The Huffington Post December 19, 2014
On Monday, December 15, as reported by the German news service Deutsche Welle (DW), some 15,000 people massed in Dresden, Germany, under the banner of a new and seemingly informal movement calling itself Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West — PEGIDA by its German-language acronym. The incident was the ninth PEGIDA rally in Dresden since the marches began in October “in response to clashes between Kurds and Sunni Muslims [in Germany] over the West’s intervention in Syria,” according to DW.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the PEGIDA phenomenon, declaring, “There is no place in Germany for those who are instigating hatred against immigrants.”
Americans and other Westerners have become accustomed to public criticism, some of it extreme, of Islam. But certain aspects of the Dresden events may have escaped their notice, and are enigmatic, to say the least.
Continue reading Germany, Anti-Islam, and Vladimir Putin by Stephen Schwartz
Tahreek–e-Tahaffuz-e-Mazarat-e-Auliya Allah December 18, 2014
Office: A-14-Flat No. 202, Noor Nagar Johri Farm
New Delhi 110025
New Delhi, 18 December 2014
Sufi Leader Syed Babar Ashraf, Chief Patron of the Tahreek–e-Tahaffuz-e-Mazarat-e-Auliya Allah [Movement for the Protection of Shrines of Muslim Saints] and member of the Maulana Azad Education Foundation (Ministry of Minority Affairs) in the government of India, has expressed deep anguish and sorrow over the cold-blooded killing of 132 children and staff members at the Army Public School, in Peshawar, Pakistan on December 16. In a statement, Syed Babar Ashraf described the terror attack as a heinous crime against humanity and called upon the world community to defeat the ideology of terror.
“Our hearts go out to parents and family members of all those innocent children and staff members of the school who were gunned down by the bullets of terrorists, and we offered our prayers for them. Let the Almighty give them strength to bear this extreme pain of losing their bright sons and daughters,” Syed Babar Ashraf said.
The Sufi Ashraf added that this cowardly act of mindless violence is a warning to the civilized world that enemies of humanity have reached our doorstep and the time has come to wage a war against the perpetrators of the ideology of terror, who are tarnishing the image of traditional Islam, which never supports killing of innocents under any circumstances.
Syed Babar Ashraf, our brother and teacher.
He stated further that Saudi Arabia and Qatar both are mainly responsible for this tragedy. Their official ideology of Islam is Wahhabism or “Salafism.” All these extreme terror groups follow the same ideology guided by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It is high time for our beloved nation to draft a concrete policy so that Wahhabism should not grow in India, as it is the biggest threat to peace and humanity.
All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board December 17, 2014
Janazah (Islamic funeral) of the Peshawar martyrs. CIP calls on all Muslims to recite Fatiha and read Surah Ya Sin for the victims. May Allah subhanawata'la reward those sacrificed for truth.
The All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB), a leading body of Sufi Sunni Muslims of India, representing more than 80 percent of the Muslim population in the country, has condemned the killing of innocent school children in Peshawar, Pakistan, and said that no mercy should be demonstrated in crushing this extremist mentality, anywhere in the world.
The president and founder of the Board, Hazrat Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichowchhwi, in a strong response, denounced this crime against humanity unleashed by the Taliban, with the massacre of more than 145 people, as among the worst crimes of Wahhabis.
The Wahhabi school of religious thought has created an atmosphere in all Muslim lands, including Pakistan, where killing of innocents is the only aim, to gain power and money.
Continue reading Indian Muslim Leader Denounces Wahhabism in Peshawar Bloodshed by All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board
The Huffington Post December 9, 2014
The flag of Ukraine. Every Muslim should stand up against Russian imperialism.
Vladimir Putin has, it seems, followed many parallels between his policy in Ukraine – with, by implication, his regime’s previous interference in Georgia – and the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. Like the terror wrought then by Christian Orthodox-majority Serbians and Montenegrins against Catholic-majority Croatia, Muslim-plurality Bosnia-Hercegovina, and Muslim-majority Kosova, the Russian seizure of Crimea was preceded by a propaganda offensive proclaiming the defense of extremist Orthodox Christian ideology. Russian-directed fighters against Ukrainian authority in eastern Ukraine style themselves as “Orthodox combatants,” although the majority of practicing Christians in the two countries are Orthodox, as noted on Russia and Ukraine by the CIA World Factbook.
The flag of the Albanian nation.
Putin has also claimed repeatedly that the ongoing Russian incursions in Ukraine are justified by Western support for the separation of Kosova from Serbia in 1998-99. The argument is false. Kosova had a historic Albanian majority that was suppressed brutally by Serbian and Yugoslav rulers; Russian allegations of their persecution by Ukrainians today are made without significant evidence. Further, Albanians are non-Slavs, and had little in common, culturally, with their past Serbian overlords. In contrast, thanks to Putin’s opposition to European integration by the former Communist states, the main difference between Russian and Ukrainians today is political rather than cultural. Both Russians and Ukrainians are Slavs.
Continue reading Putin’s ‘Yugoslavian Scenario’ Threatens Balkan Interfaith Relations by Stephen Schwartz
The Weekly Standard Blog December 1, 2014
German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has cautioned that the adventurism of Russian president Vladimir Putin would not remain limited to Ukraine, or even to other countries bordering on Russia. Since Russia seized Crimea in February-March 2014, Putin’s provocative campaign has included imposition of phantom “governments” in two areas of eastern Ukraine, Luhansk and Donetsk, and harassment of the Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which are members of NATO.
The flag of Ukraine. Every Muslim should stand up against Russian imperialism.
Close Russian military air patrols have been observed from the Arctic Circle as far as the Gulf of Mexico, simulating attacks on U.S. territory. Last month came the additional spectacle of a Russian naval squadron off the coast of Australia during the meeting of the G-20 nations held in Brisbane. Australian prime minister Tony Abbott had promised to confront Putin over the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, in which 38 of 298 fatalities were Australian citizens or residents. Australian naval vessels monitored the Russian ships as long as they were in local waters.
Continue reading Angela Merkel Warned of Putin’s Intrigues Beyond Ukraine by Stephen Schwartz
Illyria [New York] November 28, 2014
The flag of the Albanian nation
The national holiday of the Albanian nation – Flag Day – falls on November 28 each year. It commemorates the 1912 raising of the red banner, with the black double-headed eagle of Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeu, by Ismail Qemali in the city of Vlora, and the simultaneous declaration of Albanian independence.
Raising of the Albanian independence flag, Vlora, November 28, 1912.
This year Flag Day follows the visit to Albania of Pope Francis, head of the global Roman Catholic community. In honoring Flag Day, I am also concerned to support the beatification and canonization of Albania’s Catholic martyrs. Catholic clergy massacred by the atheist regime of Enver Hoxha were leading patriots and educators, who had contributed profoundly to Albanian society and culture. Their deaths were unjust and brutal.
This topic provokes a range of reflections. I am an American Muslim from a non-religious family background. Why, one might ask, should I care about the Albanian Catholic martyrs and their path to sainthood?
Continue reading Albanian Flag Day 2014 A Muslim Argument for Honoring the Catholic Martyrs by Stephen Sylejman Schwartz
TheWorld Post [Huffington Post and Berggruen Institute on Governance] November 18, 2014
The Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) is a branch of the U.S. State Department. Since 2001, AFCP has granted millions of dollars to countries around the world, for conservation of historic religious and other structures and institutions. The Fund was established by Congress under Public Law 106-553 with administration by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). The aim of AFCP was to create “a new approach to American public diplomacy… the Ambassador’s Fund is the only cultural preservation program in the U.S. government to provide direct ‘small grant’ support to heritage preservation in less-developed countries.” Some grants, however, are not small. Through ECA, AFCP has issued public reports on its grant awards since 2001.
The fiscal year 2011-12 — with grants awarded in the first year and implemented in the second — was the most recent for which AFCP produced a detailed accounting. The Fund stated then that from 2001 to 2012 AFCP made more than 700 grants to 120 countries. Added to this number, 52 grants were made in 2012, and 56 in 2013, for a pre-2014 total of at least 800 grants. A count of all recorded funds rendered a total for 2001-13 of $47,750,971.
Continue reading Should U.S. Facilitate Tourism in Turkmenistan? by Stephen Schwartz
The Weekly Standard Blog November 17, 2014
As Saudi Arabia undergoes its slow process of change, the matter of women and motor vehicles remains crucial. On October 24, Saudi women were summoned by a social media campaign to take to the roads in cars they own, typically, but do not drive.
The demonstration was called to mark the anniversary of last year’s protest by female drivers. On that occasion, at least 60 Saudi women operated cars in public. Since the desert monarchy is the only country in the world that forbids women from driving, a small number created a large sensation.
This year, the day before the event was to be held, the Saudi interior ministry, headed by Prince Muhammad Bin Nayef, warned that it would “apply the laws . . . against anyone who participates in a protest.” It condemned women driving cars as illegality that would “undermine social cohesion.” Prince Muhammad is the son of the late Wahhabi hardliner, Crown Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz (1934-2012).
Continue reading Saudi Arabia Challenged on Women Driving by Protest by Stephen Schwartz
Gatestone Institute November 16, 2014
As informed Muslims know, present-day radical Islamists have proven adept at using the internet – far more than have their moderate and Western opponents. “Internet savvy” jihadism appears as evidence of the youthful constituency of the extremists. They have grown up with the internet, video games, and other online diversions. When fanatical ideology takes hold of them, the internet is one of the obvious places for the process to begin.
In an important 2003 article in The Weekly Standard, entitled “The Islamic Terrorism Club,” Stephen Schwartz, wrote about some of the more obnoxious pro-jihad Arabic-language websites then operating from Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The jihad-net expanded considerably in the decade that followed.
Even before September 11, 2001, however, many Muslims who opposed the fundamentalists were focusing on Islamist websites in English, as a means to anticipate threats from radicals.
Continue reading “Sheikh Google’s” Radical Islam by Irfan Al-Alawi
The Independent [London] November 12, 2014
Construction projects in Mecca.
The site in Mecca where the Prophet Mohamed is said to have been born is about to be “buried under marble” and replaced by a huge royal palace. The work is part of a multibillion-pound construction project in the holy city which has already resulted in the destruction of hundreds of historic monuments.
The project, which began several years ago, aims to expand the al-Masjid al-Haram, or the Grand Mosque, to cater for the millions of pilgrims who make their way to the holy city each year for the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims are obliged to make at least once.
Mecca is the holiest city in Islam because of its link to the birth of the Prophet, and because it is the site of the Kaaba, a cube-shaped building made from black granite and said to have been built by Abraham. The Grand Mosque is built around it, and Muslims face towards it when they pray.
Continue reading Mecca under threat. Outrage at plan to destroy the ‘birthplace’ of the Prophet Mohamed and replace it with a new palace and luxury malls by Andrew Johnson