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Ed Webb

Acknowledging political Islam - Opinion - Al Jazeera English - 0 views

  • Whatever their pro-democratic rhetoric, when faced with a choice between the ascension of religiously conservative Arab nationalists overtly opposed to US policy in the region on the one hand, and repression on the other, the West was prepared to support repression. My friend from WINEP, no doubt, approved.
  • it seemed to me that the Arab masses, if denied the opportunity for political recourse through democratic means, would turn instead to revolutionary forces who embraced a far more radical and violent conception of Islam.
  • when push comes to shove, the US and other western governments, to the extent they can influence events at all, will opt, in Mr. ElBaradei's words, for the elusive promise of stability.
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  • It is easy to criticise an unlovely regime like that of Hosni Mubarak, and both public and private figures in the US rise enthusiastically to the task. But just let them glimpse a realistic prospect for the Egyptian Muslim Brothers to gain a significant share of power, and their enthusiasm will rapidly wane. I and others who believe as I do remain convinced that this is a significant mistake, and that the prominent current of thinking in the US which refuses to make a significant distinction between groups like the Muslim brothers and the violent Islamists who embrace the banner of Al Qaeda is wrong-headed. Our problem is that we simply cannot find compelling evidence to make our case. Absent new facts, which only the people of the region can provide, we are destined to lose the debate.
Ed Webb

Donor-driven Islam ? | openDemocracy - 0 views

  • Three examples of the policy direction of Anglo-American international development agencies, particularly DFID and USAID, highlight the new directions of ‘donor-driven Islam’ -  development assistance that introduces a creeping theocratization of formerly rights-based approaches to gender.
  • Ulama is a vague umbrella term for an imagined clergy which has no constitutional nor democratic legitimacy.
  • If anything, the widespread practice of contracting the assistance of local religious leaders for distributing contraception and for other gender-related projects has resulted in the empowerment of a traditionally discredited local clergy. In Baluchistan, in an interview with the author, development activists agreed that these amounted to “Rent-A-Maulvi” projects.
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  • There is no internal consensus within Muslim majority countries regarding a singular or even dominant religious or political identity. Muslim women, including feminists, face very different identity issues in the West  when compared to Pakistan. Therefore, the strategies that may work for them within a pluralist, secular state such as the UK have very different implications when transposed to Islamic republics such as Pakistan. Thus when Pakistani feminist researchers become implicated in projects that foreground religion in their home contexts, the secular indigenous possibilities and spaces become more vulnerable, and the results become self-defeating. 
  • The complex realities of the ways in which religious identities play out in Muslim majority countries often bear little resemblance to the findings of the academic exercises mentioned above. Such research needs more rigorous scrutiny not just in terms of its methodology but also of its politics, before it starts informing policy and, more worryingly, starts to shape development interventions.
Ed Webb

New alcohol rules trigger call for sober assessment in Turkey - Hurriyet Daily News and... - 0 views

  • New restrictions on alcohol and drinks advertising have prompted sober damage control by the government following heated debate and confusion about how far new rules would go to curtail sale and consumption of beer, wine and spirits.
  • The ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is a strong backer of the new regulations, which also restrict sports teams from using the names of alcoholic drink brands in their squad names. The public has expressed concern that this change may require the closure of the well-known Turkish basketball team Efes Pilsen, which was established by a major brewery firm and uses the name and logo of the company’s most popular brand of beer.
  • The Efes Pilsen Blues Festival, the first and only blues festival in Turkey and a long-running tradition for 20 years, will not be allowed to continue unless its name is changed so as not to contain any elements of the alcohol brand name.
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  • Guest - Kemalist Turk 2011-01-14 09:24:04   The AKP and the likes of the Green Crescent want to tell us what to drink and how to drink. To hell with them and to hell with their desire to turn our beloved Turkiye into an islamic republic. Who do they think they are? They want women to cover up; they want us to stop enjoying wine and raki; they want to ban art...when will it stop? Very soon, they will impose interest-free banking; they will force men to grow beards; they will choose only 'pious' muslims for top posts...very soon, they will impose their islam on us. Very soon, they will brand our country an 'islamic republic'. Why are we sitting down and allowing these fundamentalists to change our country and mould it into their own image? Why? No day passes by where we don't hear this ghastly government make pronouncements with islamic undertones. Everything, and I mean everything, is tainted with their islamic views. This is not my country. God help us all. TURKIYE IS SECULAR AND IT SHALL REMAIN SECULAR!!
Ed Webb

Brian Whitaker's blog, October 2010 - 0 views

  • The Associated Press has been looking in some detail at the likely effects of the royal decree. While some Saudis view it as pointing the way to a modernisation of religious teaching, others see it merely as an attempt to assert state control. The AP report points out that the officially-approved clerics – Council of Senior Religious Scholars – are far from progressive and many of them can be considered hardliners. "Beyond strict edicts on morality, they reinforce a worldview whereby non-Muslims and even liberal or Shiite Muslims are considered infidels, and their stances on jihad, or holy war, at times differ only in nuances from al-Qaeda's," it says.
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