Category : Islam

(DW) Islamist extremism: Germany invests millions to prevent radicalization

Germany’s Family and Youth Minister Katarina Barley on Wednesday called for her country to strengthen its efforts to prevent all forms of extremism, calling for a federal law on the prevention of extremism to stabilize projects and initiatives against, for example, right-wing extremism.

Although there is now more money available for prevention, “we aren’t yet on target,” Barley said on Wednesday. Announcing the findings of a report into extremism prevention, Barley said at a press conference in Berlin that in fighting Islamist extremism, “we must not wait until young people have become radicalized.”

“Security and prevention must go hand in hand,” she added.

According to Barley, prevention work must begin where the threat is particularly high, for example in the school yard, on the Internet, and also in the prisons.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Germany, Islam, Religion & Culture, Violence

(NPR) For Christians In Egypt, Building A New Church Can Set Off Violence

ARRAF: Samuel was 20, and Beshoy was 22. They’re considered martyrs now. That’s because they were among 20 young Egyptian workers beheaded by ISIS in Libya two years ago. To commemorate their deaths, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi gave permission for a huge new church on the road to al-Our. Building churches is so controversial here, it took an ISIS attack to get permission to build one.

The village is 70 percent Muslim. Some of the villagers protested and threw stones when construction started on the church. Churches are a sensitive subject throughout Egypt, even though about 10 percent of the population is Christian. It’s hard to get permits to build them. In Minya, a poor province which has the biggest concentration of Christians, even talk of a church can be dangerous.

EBRAHIM FAHMY: (Through interpreter) They burned my house. They burned the house my brother was building and the houses of five other brothers. They thought we were going to open a church.

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Posted in Egypt, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Violence

(WSJ) Charlotte Allen–In Spain Muslims demand to worship in a cathedral that hasn’t been Islamic since 1236

“The Great Mosque of Cordoba.” That’s what Unesco—the cultural arm of the United Nations—calls the 24,000-square-foot 10th-century structure visited by 1.5 million tourists a year. It was declared a World Heritage site in 1984, and rightfully so: The building’s interior is a stunning example of Moorish architecture.

Yet this “mosque” is actually the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Córdoba. In 1236, King Ferdinand III of Castile captured Córdoba from the Almohad Caliphate. He then had the building consecrated for Christian use. Or reconsecrated, rather, since underneath the mosque lay the demolished remains of a sixth-century church built by Spain’s Visigothic rulers before the Muslim invasion in 711. Today, Mass and confession are celebrated inside. The cathedral has been a Christian house of worship for centuries longer than it was an Islamic one.

The discordance greeting tourists is the result of more than 200 years of antagonism toward the Catholic Church by left-leaning Spanish intellectuals. They have used the cathedral’s unique architecture essentially to de-Christianize it in the name of restoring its historical Islamic roots. This secularist campaign began in the early 19th century but has gained new force in the past 20 years. Recent Islamic immigration to Spain has given the anticlerical leftists new allies—Muslims demanding to worship in their “Great Mosque.”

But that would require taking the building out of the Catholic Church’s hands.

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Posted in Church History, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Spain

(CEN) Andrew Carey–We must wake up to the Islamist threat facing us

It is important to counter extremist ideas including those that are fascist, Stalinist or racist but we all know that Prevent’s real job is to tackle Islamist radicalism. Ideologies should not be banned or outlawed but they should be countered effectively, especially when they lead to criminality or terrorism.

The main terrorism that we face today is related to Islam. And the problem behind Islamist terrorism is the difficulty of certain forms of Islam in compromising with modernity, and the failure of many Muslims to come to terms with being a minority in a world that largely regards religious belief and piety as a purely private matter.

But many Muslim leaders seem surprised when questions about terrorism are put to them. These terrorists are killers and Islam bans killing therefore, they reason, the terrorists cannot be Muslims. But that is to duck the problem.

If Muslims do not tackle the issue of how terrorism arises out of the Muslim community and is fed by certain crucial theological ideas, then the ideology will never be effectively challenged. There is a sort of collective brushing under the carpet in the Muslim community that is deeply unhelpful to all of us.

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Posted in England / UK, Islam, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

BBC’s Beyond Belief–How Islamic is the So-Called Islamic State?

In claiming responsibility for the Paris atrocities, the so-called Islamic State described the attacks as “a blessed battle whose causes of success were enabled by Allah”. Last year, when the group’s self-imposed Caliphate was declared, hundreds of Muslim leaders and scholars from across the world wrote an open letter to the self-professed Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, accusing him of heinous war crimes and a violation of the fundamental principles of Islam. So how Islamic is ‘Islamic State’? Why have mainstream interpretations of Islam so far failed to provide an effective counter-narrative? What needs to happen for the group to be defeated?

William Crawley discusses the beliefs which underpin the so-called Islamic State in the light of the Paris terrorist attacks with Sheikh Dr Salah Al Ansari, an Imam, theologian and academic; Haras Rafiq, Managing Director of the anti-extremism think tank, the Quilliam Foundation; and Dr Katherine Brown, an expert in Islamic Studies at King’s College London.

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Posted in Islam, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(PRC FactTank) Muslims and Islam: Key findings in the U.S. and around the world

Muslims are the fastest-growing religious group in the world. The growth and regional migration of Muslims, combined with the ongoing impact of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and other extremist groups that commit acts of violence in the name of Islam, have brought Muslims and the Islamic faith to the forefront of the political debate in many countries. Yet many facts about Muslims are not well known in some of these places, and most Americans – who live in a country with a relatively small Muslim population – say they know little or nothing about Islam.

Here are answers to some key questions about Muslims, compiled from several Pew Research Center reports published in recent years…

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Posted in Globalization, Islam, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(WSJ) Sohrab Ahmari–How Nationalism Can Solve the Crisis of Islam

Then again, the 19th-century marriage of liberalism and nationalism ended in a very ugly divorce in the first half of the 20th century. What about the dangers of reviving nationalism today? “There is no a priori guarantee that it could not devolve into something nasty,” Mr. Manent says. “But if we don’t propose a reasonable idea of the nation, we will end up with an unreasonable idea of the nation. Because simply: However weakened the idea of the nation, nations do not want to die.”

Then there is the example across the Atlantic. Like Tocqueville, Mr. Manent sees much to admire in the American experiment. Even as Europeans have sought to pool or even abandon their sovereignty, he says, “Americans remained very much attached to the idea of a people making its laws to protect itself.”

True, “this people was open to the world, since of course it was formed by immigration. But people came from all over the world, not to be human beings but to be citizens of the United States, which had a keen sense of its exceptionalism and unique character.” In the Second Amendment, the persistence of the death penalty, and the reluctance of U.S. courts to follow foreign precedents, Mr. Manent sees “not a proof of American barbarism” but of democratic vigor.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Europe, History, Islam, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Fulcrum) Colin Chapman–Christian Responses to Islamism and Violence in the name of Islam

Max Warren, General Secretary of the Church Mission Society from 1942 to 1963, used to tell a story from his time in hospital after returning from service in Nigeria with a serious illness. One day he was examined by a medical student as part of his final examinations in front of his professor. After the examination the student gave his diagnosis of Warren’s illness to the professor. Warren knew that the diagnosis was wrong. So when he saw the professor the following day, he said to him, ‘I suppose that student failed because he got the diagnosis wrong’. ‘Oh no!’ replied the professor. ‘The diagnosis was wrong. But he would have got there in the end because he asked all the right questions’.

While we have been living with Islamism for some years, the creation of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ in June 2014 no doubt took all of us by surprise. And if there’s been a variety of responses among national governments, academics and journalists, there’s also been a variety of responses among Christians. So if none of us can claim to give a definitive answer to the question of how Christians should respond to Islamism and ISIS, can we at least attempt to ask some of the right questions? These would be the ten questions that I would want to ask.

(1) What do we Mean by ‘Islamism’ and How does it Differ from Other Kinds of Islam?

I hope we are past the stage of speaking about ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ and are starting to use terms like ‘Islamism’, ‘political Islam’ or ‘radical Islam’. I am not talking about ordinary Muslims who may have a political agenda of one kind or another, but Muslims who have a clear agenda about creating some kind of Islamic polity. It is important to recognise, however, that Islamists are not all the same. Some believe in democracy, pluralism and human rights, while others do not. Some believe that violence is sometimes justified in pursuing an Islamic agenda, while others reject the use of violence. They all want to see Islamic principles applied in the public sphere; but they recognise the huge differences in the political make-up of states all over the world and have different ideas about how a particular state could be more Islamic….

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(BBC) Egypt Coptic Christians killed in bus attack

At least 23 people have been killed and 25 wounded after gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt, state media report.

The incident occurred in Minya province, 250km (155 miles) south of Cairo, as the bus headed to a church.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(Economist) The new strife–There is but one God, yet different forms of Islam are fighting for their own version of him

Morocco largely avoided street protests in 2011, and the king appointed an Islamist-led government in November of that year. As part of a broad counter-radicalisation effort after a spate of terrorist attacks in Casablanca in 2003, the Moroccan state has been gradually seizing direct control of the mosque. A new school for imams, including foreign ones from sub-Saharan Africa as well as France and Belgium, opened in Rabat in 2015. It seeks to promote a moderate form of Islam, based on Morocco’s Maliki school of thought and, crucially, acceptance of the king’s traditional status as “Commander of the Faithful”.

It has also begun a pioneering programme to train women as mourchidas (spiritual counsellors). One of them, who did not want to be named, explained that her task was to work with women and children on a range of issues, including literacy and fighting drug abuse. “We sometimes come across preachers who promote a radical message. We have to intervene to tell them to change their discourse. When we started there was more religious radicalism; we have noticed that it has dropped.”

The risk is that all this will be dismissed by some Muslims as phoney “state Islam”. Still, the campaign seems to be having some impact. Take the experience of Abdelkrim Chadli, a Salafist preacher who was arrested after a series of suicide-bombings in Casablanca in 2003, accused of inspiring jihadists (which he denies) through his writings. Pardoned by the king in 2011, he is now urging fellow salafists to join a royalist shell party called the Democratic and Social Movement (founded by a former police commissioner). Within three or four years, he hopes, it could win elections and hasten the process of Islamising society. It is a striking transformation of Islamists’ stance, brought about in part by fear of the sort of chaos seen elsewhere, in part by the firm limits set by the king, and in part by his good sense in giving Islamists a political outlet. “Today all salafists are the first defenders of the monarchy,” says Mr Chadli, “We consider Morocco to be an Islamic model—even with the drinking bars.”

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Posted in Islam, Religion & Culture, Theology

(FT) Sunni clerics in Sisi sights after Isis targets Christians

Days after twin suicide blasts at Christian churches rocked Egypt, the country’s media launched a wave of highly unusual attacks on al-Azhar, the institution that has for centuries provided religious guidance to Sunni Muslims around the world.

“If you are incapable, too tired or fed up, leave the job to someone else. Your passivity is killing us,” Amr Adib, a television presenter, yelled as he called on Azhar’s Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb to resign.

Such fiery criticism appears to reflect tensions between Egypt’s political and religious leaders, with pro-regime media alleging that Azhar’s leaders are failing to combat extremism and maybe even fuelling it. Pressure on Azhar — which Pope Francis visited last month — soared in the wake of April’s church bombings in Tanta and Alexandria, which were claimed by Isis and killed dozens of Christians.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Politics in General, Terrorism

(NPR) Wearing A Hijab, A Young Muslim Boxer Enters The Ring

In November, young boxer Amaiya Zafar traveled from Minnesota to Florida to fight her first competitive bout.

But before Zafar even had her gloves on, officials called off the fight – they told the 16-year-old she had to remove the hijab she wore or forfeit the match. A devout Muslim, Zafar refused, and her 15-year-old opponent was declared the victor.

USA Boxing, the sport’s national governing body, has dictated that athletes fight in sleeveless jerseys and shorts no longer than the knee. Zafar adds long sleeves, leggings, and a sporty hijab to the uniform.

The organization appears to be shifting its policy, and…[later] it granted Zafar a religious exemption to compete wearing the hijab so she…[could] fight…in Minneapolis.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Islam, Religion & Culture, Sports, Teens / Youth

(CT) Sunday Bobai Agang–The Greatest Threat to the Church Isn’t Islam—It’s Us

I appreciate our Christian patriotic interest in guarding the Christian faith from being supplanted by Islam. However, the church should not allow that concern to distract it from keeping its house in order. God does not call us to compete with Islam. Rather, he calls us to holy living. “It is written, ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ ” (1 Pet. 1:16). As it is, the Christian faith in Nigeria is suffering public disgrace and disrepute because of our lack of self-control, ungodly living, and compromised integrity.

Jesus declared that he is the truth, the way to eternal life (John 14:6). Christians can be confident in our salvation by faith in our resurrected Lord Jesus Christ; we have nothing to fear. Our source of power and authority is God, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (Eph. 1:18–20). We are given power and authority to combat satanic and demonic oppression, to destroy the works of the flesh, to heal obsession with material things, and to create just structures and systems that guarantee human flourishing. By the power and authority God has vested in us, we have nothing to fear and no excuse for failure. We have in us what we need to create fertile environments for social and spiritual transformation, in Nigeria and around the world.

The fear of an Islamization agenda is very real, but it must not be allowed to distract us from our primary concern: Christlikeness, holy living, hard work, and moral integrity. If we are concerned about the spread of Islam, let us be equally concerned about the lack of Christian public integrity and witness in our society. We must not allow fearmongering or conspiracy theories to prevent us from recognizing the true threat.

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Posted in Christology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Islam, Nigeria, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

([London] Times) Is Radical Islam ‘taking hold’ in prisons?

A terrorist incident in a jail is more likely now than at any time since a break-out by the Provisional IRA from a top-security prison in 1994, according to a former governor who has conducted a review into Islamic extremism.

Ian Acheson warns that radical Islam is “taking hold” in prisons and that officers lack the skills to deal with the threat.

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Posted in England / UK, Islam, Religion & Culture

(WWM) Life for a Christian woman in Yemen is about survival. Read Nadeen’s story

Nadeen (*), a born-and-raised Yemeni woman in her late 20s, became a Christian before the civil war broke out in 2015. She had to keep her new faith hidden as her family would probably disown her if they knew. Yemen ranks 9th on the Open Doors 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to live as a Christian.

It meant for Nadeen that she had to live her faith in isolation, as she could not meet with other Christians.

Not only can Christians not openly gather in Yemen, for her as a single woman it was especially hard to get away from the house.

“My family strictly controlled everything I did,” she says.

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Posted in Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Women, Yemen