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"Surely, those who believe, and the Jews and the Christians and the Sabians, whoever have faith with true hearts in Allah and in the Last-day and do good deeds, their reward is with their Lord, and there shall be no fear for them nor any grief."

— Qur'an 2:62

Latest from CIP

Center for Islamic Pluralism Eid Al-Fitr Greetings, 1436/2015

Center for Islamic Pluralism  •  July 17, 2015  •  CIP

At the conclusion of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, hijri year 1436, common year 2015, the Center for Islamic Pluralism wishes a blessed Eid to Muslims everywhere. May the times to come liberate us from the plague of violent, extremist ideology, and bring peace between Muslims and other communities throughout the world.

Eid Mubarak!

Bajram Šerif Mubarek Olsun!

 

The Srebrenica Massacre, 20 Years On

Stephen Schwartz  •  July 9, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

Twenty years have now passed since the brutal subjugation of the besieged town of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia-Hercegovina, after which 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Serbs commanded by ex-Yugoslav army general Ratko Mladić. The terrible episode is itself worth commemorating, and its background also merits review for what it reveals about Western – and, especially, Clinton administration – policy toward the Balkan Wars of the 1990s.

When the Bosnian war began in 1992 – during the withdrawal of ex-Yugoslav forces from Croatia and after Bosnia-Hercegovina declared independence – Srebrenica was mainly Muslim, with members of that faith accounting for about 64 percent of the town residents, Orthodox Christian Serbs at 28 percent, and the rest identified as Catholic Croats, Yugoslavs, or "other."

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The Writings of Saudi Blogger Raif Badawi

Stephen Schwartz and Irfan Al-Alawi  •  July 8, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

In 2012, Raif Badawi, a blogger in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) who is now 31, was arrested in his native land and charged with offenses ranging from parental disobedience to cyber-crime and apostasy from Islam. Badawi had written in Arab media and established a website, "Free Saudi Liberals." When he was jailed, the site was closed by the Saudi regime.

His detention then was not the first action by the KSA against Badawi. As noted by Human Rights Watch, he was held for one day in 2008 after launching the "Free Saudi Liberals" site, and, in 2009, was banned from travelling abroad, with a freeze of his financial assets.

After a trial in 2013, Badawi was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. But the outcome of an appeal, in 2014, was worse: his punishment was increased to 10 years in jail and 1,000 strokes of a whip, with a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals (about $267,000).

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On the sixth anniversary of unrest in Urumchi, Uyghur American Association calls for transparency
Uyghur families no closer to discovering truth about relatives killed and disappeared

by The Uyghur American Association  •  June 30, 2015  •  Uyghur Human Rights Project and Uyghur American Association

[Note: The Center for Islamic Pluralism endorses this statement by the Uyghur American Association.]

The Uyghur American Association (UAA) calls on the Chinese government to respect the principle of transparency and provide comprehensive details on the fates of Uyghurs killed and forcibly disappeared during the July 5, 2009 unrest and the days following.

Official narratives of the unrest have avoided any discussion of human rights violations committed by Chinese security forces and a broad examination of discriminatory policies in East Turkestan as a contributing factor. Accounts offered by non-state sources have been censored and the individuals responsible for them punished.

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Kosova vs. Iranians and ISIS

Stephen Schwartz  •  June 30, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

On Wednesday, June 24, as reported by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), a foreign-funded news agency, the government of Kosova sent police to raid the offices of five Iranian-controlled non-governmental organizations in the Balkan country.

Kosova authorities said the five entities are suspected of money laundering and financing terrorism, and that action against them conforms to a state anti-extremist strategy. "The raids are tied to a case that is being investigated . . . , with the goal of preventing and fighting terrorism in the Republic of Kosova," an official representative said.

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Turkey: Hope and Fear

Stephen Schwartz and Veli Sirin  •  June 23, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

[Veli Sirin is European director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism.]

Two weeks have passed since the legislative elections of June 7 marked a major shift in the recent history of Turkey. The Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP in Turkish), headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, lost its parliamentary majority, declining to 258 out of 550 seats. Opposition parties of the left and right profited from AKP's setback. The secularist Republican People's Party (CHP), in the first category, rose to 132 members. The ultra-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), with an ugly history of political and ethnic violence under the name of the "Grey Wolves," nonetheless elected 80 deputies, an increase of 29. But the wonder of the polls was the emergence of the People's Democratic Party (HDP), a coalition of Kurds, secularists, leftists, heterodox Alevi Muslims, and former supporters of the AKP, with 80 lawmakers.

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The Bektashi Sufis Should Join the Kosova Sufi Union [BTK]

Stephen Sylejman Schwartz  •  June 22, 2015  •  Illyria [New York]

Baba Musa Qazim Bakalli, who died in 1981 aged 101, was one of the greatest personalities in the spiritual history of Kosova. Today his Bektashi Sufi teqe [meeting house, pl. teqet] in Gjakova, devastated by Serbs during the 1998-99 Kosova liberation war, has been restored magnificently, and the street on which it stands is named for him. When I visited the then-ruined teqe, in 1999, I was told by its current Baba, Mumin Lama, that the loss of the library at the facility, burned in the destructive attack, was especially hard to bear. Its irreplaceable holdings included a 1,000 page manuscript in which Baba Qazim described his visit, on foot, to India, whence he was drawn by curiosity about Buddhism.

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Ramadan in Kerala, India

Suhail Hussain  •  June 18, 2015  •  CIP

[In posting this article the Center for Islamic Pluralism wishes Ramadan Mubarak/Ramadan Karim to Muslims everywhere.]

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan brings days of spiritual joy, illuminating a special, devotional love and an affection for all of humanity. In the Indian state of Kerala, a clear truth encompasses the festivities of Ramadan. It joins the sacrifice of fasting with the glorification of Islamic mercy.

From dawn to dusk during Ramadan in Kerala worship takes place. Kerala Muslims are activists. The discourse of Ramadan reinforces the stability of the social order while expressing the encounter of Islam with modernity. Archetypal urdis or vernacular spiritual sermons, embodying the progress of enlightenment, begin with the first day of Ramadan. Religious students in south India supported this practice in an effort to make Ramadan a month of opportunity.

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Confronting FGM in Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan

Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz  •  June 17, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

Female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) exists in the Islamic Republic of Iran even while the redoubt of clerical dictatorship is absent from a recent survey of FGM in 29 countries, published by UNICEF. The UN agency examined states in Africa and the Middle East. The UNICEF document did not specify them in full, but named eleven. Four – Djibouti, Egypt. Guinea, and Somalia – are Muslim, and feature "universal" incidence of FGM, or a rate above 90 percent of all women.

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Macedonia Mischief
Nothing good ever came from rivalry and hatred.

Stephen Schwartz  •  June 15, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard

Skopje/Shkupi

In Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell described, on his return to Barcelona after serving in the front lines of the Spanish Civil War, "an unmistakable and horrible feeling of political rivalry and hatred" in the Catalan capital. During a late-May visit to Skopje/Shkupi, capital of the independent Republic of Macedonia, something similar was in the air.

In April and May, Macedonia was in upheaval. Forty armed men raided a police station in Goshince, on the border with Kosova, April 21. That event was blamed on a marginal group calling itself the National Liberation Army, organized from among Macedonia's Albanian minority. On May 8, in the northern city of Kumanova, an outbreak of fighting left 8 police officers and 14 rebels dead. Macedonian authorities arrested 30 in the affair—18 from Kosova, 2 Macedonian Albanians living in Kosova, 9 citizens of Macedonia, and 1 Albanian citizen living in Germany.

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Indian Sufis Versus Wahhabi Infiltrators

Syed Babar Ashraf  •  June 13, 2015  •  Sufi Voice of India [SUVOI]

Press Release and Summary of Memorandum

New Delhi, 13 June 2015

[Addressed to the President and Prime Ministers of India, with 12 other high officials of Government]

The Jantar-Mantar Peace Protest

The Sufi Voice of India (SUVOI), a prominent body of Sufi Sunni Muslims, has been engaged in uplifting the community, educating them on all social, educational, cultural and other issues and highlighting their plight. It calls for necessary actions from the government and other authorities. We have organized huge conferences (Maha Panchayats) and smaller gatherings in many parts of the country. Sunni conferences and Maha Panchayats have passed resolutions which have been forwarded to government authorities, but no tangible results have been seen as yet.

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The Yezidi Sect: ISIS Targets for Death

Stephen Schwartz and Christopher Bilardi  •  June 10, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

[Christopher Bilardi is an expert on the Yezidi faith and an associate member of the Center for Islamic Pluralism.]

Until the tragedy that came early in August 2014, the people who call themselves the Dâseni were little known to Westerners. These are the Yezidis, who mainly live in Iraq. Reviled as "devil worshippers" for centuries by their Muslim and Christian neighbors, they have endured 72 attempted genocides since 630 CE. After the predations of the "Islamic State" that number has increased to 74.

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Uyghur American Association commemorates the victims of Chinese state violence on June 4, 1989
State censorship and lack of accountability for human rights violations deny the Chinese people their democratic rights

by The Uyghur American Association  •  June 2, 2015  •  Uyghur Human Rights Project and Uyghur American Association

[Note: The Center for Islamic Pluralism endorses this statement by the Uyghur American Association.]

On the occasion of the 26th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the Uyghur American Association (UAA) wishes to express its solidarity with Chinese democrats seeking to uphold the ideals of freedom and democracy voiced by ordinary Chinese in 1989.

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Kosova Fights Extremism With Social Media

Stephen Schwartz  •  June 2, 2015  •  TheWorldPost [The Huffington Post and Berggruen Institute on Governance]

Prishtina, Kosova

The Balkan republic of Kosova, with an overwhelming Muslim majority and a median age of 27, has committed itself to a consequential struggle against radical Islam. While some Kosova Muslims are numbered in the ranks of the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS), the Kosova government has criminalized participation in and recruitment for jihad.

Additionally, the Kosova authorities have hosted a series of annual conferences bringing together Muslim, Christian, and other global spiritual leaders against religious bigotry. This year, the topic of the event was "Interfaith Dialogue in a Time of Social Media: Enabling Agents of Change, Countering Violent Extremism and Hate Speech."

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Iran's Kurdish Rebellion

Stephen Schwartz  •  May 22, 2015  •  TheWorldPost [The Huffington Post and Berggruen Institute on Governance]

[Note: This commentary was written with Veli Sirin.]

Violent protests by Iranian Kurds have taken the world by surprise, and mainstream reporting on them is sparse. That is doubtless explained by the general absence of decent journalism under the regime of the Islamic Republic, including restrictions in entry of foreign correspondents. Yet the events in Mahabad, a city of up to 280,000 mainly-Kurdish inhabitants, in the Iranian province of Western Azerbaijan, has fascinating aspects to those who follow Kurdish (and Iranian) affairs.

The demographic profile of Iranian Azerbaijan reveals the ethnic diversity of Iran. The country is not entirely Persian, as many outsiders believe. Turkic, Kurdish, and other non-Farsi languages are spoken by large minorities.

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Junípero Serra

Stephen Schwartz  •  May 20, 2015  •  First Things Blog

On September 23, at a mass in Washington, DC, Pope Francis is scheduled to canonize Blessed Junípero Serra (1713-84), the Franciscan founder of the Spanish missions in California.

Serra was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988. Vatican representatives have pointed out that his sainthood will emphasize the diverse contributions to American identity of Hispanics and will recognize our Pacific as well as our Atlantic heritage. This point would seem to be politically significant at a moment when Republican Party leaders of Hispanic origin, like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and with Hispanic family relations—e.g. Jeb Bush—are vying for their party's presidential nomination.

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Uyghur Voices on Education
New report highlights China's assimilative language policy through firsthand accounts

The Uyghur American Association  •  May 20, 2015  •  Uyghur Human Rights Project and Uyghur American Association

[Note: The Center for Islamic Pluralism endorses this statement by the Uyghur American Association.]

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) announces the publication of Uyghur Voices on Education: China's Assimilative 'Bilingual Education' Policy in East Turkestan. Since UHRP's first report on bilingual education in 2007, the Chinese government has accelerated and expanded an education policy that has effectively marginalized the Uyghur language from the education system in East Turkestan.

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BDS vs. Israel – The True "Islamophobia"

Stephen Schwartz  •  May 19, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

"Islamophobia," which carries with it implications of viciousness, pain, and disease, is not considered a neutral term, either by Muslims who accuse others of it (including some moderate believers in Islam), or by those who supposedly spread it. "Islamophobia" suggests deliberate, if not deranged, hatred and cruelty toward Muslims.

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A Model for Moderate Muslims

Stephen Schwartz  •  May 12, 2015  •  The Huffington Post

Continuing terrorism by Islamist radicals in the Middle East, Europe, and the U.S has led numerous commentators to argue for solutions that nearly always involve revision of the foundations of the religion, especially Qur'an. Some born Muslims claim the title of "apostate" proudly. Others, betraying a superficial knowledge of Islamic theology, assert that Muslim thought ceased to be fruitful 800 years ago.

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My Second Father
20 Years Since the Death of Gjon Sinishta

Stephen Schwartz  •  May 8, 2015  •  Illyria [New York]

On Friday, May 8, 2015, a mass was announced at the grand and beautiful St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Gjon Sinishta, the indispensable intellectual guardian of the Albanian Catholic heritage in the diaspora.

Gjon was born in Podgoricë, Mal i Zi, in 1930 and died on May 9, 1995, in San Francisco. He worked for many years as sacristan of St. Ignatius while producing the encyclopedic, annual Buletini Katolik Shqiptar/Albanian Catholic Bulletin (ACB), finally under the rubric of the Albanian Catholic Institute named for Fr. Daniel Dajani, S.J. Dajani was martyred by the brutal Communist regime of Enver Hoxha in 1944. The entire series of the ACB is accessible online through the library of the University of San Francisco, where St. Ignatius Church is located, here.

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The Sheikh AlIslam Fil-Balad Al-Haram Al-Sharif
The Sheikh Al-Islam Fil-Balad Al-Haram Al-Sharif

Salaat ul-janaza [Funeral service] of Sayyid Muhammad ibn Alawi Al Maliki, The Grand Mosque in Mecca, October 2004
Salaat ul-janaza [Funeral service] of Sayyid Muhammad ibn Alawi Al Maliki, The Grand Mosque in Mecca, October 2004

Islam's past
Islam Past: Turkish mosque in Romania
Turkish mosque in Romania
Photos: Stephen Schwartz

Islam's present
Islam the Present Wahhabi vandalism at mosque in Kosova
Wahhabi vandalism at mosque in Kosova

Islam's future
Islam's Future: New mosque in Kazakhstan
New mosque in Kazakhstan

Audio Presentation
Yasawi Shrine
Seek healing in Sufism
by Yasawi Sufi Saparbai Kushkarov of Uzbekistan,
in Uzbek, Russian,
English, and Arabic

Video Presentation
Bin Yilin Turkusu - Saga of the Millennium
Bin Yilin Turkusu
(Saga of the Millennium)

Homage to Seyed Khalil Alinejad
"Homage to Seyed Khalil Alinejad"
Artwork © Jennifer Pawlak
No reproduction or reposting without permission of CIP.

Marje Sistani
Obey your country's laws, Marje Ali Sistani urges Muslims in West.

Stephen Suleyman Schwartz
Stephen Suleyman Schwartz:
Why I Serve as Executive Director of CIP

© 2015 Center for Islamic Pluralism.

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