Islam, Muslims, and Islamism: News and Events
Denying Islam is an Incitement?
Muslim reactions to criticisms of Islam can often be pretty severe. What about when someone simply denies that Islam is true? That's hardly a criticism, so it shouldn't inspire a huge negative reaction - but then again, perhaps it will. If someone is insecure about their beliefs, even simple refusal to accept those beliefs can be perceived as an attack.
British Imam: Gays Should Be Executed
Most traditional religions disapprove, to one degree or another, of homosexuality. These same religions have also disapproved of a lot of other things, such as racial integration, equal rights for women, and democracy. The fact that a religion has disapproved of something in the past is not a good reason to continue doing so in the present, or to respect that belief if it continues today.
Who are the Real Muslims Here?
Both Christians and Muslims get involved in debates over who is a "genuine" adherent of the religion. Whereas Christians focus on whether a person believes the right things, though, Muslims tend to focus on whether people engage in the correct behavior. This leads to interesting conflicts where suicide bombers are still true Muslims, but a woman who is willing to marry a Christian is not.
Couple Sentenced for Having Sex in Mosque
What do you suppose is about the worse and most offensive thing you can do to Muslims? Drawing negative cartoons of Muhammad should take a back seat to having sex in a mosque, but whereas the people who did the former got numerous death threats, people who do the latter simply spend a stint in jail. That makes sense.
Muslim Cabbies Want to Discriminate Against Customers
Should cab drivers be allowed to refuse rides to people who somehow violate the driver's religious beliefs? That's what Muslim cab drivers in Minneapolis want: they don't want to give rides to anyone who has alcohol because alcohol is contrary to their religious beliefs. What's next, refusing to give rides to women who aren't modestly dressed? Jews? Gays? Atheists?
Sheik: Uncovered Women are Abandoned Meat, Responsible for Attacks
Many people were outraged last week when Sheik Taj Aldin Al-Hilali, Australia's top Muslim cleric, said that women are responsible when they are victims of sexual assault when they don't dress modestly enough. Men can't be blamed for sexually assaulting women, they are just doing what comes naturally. He continues to be unrepentant and unapologetic.
Veils Banned in Birmingham University School of Medicine
Should Muslim doctors and nurses be allowed to remain veiled when interacting with patients? At least some Muslims believe so - but others disagree very strongly. It can be argued quite fairly that interaction with patients is harmed when doctors and nurses do not meet patients face-to-face.
Muslim Permitted to Refuse to Guard Israeli Embassy
Just how far will people take it to get religious exemptions from doing the regular duties of their jobs? First pharmacists sought the right to refuse to dispense legally prescribed medication. Then doctors and hospitals started to refuse to prescribe standard medication. Now police are refusing to do protect those whose actions offend their religious sensibilities. Where will it end?
Only Muslims Can Understand Jihad. No True Muslims are Violent
Muslims around the world reacted with violence and anger to recent remarks made by Pope Benedict XVI on Islam. It's true that his comments were inflammatory at best and it's really no surprise that Muslims would be upset. This is simply one of many incidents which demonstrate that Benedict XVI doesn't have what it takes to be a pope in the modern world
Banning Women from Mecca: Saudi Arabia Ponders More Misogyny
As if Saudi Arabia weren't already misogynistic enough in its laws, culture, and religion, some officials are actually considering banning women from being allowed to say any of the five daily prayers (required by Islam) in the immediate vicinity of the Kaaba in Mecca. Some even claim that this policy has already been instituted on an unofficial basis.
Myth of Eurabia: Why Europe Isn't Becoming Arab Muslim Outpost
Quite a few conservatives in America believe that Europe is becoming 'Eurabia' - that European tolerance for Muslim immigrants in their midst is allowing an Arab Muslim subculture to develop that is not only hostile to European political ideals, but will ultimate destroy them. How? Because Muslims are out-reproducing native Europeans and are not being fully integrated into European culture.
Muslims Ask for Cancellation of Voltaire Play
It's not enough for artists and governments to censor current works or expression; now Muslims are demanding that classic works be censored because they might be perceived as too offensive to some religious sensibilities. In France, Muslims are asking that a reading of a 1714 play by Voltaire be cancelled.
Anti-Muslims Cartoons Connected to Atheism?
Was the publication of the cartoons which launched riots among Muslims the result of atheism? That seems too incredible to believe, but it's exactly the impression that some are trying to spread. Perhaps they hope to get conservative Christians to associate the cartoons with their own negative feelings about atheism and thereby acquire support for Muslim objections to the cartoons' publication.
Using Violence: People are Afraid to Criticize Islam
An important, and probably deliberate, consequence of all the violence perpetrated by Mulims in reaction to the Danish political cartoons is that people will become even more afraid to criticize Islam. The cartoonists are already in hiding; who else will voluntarily subject themselves to that sort of thing now?
Muslims Call for Critics to be Exterminated
Many Muslims feel that a series of cartoons published last year in a Danish newspaper were insulting to Islam generally and Muhammad specifically. They object to being depicted as violent terrorists. Their reaction, naturally enough, has been to encourage violence and engage in terrorist acts. That will teach Western media to tell the truth about Islam, right?
Western Cowards Say: Religions Should Never Be Insulted
Freedom of speech and freedom of personal expression are fundamental rights in the West - rights upon many other of our rights may be said to rest. Today, unfortunately, we are seeing Western leaders back away from freedom of speech in favor of supporting those who advocate murder and destruction whenever they feel insulted.
Satanic Female Drivers in Afghanistan
Under the Taliban, women in Afghanistan were denied most basic civil rights and most of the social privileges accorded to men - including the ability to drive. Today, Afghan women are allowed to drive and many are trying to learn. Men, however, are not all happy about this development and condemn it as satanic.
Free Speech & Criticism: Some Muslims Just Don't Get It
The controversy over Danish political cartoons continues to get worse. Someone has created an interesting blog designed to gather opinions from various perspectives, Freedom of Speech.dk. The question is, will people be able to learn from it? In particular, will Muslims be able to learn that others have a right to do things forbidden in Islam and which Muslims may not like?
More on Free Speech vs. Islam in Denmark
Last month I wrote about assaults on the principle of free speech in Denmark as people assail the right of a newspaper to print editorial cartoons critical of Islam. Jordan has called for the cartoonist to be punished and international organizations continue to display a complete lack of respect for basic liberty.
Britain: Muslim Culture Festival Excludes Gay Event
All over Britain there is a national festival designed to introduce people to the variety of cultures that occur in the context of Islam. Muslims are only willing to take 'diversity' so far, however, and have banned the inclusion of gays and lesbians presenting their perspectives or experiences. Overt homophobia among British Muslims is a serious problem.
Girls of Riyadh: Saudi Girls Gone Wild?
Saudi society is very conservative, especially where it comes to the treatment and permitted social roles of women. This is what makes a new book about women in Saudi Arabia so controversial: in includes tales of gay teens, lesbians, women drinking alcohol, and more. The book is banned in Saudi Arabia, naturally, but that's only made it more attractive to readers.
Women in Saudi Arabia: Conflicting Opinions
The most striking thing which most visitors to Saudi Arabia notice is the way women are treated: their lower social status, fewer rights, restrictive dress, and efforts to separate women. One might imagine that changing these things would be a priority for reformers, but that isn't the case. On the contrary, most women have so internalized the teachings that they are inferior that they accept it.
Saudi Arabia and Officially Sponsored Religious Extremism
One of the problems in Saudi Arabia is the fact that religious extremism isn't a fringe movement - it's the official, state-sponsored brand of Islam. This has been embarrassing at times, and the government is trying to change, but change is not only slow, but it's being resisted by a religious establishment that is used to calling the shots.
Saudi Arabia: Uncompromising, But Still Changing?
Saudi Arabia seems to be defined by being changeless - not just the sands, but the attitudes and social polices. Nevertheless, there are signs of a a few small, slow changes taking place in Saudi society. Whether they ever amount to anything significant is an open question, but it will be interesting to watch.
Islam, Denmark, and Free Speech
To what extent should everyone in society avoid saying or doing anything that might offend the religious sensibilities of others? Most would probably agree that gratuitously impolite behavior should be avoided, but at the same time free speech and democracy require that we be able to make arguments or advance ideas that might offend some.
Wealth and Business in Saudi Arabia
The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the richest nation in the world in terms of oil - but that's about it, aside perhaps from sand. The wealth of the nation has not been distributed widely to the people and the government has invested little in developing society's human resources. Combined with religious extremism of Wahhabi Islam, and prospects are not good for the country.
Muslim Leader Denounces Civil Partnerships for Gays in UK
Iqbal Sacranie, head of the Muslim Council of Britain, says that homosexuality is "not acceptable" and has denounced Britain's same-sex civil partnership law as "harmful." Somehow, I doubt he would be happy if people said that being a Muslim is "not acceptable" and Muslim immigration to Britain is "harmful." There's no moral difference between the two, though.
Pakistan Hosting Women's Cricket
It appears that Pakistan is slowly getting used to the idea of women playing sports in public - but only very slowly. Pakistan is hosting the first women's Asia Cup in cricket, but there are restrictions on who can attend and what the women can wear.
Polygamy in Turkey
In rural Turkey, especially in Kurdish areas, polygamy persists despite official bans on the practice dating back to Kemal Ataturk. People believe that they have a duty to reproduce as much as possible. Although polygamy is often seen as a symptom of patriarchy and women's second class status, there's a bit more going on here than meets the eye.
European Women Converting to Islam
Increasing numbers of European women are converting to Islam - not because they are forced to, but because they find that the religion offers simple answers and beliefs which they seek. This has European authorities worried about the future of violence and terrorism.
The Reason why Iran is Attacking Jews, Israel
The infamous 'Southern Strategy' of America's Republican Party was to emphasize race and advocate racist policies in order to attract support from southern whites away from the Democratic Party. It worked and we are still living with the legacy of this. It appears that Iran's leader Ahmadinejad studied this tactic and is using it to attack Jews and Israel.
Saudi Women Making Gains
In Saudi Arabia, 2 women have been elected to seats on the 12-member board of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce. This isn't exactly a social earthquake, but it is a significant step. Religious conservatives certainly recognize this, which is why they have been working hard to undermine any progress being made.
Future of Islam in America: Muslims vs Nation of Islam
When people think about Islam in America, they quickly turn to traditional Muslims who have immigrated from the Middle East. This is reasonable, but it ignores the sizable population of Muslims who have lived in America all their lives and who have a long, complex, and controversial history here: The Nation of Islam. How will the two groups interact?
Integration vs. Separatism: Muslims in Europe
To what degree should Muslims in Europe be expected to integrate into European cultures and to what degree should they maintain separate ethnic, religious, and social identities? Neither option can be taken to the exclusion of the other and some balance needs to be found, but it appears that many are going far too far in the latter direction.
No Islamic Law in Ontario, Canada
Some activists were seeking the ability to use Islamic law in Ontario, Canada, when it came to issues like family disputes. This has been rejected, however, in favor of a single legal code that applies to all citizens on an equal basis - and this was exactly the right decision. If all citizens are equal before the law, then they should all have to adhere to the same laws.
France: Minorities, Integration, and Rebellion
One of the biggest international news stories right now are the riots in France. Because the rioters are Muslim youths, commentators have been quick to jump on religion as an explanation for the problems, even going so far as to proclaim the launch of a European jihad. For some reason, though, Muslims aren't calling for jihad - which should tell you something.
Florida: No Veils on Drivers' Licenses
A state appeals court in Florida has rejected the request of a Muslim woman to be permitted to have her driver's license picture taken while she wears a veil. She argued that it was a matter of religious liberty, but the state insisted that law and safety took precedence - and the court agreed.
Islam and Government
Many Muslims in the Middle East see their governments as corrupt, ineffective, and repressive. They dream that a proper Islamic government would solve all their problems and Islamic radicals encourage this belief. In Iran, though Muslims know what it is like to live under an Islamic government - and they aren't joyful about it.
Muslims in Europe: An Indigestible Minority?
There's a lot of prejudice towards and concern about the Muslim minority in Europe. National laws are all over the place and people don't even know quite how many Muslims there are, much less what they actually believe and do. One would think that such knowledge is required to formulate coherent, reasonable policies.
Police Told to Be More Tolerant of Spousal Abuse Among Muslims
Some police in Australia have been told that they should treat domestic violence among Muslims differently than among other people. The reason is 'respect' for Islamic cultural traditions - here, 'respect' is being used as a cover for allowing religion-based abuse and violence to continue.
France Debates Funding Mosques, Problems in Muslim Ghettos
The Muslim minority in France continues to have problems. Extremism appears to be on the rise and violence is becoming more common. The French government is struggling to find some sort of solution; one proposal is to have the government fund mosques rather than leaving them for extremists to run - but this runs counter to France's laws on secularism.
Iran Calls for Israel to be Destroyed
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, has declared that Israel must be 'wiped off the map.' He hopes that new Palestinian attacks will destroy the Jewish state, which of course won't really occur. When confronted with the fact that Israel still exists next year and the year after, will he deal with reality and change his rhetoric? No, religious fanaticism doesn't work that way.
Muslims Pressure School to Eliminate Christmas Holidays?
In Florida, the Hillsborough County School Board received a request to include a Muslims holiday along with the Christian and Jewish holidays. Rather than treat Islam equally to other religions and make Eid Al-Fitr a holiday like Christmas, the school board decided to eliminate all religious holidays. Some critics are blaming the Muslims for this rather than the real cause: anti-Muslim bigotry.
Christians May Seek to Ban Qur'an
Remember Christian Voice, the British group that bullied theaters into not showing 'Jerry Springer - The Opera,' bullied a cancer charity into not accepting proceeds from this production, and was kicked out of its Co-op Bank because of their anti-gay ideology? Now they are threatening to seek a ban on the Qur'an as hate literature.
Iran's Pre-Islamic Past
Iran isn't an Arab nation and, unlike most Arab Muslim nations, it has a pre-Islamic past which is arguably grander and more important than its Islamic history. This has been a source of embarrassment to Iranian mullahs who believe that there is nothing of value outside of Islam, but it may becoming more appealing to Iran's huge youth population.
Pakistan: Musharraf Claims Women Want to get Raped
Pakistan has a problem with how women are treated in its society. One especially egregious issue is the way women can be raped on orders from elders who see rape as punishment for something done by the woman's male relatives. Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, thinks that some women choose to be raped to get a visa to travel abroad.
CAIR: Photo Doctoring for Islamic Correctness?
What happens when Muslim leaders have a press conference in front of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., and women have the temerity to show up without head covering? In today's digital age, that's not a problem: you can just use Photoshop to paint around their heads! It would be wise, though, to hire someone who knows enough about Photoshop to do a decent job.
Atheist Women Envy Muslim Women?
Islamic tradition forces women into an inferior role in society because it is assumed that men won't be able to control themselves around women. Instead of blaming men and getting men to exercise self-control, women are segregated for the good of society. Some Muslims can't seem to understand why everyone doesn't think this is a good idea.
What the Sharia Means
Some people were hoping that Ontario would authorize the use of sharia (Muslim law) when it comes to family matters, but Premier Dalton McGuinty has rejected that - and with good reason, too. There would have been real suffering if Muslim law had been allowed to replace secular law.
Democracy and Religion in Pakistan
President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan came to power in part by exploiting religion, but today he has come into conflict with religious leaders in order to stay on America's good side. Elections in Pakistan are rigged, but even without that the religious leaders are having trouble.
Shakespeare in Kabul: Conservatives Upset
For the first time since 1978, a band of actors in Afghanistan has performed a piece by Shakespeare. Naturally some religious conservatives are outraged by this, which explains why Shakespeare's work has been banned for so long.
France: Headscarf Ban Appears to be Working
France's decision to ban headscarves in public schools received a great deal of criticism, but after a year now the policy appears to be working. Muslim schoolgirls are not suffering from not wearing headscarves, but they are free from the pressure of extremists to wear them all the time.
India: Female Politicians Must Be Veiled
In Deoband, India, a highly influential Islamic seminary has declared that Muslim women cannot appear in public as politicians unless they are veiled. To do otherwise would be contradictory to Islamic law.
Bush Backs Theocracy in Iraq
President Bush claims that a main reason why America invaded Iraq was to bring democracy and liberty to that nation. In March, 2005, he specifically said that America would do its part to bring new rights and hopes to the women of the Middle East. Now, the American ambassador to Iraq has engineered reducing the rights of women in Iraq.
Roots of Terrorism in Saudi Arabia
America invaded Afghanistan and Iraq in reaction to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. Most of the terrorists came from neither country, though; most came from Saudi Arabia, a nation that has had a lot of trouble with indigenous extremism which its government has helped foster. Why?
Israel vs. Judaism, Politics vs. Religion
Israel was founded as a Jewish state, as a state where Jews would always be welcome, always be safe, and where Judaism could be expressed without fear of discrimination and prejudice. One could argue, though, that even from a Jewish perspective, there are disadvantages to the existence of Israel as a state and as a political power.
Female Circumcision in Iraq
The practice of female circumcision, better described as female genital mutilation, appears to have a foothold in Iraq. How far the practice will go is uncertain; what is certain, though, is that increasing numbers of women will suffer.
Philadelphia: Muslims Work Against Spousal Abuse
The Muslim community has a serious problem with how women are treated. Muslim traditions do not accord women a fully equal status with men in the social, familial, or political realms. If Islam is going to move forward, it's going to have to improve how women are treated. Some Muslims do understand this and are trying to move out in front of the issue.
Religious, Political, and Social Reform in Saudi Arabia
King Fahd ibn Abdel Aziz al-Saud has died and been replaced by his brother, Abdullah. Fahd hasn't been actively involved in ruling the kingdom for several years now, so Abdullah is taking over in name what he was already doing in fact. Will he, however, be able to launch some of the basic reforms necessary to keep Saudi Arabia from descending into chaos?
Saudis Flirt Via Bluetooth
There is strict segregation of sexes in Saudi Arabia. Men and women who don't know each other simply aren't allowed to interact socially in public - this makes it difficult to meet members of the opposite sex who aren't previously approved of by family members. Technology, though, is making such separation more difficult to maintain.
Reforming Muslim Theology
Muslim extremism will not be successfully countered by military force from the West. At best Western powers might achieve limited containment of some radical elements; over the long term, Muslim extremism must be countered by other Muslims who reject religious extremism and seek to reform Islam from the inside.
Van Gogh's Son Assaulted by Muslims
His father has already been brutally murdered in a barbaric act of religious madness, but that isn't sufficient for radical Muslims in the Netherlands. Lieuwe van Gogh, 14-year-old son of film director Theo van Gogh, has been verbally and physically assaulted by classmates and Moroccan teens.
Islamic Edicts Against Liberal Thoughts?
How worried are Muslim conservatives that more liberal ideas might start to become ascendant? In Indonesia, a generally tolerant nation, they are worried enough to consider issuing edicts against "liberal Islamic thought."
What is Driving Islamic Extremism in Europe?
More and more, Europeans are discovering that Islamic terrorism in the streets is being committed by Muslims who grew up in those streets, not by foreigners who come in specifically to stir up trouble. This causing people to ask what went wrong, why native-born Muslims are killing their neighbors, and what can be done about it.
Iran: Gay Teens Executed by Hanging
In the city of Mashhad in north-eastern Iran, two gay teens have been executed. One was 18 and the other is thought to have been 16 or 17. First they were lashed 228 times, though. Not long after the execution there were howls of outrage from the Iranian parliament - not at the execution itself, but at the temerity of journalists to report it.
Lipstick Lesbian vs. Radical Islam
What will it take to undermine and end radical Islam - or at least end the threat it poses to everyone else? Probably only a counter-force from within Islam will suffice and that's exactly what Irshad Manji is attempting to accomplish. As both a woman and a lesbian, she herself poses a serious challenge for all concerned.
Coming Secular Revolution in Iran?
Iran has been an Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution; today much of the revolutionary and even Islamic fervor seems to have died down. The 1979 revolution was led by students who were dissatisfied with the repressive regime of the Shah. Today, large numbers of students are dissatisfied with the repressive Islamic regime. What will happen?
Iran Cracking Down on Young Women
Iran is ultimately a theocratic society; as such, people who ignore religious laws do so at their own risk. Young Iranians have been trying to live freer lives for a while now and to an extent they have managed to get away with it. Now, however, it appears that the government is tired of it - and they may be targeting young women.
Gay & Atheist in the Islamic World
Neither gays nor atheists are accorded much respect in the Muslim world. The same used to be the same in the Christian world, but the Christian West has progressed to the point where there are at least pockets of acceptance and tolerance; in Islam, though, such tolerance is hard to come by. Far more common are hatred, vilification, and even violence.
Muslims vs. Gays in New York City
Sex and sexuality are one of the major fulcrums of the "culture war" between traditional religion and modernity. In America, this conflict is usually carried out between religious or secular progressives on one side and conservative Christians on the other. Conservative Muslims are also beginning to enter the fray, though, and this may alter the overall equation.
Culture War in Europe: Sex & Islam
The conflict between European Muslims and other Europeans seems to be increasing. Although the conflict can take many forms, most of the time the problems can be reduced to a couple of simple problems: Muslims have very different attitudes towards sex, sexuality, and the role of women, than do secular Europeans or even pious Christian Europeans.
Fracturing Iranian Theocracy: Exploring the Secular Student Movement
Iran's model of "Islamic Democracy" (many forget that Iran is a sort of democracy) is coming under increasing criticism from young Iranians. People in Iran are looking for more freedom while the far-right mullahs who ultimately control the country are trying to keep a lid on things.
The Muslim Brotherhood: Growing Stronger or Weaker?
The original and still the largest Islamist group in the Middle East is the Muslim Brotherhood. They were formed in 1928 in Egypt and currently exist under one name or another in several nations around the world. They proclaim general nonviolence except when it comes to infidel intrusions like in Palestine and Iraq. But where are they headed for the future?
Debating Islam in Malaysia
Malaysia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world. Muslims are a majority there, but there are large Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist minorities who enjoy broad religious liberties. The government tends to focus on economic rather than moral issues, but that doesn't mean everything is perfect.
Malaysia: Muslim Women Fighting for Equal Rights
Islam in Malaysia isn't as repressive as it can be elsewhere. There are Malaysians who want to change that, but there are also many who don't. One group of women has been active in promoting the idea that equal rights for women is a basic part of Islam - and they have been successful.
Bibles for Iraqis
Conservative evangelicals seem to understand no boundaries when it comes to promoting their religion. Pushing Christianity in Iraq can only serve to undermine what the American government is doing there, a mission that conservative evangelicals claim to support, but they are doing it anyway.
Iran: Losing Faith in the Ayatollahs
Iranians, even religiously conservative Iranians, are losing patience with mullahs who run their nation. Liberal Iranians are upset with the constraints on their lives. Conservative Iranians think that the mullahs are more interested in power than piety. Everyone, it seems, is looking for change in the coming election.
Afghanistan: Women Continue to Suffer
America was supposed to have "liberated" Afghanistan from the grip of the Taliban, but many things haven't changed or at least haven't changed much - for example, the abusive and violent treatment of women. Imagine Germany in 1947 where Jews are still abused and discriminated against. Would people permit that?
Gays in Pakistan
The government of Pakistan denies that any of its citizens are gay, but homosexuality exists in Pakistan just as it does everywhere else. Slowly, cautiously, gays there are starting to find a voice and express themselves. They risk social ostracism, arrest, and even death.
Sheik Blames Women for Being Raped
There was a time when people assumed that women were at fault for being raped - in some way, they must have encouraged the rapist. In the West this attitude has mostly disappeared, but it still seems to exist among Muslims. Why?
Irshad Manji, Sill Riling Muslim Extremists
Irshad Manji's The Trouble with Islam: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith continues to sell and continues to make conservative Muslims uncomfortable. That's a good thing, I think, because so long as religious leaders are "comfortable," they won't be making progress or improvements in things like their treatment of women.
Islamic Proselytization in US Public Schools
Islam is an evangelistic religion. Unlike other religious minorities in America, Muslims feel that it is their duty to help convert people to Islam. This is not inherently a problem, but it puts them on a collision course with Christians who believe that America belongs to them and that minorities should keep quiet.
Religious War in Sweden?
A Pentecostal preacher in Sweden recently said some very unkind things about Islam. Muslims in Sweden decided to prove him wrong and that they are good citizens by threatening the preacher and insinuating to other Christian leaders that unless they repudiated the preacher's remarks, there would be violence.
Kuwait: Women Denied Right to Vote
Women in Kuwait will retain their second-class status after Islamist legislators blocked a plan to let them vote. Reformers had been optimistic, but conservative Muslims had their way and it's not clear if or when a new vote on the issue will occur.
Shia Influence in the Middle East
Shia Muslim leaders in Lebanon seem to be trying to create their own state-within-a-state. This can only destabilize Lebanon in the long run and it points to possible problems in other nations (like Iraq) where the Shia are establishing their own parallel public institutions.
Problems with Prayer Calls in Cairo
In a Muslim city like Cairo, one would expect to hear lots of calls to prayer every morning from all of the mosques. For some, though, these calls have become a discordant cacophony which they want to stop. The government has proposed a single, centralized call to prayer but the local mosque fear intrusion into their sermons as well.
Pakistan: Muslims Attacking Christians
Muslim prejudice against Christians has been leading to violence in Pakistan. Muslims attacked and left for dead a Catholic man simply because he was treated well by his Muslim employer.
Honor Killings in Jordan
Islam has a serious problem with so-called "honor killings." They aren't exactly an epidemic, but what is epidemic are the excuses and rationalizations. The fact that honor killings are accepted by Muslims all over the world is a sign of tremendous disrespect towards women.
Bush Policies Aid Islamic Extremism?
President George W. Bush has invested a considerable amount of America's resources and reputation on combatting Islamic extremism, but to what degree have his policies had the opposite effect? It could be argued that his inept handling of some things, like relations with allies, only serve to make things easier for extremists.
Iraq: Islamic Militias Patrolling Basra
Islamic extremism is increasing in Iraq. The most prominent example of this may be in Basra. The city used to have casinos and bars; today militants have shut all that down and are terrorizing the local population in their enforcement of Islamic fundamentalism. These people think that Iran is "too liberal" for their tastes.
Reconsidering Islam in the Netherlands
The Netherlands welcomed Muslim immigrants with open arms (generally). Those immigrants have become part of one of the most liberal, tolerant societies of Europe. Unfortunately, many have repaid that very poorly, causing the Dutch to reconsider their liberalism.
Britain: Muslims Protest Voting
People may remember that some extremist clerics in Iraq condemned democracy as "godless" because it creates a government controlled by the will of the people rather than one controlled by the will of God (as interpreted by the same clerics, conveniently enough). Similar extremism is appearing in Britain.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Dutch Politics
Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali has become famous for her opposition to Islamic extremism and her blunt criticisms of how Islam - even "moderate" Islam - traditionally treats women. This has forced her into hiding out of fear of "peaceful" Muslims, thus demonstrating that her criticisms are appropriate.
Abortion Liberalization in Iran
The Iranian parliament has approved a new law that would permit abortions during the first four months if the fetus shows signs of mental or physical handicaps. This law still has to be approved by the religious Guardian Council, but the fact that it has made it this far at all is a sign of just how far Iran has come.
Catholicism vs. Islam
The Vatican has been having discussions with Muslim leaders for about 20 years now, but the talks have gotten nowhere and now Vatican leaders are reconsidering their relationship with Islam. Some are saying that the next pope should make stronger demands that the rights of Christian minorities in Muslim lands be protected and respected.
Gaza: Virtue & Vice Commandos Murder Woman
Terrorist organization Hamas has a new "vice and virtue" commando going around and imposing their ideas of morality on people. It's already gotten one woman killed because she was out in public with her fiance. Who's next?
Pakistan: Extremists Attack Female Runners
Muslim extremists have struck again in Pakistan, this time attacking female runners who wanted to run a marathon with men. The women were dressed in heavy, concealing clothing rather than western-style running gear, but that didn't matter to the religious thugs.
Saudi Arabia: Clerics Reject Secular Courts
Law in Saudi Arabia is religious law - there are no secular courts where a person can receive justice outside Islamic doctrine. People there don't believe that there is such a thing as justice outside Islamic doctrine. That's why clerics there are outraged that the government might want to move certain cases out of religious courts.
Religion vs. Liberty in Afghanistan
America is supposed to have "liberated" Afghanistan from the Taliban, but too few realize just how much in touch the Taliban could be with people. Taliban leaders may have taken things farther than most would have gone, but their basic principles and assumptions continue to be accepted by many, if not most, Afghans.
Saudis Torture, Flog Gays
Homosexuality is banned in Islam and, therefore, in Muslim nations. Gays are treated very harshly by civil authorities in Muslim nations. Recently, a group of men found acting like "women" at a party in Saudi Arabia were sentenced to a total of more than 14,200 lashes. The trial was held behind closed doors and the men had no defense counsel.
Uganda: Muslims Demonstrate in Defense of Polygamy
Polygamy is legal in Islam, but it's not common in Muslim nations. Most Muslim populations are monogamous and the general trend in Islam seems to be toward monogamy. Uganda may be an exception: hundreds demonstrated in the capital to protest proposed restrictions on polygamy.
Status of Islam in Turkey & Europe
Many Europeans are concerned about admitting Turkey to the European Union because that would entail bringing a huge Muslim population into the fold. They may not have quite so much to worry about, though, because Islam in Turkey often isn't that far different from Christianity in England.
Iraq: Death at 'Immoral' Picnic in the Park
Theocratic attitudes seem to be growing in Iraq. People who dare to transgress traditional Islamic norms, at least as Muslim extremists interpret them, are literally risking their lives by doing things that they used to take for granted and which Westerners would consider completely innocuous.
New York: Woman Leads Muslim Prayer Service
In New York City, a Muslim woman recently led prayer services at a mosque; Muslim religious leaders in the Middle East are not happy about that. Is this a violation of religious law? No, it's contrary to tradition - thus demonstrating that treating Muslim as second-class citizens is part of the tradition.
Germany: Honor Killings Epidemic
So-called "honor killings" of Muslim women have increased sharply in Germany recently. In the past four months alone, six women have been murdered by their own families. Why? Because they wanted to live more Western lives. Evidently, women deserve to die for that â€” but if living a Western life is so awful, why live in the West in the first place?
Why the Veil Matters
What's the big deal about girls wearing veils to school? If it's a part of their religion and culture, why should government officials care - and why should feminist activists care, for that matter? The reason is that there is more going on here than simple religious expression.
Dell Fires Muslims for Praying on the Job
Businesses have a legal obligation to try to accommodate employees' religious practices, at least so long as such accommodation doesn't substantially interfere with business. Establishing just where the line is drawn, however, can be difficult. In Tennessee, 30 Somali Muslims found themselves on the wrong side of that line - and out of a job.
Moderate Muslims in Britain: Fighting Back?
One problem that has plagued Muslim communities in the West is the disproportionate influence and voice enjoyed by extremists. They have been able to shape and direct Muslim communities with near-impunity - and with tremendous funding from Saudi Arabia. In Britain, however, there are signs that moderate Muslims are ready to fight back.
UK: Muslims Preferred Over Gays
In Britain, it looks like the Labour Party is trying to woo Muslim voters by snubbing gays. Labour has backed a bill that would protect Muslims against discrimination but they refuse to do the same for gays - because protecting gays against discrimination would upset the Muslims they are pandering to.
Britain: Court Sides with Muslim Girl Over Dress
After a two year legal battle, a British court has ruled that a Muslim girl's human rights were violated when she was prevented from wearing traditional Islamic dress in order to comply with school dress codes. The court didn't say if this principle only applied to Muslims or if all students would be permitted to violate dress codes.
Islamic Scholar: Gays Threaten Society
Muslim and Christian fundamentalists are sounding more and more like every day. Recently a leading Islamic scholar stated during a visit to Hong Kong that gays represent a threat to society itself. War and violence towards women, I guess, are still OK.
UK: Muslim Wouldn't Sell Morning-After Pill
In Britain, a pharmacist put a client in danger by refusing to provide her with a morning-after pill. Why? The pharmacist is a Muslim and said that such pills are against her religion - despite the fact that she entered a profession where distributing such medication is a normal part of daily work.
Iran: Bush & Bin Laden are Crazy Fanatics
Many have made comparisons between George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden, arguing that both are consumed by manichean visions and promote religious violence. It's interesting, I think, that the most recent such claims are coming from Iran.
Islam & Science
It's obvious that Muslim nations are, for the most part, far behind the rest of the world when it comes to science and technology. What is the cause of this - poverty? Political conflict? Authoritarian regimes? All of this plays a role, but a more fundamental factor is quite simply the resistance of traditional religious institutions. Science undermines religion and tradition.
Islamists Win: Van Gogh's Film Cut
Theo van Gogh was murdered because of his film Submission about violence towards women in Muslim culture and his comments about Muslims generally. Because of fears of further violence, the film won't be shown at the Rotterdam Film Festival.
Muslim Woman's Children Believe Muslims Go to Hell
In 1985, Rehab Amer was charged (and acquitted) with killing her 2-year-old son. Her other three children were taken away and given up for adoption, despite the fact that the father was never charged at all. Now she has been cleared of all the charges - but her children, now adults, were raised by their adoptive Pentecostal parents to believe that Muslims all go to hell.
Islam's Claim on Spain
For hundreds of years Muslims dominated portions of the Iberian peninsula and the influence of Muslim culture can still be found wherever you look. Muslims continue to live in Spain and some long for a revival that will promote their presence, their influence, and their power.
Muslim Unfairly Fired for Trip to Mecca
Mohammed Sajwal Khan was a bus cleaner in Britain who wanted to take 25 days off in order to make a trip to Mecca. He requested his holiday entitlement and unpaid leave but didn't hear anything back. His manager informed him that in the absence of any response, he should assume that everything was OK and so he left - but was fired when he returned.
Islamic Timebomb in Turkey?
Turkey may have a problem: they have allowed at least 1,000 people to fight in Chechnya, a situation that can radicalize Islamic beliefs and train people in combat, terrorism, and the idea that they can achieve their goals through violence. What happens when they being to return home?
Islamist Insurgency Against Modern World
Newt Gingrich believes that America is dealing with an insurgency of radical Muslims against the modern world. It's not so much the West vs. Islam as it is modernity vs. radical Muslims - and many Muslims stand on the side of modernity. He's right, but he doesn't seem to realize that many Christians stand against modernity, too.
Irshad Manji Is Still Around
Irshad Manji's book The Trouble with Islam caused a great deal of controversy but we haven't heard from the author in a while. She hasn't disappeared, though - she's just been busy getting her book translated and promoted in Muslim nations.
Islamophobia as an Excuse to Silence Critics of Islam?
Complaints and fears of "Islamophobia" have increased in recent years. People argue that racism and hatred of Muslims have grown in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and it is true that Muslims have had to deal with more - but has there been enough of an increase to really use the label "Islamophobia"?
Texas: Muslim School Get Hostile Letter from 'Christian' Group
Dar-Ul-Arqam is a private Muslim school in Texas that wanted to join the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools. This would allow it to compete with other private schools in athletic and academic competitions. The letter they received in response to their request was astonishing, to say the least.
Yasser Arafat: Bowling for Bar Mitzvahs?
Now that Yasser Arafat is dead, investigators are just beginning the plumb the depths of his financial situation. He diverted money donate for the Palestinians to corporate investments all over the world - including upscale bowling alleys in America. Yes, bowling alleys.
Blogsnark: Secularism is Unreal
Secularism is treated as a serious threat by those who would like their society to be aligned according to Islamic law. This is a justified perspective because when a state is secular, there is a greater chance that people might abandon religion altogether; unfortunately, not all of their arguments are very fair or reasonable.
Iran Executing Mentally Ill Girls
The Iranian mullahs' treatment of women and girls keeps sliding deeper and deeper into depravity. Now they have sentenced a teenage girl with the mental age of 8 to death. Her crime: "acts contrary to chastity" because she was sold for sex.
Britain: Muslim Fathers Sell Daughters For Arranged Marriages
In Britain, many women in immigrant families from Southeast Asia are suffering - their families are forcing them into marriages with Muslim men who treat them abhorrently. Physical abuse, psychological abuse, and even sexual abuse are occurring far too often.
Pakistan: Child Abuse At Madrassas
Clerics in Pakistani Madrassas are being accused of sexual abuse of male children. Their response is to issue death threats against the the minister responsible for revealing the allegations.
Pakistan Passes Honor Killing Law
A problem that plagues South-Asian nations like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh is a concept of "honor" that keeps women secluded and validates the murder of female relatives if they besmirch the "honor" of the family. Pakistan is finally moving against this and treating it like a genuine crime.
Fears for European Muslim Women Who Speak Out
Islam is not very kind towards women, especially when compared to the rights and freedoms women in the secular West have. Unfortunately, even Muslim women in the secular West experience great difficulty and are sometimes too afraid to speak out on issues that are important to them.
Bangladesh Halts Female Swimming
Muslim extremists in Bangladesh have managed to put a halt to a women's swimming competition. According to the religious fundamentalists, it would have been offensive for women to wear swimsuits in any public venue. What if the women were offended by the extremists' prudery?
Gay Muslims Speaking Out
It can be difficult to be gay in America. It can also be difficult to be a Muslim in America. Gay Muslims, however, are faced with even more problems than either group alone. They face condemnation, discrimination, and suspicion from all sides - but they are beginning to speak out and make their presence known.
New Jersey: Christians Outraged that Muslims Used School
The federal government's "equal access" policy requires public schools that open their doors to any community group to also open their doors to religious groups. If a book club can meet in a school, so can a church. Conservative Christians complain when they think this policy isn't being followed - unless Muslims are being accommodated, that is.
Hell in Germany: Muslim Women Suffering Violent Abuse
A common problem in Muslims communities in many secular Western nations is the presence of violence against women. In Islam, women don't have the same status or rights as men; this can lead to pretty awful treatment and even physical abuse which may not be mandated by Islam, but also isn't always negated by it.
Barack Obama, Islam, and Rumor-Mongering
A lot of Democrats find Barack Obama to be an inspiring speaker. Some even hope that he might run for president some day - perhaps in 2008, although that would be awfully soon. There are conservatives who appear to be troubled by this, troubled enough in fact to already be contemplating how to hurt him in some fashion.
Evaluating the Conservative Revolution
Eight years of attempted progressive reform didn't produce much; now, conservatives are firmly in control of the government. They are working to restore religious and political purity, led by a man of limited intellectual credentials who is aligned with a newly elected legislature. America? No, Iran.
One source of tension between Muslim communities and the larger secular cultures that they tend to be part of are "offensive" actions, programs, advertising, etc. Things that don't offend the rest of society can be very offensive to devout Muslims - unfortunately, some proceed to insist that their standards should be adopted by all.
British Muslims Want Shari'ah Law
A poll of Muslims in Britain finds that 61% wanted Islamic courts based upon the Shari'ah to make decisions on civil matters: divorce, custody, marriage, inheritance, etc. They do not, however, want the Shari'ah court decisions to contravene British laws. I wonder how that would work.
Muslim TV Blames Zionists for AIDS
Muslim anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head once again in France. Arabic-language satellite station Al-Manar broadcast a show saying that Zionists have tried to transmit AIDS to Arab nations. The station had just promised the French government that they weren't anti-Semitic, too.
Iran: Suicide Volunteers Being Recruited
The government of Iran denies being involved with suicide terrorism, but they certainly aren't doing anything to discourage or stop it. An allegedly "private" organization is registering Iranians for suicide missions against Americans, Israelis, or Salman Rushdie.
Pentagon: U.S. Alienating World's Muslims
Even the Pentagon is coming to the realization that American military action abroad is further inflaming anti-American passion among Muslims and alienating them from any American goals. It's not enough to win the battles on the ground; the war on terror will only be "won" by changing people's minds about religion and culture.
Michigan: Sexist Imam Speaks to Students
Islamic traditions do not conceive of women generally having the same rights and privileges in society as do men. This attitude was put on display at Western Michigan University recently when Imam Siraj Wahhaj of Masjid Al-Taqwa mosque in Brooklyn, N.Y., gave a talk on how women should be restricted to only certain roles.
Imam Wishes Death for Critic of Islam
Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders has been an outspoken critic of Islamic extremism and has promised government investigations into the problems that extremism has been causing in his country. For his trouble, his life has been threatened - by an imam. This effectively proves that Wilders' concerns are valid and important.
20,000 Muslims Demonstrate Against Terror
Some have complained that there is insufficient action on the part of Muslims to combat and oppose terrorism. It is argued that platitudes about Islam being a "religion of peace" do little good when some Muslims commit horrific acts while the rest stand around and do nothing. It is not true, however, that they always do nothing.
Iran: Boy Lashed for Breaking Ramadan Fast, Dies
Ramadan is an especially holy time for Muslims - the entire month is taken up by fasting and various festive events. Breaking one's fast during Ramadan days is treated very harshly. In Iran, it cost a 14-year-old boy his life.
Atheism a Falsehood?
One of the tactics being used to combat Islamic extremism is not to tone done religion, but to increase it. Apparently the problem with the radicals and extremists isn't that they are overcome with too much religion but, rather, that they don't have enough. Makes sense, right?
French Cardinal: Islam Must Adapt to Secularism
One of the conflict points between Islam and the West is the fact that government in the West tends to be largely secular while Islam doesn't entirely acknowledge the appropriateness of secular administration of civil affairs. Muslims would appreciate a more religious government but Westerners prefer their traditional secularism. What's to happen?
Ontario: Muslims Object Being Exposed to Humanity of Gays
Canada is a nation that has decided to promote tolerance and diversity far more than most. This is causing conflicts with some conservative citizens. Recently Muslim parents objected to the fact that their children were being shown videos that demonstrate what it is like for kids of gay parents to be teased and bullied.
Being a Woman in Afghanistan
The Taliban has been defeated - well, not entirely, but they don't have as much power anymore - yet conditions for women in Afghanistan haven't improved as much as they should have. Women are still treated as second-class citizens because the men simply refuse to recognize them as social or political equals. It's amazing that they are even treated like human beings.
Past News Stories Dealing with Yasser Arafat
As chairman of the PLO and president of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat has been an important and influential figure in the Middle East - for good or for ill, depending upon where you stand on the issues. More than once Yasser Arafat has come up in news stories covered on this site.
Man Insults Islam Online, Is Tracked Down
In Malaysia, a man who made "insulting remarks" about Islam on a web site was tracked down and identified by authorities. Yes, "insulting" Islam is so serious that it merits official attention and punishment.
Don't Drink & Divorce
A man in India got drunk and divorced his wife. As Muslims, he was able to divorce her simply by reciting "talaq, talaq, talaq." Neighbors heard and won't let the couple get back together, insisting that because the divorce was valid, they can no longer live as a couple - even though the husband regrets his actions. This is what happens when religious law takes precedence over civil law.
Netherlands: Filmmaker of Movie Critical of Islam Murdered
The controversial Dutch film about Muslims' abuse of women has resulted in the murder filmmaker Theo van Gogh, grandson of the brother of famous painter Vincent Van Gogh.
Pakistan Reworking Blasphemy Law
Pakistan has already reworked laws on honor killing and now, perhaps, they may revise their blasphemy laws. These steps represent major improvements for people in Pakistan, but it's unclear whether they will really go far enough.
Pakistan Tightens Laws on Honor Killings
Pakistan has finally taken serious steps to stop honor killings and treat them like the horrendous crimes that they are, but critics insist that much more needs to be done. An honor killing can now get someone the death penalty, but just how likely is it that such a punishment will be imposed?
Fear of Islam in America
Muslims generally voted for Bush in 2000, but they are expected to vote overwhelmingly for Kerry in 2004 - despite the fact that Democrats support socially liberal policies that are at odds with Muslims' social conservatism. This is leading some of the more hysterical right-wingers to condemn American Muslims for their "betrayal."
Iran: 13-Year-Old Girl Sentenced to Death for Incest
In Iran, a 13-year-old girl has been sentenced to death because her 15-year-old brother got her pregnant. The boy, of course, doesn't face a death sentence - he'll only be whipped 150 times with a lash. Zhila Izadi just gave birth to her child so now she is eligible for stoning by the community.
Saudi Arabia: Women to be Barred from Voting
In Saudi Arabia, women will be denied the right to vote in the upcoming 2005 elections. Women, then, will continue to have a second-class status in the most theocratic Muslim nation and the nation which controls the holiest places of Islam. It's fair for outsiders to regard this as a legitimate expression of the values and ideals of Islam.
Muslim Brotherhood in America
The Muslim Brotherhood, which operates in America as the Muslim American Society, has a plan and a vision: remake American society and turn it into an Islamic nation, ruled by Islamic law and led by Muslims. No, these aren't the extremists and terrorists - these are mainstream, if conservative, Muslims in America.
Controversial Filmmaker Receiving Threats
Not long ago I wrote about the new film from Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali that addresses Muslim violence against women in a very graphic way. Well, the predictable death threats have been coming in and she has had to go into hiding.
Nigeria: Teacher Flees After Throwing Koran
In Nigeria a student who was reading a book instead of paying attention in class had her book taken away and thrown to the floor. Unfortunately for the teacher of just two weeks, that book was a Koran. Conflict ensued an the teacher had to flee, going into hiding because she fears for her life.
Iran Curbing Women's Rights
As religious conservatives in Iran gain more power, the rights of the people begin to reduce. The first to feel the pinch are, of course, Iranian women: hardliners want to severely curtail the rights and freedoms women have managed to eke out over the past years.
Nigeria: Human Rights Abuses Under Shariah Law
The imposition of Islamic laws in norther Nigeria has led to widespread abuses of basic human rights. Islamic law has been imposed for the sake of partisan politics and the people who suffer have no real recourse for justice.
Bigots Whine About "Muslim Youth Day"
The Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park in New Jersey recently held a special "Muslim Youth Day" where Muslim families had the park to themselves. The park regularly rents itself out in such a manner, for example to home schooled kids, but conservatives all around the nation are up in arms that Muslims were allowed to do this.
Israel: Archaeologists Fear Temple Mount Collapse
The Temple Mount area in Jerusalem is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. It also may be collapsing, in part due to the digging and construction done by Muslims who control the site. Guess who will get blamed if it does fall apart?
Pakistan: Musharraf Calls for Change in Blasphemy Law
One of the biggest criticisms that people both inside and outside of Pakistan have had is about its blasphemy laws. Almost anyone can be accused for the flimsiest of reasons and defense against the charges is very difficult. Finally, though, there is a chance that they might change.
Saudi Arabia Criticized Over Religious Rights
For a long time now people have complained about the manner in which Saudi Arabia handles religion and religious minorities. The American government has generally turned a deaf ear to such complaints, probably because of need of Saudi oil. Now, however, the quasi-independent Commission on International Freedom has labeled Saudi Arabia a "Country of Particular Concern."
Terrorists vs. Psychopaths
Why are some people willing to become suicide bombers? Well, we might as well ask why there are some soldiers willing to go on suicide missions. Why are some people willing to kill innocent people, including children, in terrorist acts? Well, we might as well ask why soldiers are willing to cause "collateral damage" to innocent. We might, unless we were simple-minded thinkers.
Turkey Won't Outlaw Adultery
A few days ago I wrote about how Turkey was considering a law that would criminalize adultery. Widespread criticism, however, seems to have induced them to change their plans.
Turkey: Proposed Adultery Ban Causing Debate
Turkey's government, controlled by a religious political party, is planning on criminalizing adultery. The excuse given is that this is needed to preserve the family, "human honour," and because western notions about adultery reflect "imperfect" morals.
France: Iraqi Kidnappings Backfire, Muslims Defend Headscarf Ban
French journalists were kidnapped in Iraq in order to pressure France into rescinding a law barring the Muslim girls from wearing headscarves to school. It has, however, had the opposite effect among French Muslims: they have begun rallying around the French government and the French law, defying the terrorists, extremists, and kidnappers.
Netherlands: Graphic Film on Muslim Domestic Violence
Conflicts between conservative Muslims and the liberal Western democracies they live in are on the increase. In the Netherlands, Somali-born MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali has created a provocative short film about the Muslim abuse of women that is creating a lot of controversy.
Jihad Magazine for Women
Islamic extremism is usually discussed in the context of men. Islam is a religion dominated by the male point of view and that goes doubly for Islamic extremism. Extremist leaders are all men and suicide bombers are almost all men. What, however, becomes of the women? There are women involved here, after all.
Norway: Porn Star Receives Death Threats
A contestant for Miss Norway had to drop out because of revelations that she stared in a couple of pornographic films. As if that weren't bad enough, this Iranian-born woman is now receiving death threats from Muslim extremists - extremists in Norway.
Iran: Unchaste 16-year-old Girl Executed?
Draconian Islamic laws may have claimed another victim. There are reports that a 16-year-old girl, Ateqeh Rajabi, in Neka in the northern Iranian province of Mazandaran, has been executed for "acts incompatible with chastity." Perhaps some Iranian clerics should be executed for "acts incompatible with humanity."
Saudis Export Oil, Religious Extremism
The West sends large amounts of money to Saudi Arabia in exchange for oil - but oil isn't that country's only export. They also send to the West religious extremism in the guise of a violent, intolerant brand of Islam.
Muslims Accused of Archeological Destruction on Temple Mount
The Temple Mount area in Jerusalem is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Under the current agreement, Muslims control the area generally but Israel is responsible for security. There is, however, a serious controversy over plans to thousands of pounds of earth and rubble without a proper archaeological study.
Muslim Women, Islamic Dress, and Olympic Sports
Muslims compete at the Olympics just like anyone else, but the challenges for Muslims women can be especially difficult. How can they balance their desire to participate with their desire to maintain the strict dress codes they must usually follow?
Rushdie & Pornography
Salman Rushdie is not very popular in the Muslim world and he may be about to get even less popular. He is, apparently, arguing that the presence of pornography can be a sign of a healthy, free society. Many Muslims will object to this; even more interesting are the objections being raised by Christians.
No Judo With Jews?
Iranian judo champion Arash Miresmaeili has refused to compete against Israeli athlete Ehud Vaks. The Olympics officially prohibits race, religion, ethnicity, or skin color from interfering with sports - so what are they going to do abut this?
Indonesia: Christians Challenge Church-Building Ban
Since 1969, religious minorities in Indonesia have been prohibited from building houses of worship without approval from local government officials. They, in turn, consult with local mosques â€” and the mosques just about always reject the proposal. Thus, there is an effective ban on any new houses of worship, something that Christians are trying to change.
Malaysia: Carnival Labeled Contrary to Islam
A carnival put on by TV3 in Malaysia was called haram (forbidden) by religious officials, but that didn't stop large numbers of people from turning out to attend the festivities. A bigger event is being planned for next year, a specific rejection of what religious officials would like to see happen.
Britian: Muslim Doctors Acting Improperly
There have been debates in America about whether medical professionals should allow private religious beliefs to interfere with their duties to their patients. In Britain, the same debate may be coming up - but in the context of Islam, not Christianity. It is being reported that some Muslims doctors turn away patients with STDs, saying that the diseases are punishments from God.
Canada: Implementing Shariah Law
There is a good chance that Canada will allow Muslims to submit civil disputes to arbitration under Muslim law (shariah) instead of Canadian civil law. Many Muslims welcome this, but others fear that this would be a serious problems because shariah is simply unfair - especially to women who won't realize that they have a choice.
Wahhab vs. Wahhabism
Wahhabi Islam has received a lot of bad press in recent years and much of the blame for Islamic extremism tends to laid at the Wahhabist doorstep. But what if the association is not entirely accurate? What if Wahhabism isn't supposed to be that bad?
UN Urged to Protect Muslim Apostates
Apostates in Islam have a very difficult time. We don't generally hear about these people's stories - they do, after all, try to keep quiet. But even when they aren't quiet, little is said about them in the West because their experiences help demonstrate that too many of the Muslims in the world do not share the West's values of religious tolerance and freedom.
Muslim Fires Catholic Employee for Eating BLT
If you work for a devoutly religious employer, should you be expected to adhere to your employer's religious practices? This sounds absurd, but it's exactly what Kujaatele Kweli, Muslim CEO of Rising Star in Florida, expects. He fired a Catholic woman for eating a BLT sandwich for lunch because bacon is a forbidden food. For him.
Muslim Chaplain: Accused & Freed, Now Resigns
James Yee, the Muslim chaplain who was charged with espionage but later cleared completely, has handed in his resignation. He never even received an apology from the army - much less from all the right-wing pundits who savaged him in their reporting on the matter.
Iran Allows Sex-Change Operations
Iran is a curious country: it's ruled by conservative Islamic values and religious beliefs, but in some ways and at some times it appears almost liberal in comparison to other Muslim nations - and even when compared to America's Christian Right. Currently, they have not only allowed sex change operations, they are paying for them
Britain: Muslim Clerics Must Pass English Test
The British government has decided to start mandating English proficiency tests for imams. Their concern is that British Muslims are increasingly native-born and growing up speaking English; if an imam can't communicate in English effectively, they won't be able to communicate with their congregation. But why is the government involved in this at all?
Malaysia: Muslims Barred from "Passion"? Film
Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion" continues to be popular in various nations, but its controversial subject manner has caused some governments to place restrictions on it. Malaysia, for example, is only allowing Christians to buy tickets and view the film.
Malaysia: Non-Muslims Charged for Blasphemy in Islamic Court
Should non-Muslims have to answer religious charges in a Muslim court? Malaysia's Federal Court says so, at least if the alleged offense was committed at a time when those involved were Muslims.
Afghanistan: Rebuilding the Bamiyan Buddhas
They were built more than 1,700 years ago and destroyed in just a few days by religious fanatics: the Bamiyan Buddhas were once considered wonders of the ancient world but the Taliban regarded them as affronts to their religious sensibilities. Now, some are wondering whether they can be rebuilt.
Muslims in America: Mission Field or Mine Field?
For evangelical Christians, a primary duty is to "evangelize" - spread the news of their religious faith in order to convert as many people as possible. This includes Muslims, of course, and the growing numbers of Muslim immigrants to America is inspiring Christians to come up with new and better ways to approach them for conversion. Rusty Benson writes in Agape Press (my comments are in bold):
Feminism vs. Terrorism
Policy makers around the world have been working hard for many years on methods for combatting terrorism, especially the organized terrorism of Muslim extremists in the Middle East. Some favor harsh military and police tactics. Others favor working to improve the social conditions which breed extremism, "winning hearts and minds." What about working on the women, instead?
Conservative Islamism Growing in Middle East
As Islamism and Islamic extremism grow in the Middle East, they threaten to pose a greater threat to security and peace around the world. Even worse, they pose a very serious threat to liberty and progress within their own nations. So why are they so popular?
Texas: Muslim Charity Charged with Aiding Hamas
American Muslims have worked hard to try to distance themselves from militants and terrorists in the Middle East, but investigators have uncovered more than one connection between Muslim organizations in the U.S. and terrorist groups abroad. In the latest, a Texas charity has been charged with funneling money to Hamas.
What Does CAIR Want in America?
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, is one of the most vocal and visible Muslim organizations in America. Most of the time they are seen as defending the civil rights of Muslims, but is that all they really seek? There is some evidence that their goals are broader - and less appropriate.
Turkey Getting Tough on "Honor"
As more light is shined on the practice, more governments are beginning to crack down on the old and barbaric practice of "honor" killings. Whereas before men who murdered female relatives in order to maintain family honor were often treated with deference, now they are starting to be treated like the vicious criminals they are.
Criteria for Muslim Prison Chaplains Being Tightened
Corrections officials in the United States are concerned about the growth of Islam in America's prisons - and how they might be able to control it. Without proper "guidance" from "approved" Muslim chaplains who preach the "correct" version of Islam, who knows what might happen?
Palestinians Making Millions on Israeli Security Barrier
Palestinian leaders have complained loudly about the Israeli security barrier and the International Court of Justice has ruled against it. Many Palestinians, however, have made millions of dollars by supplying the materials needed to build it - something that Yasser Arafat has been aware of and given his tacit approval to.
Controversy Over Women Praying at College Mosque
In Kerala, India, female students are given the same rights in a student mosque as the male students - that, however, has upset many male Muslims who want the women kicked out. The administration, however, won't get involved and kick them out.
Spain: Government Might Finance Mosques
Under a 1979 agreement with the Vatican, Spain's government provides funds for Roman Catholic churches, a benefit now being considered for all religious groups. In particular, they are looking to fund mosques - partly for the sake of fairness and partly to discourage them from seeking funds from foreign extremist groups.
New York: Mall Security Called on Praying Muslims
People in America seem to be growing more and more suspicious of Muslims - a situation not helped by the fact that most Americans don't seem to know anything about Muslims' religious practices. In New York, a couple of Muslims who needed to pray outside a mall had security called on them.
Iran: Academic Sentenced to 5 Years Jail
Iranian academic Hashem Aghajari, charged with blasphemy for calling on Muslims not to blindly follow clerical leaders like "monkeys," has been sentenced to five years in prison. This is actually an improvement for him - he was originally sentenced to death - but it still demonstrates that Iran has a long way to go before being free.
Killing School in Gaza
Terrorism in Israel and Palestine is a very serious issue, but perhaps even more serious is the manner in which young children are being recruited into the cycle of violence. There is a new report out about a school in Gaza that specializes in training kids as young as 10 in how to fight.
Fashion Crackdown in Iran
Watch out for the fashion police! In Iran right now, that warning really does meaning something: the government is trying to crack down on uppity women who have the gall to violate the nation's strict Islamic dress codes. Violators will have to wear burqas with mis-matched colors... oh, they aren't allowed to be colorful. So what will happen to them?
Moderate Muslims Deceiving Media?
Whenever there is violence in the name of Islam, you can count on the media carrying comments from moderate Muslims decrying such violence and insisting that Islam is a religion of peace. Is it possible, however, that some moderate Muslims have been misleading the media in their descriptions of Islam?
Islam and Women's Rights
There has been a lot of criticism of Islam for the way that women are treated in Muslim societies. It is argued that the poor treatment of women reflects the current inability of Muslim societies to become free, democratic states. But is this criticism justified?
CAIR Tied to Terrorism?
The other day I wrote about a recent Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) poll showing strong support for John Kerry over George W. Bush among Muslims in America. Now, a conservative "think"? tank is alleging that CAIR has ties to terrorists.
Bush on Turkey and the EU
When President Bush recently visited Turkey, he voiced his support for their admission to the EU and made reference to the idea that Turkey has been excluded in the past because of its Muslim culture and heritage. For some strange reason, not everyone has been happy about that.
Taliban Attacks Female Election Workers
Americans tend to think that they were victorious in Afghanistan, but the fact of the matter is leading Taliban members are still at large and, even worse, Taliban forces are still active trying to enforce their narrow religious views. Recently, a bus of female election workers was bombed. Two women and a child died.
Muslim Children Reenact Nick Berg's Execution
The beheading of American Nick Berg in Iraq continues to generate discussion and debate. Despite the fact that some Muslims, even Hizbollah, have condemned it, others treat it as something to be proud of. A recent video shows Muslim children reenacting the murder.
Muslims and Killing "Infidels"
The dramatic growth in Islamic terrorism in recent years has caused many people to reexamine Muslim scriptures in the effort to learn what sort of inspiration might be there for violence. Some argue that the Qur'an instructs Muslims to kill infidels, but is this true?
Beheadings in Saudi Arabia
The beheading of Paul Johnson by terrorists in Saudi Arabia horrified people around the world. What many may not realize is that beheading is the standard form of capital punishment in Saudi Arabia - and it's a punishment that is used often.
Brothel Workers in Iran
In 2003, Iranian delegates to the UN Commission on the Status of Women rejected a draft declaration calling on signatories to 'condemn violence against women and refrain from invoking any custom, tradition, or religious consideration to avoid their obligations with respect to its elimination.'? Want to learn about some of the consequences?
Muslim Trucker Sues Over Alcohol Load
In Tennessee a Muslim truck driver has been fired because he refused to haul a load of beer which, he said, would have been contrary to his religion. He's filed suit in federal court and wants the right to pick and choose what sorts of products he will transport.
Pakistan Fails to Rein In Schools
As part of their role in the war on terrorism, Pakistan was supposed to crack down on the schools teaching extremists and violent forms of Islam. It was from these schools, after all, that the Taliban developed. Unfortunately, the promised crack down has not materialized and extremism continues to be part of the curriculum.
Violence in the Name of Islam
There is a conflict among Muslims over the use of violence. Some, obviously, think that violent terrorism should be used to further their theocratic aims. Others deplore such violence and urge the community to renounce them. It's a lively debate, apparently.
American Hostage Killed
In another blow against the credibility of Islam, Islamic militants in Saudi Arabia have executed American hostage Paul Johnson. In taking this action they are effectively sending a message to the world that Islam is a violent, barbaric religion. It's not a true message, but it's the message that people will see nevertheless.
Iran Rejects Curbs on Nuclear Program
Iran has long denied that they have been developing nuclear weapons and have even made noises about accepting United Nations oversight and inspections to insure the truth of this. Now, however, they are saying that the world will simply have to accept them as a nuclear power.
Saudi Student Acquitted of Terrorism Charges
Not too long ago I wrote about the prosecution of Saudi computer science doctoral student Sami Omar al-Hussayen, accused of giving "expert advice" to terrorist groups because he moderated a message board where some fatwas were posted. The verdict: not guilty.
Death to Apostates
People in the West often criticize Islamic laws as barbaric and unsuitable to modern society. Among the many provisions of Shariah that come in for strong criticism is the idea that someone who leaves Islam for another religion should be executed. Even many Muslims reject this. Others, however, defend it strongly.
Gay and Muslim
It's difficult enough being a gay Christian, but it's far worse to be a gay Muslims - even if you live in a relatively progressive Western nation. Some have decided that they won't tolerate being attacked anymore and are organizing to fight
Fundamentalist Saudi School in Britain
One of the problems in the global fight against terrorism and Islamic extremism is the fact that Saudi Arabia finances fundamentalist religious schools and community centers all over the world. The Saudi government promotes a form of Islam that is inimical to democracy and liberty.
Culture and Honor Killings
One of the goals of the occupation of Iraq is to create a stable, functioning democracy in the hope that this will lead to the flourishing of democracy across the Middle East. Aside from the question of whether democracy can be imposed from above, there is the question of how compatible Iraqi and Arab culture right now are with the basic requirements of democratic institutions.
Honor Killing over Molestation, Gynecological Exam
A Turkish immigrant in Scottsville, New York has been charged with the murder of his wife. He claims that his actions were taken as a matter of 'honor.' Why? He attacked his wife and 22-year-old daughter after learning that they had been molested by the man's brother. He tried to kill his four-year-old daughter because she had been 'sullied'? by a gynecological exam.
Forgotten Palestinian Christians
The conflict in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians is commonly framed as a conflict between Jews and Muslims - and that is, in fact, how most Muslims in the Middle East regard it. Everyone, however, tends to forget the presence of Palestinian Christians.
Saudi Coverup in British Woman's Death?
Have Saudi officials been covering up a British woman's death for 25 years? Have British officials been complicit in this cover-up? Ron Smith, father of Helen Smith who died at a party in Saudi Arabia, think so and for the past quarter century he's been on a quest to see that justice is done and the truth is revealed.
Religion vs. Tradition in Saudi Arabia
Not everything that is done in Muslim nations in the name of Islam is truly "Islamic." Some of it is just cultural tradition that has been tacked on to Islam. There's nothing wrong with that - it happens in every religion - but in some cases it can cause serious problems and hard choices have to be made.
Vatican Warns Against Marriage to Muslims
Interfaith marriages are relatively common in America - because people of so many different cultures, ethnicities, and religions are thrown together rather than kept separate, the chances for friendship and romance are increased. Some religious leaders are, however, dismayed by such developments.
Islam & the Bush Administration
One would expect that, before invading Iraq, President George W. Bush and his administration would have made sure that they had a good understanding about the cultural, ethnic, and religious situation. Such an understanding would, after all, make it easier to arrive at sound, productive decisions about how to proceed. But did they?
Iran's Theocracy is Sputtering
Perhaps America's first violent confrontation with Islamic extremism was in the guise of Iran and the Ayatollah Khomenei. It's been a quarter of a century since the Islamic Revolution in Iran... and how are things going? Not very well. The leaders of Iran encouraged people to have lots of children and they complied; now, those children are growing up and seeking their own path in life...
Ruckus at Morgantown Mosque
One of the problems facing Muslims is the prevalence of fundamentalists and extremists who set themselves up as religious leaders. Just about anyone can be an imam and frequently imams lead a congregation down a path towards extremist Islam. When someone objects, they can be in for a hard time.
Death Penalty for Iranian Academic
A death sentence against Saleh Nikbakht, a history professor at a Tehran college, has been confirmed by the provincial court that originally imposed it in 2002. Nikbakht's crime: he made a speech saying that Muslims are not "monkeys" and "should not blindly follow" clerics. How terrible! In Iran, that's considered "blasphemy."
Islamic Extremists Converting Christians
Usually when we hear about Christian/Muslim missionary activity, it's Christians trying to convert Muslims. Who'd have though that Islamic extremists would be trying to convert Christians - and succeeding! That appears to be the case in the Philippines.
Islam and Democracy?
Many people fear that Islam will never be compatible with democracy because there are so many violent Muslim fanatics who oppose basic liberal and democratic principles. Doesn't the Islamic rejection of separating church and state make an Islamic democracy impossible? Hardly - although, for an Islamic democracy to happen, Islamic fascists need to be dealt with first.
Vatican Rebuffs Spanish Muslims
Once a Roman temple and then a Muslims mosque, the cathedral of Cordoba is important to both Christians and Muslims. Now some Spanish Muslims are asking for the right to pray there - and the Vatican regards this as trying to "take revenge" on the Catholic Church.
More on Jay Severin
I mentioned a few days ago about how complaint have been made against radio host Jay Severin for suggesting that all Muslims be killed. Apparently, Severin has been denying that he said what he said - and, according to one columnist, being less than honest about other things as well.
Feds to Screen Muslim Prison Chaplains?
Concerned that Muslims in American prisons could become radicalized, the Justice Department is looking at screening who will be allowed to serve as chaplains across the country. Those who hold extremist views will be denied access to prisoners. That sounds understandable - but there is a danger in the government performing tests on just what religions are "acceptable" and what aren't.
Calls to Incorporate Sharia Into International Law
Muslim scholars are arguing that Sharia, Islamic Law, should be incorporated into international laws. According to these scholars, Sharia would be an effective tool to avoid injustice and international crises. After all, it's done a fantastic job at preventing violence throughout the Middle East, a region which is a model of peace and tranquility.
Bigots Still Mad About Muslim Calls to Prayer
I reported a few days ago about the situation in Hamtramck, Michigan: the council wanted to consider allowing mosques to begin broadcasting calls to prayer in Arabic and lots of Christian bigots came out to protest. Well, the measure passed unanimously, but the bigots still aren't done with their fight.
Zionist Terrorism in Saudi Arabia
Recently several men attacked an oil contractor's office in Saudi Arabia. Five foreign workers, including two American engineers, were killed in attacks that most have blamed on Islamic militants. Crown Prince Abdullah, however, claims that such terrorism is caused by Zionists. Yes, Zionist terrorist in Saudi Arabia.
Kill All Muslims?
Christian rage at Islam has been growing since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Even early on there were vicious verbal attacks against Muslims, but they haven't really abated much with time. Even now there are apparently those who considers Muslims to be less than human.
Girls Poisoned for Going to School
After the "liberation" of Afghanistan, it was hoped that there would be greater freedom for everyone in that country - but especially the women, who were repressed by the Taliban. Unfortunately, not all of those freedoms have materialized because while the Taliban may be out of power, the extremists are still everywhere, attacking those who step out of line.
Boy Refuses Sex with Cleric, is Attacked with Acid
A scandal brewing in Pakistan is threatening to reveal a sordid side to the Islamic schools spread across that nation: sexual abuse of young boys. According to 16-year-old Abid Tanoli, when he refused the sexual advances of a teacher, he was attacked with acid. Now he's nearly blind and his face is horribly disfigured.
European Muslims Call for Islamic State
There are many Muslims throughout the Middle East and in Africa who would like their countries to be "Islamic" states - which means, apparently, that Islamic law is imposed upon all citizens regardless of their religion instead of a neutral, secular legal system. Unfortunately, this desire has spread to growing numbers of Muslims in Europe as well.
Sharia in Nigeria
In northern Nigerian, the state of Zamfara has implemented a new set of wide-ranging Islamic laws. They originally introduced Sharia in 2000 and this represents even more religious rules that everyone will have to follow, whether they are Muslims or not. Non-Muslims are, naturally, concerned.
Despotism in Iran
Iran's President Mohammad Khatami owes his position to reform-minded young people who would like to see changes in how Iran is run. Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to achieve a great deal and this is putting him in hot water with those same reformists. Khatami acknowledges, however, that there are "signs of despotism" in how Iran is structured.
Controlling Islam in Saudi Arabia
Wahhabi Islam is extremist, and that's putting it mildly. The power and authority of the Saudi royal family has always been connected to the social power and influence of Wahhabi clerics - the same clerics who preach an Islam which is becoming increasingly problematic to Saudi Arabia's Western allies.
Apology, Townhall Style
When James Yee, Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo Bay, was arrested on charges of espionage, conservatives lept to attack. Some even suggested that no Muslims should be admitted as translators - arguing that morality and integrity would only be found in evangelical Christians. Now that all the charges against Yee have been dropped, how are these same people reacting?
Suicide Bomber Detonates Muggers
In what has to be the most ironic event in recent weeks, two muggers who though it would be a good idea to rob a suicide bomber got a lot more than they expected - when the bomber decided to detonate his bomb and take them all out together. Hamas, who sent the bomber, claims that the muggers were working for Israel.
Killing Children for Islam?
The use of teens and children - one as young as eleven - for suicide bombings has grown in recent years, and that is raising concern in many quarters. When combined with the fact that Palestinian children are being encouraged to go into the streets to fight the Israeli army, the question is raised: do Palestinian parents not love their children?
Bombers Will "Burn in Hell"
A number of Muslim clerics are tired of the terrorism committed by Muslim extremists - especially when that terrorism occurs in Muslim countries, like Saudi Arabia. The recent bombing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has resulted in harsher condemnations than what we heard after the train bombing in Spain.
Americans Believe Iraq Aided Al-Qaida
Americans believe quite a few strange things - but perhaps the most disturbing belief which has remained persistent over recent months is the idea that Iraq played an important role in aiding Al Qaida and Osama bin Laden. Such a connection is not impossible, but it is unlikely - and so far, there is no evidence of it. So why do people believe?
Muslims aren't exactly well know for their contributions to modern humor. There are plenty of Jewish comics, for example, but how many Muslims comics are there? More than we probably realize and a new online satire publication, Islamica News, is looking to present a different face of Muslims to the world.
Violence in Islam
Apologists for Islam commonly argue that Islam is a religion of peace - and there is certainly plenty within Islam that endorses peace. In practice, though, there are many extremists who use Islam to justify violence and their existence cannot be ignored. When scholars try to deal with such people, though, they are often attacked by even moderate Muslims.
Saudi TV Presenter Beaten by Husband
When the civil rights of women are curtailed, violence towards women increases - not just violence in society generally but also in the home. It's not hard to justify violence towards a person when society tells you that they have a second-class status and are inferior to you. That's what happens in Islamic society - even when the women are professionals in their own right.
Waco in Iraq
American forces in Iraq are prepared to treat religious leader al-Sadr like they treated Saddam Hussein - capture or kill him. The problem with this is that while Hussein may have been a criminal, al-Sadr is a religious icon to many throughout Iraq. These two types of leaders can be treated the same, but should they be? History indicates that doing so only leads to more problems later on.
Christian Bigotry over Muslims' Call to Prayers
Hamtramck, Michigan is a small town that is becoming increasingly diverse - and that means an increasing Muslim population. Now a mosque has requested that they be allowed to broadcast calls to prayer in Arabic. It is expected that the resolution approving it will pass easily - but the suggestion has brought out local Christian bigots in droves.
Islam in German Schools
Muslim students are having trouble coping with the standards in German schools - not the academic standards, but the social and behavioral standards which sometimes contradict Islamic teachings. Examples include sex education, co-ed sports (like swimming), and more. What are Muslim students to do? Must they conform and adapt, or must German schools adapt to them?
France to Expel Muslim Cleric
For some reason, a number of Muslim clerics have a serious problem with women - specifically, they think that there is something about women that can justify a man beating his wife. In a recent case, a Muslim cleric in France was arrested and will be expelled for saying that the Quran authorizes wife-beating, for example in cases of adultery.
Decline of Muslim Science
There was a time when Muslims led the world in medical and scientific development. There were so far advanced of Europe that anyone would have laughed at the idea that something like the current state of affairs would develop: Islamic nations barely producing anything of medical or scientific merit while Europe and America have become the centers of progress. How did this happen?
Married to the Jihad
People may not have given it much thought, but in hindsight it should be pretty obvious: many, if not most, of the leaders of Islamic terrorism are family men with wives and children. How do their families hold up under the two-fold pressure of husbands who are at war, always in danger of being killed, and of a world community hunting for anyone in their family who can be caught?
Al-Sadr's Thugs Destroy Village
Moqtada al-Sadr is a powerful religious voice in Iraq and his fiercely loyal Mahdi Army is becoming a powerful military force. But a voice for what and a force for what? A suggestion of how to answer such questions was revealed in the town Qawliya - or perhaps we should say "former town," because al-Sadr's men have completely destroyed it and scattered its inhabitants.
Women Banned from TV in Afghan Province
Women continue to be hit with barriers to freedom in "Liberated" Afghanistan. Now, the southeastern province Nangahar (which is heavily patrolled by U.S. forces) has banned women from the television - including news presenters - because female entertainers is "un-Islamic."
Islamist Fifth Column
One thing that America hasn't really had to deal with yet is a violent Islamist underground - American Muslims who seek the violent overthrow of the American government in favor of an Islamic theocracy. Such a problem could come to pass, however, if moderate American Muslims don't do more to crack down on violent tendencies within the Muslim community.
Saudi Funding of Terror Suspects... in America
Is the Saudi government funding religious extremists? Of course they are - that's been known for a long time and they show little interest in stopping it, even though religious extremism breeds religious terrorism. But are they also funding those directly connected to terrorism, rather than simply their theological mentors?
Mosques Calling for Jihad in Iraq
Things have been getting very difficult in Iraq lately - but figuring out just how bad it is or is not going is difficult because of the lack of on-the-spot news reporting. Fortunately, there are Iraqis who are blogging about what they are seeing and hearing. Their insights can be very helpful.
Muslim Woman Attacked in Florida
For the most part, Muslims in America have not had to endure hate crimes on account of the terrorism committed by other Muslims in the world. It's not as if they have been completely immune to bigotry and violence, but incidents have generally been few and far between. Unfortunately, that won't be much comfort to a woman beaten in Florida because of her Islamic headscarf.
Carey's Assault on Islam
When George Carey retired from the office of Archbishop of Canterbury, he didn't retire from public speaking and stating his opinion on matters. Recently he made a speech in Rome that was a harsh attack on Islam. Being harsh, however, doesn't mean that it was entirely unjustified.
How To Beat Your Wife
Are you a man interested in learning more about how best to beat your wife? Are you a woman who thinks that she could stand to be better corrected and disciplined by her husband? Well, have no fear - there are many, many Muslim clerics in the world who are anxious to help educate men about how to properly beat their wives in order to ensure marital bliss.
West Bank Miracle Lamb
Palestinians in the West Bank believe that a lamb born on the day that Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was killed bears a birthmark in the shape of the Arabic word for God: Allah. This, of course, is being treated as a sign that God supports whatever it is that people already believed.
"The Passion" Popular in Arab Countries. Guess Why
Is "The Passion" antisemitic? Defenders of Mel Gibson's movie say it isn't - but someone forgot to tell Arab Muslims audiences about that. It seems that its non-existent antisemitism is actually part of the film's appeal in the Middle East. Is anyone surprised?
Israel: Nothing Left to Lose
Many people around the world may observe the actions of Israel and wonder what their government must be thinking - one might get the impression that they are deliberately trying to anger the Palestinians. That, however, would be a mistake. It seems that the common attitude is that they just don't care anymore if something angers the Palestinians.
Hamas Chief: Bush is Enemy of God
President George W. Bush and his fellow Republicans style themselves as the most religious and godly of Americans. They frequently make references to the idea that God is not only on the side of America, but that God actually has a strong preference for the Republican Party. But what if they are wrong? Islamic militants believe that they are wrong and claim that God actually supports them.
Half of Americans Favor Cutting Muslims' Civil Liberties
America may be better prepared for fascism and totalitarianism than many realize. A recent survey has found widespread support for cutting the civil liberties of Muslims and people from the Middle East. The strongest support comes from those who are the most religious and who are Republican.