Stories about Islamic state

If Jinnah never asked Ruttie to change her name to Maryam, why did you, Pakistan?

Those of us who were born before Partition know that Muhammad Ali Jinnah could not speak Urdu, except perhaps a few broken sentences. His speeches were always in English, sometimes with a translator to make the crowds understand what he was saying. But sometime in the 1980s, the government dubbed all his speeches in Urdu, apparently under pressure from those who thought a highly westernised Jinnah would make today’s youth doubt that he wanted an Islamic state. One result of this is that an entire generation of Pakistanis have grown up believing that Jinnah was fluent in Urdu, and always dressed ...

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Is Afghanistan side-lining the US for its alliance with Russia, Pakistan and China?

It has become increasingly apparent that there is a strategic realignment of alliances within the Indian subcontinent. Pakistan has come to replace the United States with China, and hopes to include Russia, as it continues to be alienated within Washington through its policies. The possible tripartite alliance may also be extended to Iran, which is also interested in joining the group. If the Donald Trump administration’s “America First” policy continues to play a stronger role in American foreign policy, it may further invite additional players into the already dense region. The increasing ties between the United States and India have also led to several rumours of a souring of relations between ...

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Pakistan and Afghanistan are in a dangerous stalemate — with no resolution in sight

Last month, Pakistan suffered its deadliest spasm of terrorist violence since 2014. Over a period of four days in February, militants struck all four Pakistani provinces and three major urban spaces. The bloodshed culminated on February 16 with an assault on a revered Sufi shrine that killed nearly 90 people. It was the deadliest terrorist attack on Pakistani soil since a school massacre in the city of Peshawar that killed 141 people, most of them students, in 2014. This killing spree has dangerous implications, not only for Pakistan, which has enjoyed a relative respite from terrorist violence over the last ...

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As a young British Muslim, I’ve been told to stay away from Google – why do I feel like a terrorist?

A few days ago, a German school announced that it had banned Muslim students from using prayer mats in order to stop them from displaying their religion “in a provocative manner”. I read this with a sad sense of familiarity; it reminds me of the sense of fear and anxiety that I myself feel as a young British Muslim in 2017. On a day-to-day basis, I am hyperconscious about where I am sitting in a café or a park, when I do my daily Quran reading — who around me might see the Arabic writing on my laptop screen or mobile phone app and feel threatened ...

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In Pakistan, tolerant Islamic voices are being silenced

Last week, only three days after a suicide bomb went off in Lahore, an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) supporter struck a crowd of Sufi dancers celebrating in the great Pakistani shrine of Sehwan Sharif. The attack, which killed almost 90, showed the ability of radical Islamists to silence moderate and tolerant voices in the Islamic world. The attack also alarmingly demonstrated the ever-wider reach of the ISIS and the ease with which it can now strike within Pakistan. ISIS now appears to equal the Taliban as a serious threat to this nuclear-armed country. The suicide bombing of the ...

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A Rage for Order: Painting a crucial portrait of the deeply troubled Arab uprising

Revolutions never seem to bring the happiness they promise. There was no happy conclusion in France in 1789 or Russia in 1917 and neither in Egypt or Libya or Syria in 2011. Instead, if anything, the Middle East has gone from bad – brutal dictatorships built on secret police and theft – to worse; open civil war and genocide. The year 2011 saw a revolution escalate through the Middle East as protesters demanded an end to tyranny, corruption and economic decay. From Egypt to Yemen, a generation of young Arabs insisted on a new culture of common nationality. Five years later, their utopian goals have taken on a darker ...

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What globalisation?

Although globalism itself remains safe from doomsayers, they have started congregating at the gates of globalisation. Take the bogged down Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) designed to remove 98% of trade tariffs between Canada and the European Union (EU). It was stuck there by the dissenting voices of three of Belgium’s French-speaking regions. Consequently, Belgium had to withhold assent, thus preventing EU unanimity, a prerequisite for ratification. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council tweeted: Together with PM @JustinTrudeau, we think Thursday's summit still possible. We encourage all parties to find a solution. There's yet time. — Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) ...

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In the Skin of a Jihadist: Investigative journalism gone wrong

In the Skin of a Jihadist is a book about a young French journalist’s fascinating look at how contemporary terrorists use social media and technology to reach disillusioned youth. This is witnessed through the undercover investigation that led to the journalist’s deep involvement with a key member of ISIS. On Facebook, Melodie – a 20-year-old convert to Islam, living with her mother and sister in Toulouse – meets Bilel, a French-born, high-ranking militant for the Islamic State in Syria. Within days, Bilel falls in love with Melodie, they Skype repeatedly, and he adamantly urges her to come to Syria, marry him, and take part in jihad. ...

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When did Pakistan change from being a liberal country to a fundamentalist one?

When and how did Pakistan go from being a moderate Muslim majority country to a fundamentalist society within a relatively short span of time and is this trend irreversible? Pakistan emerged out of a Muslim nationalist movement organised around the group identity of the Muslims of British India. It was led not by cultural relativists in flowing robes, but by modern Muslim men and women, most of whom felt that they could reconcile their faith with modernity. Jinnah’s objectives in any event were to create a united Muslim voting bloc within united India and his demand for a Muslim majority ...

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The terrorist label: When does an attack become a ‘terrorist’ attack?

Last week, Zakaria Bulhan, a British Somalian teenager, armed with a knife, allegedly killed one person and injured four others in a central London square as passers-by were out enjoying the evening. An ordinary scene of urban serenity was disrupted and panic ensued. However, the British authorities have so far refused to label the incident as a terrorist attack stating that the attack was “spontaneous” and triggered by mental health issues. The labelling of a “terrorist” is a delicate task. It is a deliberate decision taken by those in positions of authority rather than induced by the observations of members ...

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