Gatestone Institute August 4, 2014
he wreckage of the destroyed Shrine of Jonah, in Mosul, Iraq.
On July 24, as reported by media around the world including the London Guardian, members of the so-called “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS), which now calls itself simply the “Islamic State,” blew up the tomb and shrine of the prophet Jonah in Mosul.
Iraq’s second-biggest city, Mosul has been occupied by ISIS since the first week of June. Muslim believers were ordered to leave the shrine before it was destroyed.
Jonah, known as Yonah in Judaism and Yunus in Islam, is a significant figure in the theologies of all three Abrahamic religions. The Shrine of Jonah was erected at an archeological site believed to date from the eighth century B.C.E. [Before Common Era].
Continue reading Extreme Wahhabism on Display in Shrine Destruction in Mosul by Irfan Al-Alawi
Koha Ditore [Prishtina, Kosova] August 3, 2014
Introductory note by Koha Ditore: The Palestinian war resembles that of the Kosovar Albanians – it has nothing to do with religion, but with the state. Hamas, as a branch of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, “dresses itself in Islamic costume and employs Islamic vocabulary to present the war as a conflict between differing believers, but it has never been that,” said Stephen Sylejman Schwartz, a scholar of Islam and executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, based in Washington, DC, USA.
Schwartz, in an exclusive e-mail interview given to Koha Ditore, discussed the context of the recent fighting between Israel and Hamas, and the consequences of its influence in the region and in the world – including debates in Kosovar society.
Efforts to present the war as directed against Muslims, according to Schwartz, reflect the penetration of the Muslim Brotherhood in Kosova. He spoke about Prishtina’s position on this issue and the Kosovar approach to a Palestinian state.
Schwartz, a well-known American journalist (who in 1997 became a Hanafi Muslim), is the author of many books, among them several about Kosovar Albanians. His book The Other Islam [Islami Tjetër] was issued recently in Albanian by the Koha publishing house.
Continue reading Schwartz: The Palestinian War is About Politics, not Religion by Brikenda Rexhepi
The Weekly Standard Blog July 29, 2014
Ayatollah Seyed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi in his prison cell.
Ayatollah Seyed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi has been incarcerated, mainly in Tehran’s ignominious Evin Prison, since 2006. He is accused of “combat against God” for his criticisms of the Iranian clerical dictatorship, and is serving an 11-year sentence. Now kept in the “special clerical ward,” he has suffered numerous ailments, has accused his jailers of torture, and is among the most famous Iranian prisoners of conscience.
Boroujerdi was born in 1958, an heir to a distinguished Shia clerical family prominent before the Khomeini revolution of 1979. He studied at the theological center in Qom but rejected the ideology of Khomeini. He was arrested in 1995 and 2001 because of his popularity with Iranian believers. His father, Ayatollah Seyed Mohammad Ali Kazemeyni Boroujerdi, was executed by the regime in 2002.
Continue reading Dissident Iranian Ayatollah Again Denounces Tehran from Prison by Stephen Schwartz
The Huffington Post July 28, 2014
The flag of Ukraine. Every Muslim should stand up against Russian imperialism.
On July 25, the London Financial Times published a lengthy and fascinating report dealing with the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Courtney Weaver, a Moscow staffer for the newspaper, described how Konstantin V. Malofeev, a Russian Orthodox Christian billionaire little known in the West, travelled to Sevastopol, on the southwest coast of the Crimean Peninsula, in January of this year. Malofeev had gone to the Crimean port and naval base unintentionally, when his airplane was forced to land in bad weather.
Malofeev went to Sevastopol some weeks prior to the arrival there of Russian soldiers. In March, Crimea was annexed by Russia. According to the Financial Times, Malofeev is “a key figure linking the pro-Russia forces on the ground in Ukraine and the political establishment in Moscow.”
Continue reading Russian Oligarch’s Balkan-Style Gambit in Ukraine by Stephen Schwartz
The Huffington Post July 24, 2014
The final day of the Islamic fasting and prayer month of Ramadan will arrive on midnight, Sunday, July 27, followed by Eid al-Fitr, the holiday of feasting, on the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal, given the proper sightings of the moon and differing geographical locations. Eid al-Fitr will continue for up to three days.
Eid al-Fitr has different names around the Muslim world. Having sojourned in the Balkans, I know it best by its Turkish, Balkan, and Persian name: Ramadan Bayram. In contrast, among Muslims of those and some related cultures, Eid al-Adha, marking the end of Zu’l Hijjah, the month of hajj pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina, is a second, later “Bayram.” The hajj month will commence as the third after the end of Ramadan, and will conclude the Islamic lunar year.
Ramadan this year began under the shadow of crisis in the Middle East, with the eruption of the so-called “Islamic State,” formerly calling itself the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” or ISIS, across the border of Iraq. Several Muslim commentators appealed for peace during the holy month of fasting, when Muslims are called on to ponder their condition as believers, and to do good by helping the poor and otherwise disadvantaged.
Continue reading The Coming of Eid al-Fitr by Stephen Schwartz
Gatestone Institute July 20, 2014
At the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan this year, coinciding with the end of the Western month of June, a new caliphate, or Islamic religious and political order, was proclaimed on the borderland of Iraq and Syria. As described by international media, the news was included in a “declaration of war” released as an online audio statement by Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani, a representative of the purported “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” or ISIS (also known as ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, based on differing English translations of “Sham,” the Arabic name for Greater Syria, which long included all the lands on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean). ISIS is now to be deemed simply “the Islamic State.”
Within days, the man who calls himself Abu Bakr Al-Husayni Al-Qurayshi Al-Baghdadi issued a declaration as head of the purported “Islamic State,” titled pompously, “A Message to the Mujahidin and the Muslim Ummah.”
Continue reading Sunni Muslims Must Reject ISIS “Caliphate” by Irfan Al-Alawi
Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina July 18, 2014
The flag of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1992-95 war.
July 18, 2014 – Washington, D.C. – Two days ago, The District Court in The Hague ruled that the Netherlands is liable for more than 300 men who were deported by the Bosnian Serbs from the Dutchbat compound in Potocari on the afternoon of July 13, 1995 – the majority of which was then killed. This historic court decision will enable the relatives of the victims to claim compensation from the Dutch state.
The final ruling comes after a long legal battle against the Dutch state whose peacekeeping force (Dutchbat) was stationed in Srebrenica in 1995 during the Srebrenica Genocide. The fall of the United Nations “safe area” of Srebrenica in July of 1995 to Bosnian Serb and Serbian forces stands out as the international community’s most egregious failure to intervene during the Bosnian war. It led to genocide, forced displacement, and a legacy of loss. After the fall of Srebrenica, thousands of Bosniaks sought refuge in the area around the Dutchbat base, however, the Dutch peacekeepers handed the Bosniak men and boys that were seeking shelter within the Dutchbat compound over to the Bosnian Serb forces. The ruling of the District Court in The Hague stated that “the force should have taken into account the possibility that these men would be the victim of genocide. Had the Dutchbat allowed them to stay at the compound, these men would have remained alive.”
Continue reading Netherlands Found Liable for More Than 300 Deaths in Srebrenica by Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Weekly Standard Blog July 16, 2014
Kurdish Regional Parliament, Erbil – Photograph 2005 (c) Hawi Afandi, Via Wikimedia Commons.
On Friday, July 11, as reported at the Kurdish English-language news portal Rudaw [Events], combat fighters representing the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, known as Peshmerga, occupied oil fields in Hassan and Makhmour, near the ethnically-mixed city of Kirkuk that the KRG occupied in mid-June. Rudaw asserted the KRG’s claim to the oil fields based on investment in and construction of the facilities by the regional authority. But the Kurdish source also argued it was necessary to protect the assets from the Baghdad government of prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, which has challenged the right of the Kurds to extract and sell their oil for their own benefit.
Maliki outraged the KRG by alleging on July 9 that Erbil, the KRG capital, was a “headquarters” for the terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), now calling itself simply “the Islamic State,” as well as Ba’ath party supporters of the late Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Baghdad prohibited air cargo flights into Erbil and the Kurdish city of Suleymaniya the following day after Kurdish ministers boycotted a cabinet meeting. KRG leaders called on Maliki to resign and, in retaliation, barred air traffic from the KRG to the Iraqi capital.
Continue reading Kudos to the Iraqi Kurds by Stephen Schwartz
Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina July 11, 2014
The flag of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1992-95 war.
The following statement is endorsed by the Center for Islamic Pluralism
July 11, 2014 – Washington, D.C. – Today, 175 victims will be laid to rest in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica. The mass funeral takes place each year on July 11th – the anniversary of the genocide. In the past year alone, over 700 victims have been identified, however, over 500 families are waiting for more remains to turn up before they lay their loved ones to rest. The Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina (ACBH) marks the 19th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide with grief and sorrow and stands in solidarity with all of those who lost loved ones and continue to seek justice and accountability.
Continue reading Remembering the Srebrenica Genocide: 19 Years Later by Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Huffington Post June 27, 2014
In 2014 the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, for the Islamic year 1435, is to begin on the night of Saturday, June 28, and end on July 27, once the dates are confirmed by moon sightings. Ramadan will be followed by a celebration of the feast of fast-breaking (Eid al-Fitr). Ramadan is a defining annual religious event for more than a billion believers worldwide, celebrated as the month in which the Quran was revealed to the prophet Muhammad. It comprises fasting through the daytime and prayer before, during, and after the fast.
Ramadan is an occasion for generosity and introspection, leading to purification as the participant recites the daily prayers. The practice of fasting is rigorous: It includes a ban on drinking water, smoking, and sexual relations during the daylight hours. Self-control by those honoring Ramadan should encompass refraining from and refusing to hear ill-intended speech.
Continue reading Ramadan Amid the New Middle East Crisis by Stephen Schwartz