On Thursday, February 21, at 10 a.m. local time, Iranian members of the Gonabadi-Nimatullahi Muslim contemplative order celebrated “the day of the Sufi” by protesting outside the infamous Evin Prison in Tehran. The demonstration marked the fourth anniversary of a memorable challenge to the dictatorship of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and “supreme leader” Ali Khamenei.Read more
Kosovo, the Albanian-majority Balkan republic, is probably best known for its fervent pro-Americanism, understandable given the role of U.S.-led NATO forces in assisting its 1.8 million inhabitants against Serbian oppression in 1999. American troops in Kosovo are drawn from National Guard units and have fallen below a thousand, but continue to symbolize a commitment that Kosovars consider indispensable to their future.Read more
In nearly all the Arab revolutions in North Africa and the jihadist offensives that followed them, incursions against Sufi shrines have preceded the onset of wide-scale radical aggression. As they initiate their invasive strategies, terrorists linked to al Qaeda and inspired by Saudi-financed Wahhabism (alias “Salafism”) start by targeting the spiritual Sufis and their ancient tombs and monuments for murder and destruction. This devastation has several motives.Read more
Bosnia-Herzegovina has seen the last of hundreds of employees of the European Union, United Nations, and other international agencies, including dozens of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that once gathered there. They have left the country a politically-partitioned and economically-distressed state that, if not failed, seems ever deteriorating.
If I were of a cynical nature, I might suspect that this volume possesses an agenda beyond explaining the world’s most important and least predictable Muslim country to Westerners. But an awkward combination of a pretentious title and a lightweight style employed by its author should not distract Saudi-watchers and other interested readers from the importance of this work.Read more
The small republic of Kosovo, with a population of less than two million—90 percent ethnic Albanians, of whom 80 percent are Muslim—is the Balkan zone offering the greatest resistance to radical Islam. Some vignettes from recent interviews may impart the flavor of the debate over Islamism in the country:Read more
On November 29, Albania was the sole Muslim-majority country in the United Nations to be counted among the 41 abstainers from the proposal to admit Palestine as a non-member observer. Certain Islamists were displeased, to say the least. In particular, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, head of the “fundamentalist-lite” Justice and Development Party or AKP, responded with one of the tantrums that has become a hallmark of his administration.Read more
On November 28, Albania celebrated the 100th anniversary of its independence from the Ottoman Empire. The small and enigmatic republic had an atrocious history of strict isolation, after World War II, under the Communist dictatorship of Enver Hoxha. Its population of three million is described typically as 35 percent Sunni Muslim, 35 percent spiritual Bektashi Sufis, whose creed is derived from Shia Islam, 20 percent Christian Orthodox, and 10 percent Catholic.
With Barack Obama’s reelection, withdrawal of U.S. and other NATO combat troops from Afghanistan in 2014—except for trainers of an Afghan national army—remains high on his agenda. The leading rival Islamic powers, Saudi Arabia and Iran, are meanwhile competing for future influence over the mountainous Central Asian country.Read more
A post in the Wall Street Journal blog covering India suggests relations are souring between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, long the main instrument of Riyadh’s ideological influence over South Asian Muslims. The desert monarchy has extradited several terrorist suspects to India, under a treaty signed between the two countries in 2010. Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari was sent to India in June, A. Rayees was deported by the Saudis to New Delhi in October, and Fasih Muhammad, last week.Read more
The 2012 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the European Union (EU), was lauded by the Norwegian selection committee for having “contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.” Among various attainments, some decades in the past and others arguable, the Norwegians also praised the EU for its purported achievements in the Balkans, in a manner that appears simply dishonest.Read more
In the seven years since King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz assumed the throne of Saudi Arabia, the absolute monarch, whose reformist aspirations are widely believed to be sincere, has attempted to curb some of the outrageous human rights violations for which the desert kingdom is known.Read more
The libraries of the University of San Francisco (USF), a Jesuit institution, this month completed digitizing a unique American periodical, the Albanian Catholic Bulletin, accessible here to any interested readers. The Bulletin came out mainly in English with a small section in Albanian, reversing the usual practice of foreign-language immigrant media.Read more
On Friday, August 17, the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan ended, followed by Eid-Ul-Fitr, the “festival of fast-breaking” that usually involves three days of celebration. This year in Kosovo, Eid Ul-Fitr was accompanied by an impressive journalistic feat: a team of investigative reporters published a four-part dossier on the country’s Muslims, titled “Radicalization of Islam: Real Threat or Phobia?”Read more
The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan began on July 20 and will end on August 17 or August 19 (depending on lunar observations around the world). Muslims will donate for relief of the poor during Ramadan, but they will be especially generous after its end, during the first three days of the succeeding Islamic month of Shawwal, in a holiday called Eid Al-Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking).Read more
Last week, the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a report and held hearings on the giant British-based HSBC bank. HSBC Holdings was ranked as the sixth-largest public company in the world by Forbes in 2011, with assets of $2.5 trillion.Read more
Turkish rulers, from Ottoman times to the present-day neo-fundamentalist regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have never been comfortable with the Alevi Muslims.Read more
In a remarkable development, the people of Libya on Sunday voted against the seemingly-irresistible advance of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in the “Arab Spring” countries of North Africa. Until Libyan ballots began coming in, Western media seemed assured that the MB would repeat, in that country, its successes elsewhere over the past year. In Tunisia last October, the Ennahda or Rebirth party won 37 percent at the polls. In Morocco’s November contest, the MB’s Justice and Development party gained enough strength to form a government under its leadership.Read more
Paul Marshall and Nina Shea have performed an important service with this account of laws and customs against “apostasy” and “blasphemy” in Muslim countries. Marshall, a senior fellow, and Shea, the director at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom in Washington, have accumulated a daunting inventory of tyrannical abuses, including assaults, murders, massacres, executions, imprisonment, torture, censorship, and denunciations.Read more
The death last week of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Nayef Bin Abd Al-Aziz, aged 78 and heir to his half-brother, King Abdullah Bin Abd Al-Aziz, was not immediately foreseen by the Saudi public.Read more
Saudi Arabian crown prince Nayef Bin Abd Al-Aziz, designated heir to King Abdullah Bin Abd Al-Aziz, died Saturday in Geneva, where he was receiving medical treatment. Nayef, 78, headed the country’s ministry of interior and was deputy premier in the royal cabinet. He was named crown prince last year.Read more
On May 20, Tomislav Nikolic was elected president of Serbia in a second-round runoff against incumbent Boris Tadic. Tadic, who sought a third term, and his Democratic party, have been described as victims of Serbian populist opposition to European Union financial austerity. Nikolic, candidate of the Serbian Progressive Party (SPS), calls for Serbia to join the EU but favors economic coordination with Russia instead of Western Europe. Tadic now seeks the prime minister’s post.Read more
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz last December called for promoting the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), including the Saudi kingdom, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Oman, into a unified body, which has been described as a “super-state.” The Saudis and the other GCC members are currently engaged in discussions intended to bring closer coordination, if not fusion, within the council.Read more
While most of the informed Western public is aghast at the economic and political chaos that appears to be overtaking the government in Athens, southeast Europe has seen aggravated Islamist turmoil in the Balkan Muslim-majority lands and minority communities on and near Greece’s borders.Read more
Twenty years have passed since the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina declared its independence from Yugoslavia at the beginning of March 1992. Bosnian independence came after Slovenia, Croatia, and Macedonia had left Yugoslavia in 1991. Slobodan Milosevic, the Yugoslav dictator, proclaimed Serbian “independence” inside Yugoslavia—of which Serbia was the dominant constituent—in 1990.Read more
Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a habit of shifting positions toward his country’s neighbors, while pursuing the “soft Islamist” political agenda of his Justice and Development party (AKP).Read more
The great majority of Kosovar Albanians take pride in their reputation as the most pro-American Muslims in the world.Read more
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