Reports allege drone attacks violate law

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch released reports this week alleging that U.S. drone attacks in places like Pakistan and Yemen have killed scores of civilians, violated international law, and could be qualified as war crimes. Further, the reports said, a lack of transparency has made it impossible for the families of civilian victims killed by drones to receive compensation.

As the New York Times reported, when drones kill civilians, the families and friends of those civilians feel terrorized by America. Administration officials defended their policies.

Detroit Shiites Harassed by Sunni extremists at Hajj

A group of Shiite Muslims making the hajj, or pilgrimage, to the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, say they were physically attacked and threatened by a group Sunni extremists from Australia, reported Niraj Warikoo of the Detroit Free Press. Some of those attacked had been on the TLC television show, All-American Muslim.

Some Sunni extremists consider Shiite Muslims to be heretics, and the incident at the hajj reflects a growing problem of Sunni violence and discrimination against Islam’s Shiite minority, both abroadand in America.

Confronting Boko Haram

Muslims have long condemned terrorism, but they are increasingly starting to challenge it.

The latest example comes from Nigeria where, according to the New York Times, Muslims and non-Muslims have joined forces against Boko Haram, the terrorist group that has waged a bloody insurgency in Nigeria. The counter-insurgents have turned in hundreds of Boko Haram extremists to police and regained control of at least one major Nigerian city. That hasn’t robbed Boko Haram of its ability to kill innocent civilians, as demonstrated by a brazen highway ambush this week.

Muslims have also recently stood up to extremists in Kenya, Pakistan, and Libya.

Boko Haram militants

Boko Haram art courtesy AK Rockefeller via Flickr

This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

The end of the Gulf monarchies?

While it seems inevitable that the monarchies of the Arab Gulf will collapse, how they will collapse, with all their petrodollars and subsidized employment, education, energy, and healthcare, is harder to envision. Christopher Davidson, a professor of Middle Eastern politics at Durham University in England, maps out that collapse in his new book, “After the Sheiks: The Coming Collapse of the Gulf Monarchies,” and which he condensed for the New York Times.

King Abdullah bin Abdul al-Saud at the king's hunting lodge in Saudi Arabia.

King Abdullah bin Abdul al-Saud at the king’s hunting lodge in Saudi Arabia. Photo courtesy Cherie A. Thurlby [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Saudi women take to the wheel

Women in Saudi Arabia have renewed a campaign for the right to drive in the conservative kingdom, and have set October 26 as a day of protest by driving.

“The campaign has no anti-Islamic or political agenda,” the October 26 movement website asserts. Islam and Saudi Arabian law “ensure that all, regardless of gender, have the right to freedom of movement.”

Saudi clerics, however, are throwing down the theological roadblocks.

Egyptian brain-drain

What happens when your country is continuously in turmoil? The educated and the wealthy leave. That’s what’s happening in Egypt as people who don’t side with either the military regime or the Muslim Brotherhood pack their bags, reports the New York Times.

“Many people said they saw no end to the conflict between the military and its Islamist opponents, and no place for those who did not profess loyalty to either one,” the paper reported.

Shariah law to be enforced in Brunei

The tiny but oil-rich kingdom of Brunei on the island of Borneo will be governed according to Shariah, or Islamic law, beginning next April. While the new legal code will include death by stoning for adultery and flogging for alcohol consumption, it will only be applicable to Sunni Muslims, who comprise about two-thirds of the population of 416,000. Religious authorities, however, promised that the harsh punishments wouldn’t be meted out recklessly.

“There are conditions and there are methods that are just and fair,” said Brunei’s Mufti Awang Abdul Aziz.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei

Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei, during a visit to the Pentagon on December 16, 2002. photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Al Jazeera finds a big time distributor

Since launching in August, Al Jazeera America has repeatedly been slammed with beneath the basement ratings.  A big part, of the problem has been that AJAM has had only a fraction of the distribution of its competitors. That will soon change. Time Warner Cable, one of America’s biggest cable operators, has agreed to carry the Qatar-based broadcaster, which will be added to channel line-ups in New York and Los Angeles later this year, and other markets in March, according to the New York Times.

Abraham’s sons co-author a book

Imam Shamsi Ali grew up in a small Indonesian village, studied in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and believed all Jews wanted to kill Muslims. Rabbi Marc Schneier, the eighteenth generation of a rabbinical dynasty, believed all Muslims were anti-Semitic. Together, they wrote “Sons of Abraham: A Candid Conversation About the Issues that Divide and Unite Jews and Muslims.” The subject? Plotting a path to peace between the world’s Muslims and Jews.

NBA Muslims

The NBA tips-off Tuesday October 29, and several Muslim players are still on the rosters. They’re not the same caliber as past Muslim stars like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Hakeem Olajuwon, but a few of them make important contributions to their teams, including Omer Asik, Houston, Ersan Ilyasova, Milwaukee, and Al-Farouq Aminu, New Orleans, and MirzaTeletovic, Brooklyn, and New Orleans rookie Shabazz Muhammad. Also in the rotation: Enes Kanter, Utah, Hedo Turkoglu, Orlando, Nazr Mohammed, Chicago, and Hasheem Thabeet, Oklahoma City.

Shabazz Muhammad

Shabazz Muhammad photo courtesy Bryan Horowitz

This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

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