Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pakistan razes madrasa in militant mosque complex

by Zeeshan Haider from Reuters

Lal Masjid had long been known as an Islamic radicals' stronghold, but hit international headlines this year when burqa-clad female students of Jamia Hafsa and male colleagues from the mosque complex launched an aggressive campaign to impose Taliban-style religious culture in Islamabad. They kidnapped women they accused of involvement in prostitution, abducted police and attacked music shops ... The government has appointed a soft-spoken cleric as the new imam of the mosque in what is seen as a move to neutralise radicals' influence. The new cleric, Ashfaq Ahmed, said he supported the cause of his predecessors but differed with their strategy. "Their demands for implementation of an Islamic system and reconstruction of demolished mosques were genuine and correct. But we differed with their line of action and that's why such a tragic incident has taken place," said the cleric, a graduate from an Islamic university in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia: Hold Religious Police Accountable for Killing

by Human Rights Watch from Reuters

On May 23, 2007, more than a dozen religious police stormed the Riyadh home of the al-Huraisi family, apparently without a warrant, in search of alcohol, which is banned in the kingdom. Two family members who were present at the time told Human Rights Watch how four religious police then proceeded to punch and kick Salman al-Huraisi, the prime suspect, leaving him barely conscious. After taking Salman and 11 other family members to the religious police offices, the religious police beat him again. When he started coughing blood, an ambulance arrived and took Salman away. The autopsy confirmed that Salman died shortly thereafter from the beatings ... Prior to the investigations into al-Huraisi and al-Buluwi's deaths, there has been no record of courts holding the religious police criminally accountable in numerous cases of arbitrary arrests and mistreatment in detention.

Huckabee promotes fair, simple tax system

by Cynthia Beaudette from the Muscatine Journal

“We’re fighting religious zealots who believe the sole purpose for them to be on this earth is to destroy anyone who doesn’t recognize their radical form of Islam,” said former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. “There is no negotiation in a theological war. In essence, we’re in war against someone’s God.” ... Huckabee suggested the United States should call for more support from other Arab nations in addressing the issue of terrorism. He said the United States has made Saudi Arabia a wealthier country by purchasing oil from the area. “It’s high time we make it clear to them that if Iraq goes up in flames, it’ll burn their house down before it burns our house down,” said Huckabee.

GOP senators must press Bush on Iraq

by Trudy Rubin from the Lawrence Journal-World

To convince Bush, Republicans must first recognize that the current Bush strategy is a trap for them and the country. I don’t just mean a political trap in the 2008 elections. I mean a strategic dead end. Yes, we are making military progress in Iraq, but we still have no way to build on these gains ... such an initiative would seek to establish a new security framework for the entire Mideast, one that dissuades Iraq’s neighbors from fighting a religious war by proxy inside Iraq. A prime goal would be to reassure Sunni Arab countries that Iran would not stir up Shiites throughout the region. Another goal would be to reassure Tehran that Saudi Arabia will not encourage Iraqi Sunnis to try to seize power from Iraq’s Shiite majority.

Saudi in the Classroom

by Stanley Kurtz from National Review

Even in 2004, Sandra Stotsky (former director of a professional development institute for teachers at Harvard) had more than an inkling of Saudi financial involvement in Title VI outreach programs. In The Stealth Curriculum, she wrote: “Most of these materials have been prepared and/or funded by Islamic sources here and abroad, and are distributed or sold directly to schools or individual teachers, thereby bypassing public scrutiny.” Stotsky goes on to note that after 9/11, the Saudi government sent U.S. schools thousands of packages of educational material that, for example, attributed the Middle East’s problems to Western colonization ... The good news is that Congress may soon help to solve this problem. Despite the polarization and inaction in the current session of Congress, senators Kennedy and Enzi have reached bipartisan agreement on an excellent plan of reform for Title VI — including the creation of grievance procedures to handle complaints about the public outreach program.

Ideology of intolerance

by Sadia Dehlvi from the Hindustan Times

Mecca and Medina are now managed by the Wahabis and their control has robbed pilgrims of the right to express devotion in a manner of their choice. Constant patrol of the muttawas (religious police) ensures that pilgrims don’t touch the exteriors of the prophet’s shrine or offer salutations to him. At Medina turning towards the Prophet’s tomb for supplication (dua) is met with harsh reactions and pilgrims are forcibly turned around to face the direction of the Kabbah. Women are allowed in the compound but are subject to severe restrictions of time and space. Through well-funded outreach organisations the Wahabis spread their version of Islam where listening to music, celebrating the annual birth anniversary of the Prophet (milad-e-nabi) and death anniversaries of the Sufis (Urs) are unlawful in Islam.