Stephen Schwartz Articles


Iranians vs. ‘Hanging Judges’

3:29 PM, Aug 05, 2014

Abulghasem Salavati, who heads Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, is known as one of Iran’s “hanging judges.” As the London Guardian reported recently, Salavati and his colleague, Mohammad Moghiseh, are most prominent judges in a drive to suppress independent journalists and political dissenters. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), a professional organization based in Brussels, denounced Iran on July 29 for keeping 27 journalists locked up.

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Dissident Iranian Ayatollah Again Denounces Tehran from Prison

10:38 AM, Jul 29, 2014

Ayatollah Seyed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi has been incarcerated, mainly in Tehran’s ignominious Evin Prison, since 2006. He is accused of “combat against God” for his criticisms of the Iranian clerical dictatorship, and is serving an 11-year sentence. Now kept in the “special clerical ward,” he has suffered numerous ailments, has accused his jailers of torture, and is among the most famous Iranian prisoners of conscience.

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Kudos to the Iraqi Kurds

9:23 AM, Jul 16, 2014

On Friday, July 11, as reported at the Kurdish English-language news portal Rudaw [Events], combat fighters representing the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, known as Peshmerga, occupied oil fields in Hassan and Makhmour, near the ethnically-mixed city of Kirkuk that the KRG occupied in mid-June. Rudaw asserted the KRG’s claim to the oil fields based on investment in and construction of the facilities by the regional authority. But the Kurdish source also argued it was necessary to protect the assets from the Baghdad government of prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, which has challenged the right of the Kurds to extract and sell their oil for their own benefit.

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Spanish Upheaval

Republicans, nationalists, and the crucible of modern Spain
Jun 23, 2014

The virtues of Stanley Payne, the outstanding living historian of the Spanish Civil War, are on gratifying display in this comprehensive volume. He writes with appropriate sweep: “[C]ivil war in Spain was not a complete anomaly, but rather the only massive internal conflict to break out in Western Europe during the 1930s.

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Harsh Repression Continues Against Iranian Dissidents

12:03 PM, Apr 29, 2014

April 17, 2014, has come to be known among Iranian dissidents as “Black Thursday.” On that day, at least 100 Iranian riot police, members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, soldiers, and officers of the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security joined prison guards in raiding Ward 350 of Tehran’s infamous Evin House of Detention. Numerous political prisoners and heterodox Muslims from the Gonabadi-Nimatullahi Sufi order are held at Evin.

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Balkan Lessons

Only Putin learned them.
Apr 14, 2014

Vladimir Putin learned lessons from the Balkan wars of the 1990s that the rest of the world ignored or has forgotten. He invokes an obviously false parallel between the NATO bombing of Serbia and liberation of Kosovo in 1999, and his own annexation of Crimea.

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Tracing Russian Economic Assets – and Targets for More Sanctions

11:12 AM, Apr 02, 2014

Travelling from Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, to Mostar, a city almost midway toward Dubrovnik on the Adriatic Coast, one drives through a stunningly-beautiful landscape of mountains, forests, and rivers. On a recent trip, however, I observed a surprising sight: four gas stations owned by Gazprom, the Russian energy giant.

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Tehran Regime Targets Women in War on Sufis and Other Dissidents

10:01 AM, Mar 12, 2014

On Saturday, March 8, members of the Gonabadi-Nimatullahi Sufi order, the most powerful Muslim contemplative body in Iran, assembled with supporters of other political prisoners in Tehran, for a peaceful protest against repression by the country’s clerical regime. Participants in the demonstration, held at the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office, totaled some 2,000 people. The Sufis called for solidarity with 10 inmates in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, the Rajai-Shahr prison in the city of Karaj west of Tehran, Nezam jail in the southern metropolis of Shiraz, and the jail at Bandar Abbas, a major port on the southern coast.

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Ukraine Fever Sweeps the Balkans

10:02 AM, Mar 03, 2014

Sarajevo
As the world watches the Ukrainians in their effort to defend themselves from Russia and become a fully European nation, close attention to the situation in Kiev and the crisis in Crimea is notable in the Balkan Muslim countries—Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina—and in two with significant Muslim minorities, Montenegro and Macedonia.

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Saudi Arabia Against Jihad Recruitment for Syria

10:34 AM, Feb 13, 2014

As reported in the Washington Post on February 3, tough punishment of Saudi Arabians who travel abroad for jihad has been decreed by King Abdullah, absolute ruler of the desert monarchy.

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Kosovo Political Leaders Challenge Islamists

3:01 PM, Jan 20, 2014

The young state of Kosovo—with an Albanian majority of more than 90 percent, of whom 80 percent are Muslim—declared its independence in 2008, but now faces a “risk from extremist religious currents, which requires . . . counter-measures at a strategic level.” Further, Kosovar Albanians have an agenda for a return of their people and culture to Europe, not an orientation toward the Middle East.

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Why Iranian Sufis Do Not Believe in Tehran’s ‘New Diplomacy’

1:34 PM, Jan 06, 2014

The ascension of Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani supposedly represented a “period of hope.” That may be true for Western negotiators hoping to spend more time in Geneva, but not for the Sufis and other religious minorities of Iran, whom the regime in Tehran continues to repress.

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The (Sub) Prime of Lady Catherine Ashton

7:24 AM, Dec 13, 2013

On November 26, the Financial Times published an extravagant encomium to Lady Catherine Ashton by its Brussels bureau chief Peter Spiegel, under the headline “EU foreign policy chief Lady Ashton comes of age in Iran talks.” Spiegel reported, “her team returned from negotiations in Geneva to a standing ovation . . . from EU ambassadors for their part in clinching a historic deal to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

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Iran, Hezbollah, and Obama’s Double Betrayal of Syria

3:53 PM, Dec 04, 2013

The Obama administration’s appeasement of Iran over its nuclear weapons program is intertwined with its appeasement of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

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100 Years Since the Beilis Case – and Still Relevant

7:02 AM, Nov 13, 2013

On October 28, 1913, a trial ended in Kiev, then in imperial Russia and today capital of Ukraine. Mendel Menahem Beilis, a 39-year-old secular Jew and father of five children, a Russian military veteran, and manager of a brick factory, had been accused of murder for alleged ritual purposes—the infamous “blood libel.” His purported victim was a Ukrainian boy, Andriy Yushchinskiy, aged 12. The child’s corpse was found near the Zaitsev brickworks, where Beilis was employed.

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Saudi Women Driving – Toward More Reforms?

3:31 PM, Oct 28, 2013

On Saturday, October 26, news broadcasts around the world presented images that, innocuous in any other country, were revolutionary for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Responding to an online petition titled “oct26driving.com,” at least 60 female subjects of the desert monarchy drove cars on the country’s streets and highways. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that forbids women driving.

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Saudi Arabia Moves Against Muslim Brotherhood Amid Increased Pressure for Reform

2:07 PM, Oct 09, 2013

On October 2, Arab media reported that a Kuwaiti radical Muslim television preacher, Tareq Suwaidan, was prohibited from visiting Saudi Arabia. Suwaidan had sought to go to Mecca to perform “umrah,” a shorter version of the annual hajj pilgrimage.

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Saudi Women Gain New Reforms

7:18 AM, Sep 19, 2013

Against the expectation of many observers, social change continues in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Recent reforms have particularly affected the status of women. At the end of August, the Saudis took a remarkable and surprising step by criminalizing domestic violence. As reported in the London Independent, the Saudi cabinet “passed a ban on domestic violence and other forms of abuse against women for the first time in the Kingdom’s history.”

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Radical Coup in Kosovo Muslim Leadership

10:11 AM, Sep 05, 2013

Challenged by a respected and moderate Islamic scholar, Dr. Xhabir Hamiti, in an election for the top position in the Islamic Community of Kosovo, the Balkan republic’s radical chief cleric Naim Ternava has “amended” the Community constitution, which limited occupancy of the post to two five-year terms. Ternava won his first vote in 2003 and has come to the end of his second term, the maximum period in office. But on August 29, the Assembly of the Islamic Community of Kosovo (the BIK) revised its regulations to allow Ternava to run for a third term.

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Iran Steps Up Threats To Sufis

3:50 PM, Aug 27, 2013

The title of Ferghe News, an Iran-based website, means “Cult News.” It is dedicated mainly to defaming Sufi Muslims. But Ferghe News, following the ideological posture of the Iranian clerical dictatorship, also condemns the Saudi-based Wahhabi sect (historically the most violent enemies of the Sufis), the Baha’is, never favored by Khomeinist Tehran, and “New Age” movements.

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Bangladesh v. Radical Islam

3:34 PM, Aug 19, 2013

In the ongoing debate over Islam and democracy, Bangladesh, the eighth largest country in the world, with 164 million people—90 percent of them Muslim—is, oddly enough, seldom discussed. Yet Bangladesh has been a democratic, parliamentary republic since 1991. The country will hold new general elections no later than January 2014.

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Beats Go On

Publishing and profiting with the avant-garde.
Aug 12, 2013

Through the modernist upheaval in American cultural life, with its earliest significant traces in the 1930s and an inerasable mark on the society as we now know it, three publishing houses were most prominent in redefining aesthetic taste. All of the trio remain in business today. 

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Radical Islamists Reach for Control Over Kosovo Muslims

1:09 PM, Aug 07, 2013

The Balkan republic of Kosovo has not been spared infiltration by Islamist extremism.

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Heavy Repression of Iranian Sufis Indicates Rohani’s Path

11:17 AM, Jul 22, 2013

The election of new Iranian president Hassan Rohani, a subordinate-level cleric, has led to much conjecture in Western media about his possible moderation in domestic, foreign and especially nuclear policy. But news of heavy prison sentences against seven spiritual Sufi webmasters and lawyers, held without trial since 2011, indicates continued repression as the path his administration will follow.

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Fear of Syrian Sectarianism Spreads Beyond Middle East to Other Muslims

11:47 AM, Jul 09, 2013

Arab and non-Arab commentators alike perceived a definitive regionalization of the Syrian civil war last month, when Iranian regular troops and Tehran-backed Hezbollah forces helped the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad retake the strategic town of Qusayr, near the Lebanese border, from rebel fighters.

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Tony Blair, ‘The Trouble Within Islam,’ and Kumbaya in Kosovo

9:32 AM, Jun 20, 2013

On Monday, June 10, former British prime minister Tony Blair released a thoughtful memorandum that was quickly reproduced on websites around the world. Titled “The Trouble Within Islam,” Blair’s reflections were stimulated by the resurgence of Islamist terror in Britain, where a serviceman, Lee Rigby, was brutally murdered on May 22 by two jihadists. Blair’s remarks also seemed to reflect the shock of the Boston bombing of April 15.

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Organizing Europe

The key to continental 'unity' lies in its center.
May 06, 2013

Early in this book, author Brendan Simms, professor of history at Cambridge, quotes John Locke: “How fond soever I am of peace I think truth ought to accompany it, which cannot be preserved without Liberty. Nor that without the Balance of Europe kept up.” As Simms indicates, for Locke, “truth” was defined as Protestantism and parliamentary government, while “the Balance of Europe” referred to the security of the German territories in its heartland. 

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The Boston Horrors and Wahhabism in Chechnya

4:50 PM, Apr 24, 2013

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, killed during the Boston rampage last week, and his surviving brother Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19, who is charged by federal authorities in the series of abominable crimes, are doubtless the first Chechens many Americans will ever have heard of. And the news coverage of the last week will have been their first introduction to Chechnya and the Muslims of the Caucasus.

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Resistance to Islamist Infiltration Continues in Kosovo and Albania

6:18 AM, Apr 12, 2013

Away from the eyes of the world, ideological Islamists pursue infiltration of the moderate Muslim communities in Kosovo and Albania. But in nearly all cases, they continue to be rejected.

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Terror Against Hazara Muslim Minority in Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan

6:31 AM, Mar 19, 2013

Who are the Hazaras and why are they marked for annihilation in Pakistan? Two frightful terror bombings, taking 185 lives and wounding hundreds more, were reported from the city of Quetta, near the border with Afghanistan, and the capital of Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, in the first two months of 2013. They were followed by a similar massacre in Karachi, Pakistan’s main port, in March. Prominent Hazara individuals have been assassinated in Karachi and Lahore. And the ordeal of the Hazaras is hardly new.

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