Stephen Schwartz Articles

Iranian Sufis Defy Tehran Dictatorship

3:29 PM, Feb 27, 2013

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.

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Kosovo Radical Islamists In New Political Offensive

12:45 PM, Feb 13, 2013

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.

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Attacks on Sufi Mystics Warn of Wider Islamist Carnage

7:29 AM, Jan 31, 2013

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.

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Bosnian Religious Leaders Fill Political Void

7:32 AM, Jan 18, 2013

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.  

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Riddle of the Sands

A view through the two-way mirror of Saudi Arabia.
Jan 14, 2013

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. 

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Kosovo Still the Balkan Front Line Against Radical Islam

10:43 AM, Jan 03, 2013

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:

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Albania’s Abstention on Palestine U.N. Vote and the Islamist Response

7:21 AM, Dec 14, 2012

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.

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Fireworks in the Rain: Albania’s Independence Centennial

9:16 AM, Dec 06, 2012

Tirana, Albania
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.

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Saudi Arabia’s New Interior Minister and Old Wahhabi Habits

8:19 AM, Nov 28, 2012

Early in November, the Saudi Arabian government announced the replacement of interior minister Prince Ahmed Bin Abdul Aziz, named to the post in June of this year, after the death of Prince Nayef, his elder brother.

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Islamist Rivals Eyeing Afghan Future As Anti-Sufi Terror Continues in Pakistan

12:55 PM, Nov 15, 2012

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.

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Pakistan May Lose Crucial Backing as Saudi Arabia Turns to India

5:15 AM, Oct 25, 2012

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.

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The Nobel Peace Prize and the EU in the Balkans

6:31 AM, Oct 17, 2012

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.

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Saudi Arabia’s 'Religious Police' Reforms

5:05 PM, Oct 09, 2012

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.

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Iran's 'Think Tank' Outreach

4:45 PM, Sep 26, 2012

On August 24, 2012, the German daily Tagesspiegel reported a dismaying decision by the German Academic Exchange Service, or Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD).

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American Religious Refuge From Communism: An Albanian Catholic’s Story

6:14 AM, Sep 14, 2012

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.

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How Radical Islam Infiltrates Kosovo

7:35 AM, Aug 30, 2012

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?”

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Somalia’s Piracy Compromises Its Neighbors

6:28 AM, Aug 22, 2012

The al Qaeda-allied Somali terrorists of Al-Shabaab (“The Youth”), and the pirates that comprise their “navy,” have repeatedly gained world attention—and then been forgotten.

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In Pakistan, Ramadan Charity Donations Benefit the Taliban

7:31 AM, Aug 08, 2012

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).

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Senate Report: UK Bank Dealt Illegally With Iran, Saudi Radicals, and Mexican Drug Dealers

6:25 AM, Jul 24, 2012

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.

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Erdogan’s Turkish Government Suppresses Alevi Muslim Minority

3:25 PM, Jul 18, 2012

Turkish rulers, from Ottoman times to the present-day neo-fundamentalist regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have never been comfortable with the Alevi Muslims.

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Why Did Libya Vote Against the Muslim Brotherhood?

6:17 AM, Jul 10, 2012

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.

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Annals of Intolerance

The Islamist war on freedom of conscience.
Jul 02, 2012


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.    

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Sudden Death and Succession in Saudi Arabia

7:05 AM, Jun 22, 2012

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.

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Saudi Crown Prince Dies

9:22 PM, Jun 16, 2012

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.

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New Serbian President Favors Putin, Opposes NATO and Independent Kosovo

9:24 AM, Jun 06, 2012

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.

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Wahhabi Internal Contradictions as Saudi Arabia Seeks Wider Gulf Leadership

1:33 PM, May 21, 2012

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.

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Arabs, Iranians, and Turks vs. Balkan Muslims

3:04 PM, May 11, 2012

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.

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Bosnia-Herzegovina, Twenty Years After

12:40 PM, Apr 17, 2012

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.

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Erdogan, Iran, Syrian Alawites, and Turkish Alevis

12:07 PM, Mar 29, 2012

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).

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Kosovo Continues Fight Against Wahhabi Infiltration

3:01 PM, Mar 19, 2012

The great majority of Kosovar Albanians take pride in their reputation as the most pro-American Muslims in the world.

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