (whole) earth full of gold would not be accepted from such an one if it were offered as a ransom (for his soul).Theirs will be a painful doom and they will have no helpers.”

However, Sura II.217 is interpreted by no less an authority than al-Shafi’i(died 820 C.E.), the founder of one of the four orthodox schools of law of Sunni Islam to mean that the death penalty should be prescribed for apostates. Sura II.217 reads: “… But whoever of you recants and dies an unbeliever , his works shall come to nothing in this world and the next, and they are the companions of the fire for ever.” Al-Thalabi and al -Khazan concur. Al-Razi in his commentary on II:217 says the apostate should be killed.

Similarly, IV. 89: “They would have you disbelieve as they themselves have disbelieved, so that you may be all like alike. Do not befriend them until they have fled their homes for the cause of God. If they desert you seize them and put them to death wherever you find them. Look for neither friends nor helpers among them…” Baydawi (died c. 1315-16), in his celebrated commentary on the Koran, interprets this passage to mean: “Whosover turns back from his belief ( irtada ), openly or secretly, take him and kill him wheresoever ye find him, like any other infidel. Separate yourself from him altogether. Do not accept intercession in his regard”. Ibn Kathir in his commentary on this passage quoting Al Suddi (died 745) says that since the unbelievers had manifested their unbelief they should be killed.

Abul Ala Mawdudi [1903-1979], the founder of the Jamat-i Islami, is perhaps the most influential Muslim thinker of the 20th century, being responsible for the Islamic resurgence in modern times. He called for a return to the Koran and a purified sunna as a way to revive and revitalise Islam. In his book on apostasy in Islam, Mawdudi argued that even the Koran prescribes the death penalty for all apostates. He points to sura IX for evidence:
“But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then are they your brethren in religion. We detail our revelations for a people who have knowledge. And if they break their pledges after their treaty (hath been made with you) and assail your religion, then fight the heads of disbelief Lo! they have no binding oaths in order that they may desist.”(IX: 11,12)


Here we find many traditions demanding the death penalty for apostasy. According to Ibn Abbas the Prophet said, “Kill him who changes his religion,” or “behead him.” The only argument was as to the nature of the death penalty. Bukhari recounts this gruesome tradition:
“Narrated Anas:Some people from the tribe of Ukl came to the Prophet and embraced Islam .The climate of Medina did not suit them, so the Prophet ordered them to go to the (herd of milch ) camels of charity to drink their milk and urine (as a medicine).They did so, and after they had recovered from their ailment they turned renegades (reverted from Islam, irtada ) and killed the shepherd of the camels and took the camels away. The Prophet sent (some people) in their pursuit and so they were caught and brought, and the Prophet ordered that their hands and legs should be cut off and that their eyes should be branded with heated pieces of iron , and that their cut hands and legs should not be cauterised, till they die.”

Abu Dawud has collected the following saying of the Prophet:
“ ‘Ikrimah said: Ali burned some people who retreated from Islam. When Ibn Abbas was informed of it he said, ‘If it had been I, I would not have them burned, for the apostle of Allah said: ‘Do not inflict Allah’s punishment on anyone.’ But would have killed them on account of the statement of the Apostle of Allah, ‘Kill those who change their religion.’ ”

In other words, kill the apostates (with the sword) but certainly not by burning them, that is Allah’s way of punishing transgressors in the next world. According to a tradition of Aisha’s, apostates are to be slain, crucified or banished.

Should the apostate be given a chance to repent? Traditions differ enormously. In one tradition, Muadh Jabal refused to sit down until an apostate brought before him had been killed “in accordance with the decision of God and of His Apostle.”

Under Muslim law, the male apostate must be put to death, as long as he is an adult, and in full possession of his faculties. If a pubescent boy apostatises, he is imprisoned until he comes of age, when if he persists in rejecting Islam he must be put to death. Drunkards and the mentally disturbed are not held responsible for their apostasy. If a person has acted under compulsion he is not considered an apostate, his wife is not divorced and his lands are not forfeited. According to Hanafis and Shia, a woman is imprisoned until she repents and adopts Islam once more, but according to the influential Ibn Hanbal, and the Malikis and Shafiites , she is also put to death. In general, execution must be by the sword, though there are examples of apostates tortured to death, or strangled, burnt, drowned, impaled or flayed. The caliph Umar used to tie them to a post and had lances thrust into their hearts, and the Sultan Baybars II (1308-09) made torture legal.

Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: G M on October 13, 2008, 06:37:07 PM
Should attempts be made at conversion? Some jurists accept the distinction between Murtadd fitri and Murtadd milli, and argue that the former be put to death immediately. Others, leaning on sura IV.137,“Lo! those who believe, then disbelieve and then (again) believe, then disbelieve, and then increase in disbelief, Allah will never pardon them, nor will he guide them unto a way,” insist on three attempts at conversion, or have the apostate imprisoned for three days to begin with. Others argue that one should wait for the cycle of the five times of prayer and ask the apostate to perform the prayers at each. Only if he refuses at each prayer time is the death penalty to be applied. If he repents and embraces Islam once more, he is released.
The murtadd of course would be denied a Muslim burial, but he suffers other civil disabilities as well. His property is taken over by the believers, if he returns penitent he is given back what remains. Others argue that the apostate’s rights of ownership are merely suspended, only if he dies outside the territory under Islam does he forfeit his property to the Muslim community. If either the husband or wife apostasizes, a divorce takes place ipso facto; the wife is entitled to her whole dower but no pronouncement of divorce is necessary. According to some jurists, if husband and wife apostasize together their marriage is still valid. However if either the wife or husband were singly to return to Islam then their marriage would be dissolved. According to Abu Hanifa, legal activities such as manumission, endowment, testament and sale are suspended. But not all jurists agree. Some Shi’i jurists would ask the Islamic Law towards apostates to be applied even outside the Dar al -Islam, in non-Muslim countries.

Finally, according to the Shafites it is not only apostasy from Islam that is to be punished with death, but also apostasy from other religions when this is not accompanied by conversion to Islam. For example, a Jew who becomes a Christian will thus have to be put to death since the Prophet has ordered in general that everyone “who adopts any other religion” shall be put to death.

Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [UDHR,1948] states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance”.

The clause guaranteeing the freedom to change one’s religion was added at the request of the delegate from Lebanon, Charles Malik, who was a Christian. Lebanon had accepted many people fleeing persecution for their beliefs, in particular for having changed their religion. Lebanon especially objected to the Islamic law concerning apostasy. Many Muslim countries, however, objected strongly to the clause regarding the right to change one’s religion. The delegate from Egypt, for instance, said that “very often a man changes religion or his convictions under external influences with goals which are not recommendable such as divorce.” He added that he feared in proclaiming the liberty to change one’s religion or convictions the Universal Declaration would encourage without wishing it “the machinations of certain missions well- known in the East, which relentlessly pursue their efforts with a view to converting to their faith the populations of the East”. Significantly, Lebanon was supported by a delegate from Pakistan who belonged to the Ahmadi community which, ironically, was to be thrown out of the Islamic community in the 1970s for being non-Muslim. In the end all Muslim countries except Saudi Arabia adhered to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

During discussions of Article 18 in 1966, Saudi Arabia and Egypt wanted to suppress the clause guaranteeing the freedom to change one’s religion. Finally a compromise amendment proposed by Brazil and the Philippines was adopted to placate the Islamic countries. Thus, “the freedom to change his religion or belief” was replaced by “the freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief of his choice.” Similarly in 1981, during discussions on the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, Iran, under the new regime reminded everyone that Islam punished apostasy by death. The delegate from Iraq, backed up by Syria, speaking on behalf of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference expressed his reserve for any clauses or terms that would contradict the Islamic Sharia, while the delegate from Egypt felt that they had to guard against such a clause being exploited for political ends to interfere in the internal affairs of states.

The various Islamic human rights schemes or declarations - such as the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights (1981) are understandably vague or evasive on the issue of the freedom to change one’s religion, since Islam itself clearly forbids apostasy and punishes it with death. As Elisabeth Mayer says, “The lack of support for the principle of freedom of religion in the Islamic human rights schemes is one of the factors that most sharply distinguishes them from the International Bill of Human Rights, which treats freedom of religion as an unqualified right. The [Muslim] authors’ unwillingness to repudiate the rule that a person should be executed over a question of religious belief reveals the enormous gap that exists between their mentalities and the modern philosophy of human rights.” Islamic Human Rights Schemes are clearly not universal since they introduce a specifically Islamic religious criterion into the political sphere, whereas the UDHR of 1948 places human rights in an entirely secular and universalist framework. The Islamic human rights schemes severely restrict and qualify the rights of individuals, particularly women, non-Muslims and those, such as apostates, who do not accept Islamic religious orthodoxy.

As for the constitutions of various Muslim countries, while many do guarantee freedom of belief (Egypt,1971; Syria, 1973; Jordan, 1952) some talk of freedom of conscience (Algeria:1989), and some of freedom of thought and opinion (Mauritania: 1991). Islamic countries with two exceptions do not address the issue of apostasy in their penal codes; the two exceptions are the Sudan, and Mauritania. In the Sudanese Penal Code of 1991, article 126. 2, we read: “Whoever is guilty of apostasy is invited to repent over a period to be determined by the tribunal. If he persists in his apostasy and was not recently converted to Islam, he will be put to death.” The Penal Code of Mauritania of 1984, article 306 reads: “…All Muslims guilty of apostasy, either spoken or by overt action will be asked to repent during a period of three days. If he does not repent during this period, he is condemned to death as an apostate, and his belongings confiscated by the State Treasury.” This applies equally to women. The Moroccan Penal Code seems only to mention those guilty of trying to subvert the belief of a Muslim, or those who try to convert a Muslim to another religion. The punishment varies between a fine and imprisonment for anything up to three years.

The absence of any mention of apostasy in some penal codes of Islamic countries of course in no way implies that a Muslim in the country concerned is free to leave his religion. In reality, the lacunae in the penal codes are filled by Islamic Law. Mahmud Muhammad Taha was hanged for apostasy in 1985, even though at the time the Sudanese Penal Code of 1983 did not mention such a crime.

In some countries, the term apostate is applied to some who were born non-Muslim but whose ancestors had the good sense to convert from Islam. The Baha’is in Iran in recent years have been persecuted for just such a reason. Similarly, in Pakistan the Ahmadiya community were classed as non-Muslims, and are subjected to all sorts of persecution.

There is some evidence that many Muslim women in Islamic countries would convert from Islam to escape their lowly position in Muslim societies, or to avoid the application of an unfavorable law, especially Sharia law governing divorce. Muslim theologians are well aware of the temptation of Muslim women to evade the Sharia laws by converting from Islam, and take appropriate measures. For example, in Kuwait in an explanatory memorandum to the text of a law reform says: “Complaints have shown that the Devil makes the route of apostasy attractive to the Muslim woman so that she can break a conjugal tie that does not please her. For this reason, it was decided that apostasy would not lead to the dissolution of the marriage in order to close this dangerous door.”

Just to give you one recent example among many, others are discussed in my book, Leaving Islam Apostates Speak Out (Prometheus Books, 2003):
“A Somali living in Yemen since 1994, Mohammed Omer Haji, converted to Christianity two years ago and adopted the name "George." He was imprisoned in January, 2000 and reportedly beaten and threatened for two months by Yemeni security police, who tried to persuade him to renounce his conversion to Christianity. After he was re-arrested in May, he was formally put on trial in June for apostasy, under article 259 of Yemen's criminal law. Haji's release came seven weeks after he was given a court ultimatum to renounce Christianity and return to Islam, or face execution as an apostate. Apostasy is a capital offence under the Muslim laws of "sharia" enforced in Yemen. After news of the case broke in the international press, Yemeni authorities halted the trial proceedings against Haji. He was transferred on July 17 to Aden's Immigration Jail until resettlement could be finalized by the UNHCR, under which Haji had formal refugee status. One of the politicians who tabled a motion in July 2000 in the British House of Commons was David Atkinson. “Early Day Motion on Mohammed Omer Haji. That this House deplores the death penalty which has been issued from the Aden Tawahi Court in Yemen for the apostasy of the Somali national Mohammed Omer Haji unless he recants his Christian faith and states that he is a Muslim before the judge three times on Wednesday 12th July; deplores that Mr Haji was held in custody for the sole reason that he held to the Christian faith and was severely beaten in custody to the point of not being able to walk; considers it a disgrace that UNHCR officials in Khormaksar stated they were only able to help him if he was a Muslim; and calls on the British Government and international colleagues to make representations immediately at the highest level in Yemen to ensure Mr Haji's swift release and long-term safety and for the repeal of Yemen's barbaric apostate laws.”

Amnesty International adopted Haji as a prisoner of conscience in an "urgent action" release on July 11, 2000 concluding that he was "detained solely on account of his religious beliefs”. The government of New Zealand accepted Haji and his family for emergency resettlement in late July after negotiations with the Geneva headquarters of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). However charges of apostasy, unbelief , blasphemy and heresy whether upheld or not clearly go against several articles in UDHR of 1948 , and the legally binding International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR] of 1966 to which 147 states are signatories. General comment No 22, adopted by the UN Human Rights Commission at its 48th session (1993) ( HRI/GEN/1/Rev.6 of 22 May 2003 , pp.155-56 ) declares (quote):“Article 18 protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. The term “belief” and “religion” are to be broadly construed”.

As with my statement to the U.N. Human Rights Commission delivered by the President of the IHEU, I urge the U.N. Human Rights Commission to call on all governments to comply with applicable international human rights instruments like the ICCPR and to bring their national legislation into accordance with the instruments to which they were a party , and forbid fatwas and sermons preaching violence in the name of god against those holding unorthodox opinions or those who have left a religion.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 14, 2008, 08:56:30 AM
ISTANBUL — High school hurt for Havva Yilmaz. She tried out several selves. She ran away. Nothing felt right.

Havva Yilmaz, center, with friends at a cafe in Istanbul. Ms. Yilmaz has embraced her religious identity, and has campaigned for tolerance of those who, like her, choose to express their beliefs.

“There was no sincerity,” she said. “It was shallow.”

So at 16, she did something none of her friends had done: She put on an Islamic head scarf.

In most Muslim countries, that would be a nonevent. In Turkey, it was a rebellion. Turkey has built its modern identity on secularism. Women on billboards do not wear scarves. The scarves are banned in schools and universities. So Ms. Yilmaz dropped out of school. Her parents were angry. Her classmates stopped calling her.

Like many young people at a time of religious revival across the Muslim world, Ms. Yilmaz, now 21, is more observant than her parents. Her mother wears a scarf, but cannot read the Koran in Arabic. They do not pray five times a day. The habits were typical for their generation — Turks who moved from the countryside during industrialization.

“Before I decided to cover, I knew who I was not,” Ms. Yilmaz said, sitting in a leafy Ottoman-era courtyard. “After I covered, I finally knew who I was.”

While her decision was in some ways a recognizable act of youthful rebellion, in Turkey her personal choices are part of a paradox at the heart of the country’s modern identity.

Turkey is now run by a party of observant Muslims, but its reigning ideology and law are strictly secular, dating from the authoritarian rule in the 1920s of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a former army general who pushed Turkey toward the West and cut its roots with the Ottoman East. For some young people today, freedom means the right to practice Islam, and self-expression means covering their hair.

They are redrawing lines between freedom and devotion, modernization and tradition, and blurring some prevailing distinctions between East and West.

Ms. Yilmaz’s embrace of her religious identity has thrust her into politics. She campaigned to allow women to wear scarves on college campuses, a movement that prompted emotional, often agonized, debates across Turkey about where Islam fit into an open society. That question has paralyzed politics twice in the past year and a half, and has drawn hundreds of thousands into the streets to protest what they call a growing religiosity in society and in government.

By dropping out of the education system, she found her way into Turkey’s growing, lively culture of young activists.

She attended a political philosophy reading group, studying Hegel, St. Augustine and Machiavelli. She took sociology classes from a free learning center. She met other activists, many of them students trying to redefine words like “modern,” which has meant secular and Western-looking for decades. She made new friends, like Hilal Kaplan, whose scarf sometimes had a map of the world on it.

Their fight is not solely about Islam. Turkey is in ferment, and Ms. Yilmaz and her young peers are demanding equal rights for all groups in Turkey. They are far less bothered by the religious and ethnic differences that divide older generations. “Turkey is not just secular people versus religious people,” Ms. Kaplan said. “We were a very segregated society, but that segregation is breaking up.”

In a slushy week in the middle of January, the head scarf became the focus of a heated national outpouring, and Ms. Yilmaz one of its most eloquent defenders.

The government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to pass a law letting women who wear them into college. Staunchly secular Turks opposed broader freedoms for Islam, in part because they did not trust Mr. Erdogan, a popular politician who began his career championing a greater role for Islam in politics and who has since moderated his stance.

Turkey remains a democratic experiment unique in the Muslim world. The Ottomans dabbled in democracy as early as 1876, creating a Constitution and a Parliament. The country was never colonized by Western powers, as Arabs were. It gradually developed into a vibrant democracy. The fact that young people like Ms. Yilmaz are protesting at all is one of its distinguishing features.

In many ways, Ms. Yilmaz’s scarf freed her, but for many other women, it is the opposite. In poor, religiously conservative areas in rural Turkey, girls wear scarves from young ages, and many Turks feel strongly that without state regulation, young women would come under more pressure to cover up.

The head scarf bill, in that respect, could lead to less freedom for women, they argued. But for Ms. Yilmaz, the anger against the bill was hard to understand.

So one day, armed with a microphone and a strong sense of justice, Ms. Yilmaz marched into a hotel in central Istanbul and, with two friends, both in scarves, made her best case


Page 2 of 3)

“The pain that we’ve been through as university doors were harshly shut in our faces taught us one thing,” she said, speaking to reporters. “Our real problem is with the mentality of prohibition that thinks it has the right to interfere with people’s lives.”

Generation Faithful

Ms. Yilmaz’s heartfelt speech, written with her friends, drew national attention. They were invited on television talk shows. They gave radio and newspaper interviews. Part of their appeal came from their attempt to go beyond religion to include all groups in Turkish society, like ethnic and sectarian minorities.

After Ms. Yilmaz left high school, she joined a group called the Young Civilians, a diverse band of young people who used dark humor and occasional references to the philosopher Michel Foucault to criticize everything from the state’s repression of Kurds, the biggest ethnic minority, to its day of “Youth and Sport,” a series of Soviet-style rallies of students in stadiums every spring.

Their symbol was a Converse sneaker. Their members were funny and irreverent. One once joked that if you mentioned the name Marx, young women without head scarves assumed you were talking about the British department store Marks & Spencer, while ones in scarves understood the reference to the philosopher.

In a tongue-in-cheek effort to change perceptions of Kurds, the group ran a discussion program called “Let’s Get a Little Kurdish,” which featured sessions on Kurdish music, history and — in a particularly rebellious twist — even language.

By March, the month after Parliament passed the final version of the head scarf proposal, the debate had reached a frenzied pitch. Ms. Yilmaz and some friends — some in scarves, some not — agreed to go on a popular television talk show. The audience’s questions were angry.

One young woman stood up and, looking directly at another in a scarf, said that she did not want her on campus, said Neslihan Akbulut, a friend of Ms. Yilmaz, who had helped to compose the head scarf statement. Another said she felt sorry for them because they were oppressed by men. A third fretted that allowing them into universities would lead to further demands about jobs, resulting in an “invasion.”

Ms. Yilmaz said later: “I thought, are we living in the same country? No, it’s impossible.”

They did not give up. They spent the day in a drafty cafe in central Istanbul, wearing boots and coats and going over their position with journalists, one by one.

“If women are ever forced to wear head scarves, we should be equally sensitive and stand against it,” Ms. Akbulut said.

One of the journalists said, “You don’t support gays.”

Ms. Kaplan countered: “Islam tells us to fight this urge,” but she said that did not affect a homosexual’s rights as a citizen. “I am against police oppression of homosexuals. I am against a worldview that diminishes us to our scarves and homosexuals to the bedroom.”

Ms. Yilmaz agreed. “When you wear a scarf,” she said, “you are expected to act and think in a certain way, and support a certain political party. You’re stripped of your personality.”

The young women say that the scarf, contrary to popular belief, was not forced on them by their families. Some women wear it because their mothers did. For others, like Ms. Yilmaz, it was a carefully considered choice.

Though it is not among the five pillars of Islam — the duties required for every Muslim, including daily prayer — Ms. Yilmaz sees it as a command in the Koran.

“Physical contact is something special, something private,” she said, describing the thinking behind her covering. “Constant contact takes away from the specialness, the privacy of the thing you share.”

Still, in Turkey, traditional rules are often bent to accommodate modern life. Handshaking, for example, is a widespread Turkish custom, and most women follow it. Turkey is culturally very different from Arab societies, and for that reason interprets Islam differently. Islam here is heavily influenced by Sufism, an introspective strain that tends to be more flexible.

“You can’t reject an extended hand,” Ms. Kaplan said. “You don’t want to break a person’s heart.”


(Page 3 of 3)

Young activists like Ms. Yilmaz are driving change in Turkish society against a backdrop of growing materialism and consumerism. Most young Turks care little for politics and are instead occupied with the daily task of paying the bills.

This is the seventh in a series of articles examining the lives of the young across the Muslim world at a time of religious revival.

That is an easier task in Turkey than in a number of Middle Eastern countries, because Turkey is relatively affluent. After three decades of intense development, its economy is five times bigger than Egypt’s — a country with roughly the same population.

The wealth has profoundly shaped young lives. In cities, young people no longer have to live with their parents after marriage. They take mortgages. They buy furniture on credit. They compete for jobs in new fields like marketing, finance and public relations.

In past generations, women lived with their husband’s families, doubling their work.

“When you don’t have time to do anything for yourself, you don’t have time to question anything, even religion,” Ms. Kaplan said.

The economic changes that have swept Turkish society, bringing cellphones, iPods and the Internet, are transforming the younger generation. Young people are more connected to the Western world than ever before. A quick visit to a bookstore or a movie theater offers proof.

Observant Turks are grappling with questions like: Where does praying fit in a busy life of e-mail messages and 60-hour weeks? How do you hold on to Eastern tradition in a rising tide of Western culture?

The head scarf debate ended abruptly in June, when Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled that the new law allowing women attending universities to wear scarves was unconstitutional, because it violated the nation’s principles of secularism.

Ms. Yilmaz got the news in a text message from her friend. In her bitter disappointment, she realized how much hope she had held out. “How can I be a part of a country that does not accept me?” she said.

Still, she has no regrets and is not giving up. “What we did was worth something,” she said. “People heard our voices. One day the prohibition is imposed on us. The next day, it could be someone else. If we work together, we can fight it.”
Title: Indonesia
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 14, 2008, 09:01:48 AM
Second post of the AM

LA Times

The Mujahedin Council wants to put an end to what it sees as Western depravity, including racy ads and beauty contests. But opponents say the bill threatens free expression.
By Paul Watson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 14, 2008
JAKARTA, INDONESIA -- A beauty queen in a full-length evening gown is enough to make Abu Mohammed Jibril's blood boil.

Those bare arms and uncovered head. That cleavage. And don't get him started on the bikini portion of the show.

 Abu Mohammed JibrilMiss Universe is disgusting pornography to the deputy head of Indonesia's Mujahedin Council.

"It's destructive," he said of the contest that airs here. "Miss Universe is very famous, so Muslim mothers want their daughters to be like Miss Universe and copy what they've seen.

"So all of these things, like Miss Universe, fashion shows, are degrading morality. They're all porn. A Muslim woman should not let her hair be seen by other people."

Jibril's council hopes a proposed anti-pornography law will put an end to what it sees as Western depravity. But religious and cultural minorities, artists, teachers and other opponents warn that the bill, which supporters hope will come up for a vote in parliament this week, threatens free expression in Indonesia.

The Muslim council is headed by Abu Bakar Bashir, who has been widely accused of being the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah, Al Qaeda's affiliate in Southeast Asia, a claim he denies. Still, his council shares Al Qaeda's sharp disdain for what Bashir and his followers consider Western moral pollution.

When worshipers answered the call to prayer at Jibril's Jakarta mosque on a recent afternoon, one young man arrived wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a portrait of Osama bin Laden.

Jibril sat for an interview on a green prayer rug, behind the wooden lectern he uses for sermons. Vilifying immoral dress, loose sex and other social trends he sees as signs of social decay, he paused only for an occasional question -- and to answer the male voice reciting a verse from the Koran, which is his cellphone's ring tone.

To punctuate each point, he flashed his palms, fingers stretched wide in little starbursts around his white turban.

"It's not only drugs and criminals that are at the root of all the devastation of our younger generation, but also the culture of pornography," said Jibril. "That is why we find many husbands cheating on their wives, and many wives cheating on their husbands."

Indonesia's long debate over the anti-porn bill, which has gone through many revisions, is dividing a nation founded on principles that include "Unity in Diversity." The Muslim majority has long been known for respecting the rights of religious minorities. Although this is the most populous Muslim nation, women more commonly wear Western fashions than head scarves.

The proposed law casts a broad net for purveyors of smut. It defines porn as sexual material that includes photographs, cartoons, films, poems, vocalization, conversations and body gestures in the media, or in public shows, exhibits or performances.

Those that "arouse sexual propensity, desires or longings" or "contravene community ethics, decency or morality" would be criminal acts if the bill becomes law.

Producers of obscene material, which would include depictions of sexual intercourse, child pornography, sexual violence, masturbation and what is described as "allusions to nudity," would face up to 15 years in prison or a maximum fine equivalent to $1.5 million.

Distributors of porn, which also would include what the bill's drafters call racy advertising, could be sentenced to a maximum three-year prison term or a $500,000 fine.

Backers of the bill's provisions against the sexual exploitation of children, Internet porn and other, more conventional measures against indecency decry what they consider the overkill of the measure's more aggressive elements. The loudest opposition comes from the resort island of Bali, where Hindus are a majority and Western tourists exposing skin are part of the scenery.

On Saturday, thousands of protesters from around the country came to Bali to rally against the bill, which opponents say is a threat to minority cultures. To make their point, Papuan tribesmen danced wearing only traditional penis sheaths and body paint.

Bali Gov. Made Mangku Pastika raised objections to the bill in a letter this month to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the speaker of the House of Representatives.

Jibril discounts the governor's objections, which he says are to be expected from the leader of a province where "they gain income from allowing foreigners to shows their breasts, to get naked by the beach, to kiss on the lips in public." Jibril said he doubts the bill will pass because the government is a cabal of liars intent on prolonging the debate to manipulate voters. In the end, the politicians will side with minorities and Muslims will give up on peaceful protest, he said in what sounded like a veiled threat.

"There will be a time when Muslims are tired of holding these [mass protests] and then something unwanted can happen," he warned.

Title: Christians in Pakistan
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 26, 2008, 02:17:47 PM
Pakistani Christians told to convert or die

Source: o+convert+or+die

Christians of south Punjab have received letters threatening death if they do not convert to Islam. In Jun3 2008, Islamic militants abducted Christians during worship. Pakistani police appear impotent.

About after a year, once again Christians of Shantinagar, a Christian village in south Punjab, Pakistan, received threatening letters by post, in which they were asked to convert to Islam or be ready to die or leave the area. Nine Christian religious and political leaders received the menacing mail on Sept. 3. Like previous mail, there is no dead line for the threat.

The letters say that, "Don't think we have forgotten you. We are after you and we will teach you a lesson if you do not obey our advice." The letters have no names of the senders but the message is almost the same. "Although each letter is a little different from others, the message are for conversion," Kaleem Dutt, one of the recipients of the letters told Minorities Concern of Pakistan (MCP) by phone. About fifteen days before these letters, few Christian families who live outside the village on their agricultural lands were attacked at night by some miscreants. They tortured them, beat them, insulted them and looted them. They also told the Christians to leave the area otherwise they will again and again be treated like this.

This is not the first time that Christians of this area received these sorts of letters. Last year, 10 Christians of the same village twice received the same type of correspondence with the same messages. That time the dead-line to convert to Islam was mentioned in the letters which was ten days. "Thanks God nothing happened after those ten days, so people feel relaxed," Saleem Dutt, a villager form Shantinagar told MCP. The new mail once again threatened Christians and they are so scared. They had informed the police officers of the special branch and arranged a security system around the village.

Last year, during the months of May, June and August, along with people of Shantinagar, religious minorities of North West Frontier Province (NWFP), especially Christians of Charsada and Peshawar, capital of NWFP, also received threatening letters from the unknown militants. The letters' message was to change their religions and convert to Islam. On June 21, 2008, Islamic militants kidnapped 16 Christians in a raid around 8pm while they were worshipping in the house of Salamat Masih, a Christian, in Peshawar. They were taken to the Khyber Agency, near the boarder with Afghanistan.

However, after couple of hours they were released after government's negotiation with the militants. Last year when Christians of Shantinagar received the intimidating letters, they immediately informed the police authorities about the letters and also gave the phone numbers of the threatening phone calls "but police did nothing," Christians complained. There are many militants groups active in the country especially in the tribal region of NWFP, but it is still not clear which militant group is behind these intimidating messages.

The Christians of Shantinagar are living under constant threat of attack by the militants. The apprehension of people of Shantinagar is genuine because on Feb. 6, 1997 this village was attacked by a mob of about 2000 people when the whole village was burnt and destroyed despite the presence of around 300 policemen outside the village. Christians were allegedly accused of insulting the Holy Quran. So, within hours, about 80 percent village was annihilated. Almost 800 houses were destroyed and 2500 people were affected. In the attack, about 2000 Bibles were burnt also. A judicial inquiry was held but still the findings of the inquiry are not made public. Moreover, police arrested 97 persons in this connection but nobody has been convicted so far.

The recent letters are a visible example of an attempt to force conversion of religious minorities in the country. In many cases, Christian, Hindu and Sikh women, have been kidnapped and forcibly married to Muslim men after conversion. Minority rights groups estimate that around 600 people a year are forcibly converted to Islam.
Title: Michael Jackson takes shahada
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 24, 2008, 05:35:54 PM

 :roll: :-P
Title: Egypt: Coptic Church attacked
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 29, 2008, 06:40:45 AM
11/27/2008 15:34


Thousands of Muslims attack Coptic church in Cairo

On the day of the inauguration of a church in the suburbs of the Egyptian capital, Islamic demonstrators have attacked the building, forcing about 800 faithful to barricade themselves inside the church.

Cairo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Several thousand Muslims have attacked the Coptic church of the Virgin Mary in West Ain Shams, in the suburbs of Cairo. 800 faithful attending the first liturgy remained barricaded inside the church.

The demonstrators attacked the building on the day of its inauguration, November 23. The strife began in the early hours of the morning when a group of Muslims took possession of the first floor of a building in front of the church, turning it into a place of prayer. At about five o'clock in the afternoon, other demonstrators blocked the road on both sides, and began the attack. The building was originally a factory, but has been modified as a place of worship for the Orthodox Coptic community, after a bureaucratic process that lasted five years.

It is the latest of many acts of violence against Christians. The Copts are the main religious minority living in Egypt, and represent 15% of the population, out of a total of 80 million inhabitants. Over the last 30 years, it is estimated that about 4,000 Christians have been killed or injured in attacks. In 2008, there have been dozens of events similar to the one that happened to the community in the suburb of Cairo.

Interviewed by AsiaNews, Fr. Milad Sidky Zakhary, director of the Catholic Institute of religious studies in Cairo, explains: "The problem is that legal authorization is not given easily to Christians to build churches. It often happens that communities are groups are forced to meet in homes or private buildings in order to fulfill the Sunday precept. If anyone discovers them, they do not report it to the authorities, but directly attack the faithful."

According to Voice of the Copts, A Coptic Christian association based in Italy and the United States, about 10,000 demonstrators attacked the church. Other local sources say that there were 20,000, and report that, when the police came, the crowd moved on to the businesses and property owned by Christians in the neighborhood, waving clubs and chanting incitements to jihad. According to reports, two cars were burned, and five people were injured, in addition to the damage to the newly consecrated church.

Witnesses say that there were also women and children among the demonstrators. Video taken at the moment of the attack on the church has been published on the website of the agency Assyrian International.
Title: Acid Attacks on women
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 30, 2008, 07:13:13 AM
A Judgement call as to whether to place this here on in the Gender Issues thread:

Acid attacks and wife burnings are common in parts of Asia because the victims are the most voiceless in these societies. Naeema Azar, above, was attacked by her husband after they divorced. Her 12-year-old son, Ahmed Shah, looks after her.

Published: November 30, 2008

Some terrible pictures of Naeema Azar's fac and as she normally presents herself, to avoid shocking people

Terrorism in this part of the world usually means bombs exploding or hotels burning, as the latest horrific scenes from Mumbai attest. Yet alongside the brutal public terrorism that fills the television screens, there is an equally cruel form of terrorism that gets almost no attention and thrives as a result: flinging acid on a woman’s face to leave her hideously deformed.

Here in Pakistan, I’ve been investigating such acid attacks, which are commonly used to terrorize and subjugate women and girls in a swath of Asia from Afghanistan through Cambodia (men are almost never attacked with acid). Because women usually don’t matter in this part of the world, their attackers are rarely prosecuted and acid sales are usually not controlled. It’s a kind of terrorism that becomes accepted as part of the background noise in the region.

This month in Afghanistan, men on motorcycles threw acid on a group of girls who dared to attend school. One of the girls, a 17-year-old named Shamsia, told reporters from her hospital bed: “I will go to my school even if they kill me. My message for the enemies is that if they do this 100 times, I am still going to continue my studies.”

When I met Naeema Azar, a Pakistani woman who had once been an attractive, self-confident real estate agent, she was wearing a black cloak that enveloped her head and face. Then she removed the covering, and I flinched.

Acid had burned away her left ear and most of her right ear. It had blinded her and burned away her eyelids and most of her face, leaving just bone.

Six skin grafts with flesh from her leg have helped, but she still cannot close her eyes or her mouth; she will not eat in front of others because it is too humiliating to have food slip out as she chews.

“Look at Naeema, she has lost her eyes,” sighed Shahnaz Bukhari, a Pakistani activist who founded an organization to help such women, and who was beginning to tear up. “She makes me cry every time she comes in front of me.”

Ms. Azar had earned a good income and was supporting her three small children when she decided to divorce her husband, Azar Jamsheed, a fruit seller who rarely brought money home. He agreed to end the (arranged) marriage because he had his eye on another woman.

After the divorce was final, Mr. Jamsheed came to say goodbye to the children, and then pulled out a bottle and poured acid on his wife’s face, according to her account and that of their son.

“I screamed,” Ms. Azar recalled. “The flesh of my cheeks was falling off. The bones on my face were showing, and all of my skin was falling off.”

Neighbors came running, as smoke rose from her burning flesh and she ran about blindly, crashing into walls. Mr. Jamsheed was never arrested, and he has since disappeared. (I couldn’t reach him for his side of the story.)

Ms. Azar has survived on the charity of friends and with support from Ms. Bukhari’s group, the Progressive Women’s Association ( Ms. Bukhari is raising money for a lawyer to push the police to prosecute Mr. Jamsheed, and to pay for eye surgery that — with a skilled surgeon — might be able to restore sight to one eye.

Bangladesh has imposed controls on acid sales to curb such attacks, but otherwise it is fairly easy in Asia to walk into a shop and buy sulfuric or hydrochloric acid suitable for destroying a human face.

Acid attacks and wife burnings are common in parts of Asia because the victims are the most voiceless in these societies: they are poor and female. The first step is simply for the world to take note, to give voice to these women.

Since 1994, Ms. Bukhari has documented 7,800 cases of women who were deliberately burned, scalded or subjected to acid attacks, just in the Islamabad area. In only 2 percent of those cases was anyone convicted.

For the last two years, Senators Joe Biden and Richard Lugar have co-sponsored an International Violence Against Women Act, which would adopt a range of measures to spotlight such brutality and nudge foreign governments to pay heed to it. Let’s hope that with Mr. Biden’s new influence the bill will pass in the next Congress.

That might help end the silence and culture of impunity surrounding this kind of terrorism.

The most haunting part of my visit with Ms. Azar, aside from seeing her face, was a remark by her 12-year-old son, Ahsan Shah, who lovingly leads her around everywhere. He told me that in one house where they stayed for a time after the attack, a man upstairs used to beat his wife every day and taunt her, saying: “You see the woman downstairs who was burned by her husband? I’ll burn you just the same way.”

I invite you to comment on this column on my blog, and join me on Facebook at

Frank Rich is off today.

Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: G M on November 30, 2008, 07:36:39 AM
Such a wonderful culture.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: JDN on December 23, 2008, 05:49:50 PM
GM: I am starting to come around to your point of view.  This is ridiculous.  Eight years old and being sold for her father's debts?

(CNN) -- A Saudi judge recently refused to annul a marriage between an 8-year-old girl and a 47-year-old man -- a union apparently arranged by the girl's father to settle his debts -- a lawyer in the case told CNN.
On Saturday, the judge, Sheikh Habib Abdallah al-Habib, dismissed a petition brought by the girl's mother because she "is not the legal guardian of the girl," the woman's lawyer Abdullah al-Jutaili said.
"Therefore, she cannot represent her daughter in these proceedings," al-Jutaili said.
Her parents are separated, he said.

According to the lawyer, the girl's father arranged the marriage in order to settle his debts with the man, who is "a close friend" of his.
The judge did ask for a pledge from the husband, who was in court, not to consummate the marriage until the girl reaches puberty, according to al-Jutaili.
The judge ruled that when the girl reaches puberty, she will have the right to request a divorce by filing a petition with the court, the lawyer said.

Christoph Wilcke, a Saudi Arabia researcher for Human Rights Watch, said his organization has heard many other cases of child marriages.
"We've been hearing about these types of cases once every four or five months because the Saudi public is now able to express this kind of anger, especially so when girls are traded off to older men," Wilcke said.
Zuhair al-Harithi, a spokesman for the Human Rights Commission, a Saudi government-run human rights group, said his organization is fighting against child marriages.

"The Human Rights Commission opposes child marriages in Saudi Arabia," al-Harithi said. "Child marriages violate international agreements that have been signed by Saudi Arabia and should not be allowed."
The spokesman said he did not have specific details about this case but his organization has been able to stop at least one other child marriage. E-mail to a friend
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: G M on December 23, 2008, 06:45:54 PM
I think anyone with a basic sense of right and wrong can see how horrific sharia law is to live under.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 23, 2008, 10:29:50 PM
And JDN qualifies  :-)
Title: NYT: Generation Faithful
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 24, 2008, 07:07:23 AM
AMMAN, Jordan — Muhammad Fawaz is a very serious college junior with a stern gaze and a reluctant smile that barely cloaks suppressed anger. He never wanted to attend Jordan University. He hates spending hours each day commuting.

As a high school student, Mr. Fawaz, 20, had dreamed of earning a scholarship to study abroad. But that was impossible, he said, because he did not have a “wasta,” or connection. In Jordan, connections are seen as essential for advancement and the wasta system is routinely cited by young people as their primary grievance with their country.

So Mr. Fawaz decided to rebel. He adopted the serene, disciplined demeanor of an Islamic activist. In his sophomore year he was accepted into the student group affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, Jordan’s largest, most influential religious, social and political movement, one that would ultimately like to see the state governed by Islamic law, or Shariah. Now he works to recruit other students to the cause.

“I find there is justice in the Islamic movement,” Mr. Fawaz said one day as he walked beneath the towering cypress trees at Jordan University. “I can express myself. There is no wasta needed.”

Across the Middle East, young people like Mr. Fawaz, angry, alienated and deprived of opportunity, have accepted Islam as an agent of change and rebellion. It is their rock ’n’ roll, their long hair and love beads. Through Islam, they defy the status quo and challenge governments seen as corrupt and incompetent.

These young people — 60 percent of those in the region are under 25 — are propelling a worldwide Islamic revival, driven by a thirst for political change and social justice. That fervor has popularized a more conservative interpretation of the faith.

“Islamism for us is what pan-Arabism was for our parents,” said Naseem Tarawnah, 25, a business writer and blogger, who is not part of the movement.

The long-term implications of this are likely to complicate American foreign policy calculations, making it more costly to continue supporting governments that do not let secular or moderate religious political movements take root.

Washington will also be likely to find it harder to maintain the policy of shunning leaders of groups like the Brotherhood in Egypt, or Hamas in Gaza, or Hezbollah in Lebanon, which command tremendous public sympathy.

Leaders of Muslim countries have tried to appease public sentiment while doing all they can to discourage the West from engaging religious movements directly. They see the prospect of a thaw in relations with the West, and see these groups as a threat to their monopoly on power.

Authoritarian governments view relative moderation as more of a political challenge than extremism, which is a security problem that can be contained through harsh methods.

“What happens if Islamists accepted the peace process and became more pragmatic?” said Muhammad Abu Rumman, research editor at the newspaper Al Ghad in Amman. “People see them as less corrupt and as the only real opposition. Israel and the U.S. might look at them differently. The regime is afraid of the Brotherhood when it becomes more pragmatic.”

The financial crisis only adds to the anxiety of governments in the Middle East that had hoped economic development could appease their citizens, create jobs for legions of unemployed and underemployed young people and dilute the appeal of Islamic movements. But the crisis and the drop in oil prices have hit hard, throwing the brakes on once-booming economies in the Persian Gulf region, and modest economic growth elsewhere in the region.

In this environment, governments are forced to confront a reality of their own creation. By choking off democracy and free speech, the only space where groups could gather and discuss critical ideas became the mosque, and the only movements that had room to prosper were religion-based.

Today, the search for identity in the Middle East no longer involves tension between the secular and religious. Religion has won.

The struggle, instead, is over how to define an Islamic society and government. Zeinah Hamdan, 24, has traveled a typical journey in Jordan. She says she wants a more religious government guided by Shariah law, and she took the head scarf at a younger age than anyone else in her family.


(Page 2 of 3)

But when she was in college, she was offended when an Islamist student activist chastised her for shaking a young man’s hand. She wants to be a modern religious woman, and she defines that as working and socializing in a coed environment.

“If we implement Shariah law, we will be more comfortable,” she said. “But what happens is, the people who come to power are extremists.”

Like others here, she is torn between her discomfort with what she sees as the extreme attitudes of the Muslim Brotherhood and her alienation from a government she does not consider to be Islamic enough. “The middle is very difficult,” she said.

Focus on Popular Causes

Under a bright midday sun one recent day, Mr. Fawaz and his allies in the Islamic student movement put on green baseball caps that read, in Arabic, “Islamic Current of Jordan University” and prepared to demonstrate. Mr. Fawaz carried a large poster board reading, “We are with you Gaza.”

The university protest reflected the tactics of the Muslim Brotherhood in the country as a whole: precisely organized, deliberately nonthreatening and focused on popular causes here such as the Palestinians. The Brotherhood says it supports democracy and moderation, but its commitment to pluralism, tolerance and compromise has never been tested in Jordan.

Mr. Fawaz and about 200 other students stood in a straight line, extending nearly two city blocks, parallel to the traffic on the major roadway in front of the university. More than half of the students were women, many with their faces veiled.

State security men in plain clothes hurried up and down the line. “Brother, for God’s sake, when will you be angry?” one security agent screamed into his phone, recording for headquarters the slogan on a student’s placard.

At 12:30 p.m., the male students stepped into the road, blocking traffic, while the women rushed off to the sidewalk and melted back into the campus. One minute later, they walked out of traffic, took off their caps and folded up their signs, tucked them into computer bags and went back to school.

“I want to be able to express what I want; I want freedom,” Mr. Fawaz said, after returning to the campus. His glasses always rest crooked on his face, making him look younger, and a bit out of sorts. “I don’t want to be afraid to express my opinion.”

Mr. Fawaz grew up in a small village called Anjara, near Ajloun, about 50 miles from Amman. His father grew up in the Jordan Valley and worked as a nurse in Irbid. Mr. Fawaz said he was 8 years old he was first invited to “leadership retreats” with a youth organization of the Brotherhood.

When he was 13, the youth group took him on a minor pilgrimage to Mecca. So, he said, he had been enticed by religion at an early age. But he only decided to become politically active — and to join the Brotherhood — when he was denied a scholarship to study abroad.

While there are no official statistics on student membership in the Brotherhood, only a fraction of Jordan University students are formally affiliated. Yet many others say they share the same vague sense of discontent and yearning, the same embrace of the Brotherhood’s slogan, “Islam Is the Solution,” a resonant catchall in the face of many problems.

The university, with about 30,000 students from across the country, has long served as a proxy battlefield for Jordan’s competing interests.

Competing Loyalties

In Jordan, unlike Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is legal, with a political party and a vast network of social services. It also has a political party, called the Islamic Action Front. While some fear it as too extreme, others argue that it has sold out by working within a political system they see as corrupt and un-Islamic. On campus, the Islamists try to build sympathy, handing out study sheets or copying notes for students.

Mr. Fawaz decided this year to run as an Islamist candidate for the student council, an influential organization with its own budget and the right to put up posters, distribute fliers and hold on-campus events.

The Islamic students’ movement had boycotted the elections for years to protest a change of election rules that called for appointing — not electing — half of the council’s 80 members. The rule change, decreed by the former university president, was made in order to block the Islamists, who were the most organized group on campus, from controlling the council.


Page 3 of 3)

That is a direct echo of how the state has long tried to contain the Islamist movement in Jordan. The Brotherhood is allowed to operate, but the government and the security services broadly control the outcome of elections.

Indeed, as Islamist movements have swelled, governments across the Middle East have chosen both to contain and to embrace them. Many governments have aggressively moved to roll back the few democratic practices that had started to take root in their societies, and to prevent Islamists from winning power through the voting booth. That risks driving the leaders and the followers of Islamic organizations toward extremism.

At the same time, many governments have tried to appease popular Islamist fervor. Jordan recently granted a Muslim Brotherhood-aligned newspaper the right to publish daily instead of weekly; held private talks with Hamas leaders; arrested a poet, saying he had insulted Islam by using verses of the Koran in love poems; and shut down restaurants that had served alcohol during Ramadan, though they had been licensed by the state to do so.

This year, the new president of Jordan University permitted all student council seats to be elected, but with rules in place that would, again, make it nearly impossible for the Islamist bloc to have control.

Two days before the voting took place, Mr. Fawaz was campaigning on the steps of the education building, dressed in his best suit and tie. His campaign message to the students was simply, “For your sake.”

Running as an Islamist risks consequences: Mr. Fawaz said that he was approached by a student in his class who he believed was delivering a message from the security services. “He told me that they will write about me; I will never get a job,” Mr. Fawaz said.

But even when the police ordered him to take down his posters on election day, he remained resolute and confident.

“Everybody knows that I am going to win,” Mr. Fawaz said, without sounding boastful. “Because I represent the Islamic movement.”

But he did not win. Instead, a candidate representing a large tribe from the city of Salt won, reflecting the loyalty to bonds of kinship and family heritage even as tribal culture has begun to absorb more conservative Islamic practices and beliefs.

Yet Mr. Fawaz was untroubled. “What is important for me,” he said, “is to serve the movement by spreading the word among the students.”

Amjad al-Absy, 28, remembers the moment when he pledged to join the Muslim Brotherhood. He was 15 and he was identified by Brotherhood recruiters when he was playing soccer in a Palestinian refugee camp. He described how the Brotherhood monitors young men — when they play soccer, go to school, to mosque, to work, as well as in the street and singles out those who appear receptive.

“Once you say yes, they put you in a ring, in a family,” said Mr. Absy. “Outside of the Brotherhood, there is no concern for young men, there is no respect. You are alone.”

Mr. Absy and his friend Tarak Naimat, 24, said that while they were students at the university, they had helped to recruit other young men.

“In the computer lab, in the mosque, you buddy up,” Mr. Naimat said. “Then you participate in events together. Then he becomes a member. If he’s advanced, it can take six months. If less, maybe two years.”

The appeal, Mr. Naimat said, was simple: “It gives you the feeling you can change things, you can act, you can be a leader. You feel like you are part of something important.”

Recruiters to the movement operate in a social atmosphere far more receptive than in the past. Every one of five young men talking near the cafeteria of the university recently insisted that the only way Jordan would have democracy was under an Islamic government, which is what the Brotherhood says it wants to achieve.

Muhammad Safi is a 23-year-old with neatly gelled hair and a television-white smile who described himself as the least religious student at the table. He said he had lived in the United States for five years and was eager to marry an American so he could return. Yet he declared: “An Islamic state would be better. At least it would take care of people.”

A Political Crossroads

The task facing Middle East governments and Islamic leaders is to figure out how to harness the energy of the Islamic revival. The young — the demographic bulge that is defining the future of the Islamic world and the way the West will have to engage it — have embraced Islam with all the fervor of the counterculture.

But the movement is still up for grabs — whether it will lead to greater extremism, even terrorism in some cases, and whether the vague dissatisfaction of young people will translate into political engagement or disaffection.

So the cycle is likely to continue, with religious identification fueled not only by the Islamic movements, but also by governments eager to use religion to enhance legitimacy and to satisfy demands of their citizens. That, in turn, broadens support for groups like the Brotherhood, while undermining support for the government, said many researchers, intellectuals and political scientists in Jordan.

The battle lines are clear on the campus of Jordan University. Bilal Abu Sulaih, 24, is a leader in the Islamic student movement. He returned to school this year to study Islamic law after being suspended for one year for organizing protests, he said. During the year off, he said, he worked as a student organizer for the political party office of the Brotherhood. “We are trying to participate,” he said of the movement’s role on campus. “We do not want to overpower everyone else.”

But his reassurances were brushed aside as another student confronted him. “It’s not true,” shouted Ahmed Qabai, 28, who was seated on a nearby bench. He thrust a finger in Mr. Sulaih’s direction.

“You want to try to control everything,” Mr. Qabai said. “I’ve seen it before, your people talking to women and asking them why they’re not veiled.”

Mr. Sulaih, embarrassed by the challenge, said, “It’s not true.”

Mr. Qabai made it clear that he detested the Muslim Brotherhood, getting more and more worked up, until finally he was screaming. But what he said summed up the challenge ahead for Jordan, and for so many governments in the region: “We all know Islam is the solution. That we agree on.”
Title: NYT: Turkey
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 26, 2008, 05:35:20 AM
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s religious businessmen spent years building empires on curtains, candy bars and couches. But as observant Muslims in one of the world’s most self-consciously secular states, they were never accepted by elite society.

Now that group has become its own elite, and Turkey, a more openly religious country. It has lifted an Islamic-inspired political party to power and helped make Turkey the seventh largest economy in Europe.

And while other Muslim societies are wrestling with radicals, Turkey’s religious merchant class is struggling instead with riches.

“Muslims here used to be tested by poverty,” said Sehminur Aydin, an observant Muslim businesswoman and the daughter of a manufacturing magnate. “Now they’re being tested by wealth.”

Some say religious Turks are failing that test, and they see the recent economic crisis as a lesson for those who indulged in the worst excesses of consumption, summed up in the work of one Turkish interior designer: a bathroom with faucets encrusted with Swarovski crystal, a swimming pool in the bedroom, a couch rigged to rise up to the ceiling by remote control during prayer. “I know people who broke their credit cards,” Ms. Aydin said.

But beyond the downturn, no matter how severe, is the reality: the religious wealthy class is powerful now in Turkey, a new phenomenon that poses fresh challenges not only to the old secular elite but to what good Muslims think about themselves.

Money is at the heart of the changes that have transformed Turkey. In 1950, it was a largely agrarian society, with 80 percent of its population living in rural areas. Its economy was closed and foreign currency was illegal. But a forward-looking prime minister, Turgut Ozal, opened the economy. Now Turkey exports billions of dollars in goods to other European countries, and about 70 percent of its population lives in cities.

Religious Turks helped power that rise, yet for years they were shunned by elite society. That helps explain why many are engaged in such a frantic effort to prove themselves, said Safak Cak, a Turkish interior designer with many wealthy, religious clients. “It’s because of how we labeled them,” he said. “We looked at them as black people.”

Mr. Cak was referring to Turkey’s deep class divide. An urban upper class, often referred to as White Turks, wielded the political and economic power in the country for decades. They saw themselves as the transmitters of the secular ideals of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s founder. They have felt threatened by the rise of the rural, religious, merchant class, particularly of its political representative, Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“The old class was not ready to share economic and political power,” said Can Paker, chairman of the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, a liberal research organization in Istanbul. “The new class is sharing their habits, like driving Mercedes, but they are also wearing head scarves. The old class can’t bear this.”

“ ‘They were the peasants,’ ” the thinking goes, Mr. Paker said. “ ‘Why are they among us?’ ”

Ms. Aydin, 40, who wears a head scarf, encountered that attitude not long ago in one of Istanbul’s fanciest districts. A woman called her a “dirty fundamentalist” when Ms. Aydin tried to put trash the woman had thrown out her car window back inside.

“If you’re driving a good car, they stare at you and point,” Ms. Aydin said. “You want to say, ‘I graduated from French school just like you,’ but after a while, you don’t feel like proving yourself.”

She does not have to.

Her father started by selling curtains. Now he owns one of the largest home-appliance businesses in Europe. Ms. Aydin grew up wealthy, with tastes no different from those of the older class. She lives in a sleek, modern house with a pool in a gated community. Her son attends a prestigious private school. A business school graduate, she manages about 100 people at a private hospital founded by her father. Her head scarf bars her from employment in a state hospital.

Her husband, Yasar Aydin, shrugged. “Rich people everywhere dislike newcomers,” he said. In another decade, those prejudices will be gone, he said.

The businessmen describe themselves as Muslims with a Protestant work ethic, and say hard work deepens faith.


Page 2 of 2)

“We can’t lie down on our oil like Arab countries,” said Osman Kadiroglu, whose family owns a large candy company in Turkey, with factories in Azerbaijan and Algeria. “There’s no way out except producing.”

Fortunes were made, forming new patterns of consumption. Istanbul, Turkey’s economic capital, is No. 4 in the world on the latest Forbes list of cities with the highest number of billionaires. Luxury cars stud its streets. Shopping malls, 80 at last count, are mushrooming.

“Now, unfortunately, there is a taste for luxury, excessive consumption and comfort, vanity, exhibitionism and greed,” said Mehmet Sevket Eygi, a 75-year-old newspaper columnist, who has written extensively about Muslims and wealth.

An Islamic concept called israf forbids consuming more than one needs, but the line is blurry, leaving rich Muslims struggling with questions like whether luxury cars can be offset by donations to charity, a central tenet of Islam.

“You have money, but do you buy whatever you want?” said Recep Senturk, a sociologist at the Center for Islamic Studies in Istanbul. “Or should you keep a humble life? This is a debate in Turkey right now.”

Islam requires that the wealthy give away a portion of their income to the poor. In the Ottoman Empire, it paid for everything from hospitals to dishes broken by maids in rich houses.

Donations to Deniz Feneri, one of the largest charities in Turkey, jumped almost 100-fold in the six years ending in 2006, when they topped $62 million.

Even house designs take charity into account. Mr. Cak described a multimillion-dollar house whose design included an industrial-size kitchen where food was cooked daily and distributed in trucks.

Ms. Aydin, for her part, supports 25 families. The real problem is not finding a place to pray on a busy day out (mall fitting rooms work), but being truly charitable and putting others first when the frenzied pace of life pushes in the opposite direction. She holds onto traditions, like Muslim holidays, tightly.

“The world is changing but I don’t want to lose this,” she said.
Title: Marrying ten year olds
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 14, 2009, 06:22:48 AM,2933,479878,00.html

I suppose its progress of a sort that someone disagrees , , ,
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: JDN on January 18, 2009, 10:32:21 AM
The long-term security threat to Arab states

JERUSALEM — In Iran, elements from within the regime are reportedly offering a $1 million reward for the assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak because of his opposition to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In Lebanon, the leader of Hezbollah, backed by Iran and Syria, merely calls for the Egyptian government's overthrow.

In response to this, Tariq Alhomayed, a Saudi who is editor in chief of the newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat, describes Hamas as Iran's tool, and argues that "Iran is a real threat to Arab security."

Egypt's foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, agrees — and he is not alone. When Arab states met to discuss the Gaza crisis, Saudi Arabia vetoed any action. Even the Palestinian Authority (PA) blames Hamas for the fighting. Activists in Fatah, Hamas' nationalist rival that runs the PA, make no secret of their hope that Hamas loses the war.

Welcome to the new Mideast, characterized no longer by the Arab-Israeli conflict, but by an Arab nationalist-Islamist conflict. Recognizing this reality, virtually all Arab states — other than Iran's ally, Syria — and the PA want to see Hamas defeated in Gaza.

Given their strong self-interest in thwarting Islamist revolutionary groups, especially those aligned with Iran, they are not inclined to listen to the "Arab street" — which is far quieter than it was during previous conflicts, such as the 1991 war in Kuwait, the 2000-2004 Palestinian uprising, or the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.

Today's Middle East is very different from the old one in many significant ways. First, the internal politics of every Arab country revolves around a battle between Arab nationalist rulers and an Islamist opposition. In other words, Hamas' allies are the regimes' enemies. An Islamist state in the Gaza Strip would encourage those who seek to create similar entities in Egypt, Jordan and every other Arab country.

Already, a tremendous price has been paid in lives and treasure for this conflict. The violence has included civil wars among Palestinians and Algerians; the bloodshed in Iraq; and terrorist campaigns in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

In the Palestinian case, after winning an election victory and making a deal with Fatah for a coalition government, Hamas turned on its nationalist rivals and drove them out of Gaza by force. In return, the PA has been repressing Hamas in the West Bank. In Lebanon, Hezbollah has been trying to bully its more moderate Sunni Muslim, Christian, and Druze rivals into submission.

Second, because Arab states confront an Iran-Syria alliance that includes Hamas and Hezbollah, in addition to internal conflicts, there is a regional battle between these two blocs. An aspect of this is that the largely Sunni Muslim-led states face a largely Shiite Muslim-led competitor for regional hegemony.

These two problems pose far greater dangers to existing states than does any Israeli threat. The region's rulers know it.

On the other side of the divide, Iran and its allies have put forward the banners of jihad and "resistance." Their platform includes: Islamist revolution in every country; Iran as the region's dominant state, backed up by nuclear weapons; no peace with Israel and no Palestinian state until there can be an Islamist one encompassing all of Israel (as well as the West Bank and Gaza); and the expulsion of Western influence from the region.

This is a very ambitious program, probably impossible to achieve. Nevertheless, it is a prescription for endless terrorism and war: Both pro- and anti-Iranian revolutionary Islamists believe that, because God is on their side and their enemies are cowardly, they will win, and they are quite prepared to spend the next half-century trying to prove it.

While this seems to be a very pessimistic assessment of the regional situation, the radical Islamist side has many weaknesses. Launching losing wars may make Islamists feel good, but being defeated is a costly proposition, for their arrogance and belligerence antagonizes many who might otherwise be won over to their cause.

In addition, the situation provides a good opportunity for Western policymakers. The emphasis should be on building coalitions among the relatively moderate states that are threatened by radical Islamist forces, and on working hard to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons — a goal that is in the interests of many in the region.

The worst mistake would be to follow the opposite policy — an inevitably futile effort to appease the extremists or seek to moderate them. Such a campaign actually disheartens the relative moderates who, feeling sold out, will try to cut their own deal with Tehran.

The current crisis in Gaza is only one aspect of the much wider battle shaking the region. Helping Hamas would empower radical Islamism and Iranian ambitions, while undercutting the PA and everyone else, not just Israel. Arab states don't want to help their worst enemy. Why should anyone else?

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs. His latest books include "The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East." © 2009 Project Syndicate (
Title: Somehow the Left Misses Stuff Like This
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on January 27, 2009, 12:11:21 PM
January 26, 2009   No. 2210

Pakistani Daily: "More People Have Been Killed in [Taliban-Led] Violence... In the [Swat] Valley Than In The Israeli Onslaught on Gaza"
As international attention is focused on Gaza, Taliban militants are enforcing Islamic shari'a in the SwatValley of Pakistan's North WestFrontierProvince (NWFP). Since January 15, 2009, the Taliban have enforced a complete ban on female education in the Swat district. The forced Islamization in the Swat district, which was once compared to Switzerland for its picturesque valley, has been underway in recent months, and was stepped up after the Pakistani government released Islamist leader Maulana Sufi Muhammad last year under a deal with the militants. The Taliban in the district are led by Maulana Sufi Muhammad and his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah.

Some 400 private schools have been shut down, depriving about 40,000 girls of their right to education. Additionally, about 84,000 female students enrolled in government-run schools are unlikely to get an education, despite the Pakistani government's pledge to reopen the schools beginning March 1, 2009. [1] At least 10 girls' schools that tried to open after the January 15, 2009 deadline by the Taliban were blown up by the militants in the town of Mingora, the headquarters of the Swat district. [2] The Taliban have also made it compulsory for men to wear caps and have banned shaving, beginning January 25, 2009. [3]

In parts of the North WestFrontierProvince, the Taliban are already operating Islamic shari'a courts, while the state of Pakistan is paralyzed and the international community is focused on Gaza. In a report, the Pakistani daily The News expressed concern that while the Pakistani religious and political parties and civil society groups are turning out in large numbers in the streets of Pakistan to protest against Israel, no one is bothered about the people of the Swat district.

Following are excerpts from the report published by The News: [4]

"The People [of Swat] Have Been Unfortunate Not to Get Due Attention of the Government, Politico-Religious Parties, and Civil Society - Who Have Been Crowding the Streets to Protest the Killing of Palestinians"

"One could not differentiate between two pictures in Tuesday's [January 20] papers showing the widely scattered rubble of the destroyed buildings in Gaza and blown-up schools in Swat valley, until reading their captions.

"The valley is replete with such scenes, as more than 170 schools have been bombed or torched, along with other government-owned buildings. Also, more people have been killed in violence and military operations in the valley than in the Israeli onslaught on Gaza - but the people [in the valley] have been unfortunate not to get due attention of the government, politico-religious parties, and civil society, who have been crowding the streets to protest the killing of Palestinians."

"Following the Refusal by 600-800 Officials of the Elite Police Force to Carry Out Their Duties in the Militant-TeemingValley, The Military Is Also Having Trouble Providing Security to Schools - So the Girls of the Valley Seem Destined to Face a Bleak Future"

"The blowing up of five schools on Monday [January 19] in the heart of Mingora city belied the tall claims of the provincial and federal governments vis-a-vis ensuring security to schools in Mingora in particular and rest of the valley in general. It added to the worries of the people and girl students, and pointed at the vulnerability of schools.

"The federal and provincial governments have insisted that they were capable of providing security to schools against the militants' threat. 'Education is the basic right of every citizen and the government will ensure it. We will provide security to schools. The militants are not capable to materialise their threat, but have been spreading propaganda to blackmail the government,' NWFP Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the other day. 'Federal Minister for Information Sherry Rahman has also expressed the same resolve.

"However, their words proved hollow, meant to give false solace to the worried countrymen, particularly Swatis [people of the Swat district]. 'No special security was provided to schools. Protection to schools is impossible until improvement in the overall security situation. It's the writ of the government that ensures security to schools and all other installations, which is nonexistent at the moment,' an officer of the administration said...

"Interestingly, incapable to stop militants from destroying schools, Iftikhar still claimed that the schools would be reopened on March 1 despite militants' threat. 'We have requested donors to provide finances to rebuild and reopen the ruined schools,' he added, declaring, as he usually does, to take militants head-on.

"It has also been learned that following the refusal by 600-800 officials of the Elite Police force to carry out their duties in the militant-teeming valley, the military is also having trouble providing security to schools. So the girls of the valley seem destined to face a bleak future.

"Maulana Fazlullah-led militants have asked the administration of all schools to stop providing female education by January 15, or else the buildings would be blown up. This led the administrations of private schools to announce the closure of female classes in 400 schools. The government came under heavy flak for failing to restrain the militants in the valley, where more than 120 girls' schools have been destroyed, and to ensure female education there. The private schools refused to trust the government and security forces against the militants, saying that they could not risk the lives of students and would open institutes only after peace was fully restored, or a go-ahead after assurance from the powerful militants.

"Commenting on their failure in the valley, a member of the NWFP cabinet said, while requesting anonymity, that they were serious not only in protecting schools but also in restoring peace to the entire valley.

"About accelerating the operation, he said that the government was satisfied with the operation in the valley, and had passed a resolution to ask the army to make the operation effective. 'Democratic governments convey acts in this manner, but here resolutions by legislatures mean nothing, unfortunately...."'
[1] The News, Pakistan, January 16, 2009.

[2] The News, Pakistan, January 21, 2009.

[3] The News, Pakistan, January 21, 2009.

[4] The News, Pakistan, January 21, 2009.
Title: WSJ: Indonesia: Islamist Contortions
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 28, 2009, 10:14:02 PM
For those who wonder what problems corruption-ridden and disaster-plagued Indonesia must tackle most urgently, the Indonesian Council of Ulema has the answer: yoga.

On Monday, the Council, a quasi-official grouping of 700 Islamic clerics, decreed that Muslims should shun the ancient Indian practice. The clerics worry that Hindu-influenced chants and invocations might weaken Muslim believers' faith. The decree, though not legally binding, carries the force of moral authority, and, as is not uncommon in the Muslim world, the unspoken threat of enforcement by vigilantes.

The Council's decision was not entirely unprecedented. Malaysia's National Fatwa Council issued a similar ban last November. Nonetheless, it comes as a reminder of the challenges the world's most populous Muslim-majority country faces as it struggles to nurture a fledgling democracy in the face of the increasingly undemocratic demands of fundamentalist Islam.

To be sure, Indonesia is no Saudi Arabia. The majority of the country's Muslims -- 88% of its 235 million people -- practice a gentle folk Islam infused with elements of the archipelago's long Animist-Hindu-Buddhist past. The country's constitution is nonsectarian. Overt legal discrimination against non-Muslims, the cornerstone of government policy in neighboring Malaysia, is rare. Most people live in harmony.

But in recent years, Indonesian fundamentalists -- including hardline clerics, politicians from the Prosperous Justice Party and vigilante groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front -- have grown increasingly assertive. These groups don't always agree with each other on tactics, but have broadly similar worldviews. They have spearheaded the persecution of the minority Ahmadiyya Muslim community, the passage of a so-called antipornography bill that encourages vigilantism and discriminates against non-Muslim cultures, and a regulation that forces Christian schools to offer religious instruction on Islam.

Put bluntly, Islamic fundamentalism puts a crimp on Indonesia's otherwise impressive democratic flowering. It's at odds with individual rights, freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. In a mature democracy, you wouldn't find a government body called the Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society outside the pages of a novel. In Indonesia, it helps the government determine which groups are labeled "heretical" or "deviant."

After two successful national elections since the end of Suharto's 32-year-reign in 1998 -- and with another due this year -- Indonesians are justifiably proud of having mastered the processes of democracy. But the gains may be chimerical unless they can defend their ability to publicly scrutinize, criticize -- and, if necessary, mock -- bad ideas that come from Islam as readily as those drawn from a political manifesto.

Since the 1970s, Indonesian Islam has been stripped of its legendary tolerance toward other faiths by a combination of rapid urbanization, compulsory religious education in government schools, and the efforts of Middle Eastern and homegrown purifiers of the faith. In recent years, this Arabization of Indonesian Islam has gathered pace as globalization has brought the religious and political discourse (often indistinguishable from each other) of Riyadh and Tehran to Jakarta. Reminded daily that they are recipients of God's final revelation, a large minority of Muslims -- perhaps between 10% and 15% -- embrace the fundamentalist notion that the cause of their backwardness lies not in a failure to embrace modernity but in a failure to fully embrace their faith. Many more, while not full-blown fundamentalists themselves, are broadly sympathetic to these ideas.

Indonesia's fundamentalists have shown themselves to be better motivated and better organized than their opponents. Weak or sympathetic politicians (including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono), courts and police allow them to use violence or the threat of violence to control the public square -- by driving Playboy magazine out of Jakarta, or by attacking secular nationalists at a high-profile rally for religious freedom. Meanwhile cultural norms put any public criticism of Islam out of bounds. Hardliners can be chided for distorting the faith, but an unspoken code of self-censorship ensures that no one ever questions the faith itself. The kind of robust debate between believers and unbelievers that marks most democracies is notable for its absence in Indonesia.

To put this in perspective, consider that Indians are free to debate the caste-centered and sexist aspects of Hindu scripture. The Spaniard who believes in contraception and gay rights can flatly declare that he doesn't care what the Bible says or what the Pope thinks. But an Indonesian who publicly expresses similar sentiments about the Quran or the prophet Muhammad immediately invites threats of violence.

This constrained national discourse cedes fundamentalists the moral high ground, a crucial advantage in this battle of ideas. Unless Indonesians can find a way to broaden the debate, to allow purely secular and even antireligious arguments to set up stall in the public square, they should not be surprised to find themselves in a land where clerics set the agenda, both in yoga class and outside it.

Mr. Dhume is a Washington-based writer and the author of "My Friend the Fanatic: Travels With a Radical Islamist" (Skyhorse Publishing, May 2009).

Title: Rape used to create bombers
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 04, 2009, 08:57:47 AM
 Insurgents Use Rape to Create Female Bombers


BBC News: Iraq's 'female bomber recruiter'

Samira Jassim is accused of recruiting dozens of female attackers

Suspected militant recruiter Samira Jassim reportedly calls herself "the Mother of Believers". Detained in January by Iraqi security forces, the mother of six is accused of converting dozens of vulnerable women into suicide attackers.

In an apparent video confession, the middle-aged woman described how she identified potential bombers, helped supply them with explosives and led them to their targets.  She also explained, in a separate interview with the Associated Press, how insurgents used rape as a tool, with the "shamed" women persuaded to redeem themselves through suicide attacks.

Her apparent confession could help throw light on the recent increase in attacks in Iraq involving female bombers. In 2007 there were eight suicide attacks by women; in 2008 there were 32, the US military says. In early January, a female bomber killed at least 35 Shia pilgrims in a blast near a Baghdad shrine.

Insurgents use female bombers because they can hide explosives under their robes and are less likely to be searched by male guards at security checkpoints.

'Bring her to us'

Samira Jassim worked with Sunni militants from the Ansar al-Sunnah group in Diyala province, one of the last remaining centres of Sunni insurgency, Iraqi security officials said.
Women can sometimes bypass the security checks in Iraqi cities

She had recruited 80 women to act as bombers, 28 of whom had gone on to launch attacks, a military spokesman told journalists at a news conference in Baghdad. 

In a filmed confession, the black-robed Jassim described how she recruited one woman for an attack in the city of Mukdadiyah, 100 km (62 miles) northeast of Baghdad.

"I talked to her a number of times," she said. "I went back to them (the militants) and gave them the details on her. And they told me, bring her to us... And I took her to the police station and that's where she blew herself up."

She also described the long process of persuading a woman named Amal, who had family problems, to launch an attack.

"I talked to her many times, sat with her and she was very depressed," she said.

In a separate interview with AP a week after her 21 January arrest, Jassim also described how insurgents used organised rape as a way of generating more bombers. Her role was to persuade the traumatised victims that carrying out a suicide attack was their only way out.

That claim was impossible to verify, AP said, and during their interview with her police interrogators sat in an adjoining room.  But in a culture where rape is considered very shameful for the victim, it is not implausible, correspondents say.
Title: 75 year old woman to be lashed in SA
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 10, 2009, 07:19:47 AM
Saudi court sentences 75-year-old woman to lashes


The religion of peace and joy shows it's true self again.

CAIRO (AP) - A 75-year-old widow in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to 40 lashes and four months in jail for mingling with two young men who are not close relatives, drawing new criticism for the kingdom's ultraconservative religious police and judiciary.
The woman's lawyer told The Associated Press on Monday that he would appeal the verdict against Khamisa Sawadi, who is Syrian but was married to a Saudi. The attorney, Abdel Rahman al-Lahem, said the verdict issued March 3 also demands that Sawadi be deported after serving her sentence.

He said his client, who is not serving her sentence yet, was not speaking with the media, and he declined to provide more details about the case.

The newspaper Al-Watan said the woman met with the two 24-year-old men last April after she asked them to bring her five loaves of bread at her home in al-Chamil, a city north of the capital, Riyadh.

Al-Watan identified one man as Fahd al-Anzi, the nephew of Sawadi's late husband, and the other as his friend and business partner Hadiyan bin Zein. It said they were arrested by the religious police after delivering the bread. The men also were convicted and sentenced to lashes and prison.

The court said it based its ruling on "citizen information" and testimony from al-Anzi's father, who accused Sawadi of corruption. "Because she said she doesn't have a husband and because she is not a Saudi, conviction of the defendants of illegal mingling has been confirmed," the court verdict read.

Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islam prohibits men and women who are not immediate relatives from mingling. It also bars women from driving, and the playing of music, dancing and many movies also are a concern for hard-liners who believe they violate religious and moral values.

Complaints from Saudis have been growing that the religious police and courts are overstepping their broad mandate and interfering in people's lives, and critics lambasted the handling of Sawadi's case.

"How can a verdict be issued based on suspicion?" Laila Ahmed al-Ahdab, a physician who also is a columnist for Al-Watan, wrote Monday. "A group of people are misusing religion to serve their own interests." Sawadi told the court she considered al-Anzi as her son, because she breast-fed him when he was a baby. But the court denied her claim, saying she didn't provide evidence.

In Islamic tradition, breast-feeding establishes a degree of maternal relation, even if a woman nurses a child who is not biologically hers. Sawadi commonly asked her neighbors for help after her husband died, said journalist Bandar al-Ammar, who reported the story for Al-Watan. In a recent article, he wrote that he felt the need to report the case "so everybody knows to what degree we have reached."

The woman's conviction came a few weeks after King Abdullah fired the chief of the religious police and a cleric who condoned killing owners of TV networks that broadcast "immoral content." The move was seen as part of an effort to weaken the hard-line Sunni Muslim establishment.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. By MAGGIE MICHAEL
Title: Afg: Spousal rape
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 02, 2009, 08:58:12 PM

Critics assail Afghan law that 'legalizes rape'
By FISNIK ABRASHI, Associated Press Writer Fisnik Abrashi, Associated Press Writer 1 hr 3 mins ago

KABUL – A new Afghan law makes it legal for men to rape their wives, human rights groups and some Afghan lawmakers said Thursday, accusing President Hamid Karzai of signing the legislation to bolster his re-election prospects. Critics worry the legislation undermines hard-won rights for women enacted after the fall of the Taliban's strict Islamist regime.

The law — which some lawmakers say was never debated in parliament — is intended to regulate family life inside Afghanistan's Shiite community, which makes up about 20 percent of this country of 30 million people. The law does not affect Afghan Sunnis.

One of the most controversial articles stipulates the wife "is bound to preen for her husband as and when he desires."

"As long as the husband is not traveling, he has the right to have sexual intercourse with his wife every fourth night," Article 132 of the law says. "Unless the wife is ill or has any kind of illness that intercourse could aggravate, the wife is bound to give a positive response to the sexual desires of her husband."

One provision also appears to protect the woman's right to sex inside marriage saying the "man should not avoid having sexual relations with his wife longer than once every four months."

The law's critics say Karzai signed the legislation in the past month only for political gains several months before the country's presidential election.

The United Nations Development Fund for Women, or UNIFEM, said the law "legalizes the rape of a wife by her husband." "The law violates women's rights and human rights in numerous ways," a UNIFEM statement said.

The U.S. is "very concerned" about the law, said State Department spokesman Robert Wood. "We urge President Karzai to review the law's legal status to correct provisions of the law that limit or restrict women's rights."

Wood added that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had met with female Afghan lawmakers in The Hague and had assured them that "women's rights are going to be paramount in this administration's foreign policy, not an afterthought."

Canada's Defense Minister Peter MacKay said he will use this week's NATO summit to put "direct" pressure on his Afghan counterparts to abandon the legislation.

The issue of women's rights is a continuous source of tension between the country's conservative establishment and more liberal members of society. The Taliban government that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 banned women from appearing in public without a body-covering burqa and a male escort from her family.

Much has improved since then. Millions of girls now attend school and many women own businesses. Of 351 parliamentarians, 89 are women.

But in this staunchly conservative country, critics fear those gains could easily be reversed.

Fawzia Kufi, a lawmaker who opposed the legislation, said several of its articles undermine constitutional and human rights of women as equals and take the country backward.

"All the efforts that were made in the last seven years to enhance women's rights will be undermined," Kufi said.

Karzai has not commented on the law. A spokesman, Waheed Omar, said the president is "aware of the discussion surrounding the law, and is looking into the matter."

Brad Adams, the Asia director for the New York-based Human Rights Watch, said the law is a "dramatic setback for women's rights."

"It directly contradicts the freedoms enshrined in the Afghan constitution and the international conventions that Afghanistan has signed up to that guarantee the rights of women," Adams said.

Safia Sidiqi, a lawmaker from Nangarhar province who condemned the legislation, said she cannot remember parliament debating or even voting on the law and she does not know how it came to be signed by Karzai. She called for the law to be recalled to parliament for debate.

"It is impossible in a two-month session for parliament to pass a law more than 200 pages long," she said of the 263-page law.

Sayed Hossain Alemi Balkhi, a Shiite lawmaker involved in drafting it, defended the legislation saying it gives more rights to women than even Britain or the United States does. He said the law makes women safer and ensures the husband is obliged to provide for her.

As Karzai seeks re-election later this year, he is courting voters in the Shiite community, Kufi said. Women voters are presumed to vote as their husbands do.

"Women's basic freedoms are being sacrificed for the political and electoral gain of a few parliamentarians," Human Rights Watch's Adams said.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: G M on April 03, 2009, 07:29:19 PM
And why would Karzai support such legislation?
Title: The ABA Won't Like It
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on April 09, 2009, 01:22:15 PM
Crafty: Maybe you could provide a service by starting a "Sharia Divorce" wherein folks could follow the steps outlined below.


Sharia Court Approves Text Message Divorce

Under Sharia law men can divorce their wives (as Islam allows up to four of them) by just writing or saying that they want a divorce three times. This is known as talaq. A Sharia Court in Saudi Arabia has now allowed a Muslim man to divorce his wife via text message. Back in 2003 a Malaysian court also allowed a text message divorce. Obviously the women have no say at all in this.

Shariah court approves SMS divorce
Arab News

JEDDAH: A Shariah court here has approved the divorce of a young Saudi woman in her 20s whose husband sent her an SMS text from Iraq saying he had divorced her.

The husband, who is in Iraq to participate in what he described as “jihad,” also telephoned two of his friends who witnessed his marriage and told them that he had divorced his wife.

The woman had approached the court and asked for an official document proving she was divorced.

A judge summoned the two witnesses who confirmed that their friend called them from Iraq and told them that he had divorced his wife. Another two relatives of the absent husband also confirmed that he had told them on telephone that he had divorced his wife.

The judge approved the divorce and told the woman that she did not have to go through the iddah (the post-divorce waiting period stipulated by the Shariah) as the marriage was not consummated.
Title: Judge upholds 47 year old man marrying 8 year old girl
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 12, 2009, 05:36:59 PM
A Saudi judge has refused for a second time to annul a marriage between an 8-year-old girl and a 47-year-old man, a relative of the girl told CNN.

The most recent ruling, in which the judge upheld his original verdict, was handed down Saturday in the Saudi city of Onaiza, where late last year the same judge rejected a petition from the girl's mother, who was seeking a divorce for her daughter.

The relative said the judge, Sheikh Habib Al-Habib, "stuck by his earlier verdict and insisted that the girl could petition the court for a divorce once she reached puberty." The family member, who requested anonymity, added that the mother will continue to pursue a divorce for her daughter.

The case, which has drawn criticism from local and international rights groups, came to light in December when al-Habib declined to annul the marriage on a legal technicality. The judge ruled the girl's mother -- who is separated from the girl's father -- was not the girl's legal guardian and therefore could not represent her in court, according to Abdullah al-Jutaili, the mother's lawyer.

The girl's father, according to the attorney, arranged the marriage in order to settle his debts with the man, who is "a close friend" of his. At the time of the initial verdict, the judge required the girl's husband to sign a pledge that he would not have sex with her until she reaches puberty, al-Jutaili told CNN. The judge ruled that when the girl reaches puberty, she will have the right to request a divorce by filing a petition with the court, the lawyer said.

Last month, an appeals court in the Saudi capital of Riyadh declined to certify the original ruling, in essence rejecting al-Habib's verdict, and sent the case back to al-Habib for reconsideration.

Under the complicated Saudi legal process, the appeals court ruling meant that the marriage was still in effect, but that a challenge to the marriage was still ongoing. The appeals court in Riyadh will now take up the case again and a hearing is scheduled for next month, according to the relative.

The issue of child marriage has been a hot-button topic in the deeply conservative kingdom recently. While rights groups have been petitioning the government to enact laws that would protect children from this type of marriage, the kingdom's top cleric has said that it's OK for girls as young as 10 to wed.

"It is incorrect to say that it's not permitted to marry off girls who are 15 and younger," Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, the kingdom's grand mufti, said in remarks last January quoted in the regional Al-Hayat newspaper. "A girl aged 10 or 12 can be married. Those who think she's too young are wrong and they are being unfair to her."

Al-Sheikh reportedly made the remarks when he was asked during a lecture about parents forcing their underage daughters to marry.

"We hear a lot in the media about the marriage of underage girls," he said, according to the newspaper. "We should know that Sharia law has not brought injustice to women."

Sharia law is Islamic law. Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam called Wahhabism.

CNN was unable to reach government officials for comment.

Christoph Wilcke, a Saudi Arabia researcher for Human Rights Watch, told CNN in December that his organization has heard of many other cases of child marriages.

"We've been hearing about these types of cases once every four or five months because the Saudi public is now able to express this kind of anger -- especially so when girls are traded off to older men," Wilcke said.

Wilcke explained that while Saudi ministries may make decisions designed to protect children, "It is still the religious establishment that holds sway in the courts, and in many realms beyond the court."

Last December, Zuhair al-Harithi, a spokesman for the Saudi government-run Human Rights Commission, said his organization is fighting against child marriages.

"The Human Rights Commission opposes child marriages in Saudi Arabia," al-Harithi said. "Child marriages violate international agreements that have been signed by Saudi Arabia and should not be allowed." He added that his organization has been able to intervene and stop at least one child marriage from taking place.

Wajeha al-Huwaider, co-founder of the Society of Defending Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia, told CNN that achieving human rights in the kingdom means standing against those who want to "keep us backward and in the dark ages."

She said the marriages cause girls to "lose their sense of security and safety. Also, it destroys their feeling of being loved and nurtured. It causes them a lifetime of psychological problems and severe depression."
Title: AK 47 Elopement
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on April 14, 2009, 08:35:19 AM
Taleban 'kill love affair couple'
The Taleban in Afghanistan have publicly killed a young couple who they said had tried to run away to get married, officials say.

The man, 21, and woman, 19, were shot dead on Monday in front of a mosque in the south-western province of Nimroz.

Nimroz is an area where the Taleban have a strong influence.

Governor Ghulam Dastageer Azad told the AFP news agency the killings followed a decree by local religious leaders and were an "insult to Islam".

Dangerous region

Mr Azad said: "An unmarried young boy and an unmarried girl who loved each other and wanted to get married had eloped because their families would not approve the marriage."

Officials said the couple were traced by militants after they tried to go to Iran. They were made to return to their village in Khash Rod district.

"Three Taleban mullahs brought them to the local mosque and they passed a fatwa (religious decree) that they must be killed. They were shot and killed in front of the mosque in public," the governor said.

He said there were some reports that the families of the young couple could have links with the Taleban. The Taleban could not be immediately reached for comment.

Correspondents say that the killings took place in a remote and dangerous region, where the government has no access.

The Taleban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 and during that time implemented its austere interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, carrying out public killings and floggings.

Unmarried men and women were forbidden from talking or meeting in public and women were not allowed out of their homes without a male relative. Girls were discouraged from going to school.

Extrajudicial "honour killings" have been widely carried out in Afghanistan since then by conservative families angered by a relative who has brought them shame - usually by refusing to marry a chosen partner.

The Taleban have widened their influence over the past three years and now control many remote districts where there are not enough coalition forces to establish a permanent presence.
Title: NYT: Election results in Indonesia
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 25, 2009, 06:24:40 AM
JAKARTA, Indonesia — From Pakistan to Gaza and Lebanon, militant Islamic movements have gained ground rapidly in recent years, fanning Western fears of a consolidation of radical Muslim governments. But here in the world’s most populous Muslim nation just the opposite is happening, with Islamic parties suffering a steep drop in popular support.

In parliamentary elections this month, voters punished Islamic parties that focused narrowly on religious issues, and even the parties’ best efforts to appeal to the country’s mainstream failed to sway the public.

The largest Islamic party, the Prosperous Justice Party, ran television commercials of young women without head scarves and distributed pamphlets in the colors of the country’s major secular parties. But the party fell far short of its goal of garnering 15 percent of the vote, squeezing out a gain of less than one percentage point over its 7.2 percent showing in 2004.

That was a big letdown for a party and a movement that had grown phenomenally in recent years, even as more radical elements directed terrorist attacks against Western tourists and targets. The party had projected that it would double its share of seats in Parliament even as it stuck to its founding goal of bringing Shariah, or Islamic law, to Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation, with 240 million people.

Altogether, the major Islamic parties suffered a drop in support from 38 percent in 2004 to less than 26 percent this year, according to the Indonesian Survey Institute, an independent polling firm whose figures are in keeping with partial official results.

Political experts and politicians attribute the decline to voters’ disillusionment with Islamic parties that once called for idealism, but became embroiled in the messy, often corrupt world of Indonesian politics. They also say that the popular president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is expected to be re-elected in July, appropriated the largest Islamic party’s signature theme of clean government through a far-reaching anticorruption drive.

On a deeper level, some of the parties’ fundamentalist measures seem to have alienated moderate Indonesians. While Indonesia has a long tradition of moderation, it was badly destabilized with the end of military rule in 1998, which gave rise to Islamist politicians who preached righteousness and to some hard-core elements, who practiced violence. The country has only recently achieved a measure of stability.

Although final results from the election on April 9 will not be announced until next month, partial official results and exit polls by several independent companies indicate that Indonesians overwhelmingly backed the country’s major secular parties, even though more of them are continuing to turn to Islam in their private lives.

“People in general do not feel that there should be an integration of faith and politics,” said Azyumardi Azra, director of the graduate school at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University. “Even though more and more Muslims, in particular women, have become more Islamic and have a growing attachment to Islam, that does not translate into voting behavior.”

The Islamic parties’ 2004 surge occurred around the time that Indonesian terrorists were attacking hotels and nightclubs popular among Westerners, as well as the Australian Embassy here. A growing number of communities were adopting Shariah as some of the smaller, more hard-line Islamic parties also pushed to insert Islamic law in the Constitution.

The hard-line stance, though, was at odds with the attitudes of Indonesians; most of them practice a moderate version of Islam and were attracted to the Islamic parties for nonreligious reasons.

In 2004, just two years after its founding, the Prosperous Justice Party came out of nowhere, then joined the coalition government of President Yudhoyono and won several governors’ races. Although one of its founding principles is to bring Islamic law to Indonesia, the party attracted middle-class urban voters by emphasizing clean government, anticorruption policies and humanitarian activities.

Once the Islamic parties were in office, their pristine image was tarnished after several of their lawmakers were prosecuted in corruption cases. One member of the Prosperous Justice Party is under investigation in a bribery case.

The parties angered many Indonesians by pressing hard on several symbolic religious issues, like a vague “antipornography” law that could be used to ban everything from displays of partial nudity to yoga. The governor of West Java, a member of the Prosperous Justice Party, tried to ban a dance called jaipong, deeming it too erotic, but many people view it as part of their cultural heritage.

“There are now problems in hotels because they can’t serve alcohol,” said Jusuf Wanandi, a political analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a policy research group based here. “That’s why people started to recognize what they are up to and why the middle class that supported them now have second thoughts.”


Page 2 of 2)

Ahmad Zainuddin, a lawmaker with the Prosperous Justice Party and one of its founders, acknowledged that support for his party had fallen considerably in the election. Mr. Zainuddin, 42, who had predicted that the party would double its share of the votes, now says that it would be hard pressed to expand its appeal.

“If we emphasize Shariah or religious matters, our supporters will decline, so we should emphasize mostly clean government and anticorruption,” he said in an interview at the party’s headquarters, whose facade mostly bears images of the party’s humanitarian activities and has no references to its religious goals.

But Mr. Zainuddin — who graduated from Lipia, a Saudi-financed university here that promotes Wahhabism, a rigid interpretation of Islam — also believes in the party’s founding goal of carrying out Shariah in Indonesia.

The party is now split between those committed to pursuing the party’s Islamist goals and those who want to stress good government.

Zulkieflimansyah, 36, a lawmaker with the Prosperous Justice Party, said many younger party members were trying to steer the party away from its Islamist origins and away from older members who were inspired by radical Islamic organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan.

Mr. Zulkieflimansyah, who, like many Indonesians, uses only one name, added: “If we are too critical, they will kick us harder than we thought. Or, borrowing an expression from our friends in the United States, don’t force a pig to sing. It will not work, and it annoys the pig as well.”

Despite the Islamic parties’ decline, they remain influential, analysts say. The country’s major secular parties, including President Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, have courted them and their supporters. And the Prosperous Justice Party, despite its minor gain of less than one percentage point, is pressing to increase the number of ministers it has in the coalition government to four from three.

“It’s still not clear where they stand on many issues like freedom of expression, morality, the place of women,” said Ahmad Suaedy, director of the Wahid Institute, a research organization based here. “The agenda of many people inside the party is still to Islamize Indonesia, and that’s a constraint on democracy.”
Title: 8 year old girl allowed to divorce 50 yr. old man
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 30, 2009, 07:50:41 PM

By HADEEL AL-SHALCHI, Associated Press Writer Hadeel Al-shalchi, Associated Press Writer – 19 mins ago
CAIRO – An 8-year-old Saudi girl has divorced her middle-aged husband after her father forced her to marry him last year in exchange for about $13,000, her lawyer said Thursday.
Saudi Arabia has come under increasing criticism at home and abroad for permitting child marriages. The United States, a close ally of the conservative Muslim kingdom, has called child marriage a "clear and unacceptable" violation of human rights.
The girl was allowed to divorce the 50-year-old man who she married in August after an out-of-court settlement had been reached in the case, said her lawyer, Abdulla al-Jeteli. The exact date of the divorce was not immediately known.
A court in the central Oneiza region previously rejected a request by the girl's mother for a divorce and ruled that the girl would have to wait until she reached puberty to file a petition then.
There are no laws in Saudi Arabia defining the minimum age for marriage. Though a woman's consent is legally required, some marriage officials don't seek it.
But there has been a push by Saudi human rights groups to define the age of marriage and put an end to the phenomenon.
One Saudi human rights activist Sohaila Zain al-Abdeen was optimistic that the girl's divorce would help efforts to get a law passed enforcing a minimum marriage age of 18.
"Unfortunately, some fathers trade their daughters," she told The Associated Press. "They are weak people who are sometimes in need of money and forget their roles as parents."
It was not clear if the man received money for the divorce settlement. The man had given the girl's father 50,000 riyals, or about $13,350, as a marriage gift in return for his daughter, the lawyer said.
The 8-year-old girl's marriage was not the only one in the kingdom to receive attention in recent months. Saudi newspapers have highlighted several cases in which young girls were married off to much older men or young boys including a 15-year-old girl whose father, a death-row inmate, married her off to a cell mate.
Saudi Arabia's conservative Muslim clergy have opposed the drive to end child marriages. In January, the kingdom's most senior cleric said it was permissible for 10-year-old girls to marry and those who believe they are too young are doing the girls an injustice.
But some in the government appear to support the movement to set a minimum age for marriage. The kingdom's new justice minister was quoted in mid-April as saying the government was doing a study on underage marriage that would include regulations.
There are no statistics to show how many marriages involving children are performed in Saudi Arabia every year. Activists say the girls are given away in return for hefty marriage gifts or as a result of long-standing custom in which a father promises his infant daughters and sons to cousins out of a belief that marriage will protect them from illicit relationships.
Title: School girls poisoned
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 13, 2009, 03:37:38 PM
84 Hospitalized in Apparent Poisoning at Afghan Girls School
Tuesday , May 12, 2009
MUHMUD RAQI, Afghanistan —

At least 84 Afghan schoolgirls were admitted to a hospital Tuesday for headaches and vomiting in the third apparent poison attack on a girls school in as many weeks, officials and doctors said.

The students were lining up outside their school in northeastern Afghanistan on Tuesday morning when a strange odor filled the school yard, and one girl collapsed, said the school's principal, who was herself in a hospital bed gasping for breath as she described the event.

"We took her inside and splashed water on her face," said Mossena, who like many Afghans goes by one name. Then other girls started passing out in the yard and they sent all the students home.

It was unclear if the incident was a deliberate attack on the school, though the Taliban and other conservative extremist groups in Afghanistan, who oppose girls education, have been known to target schoolgirls.

Mossena said she did not know what happened next because she collapsed and woke up in the main hospital in Muhmud Raqi, the capital of Kapisa province, which lies just northeast of Kabul.

At least 98 patients were admitted from Aftab Bachi school, including the principal, 11 teachers and two cleaners, said Khalid Enayat, the hospital's deputy director. He said about another 30 students were being monitored to see if they developed symptoms, although they were not admitted to the hospital. An official earlier said 89 schoolgirls had been hospitalized.

Click here for photos.

Tuesday's apparent attack is the third alleged poisoning at a girls' school in less than three weeks. It comes one day after 61 schoolgirls and one teacher from a school in neighboring Parwan province were admitted to a hospital after complaining of sudden illness. They were irritable, confused and weeping, and several of the girls passed out.

The patients in Kapisa complained of similar symptoms to those in the Parwan incidents -- headaches, vomiting and shivering, said Aziz Agha, a doctor treating the girls.

"I got dizzy and my head hurt. Some other students took me home, then I passed out and they brought me to the hospital," said a startled looking 11-year-old, Tahira, from her hospital bed.

The fifth grader said she planned to go back to school when she felt better, but that now it would fill her with fear.

"I'm going to be scared when I go back to school. What if we die?" she said.

Interior Ministry Spokesman Zemeri Bashary said officials suspect some sort of gas poisoning, and that police were still investigating.

Under the Taliban's 1996-2001 regime, girls were not allowed to attend school. Though it was unclear if the recent incidents were the result of attacks, militants in the south have previously assaulted schoolgirls by spraying acid in their faces and burning down schools to protest the government.

Scores of Afghan schools have been forced to close because of violence. Still, the three recent apparent poisonings have taken place in northeast Afghanistan, which is not as opposed to education for girls as Afghanistan's conservative southern regions.

The first apparent poison attack took place late last month in Parwan, when dozens of girls were hospitalized after being sickened by what Afghan officials said were strong fumes or a possible poison gas cloud.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: HUSS on May 14, 2009, 04:55:57 AM
Turkey: Ankara's "General Directorate for Foundations" appropriates Orthodox church properties for gaming halls, other uses
Islamic Tolerance Alert: Would they turn mosque property into a gaming hall? No. "Bartholomew I appeals to the European Court in Strasbourg against Ankara," by Nat da Polis for Asia News, May 13:

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I has announced his intention to appeal to the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg over violations against the Orthodox community and its foundations, unjustly expropriated of lands and buildings by Ankara’s Direction for Religious Foundations.
Formally known as the General Directorate for Foundations, which regulates non-Muslim religious activity.

Speaking to faithful in St Georges’ Parish, close to the Byzantine walls of Istanbul, the Patriarch affirmed that the decision to go to the Strasbourg court was made by the Synod.
“We have and you have come here - he said - to celebrate this religious ceremony in a parish that is facing many difficulties. Unfortunately it is not alone. The problem is that this parish and its community, as is the case with many other s of the Church of Constantinople, have been abusively declared mazbut (occupied) by the Direction for Religious Foundations. This means that we cannot claim any rights to the management of the properties of this community, nor proceed with the election of its administrative board. As a result of this we have no right to manage that which was left to us by our forefathers. The only thing we are allowed to carry out in these places are religious functions. Unfortunately this is fate of this parish and many other parishes of the Church of Constantinople”.
“In the court yard of this parish – the Patriarch continued – the building which housed the community’s school still exists. It unfortunately has been transformed into a gaming hall and its management has been ceded by the authorities to a private individual, who in turn compensated them with rent”.
“In an attempt to put an end to these injustices which we are being subjected to –added Bartholomew I – the Synod has reached a decision; to appeal firstly to the State Judiciary of Turkey, then, if all else should fail to the European Court in Strasbourg, following the example of the orphanage on Prince Buyukada Island, in the hopes that in this case too, justice will be done”. (ref., 29/11/2007 The Supreme Court in Strasburg allows Patriarchs’ appeal for Buyukada orphanage).
“We do not want – he concluded – special treatment, but neither can we allow our rights to be trampled on or our identity and the cultural heritage entrusted us by our forefathers be erased”.
Title: Funny, you don't look Jewish....
Post by: G M on May 15, 2009, 11:35:25 AM
Pigs Must Die, Because They Are Descended from the Jews
By: Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
Palestinian Media Watch | Friday, May 15, 2009

All pigs alive today are descendants of the Jews who were turned into pigs by Allah, according to a senior Egyptian religious leader. Since all pigs are descendants of Jews, it is obligatory to kill all pigs, says Sheikh Ahmed Ali Othman. 

Presumably if pigs were merely animals, they would not face destruction. It is their Jewish ancestry that condemns them to death.   

The Jordanian newspaper Al-Hakika al-Dawliya adds that this is not the only opinion. It cites Sheikh Ali Abu Al-Hassan, head of the Fatwa Committee at Al-Azhar [Sunni Islamic university], who believes that all the Jews who were turned into pigs by Allah died out without reproducing, and therefore there is no relationship between today's pigs and Jews.

The following is the transcript from Al-Moheet Arab News Network:   

"CAIRO -- Sheikh Ahmed Ali Othman, supervisor of the Da'awa [Islamic Indoctrination] of the Egyptian Waqf [Islamic Holy places], has issued a Religious Ruling (Fatwa) that pigs in our time have their origins in Jews who angered Allah, such that He turned them into monkeys, pigs, and Satan-worshippers, and it is obligatory to kill and slaughter them [the pigs].

Othman based his ruling on the respected Quranic verse, 'Say [to the People of the Book - Jews and Christians], Come and I shall make known to you who receives the worst retribution of all from Allah: those whom Allah has cursed and upon whom He has poured His wrath, whom He has made into monkeys and pigs, and who have served abominations. Their place is worst of all, and their deviation is the greatest of all...' (Quran, sura 5, verse 60)

Sheikh Othman noted that this verse concerning the nation of the prophet Moses descended [from Allah to the Quran], and the books of commentary confirm this. There are two opinions among the Ulama [Islamic scholars] in this regard: The first is that the Jews, whom Allah transformed and turned into pigs, remained in that state until they died, without producing descendants. The other opinion is that the Jews who turned into pigs multiplied and produced descendants, and their line continues to this day. Sheikh Othman also cited Hadiths (traditions attributed to Muhammad) as support...

The Jordanian newspaper Al-Hakika al-Dawliya quoted Othman: "I personally tend towards the view that the pigs that exist now have their origins with the Jews, and therefore their consumption is forbidden in the words of Allah: 'A carcass, and blood, and the flesh of a pig are forbidden to you....' Moreover, our master Jesus, peace be unto him - one of the tasks that he will fulfill when he descends to earth is the killing of the pigs, and this is proof that their source is Jewish.

Sheikh Othman said that whoever eats pig, it's as if he ate meat of an impure person, and stressed that this Religious Ruling is backed by the Islamic Sages of Al Azhar, but they are afraid to say this publically... so the Sages won't be accused of Anti-Semitism.     

Sheikh Ali Abu Al-Hassan, head of the Fatwa Committee at Al-Azhar [Sunni Islamic university], said that the first view is accurate, because when Allah punishes a group of people he punishes only them. When Allah grew angry with the nation of Moses, He turned them into pigs and monkeys as an extraordinary punishment... but they died out without leaving descendants."

[Al-Moheet Arab News Network, May 10, 2009]
[Al-Hakika al-Dawliya, May 9, 2009]

Itamar Marcus is the founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch. He was appointed by the Israeli government to be the Israeli representative (communication specialist) to the Trilateral (Israeli-American-Palestinian) Anti-Incitement Committee established under the Wye Accords. From 1998 to 2000, Mr. Marcus served as research director of the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, writing reports on PA, Syrian, and Jordanian schoolbooks. He holds a BA in political science from City College of New York and an MA in Hebrew culture from New York University. Barbara Crook is associate director and North American representative of Palestinian Media Watch. She teaches at the School of Journalism and Communications at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She holds an Honors BA in English literature from Queen's University, an MA in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and is a Southam Fellow at the University of Toronto.
Title: Re: Funny, you don't look Jewish....
Post by: HUSS on May 15, 2009, 06:55:24 PM
Pigs Must Die, Because They Are Descended from the Jews
By: Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
Palestinian Media Watch | Friday, May 15, 2009

All pigs alive today are descendants of the Jews who were turned into pigs by Allah, according to a senior Egyptian religious leader. Since all pigs are descendants of Jews, it is obligatory to kill all pigs, says Sheikh Ahmed Ali Othman. 

Culturally these people are retarded and were it not for oil revenue they would still be living in mud huts herding goats and camels.

i give you exhibit A;

More people are killed by Islamists each year than in all 350 years of the Spanish Inquisition combined.
Islamic terrorists murder more people everyday than the Ku Klux Klan has in the last 50 years.

More civilians were killed by Muslim extremists in two hours on September 11th than in the 36 years of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.

19 Muslim hijackers killed more innocents in two hours on September 11th than the number of American criminals executed in the last 65 years.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: DougMacG on June 07, 2009, 08:02:00 PM
(from Israel thread)

I will look forward to someone explaining to me how men beating up a woman for non-Muslim dress is not discrimination against non-Muslims - in a most brutal way.

One poster says a Muslim in same circumstance would receive same treatment so the beating is non-discriminatory.  UNBELIEVABLE.  An adherant Muslim would not be in the same circumstance.  That is a distinction without any meaning, a distraction and a diversion from holding that religion accountable for inhumane practices againsty many, many groups of people including non-Muslims.

Same poster: "She should have been either not there (many don't bring their wives) or educated in the proper rules and regulations before venturing off base."

Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: JDN on June 07, 2009, 08:49:03 PM
Non discriminatory.  "UNBELIEVABLE"  :?   WHY?
Muslim women have disobeyed Muslim law with much worse consequences therefore it is "non - discriminatory"

I said;
"In contrast, Boyo's post was not an example of discriminatory mistreatment of non muslims and therefore I disagreed."
And Crafty said in response;
"FAIR ENOUGH!!!  (caps and exclamations added)

Logically, it was non-discriminatory.  One group (Muslims or non-Muslims) are not being favored.  Why is this simple LOGIC difficult?
In contrast, GM posted an example where Muslims were specifically favored over non Muslims.  Now that is discriminatory and I acknowledged it.

As for proper rules, I happen to be reading a US State Department Release on visiting North Korea this morning.  They STRONGLY advice obeying the rules, ALL RULES, or you may suffer the consequences.  For example taking a picture, talking to strangers, etc. OR YOU MAY BE ARRESTED AND PUT IN PRISON.  Fair, no, it's not.  But those are the rules in North Korea so either don't go or obey the rules or suffer the consequences.  It is very simple.  The woman in Boyo's example committed a "crime" in the country she visited.  Frankly, she was probably lucky, if she had been Muslim, she would have been beaten much worse, therefore I repeat it is non discriminatory.  She made the mistake, she committed a "crime" although I blame her husband and/or the Security Company he worked for; she truly should have been educated about the LAW before leaving base.

"Like blaming the rape victim for dress and location"?  Wrong.  A better example is the 50 year old says, "She loved me, she consented, I didn't know she was only 17 years old".  In California that's still statutory rape, off to  jail he goes.  Or the perp claims, "in my state, the age for consent is 16 years old, I didn't know CA law was 18".  Do you think that will get you off?  It's simple; read the law and obey.  And don't blame the law when you are a guest.  Or don't go.

Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: HUSS on June 08, 2009, 06:28:40 AM
Mother caned in Bangladesh for talking to Hindu man
By Shafiq Alam – 2 days ago

DHAKA (AFP) — A Muslim mother has been caned for talking to a Hindu man in Bangladesh, police said Saturday, prompting fresh concerns about a rise in cases of harsh treatment of women under strict Islamic law.

The punishment was carried out in a remote village in Muslim-majority Bangladesh on the orders of village elders, local police chief Enamul Monowar told AFP by telephone.

The village elders found Kamala Begum, 38, a mother of four, guilty under Islamic sharia law of chatting with an unidentified Hindu man, Monowar said. Hindus make up around 10 percent of Bangladesh's population.

"The villagers got bundles of 25 sticks and hit her four times on the back. They claimed it was a symbolic punishment. But she's humiliated and has been in great mental pain," Monowar said.

It was the third such reported case in two weeks in the country and stirred concern among women's groups in Muslim-majority but officially secular Bangladesh, about what they say is a rise in the brutal treatment of women under locally applied Islamic laws.

"In the last few months, we have seen villagers invoking sharia to mete out barbaric punishments to women," said Salma Ali, the head of rights group Bangladesh National Woman Lawyers Association.

Police have arrested one man and are looking for others who meted out the punishment to the woman in Shason in northeastern Bangladesh, Monowar said.

Earlier this month a man and a woman were caned for adultery after being convicted by a village court, police said.

Village courts are common in Bangladesh, particularly in more conservative rural areas, but are not recognised as legitimate courts of law.

Also this month, a 22-year-old unwed woman was caned 39 times and left fighting for her life after saying a neighbour was the father of her six-year-old son.

The case caused a national outcry with Premier Sheikh Hasina ordering the woman shifted from her village home to the capital for treatment. The woman is now in a stable condition.

So far, Bangladesh has been little affected by the spread of hardline Islamic sentiment that has badly shaken its South Asian neighbour Pakistan.

But women's rights groups say there has been a spike in the number of "fatwas" -- judgments in line with sharia law -- in rural areas.

"In the last few months, we've seen villagers invoking sharia to mete out barbaric punishments to women," said lawyer Ali.

"It's disturbing sign and a real concern. It shows some parts of the country are becoming more conservative," she said.

Bangladesh has been ruled by female leaders for 16 of the last 19 years and prides itself for empowering women.

But although women hold high government and private sector posts, a move last year to give equal property rights to women was scuttled by Islamist protests.

The Awami League government has vowed to eradicate militancy from the country, hit by series of blasts by outlawed Islamic groups in 2005, and has warned of "zero tolerance" for harsh sharia punishments.
Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: HUSS on June 08, 2009, 06:30:29 AM
Pakistani Catholic leaders come out against the Taliban and the imposition of the jizya

by Qaiser Felix
Tax on non-Muslims is a threat that violates basic human rights. In tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan more than 700 non-Muslim families are persecuted and forced to pay. Federal Religious Minorities minister strongly condemns the tax, pledges help for the victims.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) has condemned the imposition of the Jizya, the poll tax for non-Muslims, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on the border with Afghanistan because of its discriminatory nature and because it constitutes a direct threat to basic human rights.
Mgr John Saldanha, archbishop of Lahore, and Peter Jacob, NCJP executive secretary, have urged the federal and provincial governments in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) to do something to alleviate the plight of non-Muslim families forced to “hand over their hard earned bread and butter to the extremists.”

Lashkar-e-Islam, a militant Islamist organisation based in Bara, about 10 kilometres south-west of Peshawar, is responsible for applying the tax.

Local sources said that more than 700 non-Muslim families have had to pay the tax.

NCJP leaders have complained about the lack of security among religious minorities in Orkazai and Khyber agency areas and that they are victims of harassment, religious taxation and expulsion.

The tax also is a threat to the country’s “democratic credentials and political system”. For this reason the government “should make it clear that Pakistan is a democratic country that cannot allow religious minorities to be subjected to such discrimination and economic injustice because they are equal citizens and not a conquered people.” These principles, the NCJP statement said, “are still part of the Constitution and the political system.”

Religious Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti reacted to the appeals of Catholic leaders by strongly condemning the demand on non-Muslims to pay the jizya.

Speaking to AsiaNews, the minister, who is Catholic, said that the tax “is illegal, unethical and against the Constitution of Pakistan.”

Moreover, in condemning those who perpetrate violence in the name of religion, he insisted that the protection of non-Muslims “is our constitutional obligation and moral duty”. The government, he reiterated, “will not let the Taliban threat and harm the minorities.”

Title: Re: Islam in Islamic Countries:
Post by: HUSS on June 08, 2009, 06:34:05 AM
I think its time for a little reciprocity.  If they want to persecute Christians abroad muslims should not be able to build mosques or operate charitable groups who receive tax breaks.   Notice that CAIR not only always over looks these types of events (listed above) but they are always quick to come to the legal aid of "suspected" terrorists. 
Title: Hints of religious pluralism in Egypt?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 31, 2009, 07:31:54 AM
nts of Pluralism in Egyptian Religious Debates
Published: August 30, 2009
CAIRO — Writing in his weekly newspaper column, Gamal al-Banna said recently that God had created humans as fallible and therefore destined to sin. So even a scantily clad belly dancer, or for that matter a nude dancer, should not automatically be condemned as immoral, but should be judged by weighing that person’s sins against her good deeds.

Gamal al-Banna, 88, is a religious writer in Cairo. He has found a broader audience on the Internet for his liberal Islamic views.
This view is provocative in Egypt’s conservative society, where many argue that such thinking goes against the hard and fast rules of divine law. Within two hours of the article’s posting last week on the Web site of Al Masry al Youm, readers had left more than 30 comments — none supporting his position.

“So a woman can dance at night and pray in the morning; this is duplicity and ignorance,” wrote a reader who identified himself as Hany. “Fear God and do not preach impiety.”

Still, Mr. Banna was pleased because at least his ideas were being circulated. Mr. Banna, who is 88 years old and is the brother of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been preaching liberal Islamic views for decades.

But only now, he said, does he have the chance to be heard widely. It is not that a majority agrees with him; it is not that the tide is shifting to a more moderate interpretative view of religion; it is just that the rise of relatively independent media — like privately owned newspapers, satellite television channels and the Internet — has given him access to a broader audience.

And there is another reason: The most radical and least flexible thinkers no longer intimidate everyone with differing views into silence.

“Everything has its time,” Mr. Banna said, seated in his dusty office crammed with bookshelves that stretch from floor to ceiling.

It is a testament to how little public debate there has been over the value of pluralism, or more specifically of the role of religion in society, that so many see the mere chance to provoke as progress. But now, more than any time in many years, there are people willing to risk challenging conventional thinking, said writers, academics and religious thinkers like Mr. Banna.

“There is a relative development, enough to at least be able to present a different opinion that confronts the oppressive religious current which prevails in politics and on the street, and which has made the state try to outbid the religious groups,” said Gamal Asaad, a former member of Parliament and a Coptic intellectual.

It is difficult to say exactly why this is happening. Some of those who have begun to speak up say they are acting in spite of — and not with the encouragement of — the Egyptian government. Political analysts said that the government still tried to compete with the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned but tolerated Islamic movement, to present itself as the guardian of conservative Muslim values.

Several factors have changed the public debate and erased some of the fear associated with challenging conventional orthodoxy, political analysts, academics and social activists said. These include a disillusionment and growing rejection of the more radical Islamic ideology associated with Al Qaeda, they said. At the same time, President Obama’s outreach to the Muslim world has quieted the accusation that the United States is at war with Islam, making it easier for liberal Muslims to promote more Western secular ideas, Egyptian political analysts said.

“It is not a strategic or transformational change, but it is a relative change,” said Mr. Asaad, who emphasized that the dynamic was for Christians as well as Muslims in Egypt. “And the civil forces can unite to capitalize on this atmosphere and invest in it to raise it to become a more general atmosphere.”

Two events this summer highlighted the new willingness of a minority to confront the majority — and the overwhelming response by a still conservative community.

In June, a writers’ committee affiliated with the Ministry of Culture gave a prestigious award to Sayyid al-Qimni, a sharp critic of Islamic fundamentalism who in 2005 stopped writing, disavowed his own work and moved after receiving death threats for his writing.

Muhammad Salmawy, a committee member and president of the Egyptian Writers’ Union, said he thought Mr. Qimni had been honored in part because “he represents the secular direction and discusses religion on an objective basis and is against the religious current.”

What happened next followed a predictable path, but then veered. Islamic fundamentalists like Sheik Youssef al-Badri asked the government to revoke the award and moved to file a lawsuit against Mr. Qimni and the government.

“Salman Rushdie was less of a disaster than Sayyid al-Qimni,” said Mr. Badri in a television appearance on O TV, an independent Egyptian satellite channel. “Salman Rushdie, everyone attacked him because he destroyed Islam overtly. But Sayyid al-Qimni is attacking Islam and destroying it tactfully, tastefully and politely.”

But this time Mr. Qimni did not go into hiding. He appeared on the television show, sitting beside Sheik Badri as he defended himself.

A second development involved a religious minority, Bahais, who face discrimination in Egypt, where the only legally recognized faiths are Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Nine years ago the state stopped issuing identification records to Bahais unless they agreed to characterize themselves as members of one of the three recognized faiths. The documents are essential for access to all government services.

An independent group, The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, won a court order on behalf of the Bahais that forced the government to issue records leaving the religious identification blank. The first cards were issued this month. While the decision was aimed specifically at solving the problem faced by the Bahai community, the case tapped into the evolving debate, said the group’s executive director, Hossam Bahgat.

“It is an unprecedented move to recognize that one can be Egyptian and not adhere to one of these three religions,” Mr. Bahgat said. Still, he remains less than optimistic; most of the public reaction to the Bahais’ legal victory was negative, Mr. Bahgat said.

“It is known that you are apostates,” read one of many comments posted on Al Youm Al Sabei, an online newspaper.

But there has been at least a hint of diversity and debate in response to Mr. Banna’s remarks on belly dancers. Hours after they were posted, some readers began, however tentatively, to come to his defense. “Take it easy on the man,” an anonymous post said. “He did not issue a religious edict saying belly dancing is condoned. But he is saying that a person’s deeds will be weighed out because God is just. Is anything wrong with that?”

Mona el-Naggar contributed reporting
Title: Indonesia
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 17, 2009, 11:50:13 AM
Indonesian Police Kill Alleged Terror Mastermind

September 18, 2009

Indonesian Police Kill Alleged Terror Mastermind

JAKARTA, Indonesia

In a dramatic conclusion to a two-month national manhunt, the Indonesian police said that one of Southeast Asia’s most-wanted terrorists was among four men killed during a six-hour shootout early Thursday between counterterrorism commandos and a militant cell in central Java.

The police said that although they were still awaiting DNA results, fingerprints from one of the bodies matched those of the Malaysian-born Noordin Muhammad Top, 41, whom law enforcement officials blame for bombing attacks last July on the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta.

Those bombings killed seven people, six of them foreigners, in addition to the two bombers. More than 50 people were wounded.

He is also blamed for the first Marriott hotel bombing in 2003, a bombing of the Australian Embassy in 2004 and the 2005 bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali.

“We are sure Noordin M. Top has been killed,” the national police chief, Bambang Hendarso Danuri, said at a news conference. “In this holy month of Ramadan, the country of Indonesia has been blessed.”

The police said they were acting on a tip given to them by two suspects arrested only hours before the raid began. Those militants directed the police to the house in the central Javanese city of Solo, where they said they believed several terrorists were hiding. The police did not know beforehand, however, whether Mr. Noordin was among them.

“It’s a gift,” Mr. Danuri said.

Mr. Danuri also said that Bagus Budi Pranato, allegedly involved in the July hotel bombings, was also killed in the raid.

Mr. Pranato, also called Urwah, was known as one of Mr. Noordin’s closest associates and worked with him in the lead-up to the Australian Embassy bombing in 2004. The police arrested Mr. Pranato two months before that bombing, but he was released from detention in April 2007. A report by the private International Crisis Group said Mr. Pranato seemed “to have almost immediately re-established contact” with Mr. Noordin upon his release.

The two other men killed were Adib Susilo, who owned the house, and Aji, who police said was a protégé of Azahari Husin, a master bombmaker from Malaysia who came to Indonesia alongside Mr. Noordin but was killed by the Indonesian police during a raid on his house in 2005.

In addition to the four men who were killed, three others were arrested during the six-hour siege on the small house in Solo. The police said that about four hours into the assault, there was a large explosion from inside the house, possibly a suicide bomb, which may have contributed to the deaths of Mr. Noordin and his associates.

Sorting through the leveled house, the police said they found 200 kilograms, or 440 pounds, of explosives, an M-16 machine gun with bullets, a laptop computer and documents. Those documents revealed connections between Indonesian militant groups and Al Qaeda, Mr. Danuri said, but he did not elaborate.

Mr. Noordin had enjoyed legendary status in militant circles for managing to elude capture for so many years. The police said they were minutes away from catching him on several occasions, including in August, when they thought they had trapped Mr. Noordin in a farmhouse in central Java. After a 16-hour firefight, however, the police recovered one body, and it was not that of Mr. Noordin.

Forensic tests later revealed that it had been Ibrohim, an Indonesian militant who the police believe helped carry out the July attacks under Mr. Noordin’s tutelage. Mr. Ibrohim had been working as a florist at both the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels before the bombings.

Mr. Noordin was once a senior leader and fund-raiser with the regional terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah. He broke away from the group in 2002, when support for violent attacks was waning among Jemaah Islamiyah members.

In a video in 2005 he claimed to be Al Qaeda’s representative in Southeast Asia, calling himself “Al Qaeda for the Malay archipelago.”

The police said that Mr. Noordin, known as a charismatic recruiter, had been actively seeking out support right up to his death.

The arrests and raids conducted after the July bombings revealed a much larger network of support for Mr. Noordin than most analysts had thought possible, given how successful Indonesia’s counterterrorism forces seemed to have been in arresting, killing or converting Islamic militants.

“His network is proving to be larger and more sophisticated than previously thought,” wrote Sidney Jones in a recent report released by the International Crisis Group, where she is a senior analyst. “As more information comes to light, it looks increasingly likely that Noordin sought and received Middle Eastern funding. While the extent of foreign involvement remains unclear, recruitment in Indonesia has proved disturbingly easy.”

Ms. Jones said the Jihadist ideology remained confined to a tiny fraction of the country, but that fringe is able to draw on a wide variety of sources for recruitment, including several dozen Islamic boarding schools, various radical, but not necessarily violent, groups, an active Islamic publishing industry and impressionable youths.

“It is important that we realize that this isn’t over,” said a senior counter-terrorism official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. “To the best of our knowledge there are still people out there who have been trained by Top and others.”

“Symbolically his death is important. But it doesn’t mean we can rest,” he added.
Title: POTH: Syria reverses course
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 04, 2010, 08:17:24 AM
DAMASCUS, Syria — This country, which had sought to show solidarity with Islamist groups and allow religious figures a greater role in public life, has recently reversed course, moving forcefully to curb the influence of Muslim conservatives in its mosques, public universities and charities.

Enlarge This Image
Bryan Denton for The New York Times
Young Syrians gathered in Damascus. A crackdown on Islamists is an effort to reassert Syria’s secularism, officials say.
The government has asked imams for recordings of their Friday sermons and started to strictly monitor religious schools. Members of an influential Muslim women’s group have now been told to scale back activities like preaching or teaching Islamic law. And this summer, more than 1,000 teachers who wear the niqab, or the face veil, were transferred to administrative duties.

The crackdown, which began in 2008 but has gathered steam this summer, is an effort by President Bashar al-Assad to reassert Syria’s traditional secularism in the face of rising threats from radical groups in the region, Syrian officials say.

The policy amounts to a sharp reversal for Syria, which for years tolerated the rise of the conservatives. And it sets the government on the seemingly contradictory path of moving against political Islamists at home, while supporting movements like Hamas and Hezbollah abroad.

Syrian officials are adamant that the shifts stem from alarming domestic trends, and do not affect support for those groups, allies in their struggle against Israel. At the same time, they have spoken proudly about their secularizing campaign, though they have been reluctant to reveal its details. Some Syrian analysts view that as an overture to the United States and European nations, which have been courting Syria as part of a strategy to isolate Iran and curb the influence of Hamas and Hezbollah.

Human rights advocates say the policy exacerbates pressing concerns: the arbitrary imprisonment of Islamists, as well as the continued failure to allow them any political space.

Pressure on Islamic conservatives in Syria began in earnest after a powerful car bomb exploded in the Syrian capital in September 2008, killing 17 people. The government blamed the radical group Fatah al-Islam.

“The bombing was the trigger, but the pressure had been building,” said Peter Harling, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. “After a period of accommodation with the Islamic groups, the regime entered this far more proactive and repressive mode. It realizes the challenge that the Islamization of Syrian society poses.”

The government’s campaign drew wider notice this summer, when a decision to bar students wearing the niqab from registering for university classes was compared to a similar ban in France. That move seemed to underscore a reduced tolerance for strict observance by Muslims in public life. Syrian officials have put it differently, saying the niqab is “alien” to Syrian society.

The campaign carries risks for a secular government that has fought repeated, violent battles with Islamists in the past, most notably in 1982, when Mr. Assad’s father, Hafez al-Assad, razed the city of Hama while confronting the Muslim Brotherhood, killing tens of thousands of people. For the moment there has been no visible domestic backlash, but one cleric, who said he was dismissed without being given a reason two years ago, suggested that could change.

“The Islamists now have a strong argument that the regime is antagonizing the Muslims,” he said.

The government courted religious conservatives as Western powers moved to isolate Syria amid accusations that it was behind the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, in 2005. The government appointed a sheik instead of a member of the ruling Baathist party to head the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and allowed, for the first time, religious activities in the stadium at Damascus University.

As the country emerged from that isolation, it focused on domestic challenges, including the fear that sectarian tensions in the region could spread — a recurring fear in Syria, a country with a Sunni majority ruled by Alawites, a religious minority.

The government also focused on conservatives. “What they had nourished and empowered, they felt the need to break,” said Hassan Abbas, a Syrian researcher.

The details of the campaign have remained murky, though Syrian officials have not been afraid to publicize its aims, including in foreign media outlets. In an interview with the American talk show host Charlie Rose in May, Mr. Assad was asked to name his biggest challenge.

“How we can keep our society as secular as it is today,” he said. “The challenge is the extremism in this region.”

Mr. Assad has in the past singled out northern Lebanon as a source of that extremism.

“We didn’t forget Nahr al-Bared,” said Mohammed al-Habash, a Syrian lawmaker, referring to battles in that region three years ago between Lebanese forces and Fatah al-Islam. “We have to take this seriously.”

Beginning in 2008, the government embarked on its new course when it fired administrators at several Islamic charities, according to the former cleric, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared reprisal by the government.

The clampdown has intensified in recent months. Last spring, the Qubaisiate, an underground women’s prayer group that was growing in prominence, was barred from meeting at mosques, according to members. Earlier this summer, top officials in Damascus Governorate were fired for their religious leanings, according to Syrian analysts.

Other moves underscore the delicacy of Mr. Assad’s campaign — or perhaps send mixed signals. A planned conference on secularism earlier this year, initially approved by the government, was abruptly canceled for no reason, according to Mr. Abbas.

“Secularism is their version of being secular,” Mr. Abbas said.

Another episode can be seen as a concession to Islamists, or a sign of just how comfortable the conservatives have become. A proposed rewrite of Syria’s personal status law, which governs civil matters, leaked last year, retained provisions that made it legal for men to marry girls as young as 13 years old. Under pressure, including from women’s groups, lawmakers abandoned the draft law.

“There are limits to what they can do,” Mr. Harling, the analyst, said of the Syrian government. “They will try things out and pedal back if things go too far. It says a lot about how difficult it is — even for a regime that is deeply secular itself and whose survival is tied to the secular nature of Syrian society.”
Title: Reform Requires Self-Criticism
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on November 18, 2010, 10:54:27 AM
How to Reform Islam
Self-criticism is the key.

I have often argued that one of the redemptive graces of Western civilization is self-criticism, a deeply ingrained habit that has enabled Western man to reflect, to adjust, to improve his beliefs, to correct and change his situation — in short, to reform. The West has been able to submit even its most cherished beliefs to scrutiny. By contrast, self-criticism remains an elusive goal in modern Islamic cultures. David Pryce-Jones argues that the “acquisition of honour, pride, dignity, respect and the converse avoidance of shame, disgrace, and humiliation are keys to Arab motivation, clarifying and illuminating behaviour in the past as well as in the present.” The codes of honor and shame “enforce identity and conformity of behaviour.” In such a system of values, it is impossible to admit publicly that one is wrong, for that would bring shame on the individual, the family, the country, or even one’s religion. Western-style satire would be very difficult in Arabic society, for that would risk the humiliation of one’s own culture.

However, there are signs of change. First came the Arab Human Development Report of 2003, in which leading Arab intellectuals lamented the poor state of the Arab Muslim world in every field of endeavor — from the scientific to the cultural. Then, in October 2010, came “The Casablanca Call for Democracy and Human Rights,” a document published by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy urging governments and activists across the Middle East to continue working toward democratic reforms. It is the result of a conference organized by the Arab Human Rights Movement.

The Casablanca Call must be seen against the background of past Arab Human Rights Movement conferences. The group’s first international conference, “Prospects for the Future,” took place in Casablanca, Morocco, in April 1999, and was organized by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) with the collaboration of the Moroccan Organization for Human Rights. That the conference took place in Morocco is significant, since Morocco has made considerable efforts to improve its human-rights record.

The Casablanca Call is a remarkable document for many reasons. It calls for separation of powers and endorses the principle of the sovereignty of the people — a truly democratic demand, since, in an Islamic state, sovereignty belongs to God and His Law. It also calls for:

[an] independent judiciary as a prerequisite for the protection of human rights and freedoms, and as the guarantor for the supremacy of the rule of law and state institutions; the immediate release of all political prisoners — numbering in the thousands in various Arab prisons — and putting an end to political trials of any kind, torture of political opponents, and the practice of kidnapping; enabling and encouraging political parties and trade unions to engage in their right to organize freely, use all available media outlets, take advantage of public funding, and be free of any interference of the state apparatus in their affairs; acknowledgment of the right of civil society organizations to perform their advocacy roles freely and effectively, having their independence and privacy duly respected, their internal affairs not disrupted, and their sources of financial support kept open and active.

Regarding freedom of speech, the Casablanca Call advocates:

free access of the media and journalists to information and news sources; the respect for the independence of journalists’ syndicates and allowing them to disseminate information and opinion without censorship, and undue administrative, or judicial pressures, and the abolishment of the imprisonment penalty in cases against journalists.

Amongst the other Casablanca Call demands is the “summoning of the private sector to play its role in the contribution to political reforms.” And no declaration from the Islamic world could possibly leave out the religious factor; the authors reaffirm the “interconnectedness of political reform with the renewal of religious thought, which requires support for, and expansion of, the practice of ijtihad [that is, independent reasoning] in a climate of complete freedom of thought, under democratic systems of government.”

Finally, the authors of the declaration “support the dialogue that began several years ago between Islamists and secularists at the local and regional levels and emphasize the importance of continuing such endeavors in order to provide solid ground for the protection of democracy and human rights from any political or ideological setbacks.”

There have been several similar declarations in recent years, but as the authors of the Casablanca Call themselves confess, there has been scant progress in many areas of political and civil life.

One wonders if there will ever be real progress without someone, somewhere, beginning the necessary critique of Islam and its scriptures. As Jonathan Israel showed in his two monumental studies of the European Enlightenment — the process that radically changed European and American society forever, the process that gave us the egalitarian and democratic core values and ideals of the modern world — it began with one man, and one book: Baruch Spinoza and his Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, first published in Amsterdam in 1670. That was the beginning of Biblical criticism and the modern world; but where is the Koranic criticism that alone can unshackle people’s minds?

— Ibn Warraq is a visiting fellow at the Center for Law and Counterterrorism, a project of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; an independent scholar; and the author of five books on Islam and Koranic criticism — Why I Am Not a Muslim; The Origins of the Koran; What the Koran Really Says; Virgins? What Virgins? And Other Essays; and Which Koran?
Title: Re: Islam in Arabic/Islamic Countries:
Post by: G M on November 18, 2010, 10:58:45 AM
Note that Ibn Warraq is a pseudonym, as lots of muslims have expressed a desire to kill him for his writings.
Title: Major busts in SA
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 27, 2010, 08:59:05 AM
I can't find it on the LA Times's website, but in my paper this morning there was an article about well over 100 arrests of AQ folks in Saudi Arabia.
Title: Saudis trumpet al-Qaeda arrests
Post by: G M on November 27, 2010, 09:21:03 AM

26 November 2010 Last updated at 10:06 ET

Saudis trumpet al-Qaeda arrests
Saudi security guards and pilgrims at Mena, 14/11 Saudi officials say militants were trying to collect money from Hajj pilgrims
Continue reading the main story
Related stories

    * Saudi Arabia's shadowy connection
    * Profile: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested 149 al-Qaeda suspects over the past eight months, officials have announced.

Most of the detainees were Saudis, but 25 were from other Arab, African and South Asian countries, the Interior Ministry said.

The ministry said agents had foiled plots to attack Saudi officials, civilians and journalists..

The Saudis have pursued aggressive anti-terror policies since 2003, when militants launched a series of attacks.

The Interior Ministry said the 149 suspects came from 19 separate militant cells.

"These cells have links with al-Qaeda that is disturbing security in Yemen, and with Somalia and organisations in Afghanistan," said ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki.
Continue reading the main story
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

    * Formed in January 2009 by a merger between al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia and Yemen
    * Based in eastern Yemen
    * Aims to topple Saudi monarchy and Yemeni government, and establish an Islamic caliphate
    * Says it was behind an attempt to blow up US passenger jet in December 2009

A ministry statement said 2.24m riyal ($600,000; £380,000) had been confiscated from al-Qaeda during the Muslim pilgrimages of Hajj and Umra, where militants had been fundraising.
Title: Blasphemy in Pakistan
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 12, 2010, 08:22:08 AM
Blasphemy in Pakisan
Title: Goldberg: Which way the hijack?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 07, 2011, 02:44:16 AM
For years we've been hearing about how the peaceful religion of Islam has been hijacked by extremists.

What if it's the other way around? Worse, what if the peaceful hijackers are losing their bid to take over the religion?

That certainly seems to be the case in Pakistan.

Salman Taseer, a popular Pakistani governor, was assassinated this week because he was critical of Pakistan's blasphemy law.  Specifically, Taseer was supportive of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who has been sentenced to death for "insulting Muhammad."

Bibi had offered some fellow farm laborers some water. They refused to drink it because Christian hands apparently make water unclean. An argument followed. She defended her faith, which they took as synonymous with attacking theirs. Later, she says, a mob of her accusers raped her. Naturally, a Pakistani judge sentenced her to hang for blasphemy.  And Governor Taseer, who bravely visited her and sympathized with her plight, had 40 bullets pumped into him by one of his own bodyguards.

"Salmaan Taseer is a blasphemer and this is the punishment for a blasphemer," Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri said to the television cameras even as he was being arrested.

Now, so far, it's hard to say who is the hijacker and who is the hijackee. After all, Taseer the moderate was a prominent politician, Qadri a mere bodyguard.  A reasonable person might look at this tragic situation and say it is indeed proof of extremists trying to hijack the religion and the country.

Except, it was Taseer who wanted to change the status quo and Qadri who wanted to protect it. Pakistan's blasphemy laws have been on the books for decades, and while judicial death sentences for blasphemy are rare, the police and security forces have been enforcing it unilaterally for years.

And what of the reaction to the assassination?

Many columnists and commentators denounced the murder, but the public's reaction was often celebratory. A Facebook fan page for Qadri had to be taken down even as it was drawing thousands of followers.

And what of the country's official guardians of the faith?

A group of more than 500 leading Muslim scholars, representing what the Associated Press describes a "moderate school of Islam" and the British Guardian calls the "mainstream religious organizations" in Pakistan not only celebrated the murder, but warned that no Muslim should mourn Taseer's murder or pray for him.  They even went so far as to warn government officials and journalists that the "supporter is as equally guilty as one who committed blasphemy," and so therefore they should all take "a lesson from the exemplary death" of Salman Taseer.

If that's what counts for religious moderation in Pakistan, I think it's a little late to be talking about extremists hijacking the religion. The religion has long since been hijacked, and it's now moving on to even bigger things.

Pakistan is a special case, but it is hardly a unique one. In Egypt, Coptic Christians were recently slaughtered in an Islamist terrorist attack. The Egyptian government, which has a long record of brutalizing and killing its own Christian minority, was sufficiently embarrassed by the competition from non-governmental Islamists that it is now offering protection. How long that will last is anyone's guess.

But Pakistan is special because it has nuclear weapons and is inextricably bound up in the war in neighboring Afghanistan and the larger war on terror. U.S. relations with the Pakistani military remain strong, but as we've seen with Turkey, good relations with a military don't make up for losing support from an allied government as it goes Islamist. And it seems unlikely that a government can long stay secular when the people want it to become ever more Islamist.

Sadanand Dhume, a Wall Street Journal columnist (and my colleague at the American Enterprise Institute), writes that even "relatively secular-minded Pakistanis are an endangered species."

While most of the enlightened chatters remain mute or incoherent as they struggle for a way to blame Israel for all of this, the question becomes all the more pressing: How do we deal with a movement or a nation that refuses to abide by the expiring cliché "Islam means peace"?
Title: POTH/NYTimes: The Islam that hard-liners hate
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 07, 2011, 02:59:17 AM

Also a good video clip at

The Islam That Hard-Liners Hate
KASUR, Pakistan — In Pakistan’s heartland, holy men with bells tied to their feet close their eyes and sway to the music. Nearby, rose petals are tossed on tombstones. Free food is distributed to devotees.

This peaceful tableau is part of Sufism, Pakistan’s most popular brand of Islam, which attracts millions of worshipers at about a dozen major festivals throughout the year. Each day, thousands visit shrines dedicated to Sufi saints.

But the rituals came under heavy attack in 2010, as minority hard-line militants took responsibility for five shrine attacks that killed 64 people — a marked increased compared with 2005 to 2009, when nine attacks killed 81 people.

Attacks in previous years occurred in the middle of the night or when worshipers were not present, apparently in an effort to avoid causalities. But in 2010, terrorists carried out suicide bombings when thousands of worshipers were present, and in the nation’s largest cities, like Karachi and Lahore.

The increase in attacks, and a direct effort to kill those who practice a more mystical brand of Islam, has torn the fabric of mainstream worship in Pakistan. But as worshipers continue to visit the Sufi shrines and many Sufi festivals continue in the face of threats, it also evidences the perseverance of Pakistan’s more moderate brand of Islam.
“It’s a very disturbing picture that militants have extended their targets to shrines, which are symbols of popular Islam in Pakistan and are widely visited,” said Rasul Bakhsh Rais, a professor of political science at Lahore University of Management Sciences. “However, I don’t think the militants are succeeding – thousands of people still visit the shrines despite these attacks.”

Although there is no official data, the number of people who informally follow Sufi traditions is believed to be in the millions. They have long been condemned as un-Islamic by fundamentalist groups because they worship saints and perform music and dance.

The United States, meanwhile, sees Sufi Islam as a counter force to terrorism, and has helped promote it by giving more than $1.5 million since 2001 on the restoration and conservation of Sufi shrines in Pakistan.

Amir Rana, the director of the Pak Institute for  Peace Studies, a think tank that analyzes religious conflict, said there were  several reasons for the recent spike in attacks on Sufi shrines.

Groups within Al Qaeda, which have increased their strategic operations in Pakistan since 2007, have expanded their ideological war on the sectarian divide.

Mr. Rana also said militants suddenly changed their strategy in 2009, when they started soft targets, or popular and less secure venues, such as the Meena Bazaar in Peshawar, as a way to retain their radical sympathizers.

Other experts say that fragmented militant groups in Pakistan have fully spun out control, and the shrine attacks fit a larger pattern that finds extremist groups who in the past have focused on Kashmir and Afghanistan now turning inward to assert their power and ideology within Pakistan’s borders.

“Militancy keeps on demanding sacrifices,” Ayesha Siddiqa, a security analyst who says he is a descendant of a Sufi saint, said. “So if it’s not targeting the enemy outside, it’s targeting the enemy within.”

In the eyes of some extremists, Sufi loyalists can be viewed as cohorts of the Pakistani government. Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi both carry saint-like status because they are from prominent Sufi families that have been caretakers for shrines synonymous with the ruling elite. In turn, those in power often use such devoted followings as a tool for recruiting voters.

Pir Tayyab, a hard-line Deobandi cleric who has been associated with militant organizations, including the Pakistani Taliban, said that while it was acceptable to pray for a saint’s soul at a shrine, it is forbidden to search for God’s qualities in a saint.

“The singing and dancing that takes place at shrines is disrespectful,” he said. However, he said, bombing a shrine is also unacceptable. “It is not correct to disrespect a grave or to remove someone from his grave.”

While provincial governments have scaled back some musical performances in response to threats, the large gatherings persist, drawing big and determined crowds at major shrines on a near weekly basis.

The only major cancellation over security fears was made by the Sindh provincial government, which canceled musical performances that were a permanent feature of Karachi’s festivals.

Prodded by protests that demanded more security, the government of Punjab, which oversees more than 500 shrines, is spending $400,000 on increased security at 15 of its major shrines this year, including the installation of cameras, security gates and metal detectors. At some shrines, officials said donors had paid for new security installations.

But security is rarely a deterrent to attacks. The Pakistani Taliban remains unfazed by the government’s efforts to safeguard the shrines. The government installed two security gates in 2008 at Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine, the most famous shrine in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city. But in October 2010, two suicide bombers detonated explosives there, killing 9 and injuring 75. Since the blasts, and just before an annual Sufi celebration, the government installed 18 security cameras at the shrine.

Adam B. Ellick contributed reporting
Title: Stratfor: MB strategy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 01, 2011, 05:56:28 PM
Dispatch: The Muslim Brotherhood's Strategies in Egypt and Jordan
February 1, 2011 | 2108 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:

Analyst Reva Bhalla examines the different political strategies pursued by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Jordan.

Editor’s Note:Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Today, Jordanian King Abdullah II decided to dissolve the government, and asked for a new Cabinet to be formed. Now obviously the timing of the events in Jordan are critical, as the Hashemite monarchy in Jordan is watching events play out in Egypt. This isn’t necessarily a sign of a domino effect taking place in the region and in fact there are very important factors to keep in mind when comparing the situation in Egypt versus Jordan.

Jordan deals with its opposition very differently than the Egyptian government has, for example, the Jordanian government has more of an accommadationist approach with its opposition. The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Islamic Action Front is recognized as a legitimate political entity in Jordan even though it is still struggling to adequately represent itself in the parliament. Tensions in Jordan have really been simmering since the parliamentary elections that were held in November last year. The Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm hotly opposed those elections, particularly an electoral law that they argued favored pro-monarchy areas in rural parts of Jordan. Since then, the group has been demanding a lowering of prices in food and fuel, they’ve been demanding a change to the electoral law and they’ve been organizing these mass demonstrations and sit-ins that have been peaceful.

Now one thing to note is that they are not demanding regime change, unlike the situation in Egypt. The political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood sees an opportunity right now and they’re basically just trying to take advantage of the current situation to push their own political demands. The Jordanian government has already announced a $452 million subsidy plan to bring down the price of food, to bring down the price of fuel, to increase pension, and things of the sort to basically accommodate the opposition. In other words this is not so much a crisis point like we’re seeing in Tunisia and Egypt, this is more of government trying to maintain the upper hand in trying to rush toward accommodation in preventing a larger conflagration.

The image that Jordan is portraying right now in conceding to these demands could carry significant repercussions beyond Jordan’s borders, particularly if the events in Jordan are perceived as an Islamist organization being successful and forcing a regime like the Hashemite monarchy to bend to their demands. This could not only inspire other fledgling opposition groups in other countries to attempt the same, but it could also further embolden the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is playing a very careful game right now. I think the Brotherhood is very well aware that the romanticism of the revolution in the streets could wear off the longer the people go without a regular supply of food, without security, and most important without results. It’s become clear so far that Mubarak does not have any intention of leaving anytime soon. At the same time, the Muslim Brotherhood needs to sustain the momentum in the streets right now. What they want to avoid is having people think that “Look, I waited three decades to get rid of Mubarak, I can wait another eight months until September elections for him to be deposed.” At the same time, the Muslim Brotherhood is very conscious of the negative connotations associated with its Islamist branding and for that reason it’s trying to reach out to certain secularist leaders for example, Mohamed ElBaradei, who may lack credibility but at least he’s a secular leader that a lot of people can at least look to for some sort of leadership while the Muslim Brotherhood works on creating this political opening that they’ve been waiting for for decades.

Title: Tunisian Pledges a New Caliphate
Post by: G M on November 16, 2011, 09:38:36 PM
Tunisian Pledges a New Caliphate
IPT News
November 16, 2011

Secular Tunisians are expressing concerns after a leader of the country's Islamist Al-Nahda movement said Tunisia's emerging government marks "the Sixth Righteous Caliphate."

The fifth caliphate, an Islamic imperial governing system, was abolished by Turkish secular Kemal Ataturk in 1924. In a speech posted on YouTube Sunday, Hamadi Jbeli also pledged that "we shall set forth with God's help to conquer Jerusalem, if Allah wills… From here is conquest with the help of Allah Almighty."

Al-Nahda won 98 of 217 parliamentary seats in the nation's first free elections and Jbeli may be its candidate for prime minister. The group's electoral success won international praise as a "moderate" movement promoting a democratic form of political Islam. Headlines in mainstream media outlets like theNew York Times, Los Angeles Times, and CNN called Al-Nahda moderate.

Jbeli's statements have many Tunisians questioning the label's validity. He spoke at a rally held by the group in celebration of its electoral success and leading role in forming a governing coalition. It is also not the first time the group has promoted moderation to outsiders while preaching different values to party members.

Leading secularist party Ettakatol suspended its participation in committees to form a governing coalition. "We do not accept this statement," said Khemais Ksila, an executive committee member of Ettakatol. "We thought we were going to build a second republic with our partner, not a sixth caliphate." Issam Chelbi of the secular PDP party called the speech "very dangerous."

"This is what we feared," Chelbi said.

Tunisian women's groups also have been skeptical of Al-Nahda's moderation, saying there has been an increase in verbal and physical abuse since President Zine Abidine Ben Ali resigned in the wake of a popular uprising.

Party leaders tried to contain the damage, telling Reuters that Jbeli was talking about "good governance and a break with corruption ... not the establishment of an Islamic regime."

Although Al-Nahda's breach of Tunisian secularism dominated reports on the controversial political rally, including Reuters' article, speakers also promoted the military conquest of Israel. The event also marked the first time Al-Nahda invited a Hamas representative, Houda Naim of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza, to address a political rally in Tunisia.

Naim expressed hope that the liberation of Tunisia would lead to the "liberation of Palestine," which Hamas believes can only be achieved through violence or "resistance." Al-Nahda's secretary general echoed Naim's call, stating, "The liberation of Tunisia will, Allah willing, bring about the liberation of Jerusalem."

Support for Hamas and the complete "liberation of Palestine" have been consistent messages from Al-Nahda's political leaders and its charter. Hamas has reciprocated with its support for Tunisia's revolt against dictatorship and embracing political Islam.

The Arab Spring "will achieve positive results on the path to the Palestinian cause and threaten the extinction of Israel," Party leader and ideologue Rashid Ghannounshi said in a May interview with the Al Arab Qatari website. "The liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation represents the biggest challenge facing the Umma [Muslim nation] and the Umma cannot have existence in light of the Israeli occupation."

Further, in the same interview, Ghannouchi said: "I give you the good news that the Arab region will get rid of the bacillus [bacteria] of Israel. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas, said that Israel will disappear by the year 2027. I say that this date may be too far away, and Israel may disappear before this."

Ghannouchi has also given his support to specific types of terror carried out by Hamas, including rocket attacks against Israeli civilians and "martyrdom operations."

In June 2001, Ghannouchi appeared in an al-Jazeerah panel discussion in which he blessed the mothers of Palestinian suicide bombers:

"I would like to send my blessings to the mothers of those youth, those men who succeeded in creating a new balance of power…I bless the mothers who planted in the blessed land of Palestine the amazing seeds of these youths, who taught the international system and the Israel (sic) arrogance, supported by the US, an important lesson. The Palestinian woman, mother of the Shahids (martyrs), is a martyr herself, and she has created a new model of woman."

Ghannounchi has even gone beyond rhetoric, calling for Muslims to fund and provide logistical support for Hamas. He signed the controversial "Istanbul Declaration," issued by Muslim clerics in support of Hamas after Israel's January 2009 war in Gaza. The declaration stated that there was an "obligation of the Islamic nation to open the crossings – all crossings – in and out of Palestine permanently" to provide supplies and weapons to Hamas to "perform the jihad in the way of Allah Almighty."

Ghannounchi's statements are consistent with Al-Nahda's platform, which declares that the party "struggles to achieve the following goals … To struggle for the liberation of Palestine and consider it as a central mission and a duty required by the need to challenge the Zionist colonial attack. The platform also refers to Israel as an "alien entity planted in the heart of the homeland, which constitutes an obstacle to unity and reflects the image of the conflict between our civilization and its enemies."

In September, the organization stated that it "supports the struggle of peoples seeking liberation and justice and encourages world peace and aims to promote cooperation and collaboration and unity especially among Arab and Islamic countries and considers the Palestinian struggle for liberation to be a central cause and stands against normalization."

Standing against peace. Envisioning a new Caliphate. Meet the moderate Al-Nahda party.
Title: Among Criminal Muslims
Post by: G M on December 03, 2011, 11:59:40 AM
- FrontPage Magazine - -

Among Criminal Muslims

Posted By Jamie Glazov On May 5, 2010 @ 12:30 am In FrontPage | 117 Comments

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Nicolai Sennels, a Danish psychologist who worked for several years with young criminal Muslims in a Copenhagen prison. He is the author of Among Criminal Muslims. A Psychologist’s Experience from the Copenhagen Municipality. The book will be out in English later this year. He can be contact at:
FP: Nicolai Sennels, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
I would like to talk to you today about your experience working with young criminal Muslims in a Copenhagen prison. Let’s begin by talking about how you got into your line of work.
Sennels: Thank Jamie.

Well., many people think that I took the prison job because I wanted to get a closer look at Muslim mentality, failed integration and Islam. But I did not. I was just looking for a job and having worked as a social worker taking care of teenagers for several years part time while studying at Copenhagen University to become a psychologist, it was natural for me to apply for a job involving juvenile offenders. I had no idea that seven out of ten teenagers in the average Danish youth prisons have a Muslim background. Since I was the first psychologist at the institution I was very free to develop my position as psychologist.
The main job was to find out the young peoples’ pedagogical and therapeutic needs and develop therapeutic methods fitted for those needs. And this I did and this is what my book is about. The unusual thing about my work is that I found out that my Muslim clients had certain psychological characteristics that my non-Muslim – mostly Danish – clients did not have. They were all between 15 and 17 years old, most of them showed antisocial behaviour and a big part of both groups came from homes with a certain lack of emotional support. I guess nine out of  ten were boys and though the main part came from less well functioning homes I also had many Muslim and Danish clients who’s parents and elder siblings were well educated, had normal jobs and so on.
I worked in the prison for a bit less than three years and had around 150 Muslim clients and 100 Danish clients. I conducted group therapies and individual therapies and with such a large amount of both Muslim and non-Muslim clients I had a relatively large background material for understanding and comparing their psychological development and the underlying conditions influencing this development. Normal “real” research projects of this kind – consisting of long and several qualitative interviews – most often only have 20-30 subjects as background material.
FP: Ok, so some of your conclusions?
Sennels: Well, one significant conclusion was that having been raised in a Muslim environment – with Muslim parents and traditions – includes the risk of developing certain antisocial patterns.
About two thirds of all teenagers accused for criminal actions in Copenhagen have a Muslim background. For years the explanation for this phenomenon has been that Muslims are discriminated against by Danish employers and are thus unable to find a job. The consequence is that Muslims are poor – and this poverty then gets the blame for the high crime rate among young Muslim men.
As a humanist and psychologist I have to expose and oppose this faulty explanation. Explaining psychological development and complicated human mental and behavioural patterns by pointing on the amount of kroner, Euros or dollars rolling in to a person’s bank account every first bank day of the month is a very materialistic and two-dimensional view on the human being. What is first of all deciding our actions is our own free will and motivation – which are first of all influenced by the emotional, cultural and in some cases religious frame that we grew up in.
It is easy to establish a statistical connection between poverty and criminal behaviour – but what comes first? I saw a lot of young teenagers sowing the seeds for their own future unemployment by not going to school, staining their criminal records and developing unattractive social habits such as aggressiveness, insecurity and lack of respect for authorities.
FP: Did you find any real differences between Muslims coming from different parts of the Muslim world?
Sennels: My experience from working with Muslims is that the culture developed under Islamic influence supports the development of certain psychological characteristics. I had Muslim clients from most of the Muslim world: most of the Middle East, Muslim countries in Africa, Pakistan and ex-Yugoslavia. I did not register any major differences between the mentalities between these countries. The only real importance deciding the impact of Muslim mentality was whether the client himself identified himself strongly as belonging to the Muslim society or not. There was a quantitative difference from the often less Islamic Muslims from e.g. ex-Yugoslavia and the clients from the Middle East who mostly identified themselves strongly as being Muslims.
By far the most of my 150 Muslim clients expressed strong loyalty to their God, Allah,  and their prophet but less than half was actively practising Islam by doing their prayers, Quran studies etc. But there did not seem to be any difference between the actively practising group and the group that could be called loyal but passive believers. Seen from the therapy room, the mentality stemming from Islamic influence on the societies where it is the dominating value system is so strongly rooted in the culture that Muslims are influenced by its dogmas and values no matter if they pray five times a day and can recite the Quran or not.
FP: Draw for us a psychological profile of Muslim culture. How does it shape a human being’s mind and behaviour to grow up in such a culture?
Sennels: The most important characteristics that I found concerns aggression, self-confidence, individual responsibility and identity.
Concerning anger, it quickly becomes clear that Muslims in general have a different view on aggression, anger and threatening behaviour than Danes and probably most of our Western world.
For most Westerners, it is an embarrassing sign of weakness if people become angry. This view on anger is probably consolidated already in early childhood. I have been working as a school psychologist for several years and bullying is a continuous problem at the schools that I work in. The interesting thing is that the children who are most likely to be the target of being bullied are the children that get angry the easiest. If people get angry we have a tendency to lose respect for them and in many cases we try to tease them to provoke them even more – with the pedagogical aim of helping the person to realize the childishness of his or her behaviour. Trying to get one’s will by acting aggressively or using threats is seen as immature and our reaction is often to ridicule or simply ignore them. Thus, the shortest way to lose face in our Western culture is to show anger.
It is completely opposite in the Muslim culture. While most of my Danish clients who had problems with anger felt embarrassed about it, none of my Muslim clients ever seemed to understand our view on anger. I spent countless hours doing Anger Management therapy with both Danish and Muslim clients and hence I had very good opportunities to experience the cultural differences concerning this specific emotion, ways of handling it and reacting to it.
In Muslim culture, it is expected that one should show anger and threatening behaviour if one is criticized or teased. If a Muslim does not react aggressively when criticized he is seen as weak, not worth trusting and he thus loses social status immediately.
This cocktail of cultural differences has sparked the ongoing debate on free speech all over the world. The free world’s criticism and jokes about Islam is met with anger and threats of terror. When a Danish cartoonist shows the Muslims’ prophet with a bomb in his turban to illustrate the fact that Mohammed conducted dozens of massacres and called for global violent jihad against non-Muslims, the reaction of Muslim leaders and their followers was exactly to confirm Westergaard’s drawing: They responded with jihad on all possible levels – threats of genocide, terror, economical boycott, lawsuits and using democratic systems in our countries, EU and the UN to challenge and destroy our laws on free speech.
The wisdom and bravery of any child in any school yard to people using aggression to hide their own insecurity because of a simple drawing would lead to more jokes and logic as a mean to pedagogically point out obvious human weaknesses. Unfortunately most of our politicians are not as wise and brave as the average school child.
FP: Expand a bit on the differences between Muslim and Western cultures in terms of self-confidence.
Sennels: The concept of honor in the Muslim culture is – just like in the case with anger – opposite of our Western view. It is common in the Muslim culture to be exceedingly aware of one’s status in the group, other peoples’ view of oneself and any signs of any kind of criticism. The aggressive response to anything that can make one insecure is seen as an expression of honorable behaviour. But what is honorable about that? What kind of honor needs to be defended by all means necessary – including the abolishment of women’s human rights, such as the right to pick their own sexual partners, clothes, husband and life style? What is honorable about anger and the lack of ability to ignore provocations and handle criticism constructively?
After listening to more than a hundred Muslim teenagers telling their stories about their feelings, thoughts, reactions, families, religion, culture, the life in their Muslim ghettos and their home countries, it became clear to me that to a Muslim such behavior is the very core of keeping one’s honor. But seen through the eyes of Western psychology, it is all an expression of a lack of self-confidence. According to our view, the base of being authentic and honorable is to know one’s strengths and weakness – and accepting them. The ability to think “your opinion about me, not mine – and mine counts to me” when provoked and being mature enough to handle criticism constructively is a source of social status in the Western world.
Unfortunately, the Muslim concept of honor transforms especially their men into fragile glass-like personalities that need to protect themselves by scaring their surroundings with their aggressive attitude. The show of so-called narcissistic rage is very common among Muslims. The fear of criticism is in many cases not far from paranoia. It is not without reason that self-irony and self-criticism is completely absent in the Muslim societies. Seen from a psychological perspective – whose aim is to produce self-confident, happy, free, loving and productive individuals; and not to please a hateful God or culture traditions – Muslim culture is in many ways psychologically unhealthy to grow up in.


FP: Ok and how does individual responsibility fit into all of this?
Sennels: To discuss individual responsibility, I need to first introduce the readers to the psychological term “locus of control.” Locus of control concerns if people see their life mainly influenced by inner or outer factors. In our Western culture, we see inner factors as more important than outer ones. Our point of view, our way of handling our emotions, our way of thinking, our way of reflecting, our way of reacting is all seen as ways that we decide our own lives. We may not always be aware of the way we think etc. and a whole industry has appeared because of that fact. Indeed, psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, coaches plus countless self-help books and magazines are overflowing in our societies and are all aiming at helping us to become aware of how we decide our own lives.
None of these things exists in the Muslim world. The few psychiatrists they have are often educated in the West and whatever psychology and pedagogy that exists in Muslim countries does not have root in the Muslim culture but are ideas imported from the West.
Thus, when a Westerner experiences problems he asks himself: “What can I change in myself/my life to become happier?” This mentality showed it self clearly among my Danish clients. It was deeply rooted in them that talking about oneself can be a way of finding better ways of handling one’s own life. When having Muslim clients on my couch it was in most cases like having someone from another planet visiting me. Under normal conditions, Westerners and Muslims can communicate relatively easy – as long as it does not involve criticism. But in a setting where the whole concept is centred about that the Muslim client has to talk about his own feelings and thoughts because the psychologist thinks that it will help him to become more happy and able to live constructively, the “chain falls of the bike” as we say in Denmark. They shake their heads: in which way can they become happier if they expose the weaknesses that they have been taught since birth to hide in order to retain their honor? No way, José. I finally managed to develop a therapeutic method that to a certain extent could address these cultural difficulties, but therapy and Muslim mentality will probably never become real friends.
An important aspect of this difference concerning locus of control is that people who see their own lives mainly guided by outer factors – a fearsome God, a powerful father, influential imams, ancient but strong cultural traditions – very easily develop a victim mentality. It is thus not without reason that conspiracies and blaming the non-Muslims are so central in Muslim leaders’ rhetoric and politics. This victim mentality also dominates the mentality of Muslim immigrants, who often have a long row of demands for economic support and Islamization of our societies to satisfy their personal needs.
FP: Well it becomes pretty obvious why Muslims cannot integrate into our Western society. Crystallize the reasons for us.
Sennels: My experience is that you need three things to be able to integrate. You need to want it, you need to be allowed and you need to have the surplus. Very few Muslim immigrants fulfil these three criteria.
First we have to ask ourselves: why should Muslim immigrants want to integrate? They can live their culture, receive enough money, and have a full functioning social life with their Muslim friends without even learning our language — or even working. There is not really anything that makes it necessary to integrate. Of course there exist immigrant Muslims who want to adapt to the lifestyle and mentality in their new country but they are very few. In France only 14 percent of the millions of Muslim immigrants see themselves as “more French than Muslim.”  In Germany only 12 percent of Muslims identify themselves as more German than Muslim.
A survey in Denmark showed that only 14 percent of the Muslims living here can identify themselves as being Danish and democratic minded. My experience from my Muslim clients is that they do not see their Muslim identity as compatible with leading a Western life style. Being a Muslim also means that you see yourself as very different and actually as a better person than non-Muslims. This mentality easily leads to apartheid and racism. This is probably the reason that even though Muslim immigrants are more than five times as violent as ethnic Danes – according to crime statistics - three out of four victims of violence are Danish.
The second criteria – being allowed to integrate – is also not very common. There is an exceedingly strong social control in the Muslim society. Everybody is keeping an eye on everybody and if someone does not follow the cultural or religious codex they are met with strong criticism and risk to be excluded from their society – often even from their own family. In worst case – and there are many of those – especially Muslim women live under a constant death threat that keeps them from entering our Western life style that includes such human rights as to pick one’s own sexual partners, clothing style, friends, religion and life style overall. Most of my Muslim clients saw their religious and cultural background as the height of civilization and morality – leaving it would be seen as a kind of cultural and religious apostasy by their kinsmen. Such acts often have severe consequences in not only gangs like Hells Angels and other tribal communities but also – and especially – among Muslims.
Finally, it takes a lot of personal surplus to integrate into another culture. It involves changing a part of one’s identity from belonging to one group into belonging to a group with completely other cultural values and traditions. It is not just like changing a bad habit such as quitting smoking – integration goes much deeper concerning the individual’s psychology. I met a few Muslim girls who as part of Western inspired teenage rebelling wanted to integrate and did not care that they were not allowed. Those girls did not posses the personal surplus and ended up in complete identity crises, going too wild, doing drugs and having random sex with all kinds of strange men etc.
For these reasons I am completely convinced that Muslim integration will never happen to the necessary extent.
FP: What is your view of the future of Europe in terms of the skyrocketing Muslim population?
Sennels: We are in the historical embarrassing situation that we have invited millions of people to our continent that do not want to integrate and are also not able to. Since the integration of Muslims will never happen – a fact I think that has already been proven years ago – we will end up with a significant part of our population that are actively working to Islamize our societies. There exist both Muslims and non-Muslims that see this Islamization as Islamic jihad – but it is more than that: it is human nature. People who do not feel at home where they live will naturally strive to change their surroundings. Muslims attempts to Islamize our societies have just begun — as they are feeling stronger and stronger in power and numbers. This process is pushed forward by Muslim leaders inside and outside Europe and helped on its way by a kind of collective cowardice called Political Correctness.
The World Economic Forum published a huge survey in 12 Muslim and 12 non-Muslim countries in their report “Islam and the West: Annual Report on the State of Dialogue, January 2008.” The report in general shows a great amount of distrust between the two groups of countries and discloses strong feelings of enmity. The last question in the survey is: “Do you think violent conflict between the Muslim and Western worlds can be avoided or not?” The report shows that a majority of the populations in all 24 countries believed that such a conflict can be avoided. But at the same time a majority of the 22 countries think that “the interaction between the Muslim and Western world is getting worse.” The majority of people still haven’t lost their hope but at the same time a majority see this hope getting smaller and smaller.
As Muslim immigrants push for Islamization and the original Europeans increasingly feel being exploited and threatened by growing and still more violent Muslim communities, a continent wide civil war might become unavoidable. We are already on our way to get our own European Islamic Gaza Stripes where non-Islamic authorities are met with flying stones and angry crowds while Islamic authorities such as imams, groups of elderly men and home made Sharia courts, are free to exercise their power. Such developments are very alarming and should be confronted with large amounts of police, strict laws, and cuts on economic support for families having more children than the country’s average and demands that Muslim organizations and leaders reform their version of Islam.
My guess is we will see more dead police men and kidnappings as a mean to negotiate the release of imprisoned Muslim religious or gang leaders, terror bombs, economical and practical support from Muslim countries to Muslim communities here in the West. Economic and police resources are already being drained by the many consequences of Muslim immigration and the need for profound reforming of our welfare system and for involving the army is inevitable in the long run. The feeling of safety and social coherence is already long gone in many parts in hundreds of European cities as a result of Muslims’ antisocial behaviour and enmity towards non-Muslims.
As I see it, the greatest danger is that the common European will fall into strong negative feelings and that the population and our authorities will feel pressed to compromise our own humanistic values in order to overcome the catastrophe. The sooner we handle the problems the greater the chance is that we can keep our important and unique human values.
FP: It’s all pretty depressing what political correctness and the Left has achieved in engendering and overseeing this Muslim infiltration of our society. The Left wanted to destroy its host society and it shrewdly figured out how to do so through the weapon of “multiculturalism.” Talk a bit about where this might not all be hopeless, how those of us who care about or society’s values can fight back. What can we do to avoid the surrender that the West is engaged in as we speak?
Sennels: Well Jamie, first let me stress that our “surrender” so to speak would not be enough. Only mass conversion would satisfy the rules of the Quran and its preachers. And even though Muslim leaders continuously claim that the only way to ensure global peace and morality is for all of mankind to become followers of their prophet, I am not so sure: Muslim countries are definitely less peaceful and morality concerning free speech, human rights and respect for human life is clearly less existent under Islamic rule than anywhere else.
Besides my suggestions mentioned above, the Western world has to put a complete halt to Muslim immigration and non-Western immigrants who did not already receive a citizenship. They should either fulfil a long row of criteria concerning integration or leave the country. Permanent citizenships to Muslim refugees should not be possible. I would like to mention that the average price for having an asylum seeker living in Denmark is 33.000 Euros (45.000 US dollars) a year. According to UNHCR the price for helping a refugee in a refugee camp close to his own country is 33 Euros (45 US dollars).
We should in general make it so unpleasant and the economic disadvantage so big that the consequences of non-integration would motivate resident Muslims to emigrate – preferably to a Muslim country where they can live in a culture where they already know the language, culture and religion and do not live under the pressure to integrate and do not feel stigmatized by anti-immigration organisations and Islam critics.
Responsible lovers and protectors of our Western culture should make an effort to write letters to the editors, and internet bloggers have to make sure that the information that our main stream medias consciously avoid to publish gets known. We need to create a UN exclusively for democratic countries and the EU’s power to force immigration onto its member states should be taken away. Oil should only be used for transport, while heating should be replaced by green energy and nuclear power – to avoid dependency on Arab oil.
FP: Nicolai Sennels, thank you for joining us. You have shared some dark realities and warnings with us. I pray the West will eventually gain the will and capacity to defend itself.
Editor’s note: To get the whole story behind why the Left aids and abets the Muslim infiltration of the West, get Jamie Glazov’s new book, United in Hate: The Left’s Romance With Tyranny and Terror.


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Title: Saudi Arabia Awakes to the Perils of Inbreeding
Post by: G M on December 03, 2011, 12:24:41 PM

Saudi Arabia Awakes to the Perils of Inbreeding

Published: May 01, 2003

When she was 17, marrying age for a Saudi girl, Salha al-Hefthi was presented with a husband.

She was lucky, her parents told her when they planned the wedding, that she was to marry such a good man, a man from her own tribe, a man who would care for their children and make a good living. He was the son of her father's brother -- her first cousin -- and everyone, including the bride, agreed that ''a first cousin was a first choice,'' she said.

The couple had two healthy boys, now 22 and 20, but their third child, a girl, was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a crippling and usually fatal disease that was carried in the genes of both parents. Their fourth, sixth and seventh children were also born with the disorder.

Spinal muscular atrophy and the gene that causes it, along with several other serious genetic disorders, are common in Saudi Arabia, where women have an average of six children and where in some regions more than half of the marriages are between close relatives.

Across the Arab world today an average of 45 percent of married couples are related, according to Dr. Nadia Sakati, a pediatrician and senior consultant for the genetics research center at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh.

In some parts of Saudi Arabia, particularly in the south, where Mrs. Hefthi was raised, the rate of marriage among blood relatives ranges from 55 to 70 percent, among the highest rates in the world, according to the Saudi government.

Widespread inbreeding in Saudi Arabia has produced several genetic disorders, Saudi public health officials said, including the blood diseases of thalassemia, a potentially fatal hemoglobin deficiency, and sickle cell anemia. Spinal muscular atrophy and diabetes are also common, especially in the regions with the longest traditions of marriage between relatives. Dr. Sakati said she had also found links between inbreeding and deafness and muteness.

Saudi health authorities, well aware of the enormous social and economic costs of marriage between family members, have quietly debated what to do for decades, since before Mrs. Hefthi was married 23 years ago. Now, for the first time, the government, after starting a nationwide educational campaign to inform related couples who intend to marry of the risk of genetic disease, is planning to require mandatory blood tests before marriage and premarital counseling.

Mrs. Hefthi, for one, wishes she had been given the opportunity to test for genetic risks.

''If I knew, I would have said no to that marriage,'' Mrs. Hefthi, an elementary school teacher, said the other night, sitting in her living room with three of her sons.

''Why? It's very painful. Why? If you know something is wrong, would you do it?''

Mrs. Hefthi did not know it when her daughter was born, but Ashjan, now 18, would never walk. Her childhood would be filled with terrible colds, sore throats, assorted other illnesses and an obsessive longing to walk and run like her older brothers.

''Why can't I walk,'' she would shout to her mother when she was 6.

''It is God's will,'' her mother would say. ''In paradise you will walk.''

''In paradise will I have a magic carpet?'' she would ask constantly. ''In paradise will I have a horse with wings?''

Ashjan would never be able to comb her hair or dress or clean herself. Her body would grow only in tiny spurts, her spine curving into the shape of a half-moon. Once she reached adolescence, she would shrivel year by year, and she would most likely die by the time she turned 20.

Health officials and genetic researchers here say there is no way to stop inbreeding in this deeply conservative Muslim society, where marrying within the family is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years.

Today, when most unions are still arranged by parents, marrying into wealth and influence often means marrying a relative. Social lives are so restricted that it is virtually impossible for men and women to meet one another outside the umbrella of an extended family. Courtships without parental supervision are rare.

Among more educated Saudis, marrying relatives has become less common and younger generations have begun to pull away from the practice. But for the vast majority, the tradition is still deeply embedded in Saudi culture.

Statistics on the prevalence of genetically based diseases and the extent to which they are a direct result of marriage between close relatives -- second cousins or closer -- are scarce or unreliable because many Saudi parents raise their disabled children in obscurity, ashamed to seek services.

That has begun to change as more programs intended to educate disabled children open in Saudi Arabia, where there were almost none until a decade ago. Genetic research is emerging here and several projects have recently begun in an effort to document the connection between inbreeding and disease and to quantify the prevalence of the diseases.

''Saudi Arabia is a living genetics laboratory,'' said the executive director of the Prince Salman Center for Disability Research, Dr. Stephen R. Schroeder, an American geneticist who has been doing research in Saudi Arabia for the last year. ''Here you can look at 10 families to study genetic disorders, where you would need 10,000 families to study disorders in the United States.''

One of the oldest and best known educational programs for disabled children in Saudi Arabia is the Disabled Children's Association in Riyadh, which opened in 1986. There, 200 children from infancy to age 12 suffering from a variety of diseases and disorders attend day care programs and classes. At the school, the director, Sahar F. al-Hashani, pointed out at least one or two students in each of six classrooms whose parents were related.

Not all marriages between close relatives produce children with genetic disorders. In fact, most do not. But testing could identify couples who test positive for serious diseases. Under a fatwa issued by the World Islamic League in 1990, Islam permits abortions up to 120 days after conception if an unborn child tests positive for a serious disorder.

In the case of spinal muscular atrophy, if both parents are carriers of the gene, the couple has a 25 percent chance of having a child with the disease -- or one in four children. The percentage regrettably turned out to be much higher for Mrs. Hefthi and her husband, with four out of their seven children afflicted.

Mrs. Hefthi said she would not allow any of her three healthy boys to marry a relative. In a society that places such a premium on having children, she said, many people would choose to find another mate if they learned that they were at risk of having severely disabled children and if their parents supported their decision.

''I suffered,'' she said. ''People, sometimes when they see me they say how tired I am. They tell me I could put my children in an institution. But I tell them I am a mother.''
Title: Psychological Research: Muslim Inbreeding Promotes Terrorism
Post by: G M on December 03, 2011, 12:34:59 PM

Psychological Research: Muslim Inbreeding Promotes Terrorism
Posted by Ned May Dec 20th 2010 at 2:05 am in Islam, Islamic extremism | Comments (61)


The Danish psychologist Nicolai Sennels has written previously about the effects of Muslim inbreeding. In the essay below he traces the possible connection between the genetic damage done by inbreeding and terroristic behavior.
The connection between Muslim inbreeding and terrorism
by Nicolai Sennels
If there are two things that characterize Islamic culture, they are terrorism and inbreeding. The latest research shows that these two things might be closely connected.
The concept of Islamic terror does not need any introduction. Not everyone might know, however, that seventy percent of Pakistanis and forty percent of Turks are inbred (Jyllands-Posten, 27/2 2009 “More stillbirths among immigrants”). Research shows that the same goes for close to half of all Arabs (Reproductive Health Journal, 2009 “Consanguinity and reproductive health among Arabs”).
First cousin marriages have been the tradition in many Muslim families for innumerable generations. Such marriages increase the risk of negative mental and physical consequences. My article “Muslim inbreeding: Impacts on intelligence, sanity, health and society” details extensive research data on the subject. In brief, inbreeding through consanguineous marriages increases the risk of depression (Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 2009 “Relationship between consanguinity and depression in a south Indian population”) and schizophrenia (American Psychiatric Press, 1982 “The role of genetic factors in the etiology of the schizophrenic disorders”).
The risk of serious illnesses or handicaps increases by up to 1800 percent (BMJ, 1994 “Infant death and consanguineous marriage”). Risk of mental retardation increases with 400 percent (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 1978 “Effect of inbreeding on IQ and mental retardation”). Research shows that the IQ is 10-16 points lower in children born from blood related parents and that abilities related to social behavior and empathy develops slower in inbred babies (Indian National Science Academy, 1983 “Consanguinity Effects on Intelligence Quotient and Neonatal Behaviours of nsari Muslim Children” [pdf]). Such facts might make several pieces fall into place for many people.
Here comes another eye opener:
Research published in The Journal of Aggression and Violent Behaviour has proven a connection between suicide bombers and depression and physical handicaps (BT, December 15th 2010 “Why most terrorists are useless”). Research suggests that many suicide bombers are suffering from depression, and their actions are just a socially accepted (among Muslims) way of committing suicide in order to end their mental torment.

Yusuf Yadgari of the Medical University of Kabul has autopsied the remains of suicide bombers and his findings support this theory. Yadgari found that close to ninety percent were suffering from severe illness such as blindness, cancer, missing limbs or leprosy. Many Muslim societies, including that of Afghanistan, have a low social acceptance of handicaps and severe illnesses. According to Yadgari, being physically handicapped or mentally retarded often leads to exclusion in a society like Afghanistan, and becoming a martyr might be the only chance of achieving social recognition and honour — if not just a way to end the pain of being socially isolated (which is especially traumatizing in collectivist cultures like Islam). Al Qaida’s use of people with Down’s syndrome might be another unpleasant side effect of the many chromosomal illnesses resulting from inbreeding between first cousins. People with low intelligence (because of inbreeding) might also be easier to brainwash with fundamentalist Islam.
Surely the Quran’s numerous verses ordering Muslims to fight to the death in order to spread sharia and defend the honour of their religion and prophet is the most obvious and strongest motivator for Islamic terrorism. Being an outcast due to a physical handicap, living in a country that does not manage to take care of handicapped people, suffering from physical pain following disease, or being depressed or schizophrenic, has now proved to be an important factor as well.
The unhealthy culture of inbreeding in Muslim societies increases the number of Muslim martyrs who are looking for an honourable and socially and religiously accepted way out of here.
Nicolai Sennels is a psychologist and the author of “Among Criminal Muslims: A Psychologist’s experiences with the Copenhagen Municipality”.
Title: POTH: Islamism is winning
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 07, 2012, 08:59:07 AM
Why Islamism Is Winning
Published: January 6, 2012
EGYPT’S final round of parliamentary elections won’t end until next week, but the outcome is becoming clear. The Muslim Brotherhood will most likely win half the lower house of Parliament, and more extreme Islamists will occupy a quarter. Secular parties will be left with just 25 percent of the seats.

Islamism did not cause the Arab Spring. The region’s authoritarian governments had simply failed to deliver on their promises. Though Arab authoritarianism had a good run from the 1950s until the 1980s, economies eventually stagnated, debts mounted and growing, well-educated populations saw the prosperous egalitarian societies they had been promised receding over the horizon, aggrieving virtually everyone, secularists and Islamists alike.

The last few weeks, however, have confirmed that a revolution’s consequences need not follow from its causes. Rather than bringing secular revolutionaries to power, the Arab Spring is producing flowers of a decidedly Islamist hue. More unsettling to many, Islamists are winning fairly: religious parties are placing first in free, open elections in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt. So why are so many Arabs voting for parties that seem politically regressive to Westerners?

The West’s own history furnishes an answer. From 1820 to 1850, Europe resembled today’s Arab world in two ways. Both regions experienced historic and seemingly contagious rebellions that swept from country to country. And in both cases, frustrated people in many nations with relatively little in common rallied around a single ideology — one not of their own making, but inherited from previous generations of radicals.

In 19th-century Europe, that ideology was liberalism. It emerged in the late 18th century from the American, Dutch, Polish and especially French revolutions. Whereas the chief political divide in society had long been between monarchs and aristocrats, the revolutions drew a new line between the “old regime” of monarchy, nobility and church, and the new commercial classes and small landholders. For the latter group, it was the old regime that produced the predatory taxes, bankrupt treasuries, corruption, perpetual wars and other pathologies that dragged down their societies. The liberal solution was to extend rights and liberties beyond the aristocracy, which had inherited them from the Middle Ages.

Suppressing liberalism became the chief aim of absolutist regimes in Austria, Russia and Prussia after they helped defeat France in 1815. Prince Klemens von Metternich, Austria’s powerful chancellor, claimed that “English principles” of liberty were foreign to the Continent. But networks of liberals — Italian carbonari, Freemasons, English Radicals — continued to operate underground, communicating across societies and providing a common language for dissent.

This helped lay the ideological groundwork for Spain’s liberal revolution in 1820. From there, revolts spread to Portugal, the Italian states of Naples and Piedmont, and Greece. News of the Spanish revolution even spurred the adoption of liberal constitutions in the nascent states of Gran Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, Peru and Mexico. Despite their varied grievances, in each case liberalism served as a rallying point and political program on which the malcontents could agree.

A decade later, in July 1830, a revolution toppled France’s conservative Bourbon monarchy. Insurrection spread to Belgium, Switzerland, a number of German and Italian states and Poland. Once again, a variety of complaints were distilled into the rejection of the old regime and the acceptance of liberalism.

The revolutions of 1848 were more numerous and consequential but remarkably similar to the earlier ones. Rebels with little in common — factory workers in Paris, peasants in Ireland, artisans in Vienna — followed a script written in the 1790s that was rehearsed continuously in the ensuing years across the continent.

Today, rural and urban Arabs with widely varying cultures and histories are showing that they share more than a deep frustration with despots and a demand for dignity. Most, whether moderate or radical, or living in a monarchy or a republic, share a common inherited language of dissent: Islamism.

Political Islam, especially the strict version practiced by Salafists in Egypt, is thriving largely because it is tapping into ideological roots that were laid down long before the revolts began. Invented in the 1920s by the Muslim Brotherhood, kept alive by their many affiliates and offshoots, boosted by the failures of Nasserism and Baathism, allegedly bankrolled by Saudi and Qatari money, and inspired by the defiant example of revolutionary Iran, Islamism has for years provided a coherent narrative about what ails Muslim societies and where the cure lies. Far from rendering Islamism unnecessary, as some experts forecast, the Arab Spring has increased its credibility; Islamists, after all, have long condemned these corrupt regimes as destined to fail.

Liberalism in 19th-century Europe, and Islamism in the Arab world today, are like channels dug by one generation of activists and kept open, sometimes quietly, by future ones. When the storms of revolution arrive, whether in Europe or the Middle East, the waters will find those channels. Islamism is winning out because it is the deepest and widest channel into which today’s Arab discontent can flow.

John M. Owen IV, a professor of politics at the University of Virginia, is the author of “The Clash of Ideas in World Politics: Transnational Networks, States, and Regime Change, 1510-2010.”

Title: Oren in WSJ: Israel and the plight of Mideast Christians
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 09, 2012, 10:20:48 AM

By MICHAEL OREN The church in Bethlehem had survived more than 1,000 years, through wars and conquests, but its future now seemed in jeopardy. Spray-painted all over its ancient stone walls were the Arabic letters for Hamas. The year was 1994 and the city was about to pass from Israeli to Palestinian control. I was meeting with the church's clergy as an Israeli government adviser on inter-religious affairs. They were despondent but too frightened to file a complaint. The same Hamas thugs who had desecrated their sanctuary were liable to take their lives.

The trauma of those priests is now commonplace among Middle Eastern Christians. Their share of the region's population has plunged from 20% a century ago to less than 5% today and falling. In Egypt, 200,000 Coptic Christians fled their homes last year after beatings and massacres by Muslim extremist mobs. Since 2003, 70 Iraqi churches have been burned and nearly a thousand Christians killed in Baghdad alone, causing more than half of this million-member community to flee. Conversion to Christianity is a capital offense in Iran, where last month Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death. Saudi Arabia outlaws private Christian prayer.

As 800,000 Jews were once expelled from Arab countries, so are Christians being forced from lands they've inhabited for centuries.

The only place in the Middle East where Christians aren't endangered but flourishing is Israel. Since Israel's founding in 1948, its Christian communities (including Russian and Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Armenians and Protestants) have expanded more than 1,000%.

Christians are prominent in all aspects of Israeli life, serving in the Knesset, the Foreign Ministry and on the Supreme Court. They are exempt from military service, but thousands have volunteered and been sworn in on special New Testaments printed in Hebrew. Israeli Arab Christians are on average more affluent than Israeli Jews and better-educated, even scoring higher on their SATs.

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A damaged crucifix survives the burning of a Greek-Orthodox church in Tulkarem in the West Bank on Sept. 17, 2006.
.This does not mean that Israeli Christians do not occasionally encounter intolerance. But in contrast to elsewhere in the Middle East where hatred of Christians is ignored or encouraged, Israel remains committed to its Declaration of Independence pledge to "ensure the complete equality of all its citizens irrespective of religion." It guarantees free access to all Christian holy places, which are under the exclusive aegis of Christian clergy. When Muslims tried to erect a mosque near the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the Israeli government interceded to preserve the sanctity of the shrine.

Israel abounds with such sites (Capernaum, the Hill of the Beatitudes, the birth place of St. John the Baptist) but the state constitutes only part of the Holy Land. The rest, according to Jewish and Christian tradition, is in Gaza and the West Bank. Christians in those areas suffer the same plight as their co-religionists throughout the region.

Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, half the Christian community has fled. Christmas decorations and public displays of crucifixes are forbidden. In a December 2010 broadcast, Hamas officials exhorted Muslims to slaughter their Christian neighbors. Rami Ayad, owner of Gaza's only Christian bookstore, was murdered, his store reduced to ash. This is the same Hamas with which the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank recently signed a unity pact.

Little wonder, then, that the West Bank is also hemorrhaging Christians. Once 15% of the population, they now make up less than 2%. Some have attributed the flight to Israeli policies that allegedly deny Christians economic opportunities, stunt demographic growth, and impede access to the holy sites of Jerusalem. In fact, most West Bank Christians live in cities such as Nablus, Jericho and Ramallah, which are under Palestinian Authority control. All those cities have experienced marked economic growth and sharp population increase—among Muslims.

Israel, in spite of its need to safeguard its borders from terrorists, allows holiday access to Jerusalem's churches to Christians from both the West Bank and Gaza. In Jerusalem, the number of Arabs—among them Christians—has tripled since the city's reunification by Israel in 1967.

There must be another reason, then, for the West Bank's Christian exodus. The answer lies in Bethlehem. Under Israeli auspices, the city's Christian population grew by 57%. But under the Palestinian Authority since 1995, those numbers have plummeted. Palestinian gunmen seized Christian homes—compelling Israel to build a protective barrier between them and Jewish neighborhoods—and then occupied the Church of the Nativity, looting it and using it as a latrine. Today, Christians comprise a mere one-fifth of their holy city's population.

The extinction of the Middle East's Christian communities is an injustice of historic magnitude. Yet Israel provides an example of how this trend can not only be prevented but reversed. With the respect and appreciation that they receive in the Jewish state, the Christians of Muslim countries could not only survive but thrive.

Mr. Oren is Israel's ambassador to the United States.

Title: How long until the French surrender?
Post by: G M on March 21, 2012, 05:38:13 PM

After 21-hour siege, French cops finally move in on jihadi suspected in Jewish school shooting; Update: Cops suspend siege

posted at 7:52 pm on March 21, 2012 by Allahpundit

British media has been covering the standoff all day, replete with live updates at the Telegraph and Guardian. Follow those links for developments tonight; the latest as I write this is that French police have blown open a door in his apartment building after negotiating with him since 3 a.m. local time this morning. For background on the whole story, though, read CBS’s account. The total death toll: Three Jewish children, a rabbi, and three French paratroopers, at least one of whom was Muslim. And he allegedly had plans to go out and kill another soldier before the cops surrounded him.

The suspect has told police he belonged to al Qaeda and wanted to take revenge for Palestinian children killed in the Middle East, Interior Minister Claude Gueant said, adding the man was also angry about French military intervention abroad…
An Interior Ministry official told The Associated Press that Merah has been under surveillance for years for having “fundamentalist” views. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Merah is a self-proclaimed member of the Forsan al-Izza or “Knights of Glory” group, which the French government banned in January following suspicion that it was recruiting Jihadists to Afghanistan…
Gueant told reporters Merah is “less explicit” about why he killed French paratroopers. The paratroopers were of Muslim and French Caribbean origin, but the interior minister said the suspect told them the ethnic origin has nothing to do with his actions.
He traveled to Afghanistan two years ago and, according to a French prosecutor, trained in Waziristan, but apparently earlier reports about him having been jailed there as a jihadi fighter and then escaped in a prison break are incorrect. He’s not the only local who’s trained for jihad abroad either, per French counterterror officials. They’ve had their eye on a number of men from Toulouse and estimate that there are 30 or more across Europe who went to Afghanistan or Iraq and then came home. In fact, French intelligence already knew who the suspect, Mohammed Merah, was. How he managed to kill seven people, including three soldiers, over several days without anyone moving in on him is the big question mark right now.
Two interesting wrinkles in this case. One: Some major newspapers, including the NYT and the Guardian, were quick to suggest that the shooter must be part of the European far right. That’s not implausible after the Anders Breivik massacre, and anti-semitic attitudes in France are on the rise, but to leap to that conclusion after fully 10 years of western counterterror officials warning of homegrown jihadists is simply insane. (Ace speculates that the media thought it unlikely that a jihadist would target Muslim members of the French army and notes, correctly, that that assumption is doubly insane.) Which brings us to the other wrinkle: Does Merah’s M.O. signal a deadly tactical shift by AQ and affiliated terrorists?

In the intelligence world, they are known as the Nike terrorists, whose motto when it comes to committing acts of terrorism is simply: “Just do it.”…
Rather than trying to carry out spectacular attacks on the scale of September 11, the Nike terrorists are encouraged to use any means at their disposal to cause the maximum number of casualties. The architect of this new way of killing was Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical cleric who masterminded al-Qaeda’s operations from Yemen until killed by a US drone strike last September.
Awlaki, whose perfect command of English made him a highly effective al-Qaeda propagandist, regularly posted sermons on the internet urging his followers to carry out rudimentary attacks against Western “infidels” using any means at their disposal.
Read this analysis at the JPost making the same point and noting that Inspire, the Al Qaeda “magazine,” explicitly urged followers to attack locally and on their own. If the reports about him being trained in Waziristan are true, then he’s not a “lone wolf,” strictly speaking. But he was effective enough here (as was Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood) that more aspiring jihadis are bound to start eschewing high explosives for the low-tech yet highly effective machine-gun-in-the-mall approach. Bad days ahead.

Update: Just as I hit publish, the Telegraph updates to say that the earlier explosion was designed to intimidate Merah into surrendering. But he’s not intimidated and refuses to surrender. So … they’re going to start negotiating with him again. Ah, France.
Title: Fisk demonizes persecuted Christians
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 27, 2012, 11:03:19 AM
Title: Emerson: Ramadan, Holy Month of Christian Oppression
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 24, 2012, 06:48:49 PM
Guest Column: Ramadan: Islam's 'Holy Month' of Christian Oppression

Steven Emerson, Executive Director

August 24, 2012

Articles by IPT | IPT in the News | IPT Blog | Profiles | Multimedia | Donate |
Contact Us

Guest Column: Ramadan: Islam's 'Holy Month' of Christian Oppression

by Raymond Ibrahim
Special to IPT News
August 24, 2012






Be the first of your friends to like this.

The month of Ramadan, which ended earlier this week, proved to be a month of renewed
Muslim piety on the one hand, and renewed oppression of non-Muslim minorities on the
other. In Nigeria, for example, Islamic militants are living up to the assertion
that "Ramadan is a month of jihad and death for Allah," proving that killing
Christians is not only reserved for Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter --
when militants bombed churches killing dozens -- but is especially applicable during
Islam's Ramadan.

Usually, however, Ramadan-related oppression has to do with Muslim perceptions that
Christians do not "know their place"--either because the latter openly do things
forbidden to Muslims during Ramadan, or because they dare object to the things
Muslims do during Ramadan.

When it comes to these aspects of dhimmitude, Egypt offers countless examples, past
and present, simply because it houses the Middle East's largest Christian minority,
the Copts, and thus offers more opportunities for the intolerant face of Ramadan to
reveal itself. Two recent examples follow:

First, according to Coptic websites, on July 27, a diabetic man in Egypt was driving
his car in Maadi, a suburb of southern Cairo, when he was struck with great thirst,
"which he could not bear" (a side-effect of diabetes, further exacerbated by Egypt's
July weather). He pulled over near a public water source and started drinking water.
Soon three passers-by approached him, inquiring why he was drinking water (among the
many things forbidden to Muslims during daylight in Ramadan). The diabetic man
replied, "Because I am a Christian, and sick," to which they exclaimed "you're a
Christian, too!" and begun beating him mercilessly. Other passers-by began to
congregate to see what was happening, but no one intervened on behalf of the
diabetic non-Muslim until he managed to make a dash for his parked car and fled the

Though not forbidden to him, this infidel Christian openly violated a principle of
Islamic Ramadan, which was deemed a great affront and was punished accordingly. This
idea that non-Muslims must show respect for Islamic observances is commonplace.
Around the same time this story took place, for instance, a Christian Lebanese
singer was taken to police while in Algeria for smoking in public, and "failing to
show due respect to Muslims." She was released after police warned her that "she was
not allowed to smoke in public during Ramadan in Muslim Algeria, even though she was
a Christian."

The second story from Egypt concerns a young Christian doctor, Maher Rizkalla Ghali,
who was shot by riotous Muslims, including easily-identified Salafis, resulting in
the loss of one eye and the likely loss of the other. According to Watan Voice, the
perpetrators live downstairs and regularly fired bullets in the air while feasting
during sahur (the time before dawn when Muslims are permitted the things they are
forbidden in daylight, including food, water, and sex). One night the raucous was so
unbearable that the Copt spoke to them from his window, saying that their actions
were disturbing to the children and elderly.

Their response was to "insult his religion" and open fire at him, severely
disfiguring him. The Muslims then tried to break through the door to attack and
plunder the Christian household. Although the family filed a police report,
"security forces have not taken any action towards the perpetrators." Likewise,
though they tried to admit the blinded Christian man to several hospitals, they were
refused admission until Kasr Hospital accepted them.

This story is almost identical to what happened to a family in Turkey around the
same time. According to Hurriyet Daily News, the home of an Alevi family "was stoned
and their stables burned down by an angry mob" because they "told a Ramadan drummer
not to wake them for sahur, the meal before sunrise," resulting in a quarrel. After
local Muslims found out about the family's temerity, "a mob of around 60 people"
gathered around the house hurling stones, setting the stable on fire, and chanting
Islamic slogans, including "Allahu Akbar!" "They came to lynch us," explained a
family member, and "told us to leave and threatened to kill us if we did not."

The above anecdotes demonstrate the stark antithesis between the West and the Muslim
world concerning the notion of being "sensitive" to religious minorities during the
holidays of the dominant religion: whereas almost every year, stories appear of
Christmas being suppressed to accommodate Muslim sensitivities in the West, in the
Muslim world, Christians themselves are being suppressed to accommodate Muslim

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an
Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum

Related Topics: Raymond Ibrahim

The IPT accepts no funding from outside the United States, or from any governmental
agency or political or religious institutions. Your support of The Investigative
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donations are tax-deductible. Click here to donate online. The Investigative Project
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Title: Egypt: Christians crucified
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 04, 2012, 08:14:33 AM
Not Geller, not Spencer  :evil:

Guest Column: Crucifixions, Not Fictions

Steven Emerson, Executive Director

September 4, 2012

Articles by IPT | IPT in the News | IPT Blog | Profiles | Multimedia | Donate |
Contact Us

Guest Column: Crucifixions, Not Fictions

by Raymond Ibrahim
IPT News
September 4, 2012

I recently wrote an article based on Arabic reports that Muslim Brotherhood
supporters had crucified Morsi's opponents. Because it was picked up by several
websites and disseminated far and wide, as usual, Islam's apologists and others
claimed "hoax."

Readers sent me a couple of these articles which, upon further investigation, seem
to be based on a National Post article titled "Egypt's 'crucifixion' hoax becomes an
instant Internet myth" by Jonathan Kay. He characterizes the crucifixion account as
"a story worth dissecting -- not because it's true (it isn't), but because it is a
textbook example of how the Internet, once thought to be the perfect medium of
truth-seeking, has been co-opted by culture warriors as a weapon to fire up the
naïve masses with lies and urban legends."

Alternatively, dissecting Kay's claims is useful as it is a textbook example of how
the Western mindset tries to rationalize away whatever does not fit its intellectual

First, after mentioning the several websites that carried or quoted my article, Kay
wondered how none of the "sources supply the original Sky reporting that purportedly
outlines the facts." Then, he offers the following sentence as its own paragraph,
apparently as something of an eye-opening revelation:

"That's because there is no Sky report on the subject."

Actually, this big "aha" moment was made earlier and by someone else--me, in my
original article. After posting the names of several Arabic websites that carried
the same verbatim quote from Sky News, I pointed out that Sky removed its original
report. I did not have to make this point, or mention Sky News at all, since other
reports--including El Balad, a much higher trafficked Arabic website which I also
quoted--independently mentions the crucifixions in original language and further
adds that two people died. And that report, as of now, is still up.

Kay then quotes a Sky News official who supposedly told him that the crucifixion claim

began on social media. It started getting pick-up from there and eventually reached
us [Sky News]. Our reporters came across reports of the alleged crucifixions and a
story very briefly appeared on the Sky News Arabia website. The story -- which was
taken down within minutes -- was based on third-party reports and I am not aware
that any of our reporters said or confirmed anything along the lines of what is
quoted in the article… none of our correspondents confirmed this issue or commented
on it.

Several points here:

First, Sky News admits to having published a story about crucifixions. Likewise,
though it admits to taking it down, it never states that the crucifixion accounts
are a "hoax" or even false. It simply offers no comment. This is not proof that the
story is a hoax.

As for the claim that the report was "taken down within minutes," in fact, someone
forwarded me the Sky News link almost two days before I actually clicked it, and the
article was still up and written exactly like a report. Investigative reporter
Patrick Poole sent me a clear snapshot of the webpage before it was removed, which
is before me.

The title, "Protesters Crucified in Front of Presidential Palace in Egypt," is
followed by the following standard reporting information: "Thursday, August 9, 3:19
am Abu Dhabi time; 11:19 pm Greenwich; Samir Umar [reporter], Cairo, Sky News
Arabic," followed by the portion I originally translated: "A Sky News Arabic
correspondent in Cairo confirmed that protestors belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood
crucified those opposing Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi naked on trees in front
of the presidential palace while abusing others."

Moreover, the photo of the page shows 286 face book likes: one doubts that a report
on a modestly trafficked website would reach that number if it was only up for mere

Kay also ignored the context of the crucifixions in my original article: Muslim
Brotherhood supporters were brutalizing the media for constantly exposing the
Islamist agenda--a well documented fact. A major news media facility was ransacked,
popular anchors beat and terrorized. Soon thereafter, Brotherhood officials were
appointed to "oversee" major media outlets in Egypt.

As I originally pointed out, Sky News may have "censored itself for fear that it
would be next in the terror campaign against the media." If this is the case--if Sky
News had removed its report on Brotherhood crucifixions in light of the fact that
the Brotherhood was in the process of abusing and threatening the media--would it
then get itself in deeper trouble by, of all things, telling a Western reporter,
"Yes, the Brotherhood crucified people and we took the story down in fear of the
Brotherhood"? Not likely.

Kay also writes: "If that [crucifixion] happened, wouldn't someone, you know, take a
picture?... Maybe just a few shots with a cell phone camera from one of the tens of
thousands of people who no doubt would have witnessed this Biblical horror in one of
the most densely trafficked patches of real estate in the entire Arab world?"

One wonders if Kay has ever been around a wild pro-Sharia mob in Egypt savaging its
opponents. It's not pretty; the usual instinct is to run for one's life, not take
photos and thus further enrage the mob by collecting evidence against them.
Likewise, if photos were the ultimate criteria to validate reports, then over 90% of
all news stories become suspect for not carrying pictures.

Even so, yet another reputable Arabic website, Dostor Watany, did post a graphic
picture, which appeared in my original article. It depicts a man rescued by security
forces, with one side of his body literally carved off. But apparently doubting Kay
needs to see the actual holes in the victim's hands before he believes that the same
Muslim Brotherhood supporters who mutilated this man could ever crucify someone.

Moreover, the reports do not mention any numbers. Yet even if there were, as Kay
asserts, "tens of thousands" of people present, that would still say very little.

Recall Egypt's Maspero Massacre: while the disconnected Western mainstream media was
portraying it as violent Christians attacking Egyptian police, in fact, it was the
Egyptian military slaughtering Christians, killing dozens and wounding hundreds,
simply because they came out in large numbers to protest the constant destruction of
their churches. And although there were several thousands of people present that
night, only a very few amateur videos appeared showing armored-vehicles running over
Christians--and these, too, I now see have been taken down from YouTube.

Kay's "evidence" culminates by quoting, of all things, a comment under one of the
websites carrying my story, from someone who claims to be a Copt, lives near the
area, and heard of no such occurrences.

Such is the sort of "proof" being relied on to "debunk" this story--as if this
commenter could not be, say, a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer living up to the
dictum of Islam's prophet, that "war is deceit."

All this leads to the most important point. Whereas Kay appears intent on proving
that the crucifixions never happened, a close read of my article shows that I never
said they did happen. As always, I merely reported and translated what was on the
Arabic media; noted that Sky News took its story down; and then offered my own
interpretation--including the fact that Muslims have been known to crucify their
opponents in the modern era, crucifixions are prescribed by the Koran and Sharia,
and an Egyptian parliamentarian recently called for crucifixions to be legalized.

In light of all the above, I reiterate my original conclusion: "there is little
reason to doubt this crucifixion story."

Indeed, soon after this crucifixion story appeared in the Egyptian media, a
disturbing video surfaced from Yemen, of a mutilated man, crucified.

How long before the usual naysayers try to portray even this video as a "hoax"?

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an
Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Related Topics: Raymond Ibrahim

The IPT accepts no funding from outside the United States, or from any governmental
agency or political or religious institutions. Your support of The Investigative
Project on Terrorism is critical in winning a battle we cannot afford to lose. All
donations are tax-deductible. Click here to donate online. The Investigative Project
on Terrorism Foundation is a recognized 501(c)3 organization.

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Title: HufPo: SA Council says Driving=more sluts and homos
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 06, 2012, 03:21:50 PM
Allowing Women To Drive Would Mean No More Virgins, Saudi Arabia Religious Council Says
Huffington Post UK Felicity Morse First Posted: 02/12/2011 17:01 GMT Updated: 02/10/2012 19:01 BST

Allowing women to drive in Saudi Arabia would mean no more virgins and an increase in homosexuality, according to academics at Saudi Arabia’s highest religious council, Majlis al-Ifta' al-A'ala, it has been reported in the Telegraph.

More pornography would be used if women were allowed on the roads and rates of prostitution and divorce would alo rise, the report stated.

Produced in conjunction with Kamal Subhi, a former professor at the King Fahd University, the study into repealing the ban predicted that there would be no more virgins left in the Arab kingdom in 10 years.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world which bans women from driving.

Professor Subhi described sitting in a coffee shop in an unnamed Arab state where “all the women were looking at me“.

“One made a gesture that made it clear that she was available,” he said. “This is what happens when women are allowed to drive.”

The report was produced for the country's legislative assembly, the Shura Council. However this institution has no power as Saudi Arabia is ruled by a monarchy with absolute power.

The state’s controversial ban on female drivers last came under attack in September after Shaima Jastaniya was sentenced to 10 lashes just days after Saudi King Abdullah granted women the right to vote. The punishment was overturned after international and domestic pressure.

Saudi Arabia is currently considering a law for women to cover up their eyes if they are deemed too "tempting."
Title: Reporter tells the truth about the Taliban, Al-Qaida...
Post by: objectivist1 on October 09, 2012, 05:20:40 AM
Reporter Lara Logan brings ominous news from Middle East

For those who may not remember - Lara Logan is the "60 Minutes" reporter who was repeatedly and brutally raped in Tahrir Square last year while covering the uprising and Mubarek's ouster.

BY LAURA WASHINGTON for the Chicago Sun-Times

Last Modified: Oct 8, 2012 02:18AM
This was no ordinary rubber chicken affair. That was my reaction to the extraordinary keynoter at Tuesday’s Better Government Association annual luncheon.

Lara Logan, a correspondent for CBS’ “60 Minutes,” delivered a provocative speech to about 1,100 influentials from government, politics, media, and the legal and corporate arenas. Such downtown gatherings are a regular on Chicago’s networking circuit. (I am a member of the BGA’s Civic Leadership Committee, and the Chicago Sun-Times was a sponsor).

Her ominous and frightening message was gleaned from years of covering our wars in the Middle East. She arrived in Chicago on the heels of her Sept. 30 report, “The Longest War.” It examined the Afghanistan conflict and exposed the perils that still confront America, 11 years after 9/11.

Eleven years later, “they” still hate us, now more than ever, Logan told the crowd. The Taliban and al-Qaida have not been vanquished, she added. They’re coming back.

“I chose this subject because, one, I can’t stand, that there is a major lie being propagated . . .” Logan declared in her native South African accent.

The lie is that America’s military might has tamed the Taliban.

“There is this narrative coming out of Washington for the last two years,” Logan said. It is driven in part by “Taliban apologists,” who claim “they are just the poor moderate, gentler, kinder Taliban,” she added sarcastically. “It’s such nonsense!”

Logan stepped way out of the “objective,” journalistic role. The audience was riveted as she told of plowing through reams of documents, and interviewing John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan; Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and a Taliban commander trained by al-Qaida. The Taliban and al-Qaida are teaming up and recruiting new terrorists to do us deadly harm, she reports.

She made a passionate case that our government is downplaying the strength of our enemies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as a rationale of getting us out of the longest war. We have been lulled into believing that the perils are in the past: “You’re not listening to what the people who are fighting you say about this fight. In your arrogance, you think you write the script.”

Our enemies are writing the story, she suggests, and there’s no happy ending for us.

As a journalist, I was queasy. Reporters should tell the story, not be the story. As an American, I was frightened.

Logan even called for retribution for the recent terrorist killings of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other officials. The event is a harbinger of our vulnerability, she said. Logan hopes that America will “exact revenge and let the world know that the United States will not be attacked on its own soil. That its ambassadors will not be murdered, and that the United States will not stand by and do nothing about it.”

In the “good old days,” reporters did not advocate, crusade or call for revenge.

In these “new” days in a post-9/11 world, perhaps we need more reporters who are willing to break the rules.
Title: Raymond Ibrahim on Islam's Insanities...
Post by: objectivist1 on October 11, 2012, 04:45:50 AM
Islam’s Insanities: All Just a ‘Hoax’?

Posted By Raymond Ibrahim On October 11, 2012 -

You read something immensely disturbing concerning the Muslim world—say, that some Muslims seek to legalize sex-slavery or destroy Egypt’s Pyramids or approve of sodomy-suicide-missions or crucify infidels.  Your mind—exclaiming “tell me this is a joke!”—finds it difficult to accept such news. Then, somewhere from the bowels of the Internet, relief arrives.

The much welcomed word “Hoax!” appears, reconfirming your worldview.  All is well again.

But is it?  Are such accounts mere hoaxes?  Or is this just another strategy by those who apologize for Islam’s insanities—a strategy that relies exclusively on the fact that the Western mindset cannot fathom such news, anyway, and thus is all too willing to accept the hoax charge without a second thought?

Recall the news that Salafi parliamentarians in Egypt were pushing for a law legalizing necrophilia.  This information first appeared in Egypt’s most circulated newspaper, Al Ahram, followed by Al Arabiya.  The news went viral, prompting Western dismay.  But then a cutesy Christian Science Monitor article titled “Egypt ‘necrophilia law’? Hooey, utter hooey” tried to return us to the status quo.  Its author, one Dan Murphy, admonished the many websites that disseminated the necrophilia story: “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet, kids. At least until there’s like, you know, some proof.”

And his “proof” that it was a hoax?  Nothing.  He even confirmed that “there was a Moroccan cleric a few years back who apparently did issue a religious ruling saying that husbands remained married to their wives in the first six hours after death and, so, well, you know [i.e., he permitted necrophilia].  But that guy is far, far out on the nutty fringe.”

Aside from Murphy’s immature tone—“so, well, you know” what?—one fails to see how characterizing a cleric as a “nut” means that his religious ruling is a “hoax”—that it never existed?  Likewise, when it comes to fatwas, it matters not which nation they hail from, so that Egyptians can easily uphold the fatwa of a Moroccan, or vice-versa, because in Islam there is no “national” distinction, only the umma.

And yet, no matter how shallow or lacking in evidence, the hoax charges resonate well, simply because the mainstream Western mentality instinctively rejects, in this case, the idea of codifying necrophilia.

Much of this is exacerbated by the fact that most Westerners, including reporters, cannot independently verify such stories, as they usually originate in Middle Eastern languages.  Which leads to my familiarity with this matter: I get most of my news directly from the Arabic media—knowing that it is better to get my information directly “from the horse’s mouth” than to get it from the limited and filtered Western media.

Accordingly, I am often first to expose stories that go unreported in the West—for instance, the fact that the U.S. embassy in Cairo was being threatened days before the Muhammad movie became a convenient excuse to riot and destroy (the original reason was to coerce the U.S. to free the Blind Sheikh and others).

However, those who prefer to keep such stories suppressed have learned to cry “hoax”—taking advantage of the fact that most Americans cannot read Arabic or verify these accounts for themselves.

Thus, when I documented the indisputable fact that several Islamists were calling for the destruction of Egypt’s Pyramids, the New York Times and Huffington Post cried “hoax”; when I shed light on an obscure “sodomy fatwa” which helped explain the role of intention in Islam (or niyya), Muslims and others cried hoax, including by lying and distorting; and when I reported on how Muslim Brotherhood supporters crucified their opponents, the National Post and others cried hoax.

And yet, none of these naysayers offered any meaningful evidence.  Instead, they banked on the fact that it is simply too hard to believe these stories in the first place.

So what should the objective Western reader do—who is stuck in the middle, does not read Arabic, and cannot independently verify anything—when confronted with absurd news emanating from the Islamic world?

Along with evaluating the evidence as best they can, I suggest they learn to connect-the-dots.  The fact is, there is no end of bizarre anecdotes emanating from the Islamic world.  Saudi Arabia’s highest Islamic authority until he died in 1999, Sheikh Bin Baz—hardly someone to be dismissed as being “far, far out on the nutty fringe”—insisted that the earth was flat and that all scientific evidence otherwise is a Western conspiracy.

In 2007, Egypt’s second highest Islamic authority, Sheikh Ali Gomaa—the same “moderate” Grand Mufti who deems all Christians “infidels”—decreed that drinking the urine of Muhammad was a great blessing.  Likewise, a few weeks ago in Egypt it was revealed that there is now a clinic “healing” people by giving them camel urine to drink—because Muhammad once advised it.

Then there are the notorious breastfeeding fatwas: Several Islamic clerics—including Dr. Izzat Atiya, of Egypt’s Al Azhar University—advised Muslim female workers to “breastfeed” their male co-workers in order to be in each other’s company (more “moderate” clerics say it is not necessary for the man to drink the milk directly from the teat but may use a cup).

The list goes on and on: Several Muslims, including prominent ones, are calling for the reinstitution of sex-slavery, whereby “infidel” women can be bought and sold in markets.   One female Kuwaiti politician even recommends that Russian women seized during the Chechnya jihad be sold as sex-slaves on Muslim markets.

Other prominent clerics insist that Islam allows men to get “married” to baby girls still in the cradle, having sex with them once these children are “capable of being placed beneath and bearing the weight of the men.”

How does one explain these absurd and vile teachings—teachings advocated, not from radicals nor clerics “far, far out on the nutty fringe”—but often from its highest authorities?  Simple: Islamic jurisprudence, which is responsible for defining what is right and wrong in Islam, is fundamentally based on the words of a 7th century Arab whom Muslims venerate as a prophet.  And this man said and did many things that defy modern day sensibilities.

Indeed, he said and did many things that defied the sensibilities of his contemporaries—such as stripping naked and lying with a dead woman to the surprise of her gravediggers (which, incidentally, is cited by the necrophilia fatwas).  Likewise, it was the prophet who first ordered a woman to “breastfeed” a man in order to be in his company.

Here, then, is the rule of thumb: When it comes to determining whether a story from the Muslim world is a hoax or not, first determine whether it is it Islamic or not—whether it has doctrinal or historic support; whether it has some backing in the Quran and/or the hadith.

As it happens, destroying pyramids and pre-Islamic antiquities is very Islamic with a long paper trail; engaging in forbidden acts like sodomy or suicide or lying in order to empower Islam is legitimate according to the Islamic notion of niyya (or intention); crucifying the opponents of Islam is prescribed in the Quran—just as is sex-slavery and pedophilia; drinking urine—whether camels’ or Muhammad’s—is lauded in the hadith.

In short, the true test of whether an Islam-related story is a hoax or not, is not whether it accords with our sensibilities, but whether it accords with Islam’s teachings, many of which are strange if not downright bizarre by Western standards.
Title: This blows even the minds of the Saudis
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 07, 2013, 12:44:06 PM
Title: Self Flagellation- Iraq?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 07, 2013, 03:55:01 PM
Title: Pters: Islam cleansing Mideast of Christians
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 01, 2013, 08:21:17 AM
A Christian Catastrophe

Islamist ‘cleansing’ in Mideast
Last Updated: 12:11 AM, April 1, 2013
Posted: 10:13 PM, March 31, 2013

Islamist terrorists and fanatics are methodically exterminating the 2,000-year-old Christian civilization of the Middle East through oppression, threats, appropriations and deadly violence.  Our media ignore the intensifying savagery against Christians in Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Egypt. Unconfirmed reports assert that, last month, Muslim Brothers dragged Christian protesters to a mosque and tortured them — but our reporters won’t look into an Islamist Abu Ghraib.

For a century and a half, the varied strands of Middle East Christianity have faced increasingly fierce pogroms and, for the Armenians, outright genocide. But with the rise of Wahhabi and Salafist terror, the long, slow-motion Holocaust accelerated.
Western liberals romanticize barbaric cultures but have no interest in the destruction — before their averted eyes — of a great and brilliant religious civilization. It’s as if they accept the Islamist creed that Christians don’t belong in the realms of Islam.  But the Middle East was more than just Christianity’s birthplace. The faith we know matured in the Middle East and North Africa, from Ephesus and Antioch to Alexandria and beyond. St. Augustine, the most influential church father after St. Paul, was a North African.

Rome was a latecomer to Christian authority. Through the Middle Ages, substantially more Christians lived east of Constantinople (now Istanbul) than in Europe, the faith’s backwater, whose northern reaches had yet to be evangelized.

Christianity’s greatest thinkers, greatest monuments and greatest triumphs for its first 1,000 years rose in the Middle East. Even the Muslim conquest and relative servitude could not dislodge Christianity. In the worst of times, Christianity turned the other cheek and endured. Some Christians flourished.

Today, the end is in sight.

In Iraq, cities such as Mosul and Saddam’s hometown, Tikrit, were once vital centers of Christianity. But the country’s Christian population, estimated at up to 2 million a decade ago, has fallen by half — perhaps by three-quarters.  Over 2 million Christians in Syria dread Islamist terror and religious cleansing so much, they lean toward the vicious Assad regime, which at least shielded minorities. Those who can, flee the country.

Christians were early supporters of Arab nationalism. One of the fiercest Palestinian leaders, George Habash, was a Christian, as was the wife of Yasser Arafat. Their thanks? Two-thirds of the West Bank’s and more of Gaza’s Christians have been driven out. They’re now a small minority even in Bethlehem (a situation ignored by our visiting president).

Egypt has the region’s largest remaining Christian population, at least 10 million Copts. With rare exceptions, they’ve long been confined to squalid quarters and treated as third-class citizens. Now the Salafist fanatics have been unleashed. The nation’s Muslim Brotherhood rulers could put a stop to anti-Christian violence, but appear willing to let the Salafists do the dirty work for them. They’re playing bad cop, not-so-bad cop.

And we’ll send the regime at least a billion dollars this year — with no stipulations or conditions except that military-related funds must purchase US-made or US-licensed equipment. With Egypt’s economy in desperate straits and the Brotherhood’s popularity fading, we’re propping up religious-cleansing bigots.

Christians in Iran? Gone. Turkey? Almost gone. Saudi Arabia? The once-thriving Christian and Jewish populations of Mecca and Medina were finished off centuries ago.

And in Lebanon, the only Middle East country that until recently had a Christian majority, Christian rights have been so threatened by Sunni fanaticism that some Christians have reached out to Shia Hezbollah in their desperate hunt for allies.

Far to the east, in Pakistan, Christians face trumped-up charges of insulting Islam or rape, beatings, murder and church bombings. And we still pour billions into Pakistan.

It’s the end of a world as we know it.   If Islam is a “religion of peace,” it’s time to show the evidence to the endangered Christians of the Middle East.

Of course, not all Christians are angels, nor are all Muslims demons. Most humans of any faith just want to get through the day. And some Christians have collaborated with odious Baathist regimes (usually, to ensure their community’s survival). Nor are most Muslims active supporters of the religious cleansing of Christians from their shared homelands.  But disappointingly few Muslims actively defend religious minorities. It’s not unlike Nazi Germany, where most Germans didn’t want to murder Jews, but were complicit through their silence.

If a Michigan mosque is defaced with graffiti, it makes national news and the Justice Department views it as a hate crime. It’s time for our government and media to apply the same standard abroad on behalf of Christians.
Title: Tempting eyes outlawed in SA
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 11, 2013, 09:09:05 PM
Title: Christians being wiped out in Syria and , , ,
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 02, 2013, 05:51:14 AM
Read more from Ralph Peters:
Title: The Politics of Muslim Magic
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 18, 2013, 05:53:19 AM
Title: Woman jailed for being raped in Dubai is freed
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 22, 2013, 11:42:58 AM

At least she wasn't married here , , ,
Title: Kill a Christian for Allah
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 31, 2013, 07:42:29 PM
Title: 7 years and 600 lashes in SA; Jane Bond and brave mum in burqa
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 08, 2013, 02:15:03 PM
Title: Kill the Christians!
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 28, 2013, 02:41:20 PM
Title: Islamic Countries "Testing" for Homosexuality...
Post by: objectivist1 on October 10, 2013, 04:39:19 AM
Here is Robert Spencer's post quoting an article in the Daily Mail - Rush Limbaugh also quoted this article on his show on Tuesday.  Of course - there is no such "test," but these barbarians are claiming to have one, and to be using it to prevent homo travelers from entering their countries.

Why is it that I don't hear a peep from "gay activists" in the U.S. about this?  They love to scream about "oppression" of gays here.  Meanwhile - within this article is a list of Middle Eastern countries that mete out the death penalty for homosexuality.

As Robert facetiously asks in his post:  "Hmmmmm, what do all these countries have in common?"  But - I've been called a "bigot" here in Atlanta by gay people simply for suggesting that Islam oppresses gays, women, and non-believers. Sadly, "mainstream" - otherwise known as liberal or idiotic - gay organizations continue to defend Islam, or at a minimum stay silent about it.  NOTABLY - Israel welcomes gay people and has a large population of open gay couples, who are even allowed to adopt children.  Israel is the ONLY Middle Eastern country where homosexuals don't have to live in fear for their lives.  See below:

Title: Testing for gay people
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 15, 2013, 09:40:23 AM
Title: Re: Islam in Arabic/Islamic Countries, Testing for gay people
Post by: DougMacG on October 15, 2013, 02:45:42 PM
When Ahmadinejad said (in 2007) "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country", his Columbia University audience laughed at him.  When he said then name those gays in Iran and tell their addresses, the same audience went eerily silent.  A joke lost in translation is the way the media described it.

Title: Muslims fry Christian boy's head with rice and veggies
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 08, 2014, 04:27:09 PM
Title: Nipping women's concupisence for Allah
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 08, 2014, 09:11:29 PM
second entry
Title: Islam in Arabic/Islamic Countries, Sunni Shia split
Post by: DougMacG on June 19, 2014, 03:46:35 PM
From a link in a post from Mike (MT from FB) on the Middle East forum, I found this article quite helpful in explaining the split in Islam between Sunni and Shia.  A list of Middle East countries with populations and percentages of each follows this excerpt.

...Shia and Sunni traditions disagree strongly on two related matters: the question of divinity in the succession from Muhammad and the role of the clergy in the practice of Islam. While the Sunni believe that all humans, past and present, have had the same relationship to God, the Shia hold that Ali and the eleven leaders of the Shia faith who followed him — the twelve Imams — were divinely inspired and infallible in their judgements. The Twelfth Imam is believed not to have died, but to have passed into “occultation,” to return someday as the “Mahdi” or guided one, to lead a perfected Islamic society.  (Much more at the link)

Pop.: 28,513,677
% Shia: 19%
% Sunni: 80%

Pop.: 32,129,324
% Shia: –
% Sunni: 99%

Pop.: 7,868,385
% Shia: 67%
% Sunni: 29%

Pop.: 677,886
% Shia: 70%
% Sunni: 30%

Pop.: 76,117,421
% Shia: –
% Sunni: 90%

Pop.: 69,018,924
% Shia: 90%
% Sunni: 9%

Pop.: 25,374,691
% Shia: 63%
% Sunni: 34%

Pop.: 6,199,008
% Shia: –
% Sunni: 15%

Pop.: 5,611,202
% Shia: 2%
% Sunni: 92%

Pop.: 2,257,549
% Shia: 25%
% Sunni: 60%

Pop.: 3,777,218
% Shia: 36%
% Sunni: 22%

Pop.: 5,631,585
% Shia: –
% Sunni: 97%

Pop.: 32,209,801
% Shia: –
% Sunni: 99%
Pop.: 2,903,165
% Shia: 2%
% Sunni: 21%

Pop.: 159,196,336
% Shia: 20%
% Sunni: 77%

Palestinian Territory
Pop.: 3,152,361
% Shia: –
% Sunni: 95%

Pop.: 840,290
% Shia: 14%
% Sunni: 86%

Saudi Arabia
Pop.: 25,795,938
% Shia: 5%
% Sunni: 95%

Pop.: 39,148,162
% Shia: –
% Sunni: 70%

Pop.: 18,016,874
% Shia: 13%
% Sunni: 74%

Pop.: 9,974,722
% Shia: –
% Sunni: 98%

Pop.: 66,893,918
% Shia: 15%
% Sunni: 85%

Pop.: 2,523,915
% Shia: 16%
% Sunni: 80%

Pop.: 20,024,867
% Shia: 36%
% Sunni: 63%
Title: Sunni From Shiite
Post by: prentice crawford on June 25, 2014, 08:13:13 AM

Questions Rebels Use to Tell Sunni From Shiite

BAGHDAD — Whether a person is a Shiite or a Sunni Muslim in Iraq can now be, quite literally, a matter of life and death.

As the militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, has seized vast territories in western and northern Iraq, there have been frequent accounts of fighters’ capturing groups of people and releasing the Sunnis while the Shiites are singled out for execution.

ISIS believes that the Shiites are apostates and must die in order to forge a pure form of Islam. The two main branches of Islam diverge in their beliefs over which is the true inheritor of the mantle of the Prophet Muhammad. The Shiites believe that Islam was transmitted through the household of the Prophet Muhammad. Sunnis believe that it comes down through followers of the Prophet Muhammad who, they say, are his chosen people.

But how can ISIS tell whether a person is a Sunni or a Shiite? From accounts of people who survived encounters with the militants, it seems they often ask a list of questions. Here are some of them:
What is your name?

A quick look at an Iraqi’s national identity card or passport can be a signal. Shiites believe that the leadership of Islam was passed down through the Prophet Muhammad’s son-in-law Ali and his sons Hussain (or Hussein), Hassan and Abbas, among others. While some Sunnis and members of other Islamic groups may also have those names, ISIS would most likely associate them with the Shiites.

Where do you live?

In every city and province, even majority Sunni ones, there are enclaves that are known to be Shiite. People who said they came from one of those neighborhoods would most likely be killed.

How do you pray?

Shiites and Sunnis offer prayers in slightly different ways, with Sunnis generally folding their hands or crossing their arms in front of their stomachs and Shiites leaving them extended, palms resting on their thighs.

In a chilling video that appeared to have been made more than a year ago in the Anbar Province of Iraq, ISIS fighters stopped three truck drivers in the desert and asked them whether they were Sunnis or Shiites. All three claimed to be Sunni. Then the questions got harder. They were asked how they performed each of the prayers: morning, midday and evening. The truck drivers disagreed on their methods, and all were shot.

What kind of music do you listen to?

Recordings of religious songs could also be a tipoff. Similarly, even the ringtone on a person’s telephone could be a clue because it might be from a Sunni or Shiite religious song.

There are other clues, but none are completely reliable. For instance, a number of Shiites wear large rings, often with semiprecious stones. But so do some Sunnis, and others.

Generally, Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis are often indistinguishable in appearance. That is even more evident in many families and tribes in which there has been intermarriage for generations.

Given that the rigid views of ISIS are fairly well known, it is perhaps natural to wonder why hostages do not simply lie about their origins. It seems that many do, yet in very tense, perilous encounters, people can easily get tripped up. Sometimes another person in a group might inadvertently give someone away. Others refuse to lie about their faith.

Title: Caliph Declared for First Time Since 1923...
Post by: objectivist1 on June 30, 2014, 05:30:57 AM
ISIS/ISIL declares Islamic State, shortens name to “The Islamic State” (IS)

Robert Spencer    Jun 29, 2014 at 2:28pm

They clearly intend to hold the territory they have captured. They’ve also declared Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the new caliph; he claims to be a descendant of Muhammad, so it is possible that if they can make their state viable, this claim will gain currency. If that happens, it will be interesting to see how Muslims in the West react to the idea that he is the “leader for Muslims everywhere,” which historically was always a claim of the caliph.

“ISIS declares creation of Islamic state in Middle East, shortens name to ‘IS,’” RT, June 29, 2014:

ISIS jihadists have declared the captured territories from Iraq’s Diyala province to Syria’s Aleppo a new Islamic State – a ‘caliphate.’ They removed ‘Iraq and the Levant’ from their name and urged other radical Sunni groups to pledge their allegiance.

ISIS announced that it should now be called ‘The Islamic State’ and declared its chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as “the caliph” of the new state and “leader for Muslims everywhere,” the radical Sunni militant group said in an audio recording distributed online on Sunday.

This is the first time since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923 that a Caliph – which means a political successor to Prophet Muhammad – has been declared. The decision was made following the group’s Shura Council meeting on Sunday, according to ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani.

The new Islamic State has marked its borders, spanning the territory captured by the group in a bloody rampage, from Iraq’s volatile Diyala province to Syria’s war-torn Aleppo.

Title: Anal Jihad?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 12, 2014, 08:33:13 AM
Title: ISIS trains children; father who opposed threatened with beheading
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 30, 2014, 10:22:32 AM
Title: Some Fatwas against FGM
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 23, 2014, 10:16:44 AM
Title: Iranian Islamic Architechture
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 06, 2014, 11:18:50 AM
Quite impressive I think.
Title: Father helps stone daughter to death
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 23, 2014, 10:55:46 AM
Title: Children buried alive
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 06, 2015, 08:52:22 AM
Title: Re: Islam in Arabic/Islamic Countries:
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 21, 2015, 08:41:38 AM
Title: Al-Sisi wishes Christians a Merry Christmas
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 24, 2015, 11:51:27 AM
Title: Child Marriage is Islamic
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 16, 2016, 09:36:12 AM
Title: Re: Child Marriage is Islamic
Post by: G M on January 16, 2016, 09:46:16 AM

Of course it is. Aisha was 6 when she was married to Mohammed, but he waited until she was 9 before he consummated the marriage. He was in his 50's at that time.
Title: Afghan Woman’s Nose Is Cut Off by Her Husband, Officials Say
Post by: G M on January 20, 2016, 09:16:34 PM
"Islam as a religion, accepts SO MUCH easier, all the findings of modern science (quantum mechanics, bioethics,..) that pose all sorts of incredibly uncomfortable questions for Christianity."-Andrew Bole

Afghan Woman’s Nose Is Cut Off by Her Husband, Officials Say

KABUL, Afghanistan — A young woman has been hospitalized in northern Afghanistan and is hoping to travel to Turkey for reconstructive surgery after her husband cut off her nose, the police and the woman’s family said on Tuesday.

The woman, Reza Gul, 20, was attacked by her husband with a knife on Sunday in Shar-Shar, a village in an impoverished and Taliban-controlled part of Faryab Province. Reza Gul was in stable condition on Tuesday in a hospital in Maimana, the provincial capital, according to a spokesman for the Faryab police, Sayed Massoud Yaqubi.

Maroof Samar, a doctor who is the acting director of public health in Faryab, said Reza Gul had been in “very critical condition when she was brought in — she had lost much blood.”

Throughout the six years Reza Gul and her husband, Muhammad Khan, 25, have been married, he and members of his family have regularly abused her, beating her and binding her in chains, said Reza Gul’s mother, Zarghona. Mr. Khan regularly went to Iran for work, returned for a few months during which he abused his wife, then left her with his family, she said.

“This infidel cut off my daughter’s nose,” Zarghona said. “If I catch him, I’ll tear him to pieces.”

Though Reza Gul took her severed nose to the hospital, the facility was not equipped to handle the complicated surgery needed to reattach it. Dr. Samar said the governor of Faryab had enlisted the Turkish Embassy in Kabul to help arrange travel to Turkey for surgery and treatment. Reza Gul received a national identity card on Tuesday, he said, which she will use to apply for a passport to get to Turkey as soon as possible.

Her plight has again brought attention to endemic violence against women in Afghanistan, which the United Nations Development Program rated one of the worst countries in the world to be born female. Despite more than a decade of efforts to enact an Afghan legal system that protects women, and more than $1 billion in legal aid from the United States alone, Afghan women remain particularly vulnerable to abuse. And their attackers, for the most part, are only rarely punished.

On Sunday afternoon, Zarghona said, Reza Gul and Mr. Khan got into an argument over his having taken his uncle’s 6- or 7-year-old daughter as his fiancée, with the intention of making her his second wife this year. During the dispute, Mr. Khan erupted into a rage, took a knife and cut off his wife’s nose, said Zarghona, who goes by a single name.

Mr. Khan and one of his brothers then threw Reza Gul on the back of a motorcycle with the intention of taking her away to kill her, Zarghona said. But news of the attack spread quickly in the village, causing an uproar, and Mr. Khan fled for his life.

“I went to the Taliban,” Zarghona said. “I asked them: ‘Is this the Islam we are following? My daughter’s nose chopped off? But you are doing nothing about it. I want justice.’ ”

“They got really angry, and now they are searching for the boy,” she said. “I hope they find him before the police do.”

Mr. Yaqubi, the police official, said the authorities had heard that “the Taliban has already arrested Muhammad Khan, and he is presently in their custody.”

“We don’t know what they plan to do with him, but we will follow the case and bring him to justice.”
Title: Family kills 16 year old daughter for being raped
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 25, 2016, 09:20:06 AM
Title: Italian Food in Arabic countries
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 29, 2016, 11:26:37 AM
Title: Re: Italian Food in Arabic countries
Post by: G M on March 29, 2016, 01:12:26 PM

It makes more sense when you recognize the clothing is meant to be a portable jail cell.
Title: This guy has some testicular fortitude!
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 03, 2016, 05:42:36 PM

The openness of this conversation surprised me-- not only that it was said but that it was listened to. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that it was in Kuwait, which we saved from Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War.
Title: The World retains its' ability to surprise: Woman Saudi commentator
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 19, 2016, 10:46:28 AM
Title: Jordan
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 26, 2016, 06:32:42 AM
Title: Islam in Saudi Arabia: Woman goes out without hijab
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 02, 2016, 01:05:28 PM
Title: Dad sends children off to martyr
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 21, 2016, 05:56:45 AM
Title: Re: Dad sends children off to martyr
Post by: G M on December 21, 2016, 07:22:07 AM

The vast majority of peaceful muslims are going to be upset when they find out about this. Still waiting for word of 9/11 to reach them...
Title: Re: Islam in Arabic/Islamic Countries: Kuwait issues travel ban
Post by: DougMacG on February 03, 2017, 07:09:08 AM
Title: Re: Islam in Arabic/Islamic Countries: Kuwait issues travel ban
Post by: G M on February 03, 2017, 09:42:24 AM

Racist! Islamophobia!

Title: Re: Islam in Arabic/Islamic Countries: Kuwait issues travel ban
Post by: DougMacG on February 03, 2017, 11:24:17 AM
Racist! Islamophobia!

Phobia:. extreme or irrational fear

Well, not exactly...

More of the learned and rational kind.
Title: Re: Islam in Arabic/Islamic Countries: Kuwait issues travel ban
Post by: G M on February 03, 2017, 11:38:07 AM
Racist! Islamophobia!

Phobia:. extreme or irrational fear

Well, not exactly...

More of the learned and rational kind.

Decades ago, I took a class on terrorism taught by a large western city Police Detective that was a member of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, and a FBI S/A also part of the JTTF. Half of the day was on domestic terrorism, which I felt was important, the later half was on islamic terrorism, which I thought was interesting, but at the time I decided wasn't going to be of much importance to me. I didn't bother to follow through on the advice that I read up on the violent elements of the theology.

Funny how things change, and why.
Title: Does France and the rest of western europe belong here yet?
Post by: G M on February 03, 2017, 12:08:58 PM

Francostan. No worries, it's a religion of peace.

Diversity is our strength!
Title: Re: Islam in Arabic/Islamic Countries:
Post by: DougMacG on April 09, 2017, 07:02:31 AM
Bombings at Egyptian Coptic churches kill 36, injure more than 100

Looks like this was (also) committed by Islamist militants, not Lutheran refugees fleeing Scandinavia.

Moral equivalence is disappearing before our eyes.
Title: Re: Islam in Arabic/Islamic Countries:
Post by: G M on April 09, 2017, 08:54:33 AM
Bombings at Egyptian Coptic churches kill 36, injure more than 100

Looks like this was (also) committed by Islamist militants, not Lutheran refugees fleeing Scandinavia.

Moral equivalence is disappearing before our eyes.

Are we sure no radicalized trucks were involved?
Title: Chechnya
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 11, 2017, 02:56:49 PM
Geographically this is not quite right but I did not feel like opening a new thread.
Title: Muslim hero
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 28, 2017, 02:57:29 PM
Title: Emir Abdelkader
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 28, 2017, 10:22:38 PM

After some lefty drivel
", , , So I suspect it’s time to raise the ghost of a man known as the Emir Abdelkader – Muslim, Sufi, sheikh, ferocious warrior, humanist, mystic, protector of his people against Western barbarism, protector of Christians against Muslim barbarism, so brave that the Algerian state insisted his bones were brought home from his beloved Damascus, so noble that Abe Lincoln sent him a pair of Colt pistols and the French gave him the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour. He loved education, he admired the Greek philosophers, he forbade his fighters to destroy books, he worshipped a religion which believed – so he thought – in human rights. But hands up all readers who know the name of Abdelkader.

We should think of him now more than ever. He was not a “moderate” because he fought back savagely against the French occupation of his land. He was not an extremist because, in his imprisonment at the Chateau d’Amboise, he talked of Christians and Muslims as brothers. He was supported by Victor Hugo and Lord Londonderry and earned the respect of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (later Napoleon III) and the French state paid him a pension of 100,000 francs. He deserved it.

When the French invaded Algeria, Abdelkader Ibn Muhiedin al-Juzairi (Abdelkader, son of Muhiedin, the Algerian,1808-1883, for those who like obituaries) embarked on a successful guerrilla war against one of the best equipped armies in the Western world – and won. He set up his own state in western Algeria – Muslim but employing Christian and Jewish advisors – and created separate departments (defence, education, etc), which stretched as far as the Moroccan border. It even had its own currency, the “muhamediya”. He made peace with the French – a truce which the French broke by invading his lands yet again. Abdelkader demanded a priest to minister for his French prisoners, even giving them back their freedom when he had no food for them. The French sacked the Algerian towns they captured, a hundred Hadithas to suppress Abdelkader’s resistance. When at last he was defeated, he surrendered in honour – handing over his horse as a warrior – on the promise of exile in Alexandria or Acre. Again the French betrayed him, packing him off to prison in Toulon and then to the interior of France.
Muslim man comforts elderly Jewish woman in symbol of Manchester unity

    4 show all

Yet in his French exile, he preached peace and brotherhood and studied French and spoke of the wisdom of Plato and Socrates, Aristotle and Ptolemy and Averoes and later wrote a book, Call to the Intelligent, which should be available on every social media platform. He also, by the way, wrote a book on horses which proves he was ever an Arab in the saddle. But his courage was demonstrated yet again in Damascus in 1860 where he lived as an honoured exile. The Christian-Druze civil war in Lebanon had spread to Damascus where the Christian population found themselves surrounded by the Muslim Druze who arrived with Isis-like cruelty, brandishing swords and knives to slaughter their adversaries.

Abdelkader sent his Algerian Muslim guards – his personal militia – to bash their way through the mob and escort more than 10,000 Christians to his estate. And when the crowds with their knives arrived at his door, he greeted them with a speech which is still recited in the Middle East (though utterly ignored these days in the West). “You pitiful creatures!” he shouted. “Is this the way you honour the Prophet? God punish you! Shame on you, shame! The day will come when you will pay for this … I will not hand over a single Christian. They are my brothers. Get out of here or I’ll set my guards on you.”

Muslim historians claim Abdelkader saved 15,000 Christians, which may be a bit of an exaggeration. But here was a man for Muslims to emulate and Westerners to admire. His fury was expressed in words which would surely have been used today against the cult-like caliphate executioners of Isis. Of course, the “Christian” West would honour him at the time (although, interestingly, he received a letter of praise from the Muslim leader of wildly independent Chechnya). He was an “interfaith dialogue” man to please Pope Francis.

Abdelkader was invited to Paris. An American town was named after him – Elkader in Clayton County, Iowa, and it’s still there, population 1,273. Founded in the mid-19th century, it was natural to call your home after a man who was, was he not, honouring the Rights of Man of American Independence and the French Revolution? Abdelkader flirted with Freemasonry – most scholars believe he was not taken in – and loved science to such an extent that he accepted an invitation to the opening of the Suez Canal, which was surely an imperial rather than a primarily scientific project. Abdelkader met De Lesseps. He saw himself, one suspects, as Islam’s renaissance man, a man for all seasons, the Muslim for all people, an example rather than a saint, a philosopher rather than a priest.

But of course, Abdelkader’s native Algeria is a neighbour of Libya from where Salman Abedi’s family came, and Abdelkader died in Syria, whose assault by US aircraft – according to Abedi’s sister – was the reason he slaughtered the innocent of Manchester. And so geography contracts and history fades, and Abedi’s crime is, for now, more important than all of Abdelkader’s life and teaching and example. So for Mancunians, whether they tattoo bees onto themselves or merely buy flowers, why not pop into Manchester’s central library in St Peter’s Square and ask for Elsa Marsten’s The Compassionate Warrior or John Kiser’s Commander of the Faithful or, published just a few months ago, Mustapha Sherif’s L’Emir Abdelkader: Apotre de la fraternite?

They are no antidotes for sorrow or mourning. But they prove that Isis does not represent Islam and that a Muslim can earn the honour of the world.
Title: Re: Emir Abdelkader
Post by: G M on May 28, 2017, 11:49:05 PM
I missed where the lefty drivel ended.

After some lefty drivel
", , , So I suspect it’s time to raise the ghost of a man known as the Emir Abdelkader – Muslim, Sufi, sheikh, ferocious warrior, humanist, mystic, protector of his people against Western barbarism, protector of Christians against Muslim barbarism, so brave that the Algerian state insisted his bones were brought home from his beloved Damascus, so noble that Abe Lincoln sent him a pair of Colt pistols and the French gave him the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour. He loved education, he admired the Greek philosophers, he forbade his fighters to destroy books, he worshipped a religion which believed – so he thought – in human rights. But hands up all readers who know the name of Abdelkader.

We should think of him now more than ever. He was not a “moderate” because he fought back savagely against the French occupation of his land. He was not an extremist because, in his imprisonment at the Chateau d’Amboise, he talked of Christians and Muslims as brothers. He was supported by Victor Hugo and Lord Londonderry and earned the respect of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (later Napoleon III) and the French state paid him a pension of 100,000 francs. He deserved it.

When the French invaded Algeria, Abdelkader Ibn Muhiedin al-Juzairi (Abdelkader, son of Muhiedin, the Algerian,1808-1883, for those who like obituaries) embarked on a successful guerrilla war against one of the best equipped armies in the Western world – and won. He set up his own state in western Algeria – Muslim but employing Christian and Jewish advisors – and created separate departments (defence, education, etc), which stretched as far as the Moroccan border. It even had its own currency, the “muhamediya”. He made peace with the French – a truce which the French broke by invading his lands yet again. Abdelkader demanded a priest to minister for his French prisoners, even giving them back their freedom when he had no food for them. The French sacked the Algerian towns they captured, a hundred Hadithas to suppress Abdelkader’s resistance. When at last he was defeated, he surrendered in honour – handing over his horse as a warrior – on the promise of exile in Alexandria or Acre. Again the French betrayed him, packing him off to prison in Toulon and then to the interior of France.
Muslim man comforts elderly Jewish woman in symbol of Manchester unity

    4 show all

Yet in his French exile, he preached peace and brotherhood and studied French and spoke of the wisdom of Plato and Socrates, Aristotle and Ptolemy and Averoes and later wrote a book, Call to the Intelligent, which should be available on every social media platform. He also, by the way, wrote a book on horses which proves he was ever an Arab in the saddle. But his courage was demonstrated yet again in Damascus in 1860 where he lived as an honoured exile. The Christian-Druze civil war in Lebanon had spread to Damascus where the Christian population found themselves surrounded by the Muslim Druze who arrived with Isis-like cruelty, brandishing swords and knives to slaughter their adversaries.

Abdelkader sent his Algerian Muslim guards – his personal militia – to bash their way through the mob and escort more than 10,000 Christians to his estate. And when the crowds with their knives arrived at his door, he greeted them with a speech which is still recited in the Middle East (though utterly ignored these days in the West). “You pitiful creatures!” he shouted. “Is this the way you honour the Prophet? God punish you! Shame on you, shame! The day will come when you will pay for this … I will not hand over a single Christian. They are my brothers. Get out of here or I’ll set my guards on you.”

Muslim historians claim Abdelkader saved 15,000 Christians, which may be a bit of an exaggeration. But here was a man for Muslims to emulate and Westerners to admire. His fury was expressed in words which would surely have been used today against the cult-like caliphate executioners of Isis. Of course, the “Christian” West would honour him at the time (although, interestingly, he received a letter of praise from the Muslim leader of wildly independent Chechnya). He was an “interfaith dialogue” man to please Pope Francis.

Abdelkader was invited to Paris. An American town was named after him – Elkader in Clayton County, Iowa, and it’s still there, population 1,273. Founded in the mid-19th century, it was natural to call your home after a man who was, was he not, honouring the Rights of Man of American Independence and the French Revolution? Abdelkader flirted with Freemasonry – most scholars believe he was not taken in – and loved science to such an extent that he accepted an invitation to the opening of the Suez Canal, which was surely an imperial rather than a primarily scientific project. Abdelkader met De Lesseps. He saw himself, one suspects, as Islam’s renaissance man, a man for all seasons, the Muslim for all people, an example rather than a saint, a philosopher rather than a priest.

But of course, Abdelkader’s native Algeria is a neighbour of Libya from where Salman Abedi’s family came, and Abdelkader died in Syria, whose assault by US aircraft – according to Abedi’s sister – was the reason he slaughtered the innocent of Manchester. And so geography contracts and history fades, and Abedi’s crime is, for now, more important than all of Abdelkader’s life and teaching and example. So for Mancunians, whether they tattoo bees onto themselves or merely buy flowers, why not pop into Manchester’s central library in St Peter’s Square and ask for Elsa Marsten’s The Compassionate Warrior or John Kiser’s Commander of the Faithful or, published just a few months ago, Mustapha Sherif’s L’Emir Abdelkader: Apotre de la fraternite?

They are no antidotes for sorrow or mourning. But they prove that Isis does not represent Islam and that a Muslim can earn the honour of the world.
Title: Islam in Gaza: Hamas bans dog walking
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 01, 2017, 06:20:05 AM
Title: Yazidi woman confronts ISIS killer/rapist
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 19, 2018, 05:33:54 AM

I think it safe to say he does not seem sorry in the slightest.
Title: MEF: Islam in Qatar, hedging Radical Islam
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 01, 2019, 04:08:59 AM
Hedging Radical Islam
by Ronald Sandee
January 30, 2019
Title: Peaceful EID Worshippers
Post by: ya on April 23, 2019, 05:55:53 AM
Here's a list of Peaceful IED EID Worshippers

1.Al-Shabab (Africa),
2.Al Murabitun (Africa),
3.Al-Qeada (Afghanistan),
4.Al-Qaeda (Islamic Maghreb),
5.Al-Qaeda (Indian Subcontinent),
6.Al-Qaeda (Arabian Peninsula),
7.Hamas (Palestine),
8.Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Palestine),
9.Popular Front for the Liberation of (Palestine),
10.Hezbola (Lebanon),
11.Ansar al-Sharia-Benghazi (Lebanon),
12.Asbat Al-Ansar (Lebanon),
13.ISIS (Iraq),
14.ISIS (Syria),
15.ISIS (Cauacus)
16.ISIS (Libya)
17.ISIS (Yemen)
18.ISIS (Algeria),
19.ISIS (Philippines)
20.Jund al-Sham (Afganistan),
21.Al-Mourabitoun (Lebanon),
22.Abdullah Azzam Brigades (Lebanon),
23.Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya (Somalia),
24.Al-Haramain Foundation (Saudi Arabia),
25.Ansar-Al-Sharia (Moroccon),
26.Moroccon Mudjadine (Morocco),
27.Salafia Jihadia (Morocco),
28.Boko Haram (Afrika),
29.Islamic movement of (Uzbekistan),
30.Islamic Jihad Union (Uzbekistan),
31.Islamic Jihad Union (Germany),
32.DRW True-Religion (Germany)
33.Fajar Nusantara Movement (Germany)
34.DIK Hildesheim (Germany)
35.Jaish-e-Mohammed (Kashmir),
36.Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (Syria),
37.Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (Syria),
38.Jamaat al Dawa al Quran (Afghanistan),
39.Jundallah (Iran)
40.Quds Force (Iran)
41.Kata'ib Hezbollah (Iraq),
42.Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya (Somalia),
43.Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Egypt),
44.Jund al-Sham (Jordan)
45.Fajar Nusantara Movement (Australia)
46.Society of the Revival of Islamic 47.Heritage (Terror funding, WorldWide offices)
48.Taliban (Afghanistan),
49.Taliban (Pakistan),
50.Tehrik-i-Taliban (Pakistan),
51.Army of Islam (Syria),
52.Islamic Movement (Israel)
53.Ansar Al Sharia (Tunisia),
54.Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of (Jerusalem),
55.Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (Libya),
Movement for Oneness and Jihad in (West Africa),
56.Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Palestine)
57.Tevhid-Selam (Al-Quds Army)
58.Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (Morroco),
59.Caucasus Emirate (Russia),
60.Dukhtaran-e-Millat Feminist Islamists (India),
61.Indian Mujahideen (India),
62.Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (India)
63.Ansar al-Islam (India)
64.Students Islamic Movement of (India),
65.Harakat Mujahideen (India),
66.Hizbul Mujhaideen(India)
67.Lashkar e Islam(India)
68.Jund al-Khilafah (Algeria),
69.Turkistan Islamic Party,
70.Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Egypt),
71.Great Eastern Islamic Raiders' Front (Turkey),
72.Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (Pakistan),
73.Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (Pakistan),
74.Lashkar e Toyiba(Pakistan)
75.Lashkar e Jhangvi(Pakistan)
Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (Pakistan),
76.Jamaat ul-Ahrar (Pakistan),
77.Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (Pakistan),
78.Jamaat Ul-Furquan (Pakistan),
79.Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (Syria),
80.Ansar al-Din Front (Syria),
81.Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (Syria),
82.Jamaah Anshorut Daulah (Syria),
83.Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement (Syria),
84.Liwa al-Haqq (Syria),
85.Al-Tawhid Brigade (Syria),
86.Jund al-Aqsa (Syria),
87.Al-Tawhid Brigade (Syria),
88.Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade (Syria),
89.Khalid ibn al-Walid Army (Syria),
90.Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin (Afganistan),
91.Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (Afganistan)
92.Hizb ut-Tahrir (Worldwide Caliphate),
93.Hizbul Mujahideen (Kasmir),
94.Ansar Allah (Yemen),
95.Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (USA),
96.Jamaat Mujahideen (India),
97.Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (Indonesia),
98.Hizbut Tahrir (Indonesia),
99.Fajar Nusantara Movement (Indonesia),
100.Jemaah Islamiyah (Indonesia),
101.Jemaah Islamiyah (Philippines),
102.Jemaah Islamiyah (Singapore),
103.Jemaah Islamiyah (Thailand),
104.Jemaah Islamiyah (Malaysia),
105.Ansar Dine (Africa),
106.Osbat al-Ansar (Palestine),
107.Hizb ut-Tahrir (Group connecting 108.Islamic Caliphates across the world into one world Islamic Caliphate)
109.Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order (Iraq)
110.Al Nusra Front (Syria),
111.Al-Badr (Pakistan),
112.Islam4UK (UK),
113.Al Ghurabaa (UK),
114.Call to Submission (UK),
115.Islamic Path (UK),
116.London School of Sharia (UK),
117.Muslims Against Crusades (UK),
118.Need4Khilafah (UK),
119.The Shariah Project (UK),
120.The Islamic Dawah Association (UK),
121.The Saviour Sect (UK),
123.Jamaat Ul-Furquan (UK),
124.Minbar Ansar Deen (UK),
125.Al-Muhajiroun (UK) (Lee Rigby, London 2017 members),
126.Islamic Council of Britain (UK) (Not to be confused with Offical Muslim Council of Britain),
127.Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah (UK),
128.Al-Gama'a (Egypt),
129.Al-Islamiyya (Egypt),
130.Armed Islamic men of (Algeria),
131Salafist Group for Call and Combat (Algeria),
132.Ansaru (Algeria),
133.Ansar-Al-Sharia (Libya),
134.Al Ittihad Al Islamia (Somalia),
135.Ansar al-Sharia (Tunisia),
136.Al-Shabab (Africa), Foundation (Germany) Martyrs' Brigades (Palestine),
139.Abu Sayyaf (Philippines),
140.Aden-Abyan Islamic Army (Yemen),
141.Ajnad Misr (Egypt),
142Abu Nidal Organization (Palestine),
143.Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (Indonesia)
Title: Re: Islam in Arabic/Islamic Countries:
Post by: DougMacG on April 23, 2019, 06:45:10 AM
Here's a list of Peaceful IED EID Worshippers
1.Al-Shabab (Africa),
2.Al Murabitun (Africa),
3.Al-Qeada (Afghanistan),
4.Al-Qaeda (Islamic Maghreb),
5.Al-Qaeda (Indian Subcontinent),
6.Al-Qaeda (Arabian Peninsula),
7.Hamas (Palestine),
8.Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Palestine),
9.Popular Front for the Liberation of (Palestine),
10.Hezbola (Lebanon),
11.Ansar al-Sharia-Benghazi (Lebanon),
12.Asbat Al-Ansar (Lebanon),
13.ISIS (Iraq),
14.ISIS (Syria),
15.ISIS (Cauacus)
16.ISIS (Libya)
17.ISIS (Yemen)
18.ISIS (Algeria),
19.ISIS (Philippines)
20.Jund al-Sham (Afganistan),
21.Al-Mourabitoun (Lebanon),
22.Abdullah Azzam Brigades (Lebanon),
23.Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya (Somalia),
24.Al-Haramain Foundation (Saudi Arabia),
25.Ansar-Al-Sharia (Moroccon),
26.Moroccon Mudjadine (Morocco),
27.Salafia Jihadia (Morocco),
28.Boko Haram (Afrika),
29.Islamic movement of (Uzbekistan),
30.Islamic Jihad Union (Uzbekistan),
31.Islamic Jihad Union (Germany),
32.DRW True-Religion (Germany)
33.Fajar Nusantara Movement (Germany)
34.DIK Hildesheim (Germany)
35.Jaish-e-Mohammed (Kashmir),
36.Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (Syria),
37.Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (Syria),
38.Jamaat al Dawa al Quran (Afghanistan),
39.Jundallah (Iran)
40.Quds Force (Iran)
41.Kata'ib Hezbollah (Iraq),
42.Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya (Somalia),
43.Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Egypt),
44.Jund al-Sham (Jordan)
45.Fajar Nusantara Movement (Australia)
46.Society of the Revival of Islamic 47.Heritage (Terror funding, WorldWide offices)
48.Taliban (Afghanistan),
49.Taliban (Pakistan),
50.Tehrik-i-Taliban (Pakistan),
51.Army of Islam (Syria),
52.Islamic Movement (Israel)
53.Ansar Al Sharia (Tunisia),
54.Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of (Jerusalem),
55.Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (Libya),
Movement for Oneness and Jihad in (West Africa),
56.Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Palestine)
57.Tevhid-Selam (Al-Quds Army)
58.Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (Morroco),
59.Caucasus Emirate (Russia),
60.Dukhtaran-e-Millat Feminist Islamists (India),
61.Indian Mujahideen (India),
62.Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (India)
63.Ansar al-Islam (India)
64.Students Islamic Movement of (India),
65.Harakat Mujahideen (India),
66.Hizbul Mujhaideen(India)
67.Lashkar e Islam(India)
68.Jund al-Khilafah (Algeria),
69.Turkistan Islamic Party,
70.Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Egypt),
71.Great Eastern Islamic Raiders' Front (Turkey),
72.Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (Pakistan),
73.Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (Pakistan),
74.Lashkar e Toyiba(Pakistan)
75.Lashkar e Jhangvi(Pakistan)
Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (Pakistan),
76.Jamaat ul-Ahrar (Pakistan),
77.Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (Pakistan),
78.Jamaat Ul-Furquan (Pakistan),
79.Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (Syria),
80.Ansar al-Din Front (Syria),
81.Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (Syria),
82.Jamaah Anshorut Daulah (Syria),
83.Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement (Syria),
84.Liwa al-Haqq (Syria),
85.Al-Tawhid Brigade (Syria),
86.Jund al-Aqsa (Syria),
87.Al-Tawhid Brigade (Syria),
88.Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade (Syria),
89.Khalid ibn al-Walid Army (Syria),
90.Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin (Afganistan),
91.Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (Afganistan)
92.Hizb ut-Tahrir (Worldwide Caliphate),
93.Hizbul Mujahideen (Kasmir),
94.Ansar Allah (Yemen),
95.Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (USA),
96.Jamaat Mujahideen (India),
97.Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (Indonesia),
98.Hizbut Tahrir (Indonesia),
99.Fajar Nusantara Movement (Indonesia),
100.Jemaah Islamiyah (Indonesia),
101.Jemaah Islamiyah (Philippines),
102.Jemaah Islamiyah (Singapore),
103.Jemaah Islamiyah (Thailand),
104.Jemaah Islamiyah (Malaysia),
105.Ansar Dine (Africa),
106.Osbat al-Ansar (Palestine),
107.Hizb ut-Tahrir (Group connecting 108.Islamic Caliphates across the world into one world Islamic Caliphate)
109.Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order (Iraq)
110.Al Nusra Front (Syria),
111.Al-Badr (Pakistan),
112.Islam4UK (UK),
113.Al Ghurabaa (UK),
114.Call to Submission (UK),
115.Islamic Path (UK),
116.London School of Sharia (UK),
117.Muslims Against Crusades (UK),
118.Need4Khilafah (UK),
119.The Shariah Project (UK),
120.The Islamic Dawah Association (UK),
121.The Saviour Sect (UK),
123.Jamaat Ul-Furquan (UK),
124.Minbar Ansar Deen (UK),
125.Al-Muhajiroun (UK) (Lee Rigby, London 2017 members),
126.Islamic Council of Britain (UK) (Not to be confused with Offical Muslim Council of Britain),
127.Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah (UK),
128.Al-Gama'a (Egypt),
129.Al-Islamiyya (Egypt),
130.Armed Islamic men of (Algeria),
131Salafist Group for Call and Combat (Algeria),
132.Ansaru (Algeria),
133.Ansar-Al-Sharia (Libya),
134.Al Ittihad Al Islamia (Somalia),
135.Ansar al-Sharia (Tunisia),
136.Al-Shabab (Africa), Foundation (Germany) Martyrs' Brigades (Palestine),
139.Abu Sayyaf (Philippines),
140.Aden-Abyan Islamic Army (Yemen),
141.Ajnad Misr (Egypt),
142Abu Nidal Organization (Palestine),
143.Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (Indonesia)

Thanks ya.  I thought I was reading our local Minneapolis representative's (Ilhan Omar) campaign contributor list.
Title: Re: Islam in Arabic/Islamic Countries:
Post by: G M on April 23, 2019, 11:20:00 AM
Here's a list of Peaceful IED EID Worshippers
1.Al-Shabab (Africa),
2.Al Murabitun (Africa),
3.Al-Qeada (Afghanistan),
4.Al-Qaeda (Islamic Maghreb),
5.Al-Qaeda (Indian Subcontinent),
6.Al-Qaeda (Arabian Peninsula),
7.Hamas (Palestine),
8.Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Palestine),
9.Popular Front for the Liberation of (Palestine),
10.Hezbola (Lebanon),
11.Ansar al-Sharia-Benghazi (Lebanon),
12.Asbat Al-Ansar (Lebanon),
13.ISIS (Iraq),
14.ISIS (Syria),
15.ISIS (Cauacus)
16.ISIS (Libya)
17.ISIS (Yemen)
18.ISIS (Algeria),
19.ISIS (Philippines)
20.Jund al-Sham (Afganistan),
21.Al-Mourabitoun (Lebanon),
22.Abdullah Azzam Brigades (Lebanon),
23.Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya (Somalia),
24.Al-Haramain Foundation (Saudi Arabia),
25.Ansar-Al-Sharia (Moroccon),
26.Moroccon Mudjadine (Morocco),
27.Salafia Jihadia (Morocco),
28.Boko Haram (Afrika),
29.Islamic movement of (Uzbekistan),
30.Islamic Jihad Union (Uzbekistan),
31.Islamic Jihad Union (Germany),
32.DRW True-Religion (Germany)
33.Fajar Nusantara Movement (Germany)
34.DIK Hildesheim (Germany)
35.Jaish-e-Mohammed (Kashmir),
36.Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (Syria),
37.Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (Syria),
38.Jamaat al Dawa al Quran (Afghanistan),
39.Jundallah (Iran)
40.Quds Force (Iran)
41.Kata'ib Hezbollah (Iraq),
42.Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya (Somalia),
43.Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Egypt),
44.Jund al-Sham (Jordan)
45.Fajar Nusantara Movement (Australia)
46.Society of the Revival of Islamic 47.Heritage (Terror funding, WorldWide offices)
48.Taliban (Afghanistan),
49.Taliban (Pakistan),
50.Tehrik-i-Taliban (Pakistan),
51.Army of Islam (Syria),
52.Islamic Movement (Israel)
53.Ansar Al Sharia (Tunisia),
54.Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of (Jerusalem),
55.Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (Libya),
Movement for Oneness and Jihad in (West Africa),
56.Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Palestine)
57.Tevhid-Selam (Al-Quds Army)
58.Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (Morroco),
59.Caucasus Emirate (Russia),
60.Dukhtaran-e-Millat Feminist Islamists (India),
61.Indian Mujahideen (India),
62.Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (India)
63.Ansar al-Islam (India)
64.Students Islamic Movement of (India),
65.Harakat Mujahideen (India),
66.Hizbul Mujhaideen(India)
67.Lashkar e Islam(India)
68.Jund al-Khilafah (Algeria),
69.Turkistan Islamic Party,
70.Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Egypt),
71.Great Eastern Islamic Raiders' Front (Turkey),
72.Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (Pakistan),
73.Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (Pakistan),
74.Lashkar e Toyiba(Pakistan)
75.Lashkar e Jhangvi(Pakistan)
Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (Pakistan),
76.Jamaat ul-Ahrar (Pakistan),
77.Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (Pakistan),
78.Jamaat Ul-Furquan (Pakistan),
79.Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (Syria),
80.Ansar al-Din Front (Syria),
81.Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (Syria),
82.Jamaah Anshorut Daulah (Syria),
83.Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement (Syria),
84.Liwa al-Haqq (Syria),
85.Al-Tawhid Brigade (Syria),
86.Jund al-Aqsa (Syria),
87.Al-Tawhid Brigade (Syria),
88.Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade (Syria),
89.Khalid ibn al-Walid Army (Syria),
90.Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin (Afganistan),
91.Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (Afganistan)
92.Hizb ut-Tahrir (Worldwide Caliphate),
93.Hizbul Mujahideen (Kasmir),
94.Ansar Allah (Yemen),
95.Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (USA),
96.Jamaat Mujahideen (India),
97.Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (Indonesia),
98.Hizbut Tahrir (Indonesia),
99.Fajar Nusantara Movement (Indonesia),
100.Jemaah Islamiyah (Indonesia),
101.Jemaah Islamiyah (Philippines),
102.Jemaah Islamiyah (Singapore),
103.Jemaah Islamiyah (Thailand),
104.Jemaah Islamiyah (Malaysia),
105.Ansar Dine (Africa),
106.Osbat al-Ansar (Palestine),
107.Hizb ut-Tahrir (Group connecting 108.Islamic Caliphates across the world into one world Islamic Caliphate)
109.Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order (Iraq)
110.Al Nusra Front (Syria),
111.Al-Badr (Pakistan),
112.Islam4UK (UK),
113.Al Ghurabaa (UK),
114.Call to Submission (UK),
115.Islamic Path (UK),
116.London School of Sharia (UK),
117.Muslims Against Crusades (UK),
118.Need4Khilafah (UK),
119.The Shariah Project (UK),
120.The Islamic Dawah Association (UK),
121.The Saviour Sect (UK),
123.Jamaat Ul-Furquan (UK),
124.Minbar Ansar Deen (UK),
125.Al-Muhajiroun (UK) (Lee Rigby, London 2017 members),
126.Islamic Council of Britain (UK) (Not to be confused with Offical Muslim Council of Britain),
127.Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah (UK),
128.Al-Gama'a (Egypt),
129.Al-Islamiyya (Egypt),
130.Armed Islamic men of (Algeria),
131Salafist Group for Call and Combat (Algeria),
132.Ansaru (Algeria),
133.Ansar-Al-Sharia (Libya),
134.Al Ittihad Al Islamia (Somalia),
135.Ansar al-Sharia (Tunisia),
136.Al-Shabab (Africa), Foundation (Germany) Martyrs' Brigades (Palestine),
139.Abu Sayyaf (Philippines),
140.Aden-Abyan Islamic Army (Yemen),
141.Ajnad Misr (Egypt),
142Abu Nidal Organization (Palestine),
143.Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (Indonesia)

Thanks ya.  I thought I was reading our local Minneapolis representative's (Ilhan Omar) campaign contributor list.

Doug wins the internet today!!

Title: From PJ Media the model for today's ISIS
Post by: ccp on August 21, 2019, 05:47:58 AM
Title: GPF: Arab perspectives on the China Virus
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 30, 2020, 08:41:45 PM
March 30, 2020   View On Website
Open as PDF

    Arab Perspectives on the Coronavirus
By: Hilal Khashan

The coronavirus has stunned a disbelieving world. By the time we understood the gravity of the situation, it had already become a pandemic. The Arab world is as guilty as any other region in underestimating the threat. Except for wealthy Gulf Cooperation Council states that responded reasonably quickly, most Arab governments seemed to hope that the crisis would resolve itself on its own. Clearly, it hasn’t. But differences in the reactions among Arab governments, religious officials and the public bring into relief some of the issues that undergird Arab society.

In addition to curtailing air and ground traffic, belated state measures to contain the virus included curfews, social distancing, the suspension of economic and bureaucratic operations and the closure of schools, universities and places of worship. Saudi Arabia closed Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, and the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land shut down the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Arab officials were hesitant to adopt such stringent measures, of course, because they knew how poorly the public would receive it.
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Examples of mishandling abound. In February, when the Lebanese media pressed the minister of health about why he had not suspended flights from Tehran to Beirut, he admitted that the decision was political, clearly because of Hezbollah’s veto.

Unaware of the nature of the virus, he assured the public that Lebanon had the vaccine for it. When the virus spread in China, the Egyptian minister of health visited Beijing in a show of solidarity instead of taking measures to prevent its spread to Egypt.
In Syria, the government opted for denial as the best option to combat it. The police in Damascus arrested a physician because he reported the first positive COVID-19 case in his hospital. He had to rescind the announcement as a misdiagnosis. The Ministry of Health told hospitals to report deaths from the virus as cases of acute pneumonia or advanced pulmonary tuberculosis. Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, some of whose followers believe his dress has curative powers, said he opposed the use of U.S drugs to fight the virus and accused President Donald Trump of spreading the disease among his enemies.

The religious establishment in all Arab countries failed to urge the ruling elite to take immediate action to contain the spread of the virus. Religious leaders didn’t demand the closures of holy sites, but they defended the governments’ decisions immediately after the fact. Some mosques, particularly in Iraq and Lebanon, ignored government calls to close their doors. Others kept their outer gates open to allow worshippers to participate in congregational prayers and made sure to cover the floor with rugs for their convenience. Some clerics proposed that worshippers maintain one meter of distance between each other and isolated those suspected of carrying the virus in a separate prayer room.

Muslim clerics neglected to present the virus in life-or-death terms, as they often do during times of crisis, partly because of al-Jabr, one of the seven articles of Islamic belief that emphasizes divine predestination. The concept submits that man does not possess free will and that God determines the fate of human life. There is, moreover, a complete absence of jurisprudence of foresight and expectation. Religious scholars, especially Sunni scholars, continue to search for edicts dating back to the formative years of Islam. Unfortunately, they live in the present with the mentality of the past. Many people, including clerics, have no clue about the virus and how it is transmitted. They even claim that what you don’t see doesn’t exist. Some clerics want the virus to afflict a loved one to validate its existence. When they do concede to reality, they claim that God afflicts whoever he wills to test their faith. Religious scholars who oppose closing mosques argue that preserving the faith has priority over safeguarding an individual’s health or life.

Hanbalism, the most austere school of Sunni jurisprudence that gave rise to Salafism, advocates the literal interpretation of religion and ascribes human qualities to God. Abdul-Aziz bin Baz, the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, even ruled that the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it. Most clerics in the Arab world are either government employees or the product of the oil boom in the 1970s and massive Saudi spending to spread Wahhabism and Salafism to appease its powerful religious establishment.

Practicing Muslims believe that congregational prayers are more spiritually rewarding than praying alone; the more participants, the better. Prayers attract worshippers because of the widespread belief that God’s watchful providence covers their participants. Traditional Muslims believe that God is their protector, and nothing could happen to them that he did not ordain.

Had Arab governments left people to their own devices, mosques would still attract large crowds of worshippers. In popular Islam, mosques are both spiritual edifices and healing places. Plagues and diseases caused by sins can be cured by praying in mosques. They accept that one can catch the virus in a mosque. In this case, it is because God has willed it so and, therefore, there is no escape from it.

It is a time-honored practice for congregational worshippers to exchange handshakes and hugs after the end of the prayer. During prayer, they kneel on carpets, potentially carrying pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Christians tend to display similar behavior. In one Lebanese Maronite Christian church, the faithful refused hand communion and insisted on receiving communion on the tongue in defiance of the mandatory decree by the church to prevent the spread of the virus.

Traditional and poorly educated people, especially if their knowledge about Islam is superficial, fall victim to religious fatalism and lead a life of cultural apathy. Many people exhibit a reckless disregard for government coronavirus awareness campaigns and warnings against public gatherings.

On Beirut’s waterfront corniche that attracts strollers and joggers from all walks of life, the municipal police had to intervene and disperse crowds after the spread of the virus. Similar scenes took place in Baghdad, Algiers, Khartoum and Cairo. A large group took to the streets of Alexandria, Egypt’s second-largest city, to plead with God to remove the coronavirus.

Skeptics linked the virus to conspiracy theories and accused China of spreading it to destroy Muslims. Others viewed it as divine punishment for infidels. A Syrian preacher told his congregation during a Friday sermon that the virus is a soldier of God on a mission to annihilate China’s communist Buddhists because they persecute Uighur Muslims. (Muslims, he said, contract the virus for other reasons, mostly because God is testing the strength of their faith.)

The inability to understand how the virus spreads and how to cope with it breeds imaginary explanations. Faith that God can immunize us against the virus without any precautionary measures on our part pervades the minds of traditional Muslims. The practice of kissing the shrines of Muslim holy figures, be they Sunni or Shiite, and appealing to them for a cure to the virus continues unabated because of clerical support.

There are, of course, rational religious people who abide by the rules of the temporal law, and atheists who say they do not trust conventional medicine and believe instead in unproven alternative medicine. Christianity reformed itself in the 16th century, and so did Judaism in the 19th century. Islam still awaits its own reforms to face the challenges of modernity.