The Huffington Post March 27, 2015
[Note: This commentary was written with Dr. Irfan Al-Alawi.]
Zakir Naik, 49, an Indian Muslim by birth, and a medical doctor by education, is known widely in the Arab and South Asian Muslim communities. He represents a style of radical Islamist television preaching that most non-Muslims might identify with Christianity. Naik is an ostentatious caller to Islam who alleges he can easily bring members of other faiths into the Muslim fold.
In multireligious India, such claims are inflammatory and may easily lead to violence. The year 2010 saw Britain, whose significant Muslim minority is overwhelmingly South Asian, ban Naik from entry to the country. Canada then imposed the same bar on Naik visiting for Islamist revival events.
But Naik is intent on gaining the greatest possible global audience for his extreme opinions. He directs a television network, titled PeaceTV, broadcasting in Urdu, Arabic, English, and Spanish, among other languages, and based in Mumbai, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf state of Dubai.
Continue reading Zakir Naik, Radical Islamist Video Evangelist by Stephen Schwartz
CIP March 20, 2015
The First Albanian Bektashi Teqe in America, Taylor, Michigan – Photograph 2009 by Stephen Schwartz.
Muslims from the Balkans to Central Asia began celebration of Sulltan Nevruz on the weekend of March 20-21. Among Bektashi Sufis in the Albanian lands, Sulltan Nevruz marks the birthday of Imam Ali rahmetullah, fourth of the righteous caliphs who succeeded Prophet Muhammad sallahaleyhisalaam.
Nevruz will be observed this year on the 29th of Jumaada al-Awal 1436 in the hijri calendar and the 29th of Esfand 1392 by the Persian solar calendar.
Notably in Kurdistan, Sulltan Nevruz is a new year observance associated with the beginning of spring.
Continue reading Center for Islamic Pluralism Greetings on Sulltan Nevruz by Stephen Sylejman Schwartz
The Weekly Standard Blog March 19, 2015
The flag of the Albanian nation.
Kosova Albanians, overwhelmingly Muslim, love America—which rescued them from Serbian aggression in 1999—and desire diplomatic relations with Israel. Kosova does not recognize the Palestinian Authority and does not belong to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The Islamic Republic of Iran, meanwhile, does not acknowledge Kosova’s formal independence. How has it happened, then, that harsh voices are now detected against America and Israel, and for Iran, in the Balkan state?
On February 27, the independent Kosova news portal Express, under the byline of a courageous opponent of radical Islam, Visar Duriqi, reported that Iranian ideological agents are active in the territory. Their path has been opened by a non-governmental organization (NGO) representing Shia Islam and called the “Qur’an Foundation of Kosova.” The foundation is affiliated with an identically-named enterprise in Albania.
Continue reading Iranian Propagandists in Kosova by Stephen Schwartz
Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina March 17, 2015
Note: The Center for Islamic Pluralism endorses this statement by the Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina. The “Sejdić-Finci” decision referred to herein was the product of a complaint by Bosnian Roma representative Dervo Sejdić and Bosnian Jewish leader Jakob Finci against the imposition in the 1995 Dayton accords, which ended the war in Bosnia, of a restriction on executive political positions to members of the Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim), Serbian, and Croatian ethnicities. CIP supports equal citizenship for all Bosnians and welcomes the confirmation of the “Sejdić-Finci” decision.]
March 17, 2015 – Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the European Union unblocked Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) path towards EU membership after BiH’s leaders agreed to implement a series of reforms. Originally signed in 2008, the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) remained stagnant as BiH’s accession was blocked by its failure to implement the 2009 “Sejdić-Finci” decision.
Continue reading European Union Unblocks Membership Path for Bosnia and Herzegovina by Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina
Uyghur Human Rights Project Uyghur American Association March 16, 2015
[Note: The Center for Islamic Pluralism endorses this statement by the Uyghur American Association.]
Our sister Rebiya Kadeer.
The Uyghur American Association (UAA) honors the human rights work of Uyghur democracy leader Ms. Rebiya Kadeer on the tenth anniversary of her release from notorious Chinese prison Liudaowan. UAA also recognizes the tireless efforts of the United States government and human rights organizations in securing Ms. Kadeer’s freedom.
Ms. Kadeer served as UAA president from 2006 to 2011 and is the president of the World Uyghur Congress. After her release, she founded the International Uyghur Human Rights and Democracy Foundation and has traveled worldwide communicating Uyghur human rights concerns.
Continue reading Uyghur democracy leader Ms. Rebiya Kadeer’s tenth anniversary of freedom An opportunity to refocus efforts in realizing human rights for the Uyghur people by The Uyghur American Association
The Weekly Standard Blog March 5, 2015
King Salman of Saudi Arabia.
Following the death of Saudi King Abdullah at the end of January, and the succession of his half-brother, now King Salman, 79, many observers of the desert monarchy have speculated on its future.
Almost immediately, King Salman has commenced an effort to clear the air regarding Islamist ideology and its association with terrorism. That’s rather unlike President Obama. While he and some other Western leaders claim they are combating radical Islam, they habitually refuse to call it by its correct name. Instead, they employ euphemisms.
For example, Obama summoned a three-day conclave beginning February 18 that was titled “Countering Violent Extremism.” Such terminology suggests that the atrocities of the Islamic State or ISIS, al Qaeda, the Taliban and other South Asian jihadists, and Iranian operatives in various countries, are mere aspects of a general planetary wave of ethnic and political turmoil.
They are not. Radical Islamist terrorism reflects a feature of Islam that has erupted and then subsided repeatedly over the centuries of Muslim history. It has its own specific content and dynamics. But the merest recognition of this reality was absent from a fact sheet on the “White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism” issued by the presidential press office. In nearly 1,700 words of bureaucratic boilerplate, references to “Muslims,” “Islam,” “Wahhabism,” “Taliban,” or “Iran,” did not appear even once.
Continue reading New Saudi King Displays Candor on Radical Islam Unlike President Obama by Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz
Svet 24 [Slovenia] March 4, 2015
The flag of the Republic of Slovenia.
Who did Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz have in mind when he told the BBC that the new Austrian law seeks to restrict the political influence of certain Muslim countries? Former Slovenian mufti Osman Djogić points out that the Islamic world is very heterogeneous, and that sources of funding may be legitimate or illegitimate. He states, “Among the illegitimate donors often some come from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with Muslim communities given help to implement projects, but this does not convert the latter to a radical interpretation of Islam. Still, I agree that many of those who benefit from these sources are under the influence of a radical, or rather, puritanical interpretation of Islam.”
The Austrian Parliament last week approved a sharp change in the law on Islam, which, inter alia, will prohibit the funding of mosques from abroad and establish that the national law excludes Sharia. The law, which was introduced from the right side of the political spectrum, has already become the target of criticism that it discriminates unconstitutionally against Muslims. We have considered its most controversial provisions.
Continue reading Anti-Islam Law by Luka Tetičkovič
Gatestone Institute March 4, 2015
Turkey’s Islamist president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may have entered a decline after 11 years of increasing national political command.
Erdoğan proclaims Turkey to be a state of law and a defender of freedom of expression, even though its record in the persecution of journalists is among the world’s worst, according to such international media monitors as Freedom House, in its 2014 survey, Democracy in Crisis: Corruption, Media, and Power in Turkey.
On February 2, 2015, the London Guardian reported that the Dutch journalist Fréderike Geerdink was indicted by a Turkish prosecutor for “terrorist propaganda” because of her writing on Kurdish affairs. Representing the leading Dutch daily, Het Parool, and producing a blog from Diyarbakır in eastern Turkey, Geerdink was arrested in a Turkish police raid at her home on January 6, the very day that the Netherlands’ Foreign Minister, Bert Koenders, was in Ankara. Geerdink is due to appear in court on April, and faces a possible sentence of five years in prison if found guilty.
Continue reading Is Turkey’s Erdoğan in Decline? by Veli Sirin
The Guardian Online [London] February 28, 2015
The first thing I noticed about Mohammed Ezzouek was his size: tiny, birdlike. The recoil from an AK-47 would knock him off his feet, I remember thinking. He was an unlikely fighter – something he repeatedly denied when questioned by the security services.
The second thing was his beard. Long, black and wispy, it had clearly taken months to grow and was central to his identity. The third was his trainers, Nike, almost box-fresh. This man is a walking contradiction, I thought. He spoke street slang while praising the prophet. He went to Somalia to live under a caliphate and here he was, talking to me in London, complaining about the difficulties getting a mobile phone contract. He refused to be photographed but, after coaxing, he started posing for the camera, albeit in an oblique way so that he could not be photographed head-on.
Continue reading My meeting with Mohammed Emwazi’s friend as they sought a radical path by Jamie Doward
Presheva Jonë [Geneva] February 27, 2015
The flag of the Albanian nation.
The U.S. expert Stephen Sylejman Schwartz, Executive Director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, headquartered in Washington, states to the Albanian news agency Presheva Jonë that the involvement of ethnic Albanians in the Islamic State (IS) negatively affects the reputation of Albanians.
“It contributes to evil stereotypes and false claims that the Kosova liberation war was a jihadist effort.
“As in other instances, Islamist radicals are doing the work of Serbia in undermining the reputation of Albanians.”
Kosova and Albania are among the few countries in Europe where the majority of the population belongs to the Islamic faith.
Continue reading U.S. expert: Involvement of Albanians in the Islamic State (IS) harms image of Kosova liberation war by Blerim Mustafa