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Middle East Press (12 May 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

It Is an Ideological War Indeed: New Age Islam's Selection, 12 May 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

12 May 2017

It Is an Ideological War Indeed

By Turki Aldakhil

Malala Prescribes Education As Panacea For An Ailing World

By Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan

Is America Dying Or Is It Being Born Again?

By Hamid Dabashi

Is Trump Palestine’s New Hope?

By Daoud Kuttab

Security, Intelligence Services Should Reveal Who Is Behind Abductions In Iraq

By Adnan Hussein

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


It Is an Ideological War Indeed

By Turki Aldakhil

11 May 2017

The Saudi Ideological War Center is part of an intellectual battle Saudi Arabia is launching against extremism. The Center’s board of trustees is headed by none other than Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman himself.

The Center’s main aim is to expose the anomalies, allegations, suspicions and tricks that people propagating extremism use and to highlight the legitimate approaches related to extremism.

This is in addition to other ideological initiatives being taken in and outside the kingdom and the Islamic military alliance that has been formed to combat terrorism.

Understanding the Problem

Some of the core of the Center’s work are “establishing deep understanding of the problem of extremism through its different trends, specify the categories targeted by extremist groups, understand the tools and doctrines which extremist groups resort to, efficiently cooperate with several media and intellectual centers and institutions, devise effective approaches to enhance the values of moderation, tolerance, dialogue and understanding within the context of faith in the inevitability of diversity and plurality away from abstract theories and overcome stereotypes in this regard.”

The Center’s name itself clarifies its objective. It is after all the “ideological war.” Sustained battles at the security and political levels have succeeded in deterring terrorist and extremist organizations but what is more dangerous is the continuous breeding of ideas that continues to thrive. The ideological war is thus as important as the battle on the security front. It is an ideological war indeed.

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/05/11/It-is-an-ideological-war-indeed.html


Malala Prescribes Education As Panacea For An Ailing World

By Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan

May 12, 2017

Canada is active in the Commonwealth, La Francophonie, the Organization of American States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It gets distinguished visitors and treats them with respect. But when a teenage schoolgirl visited Canada recently she received honors that most visiting heads of states do not get. She acted not as a schoolgirl but as a sage telling Canada and world leaders how to make the world safer and better.

The visitor was Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai. She praised Canada, especially for welcoming refugees and supporting the cause of girls’ education worldwide. But she also said Canada must do much more to help women around the world and within Canada.

Malala addressed a joint session of the House of Commons and the Senate – a rare honor. Moreover, at 19 she is the youngest person to do so. She received standing ovations. Her parents Ziauddin and Toor Pekai Yousafzai beamed with pride.

She was also granted honorary Canadian citizenship that so far has been bestowed only on five people – Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama, African icon Nelson Mandela, Karim Aga Khan, Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi who championed human rights (except for the Rohingyas) and the late Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who tried to save Jews during the Second World War.

Malala received the Nobel Peace Prize and is the youngest person to do so. She is feted by world leaders, has received honorary degrees, established a Malala Fund to promote 12 years of education for poor girls and has denounced terrorism as contrary to Islamic teachings. Just before she became an honorary citizen of Canada the United Nations appointed her the youngest ever Messenger of Peace, – the world body’s highest honor. The UN has also designated July 16 as Malala Day.

“The world needs leadership based on serving humanity – not based on how many weapons you have. Canada can take that lead,” she told Canadian parliamentarians. She urged Canada to not only lead in welcoming refugees and providing education to girls, but also to prod other nations to do the same. She had a particular message for young Canadians – speak up, participate and show leadership on major issues challenging the world.

She told the Canadian Parliament:

“I have travelled the world and met people in many countries. I’ve seen firsthand many of the problems we are facing today — war, economic instability, climate change and health crises. And I can tell you that the answer is girls.

“Secondary education for girls can transform communities, countries and our world. Here’s what the statistics say:

•  If all girls went to school for 12 years, low and middle income countries could add $92 billion per year to their economies.

•  Educated girls are less likely to marry young or contract HIV – and more likely to have healthy, educated children.

•  The Brookings Institution calls secondary schooling for girls the most cost-effective and best investment against climate change.

•  When a country gives all its children secondary education, they cut their risk of war in half.

“Education is vital for security around the world because extremism grows alongside inequality — in places where people feel they have no opportunity, no voice, no hope.

“When women are educated, there are more jobs for everyone. When mothers can keep their children alive and send them to school, there is hope.

“But around the world, 130 million girls are out of school today. They may not have read the studies and they may not know the statistics — but they understand that education is their only path to a brighter future. And they are fighting to go to school.”

Canada committed $377 million in 2015-2016 to international assistance in education. Malala asked Canada to push for girls’ education among the developed countries when it assumes the G7 presidency next year. Prime Minister Trudeau has agreed to put it on the G7 agenda.

What transformed Malala from being an average high school girl to a respected world figure was her courage and her unwavering commitment to education for girls. In her book I am Malala that she authored with Charlotte Lamb, she wrote that for girls going to school it was “like a magical entrance to our own special world.”

When she was just 11, in 2009, she began writing a blog for BBC. That infuriated the Taliban and they tried to kill her in 2012, injuring her seriously. Rushed to the United Kingdom for treatment she survived, but it was a close call.

She goes to a high school in the UK and pleads ceaselessly for girls’ education. Her courage and championing of girls’ education has made her a household name and has won her respect internationally.

What struck me was that she dresses simply, wears only minimal make-up, if that, and remains unassuming. She is neither boastful nor coy. She remains unfazed when speaking to world leaders and also jokes, as she did in Canada, when speaking spontaneously. Her jokes brought her applause in Canada, as did her implied statement that women lag far behind men in positions of power even in Canada. She is a champion of girls’ education and an ambassador of Islam.

Source; saudigazette.com.sa/opinion/malala-prescribes-education-panacea-ailing-world/


Is America Dying Or Is It Being Born Again?

By Hamid Dabashi

11 May 2017

In a characteristically timely and insightful essay for The New York Times, Pankaj Mishra has recently mapped out the tortuous passage of the United States from exceptionalism to what he now sees as a turn towards nihilism. He rightly identifies that "extravagant promises by ruling elites, and their unexamined assumptions, are at least partly to blame for this moral breakdown in the world's most powerful country".

Mishra shrewdly narrows in on the moment when the eminent American public intellectual "Walter Lippmann worried that the promise of private wealth creation was a weak moral basis for a national community. For many mid-century thinkers, nihilism, a catastrophic breakdown of faith in national ideology and institutions that had occurred in Europe, was also a possibility in America".   

Mishra's conclusion is disarmingly assertive, compelling, and almost clinically precise: "The world's oldest modern democracy leads the free world in its helplessness before the dissolution of its most cherished beliefs and values. Rejoining the tormented history of modernity under an obsessive liar [Donald Trump] America has accelerated its most insidious tendency: nihilism."

Delusions of Exceptionalism

Over the years, as a widely admired public intellectual, Mishra has mastered the prose of quiet, piercing, certitude as to how he maps out the global conditions of our despair.  What he says is not the run-of-the-mill, fly-by-night liberal exasperation as to why Trump won and Hillary Clinton lost.

Pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post, which enthusiastically devoted all their wherewithal for the victory of Hillary Clinton and sorely lost, are these days replete with jeremiads of lamentations against Trump. They are as useless as they are insipid and self-pitying. What Mishra diagnoses is of an entirely different, far more historically grounded character.

But is America, as an idea, an ideal, an aspiration, and yet as a harsh unforgiving reality, and thus a paradox, really turning towards nihilism, away from its delusion of exceptionalism? Or put more precisely: Is nihilism the only way out of the dead end of that dangerous delusion of exceptionalism? - the white settler colonialists in the US and now their Zionist extension in Palestine have been telling themselves this for a very long time.

Mishra's conception of "America" is very much limited to such white settler colonial fantasies that may indeed twist away from exceptionalism to nihilism. The story of the rest of America, the America now fighting to rise, is entirely different from either of these two tormented fantasies.

Today what we are witnessing in the US is neither the extended lease on its fiction of exceptionalism nor indeed the collapse into a new nihilism - unless we take that nihilism to mean a cruel and wanton disregard for human decency and a decadent indulgence in self-interest, which of course has never been alien to this country.

But in between exceptionalism and nihilism the more compelling question is whether the vulgarity of the Trump spectacle of white supremacist racism is the deadly sign of the end of "America" as we have known it or the birth of a new vision of its future from ground up.

As it happens Mishra's essay was published just a few days before Donald Trump led the Republican-dominated US Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a measure of astonishing cruelty and sadistic disregard for human decency targeting the poor and most vulnerable segments of the US society. Is a society under such a concerted attack by its white supremacist leaders really on the verge of nihilism?

Ordinary Americans (children of an older or a younger generation of immigrants) from one end of this country to another are out on the street reconfiguring the moral foregrounding of their homeland. America has always and consistently been a white supremacist country. It was born that way and a xenophobic banality is congenital to it.

But its delusion of a melting pot is now finally catching up with it, and that is the psychotic reason behind the Muslim ban and the Mexican wall that Trump and his basest base are determined to accomplish. The fact that they will miserably fail in these and all other such racist measures is the clearest indication that something other than "nihilism" is in the offing.

The New Immigrants and the Old White Settlers

Today in the US, and smack in the middle of that delusional oscillation between exceptionalism and nihilism that Mishra diagnoses, there is another movement brewing that is deeply rooted in the history of unfathomable cruelty and suffering in this country. Rooted in the Civil Rights and Antiwar movements of the earlier generations, from Black Lives Matter to Women's March on Washington to Dakota Access Pipeline Protests to People's Climate Movement, etc, the texture and timbre of this country is once and for all liberated from the whites-only delusions of exceptionalism and nihilism. Remember the spontaneous rush of thousands of people to airports from New York to Los Angeles to oppose the Muslim ban and welcome new arrivals. That was not any sign of "nihilism".

Deluded by the mirage of that exceptionalism, Trump and his family and friends can have their one or even two terms of power. The Obamas can join the Clintons to deliver their gibberish speeches and nonsensical books for the highest bidder. The Zionists might be giddy with this corrupt lunatic in power helping them steal more of Palestine. The rest of the Americans, however, the immigrants old and new, know only too well on whose stolen land they have mercifully landed and have gratefully joined forces with them to advance forward their struggle to new horizons. Trump has not weakened or divided us. He has united and strengthened us.

We the immigrants, we the Muslims, Jews, working class, women, the LGBQT communities, we the parents negotiating between two to three jobs to make ends meet, we students burdened with backbreaking loans, we conscientious public school teachers, committed environmentalists, responsible scientists ... We the liberation theologians, philosophers, theorists, critical thinkers ... We cannot afford nihilism. The very idea of it is ridiculously alien. Those anorexic models parading with those ridiculous dresses wrapped around their plastic surgery wounds on the red carpet at Met Gala might have pangs of nihilism if they are off their Prozac. Not us.

We will not bend backward to accommodate power and play dead. We will fight back, the defiant future of this country is already born and buoyant in the beautiful birth of the children we have mothered and fathered in this country, on this blessed land of Native Americans where generations of African slaves have suffered to call it their and now our homeland.   

Between the exceptionalism and nihilism of white supremacists is rooted and rising the defiant determination of an entirely different vision of what it means to be an "American". We are, as I write, commandeering the metaphor for a whole new vintage: the Native Americans, the African Americans, the new and old immigrant Americans, Muslims and Mexicans, the nightmare of Trump and his ilk is our precious, beautiful dream.

Source: aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2017/05/america-dying-born-170510130033008.html


Is Trump Palestine’s New Hope?

By Daoud Kuttab

12 May 2017

On his recent visit to Washington, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas surprised many by heaping praise on US President Donald Trump. Speaking through a translator, Abbas called Trump, who had promised to “get done” a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, “courageous” and wise, and lauded Trump’s “great negotiating ability.” “Now, Mr. President,” Abbas concluded in English, “with you we have hope.”

The question, of course, is whether that hope is warranted. After all, in his own public statement, Trump made no reference to the two-state solution, and his vague declarations about peace (mentioned 11 times) included not so much as a hint about the need for Israel (also mentioned 11 times) to end its illegal settlement construction. And, in fact, Trump fell back in his statements on that asymmetrical phrasing he has so often used in the past: Israel and the Palestinians.

The reality is that Trump has long been giving Palestinians reason to worry. During his election campaign, Trump spoke about moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem and condemned the outgoing Obama administration’s decision to abstain from voting on a UN Security Council resolution denouncing Israeli settlements (rather than vetoing it). Once elected, Trump appointed as US ambassador to Israel his bankruptcy lawyer, David Friedman, who has a long history of supporting right-wing Israeli causes (even donating to a West Bank settlement).

Yet Abbas was silent about these issues. The mere fact that Trump had invited him to the White House so early in the administration seemed to provide reason for optimism. And Trump had already directed some attention to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, tasking his son-in-law and trusted (though wholly inexperienced) adviser Jared Kushner with brokering a peace agreement.

Of course, promises to broker peace are nothing new for a US president. But Trump is no ordinary US president. Many Palestinians are encouraged by the fact that he does not seem bound by the usual lobby-influenced ideologies and commitments of US political parties. In their view, a US president who puts “America First” surely will see the absurdity of spending so much political and financial capital on Israel, which provides little strategic benefit to the US, at the cost of greater instability in the Middle East.

Trump’s image as a deal maker reinforces this hopeful narrative. While his promises to strike “the ultimate deal” are not backed by much detail, they remain appealing to Palestinians, who have grown frustrated with a peace process that has had little impact beyond allowing Israel to expand and consolidate its occupation of Palestinian land.

This is not to say that Palestinians blindly trust the Trump administration to determine their fate. On the contrary, Abbas has worked diligently to strengthen his own position, meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Jordanian King Abdallah five times between Trump’s inauguration and the visit to the White House. When El-Sisi and King Abdallah visited Trump, each reiterated the position included in the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative: Israel should withdraw fully from the occupied territories, in exchange for normalization of relations with Arab League countries. At the March 29 Arab League summit in Jordan, they and other Arab leaders underscored the need for an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

With such efforts, Abbas hoped to underscore the real goals that must be pursued, countering Israeli attempts at diversion. For example, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been calling on the Palestinian Authority to halt social benefits to the families of prisoners who killed Israelis, attempting to portray those allocations as some kind of payoff. Abbas’ praise of Trump at the White House may be another tactic for keeping Trump on track.

It is too early to tell if Abbas’ approach to the Trump administration will succeed. Some might argue that Trump’s decision to make Saudi Arabia, rather than Israel, the destination of his first trip abroad as US president reflects a new view of the region (though he will head to Israel immediately after).

When interviewed by Reuters on his first 100 days in office, Trump said that the US presidency had turned out to be a much harder job than he had anticipated. But the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians need not be. After all, we know what a deal must entail: An independent Palestinian state, secured through land swaps, and a creative solution to the Palestinian refugee issue.

The main obstacle to an agreement has been insufficient political will on the part of the US to push for the needed compromise. Palestinian leaders hope that Trump, a businessman obsessed with his legacy, will finally display the needed resolve, using the full clout of the US presidency to secure the “ultimate deal.”

Source: www.arabnews.com/node/1098106


Security, Intelligence Services Should Reveal Who Is Behind Abductions In Iraq

By Adnan Hussein

11 May 2017

Seven civil society activists were kidnapped in Baghdad earlier this week. The strong reaction by national politicians, the media and social media was not expressing any surprise at these abductions, rather they voiced their anger that these incidents have become worse than before. According to them, the frequency of these kidnappings signified increasing incapability of the state to do anything to confront this phenomenon.

The seven activists were kidnapped without any trace from their homes in the heart of Baghdad. Before this incident, dozens or rather hundreds were abducted. Some were kidnapped for years before they were released or before we know anything about their fate or about who abducted them.

Organized gangs usually kidnap businessmen and prominent employees to demand ransoms or settle accounts. However, no one asks for a ransom in exchange for releasing kidnapped civilians who are usually activists who became prominent during the popular activism which has been ongoing for two years now.

Jalal Al Shahmani and Waai al-Jabouri have been kidnapped from Baghdad and Babel for more than a year and a half now and no one has learnt anything about their fate yet.

It’s difficult to put these kidnappings outside the context of some influential parties’ efforts to abort popular activism and undermine it after its slogans and work received the growing support of many people, especially from students and youth.

Meanwhile, the Islamist movement’s reputation is on the wane due to its failure in managing the state and society. Not only that but these Islamic movement parties have also never quit struggling over power, influence and money.

Propaganda Against Secularism

For months now, and as the countdown for the local elections has begun –scheduled for next September but likely to be postponed till next year – and the parliamentary elections – to be held within one year – the propaganda against secularism and the civil society has increased.

This propaganda first began on social media then found its way to radio stations and television channels affiliated with Islamic parties.

Some Islamist parties’ leaders are shameless in attacking civil society activists and secularists while delivering public speeches, and one of them even went as far as blaming them for what’s happening in the country! As part of this propaganda, they began to target universities to market Islamist parties and criticize secular and civil society groups. Many civil society students were thus detained or expelled from some universities.

As a prelude to this, many media figures were arrested or abducted for some time. Journalist Afrah Shawki is only one example of these kidnappings.

Restraints have been imposed on youths and the death of a young boy in a police station in the town of Tuwairij a few days ago falls within this context.

I think it’s difficult not to put all these incidents within the context of organized work by one or several parties.

Who is this party or these parties? The national security apparatus and the national intelligence services know. They’re supposed to and they should. What good are they for if are not among those who know?

Source: english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2017/05/11/Security-intelligence-services-should-reveal-who-is-behind-abductions-in-Iraq.html


URL: http://www.newageislam.com/middle-east-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/it-is-an-ideological-war-indeed--new-age-islam-s-selection,-12-may-2017/d/111113


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