Egyptian military’s pact with Islamists

EGYPT-POLITICS-UNREST-DEMOBy Amir Taheri:

Sometime next week, Egypt’s military-run government will publish the “first draft” of a new constitution to replace the one worked out by the government of the ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

The coup that returned the military to power after a year-long interval was presented as an attempt to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood from imposing an Islamist dictatorship with a constitutional facade. Highlighted were two articles in the Morsi constitution that identified the Islamic sharia as the source of legislation in Egypt and gave Al-Azhar, the official seminary, a virtual veto on certain issues.

The crowds that for weeks filled Tahrir Square called on the army to intervene to save the nation from a burgeoning sharia-based ­dictatorship. Well, when the new draft constitution — written by a 50-man committee appointed by the military — is published, the Tahrir Square crowds are likely to be disappointed. The two controversial articles will still be there, albeit under different numbers and with slight changes in terminology.

“Egyptians want to retain their Islamic identity,” says Kamal Halbawi, a former Brotherhood member who co-chaired the army-appointed drafting committee with Amr Moussa, a former foreign minister during the earlier military governments.

Thus Islamists, including the Salafist Nour ( Light) Party sponsored by Saudi Arabia will have no reason to be unhappy with the proposed draft.

The difference this time is that the new constitution also gives the military what the text drafted by Morsi denied it. The armed forces will get recognition for their “special status” and given a virtual veto on key aspects of security, foreign and even economic policies.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the junta formed after Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, will be recognized as a constitutionally sanctioned state organ with “special responsibilities and prerogatives,” including the appointment of the defense minister and the supervision of the military budget, which will be spared public submission to the parliament.

Put brutally, the proposed draft constitution is a pact between a section of the military led by Gen. Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi and a section of the Islamic movement spearheaded by Salafists.

The faction led by Sisi represents a segment of the officers’ corps reluctant to abandon a system under which the army acted as a state within the state and seized control of perhaps 20 percent of the national economy. As always during the past 100 years, the military is using a pseudo-nationalistic discourse full of xenophobic shibboleths.

The Salafist faction hopes to seize the opportunity of its collaboration with the military to build its position within the Islamist constituency. With the Muslim Brotherhood banned and most of its leaders under arrest, the Salafists hope to seduce some of their followers, especially with the help of a deluge of Saudi money.

However, even when they add their respective bases of support, the Sisi faction of the military and the Salafist faction do not represent more than a third of the Egyptian electorate.

Read more at NYP

 

 

 

Saudi Arabia still head of terror finance octopus

sausi petrodollars

Money Jihad:

Saudi Arabia remains the world’s top financier of terrorism and sponsor of fundamentalist Islam throughout the Arab Spring.  U.S. media and Treasury officials don’t really like to discuss it in public, but a report earlier this fall from France 24 gives further confirmation, if you needed it, of the fact that Saudi petrodollars are behind the latest Salafist inroads in the Middle East.

Read it all:

How Saudi petrodollars fuel rise of Salafism

Since the 2011 Arab revolts, a loose network of underground zealots has evolved into a potent and highly vocal force. Behind the remarkable rise of Salafism lies the world’s leading producer of oil – and extremist Islam: Saudi Arabia.

By Marc DAOU

When protesters incensed by an anti-Muslim video scaled the walls of the US embassy in Cairo on September 11, tearing down the Stars and Stripes, a black flag could be seen floating above the battered compound. From Sanaa, in Yemen, to Libya’s Benghazi, the same black banner, emblem of the Salafists, soon became a ubiquitous sight as anti-US protests spread like wildfire across the Arab world. The 2011 Arab uprisings have served the Salafists well. With the old dictators gone, a once subterranean network of hardliners has sprung into prominence – funded by a wealthy Gulf patron locked in a post-Arab Spring rivalry with a fellow Gulf monarchy.

The ‘predecessors’

A puritanical branch of Islam, Salafism advocates a strict, literalist interpretation of the Koran and a return to the practices of the “Salaf” (the predecessors), as the Prophet Mohammed and his disciples are known. While Salafist groups can differ widely, from the peaceful, quietist kind to the more violent clusters, it is the latter who have attracted most attention in recent months.

In Libya and Mali, radical Salafists have been busy destroying ancient shrines built by more moderate groups, such as Sufi Muslims. Fellow extremists in Tunisia have tried to silence secular media and destroy “heretical” artwork. And the presence of Salafist fighting units in Syria has been largely documented. Less well known is who is paying for all this – and why.

‘Export-Wahhabism’

For regional experts, diplomats and intelligence services, the answer to the first question lies in the seemingly endless flow of petrodollars coming from oil-rich Saudi Arabia. “There is plenty of evidence pointing to the fact that Saudi money is financing the various Salafist groups,” said Samir Amghar, author of “Le salafisme d’aujourd’hui. Mouvements sectaires en Occident” (Contemporary Salafism: Sectarian movements in the West).

According to Antoine Basbous, who heads the Paris-based Observatory of Arab Countries, “the Salafism we hear about in Mali and North Africa is in fact the export version of Wahhabism,” a conservative branch of Sunni Islam actively promoted and practised by Saudi Arabia’s ruling family. Since the 1970s oil crises provided the ruling House of Saud with a seemingly endless supply of cash, “the Saudis have been financing [Wahhabism] around the world to the tune of several million euros,” Basbous told FRANCE 24.

Opaque channels

Not all of the cash comes from Saudi state coffers. “Traditionally, the money is handed out by members of the royal family, businessmen or religious leaders, and channelled via Muslim charities and humanitarian organizations,” said Karim Sader, a political analyst who specializes in the Gulf states, in an interview with FRANCE 24.

Until the Arab Spring revolts upended the region’s political landscape, these hidden channels enabled the Salafists’ Saudi patrons to circumvent the authoritarian regimes who were bent on crushing all Islamist groups. These were the same opaque channels that allegedly supplied arms to extremist groups, particularly in Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to Western intelligence officials.

Free education

Other, slightly less shadowy recipients of Saudi petrodollars include the numerous religious institutions built around the Arab world to preach Wahhabi Islam, as well as the growing list of Saudi satellite channels that provide a platform for radical Salafist preachers. A large share of the booty also goes to Arab students attending religious courses at the kingdom’s universities in Medina, Riyadh and the Mecca.

“Most of the students at Medina University are foreigners who benefit from generous scholarships handed out by Saudi patrons, as well as free accommodation and plane tickets,” said Amghar. “Once they have graduated, the brightest are hired by the Saudi monarchy, while the rest return to their respective countries to preach Wahhabi Islam”. According to Amghar, the members of France’s nascent Salafist movement follow a similar path.

Direct funding

Exporting its own brand of Islam is not the only item on Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy agenda. “While they see themselves as the guardians of Islamic doctrine and have always generously financed Muslim missionaries, the Saudis’ priority is not to ‘salafise’ the Muslim world,” explained Amghar. “Their real aim is to consolidate their political and ideological influence by establishing a network of supporters capable of defending the kingdom’s strategic and economic interests.”

Since last year’s Arab revolutions, these supporters have benefited from more direct – and politically motivated – funding. “With the region’s former dictators out of the way, Salafist groups have evolved into well-established parties benefiting from more official Saudi aid,” said Sader, pointing to the spectacular rise of Egypt’s al-Nour party, which picked up a surprising 24% of the vote in January’s parliamentary polls.

“The Saudis were genuinely surprised by the Arab Spring revolts,” said Mohamed-Ali Adraoui, a political analyst who specialises in the Muslim world. “Riyadh’s response was to back certain Salafist groups (…) so that it may gain further clout in their respective countries,” Adraoui told FRANCE 24.

Gulf rivalries

The Saudi strategy is similar to that adopted by its arch Gulf rival Qatar – a smaller but equally oil-rich kingdom – in its dealings with the Muslim Brotherhood, the other great beneficiary of the Arab Spring. “When it comes to financing Islamist parties, there is intense competition between Qatar and Saudi Arabia,” said Sader.

read more

See also:

Money Jihad: How Islamists Finance Their Operations

Pat Condell Rips Saudi Arabia again (Video)

The Savage Lands of Islam

Webinar: How America’s Addiction to Saudi Oil is Funding Global Terror

Saudi Arabia – Moderate Voice or Draconian Monarchy?

Behind Muslim “Hurt Feelings” Is Islamic Law

By David Reaboi

If you’ve been  paying any attention to the media (not just this week, but for at least  the last several years), you might get the idea that Muslims in the  Middle East are pretty excitable people, given to quick offense and  “hurt feelings” at any slight against their prophet, holy book or legal  code. The very same “hurt feelings” emerge when the pretext is a  cartoon, a book, or even US counter-terror policy, like outlawing  material support for terrorist organizations. Over years, Islamist  pressure groups in the US have taught the Obama administration how to  apologize for every slight to Islam’s honor; the US government has  learned it so well, they’ve internalized the process of continuous  apology and have endeavored to preempt the “hurt feelings” of Islamists  at home and abroad.

But Muslims are really no more  sensitive and fragile than the rest of us. “Hurt feelings,” is what the  western media needs to label something they don’t understand, and are  afraid to learn.

Last week’s violence in the Middle East–  and, indeed, so much of it for the last several years– is only because  this movie (or whatever pretext, cartoons, etc.) runs afoul of  mainstream Islamic shariah law of slander and blasphemy. “Hurt feelings”  or “feeling offended” is the way the west processes this phenomenon,  but it’s far from what we, in our world of conflict resolution,  psychotherapy, and Montessori education have come to understand as such.

Regardless  of the actual history and provenance of the film (and we should not  discount the possibility of it being concocted by Salafists as a kind of  blasphemous false flag), “Innocence of Muslims” appears to violate a  principle absolutely clear to any practicing Muslim who knows the law.

How  Islamic law on blasphemy gets to be what it is is interesting in  itself. Briefly, the consensus of scholars in Islam (i.e., what is  required to establish a final, unalterable ruling on a subject) have  agreed that, one who blasphemes against Islam, in effect, engages in  slander against the religion (“Slander [ghiba] means to mention anything  concerning a person [a Muslim] that he would dislike,” according to a  canonical Shaf’i jurist al Misri) and places a Muslim in the category of  apostate, for which the punishment is death. An example (not from the  misty past, but from 2007) illustrates this concisely:

If  a Muslim commits blasphemy against the Prophet, this is an act of  disbelief which takes him out of the fold of Islam. Allaah Says (what  means): {Make no excuse; you have disbelieved [i.e. rejected faith]  after your belief. If We pardon one faction of you—We will punish  another faction because they were criminals.}[Quran 9:66] If joking is  considered as an act of apostasy, then it is more confirmed for one who  is saying it intentionally. If the blasphemer does not repent, he should  be killed for his apostasy. However, if he sincerely repents to Allaah,  Allaah will accept his repentance. Repentance expiates all sins, even  Shirk (associating partners to Allaah). Allaah Knows best.” [Blasphemy  against the Prophet is an act of apostasy. Islam Web Fatwa Center, Fatwa  No. 17316, December 11, 2007]

Again, the  legal rulings on this point are consistent. A very helpful digest on the  Islamic legal rulings is here:  http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Islam_and_Freedom_of_Speech#What_is_Blasphemy.3F

By  this definition, “Innocence of Muslims” is cut-and-dry blasphemy. And  that the real source of those “hurt feelings,” however articulated.

Of  course, not everyone in Egypt is ready to commit violence to further  shariah, but nearly everyone is aware of what the appropriate punishment  under Islamic law is, and has very little legal basis on which to argue  against it. Perhaps the most they can say is that the penalty must be  carried out by the Islamic state rather than vigilantes. But,  essentially, they are either in agreement with the legal principle (like  a scholar at al Azhar, a Salafist or a Muslim Brother) or have a  general but acute awareness of the law’s existence. For example, an  illiterate Egyptian or Libyan, unschooled in the details of Islamic  jurisprudence would understand this the way an American citizen would be  familiar with the First Amendment but not necessarily with the  historical and philosophical puzzle-pieces required to justify it. But  it does not make that citizen’s devotion to its contents any less real.

This  is why you see so much Islamic outrage over “offenses” like this. Don’t  let the media or the Obama administration tell you it’s simply “hurt  feelings.”

Pew Research Institute Releases Telling Survey of World’s Muslims

By Clare Lopez

Recent results of the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life multi-year survey of beliefs and practices by the world’s Muslims that were published 8 August 2012 are remarkable in a number of respects. First of all, the broad scope of the project—based on 38,000 face-to-face interviews conducted with Muslims in 39 different countries and territories—ensured a wide range of opinions from a diverse sampling of Muslim communities.

The results, however, show a high level of agreement about one of the most debated issues concerning Islam: Whether Muslims believe Islamic teaching is subject to various “interpretations” or only one. As Islamic teaching is derived from the Qur’an, the Sira, and the ahadith (which together are the main sources for Sharia, or Islamic law), in essence this was a question about Muslim beliefs about the fundamentals of their faith.

According to the Pew survey results, a majority (more than 50%) of Muslims in 32 of 39 countries believes that “There is only one true way to interpret the teachings of my religion.”

The highest levels of agreement with that statement were found in places perhaps not expected to score at or above the 75% mark: Bosnia-Herzegovina (in the heart of Europe) and Tajikistan (in Central Asia). Three of the most populous Muslim countries—Indonesia, Malaysia, and Pakistan—all scored above 70% agreement on the oneness of Islamic doctrine, a level of orthodoxy that tracks well with Pakistan’s jihadist image, but may come as a jolt to those who still think that Islam’s East Asian strongholds are somehow more willing to diverge from core Islamic doctrine than their Middle Eastern co-religionists.

In fact, Indonesian Muslims’ 72% level of agreement that there is “only one true way to interpret” Islam places them just a few points behind Egypt and Jordan, with 78% and 76%, respectively. It was the Sub-Saharan African Muslims who posted the strongest display of Sharia adherence, however: All 16 survey countries from Mali and Nigeria in West Africa to Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania in the east scored above the 50% mark of agreement on the “one true” interpretation question.

Of course, Tawhid, meaning the oneness of Allah, the oneness of belief, and the oneness of the Muslim ummah, is a core identifying concept of Islam that would not come as a surprise to those who have studied authoritative Islamic doctrine.

The new Pew survey was conducted among global Muslims, but did not include interviews of American Muslims. The Institute, however, has conducted earlier, similar surveys among U.S. Muslims, specifically in 2007 and 2011.

The August 2011 “Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism” report stands out for the mind-boggling statistic that shows only 26% of all Muslims in America see themselves as American first, while nearly double that number (49%) see themselves as Muslim first and American second. An additional 18% see themselves as both American and Muslim equally.

There’s another wake-up call in the August 2011 U.S. survey, where Pew asked essentially the same question about American Muslims’ views on the “ways to interpret the teachings of Islam” as in the 2012 global survey. By a 57% to 37% margin, American Muslims said there was more than one way.

Of the minority (37%) who thought there was only one way to interpret Islamic teaching, however, native U.S.-born Muslims were more likely to believe there was only one way to interpret Islam than the foreign-born immigrant Muslims! Put another way, native-born American citizen Muslims are far more likely to be rigid about their Islamic faith than Muslim immigrants—by a whopping 46% to 31% margin.

This finding means that the Salafist indoctrination efforts of Muslim Brotherhood-dominated madrassas, mosques and Islamic Centers across the U.S. are successful at turning out home-grown, Sharia-adherent Muslims. Additionally, it correlates well with the results of the Summer 2011 Middle East Quarterly “Mapping Sharia” study by Mordechai Kedar and David Yerushalmi, which found that teaching at U.S. mosques is overwhelmingly (80%) of the hard core Salafi variety that advocates violence.

Read more at Radical Islam

Clare Lopez is a senior fellow at RadicalIslam.org and a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on the Middle East, national defense and counterterrorism. Lopez began her career as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).