Books and Documents
Islam and Politics

‘The Court’ and ‘The Agency’
Nuray Mert

I was criticised by many of exaggerating when I suggested that Turkey was heading to become a “Mahabhrat state.” I wonder what else to call a state that seeks to curb the power of its Constitutional Court and judiciary and extend the power of its intelligence agency? However, I still believe that Turkey has a far too complex and liberal society to be ruled by a police state. But this may not mean being hopeful; on the contrary, it may promise more chaos…..

Pakistan: Growing Concerns about Punjab
Mujahid Hussain, New Age Islam

Pakistan: Growing Concerns about Punjab
Mujahid Hussain, New Age Islam

When the government did not wish to disarm the Taliban, or spoil its huge network, or close its financial sources, then what could have stopped the Taliban from holding talks with it, especially now when many of its members are being set free from prisons? ... It will be the time when one will get to know that the government, by holding talks with the Taliban, wished to further its own political objectives and not to put an end to extremism. ... The government of Punjab needs to answer and retort the questions that are doing the rounds such as why the senior members of the provincial cabinet are being found guilty for providing patronage to the terrorists and sectarian elements and why sectarianism and all terror activities in the country stem from the province of Punjab?....


Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) chose the Algerian presidential election campaign to post a new video criticising the government, calling for Sharia law and an Islamic caliphate. The al-Qaeda tape, posted March 24th under the title "Algeria... and the dark tunnel", was put together as a documentary. For over an hour the video reviewed several events witnessed by Algeria over the century, beginning with French colonialism and its resistance, up to post-independence events and the emergence of armed terrorist movements….


....parties with a patently Islamist agenda have been almightily defeated by those presenting a democratic, secular, moderate and also nationalist programme. This is the by-now-certain result of the Indonesia’s general election. The election was a true test of democracy, with 560 seats in the House of Representatives up for grabs, plus 945 seats in the Regional Representative Council....


In the minds of a large segment of society the top priority for Al-Sisi is to continue the mission that gained him widespread popularity: the war on the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups…..


Is This Our Idea Of A Fortress Of Islam?
Ayaz Amir

Islam in today’s world should not be about obscure points of doctrine, Fiqh and Shariah. Mujtahids and reformers have been at the reconstruction of religious thought in Islam for the last 1400 years without any success. They can be at it for the next 1000 years and the result will be the same, doctrinaires and dogmatists who hold sway over the wastelands of theory not ready to concede an inch.....

The False Promise of Arab Regime-Led Reform
Rami G. Khouri

The humiliations and scorn that many Arab leaders heap on their populations seem to have no end. While a few Arab dictators having been toppled or challenged by their disgruntled citizens in the last three years, the remaining ones appear not to have learned any lessons and persist in their cruel ways…..

A Vote for Afghanistan
Sreeram Chaulia

A Vote for Afghanistan
Sreeram Chaulia

Irrespective of which candidate wins and succeeds President Hamid Karzai, the people can collectively take pride that they voted for Afghanistan and its future. Remarkable episodes are being reported of polling stations firebombed by the Taliban, yet reopening shortly after the gory incidents for snaking queues of undeterred voters proudly displaying ink on their fingers....


Fighting talk is nothing new in Iran, and cries of ‘economic jihad’ have revived since February’s decree on the ‘resistance economy’ from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Despite November’s Geneva interim agreement on the nuclear issue, Iran’s leader is aware of the continuing damage of western sanctions, especially United States and European Union measures that have halved oil exports….


Don’t Enact Intolerance into State Law
Laila M. Abdelaziz

Apart from the myriad of education policy issues this change will create, the motivation for this legislation comes from protestors in Volusia County that called for students to tear out their history textbook’s section on Islam. The complaints claimed that the Prentice Hall World History textbook was biased in favor of Islam. Protestors unsuccessfully lobbied the Volusia County school board to change texts, but were ultimately rejected……


Secularising Islamists?
Ayesha Siddiqa

There are times when Pakistan appears pre-modern – almost a cross between Nigeria and Sudan. Although a lot remains to be sorted out amongst the various ideological schools of thought, they are confident that the future belongs to them since the only legitimate playing field accepted by the state is religion. Notwithstanding the differences amongst various segments of the religious right, they all have a sense of the gains that are to be made.....

Indonesia: In a Nation of Muslims, Political Islam Is Struggling to Win Votes
Joe Cochrane

Why political Islam has not taken deep root on a national level in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country — where about 90 percent of people are among the faithful — is a complicated question. The reasons lie in Indonesia’s history as a secular nation and in the Islamic parties’ own recent record.....

Leftward Shift by Conservative Cleric Leaves Saudis Perplexed
Robert F. Worth

When this country’s ultraconservative clerics make news, it is often for embarrassing reasons: unleashing Fatwas against soap operas, for instance, or declaring Mickey Mouse to be a “soldier of Satan.” Lately, however, one of the kingdom’s best-known religious figures, Salman al-Awda, has been making a very different kind of trouble....

The battles in Cairo's Tahrir Square highlighted a populist call for democracy and an end to authoritarian rule - an underlying motive of the broader Arab Spring. While the political transition was broadcasted widely across the globe, international media failed to highlight the growing trend within the Middle East -- increasing polarisation within the Muslim community. Growing religious rifts between secular and conservative parties threaten the political future of a region at a critical point of transition….

Afghan Elections: Sex, Lies and Social Media
Tanya Goudsouzian

US-style sex scandals and exposes of shady dealings have characterised social media coverage of this week's presidential elections in Afghanistan, the third since the Taliban was ousted from power in 2001. While the local press have largely stayed away from airing candidates' "dirty laundry", access to social media has provided voters with alternative, more entertaining "news" sources…..


Afghanistan: Misplaced Pessimism
Jon Boone

The strength of the Taliban-led insurgency has been absurdly exaggerated. They have just a fifth of the manpower of the Mujahideen of the 1980s and none of the nationwide breadth....


Palestinians Must Abandon the 'Peace Process'
Ghada Karmi

No term in the Israeli-Palestinians political lexicon has been so abused or so denuded of meaning as the "peace process". It was set up after the Oslo Accords in 1993, to settle the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians by peaceful negotiations, but has led nowhere. Yet it is still ongoing…..


Playing With Fire: Diagnose Saudi Arabia’s Fear Instincts
Moazzam Husain

In the clearest sign of this fear, Saudi Arabia has recently declared the Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation and passed new anti-terror laws that Amnesty International regards as a tool to crush peaceful expression....

Pakistan Marked By Two Parallel Phenomena: The Army Stepping In Repeatedly To Save the Country; and Persistent Efforts to ‘Islamise’ the State and the Society
M Saeed Khalid

In practice, the two noble sounding ideals have been used to coerce people to follow preconceived notions in order to serve individual or clan interests. Consequently, two generations of Pakistanis have failed in realising the objectives set for the nation at the time of its creation. The legacy we have prepared for the coming generations is, to put it mildly, embarrassing......


The Endless Calamity in West Asia
Vijay Prashad

Navi Pillay suggests that U.S. protection notwithstanding, Israel is no longer to get preferential treatment. What is good for the goose will have to be good for the gander. Second, a new public awareness of Israeli policies fuels the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, whose Indian branch has begun to protest the participation of Indian artists in Israeli cultural fairs and Indo-Israeli business deals....

Erdogan’s Win Will Not Save the Muslim Brotherhood
Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Muslim Brotherhood supporters and deposed President Mohammad Mursi supporters are certainly fooling themselves to think Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will achieve miracles for them. When the Iranian-related scandal was exposed in Turkey, they became worried they might lose the support of the prime minister and be orphans without him….

The Mirage of Peace
Ramzy Baroud

As the US-imposed April 29 deadline for a “framework” agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority looms, time is also running out for the American administration itself. The Obama administration must now conjure up an escape route to avoid a political crisis if the talks are to fail, as they surely will…..


Egypt Comes Full Circle: The End of the Arab Spring
Toby Cadman

It is deeply regrettable that the euphoria that surrounded the end of the Mubarak reign was short lived. Egypt today has reverted to an autocracy and any dissent or challenge to the ruling military administration will seemingly be quickly silenced. Democratic rule must return to Egypt. A process of justice, accountability and reconciliation must find a place in Egypt's next chapter whether it is in Minya, Cairo or ultimately The Hague……


Baloch Blot on Pak Army
Tufail Ahmad

As it is happening in Balochistan now, Pakistani army was engaged in killings and torture of Bengali people in East Pakistan when a courageous Goa-born Pakistani journalist Anthony Mascarenhas collected reports and published an article titled Genocide in The Sunday Times of London of June 13, 1971. His article exposed Pakistan army’s war crimes and drew international attention to the issue of what is now Bangladesh. In the case of Balochistan, roughly the size of Italy, a similar situation prevails now as the Pakistani army is abducting and killing Baloch political activists, lawyers and journalists whose mutilated bodies are found every week….


In An Increasingly Talibanised Pakistan, ‘Liberal-Fascists’ Are Being Attacked
Khaled Ahmed

“Bangladeshi intellectuals have long known and appreciated the opposition mounted by Pakistani liberals during 1971. What was interesting for me to discover on this trip is the abiding hold of that liberalism across generations. As a narrative of extremism has come to dominate global perceptions of Pakistan, the fact that there is a durable, indigenous tradition of liberalism has fallen by the wayside…..


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