Lubna Hussein leaves court in Khartoum yesterday wearing the same trousers that got her arrested
Lubna Hussein leaves court in Khartoum yesterday wearing the same trousers that got her arrested

It’s no surprise that Lubna Hussein has been convicted by a Sudanese court. Sudan’s President, Omar al-Bashir, came to power in an Islamist-backed coup, and holds the distinction of being the first head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is not a state where anyone’s human rights are respected, and women in particular are subject to arbitrary rulings of the local version of sharia law.

 In Sudan, wearing trousers in public is now officially “indecent” for women; outside the hearing, Islamist demonstrators railed at Ms Hussein and her supporters and called them “prostitutes”.

Yet in other Islamic states, she and her friends would have got into trouble if they hadn’t worn trousers, risking the exposure of too much ankle. There is no consistency at all in the way sharia rules on women’s dress are interpreted, except in this one respect: the authorities who decide what is and isn’t permissible are men.

There are countries with large Muslim populations, such as Turkey, where some women cover their hair and others don’t. Some clerics deny that covering is necessary at all, while others demand the wearing of the hijab, niqab or even the burqa. What’s acceptable for Muslim women in Lebanon or Syria would not be tolerated in Saudi Arabia or Iran, demonstrating that the rules are patriarchal – designed to maintain male clerical authority – rather than doctrinal. Continue reading

pakistan_flagThe chief of opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Nawaz Sharif Monday reiterated to struggle for the trial of former president Pervez Musharraf and vowed to reach the “dictator” to their logical end, local TV channel reported.

    “The violators of constitution must be punished. Those nations can’t ever be successful who ignore to punish their offenders,” the former Prime Minister said while addressing Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting of his party, according to the private TV ARY News.

    The CEC met Monday and discussed party affairs and its reorganization. Sharif has been appointed chairman of the central organizing committee until new party elections.

    He has been authorized to appoint committees at center and all tehsil levels and make all political and management decisions.

    Moreover, all organizational bodies of the PML-N have been dissolved and their office-bearers discharged.

    In his address, the party chief said that his party did not want to discuss the matters for toppling someone’s government, adding that PML-N would not be part of any plan to destabilize Pakistan, its democracy and the democratic institutions.

    On July 31, Pakistani Supreme Court ruled that Musharraf’s decision to impose emergency rule and dismiss dozens of senior judges in 2007 was unconstitutional.

    Musharraf’s rival Nawaz Sharif has been demanding of the government to put Musharraf on trial for suspending constitution and high treason

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has praised the performance of both Pakistan's military and civilian government
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has praised the performance of both Pakistan's military and civilian government

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has praised Pakistan’s handling of extremist threats, hailing the army and government’s unpredicted “success” and saying they had “performed admirably.”

Gates said the performance of both Pakistan’s military and civilian government over the past 16 months had exceeded Washington’s expectations, in an interview with Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based satellite news channel.

“I think if you look back, 15 or 16 months, the Pakistani government has performed admirably,” Gates said, according to a transcript.

“I believe that the Pakistani government, both the civilian side and the military side, have performed better than almost anyone’s expectations in the region, or in this country, or elsewhere, and we are very impressed by that and we are prepared to be helpful, to help the Pakistanis in any way we can.”

Gates cited Pakistan’s “success” in the Swat Valley, where two million people fled a punishing military offensive against Taliban insurgents beginning in late April.

The military says it has now cleared that area of insurgents, and about 1.3 million displaced people have returned. But skirmishes continue, raising fears that the Taliban are regrouping in the mountains.

“I think people would not have predicted the success of the Pakistani army,” Gates said.

“I think people would not have predicted the success in the Pakistani government’s effective dealing with internally displaced persons as a result of a military operation and how many of them have returned to Swat and how effective the Pakistani government has been in this respect.” Continue reading

amreican muslimsHow do Muslims fit into contemporary American society? Members of a project led by former Pakistani Ambassador to the United Kingdom Akbar Ahmed sought to answer this question by traveling across the United States with a research team and film crew. One of the results is the documentary film “Journey into America”, which explores the evolution of American identity as seen through the lens of American Muslims.
Journey into America premiered July 4 at the annual Islamic Film Festival of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention. The principal investigator, Ahmed, holds the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University (AU) in Washington, and was supported by a team of his former AU students.
The film portrays the experience of Muslim Americans by examining various Muslim communities across America, from big cities in the East to small towns in the Midwest. The film focuses heavily on the voices of ordinary American Muslims and how Muslims fit into contemporary American society.
The research team traced the roots of Islam in America back to Sapelo Island, off the coast of Georgia. There they met a descendant of an African slave brought to the country in the 19th century. They also visited the oldest mosque in America in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The film team conducted interviews with Muslim and non-Muslim students, political and religious leaders, and community members to explore the breadth of socio-cultural perception of the Muslim-American community and the attitudes of that community.
“The film depicts a nine-month journey we took to over 75 cities and 100 mosques to study how Muslims were fitting into American society and to promote better understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims. Our film was featured as the special event at the Islamic Film Festival,” said Frankie Martin, Ibn Khaldun Chair research fellow at American University’s School of International Service. Continue reading

Studies have shown that we assess risk based mainly on what we hope to gain, not what we fear to lose. People go to casinos because of the small chance of becoming a millionaire, not because of the very large chance of losing all their money.

It’s no different with the fate of nations. War games in 1918 and 1941 showed that there was a large probability of failure. They also showed there was a very small chance of a smashing success. As for modern financial risk-management techniques, we had better pass over those in silence, out of respect for the dead.

Continue reading

muslimHeritageAn educational foundation in the UK has announced plans to distribute to high schools a free book that highlights the scientific and cultural legacies of Muslim civilization.

1001 Inventions: Muslim Heritage in Our World is the creation of the Foundation for Science Technology and Civilization (FSTC), a Manchester-based organization set up to raise awareness of the contributions of the Muslim world to modern civilization.

FSTC said the contribution that Muslim and other civilizations have made to the modern world has been widely overlooked and that its team of academics has focused on debunking the myth of the so-called “Dark Ages of Civilization.”

“The period between the 7th and 17th centuries – which has been erroneously labeled ‘the Dark Ages’ – was in fact a time of exceptional scientific and cultural advancement in China, India and the Arab world,” Prof. Salim Al-Hassani, chief editor of the book, said.

“This is the period in history that gave us the first manned flight, huge advances in engineering, the development of robotics and the foundations of modern mathematics, chemistry and physics.”

The foundation said it hoped to distribute 3,000 copies of the book to UK schools by October and is seeking public support for the campaign through a sponsorship scheme. Continue reading

muslim-brotherhoodIn the conventional politically correct narrative, terrorism is a kind of desperate activism taken in reaction to oppression or some form of action taken against it. So for example, Osama bin Laden carried out 9/11 in reaction to US foreign policy. A Fatah or Hamas suicide bomber blows up an Israeli bus in reaction to the assassination of their leader. In reaction to their participation in the War on Terror, Spain and England suffered bombings.

Cars are torched in Paris, gang rapes happen in Oslo, rockets are fired in Lebanon, teachers are beheaded in Thailand and journalists are beheaded in Pakistan all because something made them do it. Within this narrative, each terrorist atrocity is a reaction to a provocation that can be prevented by nullifying the provocation.


So the “Reactive Theory of Terrorism” argues that if the US improves its image with Muslims, Israel gives up territory to the terrorists, England and Spain withdraw from the War on Terror– terrorism will no longer be a problem for them. Continue reading

The students were arrested in April
The students were arrested in April

Two Pakistani students arrested over unproven terror allegations in England earlier this year have returned to Pakistan, a British official said.

The duo have landed in Lahore after agreeing to leave Britain voluntarily, the official said.

Rizwan Sharif and Umar Farooq were among 12 people held by police after raids in north-west England in April, but the pair were never charged.

The Home Office tried to deport them, saying they remained a security threat.

The case has strained relations between Britain and Pakistan and also caused embarrassment to Britain.

On arrival in Lahore, the students told journalists that they were investigated by hundreds of policemen during their detention but the British authorities failed to prove any charges against him.

They said they were treated as “habitual criminals” during their detention. Continue reading

geert wildersAn Arab organisation is to be put on trial in the Netherlands over its publication of a cartoon deemed offensive to Jews, prosecutors say.

The cartoon, published by the Arab European League (AEL) on its website, questions the Holocaust.

It said the decision to prosecute illustrated bias against Muslims.

It said the same standards were not applied to the Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who made a film including cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Last month prosecutors said they would not put the far-right MP on trial for distributing the controversial Danish cartoons, which caused a storm of protest after their publication in 2005.

However, he is still being investigated separately for inciting hatred against Muslims by making statements comparing Islam to Nazism.

But Dutch prosecutors said the AEL cartoon was “discriminatory” and “offensive to Jews as a group… because it offends Jews on the basis of their race and/or religion”. Continue reading

war in AfghanistanIt is deja vu on a huge and bloody scale. General Stanley McChrystal, the US commander in Afghanistan, is about to advise his president that “the Afghan people are undergoing a crisis of confidence because the war against the Taliban has not made their lives better”, according to leaked reports. Change the word “Taliban” to “mujahideen”, and you have an exact repetition of what the Russians found a quarter of a century ago.

Like Nato today, the Kremlin realised its forces had little control outside the main cities. The parallels don’t end there. The Russians called their Afghan enemies dukhy (ghosts), ever-present but invisible, as hidden in death as they were when alive – which echoes Sean Smith’s recent photographic account of the fighting in Helmand and the failure of the British units he was with to find a single Talib body.

The Soviet authorities never invited western reporters to be embedded, but you could track down Afghan war veterans in Moscow’s gloomier housing estates. They were conscripts, unlike British and US troops, so perhaps they had a heightened sense of anger.

But how many British vets would share the sentiments that Igor expressed, as he hung out with his mates one evening in February 1989 and let me listen? “You remember that mother who lost her son. She kept repeating, ‘He fulfilled his duty. He fulfilled his duty to the end.’ That’s the most tragic thing. What duty? I suppose that’s what saves her, her notion of duty. She hasn’t yet realised it was all a ridiculous mistake. I’m putting it mildly. If she opened her eyes to our whole Afghan thing, she’d probably find it hard to hold out.” Continue reading