‘It goes in one ear and out the other’: Prince Charles reveals he’s been having Arabic lessons for six months so he can read the Qur’an

With Prince Charles and Camilla in Qatar as part of their Middle East trip it has been reported that Prince Charles has been seeking private Arabic tuition and is hoping to reach a level where he can read the Qur’an in Arabic. The article continues by discussing the various events the Prince and Duchess of Cornwall had been attending in Qatar. With Prince Charles spending his time at scientific development initiatives and the Duchess attending to issues and events related to women’s issues such as women’s education and self-development projects.

Iraq: 10 years later

16 March

Iraq: 10 years later

In this piece the Financial Times’ Middle East editor Roula Khalaf gives an account of the last ten years of Iraq. Together with the analysis of the inevitable political and economic consequences of Iraq’s most recent history, the article also looks into how the religious populous of the country is rebuilding and re-contextualising itself after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Looking specifically at the contemporary political situation and how this is both influenced by and influences the religious communities in Iraq.

Does Philadelphia Have a “Burqa Crisis?”

Daniel Pipes—profiled as “the country’s most controversial Middle East scholar“—is stirring debate again, taking to The Jewish Press to advocate a ban on wearing the niqab and burqa—clothing traditionally worn by Muslim women—in public spots. He says too many Philly crimes (including the recent kidnapping of a girl from her school) are taking place under, literally, the cover of Muslim garb.

It’s important to understand, though, that Pipes’ “crisis” looks a little less disturbing when looked at closely. He justifies a ban because, by his count, at least 14 robberies have been committed in Philadelphia using Muslim garb … since 2007. That’s less than three a year. If you need more perspective, consider this: The 14 robberies that Pipes counts adds up to maybe one really busy shift for the police department. In the 28-day period ending Feb. 17, there were 507 robbery reports to city police—if 14 of those robberies had been committed by burqa-wearing assailants, that wouldn’t even be 3 percent of the total. Trying to calculate what those 14 cases look like compared to six or more years of robberies? You couldn’t even see a number that small with the naked eye.

Interview with Muslim Scholar Ziauddin Sardar: ”Muslims yearn for real debate”

Ziauddin Sardar is a leading British-Pakistani Muslim scholar and critic. In this interview with Susannah Tarbush, he talks about the magazine “Critical Muslim” he founded and which he sees as an “intellectual, cultural, philosophical and creative backup” for the revolutions of the Middle East

In January a year ago, a refreshingly different kind of Muslim publication, the quarterly Critical Muslim (CM), was launched in Britain. Published by London-based C Hurst & Co, CM takes the form of an attractively-produced paperback book of over 250 pages. Its stated mission is to be a quarterly of “ideas and issues showcasing ground-breaking thinking on Islam and what it means to be a Muslim in a rapidly changing, increasingly interconnected world”.

CM‘s founder and editor is leading Muslim scholar, critic and public intellectual Ziauddin Sardar. Born in Pakistan in 1951, Sardar grew up in London where he still lives. He is a prolific and much-read writer: since the late 1970s he has written some 45 books as well as numerous articles and essays. Sardar’s CM co-editor is the prominent British-Syrian novelist, critic and blogger Robin Yassin-Kassab.

To mark the first anniversary of CM‘s launch, Qantara interviewed Ziauddin Sardar on the quarterly’s concept, first year of publication, and future plans.

Who loves and hates America: A revealing map of global opinion toward the U.S.

One of the most common answers I hear when I ask foreigners what they think about the U.S. is some variation of this: “You Americans are all so obsessed with how you’re perceived overseas.” In that spirit, even if it means reinforcing a stereotype, I’ve mapped some new data on global opinion of the United States, as part of a series of posts on Pew’s fascinating and just-out “global attitudes” study.

The map at the top of the post shows positive and negative opinions of the U.S. across the world. The poll works just like a presidential poll: Pew called people up and asked them if they had a favorable opinion of the U.S. or an unfavorable opinion (there was also a choice for no answer). Countries with a more favorable opinion are in blue (the darker the blue, the more favorable); red shows more unfavorable attitudes. A quick note about the data: most of it is from 2012, but I also pulled the 2011 numbers for Kenya, Ukraine, Indonesia and Lithuania; as well as the 2010 numbers for Argentina, Nigeria and South Korea; these countries were not included in the most recent survey.

The harshest views of America are in, no surprises, the Middle East and South Asia. Egyptians, Jordanians, Turks and Pakistanis all seem to see the United States in an overwhelmingly unfavorable light. As Turkey’s economy grows, its foreign policy becomes more assertive and democratization gives the Turkish people a stronger role in government, the negative view of the U.S. there could become more important for the world.

Still, it’s important not to make the mistake of confusing these four anti-American countries, which have their own reasons for disliking the U.S. (drones in Pakistan, perceived support for Hosni Mubarak in Egypt), with the entire Middle East or “Muslim world.” Indonesia and India, which have two of the largest Muslim populations in the world, both returned mildly positive views of America. Views vary even in the Arab Middle East; Tunisians and Lebanese seemed ambivalent, reporting roughly equivalent favorable and unfavorable numbers. And Nigerians, half of whom are Muslim, positively beam pro-Americanism: They report a more favorable view of the U.S. than Americans themselves do.

The U.S. is most popular in continental Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the northeast Asian countries of South Korea and Japan.

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Terrorism Case

A Brooklyn man who pleaded guilty to supporting a terrorist group after he was arrested trying to board a plane to the Middle East to wage jihad was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Tuesday.

The man, Agron Hasbajrami, an Albanian who had been living legally in Brooklyn since 2008, pleaded guilty in April to sending more than $1,000 to a contact in Pakistan to finance terrorist activities before deciding to travel abroad to join a radical Islamist terrorist organization, which was not named in court papers.

As a part of his plea agreement, prosecutors dropped three additional terrorism charges, which could have sent Mr. Hasbajrami, 28, to prison for life. He was sentenced to the maximum 15-year prison term on the single remaining charge.

Judge John Gleeson, who sentenced Mr. Hasbajrami in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, said he would have preferred to send him to prison for even longer.

Calif. judge denies another bid by actress to take down anti-Muslim film from YouTube

LOS ANGELES — An actress who appeared in the anti-Muslim film blamed for sparking violence in the Middle East has lost another legal bid to have the trailer taken down from YouTube.

A federal judge in Los Angeles denied a motion for injunction on Friday by Cindy Lee Garcia. It wasn’t immediately known whether Garcia’s attorneys would file an appeal.

Garcia lost a similar legal challenge in state court when a judge rejected her lawsuit in September.

“Innocence of Muslims,” which depicts the Prophet Mohammad as a religious fraud and womanizer, enraged Muslims and ignited violence in the Middle East, killing dozens.

Garcia said she was duped by the man behind the film, Mark Bassely Youssef and the script she saw referenced neither Muslims nor Mohammad. She also said her voice had been dubbed over after filming.

The Middle East: Policy Choices for the New Administration

The video of the Middle East Policy Council’s 70th Capitol Hill Conference is now available for on-demand streaming.

Speakers:  

Paul Pillar

Former National Intelligence Officer,
National Intelligence Council; Professor, Georgetown University

Scott McConnell

Founding Editor, The American Conservative

 

Jocelyne Cesari

Co-director, SAIS Global Politics and Religion Initiative; Research Associate, Harvard University

Nathaniel Kern

President, Foreign Reports

 


Moderator:

Thomas R. Mattair

Executive Director, Middle East Policy Council

 

PRESS RECAP

The Middle East: Policy Choices for the New Administration
Post-debate conference highlighted the domestic constraints to foreign policymaking

WASHINGTON, October 17, 2012 — The morning after the 2nd presidential debate between President Obama and Governor Romney, analysts convened for the Middle East Policy Council’s 70th Capitol Hill Conference. The conference addressed policy challenges in the Middle East awaiting the winner of the November election. The event speakers and a summary of their comments are below; for members of the press seeking a full transcript from the event, please e-mail mepc.press@gmail.com. Visit our website for full video from the event.

Thomas Mattair, Executive Director of the Middle East Policy Council, moderated the event. Four distinguished panelists joined him: Scott McConnell (Founding Editor, The American Conservative), Jocelyne Cesari (Co-director, SAIS Global Politics & Religion Initiative), Nathaniel Kern (President, Foreign Reports) and Paul Pillar (Former National Intelligence Officer, National Intelligence Council).

While addressing different topics, each speaker stressed the role of domestic politics — both here in the United States and the Middle East — to influence policymaking on a variety of fronts. Amidst the hyper-partisan climate in the United States at the moment, our speakers were in general agreement about the challenges the two U.S. candidates would ultimately face.

Scott McConnell observed that the powerful Israel lobby is exhibiting “cracks” and that the Democratic Party and mainline churches are tempering their support for Israel. He thinks that a two-state solution will no longer be feasible and the new administration will be challenged to maintain a “special relationship” with Israel while Palestinian interests are not met.

Jocelyne Cesari explained the nuanced political realms in nations transformed by the Arab Awakening and encouraged the next U.S. administration to appreciate the role of Islam in these emerging governments, discard the assumption that democracy is synonymous with secularism, and communicate with domestic societies to change their image of the United States.

Nathaniel Kern described the progress made in the U.S.–Saudi strategic dialogue since 2005 on issues including counter-terrorism, Saudi student visas and oil production but cautioned that the continued stability of U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia could be complicated by a lack of progress on issues like the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and on Iran and Syria.

Paul Pillar conceded there is little the United States can do to shape events in Syria, while advocating a more flexible negotiating posture with Iran that will offer sanctions relief for Iranian cooperation. He thinks that President Obama will be more inclined to seek a diplomatic resolution to the crisis than Governor Romney.

An edited video by speaker, including a full transcript from the event will be posted in a few days at www.mepc.org and then published in the next issue of the journal Middle East Policy.

Contacts:
For interviews or other content associated with this event, please contact Rebecca Leslie– (202) 296 6767 – Rleslie@mepc.org