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
Gatestone Institute June 24, 2014
Anti-radical Muslims must break their silence to oppose the revived for building a Tablighi Jamaat [TJ] mega-mosque in the West Ham neighbourhood of London. Mobilisation against the mega-mosque should include Muslims of all interpretations who are moderate, traditional, conventional and even conservative, in all locations where TJ is active. TJ cadres are mainly present in South Asia, the United Kingdom, Western Europe, Southeast Asia, and North America.
The mega-mosque proposal had been perceived as ruled out of consideration after Newham Council, which governs the borough in which West Ham is located, rejected the application for its construction in December 2012. The previous year, Newham Council had heard and turned down a petition for placement of a mosque at the site.
Continue reading UK: How We Want to Stop Radical Islam by Irfan Al-Alawi
Middle East Quarterly Summer 2014
The Failure of the “Turkish Model”
The publication of this book, three years ago, was received in the West with some enthusiasm. The volume seemed to promise that the dream of numerous observers of the Muslim world—that a “moderate” Islamist ideology could emerge and that it would be paired with an opening to free-market economics—would be realized after many decades, if not centuries. Unfortunately, the flow of history since 2011, especially in the author’s native Turkey, has discredited such fancies. Democratization of the Arab countries and liberalization of Turkey have nearly disappeared from dialogue on the future of Islam. The “Arab Spring” now resembles a sad joke, and Turkish democracy is an object of rebuke.
Akyol, the son of a prominent Turkish journalist, had followed in his father’s professional footsteps, becoming a commentator in Turkish newspapers and gaining significant access to media in the United States. In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist atrocities, he appeared frequently in Washington, visiting conservative and libertarian think-tanks and spreading a message of support for the then-novel idea of “Islamism-lite” represented by Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Continue reading Islam without Extremes A Muslim Case for Liberty by Mustafa Akyol New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 2011. 352 pp. $25.95. Reviewed by Stephen Schwartz
Uyghur Human Rights Project and Uyghur American Association June 2, 2014
[The Center for Islamic Pluralism endorses this statement by the Uyghur American Association.]
The flag of East Turkestan.
The Uyghur American Association (UAA) stands with Chinese democrats on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square killings to express its support for the ideal of freedom voiced by the ordinary citizens of China 25 years ago.
UAA repeats its call to the Chinese government to embrace democratic reforms and respect the rights of all Chinese citizens. Until the Chinese government provides a full and fair account of the events of June 4, there will be no foundation for the pursuit of freedom and democracy in China today.
“The slaughter of innocent people on Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989 is an atrocity that should never be forgotten. That the Chinese Communist Party has never acknowledged responsibility for murdering peaceful protestors shows the disdain it has for its citizens and how blinded it has become by the ideology of power,” said UAA president, Alim Seytoff in a statement from Washington, DC.
Continue reading CIP Endorses Uyghur Stand With Chinese Democrats As the World Mourns the Dead of Tiananmen Square by The Uyghur American Association
The Huffington Post May 27, 2014
Prizren, Kosova -- At center, the 17th c. CE Sinan Pasha mosque. Photograph Via Wikimedia Commons.
The Muslim-majority Kosova Republic has taken a leading initiative in promoting international interfaith dialogue, in a Balkan setting. The Kosova government has committed notably to public reconciliation efforts bringing official Albanian Muslim clerical authorities together with representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
In the long period of civil confrontation in Kosova, which entered an acute phase in 1987 and culminated in NATO military intervention in 1999, Serbian Orthodox religious leaders were more prominent as political actors than Albanian Muslim and Catholic faith representatives. Supporters of Serbian demagogue Slobodan Miloševiċ portrayed the struggle in Kosova as a Serbian response to Islamist jihadism.
That gambit by Miloševiċ and his minions echoed their earlier attempt, in the Bosnian war of 1992-95, to depict the Bosnian Muslims as Islamist fundamentalists. Yet the overwhelming majority of Bosnian Muslims fought, in the company of Catholic Croats, Serbian believers in a single Bosnia, Jews, and people of no religion, for the right to live in peace with their neighbors, rather than for Islamic supremacy.
Continue reading Kosova Widens Its International Interfaith Scope by Stephen Schwartz