All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board September 20, 2014
The All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) has welcomed cautiously the statement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said in an interview on Friday, September 19, that he was confident the Al Qaida conspiracy to establish a South Asia wing, i.e. through Qaedat Al-Jihad, will fail in India, as Indian Muslims would never dance to the tune of and never accept the philosophy of the terror group.
Continue reading Indian Sufis Welcome Statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Al-Zawahiri by All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board
The Weekly Standard Blog September 16, 2014
Evin Prison, Tehran, 2008 – Photograph Via Wikimedia Commons.
The Islamic Republic of Iran remains the worst global example of capricious interference by Muslim theocrats in the personal and spiritual lives of its citizens. On September 9, as reported by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI), seven young Iranians went on trial. Their supposed crime? Producing a dance video of the Pharrell Williams’s pop hit “Happy” and uploading it to YouTube.
You might think Iran’s rulers would be pleased at expressions of felicity by their citizens. In Tehran, however, cheerful enthusiasm outside a narrow religious context is illegal. The seven defendants in the case—Sassan Soleimani, Reyhaneh Taravati, Neda Motameni, Afshin Sohrabi, Bardia Moradi, Roham Shamekhi, and an individual known as “Sepideh”—face allegations of “participation in producing a vulgar video clip” and having “illicit relations,” according to ICHRI. The dancing depicted in the Iranian video is notably modest. The Iranian authorities, nevertheless, claimed the female dancers were “naked” because they lacked the head covering or chador and “Islamic dress.”
Continue reading More Arbitrary Repression in Iran by Stephen Schwartz
Gatestone Institute September 9, 2014
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected Turkey’s first directly elected President on August 10, representing the Justice and Development Party (known by its Turkish initials as AKP). He had served the Islamist AKP as Turkey’s Prime Minister continuously since 2003. He was sworn in as President on August 28.
As pointed out by Daniel Dombey reporting from Istanbul in London’s Financial Times and published the day the Erdoğan presidency began, “Mr. Erdoğan remained prime minister right up until taking the office of president: both offices provide their holder with immunity from prosecution. Turkey’s official register also held off publishing the results of his election as president — which according to some of his opponents would have necessitated his resignation as prime minister — until the day of his inauguration.”
Dombey attributed Erdoğan’s tight hold on power during the transition to the new President’s fear of the country’s judiciary. Erdoğan and his circle have diverged sharply from the Muslim preaching movement of Fethullah Gülen, their former close ally. Members of the AKP accuse Gülen’s followers of infiltrating the police and courts, and using them to embarrass Erdoğan with allegations of financial misconduct.
Continue reading Turkish President Erdoğan’s Expansive Ambitions by Veli Sirin
CIP September 5, 2014
Visar Duriqi -- Photograph by Illyria Press.
The atrocious murders of American journalists James Foyle and Steven Sotloff exemplify the strategy of global terror pursued by the so-called “Islamic State” (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS or ISIL).
On Wednesday, September 3, the worldwide monitor of media freedom, Reporters Without Borders, based in France, demanded that authorities in the Kosova Republic protect Visar Duriqi, a well-known Kosovar investigative reporter, from a similar menace.
Kosova has a Muslim majority but is a secular state, and its Islamic tradition is moderate. Yet it has been targeted by radical preachers and their financial patrons.
Writing for the Kosova daily news portal Express, which has an English translation site here, Duriqi specializes in exposing such infiltration among local Muslims. He has uncovered penetration of the official Kosova Islamic Community by supporters of fundamentalist Wahhabism and the Muslim Brotherhood, along with incitement and recruitment of Kosovar Muslims to fight in Syria.
Continue reading Reporters Without Borders Demands Protection for Kosovar Investigative Journalist Visar Duriqi Targeted by Islamists by Stephen Sylejman Schwartz
Financial Times [London] September 3, 2014
Wahhabi comments are biased
From Mr Stephen Schwartz.
Sir, The assurances of the Saudi ambassador to the UK, Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud, (Letters, August 28), that the kingdom of the two Islamic holy sanctuaries, Mecca and Medina, is “fighting extremism” are welcome. But his comments about the official Saudi Wahhabi sect of Islam are opaque and biased, especially to Muslim observers.
Mr Al Saud responded testily to the entirely accurate observations of David Gardner (“Look beyond Saudi Arabia for Sunni leadership“, August 8), who wrote about “Wahhabi orthodoxy, with its literalist and exclusivist rendering of Sunni Islam”. The ambassador as much as erupted, writing: “What is “Wahhabi orthodoxy”? . . . Wahhabism is a convenient label dreamt up by the media.”
Continue reading Schwartz Letter to Financial Times: “Wahhabism Exists” by Stephen Schwartz
Uyghur Human Rights Project and Uyghur American Association August 27, 2014
[Note: The Center for Islamic Pluralism endorses this statement by the Uyghur American Association.]
The flag of East Turkestan.
The Uyghur American Association (UAA) condemns the sentencing of Uyghur linguist Abduweli Ayup on charges of “illegal fundraising.” Mr. Ayup was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined approximately USD13,000, according to a relative cited in a Radio Free Asia (RFA) article. The sentence was passed on August 21, 2014 after a one-day trial held on July 11, 2014. Based on the verdict, the sentence extends from the date of detention last August.
“There are a number of disturbing aspects to Mr. Ayup’s case. Reports he was denied family visits and accounts of his deteriorating health in custody should set off alarms that the conditions of his detention fell far below international standards and may have influenced the case,” said UAA president, Alim Seytoff in a statement from Washington, DC.
“The Chinese government’s assault on the Uyghur language has been systematic with the establishment of so-called bilingual education in East Turkestan public schools. Now it seems that even individual and private initiatives to protect the Uyghur language are a threat to the Chinese authorities’ assimilative process.”
Mr. Seytoff added: “Punishing peaceful Uyghur scholars, like Abduweli Ayup and Ilham Tohti, who have worked within the Chinese system and entirely within the confines of China’s laws, will not foster trust or good relations between the Chinese state and Uyghur people.”
Continue reading Sentencing of Uyghur linguist Abduweli Ayup politically motivated Highlights Chinese government assault on Uyghur language by The Uyghur American Association
The Weekly Standard Blog August 26, 2014
Perm-36, also known as ITK-6, is the only intact facility remaining in Russia from the Soviet-era gulag system of political prisons and labor camps. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Perm-36 was turned into a Gulag Museum, “to promote democratic values and civic consciousness in contemporary Russia through preservation of the last Soviet political camp as a living reminder of repression and as an important historical and cultural monument.”
On August 23, the English-language website “Russia Behind the Headlines” reported that Perm-36 is no longer open, and that its directors, Tatyana Kursina and Viktor Shmirov, had been fired. The pair was replaced, according to the website, by “an official from the Perm Ministry of Culture, Natalya Semakova, who had had no prior relationship to the museum. In July, after a series of unsuccessful attempts to restore the status quo, the non-governmental organization Perm-36 officially announced its termination of cooperation with the museum. It is currently preparing to collect all of its property – literally all of the museum’s collections. It is unclear what will be displayed in their place at the museum.”
Continue reading Putin and the Perm-36 Gulag Monument by Stephen Schwartz
Chinese Central Television August 19, 201
Stephen Suleyman Schwartz
On Tuesday, August 19, 2014, Chinese Central Television’s feature program ‘The Heat” broadcast a commentary by Center for Islamic Pluralism Executive Director Stephen Suleyman Schwartz identifying the extreme Wahhabism, and refuting the pretensions, of the so-called “Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq. The segment may be watched at http://english.cntv.cn/2014/08/19/VIDE1408428003965645.shtml. Schwartz’s remarks begin at minute 22:26 and conclude the show.
Islamidades [Brazil-México] August 18, 2014
The blog Islamidades begins a series of interviews with various representatives of the Muslim world and also with scholars of Islam.
Stephen Suleyman Schwartz is an American journalist, columnist and author with articles published in several newspapers: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Toronto Globe and Mail, etc. He describes himself as “a student of Sufism since the late 1960s and an adherent of the Hanafi school of Islam since 1997.”
As executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, he is one of the sharpest critics of Wahhabi fundamentalism. His book The Two Faces of Islam is a renowned publication about Muslim radicalism.
Islamidades: In your book The Two Faces of Islam you expose the historical genesis of Islamic fundamentalism. More than a praxis of terror, the essence of current fundamentalism is a radical reform of the Muslim perspective. Wahhabism converts anachronism into orthodoxy and leaves as a trail the destruction of the whole legacy of Islamic civilization. Union with the House of Saud gave force to the thinking of Muhammad Ibn Al-Wahhab. Analyzing this historical scenario and its contemporary consequences, is it possible to “cure” Islam of this “syphilis,” using the term you put forward?
Continue reading Curing Wahhabism, The “Syphilis of Islam” Interview by Pedro Ravazzano by Stephen Suleyman Schwartz
The Huffington Post August 12, 2014
The flag of the Albanian nation.
U.S. air strikes continue against the terrorists of the so-called “Islamic State” – formerly the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” or ISIS – in the borderlands of Iraqi Kurdistan. American military action has been impelled by the genocidal ISIS threat to Christians and various small Kurdish and other religious minorities, including Yezidis, whose faith is linked to Zoroastrianism, and the ancient monotheistic community of Mandaeans. Meanwhile, questions about the extremist movement and its foreign recruits have spread throughout the Muslim lands and the Muslim minority communities in the West, from Belgium to Australia.
On Monday, August 11, authorities in the Kosova Republic – among the most pro-Western Muslim-majority states in the world – announced the detention of 40 Kosovar citizens suspected of participation in terrorism in Iraq and Syria. The arrests came after raids at 60 locations in the Balkan country, and were carried out under procedures established by the Kosova Penal Code protecting “constitutional order and security in the Republic.”
Continue reading ISIS and the Kosovar Albanians by Stephen Schwartz