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Analysis and Comment (57)

To see off challenges to its dominance, Malaysia’s government exploits Muslim sentiment at every turn. This has been a factor in sodomy charges against opposition figurehead Anwar Ibrahim. EPA/Azhar Rahim

Malaysia reaches a critical crossroad over state Islamisation

Fuelled by the rise of Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, debate about Islam and violence has flared again in Australia. In a predictable cycle of provocation and reaction, governments launch a wide-ranging…
Many Muslim nations fare poorly for gender equity, but there are steps they can take and examples they can follow to make sure girls are properly educated. Flickr/Nevil Zaveri

Gender equity in schools in Muslim countries: it can be done

Muslim countries worldwide have problems with gender equality. They dominate the bottom ten countries in the Global Gender Gap Report and none of the ten most successful countries offering equal opportunities…
Religious leaders have come together to promote community harmony, but some political and media agendas have encouraged Islamophobia. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Politicians and media let us down in fight to curb rising Islamophobia

Many incidents of violence and harassment directed at Australian Muslims have been reported recently. These are visible confirmation of fears expressed by their community, that support for the government’s…
Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Wassim Doureihi addresses a protest rally about counter-terrorism raids in Sydney last month. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Why Australia shouldn’t ban Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott calls it “a thoroughly objectionable organisation”, “un-Australian” and “un-Islamic”. But would it be a good idea to ban the Islamic organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir? Hizb…
An Iraqi man prays at the Al-Noori Al-Kabeer mosque – now draped with the Islamic State flag – in Mosul, northern Iraq. EPA/STR

The truth about whether Islam is a religion of violence or peace

Islam has a history of violence. Muslims can be violent. Denying this is not at all different to denying that Islam is peaceful and that all Muslims are pacifists. The dichotomy is simply false. The Qur’an…
A US Marine covers a statue of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein with the US flag in Baghdad’s al-Fardous square in April 2003, before the statue was toppled. EPA PHOTO AFPI/RAMZI HAIDAR

Is it fair to blame the West for trouble in the Middle East?

For at least a decade, attempts to understand why some young Muslims living in Western countries turn to violence in the name of religion have raised questions about Western foreign policy in the Middle…
Visitors of Afghan nationality wearing hijabs outside Parliament House yesterday. Lukas Coch/AAP

Burqa and Niqab: they cover the face, not the mind

A call to ban the burqa has permeated Australian political discussions since police raided the homes of suspected Islamist extremists in Sydney and Brisbane on September 18. Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi…
The public image presented of Muslims as a religious minority is no more typical of the modern reality than are the minority of Australians who regularly attend church. AAP/Jane Dempster

Cultural Muslims, like cultural Christians, are a silent majority

The “cultural Muslim” refers to members of the Muslim community who are non-practising but retain an attachment to elements of Islamic culture. The history of the Muslim world entails the story of numerous…
When a mosque is spray-painted with the word ‘Evil’ following last week’s raids, it’s a sign the community is getting the wrong message from the anti-terrorism campaign. AAP/Matt Jacob

Responsible rhetoric is a crucial part of the anti-terror armoury

While Australia has rightly joined the international fight to bring down Islamic State (IS) terrorists, at home its anti-terror campaign is fuelling more problems. For example, following high-profile anti-terror…
Australian women of different faiths gathered at Sydney’s Lakemba Mosque last month in a show of community solidarity. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

Terrorists can be defeated by fighting fear with co-operation

From anarchists in the 1920s and radical leftists in the 1960s, to fringe, extreme-right Christian bombers or gunmen in the United States in recent decades, or radical Islamists such as Islamic State today…
There are now around half a million Muslim Australians, who are sometimes blamed for the actions of a tiny minority. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

Mosques, Muslims and myths: overcoming fear in our suburbs

Since Australians woke to the news of yesterday morning’s counter-terrorism raids in Sydney, Brisbane and Logan, talkback radio and the TV news have filled with talk of “home-grown terrorism” and “enemies…
Police outside one of the Sydney homes raided earlier today, which has prompted warnings against an anti-Muslim backlash. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Islamic State wants Australians to attack Muslims: terror expert

It’s in the interests of Islamic State for Muslims in Australia to be attacked or for their mosques to be attacked, because doing so would help divide the Australian community. But we should be very clear…
The hijab isn’t a symbol of oppression for many women. diegofornero

Muslim feminists reclaim the hijab to fight the patriarchy

Terrorism, oppression, fundamentalism and victimhood are only a few of the buzzwords that inevitably accompany discussions about Islamic headgear. From burqa-bans to atrocities against women in some Islamic…
The veil serves to entice and intrigue and not necessarily to hide. Faizal Riza MOHD RAF

The big players in the growth of Islamic fashion online

Islamic veiling is a global political issue and the debate tends to move in two different directions: it’s framed as either a matter of the freedom of female self-expression or as emblematic of gender…
The silent majority of Muslims shouldn’t be blamed for the actions of Islam’s radical followers – they are victims of radical Islam. EPA/Ali Abbas

Islam’s silent majority: moderate voices drowned out by extremists

Stretching from north Africa to east Asia, many Muslims are engaged in a life-and-death tussle with extremists who are bent on extinguishing the diversity of opinions within the Muslim community. Atrocities…
The jihadi fighters in Iraq and Syria include hundreds of Australians. EPA/Mohammed Jalil

Why hundreds of westerners are taking up arms in global jihad

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are attracting many westerners, including young Australians, as jihadi fighters. Last December, Australian intelligence agencies reported that they were aware of at least…
The rise of Islamophobia in Australia has left Muslims vulnerable as anti-discrimination laws cover racial but not religious vilification. AAP/Dean Lewins

A Muslim perspective on Racial Discrimination Act amendments

The markers of identification of communities have clearly moved from just race, colour and national or ethnic origin to include religion. In the case of Muslims, their faith and culture and all that it…
A ban is unlikely to remove halal or kosher food from the high street. EPA/Peter Kneffel

We already have the answers to humane religious slaughter

With kosher and halal food an increasingly common feature of the British high street, a top vet has called for reform of their slaughter practices, calling them inhumane. These alternative methods of animal…
A political party inspired by controversial Dutch MP Geert Wilders is set to launch next year. AAP/Julian Smith

The Australian Liberty Alliance and the politics of Islamophobia

News that an anti-Islam lobby group, the Q Society of Australia, plans to launch a political party to contest the next federal election should be cause for alarm. Based on the principles of Dutch MP Geert…
Two women wearing niqabs in France. The traditional Islamic garment has caused controversy in the UK after a judge forced a woman to remove hers to give evidence in court. EPA/Ian Langsdon

Women and veiling: the elephant in the courtroom

The rights and wrongs of women wearing niqabs to give evidence have been the subject of an English court decision and much social and media debate recently. Over the past few years, the issue has also…
The individual’s freedoms must be balanced by pragmatism in the courtroom. Amexta

Britain does not need a French-style burqa ban

The debate on full veils - burqas and niqabs - in British courts and British schools was always bound to happen. The issue flared up a few years ago following some remarks by Jack Straw but it had not…
As Islamic jihadists become increasingly central to the Syrian conflict, the once secular revolution led by the Free Syrian Army (fighter pictured) loses support in the eyes of the world. EPA

Radicalising Syria: how the rebels are becoming more Islamist

In the two years since its inception, the image of the Syrian civil war has veered dramatically away from its revolutionary, secular origins. What began as a response to the brutal repression of peaceful…
Terror manual: the Encyclopaedia of the Afghani Jihad which formed part of the prosecution case against Abu Hamza. Stefan Rousseau/PA.

Flimsy fundamentalism infuses the third wave of terror

David Cameron’s new taskforce to combat extremism met on Monday to address what Tony Blair calls a “problem within Islam” that he blames for the terror plots which have caused such distress and given rise…
Brute force: English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson (left) rallied his supporters outside a Woolwich pub. PA/Neil Lancefield

EDL uses an old playbook to spread message of hate

It was unsurprising that little more than a few hours after yesterday’s horrific murder, the far-right arrived in Woolwich. Emboldened by the afternoon’s events, the English Defence League’s (EDL) leader…
While the focus has been on gender discrimination in Islam recently, there is much to be said about widespread discrimination across most organised religions. AAP/Joe Castro

It’s not just Islam - most religions are discriminatory

Yes, Tony Abbott is right. There is something unattractive about a university allowing public meetings at which attendees are segregated by sex. But hang on a moment: is this not the normal arrangement…
A university event where women and men were asked to sit separately raises more questions. Islamic women image from www.shutterstock.com

The real story behind Melbourne University’s gender segregation case

The fallout from an event at the University of Melbourne where women and men were asked to sit separately has been intense. The media coverage so far has focused on the issue of segregated seating in a…
While it is not demanded by Islamic tradition, many Islamic countries practice gender segregation in public places such as universities. Richard Roche

Separation of men and women in lecture theatres: another Islamic controversy?

Last week, there was a troubling news item about possible gender-based “segregation” at an event held at the University of Melbourne. The event was held by an external Muslim group, on the university campus…
The University of Melbourne has come under fire over reports of gender segregation at a public lecture on Islamic culture. avlxyz

Clash of principles, not cultures, in Islamic lecture case

Last week The Australian reported that female attendees at a recent Islamic studies event held at the University of Melbourne had been directed to sit at the back of the lecture theatre, in breach of the…
The ‘Islamophobia’-related responses to last week’s Boston bombings have been somewhat measured in comparison to 9/11. EPA/CJ Gunther

Boston bombings: beware the multi-million dollar Islamophobia industry

Local commentators have variously described reactions to the Boston Marathon bombing, which killed three people and injured 183 others, as “restrained”, “refreshingly honest” and wholly different to what…
Thermal imaging of Dzhokhar Tsaeraev hiding from police in a boat in a Boston backyard. But was he motivated in his attacks by the war in his native Chechnya? EPA/Massachusetts State Police

Boston bombings: were the Tsarnaev brothers driven by motives other than the Chechen conflict?

The received wisdom is that the Tsarnaev brothers launched their attack on the Boston Marathon to advance the cause of their fellow Chechens. But is this correct? Two notable Chechens are absent from the…
Egyptian Muslim preacher Ahmed Mohamed Abdullah stands accused of blasphemy charges after burning a copy of the Bible during last month’s protests by Muslims against a film depicting the Prophet Muhammad. EPA/Khaled Elfiqi

Anti-blasphemy laws don’t work in Muslim countries, and they won’t work here

In the wake of the violence sparked around the world by the anti-Islam video entitled Innocence of Muslims, the debate about the need for anti-blasphemy laws has re-emerged. The Organisation of Islamic…
Libyan guards outside the Tripoli prison holding former Gaddafi era intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi. EPA/Sabri Elmhedwi

State of origin? Libyan stability versus global jihad

In October Libya will officially celebrate its first anniversary of independence, though in fact it has been more than a year since Tripoli was overrun. In the same month the West will mark 11 years of…
All religions, including Islam can influence the legal decisions of individuals.

Religion and the law: Sharia-compliant wills in Australia

In March this year the ACT Supreme Court overturned a will made by an elderly Muslim lady called Mariem Omari. Her daughter contested the estate and the court found that because Omari signed the will while…
Muslim democrat Mohammed Morsi with protesters following the Mubarak verdict last weekend. EPA

The irresistible rise of Muslim democrats in the Middle East

Whatever the outcome of the Egyptian presidential runoff scheduled for 16-17 June, Middle Eastern electoral politics are now conforming to a remarkable rule. When elections are held in a free and fair…
Iranian soccer players cry after FIFA cancels their match due to the nature of their headware. EPA

Storm in a headscarf: FIFA was wrong to ban hijabs in soccer

Five years after ruling against the wearing of headscarves by female football players, the sport’s world governing body FIFA has taken initial steps to lift the hijab ban. In March 2012, the International…
The destruction of headstones from World War II have caused outrage around the world. EPA/Mohamed Elryani

Benghazi Commonwealth grave desecration and the spectre of anti-Islam

Around 50 Australians graves from World War II in Libya’s Benghazi Commonwealth war cemetery have been desecrated, apparently by Islamist militia. Footage of this violent destruction has spread around…
Many groups have called for sharia, or Islamic law in Australia, but is it workable? EPA/Andy Rain

Sharia: why a dual legal system will not work in Australia

A major Australian Islamic group recently argued for a formal recognition of sharia or Muslim law in the Australian legal system. According to the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Australia should…
The AFL is throwing everything is has at Greater Western Sydney. AAP/Paul Millar

Bridging codes: football and Islam in western Sydney

The 2012 AFL debut of the GWS Giants is the culmination of efforts by the powerful, cashed up body that administers Aussie Rules to make inroads into the rugby league-obsessed, poor and predominantly refugee…
Many Aboriginal people, like boxer Anthony Mundine, look to Islam as a way of re-connecting with their roots. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

Long history with Islam gives Indigenous Australians pride

Muslim conversion is growing in Indigenous communities. In the 2001 national census, 641 Indigenous people identified as Muslim. By the 2006 census the number had climbed by more than 60% to 1014 people…
Senator for South Australia Cory Bernardi has attracted controversy with some of his right wing views. www.corybernardi.com

In Conversation: Senator Cory Bernardi

Welcome to our In Conversation between Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi and Dr Timothy Lynch, lecturer in American politics at Melbourne University. Since being appointed to the Senate in 2006, the Senator…
Egypt takes its first steps towards democracy but it’s not in the way many were hoping for. EPA/Amel Pain

The rise of Islamist parties in Egypt’s elections

After the overthrowing of dictator Hosni Mubarak, Egypt has had its first round of parliamentary elections, with two parties dominating the vote – the moderate Muslim Brotherhood and the religious conservative…
Explosions over Libya. AAP

The Libya stalemate: can it be broken?

After five months of conflict in Libya, the Gaddafi regime remains in power in Tripoli despite the rebel campaign and NATO airstrikes. Recent days have seen serious developments in the country. Muammar…

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