New Age Islam Edit Bureau
11 March 2017
The Gulf States and Anarchy in the
By Dr. Ibrahim Al-Othaimin
What's Holding Arab Women Back From
By Lina Abirafeh
Two Islams in the World
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Muting Prayers Is Muting the
By Mariam Barghouti
Wikileaks' CIA Document Dump Will
Cause A Ripple Effect
By Sana Saleem
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
9 March 2017
Former US Secretary of State and National
Security Advisor Henry Kissinger made an interesting remark in World Order:
Reflections on the Character of Nations and the Course of History. The book
addresses the conflict of survival among nations. He says that the Middle East
is going through a conflict similar to the European wars of religion in the nineteenth
century. This is a result of a state collapse that turns its territories into a
base for terrorism and arms smuggling which leads to the disintegration of the
Kissinger presents a noteworthy portrayal
of the regional status quo. Five years of regional events starting in 2011
disintegrated national states, posing massive security and political challenges
to the Gulf States. One of the major challenges has been the rise of a number
of terrorist organizations with ISIS at the forefront. Such organizations
exploited the political instability of some countries, which provided them with
fertile ground and ideology to operate and expand in the immediate vicinity of
the Gulf states.
It is well known that the Gulf states, led
by Saudi Arabia, were subject to a wave of terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda
between 1995 and 2009. The country dealt with those attacks in a wise and
decisive manner that left the organization weak and disintegrated. Most of its
cells were destroyed, and many of its affiliates moved to Yemen forming a new
organization named “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula”.
While regional events impacted differently
on each Gulf state, hardly any of them escaped the consequences. The Global
Terrorism Database (GTD) shows an escalating number of terrorist attacks on
Saudi territories in recent years. Moreover, in 2012, Bahrain witnessed 26
terrorist attacks, rising to 52 in 2013, but then dropping in 2014 to 41 and
then falling to 18 attacks in 2015. As for Kuwait, there were no terrorist attacks
on Kuwaiti territories between 2011 and 2014. However, in 2015, there was an
attack on a mosque claiming 28 lives.
The UAE witnessed its first terrorist
attack in 2013, with two more attacks in 2014, and there were no attacks on the
UAE in 2015. Qatar witnessed no terrorist attacks between 2012 and 2014, but in
2015, a single attack took place there. Oman, by contrast, witnessed no
terrorist attacks at all from 2012 to 2015. Thus, the regional events had their
impact on the security and stability of the Gulf States.
Response to Terror
The GTD is presented by the National
Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) of the
University of Maryland. It has analyzed dozens of indicators in 158 countries
during the past decade.
Furthermore, the 2016 GTD presented by the
Institute for Economics and Peace in Australia, based on the GTD of START,
shows that the Gulf states have seen a relative rise in terrorist attacks. In
2016, Saudi Arabia was ranked 32nd on the global terrorism scale scoring 5.404
out of 10 degrees of terrorism threat on the Global Terrorism Index (GTI).
It was ranked 42nd on the same GTI in 2015
scoring 4.006 out of 10. The number of lives claimed by terrorist attacks in
Saudi Arabia rose sixfold in comparison with 2014. In 2016, Saudi Arabia
witnessed 48 terrorist attacks that killed 107 people. This was the highest
rate of terrorism in Saudi Arabia since 2000.
Kuwait was ranked 37th on the GTI in 2016
scoring 4.449 out of 10. The index shows a 10 percent rise in attacks in
comparison with 2015, when it was ranked 122nd scoring 0.019 out of 10. As for
Bahrain, the threat of terrorism fell by 0.665 degrees in comparison with the
previous year as it was ranked 44th scoring 4.206 out of 10 in 2016 whereas in
2015, it was ranked 30th with 4.871 out of 10. The rest of the Gulf states
remained highly stable as Oman scored 0.00 out 10, Qatar scored 0.23, and the
UAE scored 0.422.
Thus, the so-called Arab Spring turned the
region into a launch pad of terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen that has
infiltrated the rest of the Arab world. If the countries that witnessed the
Arab Spring protests do not restore political stability and secure their
borders, this will pose a real threat to the Gulf states and it will require
collective efforts to face this danger.
March 9, 2017
The UAE serves as a guiding light in the
region. Women here are economically empowered and have more representation in
No country in the world has achieved full
gender equality, but the Arab region - a diverse grouping of 22 countries in
the Middle East and North Africa - ranks the lowest in the world, according to
the 2016 Global Gender Gap Report. Despite some advances in women's economic
equality in Qatar, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates, at the present rate
the region's 39 per cent gender gap (compared to 33 per cent in South Asia and
32 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa) will take another 356 years to close. Worse
still, between the patriarchal societies, increased conservative movements and
lack of political will to move towards gender equity, the Arab world today is
seeing a backlash against women's rights and freedoms.
As the Executive Secretary for UN Economic
and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Rima Khalaf, said to
commemorate International Women's Day in 2016, "We are celebrating the
many achievements of Arab women in sciences, literature and arts, but primarily
in the art of survival."
Here are the top five barriers facing women
in the Arab world this year, along with some bright spots on the horizon. Women
of the region are, of course, not all the same, but many face these profound
For many Arab countries, instability is
becoming a norm. The region's multiple protracted humanitarian crises,
including those in Syria, Palestine and Iraq, have destroyed systems of social
protection, reduced access to safe services and support, displaced communities,
and increased vulnerabilities.
Emergencies are more dangerous for women.
Women are deliberately targeted. Moreover, conflicts also bring insecurities
that compel women to resort to risky sources of income such as trafficking in
order to survive.
The threat of violence is particularly high
for young women and women of ethnic minorities, according to the 2016 Arab
Human Development Report. For all women, but these in particular, even escaping
conflict does not necessarily bring safety.
Research shows that the biggest predictor
of peace in a country is not economics or politics, but how the country treats
its women in times of conflict. Yet gender equality goals quickly disappear
from the agenda. And, in a situation all too common around the world, Arab
women generally do not have a seat at the table or a voice in negotiating their
One in three women worldwide has
experienced some form of gender-based violence in her lifetime. In the Arab
world, violence against women takes many forms, with intimate partner violence
being the most common (affecting approximately 30 per cent of women in the
region) and the least reported. Here, intimate partner violence is often not
labelled as such. When it is, social stigma and family and community pressures
keep women from reporting it.
Honour killings are also prevalent in many
Arab countries, which have largely failed to amend relevant laws. Jordan has the
highest percentage in the region: each year it registers between 15 and 20
reports of such crimes. Finally, in countries that host Syrian refugees, child
marriage is increasing as a response to the ongoing crisis.
But we are seeing progress.
One way to counter violence against women
in the Arab world is increasing its visibility among youth - as a student video
competition for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence - has
Another promising initiative is a robust
study led by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
(ESCWA) to estimate the regional cost of violence against women. The aim is to
use economic arguments to raise awareness and influence policy.
Other organisations such as the regional
civil association ABAAD's Al Dar (emergency shelters) are providing a safe
environment for survivors of gender-based violence, and those at risk, to
access services and support. These are promising emerging practices, although
uncommon in the region.
Women in Arab countries are an
underutilised economic force with only 24 per cent working outside the home -
that's among the lowest female employment rates in the world.
Most women who work outside the home are
relegated to traditionally feminised sectors. In cases where women are
accessing male-dominated fields, traditional gender dynamics remain firmly
entrenched. So women are promoted less and have little access to
While men's employment is a prerequisite to
marriage, women's employment often ends with marriage; being married is viewed
as a disadvantage in the workplace as well.
There are strong economic incentives to
change these practices. Globally, gender equality results in higher GDP - more
workers means more productivity. But the strongest argument of all is
principle. This is a woman's right - and it is the right thing to do.
Vocational training, micro-lending,
business planning, access to markets, and other supportive measures would help
bring women into the labour market. As would addressing factors, such as lack
of access to (safe) transport, safety in public spaces and daycare, all of
which place limits on women's employment prospects.
Lack of Political Participation
Arab women still lag significantly behind
in terms of women's participation and representation in politics. According to
the WEF, only 9 per cent of the political gender gap is closed. Four of the
world's five lowest-ranking countries are in this region, including Oman,
Lebanon, Kuwait and Qatar. They have closed less than 3 per cent of their
political gender gap.
Only the United Arab Emirates has seen
improvement in terms of increased women parliamentarians.
In Lebanon, women currently occupy just
four parliamentary seats, 3 per cent of ministerial positions, and around 5 per
cent of seats in municipal councils. But information on women's political
positions is often incomplete, as these statistics are counted manually from
municipality to municipality.
This lack of political participation is
largely due to cultural barriers, a lack of access to economic and financial
resources, and the absence of successful active role models in politics.
Restrictive Family Laws
Despite critiques of women's legal status
in the Arab region, changing family patterns, and a booming young female adult
population, aspiring to professional lives, family laws in Arab countries still
endorse inequality between spouses and discriminate against women in all
aspects of their lives.
This is a key obstacle to sustainable
development, preventing women's self-determination and contribution to public
and productive life and reforms have been slow and uneven across the Arab
Since 2000, Egypt has introduced a series
of legal changes, but to little effect. This includes no-fault divorce, where
women can initiate divorce. However, the consequence is that they lose any
right to financial support and must repay the dowry they received upon
marriage. Family courts were established in 2004, but a holistic approach to
family law reform is still lacking as these courts continue to perpetrate the
same archaic and discriminatory laws.
In 2004, a reform of Morocco's Moudawana
(family code) similarly increased women's right to divorce and child custody
and also restricted polygamy. But the Moroccan government remains hesitant to
actually implement these reforms.
In Lebanon, reform efforts face unique
challenges due to the diversity of its 15 separate personal status laws for the
country's various officially recognised religious communities, of which there
are 18 in total. But the ongoing refugee crisis, in which at least 1.4 million
Syrian refugees have come to Lebanon, is an urgent reminder that conflict, war,
and forced migration continue to reinforce the need for legal protection for
Still, there is potential for reform within
challenging Arab contexts - whether during conflict, post-conflict, or when
stable. Future policies for women must build on Arab activism and academic
scholarship to reform family laws using a human rights framework and aligning
with global goals (such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination Against Women) to build a foundation for full equality.
These issues are overlapping, meaning
progress - or regress - in any of these areas has an impact on many other
aspects of women's lives. The underlying message is this: unless we're
addressing inequalities everywhere, we will achieve equality nowhere.
Lina Abirafeh is Director, Institute for Women's Studies in the Arab
World, Lebanese American University.
By Abdulrahman al-Rashed
10 March 2017
It is not possible to disregard Muslims or
ignore the importance of Islam as a widespread and influential religion. There
are 1.5 billion Muslims spread around the world, and there are 57 countries
with a Muslim majority.
Islam, like other major religions i.e.
Christianity and Judaism, is divided into sects and schools and differs from
the other religions. Despite these differences, Muslims in the modern history
have not faced crises like the ones they are facing today. The most dangerous
problem is that their reputation has been tarnished.
There are large numbers of people everywhere,
who now consider that Muslims represent a big problem on the security,
political and cultural level; based on this new conviction, there are public
calls now to clamp down on Muslims and consider them as an undesirable
This restlessness is the hallmark of some
politicians and racist people. If they succeed in what they are doing to
Muslims, we will embark on a new journey tormented by a crisis that is bigger
than what we are witnessing now.
In my opinion, it is wrong to disregard the
image that has emerged of Islam and Muslims, as well as the anger against them.
It is also wrong to label it as racism; instead, we should try to understand
its origins and deal with it. Before that, it is necessary to stop denying the
problem within the Muslim communities and we should stop considering that the
reactions to Islam and Muslim are just racist. Of course, this does not negate
the role of racist and opportunist people in fuelling the bad image and hatred
The Iranian Revolution
The problem of Muslims in the world begun
with the Iranian revolution that claimed that its project is to defend Islam
and Muslims around the world, using violence, mobilization, plots and
movements. Prior to all that, Muslims were only minding their own affairs and were
dealing with other communities in peace; they were only following their
doctrines and practicing their religion.
However, the Tehran regime wanted to
exploit Islam and Muslims in the world. They started to chant “Allahu Akbar”
with their bands on their heads, on which religious and political slogans like
“I am at your service Khomeini” were written.
This is an ugly exposure that reflects a
new Islam that has nothing to do with Muslims. These horrible stained faces
have taken diplomats as hostages, defying all norms, ethics and religions of
course. This scene was the new title for a different Islam and new Muslims.
They started to come up with problems that would serve their political
conflicts, such as converting an unknown story that was published in Britain to
fuel the hatred of Muslims toward Britain, despite the fact that Iran has
printed books and novels that are more blaspheming against the beliefs of
Muslims and other religions.
The incitement and putting a financial
reward to kill author Salman Rushdie was a political act plotted by the Iranian
regime. Hence, prosecutions against intellectuals, cartoonists and leaders of
other religions have started and for many years now; Tehran has been
compulsorily leading Muslims like sheep, claiming that it is defending their
religion, causes, communities and cultures. Later one, al-Qaeda has risen and
followed Tehran’s approach. This is how they distorted Islam and generated a
bad image about Islam that is now hated by the whole world.
Dragged To Extremism
We have been dragged into a big hole dug by
a group of extremists in Iran and elsewhere. This is not our Islam and we
should not be defending their Islam, their ideas and their cases. There are two
Islams in the world: the Islam of Iran and other extremists, and moderate Islam
and Muslims. The two have nothing to do with each other. We should stand with
those who are against the tarnished Islam and extremist Muslims because we
(moderate Muslims) are the first to be affected by this Islam and Islamic
regimes and groups.
This is a perfect time to denounce the
Islam of Iran, al-Qaeda, ISIS and the organizations that are forcibly involving
religion in politics. Denouncing them is for the sake of Islam, individual
faith and all the Muslims in different countries.
The conflicts of the world and its
governments are mostly political and have nothing to do with religion;
governments that want to intellectually exploit Muslims should not be
supported, because they do not care about the relations between nations or about
what is happening to the majority and minority of peaceful Muslims in their
They only want to emerge victorious from
the ashes of chaos. They know that they will lose once peace and moderation
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News
Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former
editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where
he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of
Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed
has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide
recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded,
thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed
Muting Prayers Is Muting the Palestinian
Mariam Barghouti is a Palestinian American
writer based in Ramallah.
Driving the streets of the West Bank, you
see Israeli-issued street signs reading, in Arabic, "Urshalaym", the
Hebrew word for Jerusalem instead of the Arabic namesake "Al-Quds".
Like most Palestinians with West Bank IDs,
I am rarely presented with the opportunity to visit Jerusalem owing to Israel's
discriminatory regulations requiring a permit issued by the District
On the rare occasions that I have been able
to visit Jerusalem, it has appeared foreign and has clashed with the accounts
of my grandfather who would often visit it before the creation of the state of
The solace testifying that I am not a
stranger was the Arabic call for prayer rebounding off the walls of the old
city. It was, in a way, contesting the Israeli procedures aiming to eradicate
any Palestinian linkage to the land.
Another Step to Colonise Further
Earlier this week, the Israeli Knesset
approved a preliminary reading of two versions of a bill aimed at muffling
mosque calls to prayer in Jerusalem and Israel.
While its critics deem it racist and a
contravention of the right of worship, the ramifications are far more
intricate. They, however, will align with Israel's ironclad efforts to belie
the Palestinian register.
Israel has constantly fought the
Palestinian narrative of its colonisation. They have divided us into
bantustans, forced us into exile and fought our de facto existence as this bill
does through muffling a traditional sound associated with the Arabic-speaking
The call to prayer has been a part of
Muslim culture since the rise of Islam and a part of Jerusalem since Arab
presence was established in the region.
In Islam, prayer call is to designed to be
a reminder, to both Muslims and non-Muslims, of the spiritual element of the
religion while concurrently acting as a collective call for mobilising the
congregation of Muslims.
While Israel continues to monopolise on the
myth of being the "only democracy in the Middle East" its practices
parallel institutions built on supremacy. Sixty-nine years ago, Israel's first
Prime Minister, Ben Gurion, noted in his diary "we must do everything to
ensure [the Palestinians] never do return" and the strategy to prove this
true has been the guardianship of a dual justice system.
The treatment of the indigenous Palestinian
population as second and third-class citizens through discriminatory laws is
the reification of what Gurion meant when he gestured that the Palestinians
must be driven out.
WikiLeaks' CIA Document Dump Will Cause
A Ripple Effect
In 2015, soon after the San Bernardino
attack, the FBI demanded that Apple help them access the attacker Syed Farook's
iPhone. FBI officers claimed the phone could have vital information and that
Apple's compliance was necessary in the interest of national security and
sought a court order to compel the company.
At that time Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, called
the order chilling and said that helping to access Farook's phone would require
writing a special code that would be "a master key, capable of opening
hundreds of millions of locks".
The FBI argued that it doesn't need the key
to access phones but that Apple needed to create a way for security agencies to
gain access in criminal cases. The argument that such a "master key"
would never be leaked sounded dubious then and it's blatantly implausible after
the events of this week.
No Device Is 'Secure'
The alleged trove of CIA documents revealed
earlier this week by Wikileaks appears to be the largest leak of the agency's
documents in history.
The documents published online reveal a set
of sophisticated tools and techniques from the CIA's arsenal detailing how the
agency can break into smartphones, computers and smart televisions.
The tools also include information on how
the agency can compromise PDF documents, WiFi routers and even anti-virus
softwares that are meant to protect individuals from intrusion.
One program codenamed Weeping Angel turns
Samsung Smart TVs into covert listening devices even when they are switched
This means that the Smart TV can collect
sound data from the room and transmit it over the internet to an agency server.
This is not all. The documents also contain
a detailed library of cyberattack techniques borrowed from other countries such
as Russia. One file titled Marble Framework reveals how the agency allegedly
wrote a malware code to obscure its origin and confuse forensic experts.