Books and Documents

Islam and Politics

Is ‘Popular Front For The Liberation Of Palestine’ Trying To Make A Comeback?
Ramzy Baroud

There is more than one context through which this issue can be discussed, but most urgent among them is PFLP’s own identity, incessant decline in political relevance and the unavoidable intellectual conflict, which has dogged the group since its formation by Marxist Arab nationalist Christian leader Dr. George Habash in 1967. What was an expected soul-searching of one of Palestine’s most progressive political movements starting in the 1960s throughout the 80s became a political crisis necessitated by the decline of its strongest supporters, the Soviet Union and the East European bloc, and the signing of the Oslo accords a few years later....


Tunisia Stands at Political Crossroads in Its Revolutionary Transition
H.A. Hellyer

Tunisia is where it all began. Of course, there were movements elsewhere in the Arab world that had been agitating for change for years but it was Tunisia’s revolutionary uprising in late 2010 and early 2011 that served as the spark which later led to a fire. While many Arab revolutionaries have been, indeed, burned through that process, with hitherto rather disastrous effects, Tunisia has not faltered – yet. There have been many external and internal factors that have ensured that Tunisia’s revolution has not been undone or overcome…..


Unrest and isolated attacks are nothing new in Xinjiang, a sparsely-populated desert province in the far west of China, which has traditionally been inhabited by Uighurs, Kyrgyz, Tajiks and other ethnic Muslim groups. But since the severe unrest of 2009, an escalation of the violence has been observed in the oasis towns on the edge of the Taklamakan desert. As well as the larger-scale attacks, police officers, civil servants and Han farmers are being murdered almost every week. At the same time, repression is increasing, and young Uighurs are regularly given death sentences and executed. The authorities attribute the violence to ‘terrorists’…..

How Tunisia Will Succeed
Rachid Ghannouchi

How Tunisia Will Succeed
Rachid Ghannouchi

Nearly four years have passed since a man named Mohamed Bouazizi so despaired of the system that he set himself on fire in protest. With every decision we make, politicians in Tunisia must never forget what he died for. We need to protect freedom and dignity, and provide hope and opportunity. This was the dream of the Tunisian Awakening, and it is how Tunisia will succeed today.....

The World Must Prevent ISIS from Obtaining Pakistani Nukes
Ahmad Hasib Farhan

Among all the nuclear states Pakistan is the only country that leaked and transferred nuclear technology to the countries that are still under UN and US sanctions. It is also the only nuclear state that shelters and protects terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Haqqani Network and many others. The Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, leaked nuclear secrets to North Korea, Libya and Iran…..


It was in a sunny day in April 1986 when Iranian supreme spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini was talking to the families of the Iranians who were killed or injured during the bloody Iran-Iraqi war when he said ” Lastly but not the least, I strongly encourage you all to continue to be loyal to the Islamic republic, which was made of the sacrifices of your children, and you have to work very hard to set the grounds for the appearance of the saviour of humanity , the last Imam, Hazrat Baqeyyatu Allah- my soul for his sake-, by being completely ready to sacrifice for exporting the revolution to every place on earth!...

Jerusalem: Don't Call It a Religious Conflict
Rachel Shabi

This movement goes against a long-established status quo agreement, whereby non-Muslims can visit, but not worship at this holy site housing both the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. But more than that, it runs contrary to what Jewish religious leaders have been saying for centuries, which is to rule against Jewish prayer at Temple Mount. Today, there is only one, growingly influential rabbinical strain that says otherwise and that's the one guiding the religious-settler movement, which should make it abundantly clear that the issue is political, not religious…..


As we get close to the November 24 deadline for a comprehensive nuclear deal to be reached between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany), another conflict has been raging in Iran between the moderates and the hardliners, a contest that could be regarded as a culture war between two different ideologies and two different versions of Islam. Thirty-five years after the start of the Islamic revolution in Iran, the conflict between the two camps has not yet been resolved….


In Yemen’s Turmoil, is The Muslim Brotherhood the Main Loser?
Manuel Almeida

The Brotherhood’s fortunes took a turn for the worse with the military offensive by the disgruntled Zaydi Houthi rebels who took over the capital Sanaa in September this year. In this ambitious move the Houthis were supported by pro-Saleh tribes and groups in the military, looking to undermine President Hadi’s position and resentful of the growing power of al-Islah…..


Turkey's Bark and Bite
Burak Bekdil

Turkey is not the only country reflecting the Islamist hypocrisy when it comes to trafficking money with the Palestinians -- and Israelis. As recently highlighted in an article in The Times of Israel, official data tells of a booming, but very discreet, trade relationship, blossoming between Israel and Malaysia -- another "loud voice against Israel and a benefactor for the 'Palestinian cause.'"…


Is Another War Coming To The Occupied West Bank?
Juan Cole

But there is one scenario in which “transfer” (i.e. ethnic cleansing) could occur. That would be a repeat of the 1947-48 civil war in British Mandate Palestine, which eventuated in the ethnic cleansing by Jewish militias of 720,000 Palestinians out of a pre-war total of 1.2 million. Jewish terrorist organizations such as the Stern Gang simply mowed down Palestinian villagers with machine guns to scare their neighbours into fleeing their homes, which the nascent Israelis then usurped…..


Arab World: Let Citizens Be the Arbiters of States
Rami G. Khouri

Groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, ISIS, the Houthis in Yemen, Muqtada al-Sadr’s followers in Iraq, the Muslim Brotherhood and tribes across the region all reflect the brittle nature of statehood and national identity in many Arab countries, forcing citizens to seek their critical needs in arenas beyond the control of the state. Many, perhaps most, Arab citizens have a utilitarian, mercantile and pragmatic relationship with their states and governments, rather than a deeply emotional and organic one as people tend to have with their family, clan, tribe, religion or ethnic group……


The Hot Winds of Indo-Pak Partition Left Salim Mirza Stranded
Jawed Naqvi

The atheist Hindu migrant from Rawalpindi plays Salim Mirza in the movie, the stoically unflappable head of a Muslim joint family in Agra caught in the throes of India-Pakistan Partition. Though the unspeakable violence and communal strife of Partition has been recorded in detail in novels, films, short stories, documentaries, Garam Hawa, roughly translated as ‘the hot winds’, gives a palpably searing view of how a reasonably happy Muslim family is slowly and inevitably torn asunder by the sheer winds of Partition. The Garam Hawa had uprooted a prosperous orchard, Mirza Sahib mumbles to the Tonga driver on their way from the train station. The two had driven there several times in recent days to see someone off to Pakistan…..

The continued polarization between Israelis and Palestinians reflects growing hatred within both societies. On the one hand, Palestinian terrorists spew anti-Semitic rhetoric in an effort to stir their people to violence; while on the other hand, the Israeli government feeds into existing Islamophobia and deploys it when annexing new Palestinian territory. ... European elites need to start blaming the Palestinians, and Americans need to start blaming Israel—not in order to shame either side, but to acknowledge that peace is the only answer to a conflict. And without it, even worse consequences are in store for Israel and Palestine in the years ahead.....


Religion and Politics Make an Explosive Mixture
Dogu Ergil

An identity acquires acute importance when it is faced with an existential danger. Its defense becomes a life-and-death matter. This is the time when the identity-group demands the utmost sacrifice from its members. What is our collective (national) identity? It is officially defined as Turkish and Muslim. When the constitutive ideology of the republic was Turkish nationalism, Turkishness was expressed loudly; being a Muslim was only whispered…..


Tunisia held its second legislative elections in three years. Unlike elections in other Arab countries—Iraq, for instance—Tunisia’s was not marred by sectarian divides; nor, like Egypt, did it deepen the schism between secularists and Islamists. In what was a first in the Arab world after the Arab Spring, a faith-based party, Ennahda, politely handed power to its secular opponent, Nidaa Tounes. The secularists—a coalition of loyalists to ousted leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, liberals, and leftists—responded in kind. “We in Nidaa Tounes believe that the Ennahda movement has become a reality in the Tunisian political landscape,”…


An Intifada of Individuals
Uri Avnery

An individual Arab listens to the news is incensed by the latest outrage against the Holy Shrines and drives his car into the nearest group of Israeli soldiers or civilians. Or takes a knife from the kitchen of the Israeli restaurant where he washes the dishes and stabs people in the street. No prior information.….


In his article about the wannabe Jihadists who bought “Islam for Dummies” on Amazon, Mehdi Hasan cites a leaked 2008 classified briefing note on radicalization prepared by MI5’s behavioral science unit. It revealed that a large number of radical Muslims “do not practice their faith regularly. Many lack religious literacy and could… be regarded as religious novices.” Contrary to their misguided belief that they are fulfilling commands in the Quran, western wannabe jihadists project onto the scripture conclusions they concoct in their minds after reading newspapers. Without the tools of interpretation, this is all they can do with the Quran they recite. However, while this religious ignorance may characterize Western men who join extremist groups, the case for those indigenous to Muslim majority countries is somewhat different…..

Is There Light at the End of the Tunnel for the Arab World?
Khaled Almaeena

Arab leaders failed to nip in the bud the steady deterioration of order. This plunged very quickly into chaos and destruction. This rapid decline and complete breakdown of the few existing and struggling social and political institutions has now almost created a point of no return. The Arab world cannot absolve itself of blame for the current impasse, nor can it deny its responsibility for the social ills that contributed to the sectarian divide…..

Moreover, it is not just sections of liberal, middle-class Muslims that have bid adieu to the polemics around secularism. Poor Muslims in rural India have also begun showing greater concern for their economic interests and survival than for identity politics. For instance, in Birbhum district of West Bengal, many poor Muslims switched their loyalty to the BJP because functionaries of the Trinamool Congress stopped paying their MGNREGA wages. This shows that possibilities of the community rising above identity-based politics continue to exist, despite the trend represented by the MIM......


The issue of Gaza with regard to violence in Sinai is a red herring. In the past year, the authorities and the media have made Hamas – an offshoot of Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood – a convenient scapegoat for many of the country’s problems. The resulting public animosity towards Hamas has meant that claims against the group have gone unquestioned…..

War on Islam: the Uighurs of China
Rev. Frank Julian Gelli

Perhaps 15 million Uighurs versus 1.300 million, overwhelmingly Han Chinese. David confronts Goliath. But violent resistance by Uighurs against Chinese targets has made the Beijing rulers jittery about security. They perceive that obscure race could be the spanner in the works of their mighty Communist party. Like insignificant specks of grit that can jam up a mechanism, the Uighurs might bring the regime crashing down. Hence Comrade Xi Jinping has vowed to ruthlessly repress the ‘rampant terrorists’….


No Religion, Including Islam, Advocates Terrorism or Militancy
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

The greatest problem with a large section of the Muslim community is that its members are lagging behind in modern, scientific education. It is modern education alone that can change traditional mindsets. There is another problem. Some Muslim thinkers of the 20th century have interpreted Islam in political terms. A number of such Muslims are obsessed with a politicised ideology of Islam. The need of the hour is to counter this problem. However, it cannot be countered by means of the gun. This problem can be solved only through ideology. It is not an issue of ‘gun versus gun’, but is rather an issue of ‘gun versus ideology’. We have to present Islam as a religion of peace.....


Sealing the Fate of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa
Ramzy Baroud

The combination of right-wing politicians allied with religious zealots is now defining the Israeli attitude towards Palestinians, particularly in Jerusalem. They are eyeing al-Aqsa for annexation; the same way the Israeli government is labouring to permanently annex large swathes of the occupied West Bank.....


No Scope For IS In Pakistan
Najam Sethi

Pakistan still doesn’t have an effective, institutionalized anti-terrorist state structure. Nor is there sufficient spine or vision in its ruling civil-military classes, media and judiciary to compel a systematic and comprehensive policy response to the creeping “religiosity” in state and society. But this is a recipe for dysfunction and instability rather than a takeover by IS or the Taliban…..

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