Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Best beware of this elephant

by Salim Mansur from The Edmonton Sun

Provincial elections in English Canada rarely have any national implication. But it is John Tory and his Progressive Conservative party's policy to provide full public funding of faith-based private schools that has emerged as a hot, divisive issue and it might well decide the outcome of the upcoming election ... Tory's policy is the ignored elephant in the room. Public funds would be made available to Muslim schools supervised mostly by people of fundamentalist persuasion or those tilting towards religious extremism. It is instructive to note most mosques in North America, as elsewhere, are controlled and administered by Muslims variously connected with Saudi Arabia or some other Gulf country. These Muslim faith-based schools will grow in numbers if Tory's policy gets adopted, and children will be exposed to the sort of education soaked in bigotry that is a grave malady for the Arab-Muslim world.

Emirates regulator threatens suspension in bid to show teeth

by Mark Johnson from Financial News Online US

The main financial regulator in the United Arab Emirates has confirmed that 40 brokerages are facing possible suspension from the market if they fail to comply with new rules ... The UAE regulator is being forced to improve its policing methods as local markets open their boards to international investors. Esca's rules are based on Islamic sharia law, with which global investment banks and brokers are unused to working. By contrast, the nation's second regulator, Dubai Financial Services Authority, is based on internationally accepted financial rules drawn from the UK's Financial Services Authority and the US Securities and Exchange Commission. DFSA, currently has no jurisdiction over the UAE's main markets.

UPDATE: Esca suspends 11 brokerage firms

DIFC and The Wall Street Journal launch Islamic and Ethical Finance Conference

from Kirstie Hepburn at DIFC Week

The appetite for Shariah products for consumers and investors worldwide is increasing exponentially, with the current Islamic finance market estimated at $500 billion with expected annual growth of 10 to 15 per cent. Nasser Al Shaali, CEO of DIFC Authority, said: 'Non-Islamic institutions and governments are issuing Islamic securities, while non-Islamic investors are purchasing Sharia-compliant securities. This means greater access to funding, investment channels, innovation and opportunities for both Islamic and non-Islamic investors,' he added. Rushdi Siddiqui, Global Director, Dow Jones Islamic Indexes, added: "Although only 40 years old, Islamic finance has gained traction in the global capital markets. Be it a Sukuk issue from America, FSA-approved Islamic banks in the UK or Singapore declaring itself as a hub for Islamic finance, Islamic finance presents a compelling and efficient alternative to all stakeholders of capital.'

The Islamic case for a secular state

from The Turkish Daily News

What is striking is that the Prophet of Islam founded not an Islamic polity but a pluralistic one. Under that charter, three faiths existed in the city-state of Medina, but Medina itself did not possess a faith. It was, to risk being a bit anachronistic, a secular state ... An interesting point to note here is the deviation of contemporary Islamist states from this traditional pluralism of Islam. When Saudi Arabia or the Taliban's Afghanistan impose what they see as Islamic law to virtually anybody within their borders, including non-Muslims, they are imposing the shariah on those who don't accept it in the first place. They are in fact taking a modern position, but that's a modernity of a totalitarian kind. And, moreover, their version of shariah is so harsh, bigoted and misogynist that most Muslims find it simply disgusting.

Don't speak for Muslims

by Saeed Naqvi from The Times of India

Receiving the runners-up trophy at the end of the T20 final at the Wanderers cricket ground in Johannesburg, South Africa, Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik said, "I want to thank you back home (in) Pakistan and where the Muslim lives all over the world". The Pakistani captain was perhaps projecting the defeat as demoralising for the entire umma. Why did he have to burden his shoulders with the weight of the Muslim world, in the face of a cricketing reversal? Which Muslim world was he talking about?... General Zia-ul-Haq introduced Nizam-e-Mustafa, the first Pakistani effort at a Shariah state. Thereafter, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the US combined to create a powerful Wahabi entity in Afghanistan with twin targets — Soviet Union and Shia Iran. Wahhabism tears Pakistani Islam away from the Sufi driven, tolerant Islam of the subcontinent. Meant to impart a more West Asian identity to Pakistan it failed because the common languages of the region are Urdu, Punjabi, English, not Arabic. These twists and turns have created a confused Pakistani society. When Malik tries to speak for the Muslim world, he is only reflecting this confusion.

Saudi reception brings Pakistan's government, opposition leaders together

from Associated Press of Pakistan (APP)

Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Ali Awadh Asseri hosted an Iftar dinner here on Saturday, which brought many stalwarts from the government and opposition sides together sitting across the same table and exchanging pleasantries. The elite gathering was reflective of the fact that both opposition and government accord high importance to Pakistan’s close and brotherly relations with Saudi Arabia. Talking to APP, PML Chief Ch. Shujaat Hussain said that all sections of people in Pakistan hold relations with Saudi government and people in high esteem. He said the people and government of Pakistan are proud of the assistance and support that Saudi government has been providing to Pakistan from time to time.

The Islamic Reformation

by Ali Eteraz from Comment is free

The American proclivity for direct and indirect alliances with extremist Muslims is indeed unnerving. However, as iI demonstrated in two earlier posts for Comment is free (here and here), the intellectual trends of extremism were already in Islam, otherwise the US and its dictatorial allies in the Middle East would not have been able to exploit them ... While there has been some attempt by the Salafis - such as Tariq Ramadan and Salman al-Audah, Bin Laden's former (now repentant) mentor - to contain the excesses of this "total" Wahhabism, they have proven unable to do so. Not only that, but the best that even the moderate wing of the Salafi organisations like the Muslim Brotherhood can do is turn a jihadist into an Islamist - ie someone who wants to have the power to veto all legislation under the authority of a certain kind of Sharia. That simply won't do.