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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

Teaching the Judeo-Spanish Heritage to Chicago Seventh Graders

Stephen Schwartz  •  April 16, 2014  •  The Huffington Post

During the Jewish and Christian holidays of Passover and Easter, it is well to think back on histories of inter-communal goodwill between these two Peoples of the Book and Muslims. One outstanding example involves the rich heritage of Sephardic Jewish life in the former Turkish empire, including the Balkans.

Some weeks ago, I traveled to Chicago to address parents affiliated with a multifaith private school, which serves Jewish and Catholic pupils, about Islam and its influence on Jewish and Catholic mysticism. The night before my talk to the parents, I was the guest of a kind, Bangladeshi Muslim couple living in the suburbs. There, I was introduced to Faith Laux, a seventh-grade teacher of Spanish at Carleton Washburn School in Winnetka, Ill.

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CIP Greetings to People of the Book on Their Holidays

Stephen Suleyman Schwartz  •  April 14, 2014  •  CIP

The Center for Islamic Pluralism (CIP), an international network of Muslim scholars, clerics, authors, journalists, Sufi shaykhs, and other believers, active in 32 Muslim-majority countries and Muslim-minority communities, extends greetings to our Jewish and Christian neighbors and friends on the occasion of their sacred holidays, the Jewish Passover (Pesach), which begins at sundown on Monday, April 14, and the Christian Easter, celebrated on Sunday, April 20.

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CIP Endorses Condemnation of Chinese Extrajudicial Killing of Uyghur Youth Abdulbasit Ablimit

The Uyghur American Association  •  April 14, 2014  •  Uyghur Human Rights Project and Uyghur American Association

[Note: The Center for Islamic Pluralism endorses this statement by the Uyghur Human Rights Project.]

The Uyghur American Association (UAA) condemns the extrajudicial killing of 17-year-old Uyghur student Abdulbasit Ablimit by police in Kelpin county, Aksu prefecture. Ablimit was shot alongside two companions after an apparent traffic violation, and police allegedly beat and detained relatives of the victims and local Uyghurs who protested the killing. UAA calls on the international community to remain vigilant to China's unlawful killing of Uyghurs, which has increased alarmingly in the past year.

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Balkan Lessons
Only Putin learned them.

Stephen Schwartz  •  April 14, 2014  •  The Weekly Standard

Vladimir Putin learned lessons from the Balkan wars of the 1990s that the rest of the world ignored or has forgotten. He invokes an obviously false parallel between the NATO bombing of Serbia and liberation of Kosova in 1999, and his own annexation of Crimea. In his speech of March 18, Putin sought to justify the Crimean "referendum" for unification with Russia on "the well-known Kosovo precedent—a precedent our Western colleagues created with their own hands in a very similar situation, when they agreed that the unilateral separation of Kosovo from Serbia, exactly what Crimea is doing now, was legitimate and did not require any permission from the country's central authorities."

Numerous Western commentators have refuted the alleged similarity between the seizure of Crimea and the separation of Kosova from Serbia. But there is a wider context to Putin's use of the Balkan bloodshed.

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Tracing Russian Economic Assets – and Targets for More Sanctions

Stephen Schwartz  •  April 2, 2014  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

Travelling from Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Hercegovina, to Mostar, a city almost midway toward Dubrovnik on the Adriatic Coast, one drives through a stunningly-beautiful landscape of mountains, forests, and rivers. On a recent trip, however, I observed a surprising sight: four gas stations owned by Gazprom, the Russian energy giant.

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Erdoğan's Twitter Slip on Ukraine - An Affinity for Putin?

Veli Sirin  •  March 31, 2014  •  Gatestone Institute

Update: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) won a reported 45 percent of votes in the March 30 municipal election.

Daniel Dombey of the London Financial Times on March 24 recounted a curious detail of the recent offensive against Twitter, the online mini-blogging service, by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Dombey wrote that Erdoğan "accused Twitter of fomenting unrest in Ukraine." Russian president Vladimir Putin and his supporters in the seizure of Crimea, both uniformed and in civilian disguise, have not been known for using social media to coordinate their activities, while Ukrainian revolutionaries are adept at employment of Twitter and similar media. One might therefore conclude that Erdoğan feels an affinity with Putin in opposing the Ukrainian protestors.

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Center for Islamic Pluralism Greetings on Sulltan Nevruz
One Year Since the Death of Rahmetli Senad Mičijević

Stephen Sylejman Schwartz  •  March 20, 2014  •  Illyria [New York]

In Muslim communities from the Balkans through Central Asia, celebration of the festival of Nevruz, also known as Nowruz, Nouruz, Nauryz, and by other spellings, has begun. Nevruz commenced in Iran on March 20, 2013 CE, which is the 19th day of Jumaada-L'Ula, 1434, in the hijri calendar, and the 29th of Esfand, 1392, by the Persian solar calendar.

Sultan Nevruz will be observed as an official Islamic holiday in Bosnia-Hercegovina on March 21. In Albania, where the Bektashi Sufi tradition is influential, Sulltan Nevruz is a national holiday, and will be held on Saturday, March 22. For Bektashis, Sulltan Nevruz marks the birthday of Imam Ali, Peace Be Upon Him. The occasion will be accompanied by pilgrimages to shrines in the Albanian cities of Kruja (the Haxhi Ismail Baba teqe), Cakranit-Fier (the Hambaraj teqe), and the Kapaj-Mallakastër teqe.

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Islamist Terror Challenge Continues in Britain

Irfan Al-Alawi  •  March 20, 2014  •  Gatestone Institute

As Britain continues to wrestle with the challenge of radical Islam and its product, terrorism, on March 2, 2014, London Mayor Boris Johnson contributed a column to one of Britain's leading journals, The Sunday Telegraph, "The children taught at home about murder and bombings."

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Bosnian Sephardic Jews - Few But Influential

Stephen Schwartz  •  March 18, 2014  •  The Huffington Post

Sarajevo

Sephardic Jews were brought to the Balkans after their expulsion by the Spanish and Portuguese Christian authorities, beginning in 1492. They were rescued by the Turkish Sultan Bayazet II, who lived from 1447 to 1512 and ruled the Ottoman empire from 1481 until his death.

At the Sultan's command, tens of thousands of Iberian Jews were conveyed eastward across the Mediterranean. Most settled throughout western Turkey and the Balkans. The port of Salonika in northern Greece became the Ottoman Sephardic capital, but their communities thrived in Constantinople and Sarajevo, and many points between.

Under Ottoman governance, they kept their Judeo-Spanish language, flavored here and there with Portuguese. As the centuries passed, the idiom borrowed many words from Turkish.

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CIP Endorses Condemnation of Chinese arrest of Uyghur AIDS activist Akbar Imin
Calls for Immediate Release

The Uyghur American Association  •  March 13, 2014  •  Uyghur Human Rights Project and Uyghur American Association

[Note: The Center for Islamic Pluralism endorses this statement by the Uyghur Human Rights Project.]

On March 7, the Aizhixing Institute, a Chinese AIDS prevention organization, announced that former employee Akbar Imin had been detained by police in Urumchi on January 15. Imin, who lives in Beijing, was in Urumchi to attend his father's funeral. He was taken on the same day as Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti was detained in Beijijng. Chinese dissident Hu Jia told Reuters that like Tohti, Imin faces charges related to endangering state security, also possibly in retaliation for championing the rights of Uyghurs.

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A Specter is Haunting Europe
Kosova and Crimea

Stephen Sylejman Schwartz  •  March 12, 2014  •  Illyria [New York]

Prishtina

A specter is haunting Europe. Kosovar and other Albanians who grew up under Titoite and Hoxhaite Communism may recognize the famous opening from the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels: "A specter is haunting Europe — the specter of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter."

A specter is again haunting Europe, America, the world – but is has nothing to do with communism, or Marx and Engels. It is the specter of a nation that gained its freedom arms in hand, after almost 90 years of attempted genocide, with the assistance of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The specter is that of Kosova.

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Tehran Regime Targets Women in War on Sufis and Other Dissidents

Stephen Schwartz  •  March 12, 2014  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

On Saturday, March 8, members of the Gonabadi-Nimatullahi Sufi order, the most powerful Muslim contemplative body in Iran, assembled with supporters of other political prisoners in Tehran, for a peaceful protest against repression by the country's clerical regime. Participants in the demonstration, held at the Tehran Prosecutor's Office, totaled some 2,000 people. The Sufis called for solidarity with 10 inmates in Tehran's notorious Evin prison, the Rajai-Shahr prison in the city of Karaj west of Tehran, Nezam jail in the southern metropolis of Shiraz, and the jail at Bandar Abbas, a major port on the southern coast.

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Radical Islam's Intimidation in Kosova
The Attempt to Destroy Alma Lama

Stephen Sylejman Schwartz  •  March 5, 2014  •  Gatestone Institute

Prishtina

The name of Alma Lama, a feminist political leader in the Balkan republic of Kosova, is unknown to Americans and Western Europeans. That is unfortunate, because Lama has taken a necessary, strong stand in favor of women's rights. Although Kosova is under U.S. protection, the legacy of Yugoslav Communism and recent radical Islamist infiltration have merged to foster incidents of aggression against dissenters.

Ostracism is a common form of intimidation employed by the Stalinist left. While fascists and Islamist extremists act typically against their opponents by direct physical assault, Stalinists in the West have reserved such crude methods for the few opponents they consider genuinely dangerous to them. They prefer, when they can, to isolate their critics by oral slander and gossip, supplemented by printed libels, with the aim of discrediting them and preventing a wider audience from paying attention to their views.

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Ukraine Fever Sweeps the Balkans

Stephen Schwartz  •  March 3, 2014  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

Sarajevo

As the world watches the Ukrainians in their effort to defend themselves from Russia and become a fully European nation, close attention to the situation in Kiev and the crisis in Crimea is notable in the Balkan Muslim countries—Kosova, Albania, Bosnia-Hercegovina—and in two with significant Muslim minorities, Montenegro and Macedonia.

In the Balkans, the threat of Serbian aggression has receded, but in a parallel with Ukraine, Russian influence is perceived behind intrigues from Belgrade. The events in Ukraine are seen in a context of the struggle against corruption and the phenomenon of the post-Communist "mafia state."

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"No One in China Is Safe from the Government"
Charges Against Uyghur Academic Ilham Tohti

The Uyghur American Association  •  February 25, 2014  •  Uyghur Human Rights Project and Uyghur American Association

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) expresses alarm upon hearing that Uyghur economist Ilham Tohti has been formally arrested and charged with "separatism." UHRP believes the charge reflects not only a zero tolerance policy to Uyghur dissent, but also the growing intractability of China towards international criticism of its ethnic policies. UHRP challenges the Chinese government to present compelling evidence to prove its charges against Mr. Tohti and to respect its own laws.

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THE HERO: A Devastating Portrait of Betrayal and Corruption in Kosova

Stephen Sylejman Schwartz  •  February 24, 2014  •  Illyria [New York]

Prishtina

The Hero [Heroi], a 2013 feature film produced in Kosova by Luan Kryeziu, with Arben Bajraktari as its protagonist, is a magnificent film achievement. It is also a work that must leave Albanians and non-Albanian friends of Kosova alike with feelings of disgust and shame. It has been released with English subtitles, which is useful and offers hope of a wider audience.

In simple terms, the motion picture shows the desperate predicament of veterans of the Kosova Liberation Army (UÇK) who find themselves, after the war, ignored or solicited to participate in corruption, when they are owed a substantial and honest reward for their service to the nation. The Hero begins with what appears to be authentic footage of Serbian chetniks burning and looting houses, refugees in flight, and the arrival of a handsome, modest man in unform, "The Hero," an UÇK volunteer who organizes civilians effectively to defend themselves against the aggressor.

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CIP Posts "Serbia and Albania" by Dimitrije Tucović [1914]

Stephen Schwartz  •  February 24, 2014  •  Illyria [New York]

Prishtina

The Center for Islamic Pluralism has posted a translation from Serbian into English of Serbia and Albania, a major document by the prominent Serbian socialist Dimitrije Tucović [1881-1914].

Serbia and Albania is of importance today for numerous reasons. It explained the policy of Serbian imperialist conquest of Kosova in 1912-13, an injustice that did not end until the Kosova liberation war of 1998-99. Tucović also anticipated the outbreak of the first world war in 1914, a century ago. The assassination in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Hercegovina, of Habsburg Archduke Franz Ferdinand and princess Sophie of Hohenberg, by a group of pro-Serbian terrorists, brought about general hostilities between Britain, France, and Russia, as patrons of Belgrade, and Germany, Bulgaria, and Turkey, the allies of then-existing Austria-Hungary.

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Thank You America! -- Faleminderit Amerikës!
On the 6th anniversary of Kosova's independence -- Me rastin e përvjetorit të 6 të pavarësisë së Kosovës

Vehbi Bajrami  •  February 22, 2014  •  New York Daily News

Throughout history the United States of America has made a difference in the life of Albanians.

After World War I, President Woodrow Wilson made sure that Albania remained intact and was not divided between its neighboring countries.

In 1992, as then-Yugoslavia was descending into a series of wars, President George H. W. Bush gave his "Christmas Warning" to Serbia's Milošević against bringing the war south to Albanian-majority Kosova.

In 1999, President Bill Clinton led the United States and NATO in the war against Serbia, stopping the humanitarian catastrophe that was threatening more than a million ethnic Albanians, and eventually liberating Kosova on June 10, 1999.

On February 17, 2008. Kosova declared its independence, with the support of then-President George W. Bush, who said in Tirana, Albania, "Enough is enough" and led the international community in recognizing the youngest country in Europe.

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Crimean Tatars in the Ukrainian Revolution

Stephen Suleyman Schwartz  •  February 22, 2014  •  CIP

As the dramatic crisis in Ukraine escalates, with shocking scenes of bloody repression that remind us, if on a smaller scale, of the horrors in martyred Syria, the Center for Islamic Pluralism, an international network of Muslim scholars, clerics, authors, journalists, Sufi shaykhs, and other believers, active in 32 Muslim-majority countries and Muslim-minority communities, expresses its concern for and solidarity with the Crimean Tatars.

A Turkic people numbering some half-million, Crimean Tatars are faithful to Islam although their complex and fascinating past includes some conversions to Judaism. (The latter chapter in Crimean history should not be confused with pseudo-historical fantasies about the Khazars.)

They were victimized with gross brutality by the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin, which deported them in their entirety to Central Asia in 1944. We recall that in 1967 the Soviet government absolved the Crimean Tatars of charges against them.

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The Kosovar Self-Determination Movement [Lëvizja Vetëvendosje!] Shuns Me For Opposing Radical Islam
Interview with Stephen Sylejman Schwartz

Visar Duriqi  •  February 18-19, 2014  •  Express [Prishtina, Kosova]

Prishtina

The American journalist Stephen Sylejman Schwartz, who is among the most pro-Albanian Americans, points out that he assisted Lëvizja Vetëvendosje! [LVV – the Self-Determination movement] founded as a party by the Albanian intellectual, Albin Kurti, from its beginning, but "comrades" from the party now have turned their backs on him.

"Perhaps they are concerned to cease being associated with the campaign I and my colleagues wage against radical Islam," Schwartz says in an interview with Express.

Express: How did you support the Self-Determination movement in its infancy?

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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

© 2014 Center for Islamic Pluralism.

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