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Books and Documents

Middle East Press (26 May 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Count Your Blessings This Ramadan: New Age Islam's Selection, 26 May 2017








Count Your Blessings This Ramadan

By Purva Grover

The Strength of Manchester and Britain Will Prevail

By Chris Doyle

Manchester’s Bright Future

By Jim O’Neill

The Closure of Israel’s Public Broadcaster

By Yossi Mekelberg

Concerning Iran, King Salman Nailed It

By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

Manchester Attack and Riyadh’s Center for Combating Terrorism

By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Who Runs Qatar Behind the Scenes?

By Saeed Al-Suraihi

Our Neighbor Al-Jazeera, Why?

By Dr. Ali Bin Hamad, Al-Kheshaiban

When Basketball Does Hijab, Because It Can

By Adama Juldeh Munu

Qatar: It Is About Policies Not News

By Mashari Althaydi

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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Count Your Blessings This Ramadan

By Purva Grover

May 25, 2017

Blessings come in tiny and big ways in our lives. Sometimes they're tough to identify, too.

As we enter the holy month of Ramadan, I am reminded of the prayers I said decades ago. As kids, during the school assemblies, our teachers would ask us to close our eyes and say a little prayer. Express your gratitude towards anything that makes today wonderful, we were told. We would mutter a prayer. I recall feeling grateful for a cloudy day, the yummy sandwich packed in my lunch box, a play date with my best friend. We were allowed to keep our prayers a secret, too. When I reached college, my teacher's words continued to ring in my head, and it became a routine to look at life with the 'glass half full' attitude. I felt grateful for an easy test paper, pocket money, movie nights, and opportunities to select subjects I wished to study.

Looking back, I realise how over the years I began to express gratitude towards different things - lesser traffic on the road, promotion at work, relaxed weekends. As my friends would say, our priorities and expectations are constantly changing. Hence, somewhere in between we also began to ask for more and cherish less.

I wonder when did we begin to measure blessings. I'm not sure I know.

Blessings come in tiny and big ways in our lives. Sometimes they're tough to identify too, which makes this period of fasting, observance, giving, and praying, a perfect time to look closer and cherish what we have.

Our daily lives are filled with blessings. They come to us when we greet an elderly person, or perhaps when we offer a bottle of water to a labourer working under the harsh sun. Blessings are when the room lights up as friends and family gather to share a meal, lovingly prepared together. It lies in the smile you exchange with a stranger on a Metro ride.

It's the hug that you envelope your child in after a long day at work. It also lies in the lessons of life and love, culture and customs, rituals and reverence that you pass on to the younger generations. It lies in the charities you contribute to. It appears in the sunrise you greet, and the sunset you watch. It lies in every waking moment spent in chasing a dream, and in every dream that visits you while you are asleep.

This Ramadan, why not count your blessings, especially the ones hidden in our mundane lives. Take a moment to introspect and express gratitude. Here's wishing everyone a season of bliss.

Source: khaleejtimes.com/editorials-columns/count-your-blessings-this-ramadan

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The Strength of Manchester and Britain Will Prevail

By Chris Doyle

26 May 2017

Twelve years ago, on July 7, 2005, central London was the victim of four major synchronized bomb attacks on its transport system by Islamist extremists. At the time, the fact they were home-grown and from Yorkshire shocked many who were unfamiliar with the underlying trends in certain communities.

The attack in Manchester on Monday was the first mass-fatality bombing since then in Britain. This time, it would have been a surprise if the perpetrator was not born and raised here.

The Westminster attack on March 22 was by a lone attacker, with little evidence of much support. The sophistication and power of the bomb in Manchester demonstrate technical abilities way beyond that expected of a 22-year-old, leading security services to believe the bomb-maker is still at large and a threat. They believe there is a “network” involved.

The youth of the attacker Salman Abedi is an increasing feature of Daesh terrorists, as is his being a cannabis-smoking, alcohol-drinking dropout who may have been part of the local gang culture. This is part of a trend where Daesh extremists are not very observant and come from criminal backgrounds. It was also no surprise that he was a second-generation immigrant. His family came from Libya.

The Westminster attack was on the heart of Britain’s political power, the Manchester attack at the heart of its cultural hub, both equally loathed by the likes of Daesh and Al-Qaeda. The timing may well have been political given that it was in the midst of a general election campaign.

The other massive change since 2005 is the response of British-Muslim communities. Back then, in the era of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, they were neither prepared for the bombers being British-Muslim nor for the backlash.

Many sections of these communities were in total denial that there was an issue, to the extent of believing in absurd conspiracy theories of exaggerated faux hysteria. It was comforting for many to think this was not their problem or issue.

But in 2017, Muslim communities are far more aware that there are extremists in their midst, and that silence, denial and inaction are no longer an option. It does not mean they were not appalled by the killings in London; they just found it hard to accept that one of their own could do this.

It was one of the few uplifting themes of the Manchester horror, the way the city’s entire community rallied around to help and comfort. Taxi drivers of all backgrounds and faiths rushed to help and took people to safety free of charge. People opened their homes. A British-Syrian surgeon from Homs treated many of the victims, seeing many of the same wounds he had operated on during the Syrian crisis.

Muslim communities raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for the victims of the attack. Moreover, the accusation that British Muslims do not report extremism to the authorities did not apply here as many British Libyans had warned the authorities of radicalization in south Manchester for several years.

Just possibly too, the work and efforts of British-Muslim groups is slowly paying off. Signs are beginning to show that more and more people understand that British Muslims are not the problem and are just as likely to be victims, and certainly far from being on the side of the perpetrators.

But as ever, while the dominant themes were of togetherness, unity and resilience, racists and bigots leapt into action. One leading columnist called for a state of emergency and internment camps. Quite who she thought would be put in them, who knows? Another lowlife called for a “final solution.” A mosque in Oldham was attacked, and no doubt further hate crimes will follow.

US President Donald Trump, famed for his hostile comments against Muslims in his election campaign, did in his speech in Riyadh highlight one key truth that has still failed to register in much of the West. “Some estimates hold that more than 95 percent of the victims of terrorism are themselves Muslim.”

Further attacks in Britain are likely. Daesh and Al-Qaeda have long plotted such atrocities against a nation that has been active militarily in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya. Of the major Western powers, it may rank second only to the US in terms of being loathed.

But Britain has survived much worse, so its society is far from being cowed or broken. It may surprise many that between 2000 and 2015, only 90 people were killed in the UK in terrorist attacks. This compares to 1,094 deaths in the 15-year period before that, between 1985 and 1999, and 2,211 between 1970 and 1984, much of it because of Irish-related terrorism. The country did not panic then, nor will it do so now. This resolve is vital in facing the likely wave of attacks over the next decade.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1104986

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Manchester’s Bright Future

By Jim O’Neill

26 May 2017

I am a proud Mancunian (as the people of Manchester are known), despite the fact I have not lived there permanently since I left school for university when I was 18. I was born in St. Mary’s hospital near the city centre, was raised in a pleasant suburb in South Manchester, and attended a normal primary and junior school in a nearby, tougher neighbourhood, before attending Burnage for secondary school. Thirty-eight years after I attended Burnage, so, apparently, did Salman Abedi, the suspected Manchester Arena bomber.

The atrocity carried out by Abedi, for which Daesh has claimed credit, is probably worse than the dreadful bombing by the Irish Republican Army that destroyed parts of the city center 21 years ago, an event that many believe played a key role in Manchester’s renaissance. At least in that case, the bombers gave a 90-minute warning that helped avoid loss of life. Abedi’s barbaric act, by contrast, killed at least 22 people, many of them children.

In recent years, I have been heavily involved in the policy aspects of this great city’s economic revival. I chaired an economic advisory group to the Greater Manchester Council, and then served as Chair of the Cities Growth Commission, which advocated for the “Northern Powerhouse,” a program to link the cities of the British north into a cohesive economic unit. Subsequently, I briefly joined David Cameron’s government, to help implement the early stages of the Northern Powerhouse.

I have never attended a concert at the Manchester Arena, but it appears to be a great venue for the city. Just as Manchester Airport has emerged as a transport hub serving the Northern Powerhouse, the arena plays a similar role in terms of live entertainment. As the sad reports about those affected indicate, attendees came from many parts of northern England (and beyond).

In the past couple of years, Manchester has received much praise for its economic revival, including its position at the geographic heart of the Northern Powerhouse, and I am sure this will continue. Employment levels and the regional business surveys indicate that, for most of the past two years, economic momentum has been stronger in North West England than in the country as a whole, including London. Whether this is because of the Northern Powerhouse policy is difficult to infer; whatever the reason, it is hugely welcome and important to sustain.

To my occasional irritation, many people still wonder what exactly the Northern Powerhouse is. At its core, it represents the economic geography that lies within Liverpool to the west, Sheffield to the East, and Leeds to the northeast, with Manchester in the middle. The distance from Manchester to the centre of any of those other cities is less than 40 miles (64 km), which is shorter than the London Underground’s Central, Piccadilly, or District lines. If the 7-8 million people who live in those cities — and in the numerous towns, villages, and other areas between them — can be connected via infrastructure, they can act as a single unit in terms of their roles as consumers and producers.

The Northern Powerhouse would then be a genuine structural game changer for Britain’s economy. Indeed, along with London, it would be a second dynamic economic zone that registers on a global scale. It is this simple premise that led the previous government to place my ideas at the core of its economic policies, and why the Northern Powerhouse has become so attractive to business in the UK and overseas.

It is a thrilling prospect, and, despite being less than three years old, it is showing signs of progress. In fact, given the broader economic benefits of agglomeration, the Northern Powerhouse mantra can be extended to the whole of the North of England, not least to include Hull and the North East. But it is what I often inelegantly call “Man-Sheff-Leeds-Pool” that distinguishes the Northern Powerhouse, and Manchester, which sits at the heart of it, is certainly among the early beneficiaries.

Despite this, I have frequently said to local policy leaders, business people, those from the philanthropic world, and others that unless the areas lying outside the immediate vicinity of central Manchester benefit from regional dynamism, Greater Manchester’s success will be far from complete. Anyone who looks little more than a mile north, south, east, or west of Manchester’s Albert Square — never mind slightly less adjacent parts such as Oldham and Rochdale — can see that much needs to be improved, including education, skills training and inclusiveness, in order to ensure long-term success.

Whatever the warped motive of the 22-year-old Abedi, who evidently blew himself up along with the innocent victims, his reprehensible act will not tarnish Manchester’s bright, hopeful future. I do not claim to understand the world of terrorism, but I do know that those who live in and around Manchester and other cities need to feel part of their community and share its aspirations. Residents who identify with their community are less likely to harm it — and more likely to contribute actively to its renewed vigor.

Now more than ever, Manchester needs the vision that the Northern Powerhouse provides. It is a vision that other cities and regions would do well to emulate.

Source: www.arabnews.com/node/1104981

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The Closure of Israel’s Public Broadcaster

By Yossi Mekelberg

26 May 2017

Most people in Europe heard for the first time that Israel was about to shut down its public broadcasting service, the Israeli Broadcasting Authority (IBA), while watching the vote-counting during Eurovision recently. It was announced that this was the last time the IBA would broadcast this tiresome music contest.

It will not be the end of Israel’s participation in Eurovision, but it was the end of the IBA in the way it had been known even before Israel was founded. The well-established broadcaster, though not without its issues and need for reform, was replaced with a new and much-reduced service.

In principle, the huge changes in the world of media, especially digital media, require constant adaptation. But this was not the case with the closure of the IBA. It was another attempt by the government, and especially by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to take control and manipulate the public media in their favour. It is a growing and worrisome trend that undermines freedom of speech in Israel and the role of the media as a watchdog.

The IBA has been under attack by politicians for many years. They did not like the scrutiny that comes with their job, and used the media as a scapegoat for their shortcomings and failures. But Netanyahu took the attempt to muzzle the media to a completely new level via intimidation, manipulation, incitement and restrictive legislation.

For his entire political career, he has used media-bashing as a tool to advance his career. He has portrayed almost every part of the written, broadcast and digital media as persecuting him because of his opinions, and has suggested they are serving foreign interests. He has portrayed himself both as a victim and the defender of Israel’s national interests in the face of a hostile media.

The IBA’s origins go back to mandatory Palestine, when the first radio station of the Jewish community started broadcasting in 1936 (the public television service began 49 years ago). Its journalists’ integrity and professionalism served the country’s public debate on some of its most controversial issues.

The crude attempts to reduce the service, especially the news and current-affairs division, was initiated by Netanyahu three years ago during his previous term in office. In the process of destroying a service that covered all momentous historical events in Israel’s history, the government demonstrated its contempt for freedom of speech, incompetence in executing the switch to the new broadcasting service, and insensitivity to the livelihood of its employees.

The tearful on-air goodbye during the last ever screening of the evening news was as much about the demise of the organization and lost jobs as the fear that this is just another blow to free media, particularly the one funded by the public.

Strangely, more recently Netanyahu has been waging a battle against the newly established public broadcaster for no apparent reason, even before it aired its first news bulletin. One can only suspect that those are warning shots to ward off diligent scrutiny of government policies or his leadership, and an attempt to dissuade any interest in the investigations into his and his wife’s alleged corrupt behaviour.

The IBA’s closure is part of a more concerted effort by Netanyahu to curb any overseeing of his failed premiership. Whereas he would not dare go as far as Russia’s Vladimir Putin or Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan to harass or arrest journalists, the state of mind is very similar. He sees journalists who oppose him and his policies as personal enemies and enemies of the state. Similarly, he has also used incitement against the media as a political tool.

This paranoia, alleging that there is a media bias against him, led Sheldon Adelson — chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, the largest casino company in the US, and an ally of the prime minister — to start a free newspaper, Israel Hayom, which became Netanyahu’s mouthpiece. When the newspaper’s editor recently showed some courage to criticize Netanyahu, he was unceremoniously replaced.

Despite wide protestation against the free distribution of the newspaper, which almost instantly made it the best-circulated in Israel, it has always enjoyed Netanyahu’s protection from legislation that would have forced it to charge money.

Ironically, a major police investigation against him probes secret conversations he had with one of his major nemeses in the media, the publisher of Yediot Ahronot newspaper. The conversations revolved around allowing such legislation in exchange for more favourable coverage of Netanyahu in this newspaper.

If true — and so far there has been no denial of the authenticity of the transcripts of these conversations — it is clear evidence of the cynical and careless approach that Netanyahu is taking toward free speech and the role of the media. It hurts Israeli democracy, but it will not cover up his shortcomings and moral bankruptcy. If anything, it will make the media in Israel, and those who have its best interests at heart, more determined to protect it.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1104976

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Concerning Iran, King Salman Nailed It

By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

26 May 2017

Anyone who understands and has followed the character of Iran’s political establishment for decades knows that Saudi King Salman’s recent speech articulately laid out critical truths about Iran’s government.

The first issue is linked to its role in spreading terrorism. Several US State Department reports indicate that Iran is the top state sponsor of terrorism. In addition, based on my research at Harvard, Tehran directly or indirectly supports roughly 40 percent of the world’s designated terrorist groups.

This includes financial, military, advisory and political assistance. Iran’s major organization that establishes and backs militia groups across the region is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and its affiliate branches such as the Quds Force led by Qassem Soleimani.

The IRGC, under the direct supervision of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has significantly contributed to the emergence of groups such as Hezbollah, and Iraqi Shiite militias including Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq, which operate as Iran’s proxies. In nearly four decades, Tehran has expanded its influence from Sanaa to Baghdad via direct or indirect interventions.

Iran’s export of a radical version of Shiite ideology and its revolutionary slogans have led to further Shiite-Sunni division. Since 1979, it has used its sectarian agenda to divide and rule and to impose fear. Tehran benefits from this instability. Its sectarian agenda has also contributed to the rise of terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Daesh.

As King Salman said: “The Iranian regime has been the spearhead of global terrorism since the (1979) Khomeini revolution. For 300 years, we did not know terrorism and extremism until the Khomeini revolution reared its head.” This is Tehran’s underlying modus operandi. It will not alter the core pillars of its revolutionary ideals.

King Salman referred to Iran’s unwillingness to accept diplomatic initiatives: “Iran has rejected initiatives of good neighbourhood provided by our countries based on good faith. Iran replaced these initiatives with expansionist ambitions, criminal practices, interference in the internal affairs of other countries, flagrant violations of international law, and violations of the principles of good neighbourliness, coexistence and mutual respect.”

For Tehran, concessions mean weakness. That is why the Obama administration’s concessions emboldened and empowered Iran to pursue its regional hegemonic ambitions. Iran’s moderates are a powerful tool for hard-liners to gain more power financially and geopolitically. The powerless moderates bring cash to the hard-liners, while the latter have the final say in foreign policy.

Since 1979, Iran has shown that the only language it understands is pressure. Tehran has repeatedly abused kind gestures from world leaders. As King Salman said: “The Iranian regime erroneously thought that our silence was a sign of weakness and our wisdom a retreat. We have had enough of its hostile practices and interventions, as we have seen in Yemen and other countries in the region.”

Tehran has used the name of Islam to expand its power and advance its pursuit of regional superiority. King Salman pointed to this critical issue by condemning attempts to exploit Islam “as a cover for political purposes that fuel hatred, extremism, terrorism, and religious and sectarian conflicts. The Iranian regime and its affiliated groups and organizations such as Hezbollah and the Houthis, as well as ISIS (Daesh) and Al-Qaeda and others, are clear examples.”

He added: “Today we see some who consider themselves Muslims seek to present a distorted image of our religion, where they seek to link this great religion with violence. We say to our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters of Muslims everywhere that one of the most important purposes of Islamic law is self-preservation, and there is no honor in committing crimes.”

King Salman thoughtfully distinguished between Iran’s government and its oppressed people: “We confirm… our appreciation of and respect to the Iranian people, who will not be blamed for the crimes of their regime.” US President Donald Trump acknowledged King Salman’s remarks by saying the Iranian people have “endured hardship and despair under their leaders’ reckless pursuit of conflict and terror.”

Trump added: “From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region… Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate it… and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they so richly deserve.”

The only way to change Iran’s behaviour for the better is to create a powerful coalition that pressures it politically and economically. King Salman’s astute speech struck a chord among Muslim and world leaders, as well as Westerners and more fundamentally the Iranian people.

Source: arabnews.com/node/1104966

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Manchester Attack and Riyadh’s Centre for Combating Terrorism

By Abdulrahman al-Rashed

25 May 2017

The difference between al-Qaeda and ISIS is in the use of terror techniques. Al-Qaeda has almost disappeared because it decided to stop using the internet and modern technology after it realized this could expose it. ISIS, as a secret group, became prominent as a result of technology and published most of its activities on social media networks.

Theoretically speaking, technology is supposed to expose ISIS but it turned out that the latter is often one step ahead of global security apparatuses. It individually communicates with those who are enthusiastic about its message via online networks. According to preliminary details, this is was the case of the young man who carried out the recent Manchester attack.

ISIS recruited him at his home in Manchester and he did not need to travel to ar-Raqqah in Syria. Security forces work to expose terrorists and thwart their operations by infiltrating such organizations and planting their agents. They monitor electronic messages and phone calls but it seems this is no longer yielding any results. The frequency of terrorist attacks in Europe prove this fact.

A relevant event of great significance happened recently. Few days ago, the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology was inaugurated in Saudi Arabia. Although there are around 1,000 centres in the world that specialize in the affairs related to terrorism, this centre is different. It is a massive radar that electronically detects activities particularly on social media networks.

It reads billions of circulated letters, sorts them and categorizes them following which they are analyzed by relevant officials. The centre handles the task of recognizing concepts, lessons and Fatwas (religious edicts) and has distinguished itself for its ability to differentiate between local dialects as most of the circulated material, whether written or spoken.

Intervention is done through detecting and pursuing dangerous circulated material or by discussing it and guiding it in the right direction. The Centre is supposed to fill the gaps in the electronic space, which extremists dominate.

Manchester’s lone wolf is one of hundreds or perhaps thousands in the virtual world. Security apparatuses confront difficult challenges as terrorists’ tools and tactics progress. They listen to phone calls, read messages, monitor the sale of arms and materials used to make weapons, and gather information from their informants who risk their lives to be on the ground.

Recruiting Online

Meanwhile, ISIS looks online for those with characteristics matching its objectives. The group communicates with them individually and this lessens the chances of being exposed or infiltrated. After communicating with dozens of young men who had already been deceived, they are guided to achieve the group’s aims.

Most of the time, one of them will be willing to carry out a crime either by using a suicide belt or a machine gun. Sometimes, they are tasked with using a vehicle to ram people or with simply using a kitchen knife to murder people.

Real failure is not in the inability to expose criminals before they commit crime or in failing to to thwart a terror attack, it is in the inability to build bridges to stop these torrents of hatred and incitement. This is not a general case in Muslim societies as it is claimed, and it’s not true that hatred and criminal activities have spread as a result of the Muslims’ suffering in European “ghettos.”

These crimes are also not exclusive to those angry with their regimes’ practices in Muslim countries. These are all excuses to justify terrorism. There are the same exact cases in other communities who follow other religions, such as Sikhism, Hinduism and Buddhism, so why don’t they wear suicide belts to voice protest or purify themselves?

Even Muslims from the previous generations did not do this. Why are today’s Muslim generations doing so? The spread of extremism in Birmingham and Manchester in Britain is much easier than its spread in Saudi Arabia and Egypt because laws are strict in the latter two and lenient in the former.

One last note: Fighting extremism is more important than fighting terrorism.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/05/25/Manchester-attack-and-Riyadh-s-center-for-combating-terrorism.html

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Who Runs Qatar Behind the Scenes?

By Saeed Al-Suraihi

May 26, 2017

IT is our duty toward Qatar, as a sisterly country, to believe its officials when they say that the official website of the Qatar News Agency (QNA) was hacked and that the hackers put in the mouth of the agency things that it had not said.

It is also our duty toward Qatar, as a friendly country, not to disbelieve its official media through which the country’s Emir said things that were not a far cry from the numerous tweets Qatar has written in the past and from which it later tried to disengage itself.

Qatar’s tweets and the statements of its ruler are confusing to both its enemies and its friends. Qatar has left those who love it, and we Saudis are among them, and those who are unsure about its attitude, and we are also among them, in total darkness.

We are confused by the attitude of this country toward issues that concern all of us. We are unable to take a clear stand toward Qatar except to say that it has disengaged itself from the consensus on issues that represent a common danger to the entire region.

Qatar has also disengaged itself from the consensus of the Riyadh Arab-Islamic and US summit, which considered Iran to be a hostile country that is interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.

The summit also decided that Iran has provided a safe haven for terrorists and sectarian groups who are jeopardizing the security and stability of the region.

If the Emir of Qatar believes that it is not wise to escalate matters with Iran because of its Islamic and regional weight, he should be wise enough to realize that it is Iran, and no one else, that has escalated issues with its neighbours.

This is, of course, unless the Emir is unaware of Iran’s interventions in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and its flagrant support for the Houthis in Yemen.

And also unless the Emir has not heard of the ballistic missiles Iran has launched along the coast opposite to his country’s borders in the Arabian Gulf.

Furthermore, if the Emir of Qatar believes that Hamas is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, then let me tell him that the Palestinians know better than him when it comes to who their real representatives are.

The Palestinians and the Arab League know better than the Emir of Qatar who the sole legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people are.

Qatar is still a member of the Arab League and as such the country should know better than its own ruler who is the real representative of the Palestinian people.

He has gone against his country’s official stand on who represents the people of Palestine. Qatar recognizes the real representative of the Palestinian people while its Emir does not.

Al-Jazeera news channel, the official spokesman of Qatar, has adopted the ambiguous ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, which found a stronghold for its beliefs in that country.

These conflicting attitudes have prompted the Emir of Qatar to say that he was maintaining good relationships with both Iran and America at the same time. He also spoke about his good ties with both Hamas and Israel!

Paradoxically, while the Emir thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman for his warm welcome, he said in his speech before the Riyadh summit that the world consensus against terrorism constituted a danger to Qatar and the security of the region.

Source: saudigazette.com.sa/opinion/local-viewpoint/runs-qatar-behind-scenes/

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Our Neighbour Al-Jazeera, Why?

By Dr. Ali Bin Hamad, Al-Kheshaiban

May 26, 2017

I DO not know how I can interpret and understand the statements made by our neighbour Qatar, with whom we have so many things in common. Since the 18th century and the secession from Bahrain, Qatar has been living in peace and security and has had historical relations with its neighbours in the Gulf region, neighbours who are very close to it and who surround it on all sides. I remember the beginning of the historical relations between late King Abdulaziz and Qatar and how the King provided Qatar with everything it needed. Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Maneh, the well-known Saudi scholar, was one of the people who played a pivotal role in establishing the education system in Qatar.

Every time I think of these historical relations, I cannot help but wonder what is happening to our neighbour Al-Jazeera (Qatar)? The political changes that have been taking place there since 1995, in addition to the equilibrium of the political powers, have become a pressing issue. What are the motives that have changed that country’s political stability following the mid-1990s? How can we read and understand the changes? Nothing happens haphazardly or without a reason. We should always remember that.

As we all know, history is our greatest teacher and guide. Each government must realize that any move it makes will involve risks if it does not assess and balance the risks. In fact, the political statements coming from our neighbour Al-Jazeera contradict our common goal in the Gulf where all countries aim to live in complete peace and security.

A country’s power is determined by its capability, geographic area and demographic elements. The more a country is aware of its capabilities, the more reasonable and wise are its actions. And for it, the right path becomes clear. However, having such capabilities should not prevent countries from having other alternatives. Money is not one of the alternatives. Rather, I am talking about political equilibrium and balance in terms of ties with neighbours.

Going against the trend does not guarantee success because the trend is strong and cannot be resisted. Success lies in building strong partnerships with historical friends and utilizing such partnerships to build a bright future. Lee Kuan Yew, former prime minister of Singapore, did not swim against the tide; on the contrary, he worked with every country that was close to and far from Singapore. If our neighbour Al-Jazeera wants to follow in the same footsteps, then it should realize that such statements are merely political campaigns whose effect will quickly vanish while the truth will remain unchanged. The real change happens in the way you act and the efforts you exert to achieve mutual interests with neighbours who surround you on all sides.

I have always wondered about the political moves adopted by our neighbour Al-Jazeera and asked why Al-Jazeera creates so much media hype and broadcasts it to the world. When all Gulf countries were suffering from terrorism and explosions, our neighbour Al-Jazeera was not moved or affected by these events. It opened its doors to everyone without exception and included those in its media programs whose objectives were not clear. Despite all of this, neighbours respected their neighbour Al-Jazeera and dealt with it with equilibrium and balance and even signed treaties and agreements with it, but…!

I think the excessive emotions expressed in the statements coming from our neighbour Al-Jazeera do not serve the interests of the region and of its neighbours and might result in negative consequences. Such consequences might reflect negatively on our neighbour, whom we hope will follow in the footsteps of Singapore in the near future and not result in the establishment of a second Cuba in the Gulf region. Even Cuba has realized today that political statements are nothing but media campaigns that bring about more damage than benefit.

Our neighbour Al-Jazeera should realize that political statements do not make history or build a country. The Arabic proverb says: “Nothing scratches your skin but your own fingernail”, meaning “God helps those who help themselves.” The most dangerous political stand a country can take is when that country adopts the positions of organizations and individuals. Our neighbour Al-Jazeera, you still have a chance to return to your neighbours, but you have to move fast before it is too late.

Source: saudigazette.com.sa/opinion/local-viewpoint/neighbor-al-jazeera/

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When Basketball Does Hijab, Because It Can

By Adama Juldeh Munu

25 May 2017

As I am sure most of us know by now, discussions around the Hijab are a staple food for the media and the general public, and most of the time, for all the wrong reasons, which do not merit regurgitation.

But if there is a good reason for one who dons it to reflect upon the latest controversy, it comes with the recent overturning of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) ban on Muslim women wearing the hijab while playing basketball.

Had it been a story detailing the ban of the veil by a Muslim or a non-Muslim majority country or the listings of a commentator who deems a polyester or viscose item as an affront to Western civilisation, most Muslim women would have probably licked their fingers and turned the page. Why? Because the discourse on the real experiences of Muslim women - a discourse that does not present them as "victims" - has moved at a snail's pace.

As Love in a Headscarf author, Shelina Janmohamed, says "It feels like no one is listening". That no one seems to be listening does not necessarily mean that Hijab-wearing Muslim women should seek overt validation in what can be a very personal choice. It is about the appreciation that a piece of scarf is not the be-all-end-all of who and what the Muslim woman represents. Earlier this month, an iron gate was broken down in the arena of basketball.

Hijab Is Not An Obstacle For Muslim Athletes

On May 4, FIBA, in its first ever mid-term congress, overturned a ban on a whole variety of headgear such as Hijabs, turbans and yarmulkes and allowed these items to be worn during basketball games.

Prior to this, the organisation had revised its rulings on the headgear rule in September 2014, with exceptions granted at the national level as part of a two-year testing period. The FIBA took this decision because it believed that its previous policies relating to headwear were incompatible with traditional dress codes including the hijab. Indeed, this ban has caused several Muslim women teams to miss out on playing in many arenas.

The FIBA's central board approved the proposal to reverse the ban, stating that the new rules will take effect in October this year. In a statement, the organisation said that the new regulation on headgear is "developed in a way that minimizes the risk of injuries as well as preserve consistency of the colour of the uniform".

At surface level, this demonstrates that hijab can be adapted and readapted in multiple situations within public life. But more crucially, this decision also demonstrates that hijab is not an impediment to the social and cultural standing of Muslim women or women who choose to dress modestly. FIBA's decision to revise its headgear rules is a big win for activists and sportswomen who have been tirelessly fighting to make this fact known.

Bilqis Abdul Qadir, an exceptional young woman and a college basketball player whose accomplishments had been acknowledged by former US President Barack Obama, was one of the sportswomen impacted by the ban.

She made history by being the first Division One basketball player to wear the Muslim veil, but the earlier FIBA ban blocked her chances of going into professional basketball. This conundrum had its toll, culminating in her creating a documentary in 2016 entitled "Life without Basketball".

In the short documentary, Bilqis said, "It's hard being a young Muslim woman in America. It takes strength to walk outside and look different than anyone else … They have this stereotype, that they [Muslim women] are quiet and they're submissive … when I play basketball, I worry about nothing … but now it's just a huge question mark."

Participating In Society

For Muslim girls and women like Bilqis, this conversation actually extends beyond the scope of the veil. It is about all females being afforded the opportunity and privileges akin to their respective societies. It is about women who dress modestly and adhere to religious dress not to have their religiosity as a marker which prevents them from fully participating in society.

British Sudanese basketball player, Asma Elbadawi, who is also a coach and a spoken word poet, has also campaigned to overturn FIBA's hijab ban. In reaction to the repeal of the ban, she told me, "I could see this day coming mainly because other sport governing bodies have already relaxed their rules regarding their religious attire. However, it was a thought, so for it to have manifested into a reality is an indescribable feeling." 

Elbadawi thinks that it's important for Muslim girls to have positive role models in an area that they may not feel they can carve potential for themselves in. She says, "Since basketball is one of the most popular sports right now, there is scope for Muslims to be seen in a different light and show their willingness to integrate into society."

I would go further and say that Muslim women have, for the most part, integrated in and contributed to both Western and non-Western societies, across different periods and places. It is about visibility and real representation on all levels - not only in sporting circles, but in other areas of life. There is no doubt there is still a long way to go for Muslim women in some Muslim countries to acquire full civic participation - hopefully, this repeal will be one of many stepping stones to achieve this.

Sport has always been an arena for great social and political change, and while FIBA would argue that the original ban was down primarily to health and safety on the part of participants, its overturn is no less significant.

It is about the visibility and merit of sports professionals who happen to dress modestly. It is about basketball doing hijab, because it can.

Source: aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2017/05/basketball-hijab-170516102638512.html

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Qatar: It Is About Policies Not News

By Mashari Althaydi

25 May 2017

The story from Qatar is not whether the news is fabricated or true. The problem is much bigger than what meets the eye.

Qatar, a country which is rich with natural resources and whose people are very close to the Saudi society, has since 1996 adopted a strange approach in looking after the general interest of the Gulf system particularly towards any higher interest of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Cooperation Council’s biggest country.

A lot has been said about the statements attributed to the Qatari Emir Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani and which were published by the official Qatari news agency, state television and other official Qatari media outlets. They later denied the report. This was followed by Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini comments. Let’s keep in mind that “ordinary” media outlets publish news from their “ordinary” and usual sources.

The Substance

What attracts attention here is the content of the report. According to the report, it was said that Brotherhood is a legitimate group and not a terrorist organization and that Hezbollah is a resistance movement while Hamas is a legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

It was also said that Iran is a major country that one must gain to his side and that Qatar is being subjected to “an unjust campaign” coinciding with the US President Donald Trump’s visit. The report also said the situation with the US will change due to the problematic new administration.

It added that Al-Udeid Air Base provides a deep and permanent cooperation with the Americans that no one can change. It also said that some governments which claim to fight terrorism actually adopt extremism (it’s clear who is meant here following Riyadh’s major summit) and added that the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt must end their campaigns against Qatar.

Are these Qatari contentions false? They do not exist? Is this all slander? Does this reflect reality?

Beyond Denial

The situation is far deeper than the denial. Media outlets affiliated to Qatar – from Al-Jazeera network to London and Turkey’s platforms, research centers and publishing houses – are all dedicated to promoting the Brotherhood propaganda. Everyone is aware of that. Prior to that we have known about the honeymoon period between Hezbollah and Doha.

Even the United States, during the presidential term of Iran’s and Brotherhood’s friend Barack Obama, was aware of that. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently spoke about Qatar’s relation with Brotherhood at a seminar at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy.

“Qatar has long welcomed the Muslim Brotherhood more than any other country in the region,” adding that whenever Washington asked Doha to pursue a rejected Brotherhood activity they would “but the initiative never came from them,” he said.

The reason behind Saudi, Emirati, Bahraini and other Arab countries’ anger is that clarity in terms of unified policies is no longer something that we can take lightly or overlook, especially after the departure of Obama who obstructed such efforts.

Everyone should try and comprehend the importance GCC-US and the Islamic-US summits. This is a new phase in politics which leaves its mark on media and other fields. We hope the brothers in Qatar think of mutual interests.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/05/25/Qatar-It-is-about-policies-not-news.html

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/middle-east-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/count-your-blessings-this-ramadan--new-age-islam-s-selection,-26-may-2017/d/111289




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