08/05/2016 After Qandeel Baloch’s murder, is the world finally waking up to ‘honor killings’?

Source: Asia Times

The brutal murder of Pakistani model and social media star Qandeel Baloch drew so much international attention that Islamabad is finally taking steps to prevent such “honor killings” by removing legal loopholes which help culprits to escape punishment or receive light sentences. However, this social evil can’t be wiped out unless Muslim communities reform and allow women and girls to make their own clothing, dating, marital and even sexual choices.

The case of Qandeel Baloch, the “Kim Kardashian” of Pakistan, has rightly captured international headlines. A social media phenomenon, Baloch was known for posts that were provocative in the context of her home culture, even if they would be considered rather benign to many in the West, and certainly in the United States.

Honor-based violence – a type of violence in which families, sometimes with the help of the broader community, punish a victim (usually female) for a perceived social or sexual indiscretion, has long been a plague. This is certainly true in Pakistan – most especially in more insular communities where a more regressive interpretation of Islam is enforced.

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11/6/2015 Dublin cleric concerned over Islamic teaching

Source: RTE Ireland’s National Television and Radio Broadcaster

A Dublin-based Muslim cleric has said that he is concerned that Muslim children may be taught incorrect teachings of Islam and may develop a distorted version of Islam at weekend Islamic education classes held throughout Ireland.

Shaykh Umar al-Qadri, who is head Imam at Blanchardstown mosque, told RTÉ’s News At One that teachers attending the weekend classes are often unqualified in Islamic studies, they have no training and there is no regulation or transparency of the syllabus.

He said if children are being taught incorrect versions of Islam, it may leave them vulnerable to radicalisation.

“Some youngsters or teenagers that have travelled from Ireland to join ISIS, or to join other militant organisations, they were being brought up in Ireland,” he said.

“They used to attend Koran schools and weekend Islamic schools in Ireland. So how was it possible that these children were able to be radicalised?”

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11/5/15 Remove Islam’s ‘Scarlet Letter’ Sex Laws

Source: The Daily Beast

Excerpt from the article:

The terrible video of Taliban stoning a young Afghan woman to death has gone viral—and Muslims must fight against the outdated laws that allow such brutality.
On a rocky patch of dirt in the mountainous province of Ghor in central Afghanistan, a band of about a dozen men, clad in turbans and traditional salwar kameez, or baggy pants and tunic, tower over a young woman, named Rokhshana, buried, yes, in a pit.

A pile of fresh dirt is piled around her shoulders and head, peeking out from the hole, just above ground. The long, dark shadows of the men dance around the woman menacingly.

In a shocking two-minute video, shot just days ago and ricocheting around the world this week, a man stops just a few feet from Rokhshana, close enough to look her in the eyes. He picks up a stone, reels back and flings it toward the young woman, aged about 19. The rock hits the ground, landing with a thud. The man reaches down to pick up another rock and throws again.

This time, the man hits his mark: Rokhshana, a name that means bright, brilliant and shining. Her crime: zina, or illegal sex, for rejecting a forced marriage for a love marriage. Her chosen husband was lashed and set free.

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10/25/15 Afghanistan Looks to Russia for Military Hardware: Kremlin’s more-assertive foreign policy raises potential for clash with U.S.

Source: The Wall Street Journal 

Excerpt for the article:

Afghanistan, battered by worsening security, is reaching out to an old ally and patron—Russia—just as the Kremlin is seeking to reassert its position as a heavyweight on the world stage.

President Ashraf Ghani has asked Moscow for artillery, small arms and Mi-35 helicopter gunships for his country’s struggling military, Afghan and Russian officials say, after the U.S. and its allies pulled most of their troops from Afghanistan and reduced financial aid.

The outreach has created another opening for the Kremlin, stepping up the potential for confrontation with Washington. East-West relations are already strained over such issues as Ukraine and Middle Eastern policy.

“Russia is seizing the opportunity,” a U.S. official said.

Beyond such rivalries, however, the move also reflects Russian concerns that the deterioration of security in Afghanistan could destabilize Central Asia—and bring Islamic extremism closer to its own border.

At an Oct. 16 summit in Kazakhstan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the situation “was becoming close to critical,” with militant groups looking to expand their reach across the region.

“It’s important for us to be ready to react in concert to just such a scenario,” he told other Central Asian leaders.

Russia launched an air war in Syria last month with the aim, it said, of combating the rise of Islamic State in the region by buttressing its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It also has forged a new alliance with Iran and Iraq with the same goals.

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Source: News Maker 

Sharia law is Islamic law and the law of the Islamic state. Therefore it may seem unsurprising that given the claims of ISIS to be an Islamic State that Jacqui Lambie associates sharia law with terrorism. The obvious question that follows is; ‘what is terrorism?’ It seems our own universities, though they have courses devoted to it, have trouble defining terrorism and suggest one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. What is clear is that academics would never define terrorism as sharia law which leaves Lambie languishing.

Fortunately we have Australian Islamic scholars like Mehmet Ozalp who have given us a few more clues about sharia law. In his submission to the 2012 Multiculturalism Inquiry Ozalp noted there are four categories of sharia law; the first two pertain to beliefs, worship and rituals and the latter two to ethics and law. It seems clear that if we are to maintain a healthy separation of ‘church’ and state – or in this case mosque and state – the line should be clearly drawn before we seek to redefine ethics and law.


In a free society, promoting freedom of religion is a no brainer.  It should have no bearing on the rest of society whether adherents of Islam face Mecca five times a day or not. However when we get to ethics and law, those other two categories of sharia that affect everyone, we encounter a number of issues. These include the apostasy and blasphemy laws, that undermine freedom and human rights. It’s clear it is here that the line must be drawn.

No one should cry ‘racism’ when these lines are drawn.  Dr Zudhi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy  (AIFD) is an example of a strong advocate for separation of mosque and state. He  renounces sharia law and refers to those OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) leaders pushing for the international recognition of laws that would effectively act as international blasphemy and apostasy laws, as ‘thugs’. Despite being a committed Muslim, Jasser urges Americans to not bow down to these thugs because he values freedom, democracy and human rights for all.

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12/10/2013 Egypt’s Record Against Christians Called Into Question

Source:  Trans Talk Radio News Service  

Excerpt from article:

(TRNS) — Human rights experts and advocates said today that human rights and religious freedom in Egypt must improve under Egypt’s current military government.

“When religious freedom is protected, the rest of society will be healthy,” U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Vice Chair Zuhdi Jasser said at a hearing before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. “When it is not protected, society will deteriorate.”

Egypt’s transition to democracy following the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak was expected to lead to an improvement in human rights, according to Human Rights First Policy Director Tad Stahnke. Instead, the rise and downfall of the Morsi regime has led to more religious freedom unrest.

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10/16/2013 Turkey says it fires on al-Qaida-linked fighter positions in Syria

Source: The Jerusalem Post

Turkish military fires four artillery shells at Islamist Syrian positions after stray mortar shell strikes Turkish territory.

Patriot missile installation on Turkish-Syrian border.
Patriot missile installation on Turkish-Syrian border. Photo: REUTERS

ISTANBUL – Turkey’s army said on Wednesday it had fired on al-Qaida-linked fighters over the border in northern Syria in response to a stray mortar shell which struck Turkish territory.

The military fired four artillery shells at positions of fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Tuesday, the general staff statement said.

Turkey has repeatedly carried out such retaliatory action when shells fired from Syria hit Turkey in the past. This appeared to be the first time the Turkish military had targeted the al-Qaida-linked fighters in such a way.

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9/23/13 Terror Group That Claimed Kenya Attack Has Recruited Americans Before

Source: ABC News

The same group that claimed responsibility for an attack on a Kenyan mall this weekend that has claimed at least 62 lives has previously recruited dozens of Americans to join their cause.

U.S. officials estimate that as many as 50 Americans have traveled to training camps in Somalia, the home of the al Qaeda-linked terror group al-Shabaab, over the last six years.

Just last month, al-Shabaab released a video showing three young men claiming to be from Minneapolis who the terror group said later died as martyrs.

“This is the best place to be honestly,” one of the men says. “I can only tell you from my experience being here, that you have the best of dreams, you eat the best of food, and you’re with the best of the brothers and sisters who came here for the sake of Allah. If you guys only knew how much fun we have over here. This is the real Disneyland, you need to come here and join us and take pleasure in this fun.”

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9/23/13 Kenya mall attack: Military says most hostages freed, death toll at 68

Source: CNN

Nairobi, Kenya (CNN) — Authorities in Kenya appeared close to ending a deadly siege Monday at an upscale Nairobi mall, where attackers have killed at least 68 people, injured 175, and are believed to still be holding about 10 people hostage.

“All efforts are underway to bring this matter to a speedy conclusion,” the Kenyan military announced on Twitter.

It said that “most of the hostages have been rescued and security forces have taken control of most parts of the building.”

Earlier, police had tweeted that a “MAJOR assault” by security forces was ongoing.

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9/18/13 In Britain, emotive debate about the Muslim veil tempered by a streak of pragmatism

Source: Associated Press

LONDON –  In Britain this week, a judge struck a blow against religious oppression. Or for religious freedom. It all depends who you ask.

Judge Peter Murphy ruled that a female Muslim defendant may stand trial wearing a face-covering veil — but must remove it when giving evidence.

The case has reignited a debate about Muslim veils that has flared across Europe, sparking protests and exacerbating religious tensions in several countries.

Those tensions exist in Britain, too, and attacks on Muslims and mosques rose after the May slaying of an off-duty British soldier by Islamist extremists. But both the compromise court ruling and the response to it suggest there is little appetite from the center-right coalition government for a ban like that introduced in France.

This is a country where many politicians agree with the aide to former Prime Minister Tony Blair who famously said: “We don’t do religion.”

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