Freedom of religion in Egypt no better under military rule

Author Mahmoud Salem Posted March 19, 2014

CAIRO — After June 30, 2013, many people thought that the end of Muslim Brotherhood rule would bring about military-enforced secularism, or more religious and personal freedom. Instead, they are slowly finding out that the new state is very similar to the old state and employing the same — if not worse — tactics against said freedoms. The Islamists may no longer be in power, but religious despotism seems to be alive and well in the land of the Nile.

People gather at the Virgin Church for the funeral of four victims killed in an attack at a wedding on Sunday, in Cairo, Oct. 21, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/ Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Summaryt The military’s conservatism and alliance with religious authorities, even if not the Muslim Brotherhood, is a constant in Egyptian politics.
Author Mahmoud Salem Posted March 19, 2014

Exhibit A: Shiite college student Amr Abdallah was just sentenced to five years in jail for “contempt for religion.” Amr was arrested Nov. 14, 2013, when he entered Al-Hussein Mosque during an Ashoura celebration, an act the authorities deemed worthy of arrest and interrogation. The court, in its opinion, stated that its function is to dispense justice based on the rules that God has laid out. The court also stated that the views presented by Amr after his questioning were an abominable attack on religion that cannot be defended by the constitutionally protected freedoms of belief or expression, given that the basis of all legislation is Sharia principles, which Amr’s views are completely against. Continue reading

Purdah: Separation of the sexes in northern Nigeria

Examples of hijabs in different regions

Examples of hijabs in different regions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Written by Nicola Hugo (1)

Purdah is the strict enforcement of seclusion rules upon (typically) married Muslim women. They are expected to remain indoors, except in extreme cases such as to receive medical treatment or to attend marriages and funerals with their husbands’ permission. If women do venture out, they need to be completely covered by a hijab, and in some instances also escorted. Violating these regulations may result in accusation of promiscuity or even divorce.(2)

Human rights bodies have criticised the practice, saying that it limits women’s social, economic and political participation. But supporters of purdah say that it is an act of honour, respect and dignity. They point out that women find creative ways to participate, especially economically. This paper will attempt to better contextualise these opposing views by focusing on purdah in northern Nigeria. It also aims to challenge the Eurocentric image of these women as passive and counterproductive victims.

Purdah in Nigeria

Purdah in northern Nigeria was introduced by the Islamic jihad (religious struggle) led by Usmandan Fodio during the 18th century. This jihad took control of several major Hausa states, eventually establishing the Sokoto Caliphate, a Muslim empire.(3)  At the beginning of the 19th century Islam was well established in all the major centres of the Hausa and Borno states. However, a group of Muslim intellectuals were dissatisfied because rulers in these states allowed the practice of Islam to be mixed with traditional religion. This meant that nowhere was the Islamic law observed in full.(4) This resulted in the Sokoto jihad that was fought, in a series of emirates, between 1804 and 1808. It was led by young men under the leadership of a Shaikh and young men from Fulani pastoralist families.(5) (The Fulani are a people of obscure origins who expanded eastward from lower Senegal in the 14th century. By the 16th century they were proceeding into Hausaland.)(6)

One of the aims of these (and later) jihads was to eradicate syncretic practices, including the free mixing of the sexes. Free mixing of adult females with non-family members of the opposite sex needed to be avoided due to the evil or negative potential consequences of such mixing; infidelity for example. It is an Islamic imperative that women’s modesty be strictly guarded.(7) Enforcement of purdah thus aims to create a pure or chaste society and serves as a measure to prevent the disintegration of the family, further giving men legitimate control over their wives’ behaviour.(8) This has caused profound changes in the social, political and cultural conditions of Muslim Hausa women in the area.(9)

Continue reading

Senior Sheikh At Jihadist Rally in Jordan: We Need Men To Carry Out The Plan Of Instating Allah’s Rule On Earth

clip_image002 June 4, 2012        Special Dispatch No.4771

The following report is a complimentary offering from MEMRI‘s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM).

Subscription information is available at http://subscriptions.memri.org/content/en/member_registr_jttm.htm.

A 90-minute video posted on YouTube[1] documents a jihadist rally in Jordan, dedicated to the cause of freeing mujahideen incarcerated in Jordanian prisons, chief among them being Sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi. The most prominent speaker at the conference, jihadist sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Tahawi, called on those present to support the imprisoned mujahideen, and described the Jordanian regime as heretical, corrupt and oppressive. He urged Arabs and Muslim regimes to take a lesson from the collapse of regimes in the region, and advised them to stop relying on NATO, return to Islam, and reconcile with their peoples – otherwise their future would be in jeopardy. Finally, he called upon the rally participants not to be afraid of these regimes, and to join the efforts to establish an Islamic caliphate and to instate Allah‘s law throughout the world.

The following are the main points of his speech.

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Al-Tahawi opens his address by describing a letter he received from Sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, which spoke of the anguish and torture suffered by the mujahideen in prison and of the discrimination they suffer compared to the other prisoners, and called on everyone to support them.

Al-Tahawi states that the mujahideen are in prison for raising the banner of “there is no god but Allah,” and for carrying out the “great task” of defending the blood and the land of the Muslims – whereas the regime that imprisoned them is a “jahili and horribly corrupt regime… whose key officials have sold out the state and its citizens. With one hand they kill and with the other they rob the poor of their livelihood.” The sheikh declares that the Arab regimes are even worse than the Western ones, because the latter regimes, though heretical, are at least uncorrupt, while the Arab regimes are both heretical and corrupt, in addition to oppressing and starving their peoples.

Continue reading

Qaradawi Organization Rasies $6.5 Million For New Islamic Endowment; Qaradawi Donates Large Amount

QassamRocket

QassamRocket (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gulf media is reporting that a recent charity dinner for an Islamic endowment sponsored by the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) has raised over $6.5 million dollars for the project. Of particular interest is that the Gulf News report indicates that Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi personally donated over half a million dollars of that amount:

May 15, 2012 A charity dinner in Qatar has raised QR 24 million ($6,586,170) for the ‘Renaissance of a Nation’ endowment project launched by the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS). The project aims to raise enough funds to help the union, headed by Doha-based scholar Yusuf Al Qaradawi, be financially self-sustained. The dinner was attended by Qatar’s Crown Prince Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, ministers, diplomats and business people, local Arabic daily Al Sharq reported on Tuesday. ‘Your generous donations and the funds raised by selling some rare items will help us build a tower and acquire buildings and shares for the endowments of the union,’ Shaikh Ali Mohieddeen Al Qardaghi, the union secretary general, said in his address. The union has plans to invest up to $100 million within the next 10 years to help secure financial returns that will be used for its charity work. Antique carpets, clothing The sale of historic carpets and Ottoman-era clothes and copies of the Holy Quran from Turkey raised QR17 million. The amount was topped by a QR 5 million ($1,372,120) donation by Shaikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani, owner of Al Faisal Without Borders Charity Foundation who was awarded the Personality of the Year distinction by the union.  Al Qaradawi donated another SR2 million ($548,847). Al Faisal Without Borders Charity Foundation was set up in June 2011 by Shaikh Faisal, a prominent businessman, as a foundation ‘for the benefit of all, at home and abroad, without any reservation or discrimination on the basis of nationality, race or religion.’

Continue reading

Al-Qaeda now ‘incapable of 9/11-scale attack’

GSPC Area of Operations & Pan-Sahel Initiative...

GSPC Area of Operations & Pan-Sahel Initiative nations (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Washington – Al-Qaeda‘s core organisation is likely incapable of carrying out another mass-casualty attack on the scale of 11 September 2001, US intelligence and counterterrorism officials said on Friday.
US government experts also believe that the likelihood of an attack using chemical, biological, atomic or radiological weapons over the next year was not high, said Robert Cardillo, deputy director of US National Intelligence.
Cardillo and other US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described these assessments on a conference call with journalists billed as an opportunity for government experts to voice their assessments of al-Qaeda’s potency a year after the killing of Osama bin Laden in a US commando raid.
Cardillo said the al-Qaeda “core” organisation that bin Laden created has suffered strategic setbacks due to the outbreak of “Arab Spring” protests and rebellions in Islamic countries, which have not spread great sympathy for al-Qaeda’s hardline and violent brand of Islam.

Continue reading

France expels five radical imams

France last week banned four Muslim preachers from entering the country for a conference of the Union of Islamic Organisations.

PARIS: France has expelled two Islamic radicals and plans to deport three more as part of its crackdown following last month’s attacks by an Islamist who shot dead seven people, officials said Monday.

An Algerian radical and a Malian imam were sent back to their home countries on Monday, the interior ministry said in a statement.

A Saudi imam would not be let back into the country, a Turkish imam and a Tunisian radical would also shortly be expelled, and others would follow, the statement added.

At an election rally in the eastern city of Nancy on Monday, President Nicolas Sarkozy said he was sending a very clear message.

“All those who make remarks contrary to the values of the Republic will be instantly put outside the territory of the French Republic, there will no exception, there will be no leniency,” he said.

French police arrested 19 people in a crackdown on suspected Islamist networks in dawn raids on Friday as Sarkozy made the battle against extremism a keynote of his re-election campaign.

Of those, 16 were still in custody on Monday, sources close to the investigation said.

Some of the arrests were made in the southwest city of Toulouse, where gunman Mohamed Merah was shot dead by police last month after a 32-hour siege at a flat there.

Of the two deported Monday, Algerian activist Ali Belhadad had served 18 months in France for his part in a 1994 attack on a Marrakesh hotel in which gunmen killed two people and wounded two others, said the ministry.

Belhadad, who had in recent weeks re-established links with the radical Islamist movement, had been deported to Algeria, the ministry said. Continue reading

Iran News Round Up March 1, 2012

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by Ali Alfoneh, Ahmad Majidyar and Michael Rubin.  To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

(E) = Article in English

Politics

  • Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei‘s speech on Tuesday. Video:
  • Abd al-Hossein Rouh-al-Amini, Development and Justice party general secretary whose son was killed in police custody in the aftermath of the 2009 presidential election: “Ahmadinejad was not without guilt in the post election events.”
  • Mashreq runs a backgrounder on parliamentary elections in Iran since 1980.
  • Shafaf News runs a chronological backgrounder on the formation of the United Principled Alliance.
  • News stories about the Islamic Resistance Front:
    • Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah Yazdi addresses members of the Revolutionary Guards:
      • “We were under circumstances in which the elected president in reality acted against Islam, the Imam [Khomeini] and the interests of the state. He was even guilty in shedding the blood of hundreds of innocent martyrs… Despite the president being elected by the people, [the voters] did not know him and were deceived by his appearances… One can’t say there was electoral fraud and that he came to power by fraud. There was no fraud. However, there was lack of knowledge. After that some events took place and we understood that we were mistaken [in our support to Ahmadinejad].”
    • Hojjat al-Eslam Mojtaba Mesbah Yazdi officially begins his political career by speaking at the last Islamic Resistance Front seminar prior to the parliamentary election. Mojtaba said: “Opposing the Resistance Front is opposition to original Islam.”
    • Hojjat al-Eslam Morteza Agha-Tehrani calls the existence of the Islamic Resistance Front “a divine act of benevolence.”

Diplomacy

  • Jomhouri-ye Eslami editorializes:
    • “The al-Khalifa must have realized that with the present conditions Bahrain’s crisis will not end. The crisis will only end when the popular will is realized. The majority of the Bahraini people do not consider the present regime a legal regime, demand its resignation and want free elections. Foreign governments, too, contribute to the crisis in Bahrain and prevent the victory of the people. In the Bahrain issue as well it is the Saud clan which plays a major role in debilitating the popular struggle of the Bahrainis. The Saud clan fears that establishment of a popular regime in Bahrain in which the majority of the people are Shi’a would create problems to the Saudi society and the regime in Riyadh. They fear that the revolution would spread to Saudi Arabia. Under any circumstances, such attempts can’t prevent the victory of the popular revolution in Bahrain in the long run and with the present trend the autocratic regime of Bahrain too will be thrown into the dustbin of history.”

Military and Security