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City of Brass

City of Brass

The Neverending Story Archives

12 years later – the post 9-11 world

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Today, again is the 12th anniversary of 9-11. I honestly think I’ve already said everything I’ll ever want to say about it. We are living in a post-9-11, post-global-terrorism, post-boots-on-the-ground, even a post Osama bin Laden world. Terrorism nowadays is […]

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Full transcript of President Obama’s speech on national security: drones, the war on terror, and Guantanamo

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

(as prepared for delivery; while Obama gave the speech, he was repeatedly interrupted by a heckler, Medea Benjamin of Code Pink) It’s an honor to return to the National Defense University. Here, at Fort McNair, Americans have served in uniform […]

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musing about morality and faith

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

A dear friend wrote something quite moving on Facebook, to which I’d like to respond publicly (keeping their privacy, of course). They wrote, Over the past week, I have heard many people blame the shooting in Connecticut on (among other […]

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11 after 9-11: a look backwards

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

It’s Patriot Day, the anniversary of Black Tuesday, the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 (9-11). Eleven years later, I still feel the need to say something about it, suggesting that on some level I am still not “over it” […]

does the hijab protect women from harassment?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The image above is a billboard in Tehran which makes a clumsy case for wearing the hijab – it “protects” the woman like a candy wrapper from the attention of men. The degrading analogy of a woman as a piece […]

Eid intolerance

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

While the decision of when to observe Eid can be messy at times, that messiness is at least the process of honest decisions and judgement by Muslims free to make their own religious choices. However, not all Muslims have that […]

the Sikh shooting in Wisconsin: call to dua

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Today there was a shooting at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, and early reports are that seven people are dead. This details of this horrific tragedy are yet to emerge in full, but is is possible that the Sikhs were […]

the post-Osama world, Year One

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

It’s the one-year anniversary of the successful killing of Osama bin Laden. Having gone through the requisite 5 stages of emotion over the act long ago, I find that looking back at it now, it feels as though little has […]

the new Exodus: Christians flee the occupation of the Holy Land

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The narrative among Islamophobes and other partisans is that Islamic intolerance and Palestinian terrorism has forced Christians out of the Holy Land, but the reality is quite different, as reported by CBS’ 60 Minutes: The report is only 15 minutes […]

17 years later: The Oklahoma City bombing

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

On April 19th 1995, Timothy McVeigh carried out the first major successful domestic terrorist attack on United States soil: the total destruction of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in downtown Oklahoma City. Looking at Twitter today I see some […]

Tenth Anniversary of the Gujrat riots

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Ten years ago, muslim extremists attacked civilians on the Sabarnati Express train at Godhra. The attackers were brought to justice later, but the attack spurred large-scale communal violence, murder and rape against muslims in Gujrat that was horrific and savage […]

Transcript: text of address to the United Nations by Mahmoud Abbas

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This speech is quite simply a tour-de-force. President Abbas lays out the clear grievance: the settlements, are the sole obstacle to peace. He reiterates the commitment of the PLO and the Palestinian people to the peace process, and continuing diplomacy […]

Israel under siege – enforces consensus, jettisons democracy

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is a guest post by Richard Silverstein of Tikkun Olam blog. The text is of a prepared talk Richard gave on Friday at a conference in Seattle focused on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. I have the unenviable task […]

Afghanistan’s trillion dollar curse: lithium

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The New York Times reports that a small team of American geologists and military personnel have discovered vast reserves of precious metals and minerals in Afghanistan, which profoundly transforms the destiny of this battered nation overnight: The previously unknown deposits […]

Pirates of the Mediterranean: Is Israel’s Gaza blockade legal?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

On Monday, Israeli ships intercepted an unarmed flotilla of boats trying to break through the blockade of the Gaza strip. Israeli commandos rappeled onto the boats, and in the ensuing melee at least nine civilians were shot and killed by […]

A fair solution to Jerusalem

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I remember reading one of the books by Tom Clancy in which Jack Ryan was credited with coming up with a solution for Middle East peace which was pointedly never actually detailed in the novel. It was just a way […]

South Park, Mohammed (and Santa), and the freedom to blaspheme

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Welcome, CNN.com readers! I’d like to point out that though the article implied I approve of depictions of the Prophet, I actually do find them offensive. However, in my piece below I was trying to explain that the degree of […]

The day the music died in Somalia

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The grip of the Islamist group Al Shabab tightens on Somalia. Most radio stations in Somalia have stopped playing music, on the orders of Islamist Hizbul-Islam insurgents who say that songs are un-Islamic. The stations said they had to comply […]

plane crash in Austin

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

In Austin, a man has deliberately crashed his private plane into an office building. Thankfully, no one has yet been reported killed, though there are people injured – details are still coming in and we probably won’t know the full […]

The Na’vi march for Palestine

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This type of story is why I created a “stranger than fiction” category on this blog in the first place – these are images of a Palestinian rally against the Separation Wall, in which the Palestinians dressed up as Na’vi […]

The view from inside Israel

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is a pretty depressing assessment by Joel Rubin at Democracy Arsenal, who just returned from the Herzliya conference in Israel (the premier security summit attended by all major Israeli politicians). It was clear, after attending this conference, that the […]

AirTran Flight 297

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

UPDATE: Todd Petruna lied, not just about what happened on the flight, but about being ON the flight at all! This hilarious email, about what supposedly transpired on AirTran Flight 297 last month, is currently making the rounds amongst right-wing […]

outrageous, but laughable: Iran confiscates Ebadi’s Nobel Prize

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is not just heavy-handed and the perfect stereotype of police-state thuggery, but also oddly clownish and pathetic: Iranian authorities confiscated Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi’s medal, the human rights lawyer said Thursday, in a sign of the increasingly drastic […]

doing business with Iran

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The seizure of mosques and a skyscraper yesterday was ostensibly because the rental income from the skyscraper was being sent to a bank in Iran which is allegedly used by the Iranian government to fund its covert (and denied) nuclear […]

Government seizes 4 mosques and a skyscraper – alleges Iranian conspiracy

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is a bizarre development indeed: Federal prosecutors Thursday took steps to seize four U.S. mosques and a Fifth Avenue skyscraper owned by a nonprofit Muslim organization long suspected of being secretly controlled by the Iranian government. In what could […]

the lesson of 1989: Mr. Netanyahu, tear down this wall

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. Today will see many hagiographic pieces about Reagan from the right, but there’s real value in learning about the complex historical context, and not enough credit I think […]

Answering Ahmadinejad on the Holocaust

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The Katie Couric interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a classic example of how he changes the subject away from his own controversial statements. I don’t think Ahmadinejad is a particularly evil man, just a typically corrupt and cynical […]

Israel: the one-state solution

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

As I’ve argued before, the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will entail only two of Democracy, Greater Israel, and Jewishness. In terms of the settlements policy, it seems that Israel has essentially picked the first two. President Obama’s insistence that […]

human shields in Gaza for the IDF?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

One of the central rationalizations for the permissibility of “collateral damage” in warfare is that the enemy uses “human shields” – that militants are deliberately hiding among civilian populations so as to force the attacker to kill innocents if they […]

Blogger Peter Guo (@amoiist) arrested in China, twitters it

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I just saw a re-tweet from Rebecca MacKinnon that Chinese blogger Peter Guo has been arrested by authorities in China. Amazingly, it seems he managed to twitter his arrest while in custody, by using his phone while the police were […]

an Uyghur primer: the roots of discontent

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The oppression of the Uyghur in China’s Xinjiang province has been getting a surprising amount of media coverage. The first reaction most people have upon hearing about the Uyghur is to ask, “who?” so it’s worth reviewing some basic information […]

The Uyghurs and the Ummah

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Color me unsurprised – the plight of the Uyghurs hasn’t received much attention from the muslim world: A leading Uighur rights activist has criticised Muslim-majority countries for not speaking out against decades of alleged repression and persecution from the Chinese […]

Pirates of the Mediterranean

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

via Richard Silverstein of Tikkun Olam blog, the Israeli military has boarded and forcibly confiscated the crew and cargo of a humanitarian ship bound for Gaza, carrying medicine, toys and other supplies, in international waters. The list of passengers taken […]

Would an Ahmadinejad victory be good for Israel?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

There are always those who prefer to see world events through the narrow lens of their own political interest rather than universal principles of freedom and justice. Case in point: the extremists running Israel, whose entire narrative about Iran is […]

it’s official – H1N1 Swine Flu is now a pandemic

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Well, it’s officially a pandemic now: The World Health Organization today declared the global outbreak of the novel H1N1 influenza virus to be in Phase 6 — a full-scale pandemic. The announcement essentially warns WHO’s 194 member nations to expect […]

James von Brunn, terrorist

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The shooting at the Holocaust Museum yesterday was a chilling reminder that domestic terrorism is real, and was just the latest in a disturbing trend of increased political violence from right-wing extremists. What these fanatics have in common is a […]

murderer of Suzanne Tamim sentenced to death

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is good news: Suzanne Tamim shot to fame in an “American Idol”-style TV show, a green-eyed Lebanese beauty whose pop songs about love’s agony mirrored her troubled life. Now, the man reported to be her secret lover _ a […]

Mosque graffiti vandalism in California: “We will kill you all”

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

A good gauge of the success of President Obama’s Cairo speech is what sort of people hated it. Al Qaeda was freaked out, as were the Islamophobe industry here in the US (and that’s not the first time, nor the […]

Muslim drive-by shooting of soldiers in Arkansas

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I expressed some concern earlier that the high rate of conversion to Islam by violent criminals in prison is going to lead to an increase in the share of criminal acts by muslims by definition. These criminals’ conversion to Islam, […]

another incident of domestic terrorism

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

UPDATE: my mistake. This incident occurred last year in 2008. I’ve edited the text below accordingly. My point in highlighting it is twofold: 1. to illustrate that domestic terrorism is a real concern, and 2. that its not just muslims […]

Tiller, terror, and apologetics

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

A couple of weeks ago, President Obama tried to turn the page on the abortion debate during his speech at Notre Dame. This weekend, the page was turned firmly back to the status quo, with the murder of Dr. George […]

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 […]

Bush on Iraq War: “This confrontation is willed by God.”

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I am speechless. In 2003 while lobbying leaders to put together the Coalition of the Willing, President Bush spoke to France’s President Jacques Chirac. Bush wove a story about how the Biblical creatures Gog and Magog were at work in […]

Iran as Amalek: Netanyahu pulls an Ahmadinejad

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The threat is painted in stark terms: a rogue nation, flouting international law and human rights of its minorities, with nuclear capability, led by an ultra-nationalist leader who invokes religious symbolism and who makes existential threats against its regional neighbor, […]

Amalek and Jihad

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is a guest post by Jonathan Edelstein. The topic is especially relevant today, because Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu just made explicit his view that Iran represents a modern-day Amalek, so it is worth understanding just what the theologic […]

never again? Simon Wiesenthal Center to screen Islamophobic film “The Third Jihad”

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I’ve argued in the past that muslims and jews in the West should make common cause in fighting against prejudice and tolerance – and in doing so, lead by example in terms of demonstrating the value of tolerance and respect […]

When Barack met Bibi

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Israeli prime minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu met with President Barack Obama for two hours today, according to various news reports, to discuss middle east peace. The outcome? President Obama reiterated support for a two-state solution, whereas Netanyahu toed the Likud […]

journalist Amira Hass arrested in Israel

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I view the freedom of the press as a sub-category of the general principle of freedom of speech, and believe that a free press is not only a sign of a healthy democracy, it is a prerequisite. Only with a […]

Bibi Netanyahu: an existential threat to the Jewish state

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

President Obama has publicly stated his desire to see the creation of a Palestinian state by the end of his first term. There’s substantial progress from the Palestinian side – Hamas has announced it will cease rocket operations and says […]

definitions: racism, islamophobia, anti-semitism, and sexism

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

My friend Razib poses an interesting question at Talk Islam asking for people’s definitions of these four terms. Here are mine: racism – bias pr prejudice towards an ethnic group. anti-semitism – hatred towards Jews (or culturally affiliated persons therof) […]

you fools! Varun Gandhi arrested

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is exactly the worst possible thing that could have happened – BJP candidate and Indian political dynasty scion Varun Gandhi, whose paranoid rants against muslims were caught on video a few weeks ago, has been arrested: A politician from […]

VIDEO: Varun Gandhi denies it, blames “political conspiracy”

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Varun Gandhi is now backpedaling in public, denying making the outrageous and incendiary comments about “cutting heads” of muslims: Varun Gandhi said he was a “victim of a political conspiracy” and that he never made the comments attributed to him. […]

Varun Gandhi vows to “cut heads” of muslims in India

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

This is disgusting and vile – Varun Gandhi, son of the late Sanjay Gandhi and grandson of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, went on a wild rant against muslims while campaigning in a rural area: Raising his hands, he repeatedly […]

an honor killing or “only” domestic violence?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The horrific decapitation murder of Aasiya Zubair by her husband Muzzammil Hassan last week – which spurred nationwide sermons in US mosques about domestic violence – was a wake-up call to the muslim-American community about the taboo subject of spousal […]

Baha’i persecution in Iran

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Imagine an ethno-religious group that is treated as second-class citizens by their host country, and actively persecuted, with accusations of divided loyalties and sympathies to enemies of the state. Arabs in Israel? no – the Baha’i in Iran, who have […]

Gaza and anti-semitism

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I am frustrated, because in the past few weeks I’ve received various email forwards from many people I respect that are laden with anger and frustration at Israel’s campaign of collective punishment in Gaza. These are intelligent, tolerant people – […]

We Shall Not Be a Party to Their Counsel

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The following is a statement of principles written by Richard Silverstein of the blog Tikkun Olam and other American Jewish writers (many of whom contributed to the landmark collection of essays, A Time to Speak Out) regarding the ongoing Israeli […]

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 […]

no condemnations, please

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

As a follow-up to my earlier disagreement with Rabbi Hirschfield, it’s worth looking at what other muslim bloggers in the Islamsphere have to say about the New York Times article about the Hezbollah death shrine in southern Lebanon: Angry Arab […]

Previous Posts

Bomb blast in Karachi targets Dawoodi Bohra community
This happens almost every day in Pakistan - fanatic hirabists commit arrogant blasphemy and murder fellow Muslims in cold blood. This time, the target wa

posted 8:22:26am Mar. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Proof denies faith
On Reddit, someone posted the following question: "What convinces you that the Quran is the literal Word of God?" I think this is precisely the wrong question. The book/movie Life of Pi directly

posted 9:33:46am Mar. 13, 2015 | read full post »

Proud to be American, proud to be Muslim
This is a guest post by Safiya Dahodwala. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS graced the land of America for the first time as the 53rd Dai (spiritual leader) of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. It has been nearly a decade since his predecessor, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin bestowed his bountiful bl

posted 12:58:00pm Mar. 05, 2015 | read full post »

is ISIS Islamic? Wrong question.
There is an excellent longform essay on ISIS published in The Atlantic, "What does ISIS Really Want?" that lays out an excellent case fore ISIS being genuinely different in ideology, motivation and ethos than Al Qaeda. The real question boils down to, is ISIS "Islamic" or not - and makes an excellen

posted 11:34:08pm Feb. 17, 2015 | read full post »

The Price of Extremism
This is a guest post by Durriya Badani. The execution style murder of three young North Carolina students, two of whom were hijab wearing Muslim women, raises questions regarding the rise of Islamaphobia in the United States in the form of hate crimes. Some will argue that the motive for the inc

posted 11:26:53am Feb. 12, 2015 | read full post »

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