Tag: Islam

The Truth About Islam and Democracy

Hundreds of millions of Muslims the world over live in democracies of some shape or form, from Indonesia to Malaysia to Pakistan to Lebanon to Tunisia to Turkey. Tens of millions of Muslims live in — and participate in — Western democratic societies. The country that is on course to have the biggest Muslim population in the world in the next couple of decades is India, which also happens to be the world’s biggest democracy. Yet a narrative persists, particularly in the West, that Islam and democracy are incompatible. Islam is often associated with dictatorship, totalitarianism, and a lack of freedom, and many analysts and pundits claim that Muslims are philosophically opposed to the idea of democracy. On this week’s show, Mehdi Hasan is joined by the man expected to become Malaysia’s next prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, and by Dalia Mogahed, director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, to discuss Islam, Muslims, and democracy.

via The Truth About Islam and Democracy

Lesson from an ancient town: Dark ages pass, but knowledge is forever

With Europe into its so-called Dark Ages, the Islamic world was entering its Golden Age.

The House of Wisdom, between the 8th and 13th centuries, attracted Muslim, Christian and Jewish scholars from throughout the known world to study and translate the tracts that had underpinned modern thought to that time into Arabic.

Every important and available book and paper known to exist was collected for translation from Greek, Latin, Persian, Indian and even Chinese sources.

By the 9th century, the House of Wisdom contained the world’s largest library, and up to 500 scholars worked feverishly on their own discoveries.

The idea that the Earth was round, its circumference measurable, was no stranger here. Physicians investigated the causes of infection. The number zero, invented as a useful concept in India, reached Baghdad somewhere around AD 770 and became a crucial element in mathematics. Without zero there would never have been a computer, let alone Google.

The pleasure of harnessing knowledge spread rapidly across Arab North Africa, through refined cities like Fez, and beyond.

via Lesson from an ancient town: Dark ages pass, but knowledge is forever

Yet it was marvelous to hear the strong condemnations at Friday prayers yesterday for behavior that has nothing to do with Islam, which is of course a religion of love and mutual respect. ISIS loses every time they mount an attack. But this was, on the other hand, a wake-up call to Asia on the reach of ISIS into different parts of the globe. What comes next and where? We shall see!

A Philistine in Phnom Penh, Part CXVII: The Anatomy of a Terrorist Attack in Jakarta, 14 January 2016

Last Thursday I got caught up in Jakarta in terrorism’s most recent efforts to scare the hell out a burgeoning democracy. It didn’t work. The predominant local reaction was “We are not afraid”.

I thought it might be worth setting out a few thoughts on what it is like to be close to such an incident. After Paris, Sydney, Ottawa, Beirut, Tunisia, El Said, San Bernardino and this week Jakarta and Burkina Faso there is a growing understanding that global terrorism is not far away but is now local and is most often now directed against Westerners.

While I was never in any danger, I was working in a high-rise building with my work team just a few hundred meters from where the terrorist attack went down. Our building went into immediate lockdown. Streets near us were soon deserted as traffic stopped. We were on the 45th floor holding a training day with our six member team as we prepared for a month’s consultancy work related to development challenges in SE Asian countries like Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam

Our team had travelled to Jakarta from Bangkok just the night before. We arrived during one of Jakarta’s booming thunder storms and another one of the usual chaotic traffic jam. I walked from my hotel to work next morning feeling pretty good about being back in the world’s largest Muslim country even if it was as hot as ever. Indonesians are exceptionally friendly people so there are lots of greetings even for foreigners. Muslim women seem more often now to wear the najib but that doesn’t seem to stop the friendly smiles and gestures.

It was half past ten that morning when, as we sat around the conference table, we first heard the rumors of the terrorist attacks on the main street of Jakarta. We were told it was near Starbucks on the outside of the Serenah Mall. I knew the Starbucks well, having worked twice n for a few weeks or so in recent years in the nearby United Nations building which is just across the road. It seemed likely that Starbucks had been chosen because it was known to be popular and frequented by foreigners, mainly from the 20 or so UN agencies based in Indonesia.

The first concern of our team members was naturally their loved ones. Anxious calls were made to work sites and two international schools around Jakarta. We learned the schools had immediately gone into lockdowns. Everyone was established to be safe. The team members were calm but there were early reports of terror incidents in other parts of Jakarta which increased apprehension about the scale of the attack but later turned out to be false.

As with any crisis, details of what was really happening were at first sketchy. We heard early on that there was shooting; some bombs had gone off; and there were casualties. Under well-practiced drills, our building and those around us went into immediate lockdown. You feel a bit stuck when that happens!

From our 45th floor eyrie, there was no prospect of trying to escape the scene. We could see police helicopters buzzing about and hear lots of sirens below. We heard no sounds of gunfire or of bombs going off. Indonesia media websites told us that was what was happening, though, but we soon realized the accounts were not entirely accurate and switched to the ABC Australia website, CNN America and the Guardian UK who had reporters on site sending out live blogs.

It is that early fog in information that can befuddle the reaction to a terrorist attack. While there was no panic in our building, we seemed to go into a trance for the first hour and tried to work on in our consultancy preparations, but while some trawled the internet for accurate information.

We heard early on of the traffic policeman who had been shot and killed by an insurgent from a motorcyclist while he was sitting in his sun-protective cabin on the median strip. We also heard there was an assault on a Starbucks and there were casualties. Later on we heard that a Canadian trying to flee the café had been shot dead; we also learnt that a well-regarded Dutchman working with UN who had been advising on environmental policies for greening Indonesia had been seriously injured by gunshots.

We also saw on CNN two blasts in the Starbucks car park accompanied by dense smoke. That apparently marked two suicide bombers blowing themselves up, having been forced back from the café by police fire. From the bombers’ perspective, according to jihadist propaganda, their earthly martyrdom led them straight on to heaven where virgins were waiting to greet them. Two other gunmen were caught and arrested.

The police later said ISIS was behind the attack and that its organizer was an Indonesia jihadist based at the headquarters of the alleged caliphate in Rakka in Syria. He has just become a high value target and, as with the ghastly beheadings by Jihad John had ensured, his plotting will help to speed up his departure from this life.

CNN also showed film of a gunman wandering about in a distracted state holding a large semi-automatic. In the close background there seemed to be crowds in their hundreds many of whom seemed absorbed by the spectacle he provided, with only some running away. Throughout the five hours of the siege police seemed to provide little crowd control. For some hours police conducted a room to room search in nearby buildings as local people and media staff watched from below. A large bomb was apparently found not far from Starbucks and thankfully defused before it could cause any mayhem.

Meanwhile, we sat upstairs in our 45th floor conference room, trying to stay updated on what was happening on the streets of Jakarta. Somehow some brave souls sneaked out of the building and bought back packs of prepared meals of steaming beef rendang. We had also made contact with our US company’s security firm, Crisis 24, in Jakarta and a very sympathetic company manager in Bangkok.

The security firm’s assistance amounted to regular calls to check on us and getting us to fill in some forms, but absolutely no practical advice on what to do. They did contact the company’s Washington headquarters but, rather hilariously, by text rather than by placing a phone call, given it was the middle of the night. Communication failures like this are not appreciated!

For other reasons we rather lost confidence in the security firm’s capacity to assist. We decided ourselves we would stay put and started to wonder how longer that might be. There were rumors of fresh gunfire. We had barely touched the food provided to us for our training day so we didn’t have any worries about food or drink. We also talked through how we might get home once the siege was over, recognizing that Jakarta might be utterly chaotic and some team-members were staying some distance away and might need to use the motorcycle taxi which can be a scary experience at the best of time.

Around 4pm we to our surprise heard the security situation was over. We packed up and took the elevator to the ground. We gained confidence as we left the lift to see the traffic had started to move again. It was chaotic outside with policemen, armed personnel carriers and street barriers everywhere. The team wandered back towards my hotel. We were stopped by police at various points who could not have been more courteous and helpful. They tried to help us find taxis for the team. When I got to the hotel, there was barbed wire outside and a number of security checks and body searches to get through. My colleagues

riding home on motorcycles (there were no taxis available) had a quite an experience in the very busy traffic that was doing its best to get out of central Jakarta.

It was kind of surreal to turn on the TV that night to see the attack was the lead news item around the world. The detestable Donald Trump even tried to boost the significance of Jakarta as yet another sign that Americans should be very afraid of the terrorist that are going to come after them.

But it was more riveting to us to see the parts of Jakarta where we are staying depicted on the news and to start to get a better sense of what actually occurred. We had heard of 17 killed and 20 injured. The total was in fact 7 killed, although today we heard another Indonesian man who was shot in the head had passed away.

Another 12 suspected terrorists have since been arrested in various outlying provinces. A number of websites expressing support for the attacks were shutdown. There was much action on social media expressing defiance against the terrorists, as well as a small demonstration we witnessed from our hotel window.

For us lucky persons who had witnessed the terror attack from a safe distance the aftermath was worse than the event. Next day, apart from form filling, registering with embassies and setting up new emergency protocols, we had to endure a long Skype debrief with security folks from the company in Washington DC who seemed at least as interested in trying to explain the communication stuff ups as anything else.

I did not hold back in describing the failures in support that had occurred but then most of all wanted advice as team leader on what we do next. Usually after such an attack all goes quiet but you can’t count on it.

Our Washington masters then made our life more difficult by requiring we not go out over the weekend, meaning a number of meetings were cancelled. Next week we are to travel everywhere for appointments in hire cars with darkened windows. However, our issues are but slight as compared to the people who live here in the long term.

The attack was nothing like as bad as Paris or the Burkina Faso assault yesterday in which 20 people died. These were some young provincial boys, some of the 700 returned and radicalized Indonesians who had fought in the war in Syria. They had been told to come to town and to lift the ISIS profile in Jakarta. This was much harder for the police to anticipate, although there had been warnings.

The police have done a great job recently in destroying structured terrorist organizations across Indonesia, with help from the Australian Federal Police, but their ability to follow other small and looser groupings of disaffected young people is not as effective.

The terrorists were not the hardened killers of the Paris massacre. Their planning was weak and they seem to have panicked early on and resorted to amateur hour. Only three deaths of civilians is nothing short of miraculous.

We all feel for the people of Indonesia who know this may happen again sometime soon. They seem resolute and determined to stay positive about life. Indonesia is a rising middle income country that still has its problems with poverty, economic underperformance, rampant corruption, worsening pollution and much environmental degradation.

Yet it was marvelous to hear the strong condemnations at Friday prayers yesterday for behavior that has nothing to do with Islam, which is of course a religion of love and mutual respect. ISIS loses every time

they mount an attack. But this was, on the other hand, a wake-up call to Asia on the reach of ISIS into different parts of the globe. What comes next and where? We shall see!

Regards

Edmund Attridge

17 January 2016

A Philistine in Phnom Penh, Part CXVII: The Anatomy of a Terrorist Attack in Jakarta, 14 January 2016

Last Thursday I got caught up in Jakarta in terrorism’s most recent efforts to scare the hell out a burgeoning democracy. It didn’t work. The predominant local reaction was “We are not afraid”.

I thought it might be worth setting out a few thoughts on what it is like to be close to such an incident. After Paris, Sydney, Ottawa, Beirut, Tunisia, El Said, San Bernardino and this week Jakarta and Burkina Faso there is a growing understanding that global terrorism is not far away but is now local and is most often now directed against Westerners.

While I was never in any danger, I was working in a high-rise building with my work team just a few hundred meters from where the terrorist attack went down. Our building went into immediate lockdown. Streets near us were soon deserted as traffic stopped. We were on the 45th floor holding a training day with our six member team as we prepared for a month’s consultancy work related to development challenges in SE Asian countries like Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam

Our team had travelled to Jakarta from Bangkok just the night before. We arrived during one of Jakarta’s booming thunder storms and another one of the usual chaotic traffic jam. I walked from my hotel to work next morning feeling pretty good about being back in the world’s largest Muslim country even if it was as hot as ever. Indonesians are exceptionally friendly people so there are lots of greetings even for foreigners. Muslim women seem more often now to wear the najib but that doesn’t seem to stop the friendly smiles and gestures.

It was half past ten that morning when, as we sat around the conference table, we first heard the rumors of the terrorist attacks on the main street of Jakarta. We were told it was near Starbucks on the outside of the Serenah Mall. I knew the Starbucks well, having worked twice n for a few weeks or so in recent years in the nearby United Nations building which is just across the road. It seemed likely that Starbucks had been chosen because it was known to be popular and frequented by foreigners, mainly from the 20 or so UN agencies based in Indonesia.

The first concern of our team members was naturally their loved ones. Anxious calls were made to work sites and two international schools around Jakarta. We learned the schools had immediately gone into lockdowns. Everyone was established to be safe. The team members were calm but there were early reports of terror incidents in other parts of Jakarta which increased apprehension about the scale of the attack but later turned out to be false.

As with any crisis, details of what was really happening were at first sketchy. We heard early on that there was shooting; some bombs had gone off; and there were casualties. Under well-practiced drills, our building and those around us went into immediate lockdown. You feel a bit stuck when that happens!

From our 45th floor eyrie, there was no prospect of trying to escape the scene. We could see police helicopters buzzing about and hear lots of sirens below. We heard no sounds of gunfire or of bombs going off. Indonesia media websites told us that was what was happening, though, but we soon realized the accounts were not entirely accurate and switched to the ABC Australia website, CNN America and the Guardian UK who had reporters on site sending out live blogs.

It is that early fog in information that can befuddle the reaction to a terrorist attack. While there was no panic in our building, we seemed to go into a trance for the first hour and tried to work on in our consultancy preparations, but while some trawled the internet for accurate information.

We heard early on of the traffic policeman who had been shot and killed by an insurgent from a motorcyclist while he was sitting in his sun-protective cabin on the median strip. We also heard there was an assault on a Starbucks and there were casualties. Later on we heard that a Canadian trying to flee the café had been shot dead; we also learnt that a well-regarded Dutchman working with UN who had been advising on environmental policies for greening Indonesia had been seriously injured by gunshots.

We also saw on CNN two blasts in the Starbucks car park accompanied by dense smoke. That apparently marked two suicide bombers blowing themselves up, having been forced back from the café by police fire. From the bombers’ perspective, according to jihadist propaganda, their earthly martyrdom led them straight on to heaven where virgins were waiting to greet them. Two other gunmen were caught and arrested.

The police later said ISIS was behind the attack and that its organizer was an Indonesia jihadist based at the headquarters of the alleged caliphate in Rakka in Syria. He has just become a high value target and, as with the ghastly beheadings by Jihad John had ensured, his plotting will help to speed up his departure from this life.

CNN also showed film of a gunman wandering about in a distracted state holding a large semi-automatic. In the close background there seemed to be crowds in their hundreds many of whom seemed absorbed by the spectacle he provided, with only some running away. Throughout the five hours of the siege police seemed to provide little crowd control. For some hours police conducted a room to room search in nearby buildings as local people and media staff watched from below. A large bomb was apparently found not far from Starbucks and thankfully defused before it could cause any mayhem.

Meanwhile, we sat upstairs in our 45th floor conference room, trying to stay updated on what was happening on the streets of Jakarta. Somehow some brave souls sneaked out of the building and bought back packs of prepared meals of steaming beef rendang. We had also made contact with our US company’s security firm, Crisis 24, in Jakarta and a very sympathetic company manager in Bangkok.

The security firm’s assistance amounted to regular calls to check on us and getting us to fill in some forms, but absolutely no practical advice on what to do. They did contact the company’s Washington headquarters but, rather hilariously, by text rather than by placing a phone call, given it was the middle of the night. Communication failures like this are not appreciated!

For other reasons we rather lost confidence in the security firm’s capacity to assist. We decided ourselves we would stay put and started to wonder how longer that might be. There were rumors of fresh gunfire. We had barely touched the food provided to us for our training day so we didn’t have any worries about food or drink. We also talked through how we might get home once the siege was over, recognizing that Jakarta might be utterly chaotic and some team-members were staying some distance away and might need to use the motorcycle taxi which can be a scary experience at the best of time.

Around 4pm we to our surprise heard the security situation was over. We packed up and took the elevator to the ground. We gained confidence as we left the lift to see the traffic had started to move again. It was chaotic outside with policemen, armed personnel carriers and street barriers everywhere. The team wandered back towards my hotel. We were stopped by police at various points who could not have been more courteous and helpful. They tried to help us find taxis for the team. When I got to the hotel, there was barbed wire outside and a number of security checks and body searches to get through. My colleagues

riding home on motorcycles (there were no taxis available) had a quite an experience in the very busy traffic that was doing its best to get out of central Jakarta.

It was kind of surreal to turn on the TV that night to see the attack was the lead news item around the world. The detestable Donald Trump even tried to boost the significance of Jakarta as yet another sign that Americans should be very afraid of the terrorist that are going to come after them.

But it was more riveting to us to see the parts of Jakarta where we are staying depicted on the news and to start to get a better sense of what actually occurred. We had heard of 17 killed and 20 injured. The total was in fact 7 killed, although today we heard another Indonesian man who was shot in the head had passed away.

Another 12 suspected terrorists have since been arrested in various outlying provinces. A number of websites expressing support for the attacks were shutdown. There was much action on social media expressing defiance against the terrorists, as well as a small demonstration we witnessed from our hotel window.

For us lucky persons who had witnessed the terror attack from a safe distance the aftermath was worse than the event. Next day, apart from form filling, registering with embassies and setting up new emergency protocols, we had to endure a long Skype debrief with security folks from the company in Washington DC who seemed at least as interested in trying to explain the communication stuff ups as anything else.

I did not hold back in describing the failures in support that had occurred but then most of all wanted advice as team leader on what we do next. Usually after such an attack all goes quiet but you can’t count on it.

Our Washington masters then made our life more difficult by requiring we not go out over the weekend, meaning a number of meetings were cancelled. Next week we are to travel everywhere for appointments in hire cars with darkened windows. However, our issues are but slight as compared to the people who live here in the long term.

The attack was nothing like as bad as Paris or the Burkina Faso assault yesterday in which 20 people died. These were some young provincial boys, some of the 700 returned and radicalized Indonesians who had fought in the war in Syria. They had been told to come to town and to lift the ISIS profile in Jakarta. This was much harder for the police to anticipate, although there had been warnings.

The police have done a great job recently in destroying structured terrorist organizations across Indonesia, with help from the Australian Federal Police, but their ability to follow other small and looser groupings of disaffected young people is not as effective.

The terrorists were not the hardened killers of the Paris massacre. Their planning was weak and they seem to have panicked early on and resorted to amateur hour. Only three deaths of civilians is nothing short of miraculous.

We all feel for the people of Indonesia who know this may happen again sometime soon. They seem resolute and determined to stay positive about life. Indonesia is a rising middle income country that still has its problems with poverty, economic underperformance, rampant corruption, worsening pollution and much environmental degradation.

Yet it was marvelous to hear the strong condemnations at Friday prayers yesterday for behavior that has nothing to do with Islam, which is of course a religion of love and mutual respect. ISIS loses every time

they mount an attack. But this was, on the other hand, a wake-up call to Asia on the reach of ISIS into different parts of the globe. What comes next and where? We shall see!

Regards

Edmund Attridge

17 January 2016

Rouhani calls on Muslims to ‘correct image of Islam’ worldwide — RT News

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has called upon all Muslims to improve the image of Islam recently tarnished by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), which is associated with “killing, violence, whips, extortion and injustice.”

Source: Rouhani calls on Muslims to ‘correct image of Islam’ worldwide — RT News

What Trump and Carson Get Wrong: Islam Is as American as Apple Pie | It is in Australia as well but you wouldn’t think so.

Not content with alienating single women, Latinos and the LGBT community, the two front-runners for the Republican nomination indulged in some naked Islamophobia this past week.

Source: What Trump and Carson Get Wrong: Islam Is as American as Apple Pie | The Nation

“Let us in our reaction and remembrance of Muath expose ISIS for what they truly are”

@WomanUnveiled

The author is a Middle Eastern woman who grew up in Jordan and has been able to explore the world from there. She has camped in Petra, touched the sky at Burj Khalifa, driven through the streets of Riyadh (shhh), and partied the night away at Sky Bar in Beirut. My home, for now, is New York. She wrote Your Middle East’s most popular article to date. The journey continues at www.womanunveiled.com

Title

On Tuesday, the international community was shocked to learn of the barbaric murder of Jordanian Air Force Pilot Lt. Muath Al Kassasbeh. Jordanians lost a brother and a son, and passionate emotions of grief and anger spread across the entire country.

While our heartbreak and anger may push us towards seeking revenge, let us hone in on our emotions to unite in our humanity instead. Beyond any military war, it is the love and compassion encouraged by Islam and all religions that is our greatest weapon.

I grew up in Jordan, but any visitor and guest of the country will tell you of the great qualities of hospitality and generosity its people transmit. It is no coincidence that it is such a country that has overcome a range of political, economic, and social challenges, consistently opening itself up to aid refugees and fellow Arab populations in times of need despite significant resource constraints.

As we continue to mourn the death of the brave martyr, let me explicitly note that ISIS is not an extremist version of Islam. Their followers in no way, shape, or form, abide by any version of Islam, let alone any other religion. Let us in our reaction and remembrance of Muaath expose ISIS for what they truly are, nothing more than a collection of monsters. Let us delegitimize them by exercising the true meaning of Islam, a religion that was built on love and compassion to overcome an era of ignorance (Jahl) that ISIS embodies today.

Rest in peace Muaath. You will not be forgotten.

Indonesia’s cabinet, female power and us. 8 Women ministers and we say women aren’t respected in Islam

Joko Widodo's new cabinet

What do we take from the fact that yet another Muslim country has more female representation in its cabinet than Australia? The reality is both the Muslim world and the West remain contradictory places for women, writes Ruby Hamad.

Yesterday, recently elected Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, unveiled his new cabinet. Out of a cabinet of 34 in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, eight appointees are women.

While this is by no means a veritable paradise of gender equality, it once again serves to highlight just how poor gender inclusivity and representation is in Australian politics. When Prime Minister Tony Abbott revealed his own cabinet last year, the inclusion of just one woman, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, led to many jokes of the “Even Afghanistan has more women in cabinet” variety.

Not only do both Afghanistan and Indonesia have more diverse gender representation in the upper echelons of power, but, as academic and religious scholar Reza Aslan recently noted, seven Muslim democracies have elected women as their heads of state.

This, however, does not mean women are more equal in Muslim societies. Rather, it shows the complicated relationship between gender oppression and political representation, and highlights the dangers of using only one index by which to measure gender inequality. The rise of some of the Muslim women leaders, for instance, was in some cases more a result of nepotism than gender equality.

Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto, for example, was regarded largely as an extension of her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Like other female leaders in overtly patriarchal South Asian societies such as India’s Indira Gandhi and Bangladesh’s Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, Bhutto attained power following the death of a close male relative.

In the immediate aftermath of her father’s execution following a military coup in 1979, Pakistan’s Peoples Party assigned a “safe” seat in a deliberate move aimed at keeping his legacy going.

I’m not saying that Muslim women can only achieve political success in these circumstances. Indeed, other Muslim women such as Turkey’s Tansu Ciller gained power in vastly different circumstances. What I am saying is political success neither negates nor proves gender oppression. What it does show is that women in all societies can – and do – navigate sexist structures in their everyday life to varying degrees of success.

In the case of South Asian countries such as Pakistan and Indonesia, these women’s success was made possible by their family connections, which as CBS reports, is “no coincidence in a corner of the world where family often dictates one’s occupation, be it as a street sweeper or a prime minister.”

In other words, religion is not the only factor that leads to either the oppression or the success of women. We associate Islam with the most egregious abuses of women’s rights. Indeed, despite the fact that Islam has a long history of women leaders, going right back to Aisha, one of Mohammed’s wives who often fought alongside him in battle (and indeed led at least one battle of her own), Muslim countries are regularly over-represented in the annual “worst places to be a woman” lists.

However, also as noted by Reza Aslan, what we often put down to religion is actually regional influence. Indeed Muslim women in Malaysia and Indonesia (with the possible exception of the increasingly fundamentalist Aceh province) enjoy far more freedom than their Middle Eastern and African counterparts.

And yet, even in the most repressive Middle Eastern societies, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, women are able to achieve career heights that western women struggle to attain. Saudi Arabia has seen a recent surge in women entrepreneurs, who run their own successful businesses even as they need their husband’s permission to travel. Meanwhile, Iranian women make up the majority of law students and work as lawyers and judges, who must nonetheless submit to enforced dress regulations in their own courtrooms.

In other words, the Muslim world, like the West, and indeed the rest of the world remains a contradictory place for women.

Earlier this year, Mariam al-Mansouri became the UAE’s first female fighter pilot and led a strike against Islamic State. Regarded as a hero by Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador the US who boasted about her on American television, she was also referred to as “Boobs on the ground” by Fox News presenter Eric Bolling.

The derisive sexualisation of al-Mansouri by a white, male media personality highlights how Western societies also marginalise and dismiss women, even as they revile Muslim countries for doing the same. The West is no less sexist, it’s just that the sexism manifests differently. The western tendency to conflate sexualisation with empowerment mistakenly assumes that because women are not legally restricted in their clothing choices or their everyday movements, then our liberation is complete.

Unlike Muslim women, we can wear what we like, hence we are free and equal and therefore the lack of women’s representation in parliament isn’t a failing of our political system or a sign of continued oppression, but due to “merit”. When questioned about the single woman in his cabinet, Tony Abbott claimed to be “disappointed” (as if it wasn’t solely his doing) and essentially blamed women for their own exclusion by arguing that if only women were better, then they too would hold more positions of power.

So what do we take away from the fact that yet another Muslim country has more female representation in its cabinet than Australia? While it would be wrong to assume this is automatically a sign of greater gender equality, it is no less of a mistake to dismiss the lack of women in power as unrelated to women’s oppression.

Indeed, the more Australia insists – and believes – it is an equal society, the easier it is to mask the deliberate exclusion of women from the corridors of power behind the façade of meritocracy.

Tunisian Islamists concede election defeat to secular party, It is achieveable

Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist party Ennahda, waves the party flag outside Ennahda's headquarters in Tunis  October 27, 2014. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

(Reuters) – Tunisia’s Ennahda party, the first Islamist movement to secure power after the 2011 “Arab Spring” revolts, conceded defeat on Monday in elections that are set to make its main secular rival the strongest force in parliament.

Official results from Sunday’s elections – the second parliamentary vote since Tunisians set off uprisings across much of the Arab World by overthrowing autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali – were still to be announced.

Tunisian militant fighters have long been prominent among jihadis in foreign wars dating back to the 1980s Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and more than 3,000 are estimated to be fighting for Islamic State now in Syria and Iraq.

While the role of Islam in politics overshadowed the first election in 2011, jobs, economic opportunities and Tunisia’s low-intensity conflict with Islamist militants were the main concerns of a country heavily reliant on foreign tourism.

National Mosque Open Day: Sydney mosques to welcome the wider community and counteract prejudices. What is Abbott doing??? What is Team Australia doing for Muslims?

Sheik Dr Ayman Malas

A very small nondescript former Salvation Army Hall in Cabramatta will open its doors to the public on Saturday.

The Othman Bin Affan Mosque in Water Street, Cabramatta West, is participating in the Lebanese Muslim Association’s National Mosque Open Day.

Sheik Dr Ayman Malas is the imam of the mosque, leading prayers, dealing with the affairs of the community and guiding the congregation in the ways of Islam.

The Lebanese-born Australian citizen presides over a community of worshipers drawn from a variety of nationalities: Lebanese, Palestinians, Iraqi, Egyptian, Vietnamese, Chinese and Australian people worship at the mosque.

The day is a new initiative which aims to breakdown common misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding Islam.

“In the majority of mosques in Australia imams take the middle ground; they’re not radicalised in any way,” Dr Malas explains.

While Muslims interpret the teachings of Islam differently, not all interpretations are necessarily welcome.

“Anyone who has a radicalised mind is not adhering to our ways, and our job is to clear that mindset,” Dr Malas told 702 ABC Sydney.

The open day aims to counteract anti-Islam prejudice, as well as create a two-way conversation with the broader community.

“This is a public place that anyone is welcome to come to at any time,” said Dr Malas.

“This is an opportunity to share tea with family and friends, and hear directly from Muslims about our lives in an open conversation.”

For a number of years, mosques across Australia have inconsistently held open days.

The intent of this initiative is to consolidate these into one unified national mosque open day.

“This is not about our humble hall, but about explaining what we are taught,” said Dr Malas.

“Our beliefs instruct us to take the middle road in our personal life; to be a good, abiding human beings.”

The community-focused event will take in a fair-like atmosphere with jumping castles, barbecues, face-painting, and mosque tours.

Two mosques in Sydney – Lakemba Mosque and Cabramatta Mosque – will be open from 10:00am until 4:00pm on Saturday.

The Lebanese Muslim Association was established in 1962 by a group of Lebanese immigrants to provide social, religious, educational and recreational services for the Muslim community.

This work led to the construction in 1972 of the grand Imam Ali bin Taleb Mosque in Lakemba.

The small fibro hall in Cabramatta opened as a mosque in 1994 and exudes a more humble atmosphere than its Lakemba counterpart.

This PHD embarrased Fox News so badly they were even red faced in their apology, Aslan makes Bolt and his ilk the unsophisticated fools they in fact are

 

Reza Aslan Slams ‘Bigoted’ Media For Generalisation That Muslims Are Misogynistic And Violent

American religious scholar Reza Aslan gave a bravura interview to CNN this week, lambasting the “bigotry” of the media for perpetuating the generalisation that “Islamic countries” are more susceptible to misogyny and violence.

The academic appeared on the broadcaster to react to comments made by comedian Bill Maher, who last Friday characterised female genital mutilation as an “Islamic problem”. Maher said: “If we’re giving no quarter to intolerance… shouldn’t we be starting with the mutilators and the honour killers?”

In response, Aslan said the comedian’s comments were “facile” and “not very sophisticated” before lambasting the media for suggesting all Muslim nations were identical. “To say Muslim countries, as though Pakistan and Turkey are the same… it’s frankly, and I use this word seriously, stupid!” he said.

“The problem is that you’re talking about a religion of one and a half billion people… and certainly it becomes very easy to just simply paint them all with a single brush by saying, ‘Well in Saudi Arabia women can’t drive,’ and saying that’s representative of Islam. That’s representative of Saudi Arabia.”

Aslan also pointed out the hypocrisy of Western intervention in Iraq, spurred by the beheadings posted online by the extremist group. “Saudi Arabia is one of the most, if not the most, extremist countries in the world,” he said. “In the month that we’ve been talking about ISIS and their terrible actions in Iraq and Syria, Saudi Arabia, our closest ally, has beheaded 19 people.”