Saturday, 24 February 2018

HARDtalk Avner Gvaryahu Breaking The Silence

Bravest men, much respect!

Thursday, 22 February 2018

'Islam saved me from a life of crime'

I gave my Shahādah, the testament of faith, that night, and everything changed. I no longer had this desire to use drugs, and I’ve been clean now for five years. It changed my entire life. It gave me the means and the rules and the path to follow to achieve what I’d set out to achieve a year before I converted, which was to strive to become the best version of myself. When you’re doing that on your own with no rules to follow, it can be a tough process.

Part of the appeal of Islam was the strength of character of the Muslim people that I’d met. The fact that they didn’t use drugs and drink at all was something that really appealed to me. It was the polar opposite of how I’d been living my life and seemed to require such strength of character. As a young man, I was always drawn towards strength.

It was not just a good system [for me] to follow. I agree with all the theology – I do believe that the Koran is the last Book of Revelations. I now have a renewed interest in the Bible and the books that came before it because, from our point of view, I know that there is truth in these documents, whereas before, as a loose Christian, I don’t know that I had any belief in them at all.
I’ve been called a terrorist. It’s like water off a duck’s back for me, but if it’s directed at someone who I’d consider vulnerable, it makes me angry. It amuses me in a way – I’m a blue-eyed Aussie bloke with a Southern Cross tattoo, and to be discriminated against for the first time in my life is an interesting feeling. It’s a weird feeling to have someone hate you, not because of anything you’ve done to them, or anything about you, other than what you believe. They hate you without knowing you.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

I’m Ahed Tamimi’s cousin. Israel needs to stop imprisoning kids like her

Ahed and I are the second generation of Tamimis to spend our whole lives under Israel’s oppressive 50-year military rule. We grew up under the constant watch and control of Israeli soldiers. At a young age, we had to learn resilience, determination and persistence. In order to survive, we had to be acutely aware of our surroundings at all times. Even the most basic things, such as being able to move freely or take a day trip wasn’t a possibility because of military checkpoints and other impediments. We had no room to breathe — sometimes literally, as clouds of tear gas fired by soldiers engulfed us and filled our homes.
Sadly, we are used to soldiers forcing their way into our homes, their cameras clicking as they take photos of the males in the family, documenting how many windows and doors we have, and stealing and destroying our personal belongings. There is no privacy. In addition to my father, my mother and brother have also been imprisoned. Ahed’s uncle was shot and killed by soldiers during a demonstration in 2012, while her mother was shot in the leg during another march and developed asthma because of the tear gas.

I was released on bail after 16 days, but Ahed has now been languishing in prison for nearly two months, as has her mother. On Jan. 31, she spent her 17th birthday in a cell.  The start of her trial in a military court has been delayed several times. The latest postponement came on Tuesday, when it was rescheduled for March 11. In a blatant attempt to avoid the scrutiny of the international media, the judge also ruled that journalists will be barred from attending. The charges that Ahed faces carry a maximum sentence of 20 years. I still face charges as well.
In prison, we were treated very badly. After being arrested, Ahed was taken into a basement cell and interrogated without a parent or lawyer present. She and I were repeatedly moved from one prison to another, held with regular Israeli criminals, and subjected to sexist and degrading verbal harassment. The army knows how to place psychological pressure to break you. They deprived us of sleep and food, and I was forced to remain seated in a chair unable to move for long hours at a time.

When we were brought to military court for a hearing, it was very hard seeing our parents sitting in the back feeling worried and helpless. My uncle Bassem Tamimi, Ahed’s father, and my own father know firsthand what Israeli prison feels and smells like. Both have been imprisoned multiple times because of their nonviolent resistance to Israel’s occupation. Bassem was named a prisoner of conscience twice by Amnesty International, which has also called for Ahed’s release. They know that we were held in a freezing-cold cell as we waited for our hearing. They know the pain of the handcuffs as they are tightened on our wrists and ankles, and how dirty the cells are, and the smell of rotten food. They understand what it feels like to be isolated in a cell — completely alone, cold and frightened, unsure of what will happen to you. Like her parents and siblings, I fear for the well-being of Ahed and the more than 300 other Palestinian children currently imprisoned by the Israeli army.

We have had our childhood stolen from us, never knowing the feeling of safety, security, and quiet. The unfortunate truth is that this isn’t only the reality of Ahed and I, or of Nabi Saleh. It is the reality of most Palestinians, especially the young ones.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The Female Quran Experts Fighting Radical Islam in Morocco

It’s one of many countries around the world experimenting with various “countering violent extremism” (CVE) or de-radicalization programs. As Maddy Crowell noted in The Atlantic, “Germany, Britain, and Belgium have developed programs that focus on further integrating radicals into their community. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, focuses on finding jobs and wives for recruited jihadists.” But programs that reach people once they’ve already been radicalized might come too late. “The most effective kind of rehabilitation and reintegration is the rehab and reintegration that doesn’t have to happen, because the person was afforded an off-ramp before they got to the point of no return,” Nathan Sales, the coordinator for counterterrorism at the U.S. State Department, told me. “What does that look like? It looks like early intervention and not necessarily and maybe not ideally by government officials.”

Early intervention spearheaded by local community leaders and groups, as opposed to government officials, was a focus of America’s CVE approach under the Obama administration. “Community leaders, neighborhood leaders have a comparative advantage in a number of different dimensions,” Sales said. “They will know more than government officials will about problems that might be cropping up and they also have a way to intervene in a way government people wouldn’t be able to … to steer somebody who is at risk of taking a wrong path and bringing them back into the fold.” President Trump recently stripped funding from several groups aiming to counter extremism through this kind of outreach. Meanwhile, Morocco has continued to invest in it. Through various experimental initiatives, the country is attempting to show how a certain kind of religious education can prevent extremism.

One particular initiative comes with a twist: It places a special emphasis on women. Eleven years ago, Rabat saw the opening of an elite new school called L’Institut Mohammed VI Pour La Formation Des Imams, Morchidines, et Morchidates. It turns young women into religious scholars and then sends them out into pockets of the country where radical Islamists are known to recruit disenfranchised youth—to provide spiritual guidance that contradicts the messages they might receive from violent extremists. Making school visits and home visits, each woman—called a morchidat, or spiritual guide—talks to young Muslims and contests interpretations of the Quran that terrorist groups use for recruitment. For women to be employed by the government to do this kind of work within Morocco’s Islamic communities, where spiritual leadership is generally the domain of men, is unusual. Men are also trained at the Rabat school, but it’s the hundreds of female graduates who are having the most impact, according to the program director, Abdeslam El-Azaar.

“I’ll tell you frankly, the women scholars here are even more important than men,” said El-Azaar, a thin grandfatherly man in a cream-colored Moroccan tunic and a burgundy fez. “Women, just by virtue of their role in society, have so much contact with the people—children, young people, other women, even men. ... They are the primary educators of their children. So it is natural for them to provide advice,” he said. “We give them an education so they can offer it in a scholarly way.”

Monday, 19 February 2018

Secret marriages are forbidden in Islam

In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful
It is a condition of a sound marriage that it be announced and attested to publicly. A secret marriage, which is only witnessed by a few people in private, is potentially harmful to those affected by it, as it almost always involves deception, and it is even more so if a man marries an additional wife in secret and without her consent.

Allah said:

فَانكِحُوهُنَّ بِإِذْنِ أَهْلِهِنَّ وَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ مُحْصَنَاتٍ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحَاتٍ وَلَا مُتَّخِذَاتِ أَخْدَانٍ
Marry them with the permission of their families and give them their due as is good, chaste women, neither fornicators nor secret mistresses.
Surat al-Nisa 4:25

Scholars have said that this verse prohibits secret marriages, by drawing an analogy between a ‘secret mistress’ and a secret marriage.

Ibn Taymiyyah writes:
وَمَالِكٌ يُوجِبُ إعْلَانَ النِّكَاحِ وَنِكَاحُ السِّرِّ هُوَ مِنْ جِنْسِ نِكَاحِ الْبَغَايَا وَقَدْ قَالَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى مُحْصَنَاتٍ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحَاتٍ وَلَا مُتَّخِذَاتِ أَخْدَانٍ
فَنِكَاحُ السِّرِّ مِنْ جِنْسِ ذَوَاتِ الْأَخْدَانِ

Malik obligated announcing the marriage in public. A secret marriage is a type of prostitution. Allah Almighty said: Chaste women, neither fornicators nor secret mistresses. (4:25) Thus, a secret marriage is a type of secret mistress.
Source: Majmū’ al-Fatāwá 32/102

Thursday, 15 February 2018

'I still get cross with her when it's prayer time'

“I still get cross with her when it’s prayer time. I have to tell her to get up and pray. That hasn’t changed.”

Giving a picture of what the Nobel laureate’s like at home, Yousafzai says Malala does not have an air.
“She doesn’t act like someone who is famous”.
“In a way, she’s more likely to do what she’s told now than before,” she adds.
‘I miss my homeland’
When asked about restarting their lives in the UK, Yousafzai says though she misses her homeland, she’s doing it for her daughter.
“There is a big difference between our lives now than when we lived in Swat. We used to see my brothers and sisters, relatives and neighbours there,” she says.
“I miss my homeland. And we will go there one day. But it was there that Malala was attacked in broad daylight. She was preaching peace, spreading the message of peace and she was still attacked.
“So there’s a fear in my heart.”
Life in the UK
In the hustle-bustle of life in the UK, Yousafzai says she keeps herself pretty busy.
“I go to English classes because I am learning the language. I keep in touch with my relatives. I also get involved with their campaigning and activism,” she says.
“When my husband and Malala go somewhere, I accompany them so I’m pretty busy.”
‘Listen to your children’
Surely, raising a strong-willed child must not have been easy, especially in a patriarchal society such as that of Pakistan’s. So what did the Yousafzais do differently?
“I always tell people to listen to their children,” Yousafzai said. “In the past, when I was young there was more of a distance between us and our parents.
“But when we became parents, Malala’s dad is the one who taught me the importance of listening to children,” Yousafzai says as she speaks of the values of her husband Ziauddin Yousafzai.
“God has given rights to everyone. But there are people who take away women’s rights. My husband never did this. I have always been able to express my opinions.”
‘Education is your companion’
Yousafzai shared an interesting anecdote with the BBC about a girl who was visiting the Nobel laureate’s family in the UK.
“[The girl] had been through a lot. She was divorced and later she got a scholarship to study in Europe.
“She was born in a conservative family like mine. When she was leaving us, I looked at her. Something crossed my mind.
“I told her your education is your husband. It’s your father and your brother as well. Today, your education is your companion,” Yousafzai told her, so she need not feel alone.
Yousafzai is of the opinion that an uneducated woman a lot of times finds herself dependent on her husband or her brother or her father.
“I believe that education is everything for people today,” Yousafzai says.
Malala Yousafzai first came to public’s attention in 2009 as a schoolgirl who wrote a diary about her life under Taliban rule. Three years later, she was shot in the head by militants for daring to go to school. Malala then went on to become the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her activism surrounding girls’ education.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Evidence for graves, Rohingya massacre in Myanmar

Days later, Kadir found six of his friends among the bodies in two graves.
They are among at least five mass graves, all previously unreported, that have been confirmed by The Associated Press through multiple interviews with more than two dozen survivors in Bangladesh refugee camps and through time-stamped cellphone videos. The Myanmar government regularly claims such massacres of the Rohingya never happened, and has acknowledged only one mass grave containing 10 “terrorists” in the village of Inn Din. However, the AP’s reporting shows a systematic slaughter of Rohingya Muslim civilians by the military, with help from Buddhist neighbors — and suggests many more graves hold many more people.

“It was a mixed-up jumble of corpses piled on top of each other,” said Kadir, a 24-year-old firewood collector. “I felt such sorrow for them.”
The graves are the newest piece of evidence for what looks increasingly like a genocide in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state against the Rohingya, a long-persecuted ethnic Muslim minority in the predominantly Buddhist country. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric called the AP report “extremely troubling,” and urged Myanmar to allow access to the region for further investigation. Spokeswoman Heather Nauert also said the U.S. State Department was “deeply, deeply troubled by these reports of mass graves.”
Repeated calls to Myanmar’s military communications office went unanswered Wednesday and Thursday. Htun Naing, a local security police officer in Buthidaung township, where the village is located, said he “hasn’t heard of such mass graves.”

Myanmar has cut off access to Gu Dar Pyin, so it’s unclear just how many people died, but satellite images obtained by the AP from DigitalGlobe, along with video of homes reduced to ash, reveal a village that has been wiped out. Community leaders in the refugee camps have compiled a list of 75 dead so far, and villagers estimate the toll could be as high as 400, based on testimony from relatives and the bodies they’ve seen in the graves and strewn about the area. A large number of the survivors carry scars from bullet wounds, including a 3-year-old boy and his grandmother.