Books and Documents
Islam and Politics

What possibilities exist to reconcile these incongruities? Home-grown terror? How do far-right outfits, such as the English Defence League, and Muslim extremists in Britain deepen the divide? And why did British minister Baroness Sayeeda Warsi famously point out that prejudice against Muslims had passed “the dinner-table test” to become socially acceptable in the UK?...


Challenges Ahead For Moderate Islam
Farish Noor

…the coming elections in Indonesia will serve as a useful barometer of public sentiment and Muslim sensibilities, and so once again, I state the obvious: Indonesia's coming elections are important not only for that country, but for the region and the Muslim world as well....

How the World Has Failed Syria
Octavia Nasr

Cowardice must be the headline. Everyone is coward except the victims. Start with the cowardice of a regime that prefers to see its nation destroyed and burned to the ground, useless, deserted except for ghosts. A regime that will stop at nothing to remain in power, even if all what is left is power over bodies and body parts....


Bangladesh: Does Freedom Of Expression Guarantee Freedom?
Taj Hashmi

There is nothing permanent about the global index of democracy and freedom. A democratic country with maximum rights, privileges and freedom can turn authoritarian, and vice versa. Bangladesh also experiences relatively more or less democracy and freedom, from time to time. Democracy and freedom in Bangladesh during the last five years are going through periods of crises and uncertainties......


A Syrian Reflection in Many Arab States
Rami G. Khouri

Perhaps one reason why Arab host countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq keep their borders open is that these countries have all experienced the pain of conflicts that sent many of their own citizens fleeing for shelter in neighbouring lands. So we should keep in mind that what is happening in Syria, terrible as it is, should not be seen as an aberration in modern Arab history, but rather represents perhaps the culminating chaos of that history. Syria once referred to itself as “the throbbing heart of Arabism.”....


The story of Asmaa and Berkin reflects Erdoğan’s strong bond with the Muslim Brotherhood
Burak Bekdil

It is too obvious that Mr. Erdoğan feels a much stronger bond with an Egyptian family than a Turkish one over the loss of their children simply because the Egyptian family is from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian next of kin for Mr. Erdoğan and his fellow Islamists. Asmaa had lost her live for the “cause,” i.e., Islamism. Berkin had not. Asmaa’s killers are Mr. Erdoğan’s enemies across the Mediterranean Sea. Berkin’s killers are Mr. Erdoğan’s heroes…..


Political Justice in Turkey
Yusuf Kanli

Turkey is experiencing, once again, some very interesting days. The doors of the Silivri concentration camp were opened, this time to release people confined behind bars for years, without a final verdict declaring them guilty of any crime. They were sentenced with some stuff crafted and concocted at the “Centre for Excellence in Fabricating Evidence,” but they were deprived of the right to appeal, as the reasoning of the verdict was not written by the now officially dissolved “Court with Extraordinary Powers.”…


Libya’s Widening Gap between Politics and the People
Amanda Kadlec

Yet it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when things began to sour. From the outset, the nascent state certainly had its work cut out; a dark dictatorial legacy, deconstructed state institutions, and hundreds of unfettered militias presented inordinate challenges. In late February, Libyans marked the anniversary of the uprisings that initiated the new national narrative just over three years ago. But a darker mood eclipsed the atmosphere of hope that until recently managed to pervade negative perceptions of where Libya was heading….


The End of a ‘Dark Era’
Mustafa Akyol

The terrible fact is that when one “dark era” ends in Turkey, another one begins, while only the victims change, or even change places. The underlying problem is our commonly paranoid, power-hungry and self-righteous political mindset, which cannot find ease without designating some as “traitors” and “enemies within.” Thus we will not find a national peace of mind unless we accept all groups as equally legitimate and agree on a liberal social contract…..


Al-Bakistan, the Arabised version of Pakistan
Dr Tariq Rahman

Jinnah felt that if there was the notion of ‘Pak’ (pure), there would also be ‘Napak’ (impure). He expressed his irritation by calling Pakistan a ‘bad name’ and said: ‘give a dog a bad name and then hang it’. However, his colleagues pointed out to him that the Congress press had gone to town with the name and it would be best to own it now. Reluctantly, Jinnah accepted the name ‘Pakistan’ for the new country.....


Tears of Yarmouk: the Palestinian Lesson for Every Syrian
Ramzy Baroud

In the early days of the Syrian uprising-turned civil war three years ago, the writing on the wall of it becoming an intricate regional and international conflict was there for all to see. Palestinians in Syria were likely to find themselves a pawn in a dirty war, but few could have predicted the magnitude of the crisis, and perhaps, few cared.....


Tiny Qatar has always liked to be different. And its immense wealth, which comes from its deposits of natural gas, has given it the courage to continue being different and not depend on anyone economically. But now its strong and continued support of the Muslim Brotherhood caused a break with its neighbors in the Gulf Cooperation Council …..


Egypt and Gaza: a brewing crisis between post-Morsi Egypt and the Hamas government in Gaza that can easily explode any time soon
Nervana Mahmoud

Will the Islamic movement sit idly by while watching the Egyptian authorities slowly suffocating its lifeline? Of course not, but what can Hamas do to force the Egyptian authorities to change their minds?....


When Corpses Rule the Arab World
Rami G. Khouri

So Bouteflika will win despite the protests against his candidacy, and will serve another term, or as much of it as his frail health permits. But he will remain a sad symbol of the inability of Arab old men with guns to come to terms with their people’s desire to live with dignity and full rights as citizens…..


Hizmet, Politics and Political Parties
Ihsan Yilmaz

The Hizmet movement is well aware that one of the most critical duties for Muslims is “Amr Bil Ma'ruf Wa Nahy An Al Munkar” or “encouraging good and deterring from evil.” The Hizmet movement is aware that this principle has aspects to it that inherently include and involve both society and the political arena, and thus as a civil society organization -- within the framework of rights conveyed onto it by democracy and the law…

Pakistan Heading Towards Theocracy
Ch Shoaib Saleem

Most of the time I stand aghast at the sight of weird Maulvis appearing on various TV channels and presenting absurd and whimsical interpretation of Sharia and the stuff which is more likely to make them stakeholders of the state. Putting an air of arrogance and self-righteousness, they would justify themselves in the name of religion no matter how flawed and unfounded excuses they would advance during the discussions…..


Mullahs, Mullahs Everywhere
Raza Rumi

Maulana was ecstatic about the news and offered a bagful of platitudes on how important was the so-called ‘peace process’ and negotiating with the terrorists. When I asked him that despite the peace talks, outfits close to TTP had carried out dozens of attacks killing soldiers and civilians the Maulana’s mood changed. In a fit of anger he accused me of ‘sabotaging’ the process and before he could take the argument forward by calling me an agent of Hanood-Yahood, my guest – another Maulana – Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi intervened and rescued me from a live declaration of being an enemy of the peace…..


Bangabandhu's Moment in History
Syed Badrul Ahsan

At an intellectual level, the speech was a masterpiece. Within its parameters, Mujib deftly negotiated his way out of a bind, one in which he had found himself since President Yahya Khan had injudiciously deferred the scheduled March 3 meeting of the new national assembly in a broadcast on the first day of the month. Over the next few days, the feeling grew that the Bengali leader was on his way to a declaration of independence.….


Faces of Extremism in South Asia
Syed Badrul Ahsan

Such being the ground reality, it follows that religious fundamentalism, or fanaticism in plain terms, cannot but go for upward mobility. The spirit of tolerance is fast being eroded, owing to acts and behaviour that have subtly, or sometimes unwittingly, led to the growth of fundamentalism in society. And where have such acts and behaviour been perceptible?....

Pakistan’s Terror Conundrum
Sharat Sabharwal

Pakistan’s response to terrorism continues to be characterised by confusion, lack of national consensus on a way forward, lack of will and capacity to fight the menace and the consequent creeping surrender of the state to extremists and terrorists….


War Games and Warped Priorities of Pakistan
Arif Nizami

Pakistan has the highest growth rate in producing missiles and babies, but at the same time has one of the lowest economic growth rates. Our outlays on health and education as percentage of the GDP are dismal.....


New World Order: May The Maddest Man Prevail?
Octavia Nasr

Russia and Syria have no legitimacy left. What they do have is the bullying power that wreaks havoc as a world. Late to act, it finds itself unable to jump in this bloodbath and powerless in the face of suffering innocent victims….

Lessons from a Lost War
Praveen Swami

Fourteen thousand, four hundred and fifty-three other Soviet soldiers, though, came home in black, zinc coffins. Perhaps 7,000 were maimed. No one knows how many Afghans died in the war for sure; estimates run up to 1.2 million.....


These observations might seem odd given recent scholarship on the links between poverty, state oppression, and support for militant Islam.  Survey experiments in Pakistan by Blair et al and Fair et al have shown that individuals who feel impoverished are less likely to be supportive of violent Islamic groups because they know that they will bear the brunt of the negative consequences of living in a violent environment.  Post-Soviet Central Asia is no exception to this general pattern….

If the game of governance is only to be played by ‘labels without substance’, then the terror outfits have come up with a trump card of their own. The non-state terror outfits now threatening the state itself are also using the label of Islam to capture power and use state resources for their own ends. Will it be too much to say that just as the conduct of the latter has little to do with the spirit of Islam; the conduct of the former in many ways has also had little to do with the culture and spirit of democracy?...

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