New Methods Used To Promote American Version Of Islam

President Barack Obama introduces Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, a University of Memphis student, who, as a high school student in Massachusetts, broke the high school career points record in women`s basketball for her state, as he makes remarks during a dinner celebrating Ramadan in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009.


Tehran, Nov 7, IRNA - Americans have indulged in soft war techniques like Project Nur and forming of groups with Islamic appearances to harm Muslims.


For a long time, American officials have been searching for methods to inflict blows to Muslims active in the soft war fronts. One of these methods has been the formation of dependent and perverted groups with the objective of rising anti-religion feelings among Muslims and promoting secularism in both the Muslim communities inside the US and the Muslim societies outside the continent. They have been using everything to achieve this goal: from academic communities to mosques, from authors to all sorts of occupations as well as the internet, the multimedia options and the printed media.


Besides making general use of these methods which are among the techniques exclusively employed in the soft war projects against the Muslims, the remarkable thing has been the extensive employment of them against the Islamic Republic of Iran. While many of such groups and organizations have been apparently formed with the self-claimed objective of condemning use of violence in advancing political objectives and to promote human rights and peaceful coexistence, a closer look at the activities of many of them reveals that, contrary to their claims, they have been established to create tension among Muslims and encourage violence and discord among them in general and the Iranian nation in particular.


For example, one of the above-mentioned groups is the American Islamic Congress and its academic branch which is called the “Project Nur”. The group has been absolutely silent over killing of hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq or Afghanistan caused by foreign occupiers and has showed no activity of any kind to condemn the NATO operations in these two countries or in other Islamic countries like Pakistan. It has never said a word on human rights, civil rights or tolerance but the only thing to hear from it on Afghanistan has been the condemnation of an execution verdict issued by the country. This is while the American Islamic Congress has been planning and carrying out various programs in Sudan`s Darfur and also to bring home the issue of homosexuality for Muslim communities.


After the disturbances in Iran following the post-election riots, the Project Nur employed a lady - in a full-time basis - who had already organized a few anti-Iran demonstrations in the US to stage numerous propaganda programs like demonstrations and speeches in different universities in America. All this has been despite the claims of the group to be a non-religious and multi-cultural organization which is working to promote better understanding of and among Muslim communities.


Likewise, as another program sponsored by an exclusive budget approved by the US Congress for anti-Iran campaigns, a number of other people were employed to set up hundreds of internet websites to apparently support the so-called “green” groups who were protesting the results of the elections in Iran. A brief surfing of these sites reveals that most of them have been registered either in the US or other western countries and their administrators have generally had no kind of ties with Iran in the past few decades. Even more, in a majority of cases, they are not Iranian nationals. However, they still introduce themselves as activists protesting the results of the elections and kept triggering feelings of some ignorant people inside the country to cause unrest and riots. For instance, one of these websites paid a large sum of money to Google to appear as a link at the top of its search page in days before November 4. Quick investigations showed that the administrator of the site lived in Meryland, close to Washington DC, and had contributed to Obama campaign for several times as well.


Project Nur


Introduction


Muslim student communities and the term “Muslim” has traditionally implied religious roots and has never been interpreted in cultural terms. Project Nur, with no religious roots, is a “new light in the campus” implying that it is seeking to provide an alternative and distinct voice for Muslims in universities; a voice with a civic identity which promotes pluralism and moderate attitudes and approaches.


This project claims to be “a distinct and alternative Muslim voice” and a civic identity grounded in pluralism and moderate thinking and action. It claims to be emphasizing civic action with the goal of forging a cohesive and mutually respectful multicultural community of university students committed to the advancement of human rights, civil rights, social justice, tolerance, understanding, and co-existence” . It says it has been much needed at the present juncture because it provides the Muslim student circles with an opportunity to enter diverse communities.


Its Statement of Mission states that the organization is a non-religious civic initiative challenging increasingly negative perceptions of Muslims by advocating responsible leadership and `two-way` interfaith understanding. Founded after September 11, in late 2001, a diverse group of young Muslim Americans incorporated the project as a non-profit and non-partisan organization. Project Nur believes in only a responsible leadership rising from civic activities by Muslim American communities with concentration on issues both in and outside the US. It believes the voice of moderate Muslims could be well heard in US universities and outside them. It is not afraid to advocate unequivocally for equality, free expression, and nonviolence.


It believs that Muslim student groups and the term “Muslim” traditionally have been rooted in and/or associated with religion, and less often culture. Totally devoid of any religious underpinnings, Project Nur is a “new light on campus” in that it creates a distinct and alternative Muslim voice: a civic identity grounded in pluralism and moderate thinking and action, one that dispels the perception of a monolithic Muslim voice. This revolutionary and much needed civic identity is formed at the unique intersection between the American-Muslim community that is comprised of diverse opinions, beliefs, experiences, and backgrounds and the principles of human rights, civil rights, social justice, tolerance, understanding, and co-existence, making Project Nur a sum greater than its individual parts. Project Nur is an alternative student community providing a place for students to go where in the past they may have felt alienated and/or left without a voice.


Project Nur is a student-led initiative of the American Islamic Congress. The AIC was created after 9/11 as a non-religious, civic initiative challenging increasingly negative perceptions of Muslims by advocating responsible leadership and understanding. The AIC provides a platform for moderate Muslim human rights and civil rights activists and empowers them to raise their voices in the hopes of creating a better understanding of the Muslim world. As an extension of the AIC, Project Nur believes that only through responsible leadership and civic engagement emerging significantly from the American-Muslim community, focusing on issues here in the US and abroad, will the moderate Muslim voice be heard on campus and beyond. With this belief that responsible leadership is the remedy for the pressing challenges facing the American-Muslim community, the efforts of Project Nur leaders are organized around the fundamental guiding principles of nonviolence, equality, and free expression.


Project Nur is an inclusive space where civic-minded students of all backgrounds can come together to explore the complexity of the Muslim community and Muslim identity and simultaneously work together on issues affecting all human beings. While it encourages Muslim leadership, its leaders and members are both from within and outside the Muslim community. Project Nur is again distinct in that it emphasizes civic action, but does so with the goal of forging a cohesive and mutually respectful multicultural community. Moreover, Project Nur transcends mere discourse and dialogue through action-based undertakings addressing issues that equally affect all communities. It is Project Nur`s belief that only in taking action with different people, addressing issues affecting all humans, do we truly come to understand the meaning and reality of co-existence.


MISSION


Project Nur will be dedicated to creating a space that allows all students to learn from and about each other in order to build an inter-ethnic and multi-faith student community promoting human rights and civil rights; this would ultimately result in emphasizing the positive values and expectations of all identities, while promoting co-existence, tolerance and understanding. Furthermore, Project Nur aims to emphasize positive relationships by building bridges between Muslims and people of other faiths in order to diminish generalizations and stereotypes.


GOALS:


Hence, the goals of the Project Nur as defined in Arabic as enlightenment, relate to the name and mission which reach out to students to promote understanding of each other in the spirit of enlightenment.


1. Project Nur aims to form a social arena for students to represent a strong identity of multicultural backgrounds and opinions, while opening the doors for people of other cultures to come, share, discuss, and ask questions in a multicultural setting.


2. Project Nur`s goal is to a build a student led initiative for human rights and civil rights led by students in order to denounce hate speech and violence, by being committed to co-existence, tolerance and individual human and civil rights.


3. Project Nur aims to create the ground for voices of pluralism of Muslim-Americans and non-Muslim Americans by working with students who are progressive, reformist, liberal, secular, moderate or conservative and without proselytizing and judging Muslims of different thought.


4. We do not make religious rulings, and the chapters will not provide a religious agenda. The role of Project Nur is to promote human rights, promote positive social change in the pursuit of civil rights, and celebrate cultural and social identities students whether the individuals are religious or not.


As is evident enough, the group which seemingly advocates nonviolence is in deep reality only after promoting secularism and western-style freedoms among Muslims. Its main objective is to annihilate the Muslim communities both inside America and other world countries from within. In fact, it is a chapter in the US soft war program against Muslims and its propaganda ploy against the Islamic Republic of Iran is due to Tehran pioneering and outstanding role in encouraging and consolidating unity among Muslims.


(Description of Source: Tehran IRNA in English -- Official state-run online news agency, headed as of May 2008 by Mohammad Ja`far Behdad. Behdad, deputy for information and communication in the presidential office and a member of the policy-making council in IRNA, is a regular contributor to Keyhan newspaper. Previously he was head of Culture and Islamic Guidance in Hormozgan Province; URL:http://www.irna.ir)


© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.


Why Do Mideast States Fear Secularism?
The Daily Star Online
Friday, September 25, 2009


“Why Do Mideast States Fear Secularism?” -- The Daily Star Headline


Iran is a country that has gone very far in subjecting governance and societal institutions to the crushing influence of religious leadership, and to the clutches of organized clerical power. Street demonstrations following the June presidential election shook the Iranian regime. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, defended the integrity of the election and accused the opposition of disloyalty to the nation. The insecure Iranian regime monitors dissidence as a matter of routine.


Universities are strategic environments for mobilizing the opposition. The country-s `moral` police force surveys universities and worries even about the spread of social sciences in classrooms. Political sociology and philosophy are now considered dangerous topics. Social science has become `anti-Islamic` and `unpatriotic` to a regime gradually losing its grip over society When the state and the church (or the mosque or synagogue) are in constant search for legitimacy, it is natural for them to form an implicit alliance to maintain their hold on society, and this they tend to do against what they perceive to be a common enemy: secularism.


Secularism promotes the separation of religious institutions from state structures. On a personal level, the religious and the secular need not be in conflict. When devout individuals vote for the separation of the church, mosque, or synagogue from the state, they are behaving secularly, but that does not necessarily diminish their commitment to the religious.


In the Middle East examples abound of the interconnectedness between the state and religious structures. In Egypt, the government has doubtless tried to suppress religious parties by denying them representation in Parliament. Yet this restrictiveness has not been effective. The Muslim Brotherhood is the fastest growing movement in the country. In contrast, secular parties and thinkers have suffered the most from government pressure. There is not a single secular Egyptian party rivaling the Muslim Brotherhood. Both the government and the religious authorities often work hand-in-hand to impose silence on free thinkers.


Repetitive and pervasive religious indoctrination in the media has also inhibited independent thinking in Egypt. On many occasions, the government has taken liberal authors to court to challenge their `loyalty` to Islam. The late Egyptian writer and Nobel Prize for Literature winner Naguib Mahfouz barely escaped an assassination attempt for writing his vivid, essentially secular novels. When in doubt, courts ask the supreme religious authority to give their verdicts on accused secularists.


In discouraging secular manifestations outside its control, the Egyptian state is hardly an exception in the Arab world. In Lebanon, state, church and mosque dynamics illustrate ways in which religion and politics feed into mutual communal insecurity. The political elite sustains a sectarian power-sharing system of governance, in collaboration with the clergy. The Lebanese are often socially secular but politically they are not. Sectarianism is passed on from one generation to another and is reinforced by laws regulating identity formation, voting, and personal-status issues such as birth, adoption, marriage and inheritance.


Secularism is not simply a temperament or a philosophy. It is also something vital for political liberation, while its absence promotes the status quo. A secular education leads to scientific problem-solving and allows people to be comfortable with creative doubt. Whatever questions poor governance, rulers for life, invasive theology, dull-witted education, unfair gender laws, abuse of national resources, and more, is bound to come from people who respect science, human rights and the rule of law, and who do not consider matters solely in a religious framework.


As critics of religious leaders and political rulers, secular reformers also become threats to injustice. Political questioning disarms those who possessively hold on to temporal and ecclesiastical power. Sometimes, strange alliances form between states and religious powers. For example, Israel, led by a largely secular government, has worked with evangelical Western churches in combating political Islam. But then everywhere in the Middle East regimes have developed odd relationships with religion. There are regimes that have assumed the role of protectors of Islam. There are rulers who claim direct descent from the Prophet. There are governments that position clerics above the law. There are nations ruled by religious minorities who pretend to be secular. There are countries claiming to base their constitution on religion, despite glaring violations of the essence of that religion. And there is a state whose people are chosen by God and whose land is considered holy.


The secret code binding together the state and the senior cleric is political survival. Yet their survival comes at the expense of the rest of society.


Ghassan Michel Rubeiz is an Arab-American commentator. He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR .Tags: Egypt, Iran, Leader, Muslim, Opposition, Science, Social


(Description of Source: Beirut The Daily Star Online in English -- Website of the independent daily, The Daily Star; URL: http://dailystar.com.lb)


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Religious Zionism Split on How To Confront Rabin Legacy
The Jerusalem Post Online
Friday, October 30, 2009


Article by Matthew Wagner: “Religious Zionism Confronts Rabin Legacy”


How should religious Zionists mark the anniversary of former prime minister Yitzhaq Rabin`s assassination?


This question stood at the center of debate among rabbis and educators Thursday as a large portion of media air time, public school activity and politicians` speeches were devoted to remembering Rabin, the only Israeli prime minister to be murdered and whose death poses the most extreme example of the dangers of an internecine clash between religious and secular, Right and Left.


In contrast to Haredim, who have no desire to form strong bonds with secular Israeli society and therefore completely ignore the day of remembrance for Rabin, religious Zionists see themselves as full participants in all aspects of the modern Jewish state.


Out of a strong religious conviction that the State of Israel represents and implements the aspirations of the Jewish people, religious Zionists serve in the military, pledge allegiance to Zionist ideals, learn in institutions of higher education and work in all fields.


Therefore, they resent the sweeping accusations made by some secular Israelis against the entire religious Zionist population when it became known that Yig`al Amir, Rabin`s assassin, was affiliated with religious Zionism.


At the same time, religious Zionists do not deny that there is a major ideological divide between themselves and Rabin`s legacy of territorial compromise and secularism.


This conflicted attitude toward marking Rabin`s assassination was expressed well by an anonymous questioner on the popular religious Zionist Internet site Kipa.


The young man, who identified himself as a high school student, submitted a question to the “Ask the Rabbi” corner of the site. “


Should I participate in the ceremony marking Rabin`s assassination?” asked the young man. “


If I do, I will be taking part in a ceremony devoted to this man, something which I truly do not want to do.


(The very fact that Rabin is being praised for his achievement and for his thought and actions makes me sick.)


And if I don`t participate, then I am separating myself from the Jewish people and my school.


What should I do?”


The rabbi, who represents the mainstream, moderate religious Zionist stream, advised the student not to alienate himself from his school. “


If there are aspects of the ceremony that conflict with Halakha, such as a solo female singer or female dancers, then you should step outside temporarily until these performances are over,” said the rabbi. “


And if statements are made during the ceremony which are opposed to your personal views, you are not obligated to respond and arouse controversy.


Rather, be tolerant.


The next day, you should express your feelings with your teacher and ask that a class discussion be conducted.


Finally, you should volunteer to be among the planners of the ceremony next year.”


The question and answer reflect the tension between strong feelings of loyalty to Israeli society on one hand, and deeply divergent opinions on religious and political values on the other.


On one side of the spectrum is Zefat Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, who said he was “sick of the annual hoopla surrounding Rabin`s assassination.” “


I am sick of it all,” said Eliyahu in a telephone interview Thursday. “


Every year about this time there is a concerted effort to ram Rabin`s legacy down our throats.


He was a man guilty of political bribery who made huge mistakes that endangered the Jewish people.


I don`t identify with what Rabin stands for, and I don`t want to be forcibly reeducated.”


Eliyahu said that if the day were dedicated to a campaign against violence of all kinds, he would support it wholeheartedly.


In a similar vein, a group of young right-wing activists distributed flyers Thursday to different schools around the nation, according to Internet news outlet Arutz Sheva.


Each flyer reportedly stated that while its authors were “opposed to violence,” they nevertheless took issue with the “Rabin legacy.” “


This legacy advocates opening fire on a lone boat (the Altalena) just because the passengers on the boat shared different political opinions,” said the flyers, referring to the incident on June 1948 in which Rabin, under direct orders from the head of the provisional government, David Ben-Gurion, opened fire on a ship belonging to the Irgun. “


This legacy also includes disrespect for the other, dismissing settlers and other opponents in derogatory terms,” the flyers continued. “


It includes arming terrorists, abandoning land that rightfully belongs to the Jewish people and endangering the lives of Jews.


Rabin`s legacy failed!


Rabin brought disaster on us!!”


The flyers were signed by “Students Who Care About Israel.”


In contrast, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, head of the Ateret Yerushalayim Yeshiva, said it was important for religious Zionists to participate in ceremonies commemorating Rabin. “


It is import to honor Rabin as a former prime minister, may his memory be a blessing,” said Aviner. “


Even if there is a lot of criticism directed against him, some of it very severe, Rabin nevertheless contributed so much to the people, the land and the nation of Israel.”


Aviner agreed that participation in Rabin ceremonies was conditional upon “kosher content” and that when possible the ceremony should have Jewish messages.


Commenting on the flyers, Aviner said that “just as there are leftists who demonize the entire Right, so, too, there are right-wing activists who demonize the Left.”


Rabin, Aviner said, “was not a traitor.


What he did was for the benefit of the state.


He thought it was better to live in peace with only a third of the territory, but that has international recognition and that is not constantly delegitimized, than to hold onto everything and be under constant attack.


I think he made a mistake, but that does not make him a traitor.”


Aviner related how Rabin had insisted on holding onto the Jewish settlement of Netzarim in the Gaza Strip, even though it was completely surrounded by Palestinians, and that he had suffered criticism from his peers for this. “


There is a prohibition in Halakha against publishing anything that arouses man`s base emotions, whether it be pornography or incitement to hatred of the other,” added Aviner, referring to the flyers. “


The only remedy for the danger of internecine war is to open up huge resources of boundless love for our fellow Jews,” he concluded. “


That should be the main message on the anniversary of Rabin`s assassination.”


(Description of Source: Jerusalem The Jerusalem Post Online in English -- Website of right-of-center, independent daily; URL: http://www.jpost.co.il)


© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.


Russian Pundit Expects `Military Putsch` in `Secular` Iran If Khamenei Dies
APN
Thursday, October 22, 2009


Article by Yevgeniy Satanovskiy: “We Can Expect Accession to Power of `Secular Iran` and Decline of `Mullocracy.` Hitler in Iran?”


The Iranian opposition has declared in all earnestness that Ali Khamene`i, the spiritual leader of the Islamic Republic, “is in the hands of Allah.” What might happen if these reports are confirmed? There will undoubtedly be a transformation no less serious than that which occurred in our country when Lenin died.


Today we have, de facto, in a second term a president of Iran who for the first time is not a spiritual leader. Before him, both Hashemi-Rafsanjani and Khatami were representatives of the theocratic elite.


After the election, when President Ahmadinejad came through for a second term (more accurately, Ayatollah Khamene`i simply used his authority to get him through) - moreover, with very great violations which drew millions of people onto the streets - after this the opposition smashed everything that might have existed in the system of power, in the system of checks and balances. The opposition did not just bring people onto the streets; leaders headed it. It was fired upon, dozens of people died, and Hashemi-Rafsanjani lost the post of representative of the Friday prayers (a simply fantastic event). That is, absolutely everything is changing today.


Yesterday we would have said that there is the Assembly of Experts, Hashemi-Rafsanjani will convene it, a new rahbar (leader) will be chosen, and nothing will change. Like when the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was replaced. Moreover, he himself would have become the rahbar.


Today the situation is different: He has been accused of being an agent of the West and of Zionism. His children have been arrested, his supporters have been arrested. Today all those who might constitute an opposition to secular, nonreligious President Ahmadinejad are being blackened, arrested, and accused of being agents of the West.


Therefore we can perfectly well expect a political military putsch, the accession to power of “secular Iran,” and the decline of the “mullocracy,” as it is sometimes called. This will gladden few people because this will not be a Westernized, democratic Iran. The situation was similar when Stalin replaced Lenin, becoming the fuehrer of the Soviet people, and when Hitler replaced Hindenburg and became the fuehrer of the German people. The Iranian people also have such a fuehrer today, and he is the chief political figure.


Since there is no system of checks and balances, this is sharply worsening the situation in Iran`s relations with the surrounding world. It is exacerbating the situation of confrontation with Israel and provides grounds to expect quite serious complications both in the Persian Gulf zone and along the entire Iranian periphery. The crisis in Iranian society will be serious, and any crisis is extinguished exclusively by military means: War makes it possible to crush the opposition. If there is internal confrontation escalating into civil war, then nothing better exists than to launch an external war. The danger of such a war today is far greater than it was yesterday.


As for the prospects of the Iranian nuclear program in the light of recent events, prognoses were made long ago: Iran is moving toward the nuclear bomb. Iran will make it. No one will be able to do anything with Iran. Just as nobody could do anything with Mao Zedong or with Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin. Therefore there will soon be a big complication with the situation regarding the nonproliferation regime, which will simply collapse.


Iran`s relations with Russia will not change in any way. These relations can be described as “strained neighborliness.” We have a tough standoff over the Caspian, and Iran is our rival on world fuel and energy markets - primarily gas markets. Iran is a very difficult neighbor. Perfectly understandable fears are the only reason we have not yet subscribed to sanctions: If your neighbor is a hooligan, you will be very cautious in everything that affects his interests.


Therefore it is a delusion to think that Iran takes Russia into consideration in its activity. Iran exposes Russia, and no way will this situation change.


(Description of Source: Moscow APN in Russian -- Website featuring political rumors; owned by Belkovskiy`s National Strategy Institute; URL: http://www.apn.ru/)


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