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The Astrologer Turned Islamic Radical
Jacob Siegel

There is little about the Sydney hostage taker’s life that makes sense aside from his violent death. That’s because Sheikh Man Haron Monis was a fraud. He was a phony sheikh using an adopted name, preaching religious virtue while he was fighting sexual assault and murder charges. He carried out his violence in the name of ISIS, the radical Islamist group fighting in Iraq and Syria, but even that connection seems to have existed mainly inside his own head. Monis has been called a “Lone Wolf” terrorist, and it’s clear that he was inspired by radical groups like ISIS…..


Politics of Conversion: Right-Wing Hindu Organisations Unsuccessfully Imitate Christian Missionaries
Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr

There are loopholes in the argument of the liberals, though their rage has a charmingly righteous ring to it. The first loophole: The RSS and the BJP cannot be expected to play by liberal rules. The RSS’ hostility towards the religious minorities is barely concealed. The BJP maintains an ambivalent attitude towards them. They are right-wing and they will do right-wing politics — that is majoritarian politics…..


The Civilian Leadership Is Confused and Incompetent While the Military Leadership Is Unwilling To Break the Ice Unilaterally
Najam Sethi

The public’s anger against the Taliban may also not be sufficiently long-lived to provide a stable platform for policy overhaul. Already, a counter narrative about the “Indian hand” and “US responsibility” in the Peshawar massacre is beginning to take shape in the media and among radical Islamist groups. Indeed, in the backdrop of pervasive anti-West sentiment and politico-religious ideology, it will not be possible to exploit the current situation for long…..

Nationalism as Antonym of Communalism
Faisal Devji

Since Independence, secularism is increasingly opposed to communalism, with the nation no longer central to its definition. Does this indicate the failure of the nation to demonstrate its plurality, and therefore secularism?....

So should India worry? Well, one cannot ignore that Ghani’s pitch is publicly to Rawalpindi, not Islamabad. Pakistan has quickly promised to raise, train and equip a brigade in the Afghan National Army. Ghani has relegated India to the role of a supporting actor, with the lead conceded to Pakistan. It would be no better for India if Ghani’s initiative failed to achieve a quiet border….

Peshawar Sinks In Gloom
Waseem Ahmad Shah

December 16, which is the blackest day for the country due to its dismemberment in 1971, has added another black chapter to the national history. Now, the day will be remembered for the gloom and destruction descended on the provincial capital. There was no letup in the wailing of ambulance sirens. Dozens of ambulances, both of government as well as non-governmental organisations, seemed to be running short for ferrying bodies of students and teachers…


A group of 8 Arabic-speaking attackers, wearing paramilitary Frontier Corps uniforms, entered the Army Public School on Warsak Road around 10.30am (local time) and started the massacre of innocents, spraying bullets indiscriminately, going from classroom-to-classroom. They also took several hostages using them as human shield. The death toll in the attack has reached 160 with a majority of them being students, official sources told PTI. At least 122 others have been injured.  They said that so far six militants have died — four of them blew themselves up while two were shot dead by security forces……

Other Stories:

Malala 'Heartbroken' By Pakistan School Slayings

We Targeted School in Revenge for Military Attacks: Pak Taliban

Pakistan Pm Nawaz Sharif Heads to Peshawar, Calls the Attack a 'National Tragedy'

India Condemns Terror Attack on Children in Pakistan

Indian Pm Narendra Modi Condemns Peshawar Terror Attack

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh Condemns Terror Attack In Peshawar School

Peshawar Terror Attack: Kailash Satyarthi Urges Taliban To Release Captive Children

Four Militants Killed So Far: ISPR

Attack On School Failure Of Pakhtunkhwa Govt: ANP Leaders

Islamic Extremists Do Not Favour Children, Says Counter-Terrorism Expert

Pakistan's Schools of Sorrow
Rafia Zakaria

In Pakistan’s surfeit of victims, young and old and all innocent, no such retrospection can be expected. In the escalating horror of each attack, there is no room to enshrine the particularity of each victim; one schoolboy’s face frozen in death mixes with another teacher’s gunned down corpse. We look away, we sigh, we shrug and we move on. In the meantime, the attacks continue, a panorama of pain for Pakistan, a country identified by its maimed and massacred schoolchildren……

Fight Poverty, Not Conversion
The Hindu Editorial

Is the practice of religion a deeply private affair, confined to values and belief systems at the level of the individual, or is it an open community activity, carried out in the public domain with social participation? Does one person’s right to practise his or her religion come in conflict with another person’s right to propagate his or her religion?....


Live television images of the scene showed intense flashes of gunfire and the explosive sound of loud ammunition rounds. Police officers raced into the building with weapons drawn, followed by medics with stretchers.....

India: Burdwan Blast: Deceit Exposed
Ajit Kumar Singh and Mrinal Kanta Das

India: Burdwan Blast: Deceit Exposed
Ajit Kumar Singh

While it was matter of grave concern that a foreign terrorist outfit was attempting to establish a base inside India, the module's alleged linkages with earlier incidents of subversion across India, and with the larger Islamist terror network in the country, were even more alarming. Reports indicate that Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) terrorists, who had escaped from the Jatana area of Bijnor District in Uttar Pradesh on September 12, 2014, following an accidental blast (no casualties were reported), had close linkages with members of the Burdwan module.....


What Is Wrong With Hindu Rashtra? Modi Should Step In
Anil Dharker

There was Niranjan Jyoti (who calls herself Sadhvi), and her infamous “Ramzada” versus “Haramzada” speech; there was Sakshi Maharaj (is that his name, or another self-given title?), who called Nathuram Godse a patriot; then there was the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, the former Cabinet minister Ram Naik, who apropos nothing said, “Ram temple should be built in Ayodhya as per the wishes of the people.”.....


Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who has warned of militant plans to strike Australian targets, said there were indications the hostage situation at the Lindt Cafe was politically motivated. "This is a very disturbing incident. I can understand the concerns and anxieties of the Australian people," Abbott told reporters in Canberra, without providing any information on the unfolding siege. Australia, a staunch ally of the United States and its escalating action against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, is on high alert for attacks by home-grown militants returning from fighting in the Middle East…..


Related Stories:

Sydney Hostage Crisis: Gunman Demands Islamic State Flag, Say Reports

Sydney Siege: Uber Hiked Fares Up To $100 Minimum to Leave Business District

Sydney Siege: Dramatic Photos and Video Show Hostages' Escape and Gunman at Martin Place Lindt Cafe

Sydney Siege: UK Prime Minister David Cameron 'Deeply Concerned' Over Hostage Stand-Off

Sydney Siege: Hostage-Taker Calling Himself 'The Brother' Claims Four Bombs in Lindt Cafe and City's Banking District

Sydney Siege: Gunman 'Forces' Hostages to Show Jihadist Banner


Sydney Siege: Australian Muslim Community Voices 'Shock and Horror' At Martin Place Hostage Crisis
Jack Moore

A statement from 50 Australian Muslim organisations said that the community's "thoughts go to the hostages and their loved ones" and that they "pray for their safety". "The Australian Muslim community shares with fellow Sydneysiders their utter shock and horror at the unprecedented scenes emerging from the Lindt cafe in Martin Place this morning," the statement reads…..


While a uniform, modern and elegant civil code would grant equal rights to women and generally make citizens' lives simpler, the biggest flaw in the case for it is, well, that the case is being made by BJP and Sangh Parivar affiliates not known otherwise for their secularism. You can't advocate a uniform code in one breath and Ram Mandir in the next: each contradicts the other. A string of statements from BJP worthies over just the last couple of weeks demonstrates why their secular bonafides are suspect....


The Truth about Conversions
Dhiraj Nayyar

As for forced conversions, they certainly are a problem if people are being asked to change their personal faith at gunpoint or at the threat of physical harm. But there is no need for a separate law to tackle this problem. Forced conversions quite simply violate the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion and those being forced can approach the courts for justice. If there is a threat of physical harm attached.....


Are Arabs Ready For The Future?
Aijaz Zaka Syed

Is it finally the end of El Dorado? After surging and serenading above $100 a barrel for years, the much prized oil suddenly finds itself cheap and with diminished global esteem. What are the Arabs doing to build and define their future? One thing is for sure. They will have to make this journey on their own. They certainly cannot do it with the help of those who have historically exploited the region, dividing its people and abusing its resources. World powers are, as Erdogan warns, only interested in Arab money……


War, Peace, Language
Khaled Ahmed

She is not opposed to English, but she thinks it should come later in the child’s learning career. All educationists, from Maria Montessori in the 20th century to Abbas Rasheed and Tariq Rehman in our times, agree with her. But the problem with us today is that Urdu is not the mother tongue in all cases. The state indoctrinates in all textbooks, Urdu and English, except that English keeps puncturing the evil dystopia of intolerance and the false effervescence of jihad because it connects us to the world outside our ideological bubble…..


Are Netanyahu’s Days Numbered?
Uri Avnery

It was almost fashionable to declare that the Left is finished, dead, deceased. Among commentators, it has become de rigeur, especially among leftists, to heap scorn on the Left and the remaining leftists. Poor guys (and gals, of course). Can’t see what’s going on. Harbour illusions. Whistling in the gathering darkness.   And suddenly there is a chance – a remote chance, but a chance nevertheless – for the Left to regain power. Why? What has happened?....


Ghazwa-e-Hind: The Lashkar Project
Praveen Swami

He appeared on horseback before the iconic Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore last Thursday, the beast swaying somewhat alarmingly below his not-inconsiderable girth, to proclaim before thousands of cheering cadre brought in on special trains that it was the eve of the Ghazwa-e-Hind. Neo-fundamentalists believe that the Prophet said the war to establish Islamic rule in India would be waged by an army rising from the fabled deserts of Khorasan before the day of judgement. “The Ghazwa-e-Hind is inevitable,” announced Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), parent organisation of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). “Kashmir will be freed, 1971 will be avenged and the Gujarat victims will get justice, god willing.”…..

Almost as critical is the role of religion as an imagination, as a way of life. The empty opposition between secularism and communalism is futile. We need to engage with believers in critical introspection. One interesting example of such an experiment is Ziauddin Sardar’s journal, Critical Muslim, where he invents his way beyond fundamentalism. Sardar, as a physicist, an expert on culture, as a practising Muslim, can relate to Islam in a credible way. The question is can we, in a parallel way, look the critical Hindu, create a space where Hinduism and Hindutva are separated? To do so, one needs to look at religion more playfully and desist from reducing religion to con-man cults, to communalism, to a snobbery which believes that the elite can survive on a diet of secularism but the poor need the fodder of religion. One has to realise that India is a civilisation base for Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and a host of tribal gods…..


Yes To ‘Ottoman,’ No To Compulsory Religion
Mustafa Akyol

Because the “Ottoman language” is not a dogma; it is the very language that was written and spoken in this country until 80 years ago. The Kemalist “language revolution” of the 1930s aimed to create a national tabula rasa, but only culturally impoverished the nation by cutting it from its centuries-old cultural accumulation. Therefore, Turkish children would be luckier today if they gain the capacity to understand what their grandfathers wrote and spoke. I am all for that……


Britain Unveils World's ‘Toughest’ Counter-Terrorism Law
Soeren Kern

Civil liberties groups counter that the measures are "draconian" in scope and represent a dramatic expansion of government surveillance powers, ones that are ripe for misuse if they are not matched by strong safeguards. A key provision of the new law would authorize the government to seize the passports of terror suspects travelling to Iraq, Syria and other jihadist battlegrounds…..


Sohail Rathore: A Most Remarkable Man
Nadeem F. Paracha

After being punched, kicked, slapped, spat upon and accused of being ‘KGB/Soviet/Communist agents’ by the cops, we were all thrown into one of the many dirty, wet and windowless cells of the police station. But we weren’t the only ones in that malodorous little cell. Three men were already there. One was a pick-pocket, one was a car thief and one was Sohail, a political activist…..


End the Biological Imamate
Tufail Ahmad

Syed Ahmed Bukhari has anointed his son to succeed him as the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, despite the Delhi High Court asserting that he has no legal right to do so. To assume this hereditary role, the only qualification needed is Nutfa, or spermatozoon. In biology, Nutfa plays a vital role in reproducing the next generation of species. For humans, it also shapes history and politics, causes successions and assassinations. In history, it has been a vehicle for transfer of power from kings to their next generations. In some ways, Nutfa cannot be the only criterion…..

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