Review of Iranian Jews' financial situation by Doron Peskin
Iranian Leader Khamenei warns against Muslim discord
Insha Allah? The Islamization of Europe: Filip Dewinter
Egypt: Youssef Ziedan’s new novel, “Beelzebub,” has shocked the Coptic community
Islam in the Horn of Africa by Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi
Russia Accused of Backing Mistreatment of Muslims
Bin Laden blasts ‘moderate’ Arab states over Gaza war by Liam Stack
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Why 20, 000 Iranian Jews' don’t want to leave Iran?
Jewish community in Iran is biggest in Middle East outside Israel, with some 20,000 people. Although Jews enjoy average standard of living compared to rest of population, like other religious minorities they suffer from discrimination. Nevertheless, they don’t want to leave
Doron Peskin, March 16, 2008
The Jewish community in Iran is the biggest in the Middle East outside Israel, with some 20,000 people – compared to about 80,000 before the Khomeini revolution.
This is one of the most ancient communities, with a history that goes some 3,000 years back. The Jewish community in Iran is concentrated in three cities – Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz.
Like other minorities in Iran, the Jewish also suffer from discrimination, which is particularly noticeable in the economic area. The Iranian regime does not allow foreign elements free access to the Jewish community, making its economic situation difficult to analyze based on proven figures.
However, according to most of the information accumulated in the past few years, it appears that the majority of the Jewish community enjoys an average standard of living compared to the rest of the Iranian population.
The recent years have seen a drop in the average Iranian citizen's standard of living, despite the considerable increase in the revenues from oil. The high inflation the Iranian economy is suffering from has not skipped the Jewish community members.
Governmental clerical work – off limits
A significant number of the Jewish community members in Iran are independent, operating small businesses in the trade and retail fields. This is, among other things, a result of the fact that the Ayatollahs regime prevents the Jews from obtaining senior posts in government ministries, in commissioned ranks (Jews are drafted by the army just like the rest of Iran's citizens), in the legal system and in the education system.
Some of the Jews are employed by governmental bodies or state-owned companies, but their chances of being promoted to senior management posts are very small.
In general, the Jews' level of integration in the Muslim population, including in the economic field, is lower today than before the revolution.
In addition, despite public declarations on religious equality and a religious decree on the matter issued by Imam Khomeini, the Iranian law stresses the supremacy of Islam in different economy-related fields.
In inheritance laws, for instance, if a member of a Jewish family converts to Islam he is entitled to the entire heritage if the rest of his siblings remain Jewish.
Another example in this context refers to murder cases and compensating the victim's family. In such cases Iran acts in accordance with Islamic law and the principle of "money for the blood." In other words, the victim's family can leave the murderer free of punishment in exchange for compensation from him or his family. In today's Iran, the compensation given to a Jewish family in such a case totals 10% of the compensation given to the family of a Muslim victim.
Raising funds on internet
The Jewish community in Iran has adapted to the electronic era, and a special website helps the community raise funds to fulfil its needs. Donors from abroad, led by wealthy Iranian Jews who emigrated after the revolution, infuse millions of dollars every year to the community for charity purposes.
The donations funds help operate Iran's 30 synagogues and the Jewish hospital in Tehran. Incidentally, this hospital is considered a particularly good medical centre in the Iranian capital and nearly 95% of its patients today are Muslims. Part of the medical staff is Jewish, and its entire budget is based on donations.
Recently, the hospital's offices even received a direct donation from the office of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. However, as opposed to the hospital, Iran refrains from providing financial aid to the Islamic republic's Hebrew schools.
Ahmadinejad's Jewish roots
Several weeks ago, the Iranian president was slammed for allegedly hiding his Jewish roots. Mahdi Khazali, the son of one of the most prominent Muslim clerics in Iran, published a special article on the republic's Jewish community on his blog. In the article, he wrote that the Iranian president was a descendant of the Jewish Saborjian family from the village of Aradan.
Khazali said that the president's harsh attacks on the Jews, Zionism and Israel were aimed at covering his origin. He stated that the president's Jewish family changed its name to Ahmadinejad in order to hide its Jewishness and help its sons pave their way in the Iranian society.
The correct fact in this story is that Ahmadinejad did change his surname, and according to his relatives this was done for "religious and financial reasons."
Even if they claim is wrong, it appears to point to the current situation in the Iranian society, in which Jews are limited in terms of their economic chances due to their religion.
Financial incentives unhelpful to emigration
Iranian Jews' emigration levels in the past few years are tiny. This may be the result of their fear of the authorities' attitude towards those left behind, or the fact that the Jewish community in the country is growing old and prefers what it has in Tehran over the unknown in Israel.
In any event, the financial incentives initiated by the State of Israel and offered to Iranian Jews by organizations abroad in order to emigrate have been publicly rejected by the community heads.
At the time, the community leaders issued a harsh statement expressing their discontent with the thought that "their nationality can be negotiated".
This statement may have been dictated by the Iranian regime, but statistical figures show that between the end of 2005 and the end of 2006 only 200 Jews agreed to emigrate from Iran in return for those same generous incentives.
Those who emigrated stated that their main reason for leaving Iran was the poor economic situation they suffered from rather than the political situation.
The good ol' Shah days
The Jewish community in Iran did not experience economic distress during the Shah's days. Before the Khomeini revolution Jews were considered the leading businessmen in Iran, and were part of the business elite. Jews held key positions in the oil and banking industry and in the legal system.
The Iranian Jews' financial and social situation improved under the Pahlavi dynasty's reforms from the 1920s. The Jews were not restricted in their freedom of occupation choice, and the protection fee they were forced to pay was cancelled.
In addition, the ghettos in which the Jews lived before the Shah rose to power began to disappear. In Shiraz, the historic centre of Jewish life in Iran, only 25% of the Jews continued to live in the Jewish neighbourhood (ghetto) as of 1977.
The Jews rushed to integrate in the Iranian society and channel the opportunity given to them to the economic field as well. In the 1930s and 1940s, the Jews established themselves as Iran's leading carpet merchants.
Due to the increased demand for Persian rugs in Europe, the Jewish merchants went on regular trips to the leading capitals in the European continent and expanded their commercial ties there. As opposed to the European authorities, the Pahlavi regime protected the Jews in the 1930s and 1940s.
In the 1950s Tehran thrived, and the immigration of Jews to the Islamic republic grew stronger. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Persian rug exports industry was controlled by Jewish-owned companies. The market had seven or eight companies with an export volume of $75-80 million, and two times more companies whose volume of sales abroad was estimated at $25-45 million a year.
In 1960 the Shad established full diplomatic ties with Israel. The commerce between the two countries was quickly expanded, and delegations of Israeli businesspeople visited Iran often. Israeli companies even won bids for Iranian projects, but this ended all at once in 1979.
Immediately after the revolution, the Jewish community was terrorized. The most famous incident was related to one of the community's wealthiest members and a local philanthropist, who was hanged immediately after the revolution after being accused of "having ties with the traitors and the nation's enemies".
Dozens of the Jewish community members were executed later on suspicion of "economic corruption". Simultaneously, the private property of many Jewish businessmen was confiscated, prompting the wealthy people among them to emigrate.
Doron Peskin is head of research at Info-Prod Research (Middle East) Ltd.
Iranian Leader Khamenei warns against Muslim discord
Mar 15, 2009
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution urges political, religious and intellectual leaders of Muslim countries to promote unity and fight discord.
"It is upon the religious scholars and other influential figures in the Muslim world to enlighten people about those attempting to sow discord among Muslims," Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said Sunday.
The Leader stressed the importance of strengthening unity between Shia and Sunni Muslims, saying, "Unity against discord can lead to the resolution of the many woes gripping the Muslim world."
Ayatollah Khamenei urged Muslims to remain vigilant at all times and not to fall for the plots hatched by the enemies of Islam and arrogant powers.
The Leader touched upon the victory of resistance movements in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip against Israel, "After the victories achieved by Lebanese and Palestinian youths against the well-equipped Israeli army, the enemy attempted to pit Shia and Sunnis against one another in Lebanon and to cause a rift between Palestinians by bringing up the issue of ethnicity."
"The Palestinian issue transcends ethnicity," said the Leader, adding that emphasizing on ethnicity is one factor which is always bound to result in discord.
The remarks come as reports suggest Israel is seeking to persuade the Arab world's Sunni governments to rise against Iran. Tel Aviv describes Tehran as a threat to its existence.
Egypt: Youssef Ziedan’s new novel, “Beelzebub,” has shocked the Coptic community
Youssef_ziedan “Cut evil tongues; throw them with their sins into the sea. ... Know that our God, Jesus Christ, was addressing us, His children in all times, when He said: I did not come to bring peace to earth but a sword.”
With this incendiary sermon in his latest novel, Youssef Ziedan drew a portrait of St. Cyril, one of the 5th century's canonized popes of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. By projecting the image of a pope resistant to theological debate, and by shedding light on what the author contended were concealed moments of violence in the early centuries of the Coptic Church, Ziedan’s new novel, “Beelzebub,” has shocked the Coptic community. At first glance, some might conclude the novel targets the church exclusively. A deeper read, however, exposes a controversial Muslim author with strikingly unconventional views on monotheistic religions in a society steeped in religious conservatism.
Ziedan, in an interview in Alexandria, said in a defiant tone that his work aimed at challenging the monopoly claimed by different religious institutions over the truth of faith and history. “I don’t deconstruct the text, but I re-examine the religious institution and religious heritage,” said Ziedan. “I analyze religious knowledge and consciousness.”
Yet, this is not the crux of Ziedan’s views. His critique goes beyond the role of religious institutions to the essence of monotheistic religions: “The substance is the same; it is based on the superiority of oneself over others under the pretext of possessing a god who owns the truth. This element of superiority is the same in all three religions, which gives rise to violence. As long as religions last, violence will persist. ”
Azazel_cover The novel features a 5th century Egyptian monk in Alexandria and delves into the history of divisions among fathers of the church over the nature of Christ. The work sympathizes with sects that challenged the divine nature of Christ, and it quickly ignited fury within the Coptic Church, which has about 10 million followers in Egypt.
The book was dismissed by the church as the Arabic version of "The Da Vinci Code" and as an attempt to interfere with the internal affairs of the Coptic Church and destroy the Christian faith.
Aside from the church, some lay Copts decided to take the author to court in an attempt to ban the novel. The controversy has been good for sales. In almost a year, the book went into its fourth printing -- quite a breakthrough by Egyptian standards. The book also drew the attention of many literary critics at home and abroad. It recently has been short-listed for an International Prize for Arabic Fiction, co-managed by the Booker Prize foundation in London. The winner is expected to be announced Monday (March 16).
Ziedan, an Islamic philosophy scholar who introduces himself as a Sufi thinker, has written more than 30 books. He serves as the director of manuscripts and acquisitions at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. "Beelzebub," published in January 2008, is his second work of historical fiction. His first, “Shadow of the Serpent,” came out in 2006 and glorified prehistoric pagan civilizations over Semitic monotheistic ones.
His new novel’s title is imbued with connotations that might be perceived as seriously dangerous by any religious leader. Unlike in classical religious thought, Beelzebub (Satan) is not cursed as the voice of evil but implicitly hailed as the voice of human reason, which pushes the protagonist throughout the novel to question the universe around him. It is the voice of doubt, passion, rebellion, instinct and intuition. In a nutshell, Ziedan argued that Beelzebub is the reflection of real human nature rather than the “puritanical” Utopian version promoted by religion.
“Beelzebub is the isolated part of the human being,” said Ziedan. “This part or this real human being has been obscured by religious structures. Religion provides us with a puritanical dream, which can never be realized because it goes against human nature.”
Ziedan is taking great risk in espousing such an outlook in this society. The 51-year-old author likely has earned enemies besides the church. There are known instances when Egyptian intellectuals who challenged religious dogmas were killed, faced assassination attempts or became mired in legal chases by Islamic fundamentalists.
'Insha'Allah? The Islamization of Europe
March 15, 2009
A couple of weeks ago Filip Dewinter was interviewed on Flemish TV show Terzake on occasion of his new book: 'Insha'Allah? The Islamization of Europe'. I wrote about the interview and planned to post a subtitled version, but never got around to it. For now, here's a translated transcript. Big thanks to Snouck for helping me with it
[This segment was preceded by past quotes from Dewinter, one of which spoke about 'our Europe']
Interviewer: Is there a place for Muslims in our Europe, Mr. Dewinter?
Dewinter: For Muslims there's certainly place in Europe, but the question is whether there's a place for Islam, for radical Islam. Let me put this straight, in this book I argue that, this book is not against the Muslims who live here as far as they respect our law, norms, values and way of life. This book is against the political ideology that Islam is, ultimately. And that's a big difference.
Interviewer: And how do you make the distinction?
Dewinter: I'm convinced that this book is clear. This book is a warning, is a call against the establishment of Islamization. Right now there's more than 20 million Muslims living in Western Europe, 50 million -
Interviewer: But you make the distinction?
Dewinter: But I make the distinction, naturally I make the distinction. And I think that this book is meant for all Muslims who don't agree with Islam. The moderate Muslims are those who don't want to bring to this place the radical interpretation of the Islam, or have the possibility to distance themselves from their own religion, and who really integrate into our European society.
Interviewer: For Muslim to integrate, Muslims must swear off Islam?
Dewinter: There are many moderate Muslims, but what is a moderate Muslim, who adapts Islam moderately, who knows Islam moderately. That doesn't yet mean that what I call the cultural Muslims are the true representatives of Islam. They are really not relevant, they are many but they're not relevant, because the radicals have the structures and mosques in their hands.
Interviewer: But the moderate Muslims, don't they also go to the mosque?
Dewinter: Some yes, some no, just like there are many Christians who -
Interviewer: Moderate Muslims can be greatly insulted by being described as a predator.
Dewinter: I'm a European. And that means that I respect freedom of religion. But that doesn't mean that I must think that Islam as a religion belongs here. Islam is a religion which is diametrically opposed to our values and norms: freedom of expression, separation of church and state, equality of men and women
Interviewer: And that it doesn't belong here will insult people
Dewinter: What somebody wants to cultivate in his head as religion, I have no issue with that. It's different when it comes to the rise of Islam. But in Europe this is a sacred right, I don't just say no to Islam, then, I only say no to Islam's structures which are newly expanded here in Europe, they don't belong here. Freedom of speech and also of religion should be respected and remain so.
Interviewer: This distinction is not clear in your book, when I read your book, it sounds like, as we saw in the report, like 20 years ago.
Dewinter: Madam, I think that Vlaams Belang made it clear that it has moved to the center on some of its positions and that also remains so. This is a nuanced book, in 250 pages I try to make an analysis, political analysis. When I say in the book that Islam is a predator, I mean by that that a predator attacks the weakest prey, and Europe is the old enemy of Islam, it was overrun twice by Islam, and that's happening for the third time
Interviewer: And you make a distinction between Islam and the Muslims? You may understand that they will take this personally.
Dewinter: The reason I say that Europe is the weakest prey, for relevant demographic reasons, for relevant politics, for the fact that we aren't daring and able to be proud of our own history, of our own history, and I say that's weak, for relevant multicultural reasons.
Interviewer: And this book is your own personal initiative or by assignment of your party?
Dewinter: This is a book that I wrote, as Filip Dewinter, I had our party administration read it, but this is a book of Filip Dewinter, to make it clear. It expresses points of view, which are quasi-identical with the standpoints of the party, but the book is written by me ...
Interviewer: Is it meant for the elections?
Dewinter: This is of course written at a moment when debate should be conducted. In these elections, this debate should certainly be conducted.
Interviewer: Yes, but people aren't concerned by other things, such as work-security, low income?
Dewinter: Absolutely, Madam. They are also concerned with other things besides immigration problems, with the Islamization problem, but I think that this has to do with everything else on the table. Right now, every year 75,000 new foreigners come into our country. If our country has 600,000 Muslims, if there are 20 million Muslims in Western Europe, then I can only conclude that Flemish jobs don't always go to Flemish workers. That European jobs don't always go to European workers. But very often to Islamic foreigners.
Interviewer: You think you will win the elections with that subject?
Dewinter: Madam, I don't only think about political issues, and about who wins the elections. I've been busy with this book for over a year and half and I'm publishing it now, clearly the debate should be on the order of the day and conducted also in these upcoming elections
Interviewer: Maybe you also have another subject matter than the core business of identity and Flemish nationalism, for example, which are taken over by other parties?
Dewinter: Yes, Madam, we have other subjects, but when I speak of other subjects, like recently happened about Flemish companies in Flemish hands, nobody in the media was interested. When I write a book about Islamization, I go from one studio to a newspaper interview. That says more about the media, than about myself.
Interviewer: Lijst Dedecker is breathing down your neck?
Dewinter: I think that Vlaams Belang is the original, and the original is always more in demand than the surrogate - may I finish? - it's original in the way it presents itself, and this book, among other, there will be more initiatives in this campaign, will make the profile of Vlaams Belang clear. It brings up the issues on which we have a monopoly. Islamization, immigration is our monopoly. If only for the reason that Dedecker says, I'm for open immigration, says Dedecker, I'm against immigration, on the contrary.
Interviewer: In the Flemish elections your party has 24.15% in the polls, how many do you expect to get?
Dewinter: As many as possible, Madam. As many as possible. The numbers should go up. I haven't read polls but as I have no crystal ball so I do not know the answer, but as many as possible and I hope that our party has new successes and this book is one of our clearly profiled and note the language of the man in the street, because certainly that's what the man in the street thinks.
Interviewer: Thank you.
Islam in the Horn of Africa
By Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi
Presently, Islam is the most widely practiced religion in the Horn of Africa, including Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Eritrea. Some of today’s Muslims in the region had their ancestors converted from Christianity and others had theirs migrated from the Arab peninsula. Ethnically, these Muslims belong to different tribes, such as Somalis, Oromo, Afar, and others and they mainly speak Cushitic Language.
Today, Somalia and Djibouti are predominantly Muslim and Ethiopia has about 40 percent and Eritrea 50 Percent Muslim Population. In Eritrea most Muslims belong to Jabarti tribe and many of them are descendants of Arab tribes. Some major Somali tribes have Arab roots like Isaaq, of Iraqi roots, and Darod, of Yemeni roots. The region had historical trade and economic relations with Arabs in the gulf including Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman in addition UAE.
History of Islam in the region
Islamic history reveals the first Muslim immigration by Sahaba (apostles) of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to Ethiopia to save their religion from “Idol worshipers” in Makka of Arab decedents on 615 AD. Sahaba were forced to leave their homes in Makka due to pressure and killing by the Arabs of Makka.
The King of Abyssinian (Habash) Nagashi welcomed the Sahaba to his kingdom and permitted them to teach and preach their religion in Habash. Even, Nagashi turned down the request of Arab delegate from Makka who demanded extradition of the Sahaba. Some Ethiopians embraced Islam at the hands of the Sahaba who stayed in Habash many years until Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) asked them to come back to their homeland. The spreading of Islam stopped for a while after Sahaba returned to Makka.
Islamic History says first Islamic Funeral prayer in absentee was performed by Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) from Madina on body of Nagashi (The King of Abyssinia) after his death in Harare City, Ethiopia.
Islam entered Ethiopia as primary believe in the 16th Century by Arab traders and preachers, which led 65% of Ethiopians to embrace Islam. This created fear in the Ethiopian Church who later considered the Muslims as the principal threat to their existence.
In 16th and beginning of 17th Century, Islamic State of ADAL was announced by Somalis and Arabs led by Warrior Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Ghazi duped Ahmed Guray (the left-handed) by the Somalis. Ahmed Guray (Ahmed Gran in Ethiopia), who was an Arab, led full-scale war against Abyssinia and defeated them. Ahmed Guray army captured more than 50% of Ethiopian highlands, which accelerated the number of Ethiopians embracing Islam. Ahmed Guray received support from the Ottoman Emperor (Turkey) and King Saeed Barqash of Sultanate of Oman.
The bad feeling of Ethiopian Church towards Muslims increased very sharply, and after they failed to stop Ahmed Guray and his army; they appealed to Portugal for support. Ahmed Guray continued a chain of victories against the Abyssinian army for about two decades. Ahmed Guray was killed during a fighting with Portuguese forces that arrived to support Ethiopia. The widow of Ahmed Guray, called Bati Del Wambara overtook the leadership of ADAL kingdom and continued to wage war against Christian Ethiopia.
ADAL’s headquarter was located in the town Zayla, the coast town connecting between Djibouti and Somaliland. ADAL collapsed awhile after the death of Ahmed Guray. This gave the Ethiopians the chance to recapture back the land they lost to ADAL without resistance.
Also, Arabs preached Islam in neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania. The King of Oman Saeed founded strong bases in the coast areas including Mombasa, Kenya and Zanzibar of Tanzania. Somalis are part of 30% of Kenyan Muslims mainly in the Northern Regions and Coast Areas. In Tanzania the Muslims form 50% of the population.
Islam and Somalis:
Somali, the name is derived from the Somali word (Soo Maal), which means milking the livestock. Somali is basically a Cushitic language spoken in many countries including Somalia, Ethiopian, Djibouti and Kenya as primary and official languages. Somali speaking population is about 10 million.
Somalia is the only country in the world that is 100% Muslim. Somalia Muslims are all Sunnis who practice the Shaafi faith. The people living in Somalia speak Somali and Arabic in addition to Rahanwayn language in the south of Somalia.
There are about four major tribes in Somalia including Hawiye, Isaaq, Darod and Rahanwayn. Isaac, Darod and Hawiye have Arabian roots, where Darod are the children of Darod Ismail Jabarti, who was from southern Yemen, Isaac are the children of Sheikh Isaaq bin Ahmed who was from Mosul, Iraq. Hawiye is combination of different groups but mainly from Yemen.
Islam entered Somalia and Ethiopian within first ten centuries of the Georgian calendar by Arab traders and Preachers. Somalis, after the collapse of ADAL, attended Arabian universities mainly Egyptian Al-Azhar University. The relation between the Arabs and Somalis had grown stronger particularly with Yemen and Sultanate of Oman.
After western colonizers divided Somalia into five main parties leaving Djibouti with France, Somaliland with British, South Somalia with Italy, and Reserve Area with Ethiopia in addition to NFD with Kenya. The occupation of these areas happen different times, Britain sold Reserve Area and NFD to Ethiopia and Kenya in 20th Century.
Some of Al-Azhar University Graduates arrived back home including Sayed Abdullah Hassan, nick named The Mad Mullah. He was not wise man and started armed struggle against British. He tried to overtake some parties of Somaliland mainly Hawd Area. British disbanded his army by air bombing. The Mad Mullah was killed during an air raid by the British forces.
Sayed Abdullah Hassan (the Mad Mulla) was Sufist and convinced many Somalis to practice the Sufi sect of the Islamic faith. Sufi faith permits Spiritual attainment in Islam, where Muslim is allowed to pray to Allah via another religious person. But Salafi Group, also called Wahabist in Somalia, rejects the idea of attainment. Salafi or Wahabist faith entered Somalia about four decades ago.
Beginning of Salafi Group in Somalia:
Until 1960´s majority of Somalis practiced Sufi faith of Islam that had wide respect among Somali tribes. Somalis consider Sufi faith as less violent compare to Salafi faith.
The Qur’an was taught using Somali language as the people were unfamiliar with Arabic. Somalis use to write Qur’an on wooden sheet like instrument using ink made of traditional Somali coal. Such practices remains active until now but with less percentage.
In mid 1970s the Salafi faith of Islam was introduced in Somalia by Somali students graduated from Saudi Arabian Islamic universities. The students started teaching the Nobel Qur’an and gradually gained very wide popularity across Somalia.
In less than ten years, the Salafi faith replaced Sufi faith; the leaders of the mosques turn into Salafi, and Sufi faith started disappearing slowly until today. The Salafi faith had strong relation with their counterparts in else where in the world mainly Saudi Arabia.
After 1977, Salafi revolution in Somalia spread into the neighboring countries like Ethiopia and formed an armed group called Al-Itahad Al-Islamiya, with their main aim is to liberate Somali dominated areas in Ethiopia from Ethiopian occupation.
Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and Al-Shabab were product of Al-Itahad Al-Islamiya, as major senior leaders in both ICU and Al-Shabab are co-founders of Al-Itahad Al-Islamiya.
Today, Salafi faith is widely practiced inside Somalia, and with very high speed. The youth and middle age follow Salafi faith except the elderly who still practice the Sufi faith. Majority of the mosques in Somalia is led by Salafi preachers.
Islamophobia in Ethiopia:
After collapse of ADAL, Kingdom of Abyssinia put pressure to Muslim and forced many of them to return to Christianity. The kingdom did not allow the Muslims to practice their religion in public, where prayers were performed in-house only. Muslims were not allowed officially to travel to Makka to perform Hajj until 1974, after military coup led by Migusto Haile Mariam. Mariam ordered freedom of religion and allowed Muslims to perform Hajj. Muslims in Eritrea were under similar condition.
Today, more than half of Ethiopians are devout Muslims, mainly in the outlying regions, and in the Eastern Lowlands.
Traditionally, the status of Islam has been far from equal with that of Christianity. However, the emperor Haile Selassie gave audiences to Muslim leaders and made overtures in response to their concerns, and under the Derg even more was done to give at least symbolic parity to the two faiths. Nevertheless, the perception of Ethiopia as “an island of Christianity in a sea of Islam” has continued to prevail among both highland Ethiopians and foreigners.
In 1964, Ethiopian Christian leaders attacked Somalia in a plan to end the Islamic presence in the region. At that time, Somalia was only four years old without proper military and government institutions. But overall this, Somalis defend their country very bravely and forced Ethiopia to retrieve. This was the first religious war between Ethiopia and Somalia.
In 1977, Somalis retaliates and occupied 60% of Ethiopian land and even gone close to Addis Ababa in 18 kilometers. The objective of Somalis was to return the Reserve Area illegally sold by British to Ethiopia. Ethiopia was unable to stop the Somalis. And as usually, Ethiopia pleaded to international support, and received military support of Russia and Cuba. Russia-Cuba Alliance forced the Somali military to go back into Somalia border.
In 2006, Ethiopian invaded Somalia on the bases of similar background. Ethiopia always considers the Somali Islamist as #1 enemy. Ethiopia saw the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), as the new threat to their national unity; Ethiopian Prime Minister Melese Zanawi follows the old procedure of the church, who considers the Muslims as major enemy of Ethiopia. Zanawi is man of principle but the unfortunate is those supporting Zanawi and Church Plan in Somalia like Transitional Government of Somalia (TGS) leader Abdullah Yusuf.
In similar manner Oromo is facing insult and pressure from Ethiopian government, where they don’t get proper share in the government and even their children are not allowed to attend the universities in Addis Ababa.
Melese Sanawi selected Christian man from Oromo to be Ethiopian President. He overlooked the Muslim majority of Oromo, because, simply, he does not want Muslim. This shows that Ethiopian government is not killing all Oromo but only the Muslims because of their believe in the Greater Islam.
Oromo is the largest community in Ethiopia in middle of lowlands, 90% of Oromo practice Islam as fundamental religion, Islam was introduced to Oromo in 16th century with neighbouring Somali Community. Oromo has anti-Ethiopian armed movements and recently accused receiving military support and training from Eritrea. Current President of Ethiopia is from Christian Minority of Oromo, where Muslims has little access to government due to their armed struggle.
Islam vs. Ethiopian Emperors:
The battle between the Muslim leaders and Ethiopian emperors is active until today, because the Ethiopian invasion in Somalia has strong roots into the centuries old conflict between the Muslims and Ethiopian Christian emperor.
Ahmed Guray freed many parts of Ethiopia from the emperors who restricted the freedom of the people; the parties that ADAL army captured include Shewa, Gonder, Wollo and parts of Tigray. Some historians say the struggle between the Christian Emperors in Ethiopia and Somalis started from 1528 until today.
Emperor Lebna Dengel, who was ruling Abyssinia during the war with ADAL, plead for support from Portugal after his army failed to stop ADAL army.
In the same manner, United States of America (USA) is helping Meleze Sanawi to stop the Islamist growing in the region. Ethiopia knows, if Muslim government comes to power in Somalia then it will come to Ethiopia to free the thousands of the Muslim Ethiopians trapped under Melese regime.
The government don´t allow construction of new mosques in the capital, Addis Ababa. In other hand, the European Christian missionaries build new church every one month. Church bells are famous in Addis Ababa more than the Mosques.
The present mosques in Addis Ababa are centuries old; it is remaining of Othman Emporers. The Muslims don’t take part in the central government, and if any Muslim gets chance in the central government, he/she should be lapdog for Ethiopian Christian Emporer Meleze Sanawi. Muslims in Addis Ababa feel overtaken and always seek help from the Muslim world, but the failure of Somalia has led them into endless problems.
Russia Accused of Backing Mistreatment of Muslims
16 March 2009
Moscow, The Associated Press: Two activists accused the government on Friday of encouraging prosecutors to target Muslims on trumped-up charges of terrorism and extremism and said the abuse could lead to anti-government unrest.
Sergei Komkov, president of the nongovernmental All-Russian Education Fund, asserted that the Kremlin was trying to pin social ills on innocent Muslims and warned that it could backfire against President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
"There threatens to be a powerful explosion of public discontent in the next three or four years that could, if not stopped, lead to a change in the political leadership," Komkov said at a news conference attended by prominent rights activists.
Komkov said authorities are increasingly convicting observant Muslims on trumped-up charges of terrorism and extremism in an effort to satisfy what he claimed were quotas from the central government.
Long terms in the abusive prison system are turning those wrongfully convicted against society, said Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group.
Isa Betsiyev, 40, a businessman and Muslim from the city of Kaluga, said he has been harassed repeatedly by the counterterrorism branch of the Federal Security Services.
"They burst into my home in masks and flash some card at me. They collect my books [on Islam] and call me an extremist," Betsiyev told the news conference. "This is how they make their money. This is how they justify their income."
Komkov said Betsiyev's story was typical. Ignorance of Islam as a peaceful religion helps authorities scapegoat Muslims, activists said.
Bin Laden blasts ‘moderate’ Arab states over Gaza war
In an audio recording played Saturday by Al Jazeera, the Al Qaeda chief accused Arab states of collaborating "with the Crusader-Zionist alliance" against Muslims.
By Liam Stack, March 15, 2008
Osama bin Laden lashed out at “moderate” Arab states in a new statement released to Al Jazeera Saturday night for being “complicit” in “the Holocaust of Gaza.”
The 22-day war between Hamas and Israel came to an inconclusive halt on Jan. 19, and killed as many as 1,300 Palestinians, many of them women and children.
“It was clear that some of the Arab leaders have collaborated with the Crusader-Zionist alliance against our people, those whom America calls the moderate leaders,” said the Al Qaeda leader, according to The Associated Press. “We must disown ourselves from all those” governments.
Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia maintain close ties with Washington. Of the three, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are absolute monarchies and Egypt is ruled by a de facto President-for-life. Both Jordan and Egypt have signed peace deals with Israel, and enjoy full diplomatic relations and moderate levels of trade with the Jewish state.
Egypt was widely criticized throughout the Arab and Muslim world during the Gaza war for refusing to permanently open its border with the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas. It is the only country, besides Israel, to border Gaza and many Arabs and Muslims believed it should have done more to help the victims of the fighting.
Is this anything new?
Not really, according to a US counterterrorism official quoted by Agence France-Presse.
“Al Qaeda addresses these themes with some frequency and at this point, there doesn’t appear to be anything new here,” the unnamed source told AFP.
“Stressing the lack of correlation between past recordings and Al Qaeda attacks, the official, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said: ‘I wouldn’t read too much into the timing of the release either.’ ”
While bin Laden does not specifically attack Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan by name in the recording, the reference is clear. For Cairo, it’s one more verbal attack from a man with one of the biggest bullhorns in the world.
“The Gaza holocaust, amid this prolonged embargo, is an important historic event and a catastrophe that shows the necessity of distinguishing Muslims from hypocrites,” he said, according to AP.
Second tape in two months
The tape is bin Laden’s second in two months to focus on the Gaza conflict, but marks the first time he has laid the blame at Arab leaders’ feet.
In January, he called for a jihad against Israel. His latest tape repeats the call, urging Mujahideen first to “liberate” Iraq before pouring into Jordan for an assault on Jerusalem. He called the war in Iraq “a rare and precious chance” to finally liberate Palestine.
“Jordan … is the best and widest front, and from Jordan the second launching will be toward the West Bank and the borders will be forcibly opened,” he said.
Where is bin Laden?
The New York Daily News reports that the Al Qaeda No. 1 is in Chitral, “once a trekkers’ paradise in Pakistan that has been sealed off to outsiders and is now regularly buzzed by American spy drones.”
An investigation by the paper found that “north-western Pakistan’s impenetrable Hindu Kush Mountains – which boast some of the world’s tallest climbs – in the Chitral region have been eyed as bin Laden’s hideout since 2006.”
The paper reported that: “Some intelligence officials downplay Chitral’s importance or argue that Bin Laden is in a teeming Pakistani city similar to ones where his aides were nabbed after 9/11 – even though Al Qaeda leaders moved to the tribal areas years ago, where eight top goons have been assassinated in recent months.”