Tuesday, January 22, 2008

With Friends Like These, Does Islam Need Enemies?

Osama bin Laden may not succeed in what his son calls "defending the Arab people and stop anyone from hurting the Arab or Muslim people any place in the world." He has, however, made people in the west a great deal more aware of Islam, and countries where Muslims are a majority. So far this week, these countries have been in the news:

Country Major Religion Form of Government
Afghanistan80% Sunni Muslim
19% Shi'a Muslim
Islamic republic
Malaysia60.4% Muslimconstitutional monarchy
Turkey99.8% Muslimrepublican parliamentary democracy
  • The Malaysian state of Kelantan is the only one run by the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party. As part of a policy to support Islamic values, the Islamic Party is strictly enforcing boy-girl segregation of checkout lines. That's "to safeguard the ladies," according to Chief Minister Nik Aziz Nik Mat.
  • Meanwhile, Turkey has blocked YouTube. It seems that there's a video there that insults Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. If that sounds familiar, you're paying attention. Last March, Greeks and Turks had been posting insults at each other on YouTube. These included videos insulting Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. It's a crime to insult Ataturk in Turkey. It's also criminal to insult "Turkishness:" and both offenses can lead to a prison sentence. So, the Turkish court was perfectly justified in shutting down access to YouTube in Turkey. Justified by Turkish standards, that is.
  • More seriously, an Afghan court sentenced a journalism student, Sayad Parwez Kambaksh, to death. Due process (for Islamic Afghanistan) was followed by the three-judge panel in Balkh, a province in northern Afghanistan. They say that Mr. Kambaksh published a paper that "humiliated Islam," as the northern Afghan province's chief judge, Fazel Wahab, said.
National Journalists Union of Afghanistan's head says that the death sentence is legal, under Article 130 of Afghanistan's constitution. It says that if a court runs into an issue that isn't covered by a constitutional law, a court should use Hanafi law. Hanafi is a Sunni Muslim set of rules used in southern and central Asia.

It seems to me that nobody, journalism student or not, needs to humiliate Islam. Islam's defenders, and the leadership of Islamic countries, are doing that on their own.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.