New Age Islam Edit Bureau
30 January 2016
Don’t Let Terrorists Win
By Harun Yahya
Why Turkey And Iran Are Two Odd
By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
Refugees In Europe And Religious
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
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
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
Harun Yahya has authored more than 300 books
translated into 73 languages on politics, religion and science. He tweets
Why Turkey and Iran Are Two Odd Allies
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
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
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.
Refugees in Europe and Religious Reform
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
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
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.
Palestine: Still Key to Stability in the
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
On A Saudi Preacher’s Belief That ‘Women
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?
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.
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