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Analysis and Comment (50)

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. 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. 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…
Salafi mosques are among the few to reach out to local converts in Europe. Salafi mosques are among the few to reach out to local converts in Europe. EPA/Julian Stratenschulte

European governments play their part in driving young Muslims to extremism

Governments in Europe have been horrified to see their young nationals turning to extremist groups and committing terrible acts in their name, but few have stopped to think about how their own policies…
Australian women of different faiths gathered at Sydney’s Lakemba Mosque last month in a show of community solidarity. 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 cooperation

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. 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. 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…
All bets are off over what the former Archbishop thinks about religion in public life. All bets are off over what the former Archbishop thinks about religion in public life. Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Rowan Williams and his ilk are not the people to decide where religion sits in public life

A high-level commission has been convened to consider the place of religion in British public life. But the way this commission has been put together makes it part of the problem rather than promising…
The hijab isn’t a symbol of oppression for many women. 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. 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. 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. 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…
To dream … the impossible dream. Impossible in Northern Ireland, apparently. To dream … the impossible dream. Impossible in Northern Ireland, apparently. Paul Faith/PA Wire

Nightmare in Northern Ireland seeing race replace religion as society’s open sore

For the rest of the world, Northern Ireland already has a notorious reputation for religious intolerance and sectarian hatred. This well-worn yarn tells of ancient enmities dividing Irish Catholics and…
The rise of Islamophobia in Australia has left Muslims vulnerable as anti-discrimination laws cover racial but not religious vilification. 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. 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. 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…
Is religion a relic of the past? Is religion a relic of the past? Saffron Blaze

British faith today: open to the spirit, closed to religion

All sorts of claims about religious decline are flying around at the moment, from George Carey’s comment that the Church of England is “one generation away from extinction” to Richard Dawkins’ comments…
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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? 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…
Wilders has a charming brand of right wing intolerance. Wilders has a charming brand of right wing intolerance. David Crosling/AAP

Who’s afraid of Geert Wilders? Populism and the politics of hate

Dutch populist politician Geert Wilders sure knows how to attract controversy. He also really, really hates Islam. Here in Australia on a speaking tour organised by the anti-Islamic Q Society, Wilders…
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. 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…
Should children be involved in protest actions? Should children be involved in protest actions? AAP/Marianna Massey

Kids and divided loyalties: what we can learn from the Sydney riots

It is the season of tribal loyalty in Australia – weekends are parades of painted, jersey-wearing, flag and placard-waving fans. This is a loyalty we accept and foster in a sporting context, indeed it…
A US flag lies among the debris of the US consulate in Benghazi. A US flag lies among the debris of the US consulate in Benghazi. EPA

Death in Benghazi: the dark side of the citizens’ revolt in Libya

The American delegation in Benghazi has been left reeling by the deaths of four of its staff, amongst them Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. The deaths occurred in an effort to evacuate the consulate…
Libyan guards outside the Tripoli prison holding former Gaddafi era intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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? 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 residents of Bagram were furious at reports that US troops had burned a Qu'ran. The residents of Bagram were furious at reports that US troops had burned a Qu'ran. EPA/S. Sabawoon

Bagram riots expose Afghanistan’s shifting allegiances to the masters of war

The only thing surprising about yesterday’s riots outside of Afghanistan’s Bagram air base is that these things don’t happen more often. What is fascinating about Afghanistan is how its infrastructural…
The AFL is throwing everything is has at Greater Western Sydney. 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…
Nigeria’s troubles are fuelled by ethnic and religious tensions. Nigeria’s troubles are fuelled by ethnic and religious tensions. EPA/Stringer

Death, oil and religion: the origins of conflict in Nigeria run deep

The coming of the new year was not auspicious for Nigeria. Despite being rich in oil, the country is overwhelmed by corruption and violence. The north of the country has been torn apart by terrorist attacks…
Many Aboriginal people, like boxer Anthony Mundine, look to Islam as a way of re-connecting with their roots. 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. 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. 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…
You don’t need to take Iran’s nuclear facilities out by force. Just pass a virus onto them. You don’t need to take Iran’s nuclear facilities out by force. Just pass a virus onto them. EPA

How internet porn and investment scams could bring down Iran’s nuclear program

The latest round of chest beating over Iran developing nuclear weapons has seen renewed speculation over the possibility of military strikes on the Islamic Republic’s enrichment facilities. Certainly if…
Explosions over Libya. 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…
Aid is not getting to those who need it most. Aid is not getting to those who need it most. AFP

When drought becomes famine: the role of politics in the Horn of Africa

With the UN declaring famine in Somalia for the first time since 1992, and other countries in the Horn of Africa suffering critical food shortages, this already unstable region is facing devastation. Drought-stricken…
Norwegian soldiers stand in front the government building bombed by Anders Breivik. Norwegian soldiers stand in front the government building bombed by Anders Breivik. AAP

Anders Breivik, Australian anti-multiculturalists and the threat to social cohesion

The discovery of an Australian link to the horrifying murders of dozens of people by Anders Breivik in Norway has demonstrated the reach of connection in today’s globalised world. As a result of the ability…

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