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Middle East Press (30 Jan 2016 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Don’t Let Terrorists Win: New Age Islam's Selection, 30 January 2016




New Age Islam Edit Bureau

30 January 2016

Don’t Let Terrorists Win

By Harun Yahya

Why Turkey And Iran Are Two Odd Allies

By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

Refugees In Europe And Religious Reform

By Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran

Palestine: Still Key To Stability In The Middle East

By Ibrahim Fraihat

On A Saudi Preacher’s Belief That ‘Women Are Shameful’

By Turki Al-Dakhil

Issue Separate Saudi ID Cards To Divorcees And Widows

By Samar Al-Haysouni

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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Don’t Let Terrorists Win

By Harun Yahya

30 January 2016

The infrastructure of terror is generally based on false beliefs but rage is always the trigger. For example, one person may be well disposed to communism in terms of ideology, but if you put a gun in his hand and provoke him into attacking the so-called “ruling classes,” that can turn him into a terrorist.

It is the same with radicalism in the Muslim world. Communities holding radical beliefs have been around for hundreds of years. However, radicalism has never made its presence so strongly felt as in these last few decades. The sole reason for this, which turns the radical mindset into terror, is “rage.”

People who are currently using radical terror as a pretext for opposition to Muslims seem to have forgotten that hatred is the starting point for terror. Donald Trump, one of the Republican contenders for the US presidency, may perhaps not calculate how his dangerous talk against Muslims may intensify the kind of hatred that leads the way to radicalism. He may not reflect that these words, spoken out of anger against radicalism and for the purpose of securing the votes of people who share that anger may result in a terrible scourge befalling him and all Americans. In declaring war on radicalism, he may be unaware that he is marketing a disaster, “rage” in other words, that will further nourish radicalism.

Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security advisor for President Obama, is correct when he says, “Mr. Trump’s rhetoric was feeding the propaganda line of Daesh that the US was at war with Islam.”

We need to heed these words of Mohammad Bazzi, a journalist:

“Trump’s latest antics play perfectly into Daesh’s hands, confirming the group’s message that the West is an evil, hostile land where Muslims are unsafe and where they will be persecuted simply for being Muslim… One reason why Daesh and other jihadist groups have had greater success in recruiting Muslims living in Europe, as opposed to the United States, is that Muslim communities tend to be more alienated there than in America. But thanks to Trump and other demagogues… a new backlash against Muslims will breed a greater sense of resentment.”

The error in question is also evident in Tajikistan these days. Last week in Tajikistan, we were amazed to see reports of how 13,000 men had their beards forcibly shaved off during a campaign against “hostility to national culture,” while 2,000 Muslim women were ‘prevailed upon’ to cease wearing the headscarf. The Tajik regime has vowed to “prevent radicalization of society” and “strive for the preservation of the secular order.” As a matter of fact, secularism as we know it is a concept based on popular freedom and human rights, and in that sense, a major component of democracy. But how much secularism can be obtained by the use of such force?

Tajikistan is a poor country with a 99 percent Muslim population. The threat of radicalism has shown its face there despite all the measures being taken. According to unofficial figures, there are more than 2,000 Tajiks fighting alongside radical groups in Syria. These include high-ranking Tajik police chiefs. One reason for the panic in the country was a former police chief saying “We will return to bring Shariah to Tajikistan” in a Daesh video. Let us also remember that Tajikistan shares a 1,344-km border with Afghanistan. That includes areas under Taliban control. The country is therefore in a region where radical terror can easily take roots.

The Tajik regime is unaware that in blaming various parties, the border with Afghanistan and, even worse, Islam, for radical terror it is itself engaging in provocation. Such prohibitions have always elicited negative responses in such countries and have encouraged some Muslims who would normally be living in peace to adopt the path of the radicals.

Expressions of rage for Muslims, oppression and restrictions in fact provide some people with the spark they are looking for. It must not be forgotten that terrible uprisings are started by angry people who think no other means are left to them. When the anger cannot be taken under control, no legal measure or immunity will be able to block such rage. Tajikistan must not stand in the vanguard of such anger.

The greatest error being made in the fight against radicalism worldwide is seeking to put an end to this scourge by inciting rage. All publishing and broadcasting media and the Internet are in the leadership’s hands in these countries. It will be a very easy matter to eradicate the foundations of radical thinking through the use of these means, love, education and information, and by providing scientific evidence. The people capable of doing that are obvious, and assistance must be sought if necessary. The anger being triggered will serve no other purpose than to recruit more people for radical groups and giving them exactly the climate they desire.

 Harun Yahya has authored more than 300 books translated into 73 languages on politics, religion and science. He tweets @harun_yahya.

Source: arabnews.com/columns/news/872631

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Why Turkey and Iran Are Two Odd Allies

By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

29 January 2016

The Turkish-Iranian relationship seems to have become more complicated in the recent months. In addition, the lifting of sanctions on Iran appears to mark a new era between Istanbul and Tehran.

On the surface, tensions and rhetorical disputes between Ankara and Tehran are escalating. Lately, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Iran of attempting to dominate the Middle East. Iranian lawmakers also put pressure on Hassan Rowhani to stand more forcefully against Turkey’s actions.

Will this heightened rhetoric lead to a major dispute or military stand-off between the Islamic Republic and Turkey?

Ankara And Tehran Need Each Other

Geopolitically speaking, Iranian and Turkish leaders have opposing views on most critical issues in the region. Both countries strongly stand against each other regarding the Syrian civil war; Turkey is opposing Bashar al-Assad, hosting oppositional groups while Iran is fully backing Assad’s Alawite-state militarily and financially. In Yemen, Turkey has also opposed Iran’s military support for Houthi militias.

The recent heated rhetoric between Turkey and Iran will not rise into a major dispute. They have managed to settle their profound geopolitical differences mainly due to the convergence of economic interests.

The second issue is linked to the Kurds. This is critical since Turkey and Iran have the largest and second-largest Kurdish population in the region. Although they both oppose their Kurdish populations desire to declare independence, Ankara and Tehran are competing in the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI). Iran suppresses its own Kurdish population, but it has utilized the Kurds in other countries as a political leverage against those nations.

The KRI already has formidable economic ties with the Islamic Republic. In addition, Iran has managed to strengthen its military and strategic relationships with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). As the KRG President Massoud Barzani has pointed out “Iran was the first country to provide us with weapons and ammunition”. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), located mainly in the south and east of Iraqi Kurdistan, also enjoys Iran’s military support.

Turkey views Iran’s support for the PUK as a national security threat. Turkey is also concerned that Iranian leaders are increasing their influence in Iraq through various alliances in order to limit other regional power’s influence. By increasing its influence in the KRG, Iran can potentially force Turkey to reshape its opposing policies towards the Islamic Republic, Syria and Iraq.

Ideologically speaking, they differ as Turkey is a secular state with secular constitution, and Iran has a theocratic political establishment. Turkey has always been concerned about Iran’s attempts to export its Shiite and revolutionary ideals, alter the regional order and tip the regional balance of power in its Revolutionary Guards’ favour.

Economic Convergence of Interests

However, none of the aforementioned critical disagreements and geopolitical rivalries are going to lead to a major military confrontation or break up the ties between Tehran and Ankara. The major reason is that Turkey is in desperate need of gas and oil, and Iran is in need of Turkey’s cash: an economic convergence of interests.

Economically speaking, the major regional beneficiary of the nuclear deal is Turkey. Turkey is a key customer of Iranian oil and gas -Iran is the second largest gas exporter to Turkey. Turkey hopes that the lifting of sanctions will bring Western and Turkish companies to invest in Iran’s gas infrastructure in order to speed up production. One way that Turkey could decrease it energy dependence on Iran is if Qatar provides Ankara with the needed gas supplies.

Turkey is searching to place itself as the major energy hub between European countries and Iran for gas and oil exports. This will minimize the cost of the expensive gas contracts that Turkey is currently paying to Iran.

Before the Arab spring, Turkey voted against imposing new sanctions on Iran through United Nations Security Council resolution. By using different methods of payments such as gold, it also assisted Iran to bypass economic sanctions.

Moreover, both countries have significant trade partnership in other areas as well. Trade between Ankara and Tehran has risen to approximately 14 billion in 2014. And as Riza Eser, chairman of the Turkey-Iran Business Council, pointed out Ankara is attempting to increase trade with Tehran up to $30 billion in two years. Turkey alongside China and United Arab Emirates are the top three trade partners of Iran.

Ankara attempts to conduct a balancing act between Iranian hardliners and moderates, and often it tones down its rhetoric, because it is cognizant of the fact that Iranian hardliners- such as the Revolutionary Guard Corps- do not want to completely give their monopoly over the energy sector to Western and Turkish companies, and they view Turkey with suspicion.

The recent heated rhetoric between Turkey and Iran will not rise into a major dispute. Since the 1639 Treaty of Qhasr-e Shirin, Iran and Turkey has maintained their relations. They have managed to settle their profound geopolitical differences mainly due to the convergence of economic interests. More fundamentally, the lifting of sanctions on Iran will bring Istanbul and Tehran closer together due their shared economic interests.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is an Iranian-American scholar, author and U.S. foreign policy specialist. Rafizadeh is the president of the International American Council. He serves on the board of Harvard International Review at Harvard University and Harvard International Relations Council. He is a member of the Gulf 2000 Project at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs. Previously he served as ambassador to the National Iranian-American Council based in Washington DC.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/2016/01/29/Why-Turkey-and-Iran-are-two-odd-allies.html

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Refugees in Europe and Religious Reform

By Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran

28 January 2016

The general debate on religion, its interpretation and understanding, in addition to the rise of terrorist groups in the East and West, remind us of the urgent need for radical reform of religious institutions in the Muslim world, and for modern religious rhetoric that can develop societal coexistence. These needs have increased as Syrian refugees flee to Europe, where there is the possibility of struggles and disputes.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is keen to encourage religious rhetoric that corrects refugees’ understanding of Islamic concepts, and pushes them to adopt values that they have not known before, such as tolerance, integration and coexistence.

The rise of extremist organizations and the influx of Syrian refugees into Europe have resulted in a state of worry and vigilance the likes of which we have not seen since 2001.Amid this debate, the Newseum - a museum of news in Washington - this week granted its Religious Freedom Award to Abdallah bin Bayyah, a jurist and president of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies.

He resigned from the International Union of Muslim Scholars after the eruption of the Arab Spring, as he allegedly believed the union was linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and was keen to harm religious institutions in Arab countries under the pretext of performing its official work.

Spreading Extremism

There are urgent attempts to curb extremism, and huge fears of rising fundamentalism in several countries. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has spread to East Asia, with the recent Jakarta terror attack and the arrest of recruits in Singapore. The threat has also reached Australia.

Meanwhile, German media outlets continuously warn of the ISIS threat in an attempt to foil attacks planned by its cells, and by those of Al-Qaeda that inhabit Molenbeek in Belgium, a base for extremist organizations in Europe.

By the end of the 20th century, Syrian poet Adonis wondered why values of coexistence had collapsed among Muslims, and why it had become impossible to restore the old pillars of coexistence that existed in Islamic history, specifically during the period of Al-Andalus.

These questions influenced thinker Abdel Wahab Mouadab. The most recent book by him that I have read is “Islam Now,” which describes how Andalusians were received in the 13th century following the fall of Cordoba and Sevilla.

“My place of birth Tunisia and its suburbs witnessed cross-pollination of cultures as a result of this migration which enriched morals of civilized behavior as well as architecture, trade, cultivation and industry,” he wrote. “The centre of Andalusian civilization, which is represented in Cordoba, shone on European soil, and this centre can add legitimacy to Muslims’ presence in Europe.”

The rise of extremist organizations and the influx of Syrian refugees into Europe have resulted in a state of worry and vigilance the likes of which we have not seen since 2001. News outlets continually discuss terrorism, clerics and religious rhetoric. This gives Muslims and their leaders a chance to develop a plan to exonerate religion from terrorism and convey this to other nations. This is not easy, but it is not impossible.

The basis of this reform began with the wave of Arab enlightenment in the 1920s. We must ensure that descriptions of murder, bloodshed and terrorism do not apply to our region. Lebanese leader Walid Jumblatt, the maternal grandson of Shakib Arslan - author of the 1930 book “Our Decline and Its Causes” - said the last words uttered by his mother before she died were: “The Arab world is a world of murderers.”

Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran is a Saudi writer and researcher who also founded the Riyadh philosophers group. His writings have appeared in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Alarabiya.net, among others. He also blogs on philosophies, cultures and arts.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/2016/01/28/Refugees-in-Europe-and-religious-reform.html

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Palestine: Still Key to Stability in the Middle East

By Ibrahim Fraihat

28 Jan 2016

The United States has long treated Palestine as irrelevant to its "war against terrorism", a premise that remains in place as the superpower leads a campaign to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Last month, however, comments made by key figures on opposing sides of that campaign once again reaffirmed that Palestine remains central to any serious effort to counter extremism in the region.

When Rob Malley, the Obama administration's chief adviser on countering ISIL, was asked whether the group had any relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he replied: "There are many reasons to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict … one of the reasons is that it would help defuse an issue that is fuelling extremism." While admitting that resolving the conflict would not be "the magic wand that would put an end to all of the problems that have been plaguing the Middle East", Malley reiterated that "the absence of a resolution is fuelling extremism".

Released two weeks after Malley's comments, a statement from ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi seemed to confirm Malley's point: "The Jews thought we forgot Palestine and that they had distracted us from it. Not at all, Jews. We did not forget Palestine for a moment. With the help of Allah, we will not forget it … The pioneers of the jihadist fighters will surround you on a day that you think is distant and we know is close. We are getting closer every day."

A Continuous Pattern

Baghdadi's threatening message adds him to a long list of Middle Eastern political figures who invoked the Palestinian issue - whether sincerely or not - as a political tool.

Historically, Arab rulers have used the Palestinian cause to build legitimacy for their rule. In 1977, for example, Muammar Gaddafi was central to the establishment of the Steadfastness and Confrontation Front in protest against Egypt's negotiations with Israel.

The Front included, among others, Hafez al-Assad and Saddam Hussein. Ultimately, however, instead of doing something for Palestine, the members leveraged its plight to legitimise and sustain their iron-fisted rule over their own peoples.

Washington must understand that every time it vetoes a UN Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements or Palestinian statehood, it is sabotaging its own efforts to counter extremism.

Nearly 40 years later, the pattern continues as Palestine is still at the centre of the Middle East's political discourse. A former Iranian diplomat recently told me that the war in Syria is all about preserving Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah's "Axis of Resistance" that opposes Israel and the United States while supporting the Palestinian cause.

From this perspective, the issue is not Bashar al-Assad remaining in power but ensuring that Syria remains a committed member of the Axis.

In a recent speech during Friday prayers in Tehran, the deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Hossein Salami said, "[...] we tell the Americans that we will further expedite enhancement of our missile capabilities as long as they massacre the Palestinian children, as long as they bury Yemen's oppressed children in their houses, as long as they displace the Muslim nation of Syria ..."

In Yemen, the Houthis' slogan is "God is great, death to America, death to Israel, curse on the Jews, victory to Islam". Even as they advanced on Yemen's capital in 2014, they did not lose sight of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, adopting a secondary slogan of "we fight in Sanaa while our eyes are on Jerusalem".

Wrong Methods to Fight Extremism

The US will never be able to build a credible coalition in the Middle East against ISIL, al-Qaeda or others as long as it continues its open and unconditional support for Israel. What the US touts as a 60-country coalition against ISIL is, at least in the Middle East, a coalition with governments that largely lack legitimacy with their own people.

Thus, public support for the fight against ISIL will be difficult to obtain. Governments cannot contain and defeat extremism by themselves. If they could, NATO could have eliminated al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and the US drones could have finished off al-Qaeda in Yemen. Instead, they have failed. Iraq's governmental forces, for their part, collapsed astonishingly quickly when attacked by ISIL.

It is the people who represent the main recruitment pool for extremist groups who are able to neutralise extremism, and this happens only when their hearts and minds are opposed to it. It is the people, not the governments, who can make any campaign against extremism legitimate.

In the case of the Arab world, the people are against the US and its complete bias in favour of Israel. It is very difficult to trust the US while it pours excessive support to Israel and prevents Palestinians from achieving their national aspiration of a state of their own.

During a recent visit to Jordan, I repeatedly heard a sentiment of being opposed to ISIL but also being totally against partnering with the US government, which is viewed as the guarantor of a Zionist project in Palestine. This image of the US, along with its history of interventions in the region, foments distrust among Arabs and hampers the formation of a partnership to counter extremism.

The Great Unifier

The rise of ISIL has understandably shaken the region, captured the world's attention, and elicited an urgent response. Since 1948, many crises and incidents have done just that, including Anwar Sadat's 1977 visit to Jerusalem, Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent Gulf War, and more recently the Arab Spring.

Yet, as these crises rise and recede, the issue of Palestine continues to cast its shadow over the region. As severely as these and other crises have divided the region along a variety of lines, Palestine remains the great unifier.

Sooner or later, the war in Syria will end, but the people of the Middle East, whether Arab or Persian, Sunni or Shia Muslim, secular or Islamist, will still desire justice for Palestine. ISIL may be degraded or defeated, but the extremism that has destabilised the Middle East will continue to feed on the issue of Palestine.

Washington must understand that every time it vetoes a UN Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements or Palestinian statehood, it is sabotaging its own efforts to counter extremism.

It looks like Baghdadi, currently the world's most famous extremist, has recognised the value of using Palestine to appeal to the hearts and minds of the region. Let us hope that Malley can convince his boss of the value of Palestine not only for countering extremism but also for the stability of the region in its entirety.

Ibrahim Fraihat is Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Brookings Institution's Doha Center and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University in Qatar.

Source: aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/01/palestine-key-stability-middle-east-160127114216535.html

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On A Saudi Preacher’s Belief That ‘Women Are Shameful’

By Turki Al-Dakhil

28 January 2016

Let us overcome the current controversy over a Saudi preacher’s statement that women are shameful. It is a shameful statement, but my call to overcome this controversy stems from the need to look at the situation from a different angle.

Imagine how someone born this year, whether a boy or girl, will read this preacher’s comments 20 years from now. How will they look at their society, in which someone who is supposedly an opinion leader considered women dishonourable in 2016?

Explanation

How can you explain to a Muslim in China, Ireland or Senegal that the woman who gave birth to you, raised you and lived with you cannot drive a car because of doubts over her ability to make choices, and is viewed as shameful and disgraceful?

How will you explain to a Muslim in the East or West this tragic, even comical situation? This is reminiscent of Arab poet Abu Tayyib al-Mutanabbi’s verse: “What are the objects which raise the laughter of Egypt, laughter which nearly resembles weeping?”

The reason I ask how to explain this to a Muslim in particular is because we have the same religion, and we hope for forgiveness and desire to go to heaven. It is not women who are defective but men, and even culture.

Turki Al-Dakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honours, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/2016/01/28/On-a-Saudi-preacher-s-belief-that-women-are-shameful-.html

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Issue Separate Saudi ID Cards To Divorcees And Widows

By Samar Al-Haysouni

Jan 30, 2016

The Ministry of Interior has put an end to the suffering of many widows and divorced women by issuing them separate ID cards, allowing them to finally prove the parenthood of their children. It is a step in the right direction to end the oppression and unfair treatment of some men who do not comply with Civil Status laws and refuse to register their children with the concerned government agency and issue them ID cards.

Most children of divorced women suffer the consequences of this situation. This decision will also ease the suffering of widows, and remove various legal and government obstacles that stood in their way and prevented them from getting ID cards. Women will have the right to finalize all the procedures of their children without getting approval from a male guardian. Many women have lost their rights in the past because some fathers abused the system and wanted to take revenge on them.

Enas Rashwan, a lawyer, said this is a fair decision for Saudi women because it allows Saudi women to finalize all the procedures before government agencies. Husbands will no longer have the upper hand in this situation and will no longer be able to blackmail women. The decision will protect the rights of children. Rashwan hopes that the decision will extend and cover the rights of others besides divorced women and widows.

Lujain Rafique, a trainee lawyer, said: “Before this decision, Saudi widows and divorced women were deprived of their basic rights. Their children could not enroll in schools because they did not have ID cards.”

I personally think that the decision will reduce the number of personal status cases involving divorced women and widows who want to regain the rights of their children. The question is: What about women who were deserted by their husbands? Will they benefit from this decision?

Source: saudigazette.com.sa/opinion/local-viewpoint/issue-separate-saudi-id-cards-to-divorcees-and-widows/

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/middle-east-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/don’t-let-terrorists-win--new-age-islam-s-selection,-30-january-2016/d/106165





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