CIP December 6, 2013
The human rights activist Shahriar Kabir’s latest documentary film, ‘The Ultimate Jihad,’ is the concluding part of Shahriar Kabir’s ‘Jihad Trilogy.’ The third part of the trilogy reveals the South Asian Jamaat-e Islami’s links with Al-Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood and its global terrorist network, including in the UK.
The film is being screened by the International Forum for Secular Bangladesh in association with the Bangladesh High Commission on Tuesday, 10 December, at 6pm, at the High Commission for the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, 28 Queens Gate, London SW7 5JA.
‘The Ultimate Jihad’ contains a series of interviews with Muslim scholars, politicians, experts on terrorism from South Asia, Middle East, Europe and the U.S. who reveal the global jihadi network of Wahhabism, and how young immigrant Muslims of the second generation are being attracted by jihadist preachers.
The keynote speaker will be Dr Irfan Al-Alawi, international director of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism.
In the film experts opine that there is a need to build a platform of secular humanists to protect secular democracy and ensure peace in Bangladesh, and across the world.
The Weekly Standard Blog December 4, 2013
Damage to the Great Mosque of Aleppo, Syria, inflicted by the Al-Assad dictatorship.
The Obama administration’s appeasement of Iran over its nuclear weapons program is intertwined with its appeasement of Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad. For Obama, the red line in Syria was the Al-Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons, not his murdering, at this stage, upwards of 120,000 people. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov avowed that Syria would divest itself of chemical weapons. But Syria’s heavy tanks, artillery, and air force, which have done most of the killing in the country, were not on the table, nor was the criminal role that Iran and Hezbollah have played in the Syrian conflict.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 2118 provided a timeline allowing Damascus to “complete the elimination of all chemical weapons material and equipment in the first half of 2014.” That would give Al-Assad nine months more to evade the supposed accord, while his forces continue to slaughter the population. Again, Iran, and Hezbollah were nowhere mentioned in the resolution.
The Geneva II conference, scheduled for January 22, is supposed to bring together Syria’s two warring sides, excluding, said French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, Al-Assad himself and radical Islamists. Damascus rejected the prospect of a “Geneva II” without Al-Assad. “The era of colonialism has gone forever,” said a Syrian official. “What they need is to wake up from their dreams; otherwise, if they insist on these delusions, there is no need for them to attend [the] Geneva II conference.”
Continue reading Iran, Hezbollah, and Obama’s Double Betrayal of Syria by Stephen Schwartz
Gatestone Institute December 3, 2013
Seal of the Turkish Parliament [Grand National Assembly.
On October 31, as reported
by Agence France-Presse, under the headline “Turkey women MPs break taboo to wear headscarves in parliament,” Turkish Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan celebrated the entry of four female deputies in a session of the Turkish Parliament (officially titled the Grand National Assembly) wearing Muslim headscarves. The four women represent Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party, known as AKP. The ban on the headscarf in government service, a pillar of the secular Turkish Republic, was, as the French news service noted, lifted by Erdoğan’s administration in September 2013.
Erdoğan, however, then provoked a new controversy in Turkey, overshadowing the headscarf issue, by his criticism of university students’ living arrangements. According to Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a contributor to the Washington-based, Middle East-focused news portal Al-Monitor, in a lengthy chronicle titled “Erdoğan’s ‘Morality Police’ Assume Duty,” posted on November 6, Erdoğan declared to members of AKP, “Students, boys and girls, are living together in the same homes because the dorms are insufficient. This is incompatible with our conservative democrat[ic] nature.” Erdoğan’s observations were leaked from a closed party meeting he summoned on the weekend of November 3-4 in Kızılcahamam, near Ankara, the nation’s capital.
Continue reading Erdoğan’s Latest “Morals Enforcement” by Veli Sirin
Illyria [New York] November 28, 2013
The flag of the Albanian Nation.
Albanian Flag Day – November 28, 2013 – commemorates the Albanian declaration of independence, proclaimed with joy in Vlora in 1912, a hundred and one years ago. This year, Albanians and their friends must also be reminded of the tragic centennial of 1913, when the London Treaty drew the present borders of the Albanian state, severing from it the Albanian-majority regions of Kosova, Western Macedonia, and Çamëria.
Faik Beg Konica.
In writing about Albanian Flag Day 2013, I have left aside the history of ethnic expulsions suffered by the Albanians. Still, in homage to the Albanians of Çamëria, I offer part of a long meditation on one of its most remarkable sons, the author, patriot and diplomat Faik Beg Konica.
Konica, or Konitza, the village in which Faiku was born, was once the location of a Bektashi Sufi teqe serving as a center of the Albanian national revival. Konica is today incorporated into Greece.
My thoughts about Faiku bring together several different strands in his biography, and in my own.
The first, which I believe Faiku would have appreciated, involves a book. It is his book in English, Albania: The Rock Garden of Southeastern Europe, published in Boston in 1957 under the auspices of Vatra, the Pan-Albanian fraternal organization, and edited by G. M. Panarity from an incomplete manuscript. Albania: The Rock Garden of Southeastern Europe is advertised for republication by I.B. Tauris in February 2014.
Continue reading On Faik Beg Konica (1876-1942) For Albanian Flag Day 2013 by Stephen Sylejman Schwartz
CIP November 14, 2013
The Tenth of Muharram, by Ottoman court painter Fausto Zonaro (1854-1929).
With mourning and shame, the Center for Islamic Pluralism offers greetings to Sufi and Shia Muslims, and especially to the Bektashi Sufis of the Albanian lands, on the 10th of Muharram, hijri year 1435.
We never cease mourning the martyrdom of the virtuous Imam Husayn, may Allah be well pleased with him, at Karbala in Iraq, in 680 CE. But we also feel shame at the horrific spectacle in Syria, where the vampire regime of the non-Muslim Nusayri sect has murdered hundreds of thousands of harmless citizens.
The clerical state in Iran has dishonored Ashura by its support for the Damascus dictator Bashar Al-Assad, as have many other Shias, in Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan, Arabia, and even in America. Al-Assad sheds the blood of Muslims in a manner no less heedless than that inflicted on Imam Husayn centuries ago.
Continue reading Ashura 1435 A.H. – With Mourning and Shame by Stephen Suleyman Schwartz
Al-Firdous Da’wa College, Kanmanam, Malappuram, Kerala, India November 14, 2013
As you are a prominent Islamic scholar, intellectual, Executive Director of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism, and an international journalist, please reply to the following questions.
How do you recall your life before embracing Islam?
I am now 65 and in some way should be retired from active life. I have been a Muslim since the age of 49; I entered the religion in 1997. I now see in my life before Islam many illusions regarding my professional aspirations, my attitude toward myself and others, and my educational goals. For years I considered myself a poet first, and possessed the typical arrogance, I think, of the poet, in believing that the values of literary achievement were supreme, and would be rewarded easily.
I should have perceived in myself a different attitude from that of people around me, and that recognition by my peers, even when it came, would be transitory. I was brought up without religion; indeed, as an atheist. My mother was Christian and my father Jewish, but both of them abandoned religion, and I was raised to believe in no faith. I was a revolutionary communist for 22 years, until the age of 35. Nevertheless, I believed in God after I was eight years old. I did so secretly – my mother was ambivalent about the matter, but my father was very hostile to any religious choice. When at 17 I felt drawn to the Catholic religion – which I did not join – my leftist comrades were dismayed and contemptuous.
Continue reading A Muslim and Sufi, But No “Shopper for God” Interview with Stephen Suleyman Schwartz by Thajudheen Ballakadappuram
The Weekly Standard Blog November 13, 2013
On October 28, 1913, a trial ended in Kiev, then in imperial Russia and today capital of Ukraine. Mendel Menahem Beilis, a 39-year-old Jew and father of five children, a Russian military veteran, and manager of a brick factory, had been accused of murder for alleged ritual purposes—the infamous “blood libel.” His purported victim was a Ukrainian boy, Andriy Yushchinskiy, aged 12. The child’s corpse was found near the Zaitsev brickworks, where Beilis was employed.
The centennial of the Beilis trial was commemorated on November 4 in New York by YIVO, the distinguished Institute for Jewish Research founded in Poland in 1925 and relocated to America in 1940. The case may be remembered most widely as the subject of Bernard Malamud’s 1966 novel The Fixer, in which Beilis was given the fictional name Yakov Bok. Yet the Beilis case is not a literary curiosity—it remains perilously relevant.
The Beilis trial in its time stood, like the better-known Dreyfus affair, as an outstanding incident of unjust persecution of Jews. The body of Yushchinskiy was found, and Beilis arrested, in 1911. As determined by courageous anti-tsarist dissidents, journalists, and honest police investigators, Yushchinskiy was slain by a criminal gang, including no Jews, with which the child had been associated, and Beilis was innocent. The lead police detective was, however, dismissed from the case, and the Kiev authorities proceeded with an indictment based on the blood libel.
Continue reading 100 Years Since the Beilis Case – and Still Relevant by Stephen Schwartz
Southeast European Times [Bitola/Manastiri, Macedonia] November 8, 2013
The Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences is calling for a day of tolerance next week following an uproar over a two-year-old video that shows an Gostivar imam advocating for a boycott of Macedonian businesses and products.
The proposed Tolerance Day on November 15th would allow religious leaders to engage in dialogue and offer recommendations that could serve as broad societal guidelines for inter-ethnic and inter-religious coexistence.
“Tolerance of others is the basic postulate of a democratic rule of law. Tolerance is also an essential part of the transformation process through which the Macedonia multi-ethnic and pluralist society passes, but for which the various forms of hate speech and acts are a real anachronism,” said Vlado Kambovski, president of the academy.
The event is being organised after a video of a 2011 sermon by Gostivar imam Zekirija Rushani was made public in the Macedonian media.
Continue reading Controversial video sparks call for a day of tolerance by Klaudija Lutovska
The Weekly Standard Blog October 28, 2013
On Saturday, October 26, news broadcasts around the world presented images that, innocuous in any other country, were revolutionary for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Responding to an online petition titled “oct26driving.com,” at least 60 female subjects of the desert monarchy drove cars on the country’s streets and highways. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that forbids women driving.
Many participants in the demonstration video-recorded their experiences and uploaded them to YouTube. Two days before, on October 24, an obscure Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman, General Mansur al-Turki, warned that the country’s ban on women driving would be enforced, that women defying it faced arrest, and that all such demonstrations were prohibited.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the protest was, therefore, that it took place without significant repression, regardless of official threats. CNN reported that “authorities stopped five women who were spotted driving” in Riyadh. A city police representative said that the women were not taken to jail but “were kept in their vehicles” waiting for a “male guardian” or “mehram.” The latter is a family member with legal control over Saudi women’s personal activities, including permission to work, study in a foreign country, possess a bank account, marry or divorce, or receive medical treatment. The five Riyadh women were compelled to sign pledges not to drive again, then released to their “guardians.”
Continue reading Saudi Women Driving – Toward More Reforms? by Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz