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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

Diplomatic Malpractice

Stephen Schwartz  •  February 2, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard

The Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) is a federal program that, since its establishment by Congress in 2001, has granted millions of dollars—$47,750,971 through 2013—to about 800 projects of foreign governments seeking to preserve historic structures and institutions. Administered by the Cultural Heritage Center at the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, AFCP is little known to the American public. Grants are made on the basis of recommendations by U.S. ambassadors for purposes including "the restoration of ancient and historic buildings, assessment and conservation of rare manuscripts and museum collections, preservation and protection of important archaeological sites, and the documentation of vanishing traditional craft techniques and indigenous languages."

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In the Aftermath of the Terror Attacks in France
Guest Editorial in Special Issue: Islam, Culture, and the Charlie Hebdo Affair

Stephen Suleyman Schwartz  •  January 2015  •  Science, Religion, and Culture

As a moderate Muslim, who works to unite moderate, traditional, conventional, spiritual, and even conservative (but not radical) Muslims, I must begin any commentary on the French atrocities by rejecting the claim that extremism and terror are not aspects of Islamic history. To declare, as even French president François Hollande did, "these terrorists and fanatics… have nothing to do with the Muslim religion" is inaccurate.

Islam, like other faiths, has been divided between extremists and moderate believers since its beginning. Prophet Muhammad himself was challenged by a radical trend, the Khawarij or "rebels," also known as Kharijites, who declared that anybody who did not conform to the degree of piety they demanded was an apostate and should be killed.

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'Learn to Anticipate, Rather Than Reacting to Events'
Interview with Stephen Sulejman Schwartz

Bedredin Gušić  •  January 23, 2015  •  Bedredin Gusic Blog [U.S.]

GUŠIĆ: How do you see the position of Muslims in the world, in general?

SCHWARTZ: The Muslim ummah is faced with many challenges, including, first, that of violent radicalism exemplified by the so-called Islamic State, and second, that of dictatorships epitomized by the bloodthirsty regime of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria. Any belief that these phenomena are fundamentally different from one another is wrong. The brutality of the alleged "Islamic State" is a product and parallel of the atrocities committed by Al-Assad. Muslims need to repudiate radicalism and to promote social and political justice.

GUŠIĆ: How would you comment on the terrorist attack in Paris on January 7? The consequences of that act are tragic. But how about its causes?

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The Life and Martyrdom of Father Shtjefën Gjeçovi-Kryeziu, O.F.M.
On the 140th Anniversary of His Birth [1874]

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

Coincidence – "objective chance" as it was called by the great French surrealist writers – plays a fascinating role in spiritual and intellectual life. On January 21, as I was thinking about the life of Father Shtjefën Gjeçovi, O.F.M., I waited for a bus travelling through San Francisco – the city named for St. Francis. When it arrived and I climbed aboard, I saw some young men wearing brown Franciscan robes. They were Americans. I approached them and told them, "God bless you. I am preparing to write about a great Franciscan figure, but I am afraid you will never have heard of him."

When they asked who the person might be, I said, "his name was Father Shtjefën Gjeçovi, and he was an inspiring Albanian educator and folklorist. He formalized the study of customary law."

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Female Genital Mutilation a Growing Problem in Iran

Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz  •  January 20, 2015  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

The hideous practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is neither an exclusively Muslim nor a principally Middle Eastern phenomenon. It exists among non-Muslims through wide areas of Africa.

But in Iraq and Iran, FGM is mainly associated with Kurds. The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, which is fighting against the terrorists of the so-called "Islamic State," has pursued a substantive effort to eradicate FGM. As reported here, the KRG parliament introduced legislation prohibiting FGM in 2007. The law was passed in 2011 and forbade, additionally, child marriage, so-called "honor murders," and other abuses suffered typically by women. In 2010, the KRG health ministry produced a plan to eliminate FGM and called on Islamic clergy to condemn the custom.

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'Western countries that accept refugees have the right to require loyalty from them'
Interview with Stephen Sulejman Schwartz, Part 1

Inda Swanke  •  January 16, 2015  •  Voice of America Bosnian Service

Note: The following text is an English-language version of the first half of a Bosnian-language commentary and transcript produced by the Voice of America Bosnian Service, based on its television broadcast for January 16, 2015. The second half will be posted by VOA and reposted by CIP during the week of January 18. The original Bosnian-language text as below is accessible here.

Tekst koji slijedi je verzija na engleskom jeziku prvoj polovini bosanski jezik komentarima i transkript u produkciji Glas Amerike bosanske službe na osnovu svojih televizijskih program 16. januara 2015. Druga polovica će biti objavljen od strane VOA i ponovo postavila CIP u nedelju 18. januara. Ovaj tekst na bosanskom jeziku je dostupan ovdje.

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Uyghur Human Rights Project calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Ilham Tohti
On the first anniversary of his detention

The Uyghur American Association  •  January 13, 2015  •  Uyghur Human Rights Project and Uyghur American Association

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

One year after his detention on January 15, 2014, the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) calls on Chinese state authorities to immediately and unconditionally release imprisoned Uyghur academic, Ilham Tohti.

The detention, trial and sentencing of Professor Tohti is a travesty of justice and an explicit denial of his fundamental human right to free speech.

The life sentence handed down to Ilham Tohti in September 2014 and the denial of his appeal in November 2014 indicates the lengths to which the Chinese government will go to silence Uyghur opposition to discriminatory and assimilationist policies in East Turkestan.

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Paris Terror Harms France, Islam, and The World

Stephen Suleyman Schwartz  •  January 9, 2015  •  The Huffington Post/Illyria [New York]

[Please note: The present version of this article has been updated from its presentation in The Huffington Post, which appears here.]

On January 8, Stéphane Charbonnier, editor of the Paris satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, with seven of his journalist colleagues and two policemen, a maintenance worker, and a visitor, were assassinated in an Islamist terror raid.

Three more people were injured. The brutal atrocity came only days after an eloquent appeal by German Christian Democratic chancellor Angela Merkel, Western Europe's most credible politician and a committed conservative, cautioning her fellow-citizens against anti-immigrant demonstrations centered in Dresden, in the former East Germany.

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CIP Protests Report Saudi Blogger Will Be Flogged

Center for Islamic Pluralism  •  January 8, 2015  •  CIP

The Center for Islamic Pluralism protests against news that the Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi will receive the first 50 lashes of a 1,000-lash sentence on Friday, January 9, 2015, in the kingdom's commercial capital, Jeddah.

Badawi, as reported in the London Guardian, operated an online forum, Free Saudi Liberals. Badawi was arrested in June 2012 and, according to Reuters, charged with a range of alleged offenses, from disobedience to his father to cyber crime and apostasy, or abandoning the faith of Islam.

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Bosnian Muslims Celebrate an Islamic Christmas

Stephen Schwartz  •  January 6, 2015  •  First Things Online

Most of the world's Christians—as well as many non-believers—celebrated the birth of Jesus on December 25. Members of the Egyptian Coptic, Ethiopian, most Slavic Orthodox, and Georgian Orthodox churches, with some Greek Orthodox faithful, will mark the festival on January 7. The fourteen-day difference reflects the retention by certain Orthodox congregations of the Julian calendar, which was replaced by Gregorian reckoning in the majority of Orthodox societies early in the twentieth century.

Non-Muslims may be unaware that Islam honors the prophets and sages of Judaism and of Christianity, including Jesus and John the Baptist. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is considered by Muslims to be the greatest of all women, and to have given birth as a virgin. Muslims do not, however, believe that Jesus was God's son or was crucified. In Islam, Jesus, known as Prophet Isa, Peace Be Upon Him, is said to have risen to heaven, rather than dying on the cross.

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Schwartz Letter to Financial Times: Similar Chinese cyber attacks have taken place and are continuing

Stephen Schwartz  •  December 23, 2014  •  Financial Times [London]

Sir, In their excellent reportage on cyber attacks ("US left looking powerless after hacked Sony pulls 'The Interview'  ", December 19), Geoff Dyer and Megan Murphy quote Jason Healey, "an expert on cyber issues at the Atlantic Council in Washington", who says that it would be wrong to treat the Sony hacking as an act of "cyber war" that demanded an equivalent response from the US military's Cyber Command. However, Mr Healey adds, if the administration did nothing in response, it could invite similar events, such as a "Chinese attack on a newspaper carrying unflattering stories about corruption".

"Similar events" have already taken place and are continuing. Institutions such as mine, which are concerned about the situation of Muslim Uighurs under the rule of Beijing in Eastern Turkestan (aka Xinjiang), are targeted for cyber sabotage.

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Obama Betrays Cuba

Stephen Schwartz  •  December 22, 2014  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

Barack Obama's accommodation with Castroite Cuba is a low point in the history of American international relations. Benjamin Franklin affirmed, "Where liberty dwells, there is my country." The Obama administration, in its attitudes on Iran, Syria, and Ukraine as well as on Cuba, appears to prefer the principle, "Where tyranny dwells, there is my country."

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Who Represents German Muslims?

Veli Sirin  •  December 21, 2014  •  Gatestone Institute

A Sunni Muslim funeral for the slain student Tuğçe Albayrak, a German-born 22-year old woman of Turkish descent, was attended on December 3 by 1,500 mourners in Wächtersbach, a town in the western German state of Hesse. Prayers for Albayrak began in the local mosque, which is controlled by the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs [DİTİB], an official arm of the Turkish government that administers Sunni religious activities in Germany. She was then buried in her hometown, Bad Soden-Salmünster, not far away.

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Germany, Anti-Islam, and Vladimir Putin

Stephen Schwartz  •  December 19, 2014  •  The Huffington Post

On Monday, December 15, as reported by the German news service Deutsche Welle (DW), some 15,000 people massed in Dresden, Germany, under the banner of a new and seemingly informal movement calling itself Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West -- PEGIDA by its German-language acronym. The incident was the ninth PEGIDA rally in Dresden since the marches began in October "in response to clashes between Kurds and Sunni Muslims [in Germany] over the West's intervention in Syria," according to DW.

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Indian Sufi Condemns Pakistan Massacre

Syed Babar Ashraf  •  December 18, 2014  •  Tahreek–e-Tahaffuz-e-Mazarat-e-Auliya Allah

TAHREEK-E-TAHAFFUZ-E-MAZARAT-E-AULIYA ALLAH

Office: A-14-Flat No. 202, Noor Nagar Johri Farm

New Delhi 110025

India

E-mail: tauliyaallah@gmail.com

Sufi Leader Syed Babar Ashraf, Chief Patron of the Tahreek–e-Tahaffuz-e-Mazarat-e-Auliya Allah [Movement for the Protection of Shrines of Muslim Saints] and member of the Maulana Azad Education Foundation (Ministry of Minority Affairs) in the government of India, has expressed deep anguish and sorrow over the cold-blooded killing of 132 children and staff members at the Army Public School, in Peshawar, Pakistan on December 16. In a statement, Syed Babar Ashraf described the terror attack as a heinous crime against humanity and called upon the world community to defeat the ideology of terror.

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Indian Muslim Leader Denounces Wahhabism in Peshawar Bloodshed

All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board  •  December 17, 2014  •  All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board

The All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB), a leading body of Sufi Sunni Muslims of India, representing more than 80 percent of the Muslim population in the country, has condemned the killing of innocent school children in Peshawar, Pakistan, and said that no mercy should be demonstrated in crushing this extremist mentality, anywhere in the world.

The president and founder of the Board, Hazrat Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichowchhwi, in a strong response, denounced this crime against humanity unleashed by the Taliban, with the massacre of more than 145 people, as among the worst crimes of Wahhabis.

The Wahhabi school of religious thought has created an atmosphere in all Muslim lands, including Pakistan, where killing of innocents is the only aim, to gain power and money.

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Putin's 'Yugoslavian Scenario' Threatens Balkan Interfaith Relations

Stephen Schwartz  •  December 9, 2014  •  The Huffington Post

Vladimir Putin has, it seems, followed many parallels between his policy in Ukraine – with, by implication, his regime's previous interference in Georgia – and the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. Like the terror wrought then by Christian Orthodox-majority Serbians and Montenegrins against Catholic-majority Croatia, Muslim-plurality Bosnia-Hercegovina, and Muslim-majority Kosova, the Russian seizure of Crimea was preceded by a propaganda offensive proclaiming the defense of extremist Orthodox Christian ideology. Russian-directed fighters against Ukrainian authority in eastern Ukraine style themselves as "Orthodox combatants," although the majority of practicing Christians in the two countries are Orthodox, as noted on Russia and Ukraine by the CIA World Factbook.

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Angela Merkel Warned of Putin's Intrigues Beyond Ukraine

Stephen Schwartz  •  December 1, 2014  •  The Weekly Standard Blog

German chancellor Angela Merkel has cautioned that the adventurism of Russian president Vladimir Putin would not remain limited to Ukraine, or even to other countries bordering on Russia. Since Russia seized Crimea in February-March 2014, Putin's provocative campaign has included imposition of phantom "governments" in two areas of eastern Ukraine, Luhansk and Donetsk, and harassment of the Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which are members of NATO.

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CIP Endorses Bosnian American Protest Against Murder in St. Louis [U.S.]

Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina  •  December 1, 2014  •  Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina

[Note: The Center for Islamic Pluralism endorses this statement by the Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina.]

For Immediate Release

Contact: info@acbih.org

(202) 347-6742

ACBH Outraged Over Brutal Attack on

Bosnian American in St. Louis

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Albanian Flag Day 2014
A Muslim Argument for Honoring the Catholic Martyrs

Stephen Sylejman Schwartz  •  November 28, 2014  •  Illyria [New York]

The national holiday of the Albanian nation – Flag Day – falls on November 28 each year. It commemorates the 1912 raising of the red banner, with the black double-headed eagle of Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeu, by Ismail Qemali in the city of Vlora, and the simultaneous declaration of Albanian independence.

This year Flag Day follows the visit to Albania of Pope Francis, head of the global Roman Catholic community. In honoring Flag Day, I am also concerned to support the beatification and canonization of Albania's Catholic martyrs. Catholic clergy massacred by the atheist regime of Enver Hoxha were leading patriots and educators, who had contributed profoundly to Albanian society and culture. Their deaths were unjust and brutal.

This topic provokes a range of reflections. I am an American Muslim from a non-religious family background. Why, one might ask, should I care about the Albanian Catholic martyrs and their path to sainthood?

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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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