The Weekly Standard February 2, 2015
The Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) is a federal program that, since its establishment by Congress in 2001, has granted millions of dollars—$47,750,971 through 2013—to about 800 projects of foreign governments seeking to preserve historic structures and institutions. Administered by the Cultural Heritage Center at the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, AFCP is little known to the American public. Grants are made on the basis of recommendations by U.S. ambassadors for purposes including “the restoration of ancient and historic buildings, assessment and conservation of rare manuscripts and museum collections, preservation and protection of important archaeological sites, and the documentation of vanishing traditional craft techniques and indigenous languages.”
Continue reading Diplomatic Malpractice by Stephen Schwartz
Science, Religion, and Culture January 2015
As a moderate Muslim, who works to unite moderate, traditional, conventional, spiritual, and even conservative (but not radical) Muslims, I must begin any commentary on the French atrocities by rejecting the claim that extremism and terror are not aspects of Islamic history. To declare, as even French president François Hollande did, “these terrorists and fanatics… have nothing to do with the Muslim religion” is inaccurate.
Islam, like other faiths, has been divided between extremists and moderate believers since its beginning. Prophet Muhammad himself was challenged by a radical trend, the Khawarij or “rebels,” also known as Kharijites, who declared that anybody who did not conform to the degree of piety they demanded was an apostate and should be killed.
The Khawarij challenged the honesty of Muhammad, and assassinated the third caliph who followed Muhammad, Uthman Ibn Affan. They supported Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad who succeeded Uthman as fourth caliph, but then killed Ali as well. The degree of contention within the House of Islam then is illustrated by the example of Aisha, the widow of Muhammad, who incited Muslims against Ali, her relative by marriage.
Continue reading In the Aftermath of the Terror Attacks in France Guest Editorial in Special Issue: Islam, Culture, and the Charlie Hebdo Affair by Stephen Suleyman Schwartz
Bedredin Gusic Blog [U.S.] January 23, 2015
The flag of the Republic of Bosnia-Hercegovina.
GUŠIĆ: How do you see the position of Muslims in the world, in general?
SCHWARTZ: The Muslim ummah is faced with many challenges, including, first, that of violent radicalism exemplified by the so-called Islamic State, and second, that of dictatorships epitomized by the bloodthirsty regime of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria. Any belief that these phenomena are fundamentally different from one another is wrong. The brutality of the alleged “Islamic State” is a product and parallel of the atrocities committed by Al-Assad. Muslims need to repudiate radicalism and to promote social and political justice.
GUŠIĆ: How would you comment on the terrorist attack in Paris on January 7? The consequences of that act are tragic. But how about its causes?
Continue reading ‘Learn to Anticipate, Rather Than Reacting to Events’ Interview with Stephen Sulejman Schwartz by Bedredin Gušić
Illyria [New York] January 22, 2015
The flag of the Albanian nation.
Coincidence – “objective chance” as it was called by the great French surrealist writers – plays a fascinating role in spiritual and intellectual life. On January 21, as I was thinking about the life of Father Shtjefën Gjeçovi, O.F.M., I waited for a bus travelling through San Francisco – the city named for St. Francis. When it arrived and I climbed aboard, I saw some young men wearing brown Franciscan robes. They were Americans. I approached them and told them, “God bless you. I am preparing to write about a great Franciscan figure, but I am afraid you will never have heard of him.”
Father Shtjefën Gjeçovi.
When they asked who the person might be, I said, “his name was Father Shtjefën Gjeçovi, and he was an inspiring Albanian educator and folklorist. He formalized the study of customary law.”
I continued, “Among Albanians the Franciscans are known as leading enlighteners. But as Holy Father Pope Francis has been informed, many were martyred by Communism. Friends of the Albanians who are not Catholic, like me, support their canonization. I also hope for the canonization of Father Gjeçovi, a Kosovar Albanian who was murdered by Serbians.” They did not know his name but appreciated my comments about the work of their order among Albanians.
Continue reading The Life and Martyrdom of Father Shtjefën Gjeçovi-Kryeziu, O.F.M. On the 140th Anniversary of His Birth  by Stephen Sylejman Schwartz
The Weekly Standard Blog January 20, 2015
The hideous practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is neither an exclusively Muslim nor a principally Middle Eastern phenomenon. It exists among non-Muslims through wide areas of Africa.
But in Iraq and Iran, FGM is mainly associated with Kurds. The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, which is fighting against the terrorists of the so-called “Islamic State,” has pursued a substantive effort to eradicate FGM. As reported here, the KRG parliament introduced legislation prohibiting FGM in 2007. The law was passed in 2011 and forbade, additionally, child marriage, so-called “honor murders,” and other abuses suffered typically by women. In 2010, the KRG health ministry produced a plan to eliminate FGM and called on Islamic clergy to condemn the custom.
Continue reading Female Genital Mutilation a Growing Problem in Iran by Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz
O Estado de São Paulo (Brazil) January 18, 2015
Like Muslims at prayer, attention turns to Mecca when experts try to explain the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and the phenomenon of global jihad. Not because it is the birthplace of Islam, but as the point of origin of a strict interpretation of Sunnism disseminated by Saudi Arabia, in a strategic design against Shia Iran, and which has inspired terrorist groups around the world, such as the Islamic State.
The monarchy of King Abdullah – and, more recently, Qatar – would have invested, since the 1970s, about US$3 billion a year, according to estimates from different sources, to finance the training and export of sheikhs and the construction of religious schools (medresas), universities, Islamic centers, mosques, foundations and missionary institutions around the world to spread Wahhabism, the most radical and harshly orthodox strand of Islam, that rejects reformist ideas.
They funded the production, printing and distribution of doctrinal literature in various languages, to control something like 1 billion Muslims who live outside the Arab world, in a total of 1.6 billion.
Generations of Muslims – and converts – from the U.S. to Asia came under the influence of what Stephen Schwartz, author of The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role in Terrorism, describes as a “perversion of the pluralistic Islam practiced by most Muslims,” sectarian and intolerant, he said, not only against Christianity and Judaism, but against other strands of Islam such as Shi’ism, Sufism and even the more moderate Sunnis. That doctrine laid the basis for development of today’s fundamentalism and extremism.
Continue reading US$3 billion a year to produce extremists by Adriana Carranca
Voice of America Bosnian Service January 16, 2015
The flag of the Republic of Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Note: The following text is an English-language version of the first half of a Bosnian-language commentary and transcript produced by the Voice of America Bosnian Service, based on its television broadcast for January 16, 2015. The second half will be posted by VOA and reposted by CIP at the end of the week of January 18. The original Bosnian-language text as below is accessible here.
Tekst koji slijedi je verzija na engleskom jeziku prvoj polovini bosanski jezik komentarima i transkript u produkciji Glas Amerike bosanske službe na osnovu svojih televizijskih program 16. januara 2015. Druga polovica će biti objavljen od strane VOA i ponovo postavila CIP krajem nedelje 18. januara. Ovaj tekst na bosanskom jeziku je dostupan ovdje.
Continue reading ‘Western countries that accept refugees have the right to require loyalty from them’ Interview with Stephen Sulejman Schwartz, Part 1 by Inda Swanke
Uyghur Human Rights Project and Uyghur American Association January 13, 2015
The flag of East Turkestan.
Note: The Center for Islamic Pluralism endorses this statement by the Uyghur American Association.]
One year after his detention on January 15, 2014, the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) calls on Chinese state authorities to immediately and unconditionally release imprisoned Uyghur academic, Ilham Tohti.
The detention, trial and sentencing of Professor Tohti is a travesty of justice and an explicit denial of his fundamental human right to free speech.
Our brother Ilham Tohti. Please remember him in your duas.
The life sentence handed down to Ilham Tohti in September 2014 and the denial of his appeal in November 2014 indicates the lengths to which the Chinese government will go to silence Uyghur opposition to discriminatory and assimilationist policies in East Turkestan.
Continue reading Uyghur Human Rights Project calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Ilham Tohti On the first anniversary of his detention by The Uyghur American Association
CIP January 9, 2015
On January 8, Stéphane Charbonnier, editor of the Paris satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, with seven of his journalist colleagues and two policemen, a maintenance worker, and a visitor, were assassinated in an Islamist terror raid.
Three more people were injured. The brutal atrocity came only days after an eloquent appeal by German Christian Democratic chancellor Angela Merkel, Western Europe’s most credible politician and a committed conservative, cautioning her fellow-citizens against anti-immigrant demonstrations centered in Dresden, in the former East Germany.
Three suspects were named in the Charlie Hebdo incident, according to Reuters. They were identified as two brothers, Saīd Kouachi, born in 1980, and Chéerif Kouachi, born in 1982, assisted by Hamyd Mourad, born in 1996. By Thursday morning, Mourad had surrendered to police, as reported by BBC News. On Friday, the Kouachi brothers were killed in northern France, while in a separate crisis in eastern Paris, a terrorist and four hostages were slain. According to euronews, the Kouachis and the eastern Paris attacker coordinated their demise.
Continue reading Paris Terror Harms France, Islam, and The World by Stephen Suleyman Schwartz