There has always been debate within the Islamic movement about the propriety and importance of engaging the West or subsystems of it (such as Christian churches) in discussion about issues that divide Muslims from Jews and Christians. Such low-decibel but high-profile discussion has produced numerous platforms for “inter-faith” dialogue or trialogue, countless ecumenical meetings, and now a proverbial “dialogue of civilizations”, conducted on the part of the Muslims by a bewildering range of official and non-officials institutions and “leaders”.
Visiting Vietnam last month, US president George Bush tried to put a positive spin on the US’s defeat in Iraq by comparing it with the US experience in that country. The truth, however, is that the US defeat in Iraq surpasses the humiliation it suffered in Vietnamin terms of its political implications.
Malaysia is the favourite Muslim country for many Western Muslims. The reasons were not difficult to see when this writer visited the country last month; Malaysia can perhaps be characterised as Muslim but not too Muslim. You can eat halal food wherever you go, there are suraus (prayer rooms) in malls, hotels and most other public buildings, and virtually all Muslimahs wear hijab. But in terms of their development, modernity, looks and general atmosphere, Kuala Lumpur and surrounding urban areas such as Petaling Jaya feel more like Islamised versions of cities in the West than Muslim cities like Cairo, Damascus, Tehran, Karachi or Jakarta.
Just how much more courage and fortitude can the Palestinian people display in their battle against zionis occupation and oppression? Muslims were amazed, and the rest of the world shocked, when the Palestinians last month revealed a new strategy to counter Israeli attacks on them
Although representing only a minority of Iraq’s Sunni population, salafist groups have played a disproportionate role in the anti-American resistance and have been responsible for sparking a sectarian war in the country. NASR SALEM discusses the outlook, aims and objectives of Iraq’s salafist extremists...
ZAFAR BANGASH, the Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought in Toronto, visited Iran in August,for the 19th Islamic Unity Conference. He reflects on developments there, and the renewed confidence and sense of progress that he discovered there.
Despite its traditional reputation for tolerance and multiculturalism, the British government, like all colonial powers, has a long history of trying to impose meanings and leaders on Islam and Muslims. FAHAD ANSARI discusses the latest strategy being promoted in Britain, as a time when Muslims are under increasing pressure.
That US President George W. Bush is disliked, both at home and abroad, is no secret; what is less well known is the depth of the antipathy to him. Indonesia, for instance, is presented as a moderate (read pro-US) Muslim state where people do not indulge in serious political activity and Bush is disliked less than he is in the Middle East. Yet Indonesians on most parts of the political spectrum were angered by Bush visiting their country after his participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Hanoi last month.
Malaysia’s United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) held its general assembly last month. It was the first such gathering for the ruling party since Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over the helm in October 2003. But as usual there were no elections for the president’s and deputy president’s posts
Attacks against foreign occupation forces in Afghanistan have escalated both in frequency and intensity to a point where large parts of the country are in a state of total insurrection and lawlessness. According to NATO, as of mid-November there were 97 suicide attacks this year that killed 217 people.
At the very time China was engulfed in a trade dispute with the US and the European Union – centred on the large imbalance between China’s vast exports to those countries and its imports from them – Beijing has unveiled a programme to multiply its already strong economic ties with African countries, and to establish "strategic links" with them.
Pakistan appears headed for more turbulent times as General Pervez Musharraf runs out of policy options in his desperate attempts to appease his foreign masters. Internally, bush fires are burning in three of the four provinces; in the fourth—the Punjab, Pakistan’s largest province—Musharraf is fighting a rearguard action to outflank supporters of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, whom he replaced in a coup in October 1999. At the international level, foreign leaders are no longer as polite as they were immediately after September 2001, when Musharraf hitched his fortunes to America’s “war on terrorism”
Ethiopia – which already has thousands of troops in Somalia, ostensibly to protect the tiny and powerless transitional government – appears about to launch full-scale war against the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which controls most of the war-torn country, including the capital, Mogadishu, and is trying to restore Somali unity. It is in Ethiopia's strategic interest that Somalia continues to be a failed state nominally managed by a weak government that is controlled by it and its allies through the UN.
Even before the midterm elections in the US last month, many Republicans had recognised that their president had become a liability rather than an asset, and had requested that he stay away from their pre-election campaigns. The perception that the mood in America had turned against Bush and the neo-conservatives was confirmed when the elections’ results came in: the Democrats took control of the House of Congress for the first time in 12 years, and gained enough seats in the Senate to match the Republicans, with 409 seats each; two seats were won by independent candidates allied with the Democrats, giving them control of the Senate
My Year in Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope by Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III with Malcolm McConnell. Pub: Simon & Schuster, New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, 2006. Pp: 417. Hbk: $27.00.
If anyone needed evidence that the deepening political crisis in Lebanon has entered an unpredictable phase, the government of Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora provided it on November 25. Siniora defied warnings from the opposition and other leading politicians and high-ranking officials, including president Emile Lahoud, and called for a cabinet meeting that approved a draft United Nations document for an international tribunal to try suspects in the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri, who was killed in a massive truck-bomb on February 14, 2005 in Beirut.