Islam

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Brussels Airport bombers Brahim and Khalid el-Bakraoui had previously spent time in prison. EPA/Interpol

The new breed of terrorists: criminals first, Islamists second

Apart from having little or no knowledge of religion, the new crop of Islamic State recruits come primed for violence with a different set of skills, honed through criminal activity.
The Crusades evoke a romantic image of medieval knights, chivalry, romance and religious high-mindedness. David Wise/Flickr

Did the Crusades lead to Islamic State?

Representing even the Crusades as wars between Christians and Muslims is a gross oversimplification and a misreading of history.
Islam is a rich and varied religion. EPA/Sanjeev Gupta

Why is Islam so different in different countries?

Since Islam is predicated on law, variations in the interpretation of that law – along with geography and distinct legal schools – have all contributed to differences in the religion.
Saudi Arabia’s execution of 47 people has prompted global protests. Reuters

Saudi executions: business as usual in a post-Arab Spring world

The executions on the weekend are notable for the sheer number of people killed. However, they maintain a policy of political crackdown that was reinvigorated in Saudi Arabia during the Arab Spring.
It’s been a decade since the Cronulla riots, but have the attitudes that fuelled these violent tensions changed in Australian society? Paul Miller/AAP

Ten years on from the Cronulla riots, how much has really changed?

A decade on from the Cronulla Riots, Australia needs to reflect upon the lessons that should be learnt following the riot which divided a nation.
German migration to South Australia provides a useful comparison point on how to comprehend and work with the Muslim community today. State Library of South Australia

The German migrant story holds lessons for Australia’s Muslim community today

The story of German migration to South Australia can highlight the experience of diverse communities, and what can happen to them in a time of serious conflict.
An open and honest discussion about radicalisation cannot ignore the alienating impacts of racism and Islamophobia, starkly on display at this vandalised Muslim prayer centre in Brisbane. AAP/Tertius Pickard

Yes, let’s have a frank and open discussion about the causes of extremism and terrorism

A frank debate about the causes of extremism and terrorism would acknowledge uncomfortable issues like the alienating impacts of racism, Islamophobia and Western military actions and foreign policy.
Sydney Opera House is illuminated in the colours of the French flag in a display of solidarity after the attacks on Paris. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Socially mediated terrorism poses devilish dilemma for social responses

Islamic State terrorism and propaganda are designed to provoke often predictable responses. We naturally respond with displays of outrage and solidarity, but we should beware the trap of division.
Calls for Islamic reform overlook the political motivations of extremism, and attack fundamental religious practices. Elias Pirasteh

An Islamic reformation is not the solution to stop extremism

Calls for a reformed, modern Islam will not combat the political and social motivations that underly radical and extremist ideologies.
Palestinian men pray in the Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-amid. Ammar Awad/Reuters

Is Islam incompatible with modernity?

Religion and modernity need not be at odds with one another, and many leading Muslim thinkers are plumbing early texts to promote progressive ideas.

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