Islamic group slams 'out of touch' imams for causing drift towards extremism
Is The Antichrist Alive? By J. Grant Swank
Is Christian and Muslim Fundamentalism Based on the Wrong Premise?
Did Man Create God?
Gender equality consistent with Islamic teachings: Imrana Jalal by MARY JOHNS
Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre in Glasgow by Selma A. Cook
Accommodating radical Islam from Islamabad to Bradford by Mark Steyn
U.S.-Islamic World Forum Includes Global Muslim Brotherhood Leaders;
U.S. President Admired
Pakistan’s pact with militants sets stage for future retreats
Jihad books were in library
Taliban targets UK with heroin, calls it chemical-jihad
What Will This 'Peace' Cost? By Mustafa Qadri
Our Hero Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury attacked again:
How long we can remain silent? By Sunita Paul
The sister we missed Mona Eltahawy
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
How Britain's mosques foster extremism
Sectarian, conservative leadership is driving confused young Muslims into the arms of radicals
Ed Husain, February 24, 2009
As a child, I was unsure if I belonged to Britain, India - or both, or neither. In the day I went to a multi-faith, multi-ethnic state school in the East End of London. At school I was taught to question, think and see all religions equally. In the evenings, I attended Koran schools at a mosque on Brick Lane where I was forced to learn to read Arabic, but not to understand meanings of words. I was not allowed to question, but simply to bob to and fro and learn Arabic prayers without understanding. All our teachers were elderly Asian immigrant men, and we were not allowed to mix with girls. At school, our teachers were mostly English women and we were encouraged to mix with everybody.
I developed two personalities, two worlds, two allegiances: one at “English school” and another at the mosque. I was torn, confused and full of questions. But what now? Two decades on, surely Britain's Muslims are in a better place.
Today, there are between 1,200 and 1,600 mosques in Britain - no definite figure exists. Yesterday, the Charity Commission sought to gloss over the malaise in them by publishing figures on attendance, but not inquiring into difficult areas. At Quilliam, Britain's first counter-extremism think-tank, we commissioned a poll of more than 1,000 mosques in 2008, during Ramadan when mosques are busiest. Despite employing Urdu and Bengali-speaking researchers, we could poll only just over 500. Most British mosques don't maintain a reception or service to answer questions, and not every one we did reach was willing to answer.
Quilliam's report, Mosques Made in Britain, reveals the true extent of the mess. We found that 97 per cent of imams, or leaders, were from overseas and 92 per cent were educated abroad, mostly in Pakistan or Bangladesh. Almost all mosques are controlled by first-generation immigrant men, leaving most British Muslims - women and young people - out of the management structure.
This is not new. Quilliam has merely found evidence of a problem that has been known among Muslims for more than two decades.
Most British Muslims are under 25. When, like me, they have questions about identity, belonging, values, and religion, their local mosque leadership is futile. Britain's mosques are run by men who are physically in Britain, but psychologically in Pakistan. They retain their village rituals and sectarianism, and prevent the growth of an indigenous British Islam. And for as long as young Muslims are confused about whether they belong in Britain or elsewhere, we risk handing them over to preying extremists in our midst.
By importing cheap imams from poor, intellectually deprived and theologically conservative places mosques put young Britons in the hands of men who do not have the linguistic or cultural backgrounds to deal with modern Britain. Little wonder, then, that many young Muslims turn to radical university Islamic societies, extremist websites, and Hamas-supporting groups in Britain for “religious guidance”.
Mosques Made in Britain also found that nearly half of mosques do not make provisions for women. And those that do provide disgraceful, unhygienic quarters for them to pray and ensure that women maintain no real presence at mosques. With very few exceptions, most mosque management committees are dominated by older men who have successfully kept out women.
As this generation of imams and elders eventually move aside, who will take their place? Of the 27 or so Muslim seminaries or dar ul uloom in Britain, 25 come from the austere, Deobandi tradition - the preferred school of the Taliban. So while British soldiers risk their lives in Afghanistan, in British Muslim seminaries we allow the teaching of intolerance, unequal treatment of women, religious rigidity, the banning of music and theatre, and an end to free mixing of the sexes.
At these seminaries, medieval textbooks are still taught without any reference to context. Graduates of these highly conservative madrassas have taken up nearly 100 posts as chaplains in our prisons. Soon, they will move into mosques as English-speaking imams, without any understanding of British values of liberty, tolerance and pluralism.
How long will we tolerate this underworld in Britain?
Two years ago the Government established a Mosques and Imam National Advisory Board and included Hamas supporters to win over radicals. What has it achieved? Large numbers of British mosques are not properly registered with the Charity Commission, imam’s work with children without Criminal Record Bureau checks, and mosque buildings flout health and safety regulations. Would other schools or churches get away with this?
More than three years after the July 7 bombings, where are the citizenship classes in mosques? Or the English-language teaching for foreign imams? With such problems on our doorstep, as a community we are still focused on British policy in Palestine and Iraq at the expense of our children's education, gender apartheid at mosques, and inadequacies in language, safety and leadership. Labour politicians are only too keen to campaign for the Muslim vote in mosques in Blackburn, Manchester and Bradford while turning a blind eye to the failure that surrounds their constituents. For how much longer?
Ed Husain is co-director of Quilliam, and author of The Islamist
Islamic group slams 'out of touch' imams for causing drift towards extremism
24th February 2009
Young Muslims are being pushed towards extremism because their mosques are run by elderly and out-of-touch cliques, a report by an Islamic think-tank said yesterday.
The Quilliam Foundation, an anti-extremist Islamic organisation, accused imams of failing to teach and preach in English and of shutting women out of their mosques.
Only about 3 per cent of Muslim clerics were born in this country and most do not have full command of English, the study said.
The report said that mosque leaderships did not promote British values and allowed young people to drift towards jihadists who speak their own language.
The group called on the Government for stricter limits on visas for Islamic clerics coming to Britain and for an end to state grants for mosques that do not have at least one imam who preaches in English and supports the principles of democracy.
The Quilliam Foundation - which has been backed with almost £1million of taxpayers' money and attacked by some Islamic groups as being a mouthpiece for the Government - also said madrassas, mosques' equivalent of Christian Sunday schools, should be fully inspected by local children's services officials.
The survey was based on responses to five questions given by 512 mosques last autumn.
It found 97 per cent of imams were born overseas and 92 per cent were trained abroad, while more than half of the Muslims in Britain were born here.
'The religious leadership in the vast majority of Britain's mosques are not in full command of the English language, and are likely to be ill-equipped to address the real concerns and everyday experiences of young British Muslims,' the report found.
Nearly half, 44 per cent, of mosques do not hold their Friday lectures or sermons in English, the survey said. A similar proportion have no space for women, and their managements take the view that it is unnecessary for women to come to pray.
The report also accused some mosques of barring Muslims from the 'wrong' ethnic background and other of 'poor educational standards' in the way they teach 100,000 children who go to them for religious instruction.
Many mosques, the Quilliam report said, are run by groups of elderly founding members from a single ethnic background. Few women and young people are on management committees or trustee boards.
The report picked out one mosque in Lancashire with members mainly of Indian Gujarati background which told a prospective member that no Pakistanis would be accepted.
The mosque, the report said, had been given £26,000 in public money and was backed by a local council of mosques which had been financed by more than £500,000 from the taxpayer.
A Home Office spokesman insisted that immigration rules for religious leaders are already tough.
He said: 'A minister of religion would have to be able to communicate to a relatively high level in English. In addition, the Resident Labour Market Test means that religious organisations must ensure that jobs cannot be filled by workers in the United Kingdom.'
But Tory cohesion spokesman Baroness Warsi said: 'These reports demonstrate that mosques have huge potential to play a vital role in the communities which they serve.
'But, in doing so, it is essential that they are responsive to the needs of their congregation. They must have a deep understanding of the national language, culture and society.
'I would like to see them working closer with other faith communities; to develop stronger corporate governance, to improve access for women and to increase the employment of British imams whilst strengthening the work they do in their local community.'
Is The Antichrist Alive?
By J. Grant Swank, Feb 23, 2009
The AntiChrist, symbolized in the Book of Revelation as "the beast," will rule from the City of Seven Hills—Rome. His compatriot, the False Prophet, will rule from the same.
That means that both politics (AntiChrist) and religion (False Prophet) will have suites near one another.
Those two primary dimensions of society—politics and religion—crucified Christ. Those two dimensions will rise up to combat Christ in the End Times.
However, Christ will overcome them, hence His title being Kings of Kings—politics—and Lord of Lords—religion.
Someone will try to take over one of Rome's hills, attempting to overthrow the AntiChrist. However, the AntiChrist will be victorious over that enemy, taking back the entire city.
The AntiChrist will rule over a ten-nation alliance. That "ten-nation" is given in Revelation's symbolism; therefore, the actual number may be something other than "ten." However, the point is that the AntiChrist will rule over a domain covering the old Roman Empire, that is, the present-day European Union.
The AntiChrist, filled with the devil, will promise the world peace. Many will worship him.
The False Prophet will order a statue erected in honour of the AntiChrist. Those in the environs of the statue who do not bow down to it will be slain.
The False Prophet will appear as a Christian leader; however, when he opens his mouth he will speak demonic doctrine. He will perform miracles. Jesus taught that demons can perform miracles and will do so in the End Times.
Note Matthew 24:24: Jesus speaks: "For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect."
The diabolical reign will identify mortals via the mark of the beast—666. That number—666—is understood as Satan seeking to be divine, the divine number being 7. Satan's straining—666—never reaches 7, however; nevertheless, that has been Satan's game since the start.
Note Revelation 13:16-17: "It (False Prophet) causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name."
The saved, refusing the mark of the beast, will have supplies miraculously given as the wilderness Hebrews received manna and quail while their shoes never wore out—all provided by God.
Or the mark will be placed near the close of the tribulation so that whatever supplies the saved have will last them till the Second Coming Rapture. We are not informed as to the time frame when the mark of the beast will be signed onto mortals.
The AntiChrist, at the about-seven year's tribulation midpoint—that is, after 3 l/2 years—will enter Jerusalem, sacking the city and desecrating the Temple.
He will proclaim himself deity there.
While in Jerusalem, the AntiChrist will murder God's two prophets who will have preached holiness for 3 l/2 years, others trying to kill them but unable to do so. (Read Revelation 11:1-13).
After the AntiChrist murders the prophets, their corpses will be in the open for the world to see them via worldwide communication. The unsaved will declare a holiday in honour of the AntiChrist and celebration that the prophets are dead.
Some believe these two preachers to be Moses and Elijah for they perform miracles as turning water into blood and causing the sky not to rain for 3 l/2 years. Malachi also prophesies concerning Moses and Elijah in the End Times.
Note Malachi 4:1-6: "For behold, the day comes, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.
Is Christian and Muslim Fundamentalism Based on the Wrong Premise – Did Man Create God?
Monvovia, February 23 2009
Did Man Create God?
Much of religious intolerance and terrorism is based on the premise that the Bible or the Koran is the literal word of God. This often results in the conviction that one scared book, one religion and one God is better than another. All religions also propose that God created man. But, are these ideas based on a fundamental fallacy? Since God is a supernatural entity, and thus beyond the laws of nature, it is impossible to scientifically prove whether God exists or not. However, the questions – Did man create the theory of God, the theory that God created everything, the theory of a personal God that performs miracles and answers prayers – can be scientifically explored?
In the book, Did Man Create God? Dr. Comings reviews the powerful evidence that man has created his own personal God or Gods. This has great implications for religious terrorism since it eliminates the basis of such terrorism. Killing in the name of Allah or any other God would have no validity since such a God would be self-made and illusionary. Dr. Comings, a geneticist, also points out that religion and spirituality are totally different. Religion is an acquired trait while spirituality is a strongly genetic and inherent trait. Spirituality is best defined as a sense of being connected to something greater than oneself such as: to nature, the universe, the family, a community, a friend, a spouse or, for some, a supernatural being. One can be spiritual without being religious and without believing in a supernatural being. This can lead to a rational spirituality devoid of hate, prejudice and terrorism.
David Comings, M.D.
Emeritus Professor City of Hope Med Cnt
Gender equality consistent with Islamic teachings: Imrana Jalal
MARY JOHNS, February 24, 2009
ISLAM can also be a source of empowerment for women says human rights advocate and lawyer Imrana Jalal.
Ms Jalal, who is also a board member of the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, was speaking at the global campaign 'Musawah', organised by the Malaysian Muslim feminist organisation, Sisters in Islam (SIS), in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The campaign early last week brought together Muslim feminists, womens rights and human rights activists and lawyers from the diversity of Muslim contexts, to debate and discusses justice and equality in the family law of Islam.
Gender equality and human rights are not inconsistent with Islam so the liberation of women is entirely possible within a religious context, said Ms Jalal.
Unfortunately, the mainstream interpretations of Islam were made mainly by patriarchal Muslim men, and women needed to reclaim their right also to interpret laws.
Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Center in Glasgow
By Selma A. Cook
Halima Hussein was born and brought up in Glasgow, and her family roots are in Bengal. She is married and works full-time as a lawyer. She says that one of the greatest things she has done in her life was helping to establish the Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre in Glasgow, Scotland.
The centre is located in Govern Hill, Glasgow. It was set up by a group of Muslim activists and now the organization extends across the UK. The constitution was established 10 years ago.
It started off because historically in the UK there is recognition of black and ethnic minority issues but there is also a need for a project specifically targeting Muslim women. This was necessary because Muslim women do not fall under one category of ethnicity.
In Islam there is a wide range of cultural backgrounds and needs, for example, providing sports centre access for Muslim women and proper segregation. Hussein commented, “First generation Muslim women migrants have a lot of language barriers and can not access the system properly and often have issues with violence at home.”
Muslim women are often unable to access all the services available in the mainstream and there are not many culturally sensitive services available. The founding members of this organization were looking to work with mainstream agencies to educate them about Muslim women and to provide direct services for them.
The founders organized a conference in the mid 90s entitled The Needs of Muslim Women. At this conference a number of Muslim women were present as well as government representatives. Research had been commissioned to find the gaps in the system. Governmental authorities made promises to set up this organization and five years later, the centre opened its doors to the public.
The Centre’s Activities
The Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre also has offices in Dundee, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen. It runs a helpline for Muslim women, so they can call at any time, and this is open all day. People can leave a message and everything is confidential. Confidentially is an essential part of the centre.
Employees are trained on how to be culturally sensitive to Muslim women. They also help Muslim women to take active part in the community. The centre produced a booklet about misconceptions about Islam and Muslim women. Surprisingly, some Muslim women did not understand their rights in Islam.
The centre is not just about educating non-Muslims but also Muslims. They generally work with people over sixteen years of age and will help anyone coming to them for help. There are non-Muslim women advising the centre, working as volunteers and helping with fund raising.
The centre has also been making progress with imams and Muslim men in general, especially in relation to domestic violence. It is necessary to work with the masjids and men individually in order to help rectify this problem. Muslim women often go to the imams and usually do not receive the support they need. However, now the Central Mosque in Glasgow is working with the Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre and a number of imams have contributed to writing booklets and showing real support for women seeking help.
London no longer has a help line for Muslim women and so the centre even receives calls from London. People are beginning to recognize that they are an effective organization. They do not push Islam onto people but if someone asks, the centre will give them advice and direct them to those who can give them further advice.
The centre even deals with sensitive issues like divorce. Hussein added, “It’s not about telling someone to get divorced, but helping them to make an informed choice.” The people working with the centre are well-trained and it is known as a qualified agency. They have had a lot of success working with many mainstream agencies. They are funded from the Scottish government and this is recognition from them that what the centre is doing is important.
The centre serves women from all races. The main groups seeking assistance from the centre are Arabs, Turks, Somalis, and Asians. The Asians constitute the majority in Glasgow and Scotland.
There used to be a bereavement project for counselling people but unfortunately, there is no more funding at present. This is seen as necessary because people need to know how to deal with grief. Hussein said, “Even Muslims have misconceptions about this, for example, many think they aren’t allowed to cry.” The centre has a library with computers and face to face counselling. There are also doctors available as well as people to help fill out tax forms. If a person lacks confidence to go out alone, she will be paired up with a volunteer. This volunteer goes out with the Muslim woman, so she can learn how to access the system. It is called the Befriending Project.
The help line does not just answer calls but also works with community police and policy makers. They also educate other organizations about how to deal with Muslim women. “We want to work with other organizations and build up their resources, so they understand what Muslim women need, and in this way they’ll be able to help them too,” said Hussein.
There are other organizations that provide refuge facilities that Muslim women can utilize, but until now there is no specific refuge centre for Muslim women and even the imams are thinking of helping in this area. Personnel from the centre have been talking to representatives of the Central Mosque in Glasgow about setting this up. The projects are mainly about working with mainstream organizations.
Selma A. Cook is an Aussie Muslim writer who lives and works in Egypt. She is the Managing Editor of the Youth Section. She has written a number of books including: Buried Treasure (An Islamic novel for teenagers), The Light of Submission (Islamic Poetry). She has also edited and revised many Islamic books. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accommodating radical Islam from Islamabad to Bradford
Mark Steyn, February, 2009
'It is hard to understand this deal," said Richard Holbrooke, President Obama's special envoy. And, if the special envoy of the so-called smartest and most impressive administration in living memory can't understand it, what chance do the rest of us have?
Nevertheless, let's try. In the Swat Valley, where a young Winston Churchill once served with the Malakand Field Force battling Muslim insurgents, his successors have concluded the game isn't worth the candle. In return for a temporary ceasefire, the Pakistani government agreed to let the local franchise of the Taliban impose its industrial strength version of sharia across the whole of Malakand Region. If "region" sounds a bit of an imprecise term, Malakand has over five million people, all of whom are now living under a murderous theocracy. Still, peace rallies have broken out all over the Swat Valley, and, at a Swat peace rally, it helps to stand well back: As one headline put it, "Journalist Killed While Covering Peace Rally."
But don't worry about Pakistani nukes falling into the hands of "extremists": The Swat Valley is a good hundred miles from the "nation"'s capital, Islamabad - or about as far as Northern Vermont is from Southern Vermont. And, of course, Islamabad is safely under the control of the famously moderate Ali Zardari. A few days before the Swat deal, Mr. Zardari marked the dawn of the Obama era by releasing from house arrest A. Q. Khan, the celebrated scientist and one-stop shop for all your Islamic nuclear needs, for whose generosity North Korea and Iran are especially grateful.
From Islamabad, let us zip a world away to London. Actually, it's nearer than you think. The flight routes between Pakistan and the United Kingdom are some of the busiest in the world. Can you get a direct flight from your local airport to, say, Bradford?
Bradford, Yorkshire. There are four flights a week from Islamabad to Bradford, a town where 75 percent of Pakistani Britons are married to their first cousins. But don't worry; in the country as a whole, only 57 percent of Pakistani Britons are married to first cousins.
Among that growing population of Yorkshire Pakistanis is a fellow called Lord Ahmed, a Muslim Member of Parliament. He was in the news the other day for threatening (as the columnist Melanie Phillips put it) "to bring a force of 10,000 Muslims to lay siege to the House of Lords" if it went ahead with an event at which the Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders would have introduced a screening of his controversial film Fitna. Britain's Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, reacted to this by declaring Minheer Wilders persona non grata and having him arrested at Heathrow and returned to the Netherlands.
The Home Secretary is best known for an inspired change of terminology: Last year she announced that henceforth Muslim terrorism (an unhelpful phrase) would be reclassified as "anti-Islamic activity." Seriously. The logic being that Muslims blowing stuff up tends not to do much for Islam's reputation - i.e., it's an "anti-Islamic activity" in the same sense that Pearl Harbor was an anti-Japanese activity.
Anyway, Geert Wilders's short film is basically a compilation video of footage from various recent Muslim terrorist atrocities - whoops, sorry, "anti-Islamic activities" - accompanied by the relevant chapter and verse from the Koran. Jacqui Smith banned the filmmaker on "public order" rounds - in other words, the government's fear that Lord Ahmed meant what he said about a 10,000-strong mob besieging the Palace of Westminster. You might conceivably get the impression from Wilders's movie that many Muslims are irrational and violent types it's best to steer well clear of. But, if you didn't, Jacqui Smith pretty much confirmed it: We can't have chaps walking around saying Muslims are violent because they'll go bananas and smash the place up.
So, confronted by blackmail, the British government caved. So did the Pakistani government in Swat. But, in fairness to Islamabad, they waited until the shooting was well underway before throwing in the towel. In London, you no longer have to go that far. You just give the impression your more excitable chums might not be able to restrain themselves. "Nice little G7 advanced western democracy you got here. Shame if anything were to happen to it." Twenty years ago this month, Margaret Thatcher's Conservative ministry defended the right of a left-wing author Salman Rushdie to publish a book in the face of Muslim riots and the Ayatollah Khomeini's attempted mob hit. Two decades on, a supposedly progressive government surrenders to the mob before it's even taken to the streets.
In his first TV interview as president, Barack Obama told viewers of al-Arabiya TV that he wanted to restore the "same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago." I'm not sure quite what golden age he's looking back to there - the Beirut barracks slaughter? The embassy hostages? - But the point is, it's very hard to turn back the clock. Because the facts on the ground change, and change remorselessly. Even in 30 years. Between 1970 and 2000, the developed world declined from just under 30 percent of the global population to just over 20 percent, while the Muslim world increased from 15 percent to 20 percent. And in 2030, it won't even be possible to re-take that survey, because by that point half the "developed world" will itself be Muslim: In Bradford - as in London, Amsterdam, Brussels, and almost every other western European city from Malmo to Marseilles - the principal population growth comes from Islam. Thirty years ago, in the Obama golden age, a British documentary-maker was so horrified by the "honour killing" of a teenage member of the House of Saud at the behest of her father, the king's brother, that he made a famous TV film about it, Death Of A Princess. The furious Saudis threatened a trade boycott with Britain over this unwanted exposure. Today, we have honour killings not just in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, but in Germany, Scandinavia, Britain, Toronto, Dallas, and Buffalo. And they barely raise an eyebrow.
Along with the demographic growth has come radicalization: It's not just that there are more Muslims, but that, within that growing population, moderate Islam is on the decline - in Singapore, in the Balkans, in northern England - and radicalized, Arabized, Wahhabized Islam is on the rise. So we have degrees of accommodation: surrender in Islamabad, appeasement in London, acceptance in Toronto and Buffalo.
According to ABC News, a team of UCLA professors have used bio-geographic theories to locate Osama bin Laden's hideout as one of three possible houses in the small town of Parachinar, and have suggested to the Pentagon they keep an eye on these buildings. But the problem isn't confined to three buildings. It ripples ever outwards, to the new hardcore sharia state in Malakand, up the road to nuclear Islamabad, over to Bradford on that jet-speed conveyor-belt of child brides, down to the House of Lords and beyond.
Meanwhile, President Obama has removed Winston Churchill's bust from the Oval Office and returned it to the British. Given what Sir Winston had to say about Islam in his book on the Sudanese campaign, the bust will almost certainly be arrested at Heathrow and deported as a threat to public order.
Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is author of America Alone.
U.S.-Islamic World Forum Includes Global Muslim Brotherhood Leaders; U.S. President Admired
February 24, 2009
The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report
The Sixth Annual U.S.-Islamic World Forum, which concluded last week, included many leaders of the global Muslim Brotherhood as well as important current and former members of the U.S. Government. Sponsored by the Qatari foreign ministry and the Brookings Institution’s Saban Centre for Middle East Policy, the annual gathering is described on its website as:
The U.S.-Islamic World Forum is designed to bring together key leaders in the fields of politics, business, media, academia, and civil society from across the Muslim world and the United States. It seeks to address the critical issues dividing the United States and the Muslim world by providing a unique platform for frank dialogue, learning, and the development of positive partnerships between key leaders and opinion shapers from both sides. Now in its fifth year, the Forum has become the foremost meeting for positive cross-cultural engagement among leaders from the United States and the Muslim world. It also provides the foundation for a range of complementary activities designed to enhance the effectiveness of the dialogue. These include task forces and initiative workshops of policymakers and experts, as well as associated outreach, research, and publications. The Forum serves as both a convening body and catalyst for positive action. Its focus is on a dialogue that leads to the development of actionable programs for government, civil society, and the private sector. The Brookings Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World also seeks to convene follow-up conferences within other Muslim regions to address, in greater depth and breadth, the challenges confronting the United States and the Muslim world as a whole. In 2008, the Project will convene a regional forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This meeting will help establish a collaborative framework for U.S., Southeast Asian, and wider Muslim-world leaders and thinkers to gather and address issues of mutual concern.
The conference attendance list identified the following individuals associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood:
* Anwar Ibrahim (Malaysian opposition leader, International Institute of Islamic Thought)
* Tariq Ramadan (European Muslim Brotherhood leader)
* Jamal Barzinji (International Institute of Islamic Thought)
* Ahmed Younis (formerly Muslim Public Affairs Council)
* Sayyid Syeed (Islamic Society of North America)
* William Dean Webb (Muslim American Society)
* Dalia Mogahed (various ties to U.S. Muslim Brotherhood)
* Anas Ali (probably International Institute of Islamic Thought UK)
* Amina Rasul (possibly tied to Muslim Brotherhood in the Philippines)
Interestingly, Barzinji and Ali were not identified as U.S. or UK participants or with IIIT but rather as associated with Malaysia and Anwar Ibrahim. Younis was listed as associated with the Doha Conference Centre. Also attending was a representative of the Alwaleed bin Talal Foundation of Saudi Arabia, a major donor to groups linked to the global Muslim Brotherhood.
U.S. government officials of interest included:
* Madeline Albright (former Secretary of State)
* David Patreaus (head of U.S. Central Command)
* Keith Ellison (Congressman D-MN)
* Congressman Brian Baird (Congressman D-WA)
Numerous other individuals attended who were identified as part of the U.S. Central Command.
Shortly following the conclusion of the conference, Reps. Ellison and Baird were reported to have visited Gaza on a trip not sanctioned by the U.S. Government and the first by U.S. Congressmen in years. Ellison is the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress and has associations with the Muslim American Society (MAS), established as the representative of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S.
It should also be noted that Albright, Younis, and Mogahed are members of the Leadership Group of the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project, an organization that includes prominent members of the Clinton administration as well as from the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. As discussed in previous posts, the Leadership Group recently released a report whose recommendations, if adopted, would represent a significant advancement of the Muslim Brotherhood agenda in the U.S.
Time Magazine reported that this year’s conference was notable for the lack of anti-American rhetoric. According to the Time report:
At this year’s U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar, speaker after Muslim speaker had nothing particularly awful to say about the United States. The Muslims were, in fact, hopeful about, and slightly amazed by, the new American President. Some even wondered aloud what they could do to help him succeed. Anwar Ibrahim, the Malaysian opposition leader, listed the significant gestures that Obama had made toward the Islamic world, from the President’s interview with al-Arabiya television network to the appointment of George Mitchell as Middle East negotiator. Obama had even made reference to “a hadith, which is something not many Islamic leaders do!” Ibrahim added, referring to the sayings of the Prophet that are not included in the Koran. Then Ibrahim went further: “But will the U.S. find credible partners in the Muslim world? … How do we expect the President of the United States to solve our problems when we do nothing?”
Amina Rasul, identified above as a possible Muslim Brotherhood leader in the Philippines, also spoke glowingly of the conference:
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright, who spoke at the Doha Forum, must have been just as happy. She spoke of a world where ideas are hard to contain, where the path of dialogue is the right path. She stressed the responsibility of groups (or countries) defending their legitimate group interests without depriving others of their rights. Even the talk of General David Petraeus, commander of the US Central Command, reflected the shift to dialogue as he spoke of the strengthening of international security by strengthening networks in pursuit of common goals. He mentioned a security architecture that would include a leader’s network, information sharing and training networks (designed with multilateral inputs).
As a previous post reported, delegates at the 2008 U.S. Islamic World Forum voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama in a mock election while Hillary Clinton and Republican candidates won only a handful of votes. Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders were also in attendance.
Pakistan’s pact with militants sets stage for future retreats
February 23, 2009
THE government of Pakistan and Sufi Mohammed, a one-time river-crossing guard and currently a militant Islamic leader, have entered into an agreement that calls for the establishment of Shariah or Islamic law in the northern mountainous area of Swat in exchange for cessation of hostilities by his followers.
Sufi Mohammed does not control the Taliban operating from the tribal areas of Pakistan but has offered to act as a mediator. Considering the number of failed agreements that the Pakistan government has made with the militants in the last seven years, this one is also bound to fail.
Whenever a country cedes to the demands of militants and compromises its writ, it sets the stage for future retreats and reversals.
The ultimate aim of the militants is not the institution of Shariah law in a tiny swath of Pakistan but control of the entire country.
Most experts agree that a military solution to religious insurgency is not possible and that a negotiated settlement is the only choice. But negotiations have to occur within the framework of state authority and sovereignty. In Swat, those fundamentals were set aside for political expediency. The government asserts that the compromise in Swat does not weaken the state. In fact, the government has lost control of the area.
In a fair and transparent general election a year ago, people rejected religious parties and returned to power the secular-leaning political party of Benazir Bhutto. During the campaign, she was assassinated by Taliban militants. Asif Ali Zardari, her husband, took control of the party and became president.
He neither has the credibility nor the smarts to stop his country’s downward spiral to disaster. By ceding to the demands of the militants, he has trashed the mandate his party had received at the polls.
The linchpin of the recent agreement is the Shariah law that would be instituted in Swat Valley.
Definition and interpretation of Shariah law vary widely. For militants, it means the enforcement of harsh and brutal punishments, the types that were commonplace during the Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
To moderate Muslims, Shariah law is a just and fair system where citizens of the state, irrespective of their religious beliefs, are treated equally and with fairness. They look at the system not as a set of punitive laws but as a broader framework that nurtures a humane welfare state.
The militants and many orthodox Muslims believe Shariah law is divine, but in reality it is not. It is based on two important sources: the Qur’an and Sunnah. The former is the sacred text of Islam and the latter is a body of secondary literature based on the Prophet Mohammed’s life, his deeds, actions, and sayings. Interpretations of sacred text and Sunnah literature abound. The varying interpretations give the law its flexibility and resilience. Unfortunately these crucial points are lost on militants who tend to think of the law as rigid and unyielding.
Furthermore, less than 5 percent of Shariah laws are punitive in nature. The majority of laws deal with welfare of the people. The likes of Sufi Mohammed are not interested in feeding the hungry or comforting the sick.
They are interested in meting out harsh punishment that would be a deterrent to others. Again this mind-set was very much part of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The Shariah laws have been part of the tribal justice system for a long time. Under an agreement with the British, the tribes exercised a measure of autonomy and self-rule. The tribal chiefs and the assembly of elders used a mixture of Pushtun code of conduct and Islamic law to arbitrate disputes and give enforceable judgments. The rise of Islamic fundamentalism and militancy has pushed the tribal leaders aside, and now the likes of Sufi Mohammed call the shots.
Treatment of women under the Shariah laws has been a hot topic in the West. In its true spirit, based on the Qur’an and Sunnah, the Shariah gives equal status to women, gives them the right to get educated, the right to choose husbands, the right to inherit, and the right to demand financial support from their husbands in case of divorce. Under the true Islamic law, there is no compulsion in religion and it is a religious obligation for Muslims to protect the life, property, and places of worship of non-Muslims.
Swat was one of the most developed and prosperous areas of Pakistan. It boasted a network of excellent roads, free education for both boys and girls, and a thriving, agriculture-based economy. Because of its scenic beauty, it was often called the Switzerland of Pakistan and was a favourite tourist destination.
Alas, several uncouth and uneducated religious zealots have undone most of the progress and have turned the clock back. The Zardari government, lurching from one indecisive step to another, has been implicit in this onslaught.
Jihad books were in library
February 23, 2009
A library service was stocking books which encouraged jihad and the murder of non-Muslims, a Government-backed report has revealed.
A cost-cutting measure has been blamed for the blunder, which happened five years ago.
Leicester City Council had changed its book supplier so it could buy more foreign-language books for its customers.
However, council bosses say they were poorly advised by the new provider and, as a result, brought some inflammatory material into stock.
After "several months", they realised the dangerous nature of the material and removed it from the shelves, and returned it to the supplier.
Details of the error were in a report from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), which gives guidance on the handling of controversial material in public libraries, and is sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
A city council spokesman said: "We bought some stock from independent book sellers who, as it turned out, did not advise us very well. One of our staff identified that about two or three titles had a jihadist theme, and the books were removed from the shelves.
"We then reverted back to our agency which, in the meantime, had extended its service, and have continued to buy this way ever since.
"Leicester provides an excellent library service for an ever-changing diverse community, and we were happy to share what we learned with the MLA so other authorities benefit."
The report also revealed the council had problems with people attempting to donate inflammatory books.
In one incident, an attempt was made by someone to donate a copy of "Ghetto Kingz–life as we know it" by murderer Chevern Obinna Anozie.
The book is the story of Anozie, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of 25-year-old Wilfred Walbrook, who was shot dead outside a Leicester city centre nightclub, where he was a doorman, in 1994.
The book has been condemned by the victim's mother.
The MLA also says libraries have problems in areas where they serve mixed religion areas.
On a number of occasions customers had brought in Islamic newspapers and magazines which were inflammatory and had to be disposed of.
Suleman Nagdi, spokesman for the Federation of Muslim Organisations, Leicestershire, said: "I had not heard of these problems.
"I am not surprised that people have tried to do this.
"We live in a liberal democracy which allows freedom of speech, which must be protected.
"But we also must balance this with the rights of our citizens to be protected, whether that be from extremist religion or from far right political parties.
"If books or other material incites hatred, then it should not be in public places."
Taliban targets UK with heroin, calls it chemical-jihad
February 23rd, 2009
London, Feb. 23 (ANI): In a bid to wage a chemical jihad on Britain, the Taliban has planned to flood the UK streets with heroin. And to carry their terrifying mission forward, they are using hate-filled Muslim gangs as heroin dealers. Pakistan and Afghanistan based Al-Qaida and Taliban warlords have directed their dealers a task to sell a six billion pounds of heroin to non-Muslims. The Talibans two-faced chemical attack is not only aimed at killing many with heroin, but also to collect massive sums to sponsor future terror attacks. The Daily Star quoted a senior security source, as saying; the Afghan poppy fields are probably the biggest financial contributor to al-Qaida and the Taliban. The UKs heroin trade is increasing at an alarming rate and most of the cash helps arm terrorists with bombs and guns. Already, the US has been targeted by the Taliban in a similar evil scheme, which mirrors a terror plot in the new James Bond novel Devil May Care. Taliban linked drug peddler Haji Baz Mohammed generated 17 billion pounds by pouring heroin into North America between 1990 and 2005. He told a US court, selling heroin was a jihad because they were taking Americans money and the heroin was killing them. With a whopping thirty tonnes of heroin smuggled into Britain every year, the UK undoubtedly is the top target of the fanatics. Heroin is grown in the Afghan badlands and bought for 1,500 pounds per kilo in Pakistan. It’s finally sold on Britains streets between 30 to 50 pounds per gram. Often, the Asian gangs operating in South London, Luton, Preston, Manchester, Leeds, Oldham, Birmingham and Bradford sell heroin in the backs of cabs or over kebab shop counters. One such cabdriver revealed a lot about the spreading heroin attack in the UK. Poppy fields between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The big bosses have Taliban and al-Qaida connections and were often told only to deal it to non-Muslims. They call it chemical jihad and hope to ruin lives while getting massive payouts at the same time. The drug gangs have already spread misery in thousands of lives. Greg Yates is one of 280,000 addicts in the UK. Huddled up and shaking on a bridge near Luton rail station, the 42-year-old former mechanic told us his 80 pounds-a-day habit had destroyed his life. I can’t function without the hits. I’ve lost my job, my home and my family. Heroin has killed me, he sobbed. (ANI)
What Will This 'Peace' Cost?
By Mustafa Qadri, 23 Feb 2009
Pakistan has agreed to entrench Sharia law in its North-West Frontier Province in exchange for peace, but locals are still at risk and foreign governments are worried it's a win for the Taliban
The Swat valley is a sadly ironic location in which to conclude a peace deal. For centuries its breathtaking alpine beauty made it one of the subcontinent's premier resort destinations. Many of my own family have honeymooned here.
But all of that began to change from 2004 when a previously obscure religious student calling himself Maulana Fazlullah and his followers started attacking schools, music shops and other businesses considered "un-Islamic". Fazlullah promoted a harsh, conservative brand of Islam similar to that practiced by the Taliban when they ruled Afghanistan, and it was no surprise when he decided to join Tehreek-e-Taliban, the Taliban's umbrella network in Pakistan.
By October 2007, Maulana Fazlullah's forces had effective control of much of the Swat valley.
Even today in his clandestine radio broadcasts Fazlullah makes frequent threats against a wide range of ordinary people, from policemen merely seeking to enforce the law to schoolgirls whom he threatens with brutal attacks for daring to seek an education.
Over the past two years, conflict in the Swat valley and other tribal areas has displaced 450,000 people. The UN believes the number will soon rise to 600,000. Hundreds if not thousands have been killed, but exact numbers will never be known because no systematic attempt to catalogue casualties has ever been attempted.
It was in the context of this sort of carnage that news came last Monday of a peace deal between local religious leaders and the North Western Frontier Province Government. For many locals, this news was enormously welcome. In the streets of the Malakand region, villagers distributed sweets, a common expression of joy usually reserved for celebrations at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
But, as a local woman reminded the respected political analyst Shuja Nawaz, many remain fearful of the repercussions of this latest political development.
"We have lost the battle against the militants. We have seen day by day how government and army have [been] weakened, how they have finally been reduced to talk and to deal ... Someone said to me the other day, 'Don't complain, because the one you complain to will be your enemy'."
This peace deal is not the first of its kind, nor is it the only one to be reached in the Swat valley. Indeed, a similar peace agreement negotiated between the NWFP Government and the Taliban in May last year barely lasted a few days before fighting resumed in earnest.
Confusion surrounds the current peace deal between the North Western Frontier Province Government and the Tehreek-e-Nifaaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TSNM) — the "Movement for the Establishment of Islamic Law". All that is known is that under this "Nizam-i-Adl Regulation" Sharia (Islamic) law will supplant the secular laws of the local, state and possibly federal governments of Pakistan inside the Malakand division, the region which includes the Swat valley.
In expressing his support for the arrangement, President Zardari has affirmed that the "writ of the [Pakistani] state" must not be challenged, but the peace deal now gives religious groups a window with which to counter the laws of the state with the law of God, which they claim to represent.
For now at least, TSNM and its leader Sufi Mohammad profess to be working on behalf of the Government. Mohammad says he hopes to convince Fazlullah — who happens to be Mohammad's son-in-law — to put down his guns. "The system of Islamic justice will not be the system of the Taliban," Mohammad has claimed. "It will have proper courts and police and administration," Mohammad declared at a public rally last Wednesday.
But the TSNM's interpretation of Islam is essentially consistent with that of the Taliban, and Sufi Mohammad played a key role in establishing the Taliban in Swat. In fact, he also rallied young men to fight alongside the jihadi movement in Afghanistan following the United States' invasion of that country after the September 11 attacks.
When I interviewed members of the Taliban in Swat last year, they told me that their ultimate aim is to create a "true" Islamic state governed by the Sharia as they understand it. That goal is shared by Sufi Mohammad's TSNM.
Mohammad has been a conservative religious activist in the Swat valley region since the late 1980s when he left Jamaat-i-Islami, Pakistan's largest, and relatively moderate, religious political party. As early as 1995 he was demanding the establishment of Sharia law in Swat.
Mohammad spent close to seven years in jail after his arrest in 2001 for his role in supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan against the US. It was during his imprisonment that his son-in-law Fazlullah took over the running of the TSNM. Mohammad was eventually released last year, but only after publicly renouncing violence and expressing support for women's education and immunisation for children, things that are opposed by the Taliban.
Of course, Mohammad's dramatic reversal could all have been a result of political expediency and the harsh experiences of imprisonment.
As the Pakistani security analyst Amir Mir notes, "The TNSM rejects democracy as un-Islamic" — something I also have heard the Taliban speak of routinely.
As a signal of the importance of the peace deal, Sufi Mohammad led members of the TSNM on a march through Mingora, the largest city in the Swat valley. Most of those marching, estimated to be around 15,000, wore black turbans — the signature dress item of the Taliban.
The Taliban initially agreed to a 10-day ceasefire in response to the peace deal, and soon after signed a "permanent ceasefire" with the local government.
Internationally there are fears that these latest developments will merely give the Taliban time to recover from recent losses until they are ready to fight again. Britain's ambassador to Pakistan warned that the peace deal could "create space for further violence", while NATO said it risks giving the Taliban another "safe haven" in Pakistan. Neighbouring India has echoed these concerns, its Defence Minister saying it adds to the country's militancy "worries".
The Australian Government, however, gave qualified support to the arrangement. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, on an official visit to Pakistan last week, said it could amount to "a positive development".
From the United States the signals have been just as mixed. Afghanistan and Pakistan envoy Richard Holbrooke said the peace deal was "not an encouraging trend" because it could result in territory being ceded to "the bad guys". In contrast, US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates said a similar deal could be reached with moderate elements of the Taliban and other militants in Afghanistan if the Swat deal leads to long term stability.
But that, of course, is a very big "if".
Our Hero Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury attacked again: How long we can remain silent?
Sunita Paul, February 23, 2009
This time not Islamists or religious fanatics, but, this time, our Hero and my brother and a loving brother of millions of people around the world, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is attacked by the very party cadres of Bangladesh Awami League, a party now in power in Bangladesh, which pretends to be following secularist ideology.
According to a Press Release, distributed by U.S. Peace activist Dr. Richard L Benkin and a tireless defender of Shoaib Choudhury, office of anti Jihadist newspaper, Weekly Blitz in Bangladesh came under attack on Sunday morning (February 22, 2009) by armed members of the ruling party in presence of law enforcing agencies. The team of thugs was led by one Shamim from DGFI (Military Intelligence).
At 10 a.m. Sunday, local time, internationally-acclaimed journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, was attacked as he was working in the office of his newspaper, Weekly Blitz, by 'a gang of thugs' claiming to be from Bangladesh's ruling Awami League. Choudhury is now under medical treatment for eye, neck, and other injuries suffered in the attack. The renewed violence marks the first against him since he was abducted by Bangladesh’s dreaded Rapid Action Battalion a year ago.
A large group led by one Shamim introducing himself to be an official of DGFI stormed Blitz premises and attacked newspaper staff until they found Choudhury. At that point, he said, 'they dragged me (and two staffs) into the street' where they beat them in broad daylight. They looted Blitz office and stole Shoaib Choudhury’s laptop with all his important information. As of this writing, the attackers continue to occupy the Blitz office and there is no sign of any action from the government in Dhaka.
Police were impassive and seemed intimidated when the attackers emphasized their party membership and accused him of being an agent of the Israeli Mossad. They later threatened to attack his home should Choudhury go to the police again.
A case has been lodged with Paltan Model Police Station. Case No. 65. Under section 143, 448, 323, 342, 384, 380, 227 and 506 of Bangladesh Penal Code. Police although claim to have already started searching for the culprits who were involved in this broad day crime, according to Weekly Blitz; there is no action from the police in arresting the culprits. Meanwhile, a number of culprits are continuing to give threat calls to Weekly Blitz editor Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury and reminding him of not taking any legal action on Sunday's incident. They are saying, "You should know, Awami League is in power and we can do almost everything, whatever we want. You will be a dead man if you proceed."
Since a new government came in power on, members of its students, youth and other wings became active in a number of crimes, including extorting, land and property grabbing, murder, abduction etc. Attack on the office of a newspaper, is the first time, since this government came in power only in January this year. Earlier, during its tenure in 1996-2001, a number of journalists were attacked and murdered by the party cadres of Bangladesh Awami League. A young journalist named Tipu Sultan was mercilessly tortured and beaten by thugs belonging to Awami League leader Joinal Hazari. Tipu had to be treated for months in local and foreign hospitals for recovery.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury was arrested in 2003 by government agents, in cooperation with Islamist forces, because of his advocacy of relations with Israel and religious equality, and his articles exposing the rise of radical Islam in Bangladesh. He was tortured and held for seventeen months and only released after strong pressure by human rights activist Dr. Richard Benkin and US Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL). In 2007, the US Congress passed a Kirk-introduced resolution 409-1 calling on Bangladesh to stop harassing Choudhury and drop capital charges against him after extensive evidence confirmed them to be false, contrary to Bangladeshi law, and as admitted by successive Bangladeshi officials, maintained only to appease Islamists. The Bangladeshi government continues to remain in defiance of that resolution and its provisions.
Earlier, only few days back, a person named Advocate Shintu aka Shintu, claiming to be the advisor to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called Shoaib Choudhury and demanded TK. 500,000 (roughly US$ 8000) as extortion. Shintu said, if Shoaib fails to pay the demanded amount, his office and house will be attacked. It is highly anticipated that, Advocate Shintu might also have his hands behind the Sunday´s attack on Shoaib. Since the present government came in power, many such elements are regularly giving threat calls to various individuals and demanding extortions. The matter got spread through various news wires services and newspapers around the world, but the government in Dhaka was just tight lipped in taking any steps at least in investigating the matter.
To many around the world, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is the genuine Moslem Hero of moderation.
"People are punished for crime, for creating anarchy and for putting humanity into horrifying terror. But, could we ever believe that someone would be arrested, tortured and imprisoned for long 17 months just for being in favour of global peace, inter-faith dialogue, ending religious hatred and thinking of everything good and noble for mankind? In my case it did happen and after being released on bail keeping the sedition charge very much alive. According to the allegations, my crime is: I am a living contradiction to today's phenomenon in the Muslim world, a Zionist, a defender of Israel and a devout, practicing Muslim living in the second largest Muslim country in the world."
These are not mere words! These are all facts. Such courageous statement comes from the very heart of a Moslem journalist in Bangladesh named Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, who is facing sedition, treason and blasphemy charges in his own country since 2003, for confronting radical Islam, for advocating interfaith understanding between Moslems, Jews and Christians and for demanding relations between Israel and the Moslem Bangladesh. For this 'crime', Choudhury is continuing to suffer since he was arrested on November 29, 2003 while boarding a flight bound Tel Aviv to attend a writer's conference. According to Bangladeshi law, sedition charge bears capital punishment. It is greatly anticipated that, if the international community, including the United States Congress, European Parliament and the Australian Senate wouldn't stand in his support, by now, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury was already a dead man.
Why does he promote interfaith dialogue? Replying to such questions, Choudhury says in his own words, "Through dialogue we can learn about one another's beliefs and faith. You and I, yes we can challenge belief and build on faith. By this simple action we deepen what it means to us as individual and as a group the idea of being guided, inspired and even acting according to God's plan. The whole idea of faith, trust, and belief is a philosophical debate between individuals from the central point our self and the peripheral our community. Religions can be based on theology but more importantly it should be based on our perception and understanding of God's words as individuals and not as a mass. This had been the reason as to why I promote interfaith dialogue. Religion does not promote hatred however men have promoted hatred by favoring one religion over the others; usually it is their interpretation of what religion means which is based on theology or the word of God as interpreted by men of small minds. Some monotheists accuse others of worshipping idols and having false gods. Some radicals go as far as destroying historical temples. This can be seen when Christians had statues to represent images of Jesus or the Virgin Mary they were either destroyed or painted over. Romans destroyed the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Christians and later Muslims destroyed Hindu temples in India or parts or other parts of the world. The first Christian priests were destroying the spiritual icons of natives, and saying they worshipped idols in nature. Hindus destroyed Muslim and Christian Mosques and Churches. The list goes on an on. However, there is another aspect of religion that is often forgotten those from the tradition who have made a contribution to stopping hatred, which promotes better understanding."
He says, "Like most Muslims, I've been victimized by a socially supported information flow; one that taught me to look the other way when facts seem to contradict the politically-mandated and politically-correct weltanschauung that we are supposed to adopt. I was taught that much of the world is in essence my enemy, and that Israel and the Jewish people are the embodiment of evil. And I was taught to distrust—even though we all admired—Americans.
"And that is the case because the enemies of freedom have wormed their way into most social institutions in the Muslim world—the press, the media, governments, and schools. I have seen this in my own nation—a nation of good people, who seek nothing other than the things all of us want in life. These enemies of freedom seek to control my people by controlling our access to information and our contact with those who offer a different point of view."
There is no room to have any doubt that, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is the Moslem Hero in millions, who has the guts and courage to stand against all evils. Although thousands of his friends and supporters around the world offered him political asylum (he was offered asylum in United States, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Sweden), Choudhury opts for staying in Bangladesh to fight the radical Islam. He visited United States twice in 2007, and each time, he returned to his own country despite requests from his friends of seeking asylum in that country.
Why did Choudhury choose to return rather than ask for a sure-to-be-granted asylum? The question, doubtless uppermost in the minds of his listeners, was raised in the question and answer period. Choudhury responded that this was just what the Islamic extremists wanted. "I will fight in my own country. If someone is willing to say no to jihad he must say it on the ground." On practical grounds, too, Choudhury observed that if he were to take political asylum, others in Bangladesh would lose heart and he wants to show them you can stand up against the extremists at home. "I have to give them confidence by being there. If I abandon them, why should they join me?" Choudhury says that while he was alone at the time of his arrest, gradually he has been winning support, especially from Hindus and Bahais (around 17% of the population is not Moslem) but also increasingly among Moslems.
Forty-three years old, Choudhury is that rarest of breed, a faithful Moslem who, in the belly of the beast, publicly dissents from the stifling orthodoxy of hatred and extremism that characterizes the Islamic world. There are a handful of other outspoken Moslem-born men and women (mainly the latter), but while their heroism is unquestionable, most live in the West where, although their lives remain in danger, their right to speak is at least upheld by the government.
What can we learn from the heroism and tribulations of this extraordinary human being, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury? On one hand, his fate is a reminder of the depth of hatred toward Israel in the Moslem world, which Israel's peace-processors ignore to their great peril. Bangladesh is not Arab, has no borders or conflict with Israel. Yet this country, with the third largest Moslem population in the world, makes it a crime for a citizen to go to Israel and is so hostile that it is prepared to give the death penalty to anyone who seeks to defy the ban and speaks up for friendship with the Jewish state.
There is a more encouraging lesson if the West would but take it. Choudhury is precisely the kind of Moslem reformer the administration says it is looking for. Arguing the administration should be doing much more on his behalf, Bret Stephens observes: "Mr. Choudhury has identified himself, at huge personal risk, as one such Moslem (reformer)" making "unimaginable sacrifices for the values of the U.S., Israel, and all who wish them well." Stephens pleads for American policy to "keep faith with the people who have kept faith with us." There can be no actions more discouraging to those who would read the Koran differently, who need support to stand up against the Jihadists sweeping the Moslem world, than to see the American administration courting the Hamas-supporters of CAIR and the other extremist organizations it currently coddles.
Our undeterred Hero, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is attacked again! Cowards are trying to suffocate his voice and that is why repeated attacks took place on him and his newspaper.
Is there anyone in the international press, who can at least pick up the pen or put the camera on neck to cover the sordid story of this most courageous Moslem journalist of our age? Why newspapers like New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, International Herald Tribune, Newsweek, TIME Magazine, The Guardian, CNN, Fox News, BBC etc are still silent on this matter? How long they can afford to remain silent, when a fellow journalist is facing continuous persecution in his own land almost single-handedly? Where are those preachers of ´Moderate Moslem´ or ´Interfaith Harmony´? We need to act now, before Shoaib Choudhury´s name is included in the list of martyrs.
Is Islam innocent of Ms. Hassan's murder?
The latest example of “honour killing,”
MONA ELTAHAWY, February 23, 2009
KUALA LUMPUR — Aasiya Hassan was probably beheaded in a Buffalo suburb just hours before the Malaysian Muslim women's group Sisters in Islam brought us together this month for the launch of Musawah, a global movement for justice and equality in Muslim families.
Justice and equality were likely in short shrift for Ms. Hassan, who had filed for divorce and obtained a restraining order against her husband a week before police found her body. Muzzammil Hassan will stand trial for second-degree murder.
In 2004, the Hassans co-founded Bridges TV to improve the image of Muslims and promote cultural understanding. Ever since police found Ms. Hassan's body in the TV station's offices, a culture war has broken out between the anti-Muslim right wing and Muslim apologists over who can save us poor Muslim women.
The right wing, determined to see a woman beater in every Muslim man, seemed to celebrate the gruesome crime as the latest example of “honour killing,” something “they” do to “their” women.
They forget that the singer Rihanna cancelled her concert in Malaysia – coincidentally set to take place on the first day of Musawah – after she reportedly complained to police that fellow singer and boyfriend Chris Brown had beat her up. They forget that Scott Peterson murdered his pregnant wife.
Violent men who aren't Muslim? Who knew! The only abusive man I've known was my ex-husband, a Floridian with German-Irish roots who converted to Islam to marry me but never practised the religion. The day when I called police to complain that he had thrown me out of our home and taken my car keys and credit card was the most humiliating in my life.
In Washington State, where we lived, my complaint had to be filed under domestic abuse. My shame was compounded when the officer who took down my report explained my rights to me as if I were a mail-order bride shipped over to America into a life of abuse.
Meantime, a host of U.S. Muslim organizations – mostly led by men, of course – swore up and down that Islam was innocent of Ms. Hassan's murder and that it was just another case of domestic violence. Domestic violence being the more mundane crime, they determined, with a keen eye on the demonization of Muslims.
I would take them more seriously had they fought violence against women with the same vehemence they fight to preserve the image of the “community.” At Musawah, I heard horror stories from Muslim women activists from the U.S., Britain, Australia and New Zealand whose work to help abused women was hampered by their community's denial, which often fed on anti-Muslim bigotry in their respective countries.
That same “community” has been frighteningly silent about the way some religious leaders use a controversial verse in the Koran to justify beating women. It's hard to fight a man who beats you. How do you take on God, too?
Just last month in Australia, a video surfaced of an imam saying there was no such thing as marital rape and advising men how to beat wives without bruising them.
Type Muslim+woman+beating into an online search engine and you get a monster's parade of what I call “YouTube imams” explaining how to beat a woman according to “Islamic teaching.”
Exhibit A: an imam telling his congregation that, according to “Islamic teaching,” there are three types of women for whom nothing but a beating work. I'm proud to say I scored two out of three.
Muslim denial over the abysmal status of women is deeper even than the one over the use of Islam to justify radical violence. Centuries of male-dominated and misogynistic interpretations of Islam are strangling us. We're told on the one hand that God says men can beat us and yet, when we complain and demand our God-given right to a divorce, we're told that's a man's prerogative.
And when we complain publicly, as I am now, we're told that we've abandoned our faith and that we're giving ammunition to the Islam haters.
Which is why Musawah – Arabic for equality – was such a godsend to those of us who choose to remain Muslim and refuse to hand our religion over to the YouTube imams.
Muslim scholar Amina Wadud, author of Inside the Gender Jihad: Women's Reform in Islam and long a hero of mine since she led 100 of us in the first public mixed-gender Friday prayer in New York in 2005, reminded us that the Prophet Mohammed never hit a woman.
She took apart that controversial verse used to justify violence against women and said we must confront those “YouTube imams” with photographs of battered women to make them see how their words affect women's day-to-day lives.
“Islam can be a source of empowerment, not a source of oppression and discrimination,” Musawah project director Zainah Anwar said at the opening ceremony. “For there to be justice in the 21st century, there must be equality. … These values must be at the core of what it means to be Muslim today.”
The 9/11 terrorist attacks sensitized Muslims to what our imams said about violence in the name of Islam. Now, in honour of Aasiya Hassan, if a religious leader justifies violence against women, we must walk out, complain and push for his removal.
Wrigley's chewing gum suspended its contract with Chris Brown. Let's start naming and shaming the violent men among us and boycotting their businesses. Given the choice between the “community” and the sister, we must always choose the sister.
Mona Eltahawy New York-based columnist for Egypt's Al Masry Al Youm and Qatar's Al Arab