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Showing posts from March, 2015

Surprise! Another Christian Terrorist

A Muslim American man carrying a duffel bag that holds six homemade explosives, a machete, and poison spray travels to a major U.S. airport. The man enters the airport, approaches the TSA security checkpoint, and then sprays two TSA officers with the poison. He then grabs his machete and chases another TSA officer with it. This Muslim man is then shot and killed by the police. After the incident, a search of the attacker’s car by the police reveals it contained acetylene and oxygen tanks, two substances that, when mixed together, will yield a powerful explosive. If this scenario occurred, there’s zero doubt that this would be called a terrorist attack. Zero. It would make headlines across the country and world, and we would see wall-to-wall cable news coverage for days. And, of course, certain right-wing media outlets, many conservative politicians, and Bill Maher would use this event as another excuse to stoke the flames of hate toward Muslims. Well, last Friday night, this exact e

Afghanistan: No end for Obama’s endgame

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's visit to the US has sparked a new debate on the future of Afghanistan which for centuries played a special role, remaining unconquered by superpowers repulsing offensives with old British rifles and Kalashnikov’s. With America the last superpower to launch its own “Afghan project” more than 13 years ago under President George W. Bush, all eyes are focused on his successor, President Obama. The core question is whether Americans should entirely leave the country after last year's pullout of the main contingent of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force or stay, and if so, in what numbers and with what mission yet to be accomplished. Weeks before President Ghani's visit which began Sunday, the Obama administration unveiled its new big Afghan surprise. First, it was Defense Secretary Ashton Carter who hinted that Washington might slow the pace of withdrawal for the remaining 10,600 American troops.The statement made by the Pentagon chi

Which superpower will win the battle of hypocrisy? by Robert Fisk

' Strange , isn’t it, how every time we have a “crisis” in the Middle East, the Russians step in to take advantage of it? Or so it looks. No sooner have we identified Isis/the Islamic Caliphate/Daesh as the most apocalyptic, end-of-the-world antagonist since Hitler/Napoleon/Nero/Genghis Khan, than old Mother Russia stretches out her bear’s claws and tickles a former Soviet Republic, namely Ukraine. While the Isis boys consolidated in Raqqa and Mosul, the Russians took over Crimea. Weapons poured in to help the Kurds in Kobani while the Ukrainians pleaded for more guns. Moscow’s “experts” now regularly appear on Russian television – many have an odd habit of flapping their hands in front of the screen – to tell us that “our” war is in fighting Islamist “fascism” in Syria and Iraq (and, I suppose, Afghanistan), not in supporting the “fascists” of Ukraine. Flash back now to the forgotten war in Chechnya – forgotten by us, that is. We were indulgent when Boris Yeltsin fought the firs

The War Within Islam

Efforts to foster Sunni–Shia unity:  I n a special interview broadcast on  Al Jazeera  on February 14, 2007, former Iranian president and chairman of the  Expediency Discernment Council  of Iran, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and highly influential Sunni scholar Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, "stressed the impermissibility of the fighting between the Sunnis and the Shi’is" and the need to "be aware of the conspiracies of the forces of  hegemony  and  Zionism  which aim to weaken [Islam] and tear it apart in Iraq."   Even on this occasion there were differences, with Rafsanjani openly asking "more than once who started" the inter-Muslim killing in Iraq, and Al-Qaradawi denying claims by Rafsanjani that he knew where "those arriving to Iraq to blow Shi’i shrines up are coming from: [Wikipedia] International jihad, in part created and supervised by the U.S. to undermine the Soviet Union, has exacerbated divisions that are fuelling bloodshed. The bloodie

Lords of the land by Ali Arqam

Maulana Attaur Rehman has been leading prayers at Faroogi Mosque in Kharadar, Karachi`s old city area, for more than 20 years. He is the principal of Jamia Ahya ul Uloom, a madressah built in Sector 9/A, Baldia Town. He is considered a devout religious leader. Except that the land where the Jamia Ahya ul Uloom has been constructed was not meant for the seminary to begin with. Located in the centre of a formal settlement, the plot was allotted for a mosque named Yaseen Masjid. It never remained restricted to the mosque; today, the plot houses several buildings which have no legal sanction. The official land-use map, designed for every formal settlement in Karachi, reserves land for a mosque, a public dispensary, two STplots, a playground and a high school. In reality, there is no dispensary, but a mosque with a madressah, two residential blocks on the ST plot (one for boys and the other for girls), while the playground is marked as an Eidgab. The land allocated for a high school now

Choice to fight IS or Shi'a domination by Iran?

THE prime minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia has sparked a mini-firestorm of speculation about the ‘real’ motives for the trip. Yet Nawaz Sharif is just one of many regional and international leaders invited to Riyadh over the past few days. The Turkish and Egyptian presidents were recently in the kingdom, while John Kerry also made a quick dash to Riyadh. It seems two main issues were commonly discussed during these visits: Iran and the self-styled Islamic State. There has been talk of forming a ‘Sunni bloc’ as Tehran has started to exercise greater influence across the region and a possible nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 emerges on the horizon, which would pave the way for the Islamic Republic’s re-entry into the global financial system. Indeed in both Syria and Iraq, Iran is helping these governments push back against IS. This puts the Arab sheikhdoms in a tough spot: should they still try and contain Iran, or should they focus on defeating IS? IS, on the other hand, is pro

The faith factor by Muhammad Amir Rana

DOES religion play any role in your professional growth? This was a question put before successful women professionals and leaders from different fields at an international conference. It was a tricky question. One hardly assesses the role of religion in one’s professional life. The Muslim women leaders wearing hijab were no exception. The answer was ‘no’. It came from a leading woman professional associated with Islamic banking. Religion had not created any hurdle in their paths or these women had not bothered much about it. It can be interpreted either way. But many acknowledged the value of religion in building morality and character. Others considered society, state and culture as the determining factors in the development of their moral behaviour. Usually, we overlook the role played by religion in our daily lives. But it remains in our surroundings, shapes certain types of behaviour, and influences the socio-cultural and politico-economic patterns of society. Most of these wom

The origins of pleasure & Introduction to Psychology with Paul Bloom

Why do we like an original painting better than a forgery? Psychologist Paul Bloom argues that human beings are essentialists — that our beliefs about the history of an object change how we experience it, not simply as an illusion, but as a deep feature of what pleasure (and pain) is. Paul Bloom (born 1963) is a professor of psychology and cognitive science at Yale University. His research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on language, morality, religion, fiction, and art.   Introduction to Psychology with Paul Bloom This course tries to answer multiple questions, providing a comprehensive overview of the scientific study of thought and behavior. It explores topics such as perception, communication, learning, memory, decision-making, religion, persuasion, love, lust, hunger, art, fiction, and dreams. We will look at how these aspects of the mind develop in children, how they differ across people, how they are wired

The psychology of evil

Philip Zimbardo knows how easy it is for nice people to turn bad. In this talk, he shares insights and graphic unseen photos from the Abu Ghraib trials. Then he talks about the flip side: how easy it is to be a hero, and how we can rise to the challenge...... Transcript: 0:12 Philosophers, dramatists, theologians have grappled with this question for centuries: what makes people go wrong? Interestingly, I asked this question when I was a little kid. When I was a kid growing up in the South Bronx, inner-city ghetto in New York, I was surrounded by evil, as all kids are who grew up in an inner city. And I had friends who were really good kids, who lived out the Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde scenario -- Robert Louis Stevenson. That is, they took drugs, got in trouble, went to jail. Some got killed, and some did it without drug assistance. 0:43 So when I read Robert Louis Stevenson, that wasn't fiction. The only question is, what was in thePopular Good and evil & Philosophy video