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Zineb's War on Islamic Fascism

In August 2011, in the midst of the Arab Spring, Zineb El Rhazoui, a young Moroccan-French woman, stood in a packed forum on human rights in the Arab world and launched a strong attack against Driss El Yazami, the president of Morocco’s Human Rights Council, blaming him for ignoring the myriad oppressions inflicted on human rights activists in Morocco. Zineb, a self-proclaimed atheist, had already an impressive number of activism credentials to her name, including being cofounder of the Alternative Movement for Individual Liberties (known in French as MALI), which became famous for challenging the penal code criminalizing fasting in public during Ramadan. She was a journalist out of a job, too, and she was upset.

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A Prophet in His Own Land

I just finished reading an eye-opening book by the Tunisian scholar Hela Ouardi, a professor of French literature who has waded brilliantly into Islam’s canonical texts, written by Sunnis and Shiites alike, and emerged with a striking portrait of the Prophet Mohammed as he lay dying in Medina. This picture is gleaned and stitched together from voluminous narratives, written over centuries, many of which present different versions of the same event. Since we have no surviving documents from Mohammed's lifetime or the decades immediately following his death to guide us, and since all Muslims rely on the texts Ouardi examines to build their image of the Prophet, this is probably the best that can be done.

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Trump, Islam and the West

Understandably, Donald Trump’s suggestion that non-US Muslims seeking entry into the United States should be barred until we figure out what is going on with Muslims and the United States has caused worldwide consternation and condemnation, but I would like to propose that even such outrageous and profoundly un-American statements could be leveraged to make some progress in the fight against Islamic terrorism. 

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The Koran Fragments of Birmingham

The recent discovery of fragments of a Koran dating back to the early decades of Islam was major news around the world and a source of great excitement to Muslims everywhere. Carbon-dated with more than 95 percent accuracy, the fragments, housed in the Mingana Collection of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Birmingham, leave little doubt about their historical provenance.

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