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Showing posts from January, 2015

The Christian Example for Modernizing Islam

Catholics and Protestants once killed in the name of God, but eventually liberal ideas took hold. By KEVIN MADIGAN Violent. Illiberal. Intolerant. Anti-Semitic. After the tragic, murderous events in Paris earlier this month, these adjectives have been applied not only to murderous jihadists but to Islam itself. Yet these words could just as easily apply to medieval Christianity and to much of Christianity in the 20th century. Medieval Christians notoriously persecuted, incarcerated and burned religious dissenters. Less well-known is that Protestant Reformers in early modern Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, despite their differences with the old Western church, agreed that religion was not a matter of private judgment but of deep communal concern and unitary. Reformers believed that religious orthodoxy must be safeguarded, and almost all agreed that dissidents deserved severe punishment and even death. Calvin ’s Geneva was a theocracy; one theologian who doubted the Trinity was

The maddening reality of the Middle East

The only guarantee we have at this point is that the dramatic free fall some Arab countries are undergoing is unavoidable and even necessary. Let things fall where they may to see how and with whom the future will rise from there. In the midst of an ever-changing Middle East, more often for the worst and rarely for the better, it has become more challenging to spearhead resolutions to the raging wars and lingering problems. Where can one get inspiration to end the bloodshed or return refugees to their homes or simply imagine life as it used to be only a short few years ago? It is therefore not surprising that many, including Arabs themselves, are turning their backs. Power across the region It is not difficult to see that the extremists have found their way to power across the region. Dictatorships were only replaced by militancy. Tyrants fell only to give rise to brainwashed underground groups. Disoriented, the latters practice intolerance and abuse power exactly as has been the c

Why single out Islam for this patronising treatment?

Eric Pickles, the British communities secretary, wrote a letter to Muslim leaders in which he asked them to ‘explain and demonstrate how faith in Islam can be part of British identity’. A response Dear Eric, Walaikum salam warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu. Serious question. Will you be sending a letter any time soon to members of the Roman Catholic church following the child-abuse scandals in Catholic institutions? Or a letter to the Board of Deputies of British Jews on the subject of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank? No? Thought as much. Ten years on from 9/11 and you’re still asking the same questions, questions that have proved worse than useless in the intervening years. Still wondering aloud about the loyalty of British citizens based on their spiritual beliefs. Still demanding that these people prove themselves compatible with the “British way of life”, as defined by you. In your letter this week, you say that you “know acts of extremism are not representative of

Causes of Islamist militancy

AS terrorist violence from ‘Islamic’ militants spreads across the world, from Peshawar to Paris, affected states are struggling to devise effective responses. So far, most of their responses have addressed the visible symptoms of the terrorist threat through military, police and intelligence measures. These are, of course, essential to stem the terrorist tide. Unfortunately, these responses are often insufficient or incorrect. To develop the right responses, it is essential to honestly analyse and address the principal causes of ‘Islamic terrorism’. The fundamental origins of Islamist extremism and militancy lie in the failure of Muslim states, and other states with Muslim populations, to deliver jobs, justice and dignity to a growing army of young people. The economic, social and demographic indicators in Muslim countries are some of the worst in the world. Their societies are imbued with inequality and injustice. Similarly, Muslim youth in the advanced Western countries have not b

Paris attacks: Jean-Marie Le Pen says French terror attacks were work of western intelligence

The Charlie Hebdo massacre may have been the work of an “intelligence agency”, working with the connivance of French authorities, according to Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the far right Front National. In an interview with a virulently anti-western Russian newspaper, Mr Le Pen, 86, gave credence to conspiracy theories circulating on the internet suggesting that the attack was the work of American or Israeli agents seeking to foment a civil war between Islam and the west. His comments – only partially retracted in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde today – provoked outrage amongst French politicians. They will also infuriate Marine Le Pen, his daughter, and successor as leader of the FN, who has been trying to distance the party from her father’s extreme and provocative remarks. Mr Le Pen stood down as FN leader three years ago but remains President-for-life. He made the comments in an interview with Komsomolskaïa Pravda , a newspaper which had already blamed the Unite

The attack on Charlie Hebdo: the problem is the Middle East, not Islam

The deadly attack in Paris by French Islamists with ties to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) provokes several basic responses. One major response is a broad affirmation that the actions of the violent few in no way represent Islam as a global religion of over 1 billion adherents. Indeed, the vast majority of Muslims are no less broadly humane and no more fanatic than anyone else, as was clear in Paris with the heroic actions of a Muslim employee of the besieged Kosher grocery store, or the death of a French Muslim police officer defending Charlie Hebdo. Underscoring that this is the case might be less necessary if  Islamophobia were not a genuine global issue. But, however true, the response that Islam is not about violence is unlikely to satisfy. People are asking why – at least at this moment in global history – the most frequent and dramatic violence explicitly undertaken in the name of religion seems to occur in Middle East and North Africa countries and/

Ajit Doval: The Indian who wants to ‘destroy’ Pakistan?

After reading the title you must wonder, so what? There are plenty of Indians who want to ‘destroy’ Pakistan - there always were and there always will be – that is the sad reality. But this one, my friends, is a little different. He has the knowhow, the expertise, and most importantly, now he has the resources and power to inflict damage upon not only the people of Pakistan, but also countless, defenseless Indian minorities. And he has done it before. So all peace-loving people from Khyber to Kerala – sit up and read carefully. Ajit Kumar Doval was born into an Indian Army family in Uttarakhand in 1945. After graduating in 1967 with a degree in economics from Agra University, he joined the Indian Police Service (IPS). His early years were spent fighting against the Mizo National Front (MNF) insurgency in Assam where he earned a reputation for bribing and turning insurgent operatives into counter-insurgents.During this time he also operated within Chinese sovereign territory, staging

What will the big stories be in 2015?

With the new year upon us, several of the BBC's experts have been asked to give their predictions on which stories to follow in 2015. Security, refugees and the battle against Islamic groups Lyse Doucet, chief international correspondent 2015 will be another year of global consequence in the Middle East and just beyond. The year ended with major security challenges in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. This situation will be further aggravated in 2015. Better relations between Pakistan, India and Afghanistan will be essential but difficult. 2015 will be a critical year in the battle against Islamist groups on many fronts. The US will strive to limit its military engagement but won't be able to pull away despite President Obama's best laid plans to do so. In Iraq, the US will strive to strengthen Iraqi forces to take back iconic cities seized by the Islamic State group. Iraq will remain fragmented, as will Syria, where a deadly stalemate will continue. The UN predicts c