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City of Brass

City of Brass

City of Brass Archives

Qaradawi: monster or moderate? both.

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Last week I posted the transcript of Yusuf al Qaradawi’s sermon at Tahrir Square in Egypt, a sermon notable for its embrace of political moderation and Egyptian nationalism. Qaradawi made his appeal not just to muslims, but to all Egyptians, […]

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a No-Fly zone over Libya NOW

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

via @SultanAlQassemi Al Jazeera breaking: Multiple reports confirm that military airplanes are bombing protesters in Tripoli. #Libya In President Obama’s Cairo speech, he said, Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of […]

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Endgame in Egypt

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Far from dying down, the protests in Egypt have only grown – there’s a million marching upon Mubarak today: About 1,000,000 people have gathered for the planned “march of a million” in the Egyptian capital, calling for Hosni Mubarak, the […]

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Obama hosts muslim business summit

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Everyone knew about President Obama’s nuclear summit a couple of weeks ago – arguably the most important, if characteristically boring, contribution to world peace in the past 30 years. But there was another summit this week that didn’t get anywhere […]

word cloud and transcript: Obama’s Nobel speech

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

These are the remarks by President Obama in Oslo, Norway at the acceptance ceremony for his Nobel Peace Prize. Click to enlarge the word cloud – which features “America” quite prominently, interestingly enough. Democracy Arsenal highlights two passages in particular […]

No, they aren’t serious

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The following is the key foreign policy critique made of Obama by Republicans, in this case well-summarized by GOP Representative Mike Pence: On the foreign stage, the American people know that weakness arouses evil. They know that bowing and kowtowing […]

Deserve this! The Nobel Peace Prize Agenda for Obama

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

President Obama is now a Laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize. There’s enough in that statement alone to drive rightwing conservatives insane. And insane they certainly are, as others are ably and gleefully documenting. The general gist of the response […]

Obama’s foreign policy record: beyond the waters’ edge

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Whatever happened to the Bush-era adoration by Republicans of the wise adage by Senator Arthur Vandenberg in the Truman era, that “politics stops at the water’s edge” ? Well, that is a naive question, of course. The only real theme […]

video: Katie Couric interviews President Ahmadinejad

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Last night, Katie Couric interviewed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on CBS. I think this could have been a good thing, but ultimately was totally meaningless. Couric is not a seasoned interviewer like Barbara Walters, in terms of getting the “big […]

linking Afghanistan and Pakistan?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I am engaged in some rethinking of our Afghanistan policy, and trying to look at Obama’s proposed strategy with a fresh outlook. This is more challenging because I am generally a fan of Obama’s policies rather than a critic. As […]

The Myth of Secular Inevitability: Iran, Islam, America, Israel and Palestine

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is a guest post by Haroon Moghul. Not surprisingly, in the days since Iran’s election fiasco, Western media have attempted to fit the events inside the Islamic Republic into a convenient framework. I call this the myth of secular […]

What if the Green Revolution fails?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

A remarkable thing happened yesterday at President Obama’s afternoon press conference – he took a question from an Iranian, relayed via Nico Pitney at the Huffington Post. Pitney solicited questions via the Iranian Farsi-language social networking site Balatarin and invited […]

Why do we care so much about Iran?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Something that struck me about the Green Revolution in Iran is how invested the world is in it. It touches on all the right narratives: telegenic, courageous youth facing off against dour mullahs on the streets, straight out of the […]

Obama’s Cairo speech transcript and word cloud

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

(UPDATE: I argue that American Islam is the key to the new beginning that Obama is seeking. Also, see ongoing discussion of the Cairo speech at Talk Islam, including substantive critiques.) “A New Beginning” – 4th June 2009, Cairo Egypt […]

the two Michaels: Totten and Yon

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Michael Totten and Michael Yon are two independent journalists who travel to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Middle East hot spots (notably Lebanon) on their own dime, embed with the military, and strike out on their own with local guides, They […]

North Korea nukes? a paper tiger

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

In the span of two days, North Korea has test-fired five (short-range) missiles and performed a nuclear detonation test. This is of course a serious matter, especially since the city of Seoul is essentially adjacent to the border and would […]

release the prisoner abuse photos – but not right now

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Earlier, I argued that President Obama was right to change his mind, regarding the release of new photos of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. My good friend Hussein Rashid took issue with my position, arguing that a […]

an appeal on behalf of the people of Swat

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The following is an urgent appeal for donations on behalf of the refugees of the Swat Valley, by Zeenat Ahmed, of the Center for Dialogue, Peace and Action (CDPA). Mrs. Ahmed is a well-known Pakistani activist whose family has been […]

Walk like an Egyptian: Obama goes to Cairo

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

President Obama’s long-anticipated foreign policy address, from the venue of a major muslim capital, has been finalized – he will deliver his speech in Cairo on June 4th. In many ways this was the obvious, “safe” choice, though my personal […]

Obama and Africa policy

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Africa always seems to get less attention than it deserves, which is remarkable given how enormous it is, in terms of sheer geography and population. I bitterly complained earlier how muslims worldwide favor injustices by Jews on muslims in the […]

Muslims Against Torture

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The following statement of principles, A New Muslim Statement Against Torture, is reprinted from Religion Dispatches. It came about as a direct result of the general failure of the muslim-American community to join the national dialouge condemning torture when president […]

Pakistan’s constitutional Islamism

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Ali Eteraz has a lengthy, lucid article on the root of Pakistan’s problem – namely, that it’s 1973 constitution has made it an Islamist state rather than a democratic one. Eteraz provides a lengthy historical background and context for how […]

Iranian nuclear program: assessment and policy

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Eric Martin at American Footprints points to this great, detailed assessment of the Iranian nuclear program (PDF) by the American Foreign Policy Project. Here’s a key excerpt: Although we often hear it said or implied that Iran is clearly pursuing […]

Obama’s credibility gap in the Muslim world begins at home

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I don’t think there’s much reason yet for anyone to complain about Obama’s foreign policy to the Muslim world, especially given that we haven’t even hit the 100-day mark yet. I personally would have preferred to see the “major speech […]

Are Somali pirates like terrorists?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Everyone is talking about pirates, and it’s not even September 19th yet! Last Sunday’s dramatic rescue of the captain of the Maersk Alabama was just the latest chapter in a saga that as far as the public attention span is¬†concerned, […]

“The United States is not, and never will be, at war with Islam”

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I posted the full transcript of Obama’s remarks to Turkey’s Parliament earlier but wanted to highlight a few passages that I think were particularly significant. For one thing, Obama strongly affirmed US support for Turkey’s EU membership: The United States […]

smart power: Obama’s video to Iran provokes fear

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke extensively of “smart power” in her description of how America’s foreign policy would seek to engage the world. Obama’s video message to Iran, on the occassion of Nowruz, is destined to become a case […]

VIDEO: Obama’s Nowruz message to the Iranian People

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

There is something simply amazing about this. The video even has subtitles in Farsi. It is often said that the Internet allowed Obama to bypass the Washington DC media establishment and reach out directly to the American people; now he […]

Taliban’s Mullah Omar changes the rules

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is an interesting development: The militants active in North and South Waziristan agencies have been directed by Mulla Omar to immediately stop their attacks on the Pakistani security forces.  In a letter to the militants, who have forged a […]

Ayman Nour released from prison in Egypt

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Excellent, if surprising, news for democracy and political reform in Egypt – dissident and one-time opposition party candidate for President against Hosni Mubarak, was released quite abruptly from prison yesterday: Mr. Nour, a charismatic political leader who challenged the governing […]

The Taliban win: Shari’a for Swat

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

There’s no other way to interpret this news, except simply as “the terrorists have won” in the full sense of the word: Pakistan’s government has agreed to restore sharia, or Islamic law, in the Swat valley and neighbouring areas of […]

Bush’s War on Terror, Obama’s WOMBAT

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Given that our President is a pretty sharp fellow, it’s not surprising that he’s also realized that the “War on Terror” branding needs to be retired: What’s being sought is a more precise phrase that can recast the U.S. government’s […]

liberal interventionism vs imperialism

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

At Talk Islam, I have (another) healthy debate with Abu Noor about the Iraq War, pragmatic liberal intervention, and imperialism. We end up debating the merits of interventionism a lot over at TI, don’t we?

Pakistan releases AQ Khan

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

It is true that Osama bin Laden is the most wanted terrorist alive. But someday, a terrorist attack will occur that will make OBL’s lifetime achievements pale in comparison, because it will use a nuclear weapon. When thta day comes, […]

replacing the War on Terror (WOT) with a WOMBAT

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

In the context of my earlier thoughts about how the muslim community can help combat extremism, one more thing occurs to me; perhaps what is also needed is a rebranding of the War on Terror. You cannot wage war against […]

how can muslims combat extremism?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I’ve often dismissed the idea that muslims in the West have any obligation to apologize for or routinely condemn on demand the actions of the extremist minorities who commit acts of terror in the name of the faith they claim […]

Obama’s Intelligence Director Dennis Blair and East Timor genocide

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Gary Farber sounded the alarm last month about President Obama’s nominee for National Intelligence Director, Denis Blair, who was complicit in genocide in East Timor during the Clinton Administration. Unfortunately, no questions were asked about East Timor during Blair’s confirmation […]

democracy promotion and liberal interventionism

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Further to the debate at Talk Islam earlier, I think that it is critical that the broader foreign policy principle of democracy promotion not be discredited by the imperialism-lite of the neoconservative movement.Liberal interventionism is not a purely military effort, […]

Liberal Intervention: A Talk Islam Debate

posted by G. Willow Wilson

Guest post by G. Willow Wilson. Over at TalkIslam, we’ve been having an ongoing debate about the merits of liberal military intervention around the world. The debate was sparked by an entry about the Shabab Islamist group, which is growing […]

Obama to Ummah: message to the muslim world

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I posted President Obama’s inauguration speech video and transcript earlier, but I just want to highlight the part where he directly addressed the muslim world: We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. We are […]

Democracy, Jewishness, and Greater Israel: pick two

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The idea of the state of Israel is one I support wholeheartedly. A nation for the Jewish people, a homeland where they can engage in the same right of self-determination and chart their own destiny. However, this right and this […]

Saudi Arabia’s Iran Obsession

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

(This is a guest post by my friend and Islamsphere scion Ali Eteraz) I woke up this morning and found a comprehensive Middle East peace plan being offered by Saudi Arabia in the pages of the Washington Post. Putting aside […]

Mugabe says, “Zimbabwe is mine”

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Robert Mugabe is not going quietly: BINDURA, Zimbabwe (AFP) — President Robert Mugabe declared Friday that “Zimbabwe is mine” and vowed never to surrender to calls to step down, as his political rival threatened to quit stalled unity government talks. […]

mubarak! hajjis come home – including a Congressman

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The hajjis have begun to arrive home. Among them were Rep. Keith Ellison, the first muslim elected to Congress and now the first US elected official to have ever performed Hajj. The Democrat from Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District traveled to […]

Nixon and China redux: Only Obama can go to Iran

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

A young woman votes in the second runoff of the Iranian Parliamentary elections this past April (via Faith Today). Iran is not our enemy. The reaction from Iranians to Obama’s election has been one of cautious optimism and anticipation: Iranians […]

Obama’s judgement

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

There’s a great anecdote by Joe Klein about Obama’s meeting with General Petraeus in Iraq that I think speaks very well of Obama’s judgement and leadership, especially with regard to military matters: Obama had a choice at that moment. He […]

Obama will not leave Iraq. (good.)

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I’ve long argued that no Democratic president will fully withdraw from Iraq. There’s been plenty of evidence of Obama’s intentions in that regard; the latest is this exchange from Joe Klein’s recent interview with Obama: [Q] Lets go back to […]

Previous Posts

Obvious: The Iraq War created ISIS
This is something that is so obvious, it is in danger of never being said, in which case those who led us into war will try to ...

posted 1:48:22am Jul. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Eid at the State Department
I am honored to be invited to celebrate Eid al Fitr at the State Department again this year. And I am relieved that this time, it's actually taking place after Ramadan, which means I can actually attend for the first time! :) I am looking ...

posted 11:01:00am Jul. 21, 2015 | read full post »

The Empire State goes green for Eid
As is tradition, the Empire State Building - the most beautiful skyscraper in the world - was illuminated in green to mark Eid al Fitr. Of course, in 2015, this is announced via the official twitter account ...

posted 1:21:00am Jul. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Ramadan Pearls roundup
Here is a link to all the posts in the Ramadan Pearls series I did during Ramadan: Criterion Non-existence Mystery Angels Objective Expectant Reed Veils Lend Good I hope you enjoyed these nuggets of wisdom as much as ...

posted 3:01:31pm Jul. 18, 2015 | read full post »

Eid Mubarak!
By the Fatimid calendar, today is Eid al Fitr, 1436! I've explained my position on the calendar vs. moonsighting debate in detail - and this year there is a lot more divergence on the date than usual. Crescentwatch nicely ...

posted 7:53:00am Jul. 17, 2015 | read full post »

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