Kabul: Afghan acid attack girls warned not to go to school
Broken lives: Nigeria's child brides who end up on the streets by Ramita Navai
Child-Sex Case Grips Turkey amid Religious Young-Brides Split by Ben Holland
Saudis to build mosque in Moscow; Russians want church in Arabia
Propaganda against ISI, Pak Army by Mohammad Jamil 'The Moderate Islamist' by David Solway
Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia to pull peace mission out of Philippines
London: Islamic justice, British style by ELAINE SCIOLINO
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Saudi detained on suspicion of funding Indian Mujahideen
28 Sep 2008,
NEW DELHI: A man from Saudi Arabia was on Sunday detained by police at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here on suspicion of funding the terror outfit Indian Mujahideen suspected to be behind serial blasts in Delhi and other cities.
The person was taken into custody by the sleuths of Delhi Police and Intelligence Bureau at around 8:30am as soon as he reached here from Jeddah, sources said.
The suspect is being questioned at an undisclosed location and investigators are trying to ascertain if he has any role in the funding of the terror outfit, they said.
The Indian Mujahideen has been accused of carrying out several serial blasts in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Uttar Pradesh.
Police and the Intelligence Bureau are trying to ascertain the funding channel of Indian Mujahideen, a module of which has been cracked following the September 19 gunbattle in south Delhi's Jamia Nagar.
The outfit's alleged chief Atif Amin and another member Mohd Sajid were killed in the encounter with Delhi police while five others were arrested in connection with their alleged role in the serial blasts. Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/3537624.cms
Afghan acid attack girls warned not to go to school: police
Kabul (AFP) — Schoolgirls sprayed with acid in southern Afghanistan had been warned not to go to school a week before the attack, a deputy minister said Wednesday.
Authorities have arrested 10 suspects in connection with the November 12 attack in which two men on a motorbike used a water pistol to spray acid on the girls as they arrived at school in the city of Kandahar.
They say the attack, which drew international condemnation, was the work of extremist Islamic Taliban, which barred girls from going to school when they were in government between 1996 and 2001.
"Evidence shows and witnesses say they (the girls) were threatened a week before not to go to school," deputy interior minister General Mohammad Daud told reporters in Kabul.
Daud said four of the 10 arrested men had confessed their involvement.
"The leader of the group and the person who sprayed the acid has confessed to their crimes. The confession of two others is still being studied," he said.
Eleven girls and four female teachers were in the group that was attacked and most were protected by their burkas, all-covering garments that most Afghan women wear in public.
Six girls were treated in hospital for burns. A 17-year-old girl was badly hurt and transferred to hospital in Kabul.
A state attorney told the same press conference courts would demand the highest punishment for the crime and that information showed the attack was "organised across Afghan borders", a reference to the tribal belt of Pakistan where Taliban and their Al-Qaeda allies have bases.
"This is Taliban and Al-Qaeda policy to fight culture and civilisation," said the lawyer, who is named only Mohibullah.
The Taliban have denied involvement, but the insurgents have most often been blamed for a series of attacks on Afghanistan's education system, with about 230 schools targeted in the year to June and dozens of people killed.
About half of the attacks have been on girls' schools even though they make up only 15 percent of schools in the country, according to a report to the UN Security Council this month.
Broken lives: Nigeria's child brides who end up on the streets
Ramita Navai in Kano, November 28, 2008
In a small, dimly lit brothel in the red-light district of Kano in northern Nigeria nearly all the young prostitutes lined up on plastic chairs are runaway brides.
“I was married when I was 15 years old. I was forced into it,” said Hadiza.
Whenever her husband attempted to consummate the marriage, Hadiza would flee to her parents’ home, but they kept returning her to the man to whom she had been married off.
Finally her husband raped her: the attack was so violent that Hadiza was sent to hospital.
“We have no choice. If you’re not married by the time you’re 16, people think there must be something wrong with you,” she said. The girls around her nod silently - some of them had been forced to marry when they were only 12.
Northern Nigeria has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world: nearly half of all girls here are married by the age of 15.
The consequences have been devastating. Nigeria has the highest maternal mortality rate in Africa and one of the world’s highest rates of fistula, a condition that can occur when the pressure of childbirth tears a hole between the vagina and the bladder or rectum. Many women are left incontinent for life. Up to 800,000 women suffer from fistula in Nigeria.
“They marry young, they get pregnant young, they deliver young and they pick up the fistula,” said Kees Waaldijk, the chief consultant surgeon at the Babbar Ruga hospital, the world’s largest fistula clinic, in the northern state of Katsina.
Most cases happen to young girls during their first pregnancy, and nearly half the patients at Babbar Ruga are under 16.
Dr Waaldijk operates on up to 600 women a year, with no electricity or running water. He sterilises his equipment in a steel casserole pot that sits on a gas camping stove. Rows of girls and women - some as young as 13 - lie listlessly on rusty hospital beds, each connected to a catheter.
The smell of urine is overpowering and many of the women have been cast out from their communities. Some have been divorced by their husbands - it is estimated that up to half of adolescent girls in northern Nigeria are divorced. “If nothing is done the woman ends up crippled for life: medically, socially, mentally and emotionally,” Dr Waaldijk said.
The Nigerian federal Government has attempted to outlaw child marriage. In 2003 it passed the Child Rights Act, prohibiting marriage under the age of 18. In the Muslim northern states, though, there has been fierce resistance to the Act, with many people portraying it as antiIslamic. “Child marriage in Islam is permissible. In the Koran there is no specific age of marriage,” said Imam Sani, a liberal cleric in the northern state of Kaduna. He said that this was the root cause of the opposition among the more hardline mullahs, who believe that matters of Islamic “personal” law - marriage, divorce and inheritance - must be governed by the Koran, not the state.
“The Muslim clerics have a problem with this Child Rights Act and they decried it, they castigate it, they reject it and they don’t want it introduced in Nigeria,” Mr Sani said.
He said there would be serious repercussions if the federal Government attempted to impose a minimum age of marriage. “There will be violent conflict from the Muslims, saying that ‘no, we will not accept this, we’d rather die than accept something which is not a law from Allah’.”
Half of Nigeria’s 36 states have passed the Act, but it has been adopted by only one of the dozen Muslim states - and even that one made a crucial amendment substituting the age of 18 for the term “puberty”.
Each state in Nigeria has the constitutional right to amend legislation to comply with its local traditions and religion, meaning that central government is powerless to impose a minimum age of marriage.
Other vocal opponents to the Act include village heads and elders - almost all men - highlighting the tribal and cultural constraints that hamper attempts to stamp out child marriage.
“It is important we have the right to marry our girls young so there is no risk of pregnancy outside marriage. It is to preserve the purity of our girls,” said Usman, an 84-year-old man from the village of Yammaw Fulani, who married a 14-year-old girl four years ago. “We will never accept this law,” he said.
Unreported World, Nigeria: Child Brides, Broken Lives will be broadcast on Channel 4 tonight
Iraqi Expert on Islamic Law Calls to Allow Young Girls to Get Married: In Islamic Countries, Girls Get Their Periods at the Age of 8-10. Westerners Criticize the Prophet Muhammad for Having Sex with His 9 Year Old Wife, but Allow Fornication with Underage Girls
Following are excerpts from an interview with Dr. Abd Al-Hamid Al-'Ubeidi, an Iraqi expert on Islamic law, which aired on Al-Rafidein TV on March 14, 2008:
Dr. Abd Al-Hamid Al-'Ubeidi: There is no minimum marriage age for either men or women in Islamic law. The law in many countries permits girls to marry only from the age of 18. This is arbitrary legislation, not Islamic law. Why? Because there might be cases in which it is impossible to keep the girl [single] until the age of maturity.
For example, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Serbs killed many Albanian Muslims, and there are many mass graves there. [Muslim] families fled from that war, and so did small children, who were not yet at the age of marriage. But if a man takes such a girl in, he might desire her, and eventually commit a sin, even though his intentions were noble. So he can formally marry her, but without having sex with her. She will remain like that until she grows up, and then someone will ask to marry her, or he will find her a husband – this happens in many Islamic countries with girls from Bosnia-Herzegovina – and when he finds her a husband, he will divorce her, so that she can marry again. In such a case, there should be no waiting period. So there is no need for the girl to be of age.
Most of the time we act according to what is acceptable to most people, and indeed, most men do not marry a girl until she is of age. In some Islamic countries, the age of maturity can be 8 or 10 years. In Yemen, a girl might get her period at the age of 8. In cold countries, such as Russia, Belarus, Scandinavia, New Zealand, Canada, and so on, a girl might not reach maturity until she is 22 years old. She might not get her period until then. Therefore, the greatness of Islamic law is manifest in the fact that marriage is not just for pleasure. True, it is the basic objective for marriage, but there are some cases that require solutions.
Many criminals, the enemies of Islam, ask: "How could the Prophet Muhammad, at 52 years of age, marry 'Aisha when she was only 8 years old, and consummate the marriage when she was 9 years old?" I say to them: People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Why do you permit your young girls to fornicate? They consider it one of their liberties. Therefore, in these stupid countries, you rarely find girls aged 10 or 12 who are still virgins. They permit this. They have even legislated laws stating that if a girl is under the age of 18, and her girlfriend [sic] or whatever has had sex with her, she has the right to have an abortion. How can you permit the outcome without accepting the cause? Why do you allow your girls to have sex and say this is an individual liberty? It is okay to fornicate with girls there or force them to have sex, and so on, and they have the right to have an abortion. If you permit all this before the age [of 18], without a marriage contract and without any legal grounds – how come you forbid marriage?
Child-Sex Case Grips Turkey Amid Religious Young-Brides Split
By Ben Holland
Nov. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Huseyin Uzmez denies having sex with a 14-year-old girl. He just defends a man’s right to marry one.
Uzmez, 76, a columnist at Turkey’s Islamist Vakit newspaper, is pleading not guilty to charges of sexually abusing a minor in a case that has gripped the country of 70 million. Since his release on bail on Oct. 28, Uzmez has publicly defended Islamic rules that permit girls to wed below the legal age of 16.
“A girl who’s reached puberty, who’s having periods, is of age, according to our beliefs,” Uzmez told national television the day he got out. “And if she’s of age, she can marry.”
Uzmez returns to court on Dec. 16. Whatever the eventual outcome, the case has widened the gulf between Turks promoting Islamic law and those who support the secular system put in place by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in the 1920s. The state religious authority, which employs imams at Turkey’s 80,000 mosques, opposes child marriage, though the practice remains rife.
Thirty-nine percent of married women in the southern province of Sanliurfa were 16 or younger on their wedding day, according to the Istanbul-based Social Democracy Foundation, which is campaigning against the practice.
They typically marry in religious ceremonies and delay civil marriage until they’re of age, according to the foundation.
“As long as you have people in Turkey who say this is okay and who use Islam to justify it, it remains a big problem,” says Amanda Akcakoca, an analyst at the European Policy Center in Brussels. “When people think Turkey, they think human-rights violations and problems with women’s rights.”
Out on Bail
Uzmez is accused of the abuse of the girl, called B.C. in the indictment, on several occasions in Istanbul and Bursa provinces. His first hearing was in September in Bursa, northwest Turkey. He was released after a second hearing, when the court ruled he no longer needed to be kept in jail.
His lawyer, Bulent Demir, says Uzmez will be found not guilty next month because there is no forensic evidence. He also argues that Uzmez is the victim of a witch hunt that was intensified because of his religious background.
“Without waiting for the result of the court case, everyone’s behaving as if he did it,” Demir said in an interview. “His Islamic identity has been used as a weapon against him.”
The Milliyet newspaper’s cover story on Nov. 21, illustrated with a photo of Uzmez, cited forensic data showing that as many as 120 child-abuse cases are being reported each week. “Turkey, What Happened to you?” was the front-page headline.
After Uzmez’s release, female lawmakers from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party responded by proposing laws doubling prison sentences for child abuse.
Fatma Sahin, a sponsor of the child crime bill, said the Uzmez case is “upsetting” and highlights the need for penalties that are “tough enough to deter.” It has nothing to do with religion, she said.
Erdogan, 54, has passed human-rights laws, many aimed at protecting women, as part of his bid to edge Turkey closer to the European Union. It started membership talks in 2005
A 2004 overhaul of the penal code stiffened penalties for so-called “honour killings,” the murder of women seen as staining a family’s reputation, and classified rape within marriage as a crime for the first time.
Sahin said Turkey, which ranked 123rd of 130 countries in a World Economic Forum study of gender equality, is “weaker on the implementation” of such measures.
The EU’s Nov. 5 report on Turkey’s progress to membership said “domestic violence, honour killings and early and forced marriages are still a serious problem.”
At the same time, Erdogan also has promoted measures that opposition parties say were inspired by Islam.
This year, he attempted to end the ban on Islamic-style headscarves at universities. That law, later overturned by the Constitutional Court, prompted prosecutors to demand Erdogan be removed from politics for undermining the secular constitution. In 2004, he tried to make adultery a crime, dropping his proposal only after EU pressure.
Uzmez’s comments showed how religious culture in Turkey can be oppressive, according to Canan Aritman, a lawmaker from the opposition Republican People’s Party.
Aritman said she has needed 24-hour armed protection since March, after she called on families not to make their young daughters wear Islamic-style headscarves. Such practices deny girls the right to remain children, she said. Aritman said she frequently meets women who are aware of sexual abuse within their own families, though they feel powerless to stop it.
Left on the Street?
“I’ve told a lot of women that they have to go to the courts, but they refuse,” Aritman said. “They say they’ll be left on the street.”
Levels of abuse in Turkey are probably no different than in Western Europe, though are half as likely to be reported, said Fatih Yavuz, a specialist in forensic medicine at Istanbul University who is regularly consulted in child abuse cases.
Gulsun Kanat, whose Purple Roof Foundation helps women who suffer from domestic violence, said she’s concerned about the Uzmez case because his prestige as a writer on religion backs up his comments on sexual maturity and marriage.
“It gives other people the green light,” she said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Holland in Istanbul at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saudis to build mosque in Moscow; Russians want church in Arabia
November 27, 2008
And why not, exactly?
"Saudi Arabia to build a mosque in Moscow," from Interfax, November 21:
Moscow, November 21, Interfax – King of Saudi Arabia has initiated construction of a mosque and Islamic cultural center in Moscow.
“If Russian authorities allocate a parcel of land, then Saudi Arabia will finance the building,” Head of Foreign Department at the Russian Muftis Council Rushan Abbyasov told Interfax-Religion....
"Russian mufti recognizes the Saudi have right not to allow Christians to Mecca while Christians can build a church in Arabia," from Interfax, November 25:
Moscow, November 25, Interfax – Co-chairman of Russian Mufti Council Nafigullah Ashirov has recognized the right of Saudi Arabia not to let Christians to Mecca and Medina, though Christians have the right to build their own church in the country.
He told this to an Interfax-Religion correspondent commenting on the address of Russian Orthodox public figures to the Saudi king with the request to observe the rights of Christian living in Arabia.
“We can’t give instructions that contradict the acting laws of other country, no matter if it is America, Great Britain or Israel. My personal opinion is inseparable from acting laws,” the Mufti said.
I hope his coreligionists in America, Great Britain and Israel take those words to heart.
“If Christians can visit Mecca and Medina or not - this question doesn't fall within my province, but it is an absolutely different country, they have their own leaders and laws. Israel also has its own laws: for example, people under 45 are not allowed to Al-Aqsa Mosque, it is their country, and they decided such wise. There is a country – there is a law, the laws should be respected and stick to,” he went on to say.
Ashirov believes, when the number of Orthodox believers in Saudi Arabia will reach such a level that they could organize their own community, “there will be no problems with building an Orthodox Church in Saudi Arabia.”
And how exactly would the number of Orthodox believers in Saudi Arabia ever reach such a level, while Saudis so vehemently discourage all non-Muslim religious practice?
Answering the question, if an Orthodox community has a right to build a church in Saudi Arabia, the Mufti said, “Why not! However everything should be done on legal basis: if they turn to an appropriate state structure and have permission, they will surely do it.”
And how will they get legal permission when such a thing is illegal in Saudi Arabia?
Anyway, now it gets good:
"Russian Orthodox figures ask Saudi King’s permission to build a Christian church in Arabia," from Interfax, November 25:
Moscow, November 25, Interfax – Representatives of Orthodox public organizations addressed the King of Saudi Arabia an open letter with a request to build an Orthodox Church in his country.
The address, conveyed to Interfax-Religion, was initiated after the Saudi Kingdom announced its plans to build a mosque in Moscow.
“You often say that Islam is a religion of justice. However, if Saudi Arabia builds mosques in dozens of Christian countries, isn't it just to build a church for Christians living in Your Kingdom!" the letter says.
To support their words the authors quoted Chairman of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran who said that "if Muslims believe it right to have a great striking mosque in Rome, than it is right for Christians to build a church in Riyadh.”
Orthodox believers remind that preachers of monotheism - Christians - came to Mecca and Medina several centuries before Muslims, while Jews historically resided there. Therefore, it is unjust not to allow them in the territories, where their ancestors lived, where their churches and cemeteries were located.
“Saudi Arabia, as any other country of the world, is a multi-confessional and policonfessional state. It would be just to grant the freedom of faith to Christian minority as their share exceeds 10 per cent,” the address further says.
Its authors consider it is very important to lift restrictions on visits of Christians to Mecca and Medina, to permit them to wear crosses, to publish religious literature and preach their religion. “It would be just to create the same conditions for Saudi Christians as Muslims have in Russia,” Orthodox activists stressed.
“It is the only way to make inter-religious dialogue honest and just,” the address written by the Moscow Division of the Union of Orthodox citizens, the Radonezh Society and the Byzantium Club concludes.
“It is the only way to make inter-religious dialogue honest and just.” Quite so!
Thanks to John Doe for all the links. Source: http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/023676.php
Propaganda against ISI, Pak Army
For quite some time, western media is blaming the ISI and Pakistan Army for the increased insurgency in Afghanistan not realizing that Pakistan has suffered more in men and material fighting the war on terror. India the archenemy of Pakistan has been instrumental in fuelling sentiments against Pakistan through hostile propaganda. In this regard, All India Radio, BBC, Sada-e-Kashmir and Radio Kabul have been broadcasting offensive material against the Pak Army and the ISI. India continuously blames Pak Army for violating ceasefire in Kashmir without any concrete evidence. Indian RAW is also indirectly involved in fanning terrorism in FATA yet India creates doubts about the credibility of Pakistan’s operation against the terrorists by propagating that Pakistan is not willing to reveal the names of foreign militants killed in the military operations.
Secondly, whenever there is any terrorist act in India, fingers of accusation are raised towards Pakistan. Whether it is a blast in Indian embassy in Kabul, Samjhauta Express or any other place India starts blaming Pakistan even before investigation. On the pressure and demands from civil society, the Indian government went into action and the Indian Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) arrested more suspects in connection the Malegaon blasts and other terrorist activities in which some Indian Army officers were also nabbed. The arrested Army officers include Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit (a serving officer) with two other army officers recently in connection with September 29 Malegaon bomb blasts, five days after Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and two others were held in the case. The two arrested were identified as Major (r) Ramesh Upadhyay from Pune and Sameer Kulkarni from Indore in Madhya Pradesh.
The question is that why Pakistan is the target of hostile propaganda? The answer is that after the Soviet troops were forced to withdraw from Afghanistan in 1980s, the US, India and other Pakistan’s detractors were worried because it was beyond their imagination what Pakistan’s premier agency had achieved. It would not be wrong to say the US won the Cold War and became sole super power because of Pakistan and ISI’s help. During former President General Pervez Musharraf’s visit to US and Britain, the propaganda regarding ISI’s involvement in helping Taliban had been considered to be a well thought-out plan, and the architects of the plan wished to put Pakistan on the mat. Pervez Musharraf, however, defended ISI stating that it was a disciplined force; thus dispelling the impression that the ISI has some agenda different to that of the government.
The BBC had cited a leaked paper written by a senior military official linked to Britain’s foreign intelligence service M16 who had been to Pakistan on a fact-finding mission, which interviewed army officers and academics. The report proposed using the military links between the British and Pakistan armies at a senior level to persuade Musharraf to dismantle the ISI. The question, however, could be asked as to why the leak occurred at a time when former president Musharraf was to hold talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair. Earlier, before President Musharraf’s meeting with President Bush, there was a report from US army officials in Afghanistan that cross-border attacks had increased manifold after signing of an agreement between Pakistan and tribal elders in North Waziristan agency. There was also a suggestion in the said report that ISI be dismantled.
The fact remains that almost all countries of the world have the armies to protect their borders, and also to ensure stability of the country. Invariably, all of them have intelligence agencies, however, CIA, KGB, RAW, ISI, Mosad and few others are well known in the world. The primary function of such agencies is to watch the country’s interest by keeping an eye on the enemy agencies and subversive elements that are out to harm the country. And Pakistan is no exception. It is unfortunate that the opposition parties in Pakistan have also been blaming that ISI was instrumental in destabilizing the elected governments and political parties, but once in power the same party looked forward to benefiting from the ‘services’ rendered by the ISI. Bhutto government in 1970s was reportedly the trendsetter in using the agencies to settle score with the opposition. During military dispensations, the ISI’s role is understandable but elected governments had also not weaned away from the habit of utilizing the agencies to its advantage.
The US and the West especially Britain should have known the history of Afghanistan better because it had the bitter experience of having setbacks due to the terrain and the brave people. After withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan, most of the foreign volunteers who had gone to Afghanistan must have realized that they are capable of doing with the US what they have done to the Russians. Once the Taleban, took power in Afghanistan in 1996, Al-Qaeda moved its bases there because of the suitable terrain for their activities, and began planning the attacks that ‘tricked’ the United States into invading the country. Some American officials and Afghan officials then held the view that cross border raids into eastern Afghanistan had increased manifold after a peace accord was signed between Pakistan government and tribal elders in Waziristan.
According to western analysts, the increase in insurgency was due to widespread corruption of Afghan officials, cabinet members, warlords and Northern Alliance elements, as people in general were getting a raw deal from them. Furthermore there is widespread frustration due to unemployment and abject poverty. There is yet another cogent reason for worsening of the situation in Afghanistan, which is being totally ignored vis-à-vis Pashtuns were not adequately represented in the government. It is true that UN-forces backed by the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Uzbeks and mostly other non-Pushtuns had overthrown the Taliban in 2001 following the September 11 attacks on the US, and by virtue of being allies, they all were to share power. But those warlords were not acceptable to the majority of the people in Afghanistan.
Anyhow, president-elect Barack Obama has vowed to withdraw forces from Iraq and put more boots in Afghanistan. To justify this decision, the US generals say that Al Qaeda has changed its strategy and it operatives are shifting to Pakistan. On Wednesday, an American General has said that attacks on the US and the western countries would be made from Pakistan and Afghanistan. But nobody comments as to who will ‘transport’ Al Qaeda operatives to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and what will be the route – by road, by sea or by air. Pakistani leadership has to ponder over this critical situation and put their heads together to face these challenges.
Pakistani politicians had also started criticizing the ISI on the grounds that it has the political wing, and that it should be placed under Intelligence Bureau. However, the COAS had already declared that this premier agency will focus on national security, protection of strategic assets of the country and help the government by providing intelligence to enable it to formulate policies.
'The Moderate Islamist'
By David Solway, November 28, 2008
The counsels of our Islamic-appeasing intellectuals today may be summarized in the career of Alistair Crooke, founder of the Conflicts Forum and formerly a special adviser to EU envoy Javier Solana. In the London Review of Books (Vol. 29, No. 13), Crooke self-assuredly asserts that the hard-line approach to Islamism, along with the refusal to countenance the more amenable elements in the Muslim world, is “opening a space, not for moderate pro-Western secularists…but for those who believe that to build a new society you must first burn down the old one.”
For Crooke, it seems the Arab world is crawling with pro-Western secularists just waiting for the opportunity to construct open, liberal democracies, confine the influence of the Koran to the mosque and the private sphere, recognize Israel’s right to exist within secure and defensible borders and neutralize the family compact paradigm that has governed the Muslim world from the beginning of its recorded history. Like so many others on the “rational Left,” Crooke is dreaming in jihadi-colour.
No longer content to postulate a frivolous separation between “extremists” and “moderates,” Crooke and those like him have now come up with a super subtle distinction between “Islamism” and those “moderate Islamist movements” such as—wait for it—Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Anyone who has troubled to scan the charters of these organizations and follow their actions in a real-world setting would be right to wonder what planet the Crookes and Solanas et al. of the diplomatic Left are living on—a planet on which exotic beings like moderate extremists are part of the natural fauna. But we must have our nursery icons: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and the moderate extremist.
Be that as it may, a “moderate Islamist movement,” the home of Crooke’s “thoughtful Islamist,” is an oxymoron that exists nowhere but in the fevered imagination of the professional negotiator, the political partisan and the ever-compliant media. For example, in a June 25, 2007 release, the BBC informs us that Hamas “espouse[s] a more moderate brand of Islamist politics” than al-Qaeda. This is like saying it’s better to be killed with a gun than a bomb. Moreover, the broadcaster insists that Hamas has “always shunned al-Qaeda’s advances.” He is obviously ignorant of the famous poster showing Hamas’ spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin posing beside Osama bin Laden, of Sheikh Abd al-Majid al-Zindani, a bin Laden operative, addressing a Hamas fundraiser in March 2006, and of the mounting evidence that the 2003 attack on Mike’s Place bar in Tel Aviv, carried out by suicide bombers holding British passports, was a joint al-Qaeda/Hamas operation—the two British-Muslim terrorists were members of the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic Al Muhajiroun and were hosted by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Logically speaking, what can the term “moderate Islamist” actually mean? Is there such a thing as a “moderate” Nazi, a “moderate” fascist, a “moderate” Bolshevik? If a “moderate” is one who continues to insist on the necessity of destroying Israel, coddling a nuclear Iran and pursuing the war against the West, what then is an “extremist”?
The diplomatic appeasement of the radical terrorist will only allow them to regroup, to prepare for further hostilities, to strengthen their military hand and to extend their reach far into the future, as happened precisely in 1936 when a British-brokered détente permitted the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem to gather his forces and unleash even more havoc in the region.
But Crooke and his fellow oracles are not to be deflected by reality: from their perspective, the West and especially the U.S. are responsible for the breakdown of order in Gaza by refusing to deal with Hamas; the unprovoked attack on Israel by Hizbullah in summer 2006 plainly had nothing to do with Iranian strategy but was really a “U.S.-backed war to destroy Hizbullah in Lebanon”; Western policy is alienating and radicalizing the as-yet uncommitted Muslim world; and the “domestic Israel lobby” in the U.S. continues to pursue its sinister intent toward abetting Israel’s “hegemonic ambitions.” The highlight reel hooey of such convictions might be almost entertaining if it did not cut the sinews of our preparedness.
Crooke, like many others, welcomes with unseemly warmth the Arab-Palestinian argument for a bi-national state as the only viable solution to the conflict in the Holy Land—in other words, the end of Israel as we know it—and blithely accepts the accusation that Israel has “salami-sliced” the West Bank with its “army posts, military zones, fences and Israeli-only roads”—the familiar anti-checkpoint argument that pretends there is no such creature as a Palestinian suicide bomber on his way to butcher as many Israeli civilians as a thoughtful Islamist can possibly take with him.
Whether they are simple-minded innocents or shrewd manipulators, Crooke and his ilk have cause and effect reversed: the checkpoints do not foment terrorism; terrorism created the need for checkpoints, as anyone with a brain in his head can see. No sooner had the checkpoint at the Ariel Junction—the scene of several drive-by shootings and suicide bombings in the past—been lifted than a shooting attack on Israeli civilians followed. Nor did terrorists take long to strike when the checkpoint at the Shuafat crossing in northern Jerusalem was dismantled; 20-year-old Rami Zoari was shot and died of her wounds shortly after.
Furthermore, Crooke’s reliance on UN maps and documents—the Monopoly money of today’s intellectual currency—to make his case is evidence of either credulity or bad faith. Crooke is also unwilling to admit what both the Israeli and Palestinian administrations know, that it is Israel with its checkpoints, intelligence services and anti-terrorist raids which keeps the weak and beleaguered Fatah regime from toppling as a victim to Hamas insurgency. Nor does he question the fact that some sixty years after the UN partition plan paved the way for the creation of the Jewish state, Israel remains unrepresented on maps and globes in Arab countries—a Fatah anniversary poster portrays the area where Israel should be screened by a portrait of Yasser Arafat, a keffiyeh and a rifle.
That he quotes favourably Hizbullah terror chieftain Hassan Nasrallah clearly reveals where Crooke’s real sympathies lie. How he might countenance the civil unrest, amounting to a mini-civil war, unleashed by Hizbullah in the streets of Beirut and in other parts of the country in May 2008, or parry the observation of Lebanese political analyst Antoine Basbous (Liberation 9, 2008) that Lebanon has been earmarked by Iran as the “scene of operations, a land of Jihad [where] imperialism and Zionism need to be defeated,” must remain in the realm of the ineffable.
Crooke would also have to embark on some difficult manoeuvring to explain Hizbullah’s violation of the 1989 Taif agreement, which provided for the disarmament of the various competing militias. For although Hizbullah was renamed as a “resistance force” against an external foe in order to evade the terms of the proscription, its armed involvement in an internal conflict has put it in clear breach of the entente. “Even the Israeli enemy didn’t dare do in Beirut what Hizbullah has done,” said Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora. But Crooke would surely find a way to exonerate one of his favourite terror groups. And Israel would doubtlessly figure as scapegoat.
Apologists like Crooke, to borrow the title of Aaron Klein’s new book, are only Schmoozing with Terrorists—and not to gather information, as did Klein, but in mindless sympathy with their aims. Unfortunately, the malediction of Isaiah does not seem to operate in the their world: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness…” Thanks to professional appeasers like Alistair Crooke, this inversion has now become standard procedure.
All of which makes me think of the old light bulb joke formula, of which I offer a concluding variant. How many Islamists does it take to change a light bulb? None, we do it for them.
Malaysia to pull peace mission out of Philippines
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Malaysia will withdraw all its peacekeepers from the southern Philippines this month, the foreign minister said Thursday, signalling frustration with stalled talks between Manila and Muslim rebels.
Malaysia began withdrawing 40 cease-fire monitors from violence-scarred Mindanao Island in April because of a lack of progress in peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Manila suspended the talks altogether in August after three guerrilla commanders went on a bloody rampage, killing dozens in predominantly Christian communities.
The 12 Malaysians still working with the cease-fire monitoring team will pull out when the current peacekeeping mandate ends Nov. 30, Foreign Minister Rais Yatim said in a statement. The team also includes military and non-military personnel from Brunei, Libya and Japan.
"Malaysia is prepared to consider its future participation ... when there is progress in the peace process and a formal request is made" by both sides, Rais said.
"Malaysia remains supportive of the peace process," he said.
The statement did not say whether Malaysia will continue to broker peace talks between the Philippine government and the Muslim insurgents, who have been battling for decades for self-rule in the south of the predominantly Roman Catholic country.
The peacekeeping team has been credited with easing violent clashes. Under a 2003 cease-fire, clashes have dropped from up to 700 a year to 15 last year.
Philippine peace process adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said his government formally appealed to Malaysia on Tuesday to extend the monitors' mandate.
However, Philippine armed forces Chief Gen. Alexander Yano said he did not think the Malaysian withdrawal would have "any substantial effect" because the government and the rebels were cooperating in a committee aimed at reviving the cease-fire.
Rebel chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said his group was not recommending an extension of the Malaysian peacekeepers' mandate, and accused Manila of neglecting the monitors.
Islamic justice, British style
ELAINE SCIOLINO, November 27th, 2008
London – The woman in black wanted an Islamic divorce. She told the religious judge that her husband hit her, cursed her and wanted her dead.
But her husband was opposed, and the Islamic scholar adjudicating the case seemed determined to keep the couple together. So, sensing defeat, she brought out her secret weapon: her father.
In walked a bearded man in long robes, who described his son-in-law as a hot-tempered man who had duped his daughter, evaded the police and humiliated his family.
The judge promptly reversed himself and recommended divorce.
This is Islamic justice, British style. Despite a raucous national debate over the limits of religious tolerance and the pre-eminence of British law, the tenets of Shariah, or Islamic law, are increasingly being applied to everyday life in cities across the country.
The Church of England has its own ecclesiastical courts. British Jews have had their own “Beth din” courts for more than a century.
But ever since the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, called in February for aspects of Islamic Shariah to be embraced alongside the traditional legal system, the government has been grappling with a public furore over the issue, assuaging critics while trying to reassure a wary and at times disaffected Muslim population that its traditions have a place in British society.
Boxed between the sides, the government has taken a stance both cautious and confusing, a sign of how volatile almost any discussion of the role of Britain’s nearly 2 million Muslims can become.
“There is nothing whatever in English law that prevents people abiding by Shariah principles if they wish to, provided they do not come into conflict with English law,” Justice Minister Jack Straw said in October. But he added that British law would “always remain supreme.”
PROCEEDINGS ARE SECRETIVE
Conservatives and liberals alike – many of them unaware that the Islamic courts had been functioning at all, much less for years – have repeatedly denounced the courts as poor substitutes for British jurisprudence. They argue that the Islamic tribunals’ proceedings are secretive, with no accountability and no standards for judges’ training or decisions.
Critics also point to cases of domestic violence in which Islamic scholars have tried to keep marriages together by ordering husbands to take classes in anger management, leaving the wives so intimidated that they have withdrawn their complaints from the police.
“They’re hostages to fortune,” said Parvin Ali, founding director of the Fatima Women’s Network, a women’s help group based in Leicester. Speaking of the courts, she said, “There is no outside monitoring, no protection, no records kept, no guarantee that justice will prevail.”
But as the uproar continues, the popularity of the courts among Muslims has blossomed.
Some of the informal councils, as the courts are known, have been giving advice and handing down judgments to Muslims for more than two decades. Yet the councils have expanded significantly in number and prominence in recent years, with some Islamic scholars reporting a 50 percent increase in cases since 2005.
Almost all of the cases involve women asking for divorce, and through word of mouth and an ambitious use of the Internet, courts like the small, unadorned building in London where the father stepped in to plead his daughter’s case have become magnets for Muslim women seeking to escape loveless marriages – not only from Britain but sometimes also from Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands or Germany.
Other cases involve disputes over property, labour, inheritances and physical injury. The tribunals stay away from criminal cases that might call for the imposition of punishments like stoning.
Most of the courts’ judgments have no standing under British civil law. But for the parties who come before them, the courts offer something more important: the imprimatur of Allah.
“We do not want to give the impression that Muslims are an isolated community seeking a separate legal system in this country,” said Dr. Shahid Raza, who adjudicates disputes from an Islamic center in the West London suburb of Ealing. “We are not asking for criminal Shariah law – chopping of hands or stoning to death. Ninety-nine percent of our cases are divorce cases in which women are seeking relief. We are helping women. We are doing a service.”
Still, there is ample room for clashes with British custom. Three months ago, for example, a wealthy Bangladeshi family asked Raza’s council to resolve an inheritance dispute. It was resolved according to Shariah, he said. That meant the male heirs received twice as much as the female heirs.
Courts in the U.S. have endorsed Islamic and other religious tribunals, as in 2003, when a Texas appeals court referred a divorce case to a local council called the Texas Islamic Court.
But Shariah has been rejected in the West as well.
The Canadian province of Ontario had allowed rabbinical courts and Christian courts to resolve some civil and family disputes with binding rulings under a 1991 law. But when the Islamic Institute on Civil Justice there tried to create a Shariah court, it was attacked as a violation of the rights of Muslim women.
BETH DIN COURTS
In Britain, Beth din courts do not decide whether a Jewish couple’s marriage should end. They simply put their stamp of approval on the dissolution of the marriage when both parties agree to it. The Beth din also adheres to the rules of Britain’s 1996 Arbitration Act and can function as an official court of arbitration in the consensual resolution of other civil disputes, like business conflicts.
“People often come to us for reasons of speed, cost and secrecy,” said David Frei, registrar of the London Beth Din.
In Britain’s Islamic councils, however, if a wife wants a divorce and the husband doesn’t, the Shariah court can grant her unilateral request to dissolve the marriage.
Most Shariah councils do not recognize the Arbitration Act, although Straw has been pushing them in recent months to do so. The main reason for their opposition is that they do not want the state involved in what they consider to be matters of religion.
In London, Dr. Suhaib Hasan’s “courtroom” is a sparsely furnished office of the Islamic Sharia Council in Leyton, a working-class neighbourhood in the eastern corner of the city. There are no lawyers or court stenographer, no recording device or computer, so Hasan takes partial notes in longhand.
“Please, will you give him another chance?” he asked the woman in black who was seeking divorce – that is, before she brought in the weighty voice of her father.
“No, no!” the woman, a 24-year-old employment consultant who had come seeking justice from 200 miles away, replied. “I gave him too many chances. He is an evil, evil man.”
“I’ll give you one month’s time to try to reconcile,” Hasan ruled.
Then her father tipped the scales.
“He was not a cucumber that we could cut open to know that he was rotten inside,” the father testified. “The only solution is divorce.”
Apparently convinced, Hasan said he would recommend divorce at the London Central Mosque, where he and several other religious scholars meet once a month to give final approval to cases like this.
Hasan, a silver-bearded, Saudi-educated scholar of Pakistani origin, handles the Pakistani community; an Egyptian ministers to the ethnic Arab community, while a Bangladeshi and a Somali work with their own communities. The council in Leyton is one of the oldest and largest courts in the country. It has been quietly resolving disputes since 1982 and has dealt with more than 7,000 divorces.
‘YOU HAVE TO FORGIVE’
Under some interpretations of Islamic law, a woman needs the blessing of a scholar of Islamic jurisprudence to be divorced; while a man can simply say three times that he is divorcing his wife.
Hasan counsels women that they must have their civil marriages dissolved in the British civil system.
“We always try to keep the marriages together, especially when there are children,” said Hasan’s wife, Shakila Qurashi, who works as an unofficial counsellor for women.
If the husband beats her, she should go to the police and have a divorce, Qurashi said. “But if he’s slapped her only once or something like that,” she said, “and he admits he has made a mistake and promised not to do it again, then we say, ‘You have to forgive.’”
One recent afternoon, the waiting room was full of women and their family members.
A Pakistan-born, 33-year-old mother of five explained that her husband would beat her and her children. “He threatens to kill us,” she said, as her daughter translated from Urdu. “He calls me a Jew and an infidel.” Hasan told her to get police protection and request an Islamic divorce.
Another 25-year-old woman wanted out of a two-year-old arranged marriage with a man who refused to consummate the relationship.
Hasan counselled dialogue. “Until we see the husband,” he said, “we can’t be sure that what you’re saying is true.”