Archive for category Islamic state

Can moderates take on the Islamic State and win?

by Melissa Chi
Malay Mail Online
October 3, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3 — The Islamic State (IS) has been luring hundreds of the followers of the religion of peace to join its cause in the Middle East, including Malaysians, by romanticising jihad, but a panel of moderate Muslims here believe the militant movement can be beaten.

Speaking at a youth townhall session themed ‘Extremists & Terrorism: How Should Moderates Respond?’ at Publika Solaris Dutamas last night, a three-man panel representing three local Muslim groups suggested the first step to counter the IS and other like-minded jihadists would be to make moderation “sexy” again.

“There is something narrative on the other side. It’s really powerful and it can be very attractive and you really have to counter that narrative,” said Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, CEO of the Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMM).

The IS and other similar extremist Muslim groups have been holding up their fight to forcefully create a caliphate in Syria and Iraq as a chance for Muslims worldwide to gain glory for Islam and themselves, even at the cost of their lives in which they will be rewarded with martyrdom in the hereafter.

“Most of us are silent. We don’t actually talk about this. I think we need to shape discourse to reclaim the centre stage,” Saifuddin said.

He added that there should be attempts to make “moderation look sexy” by trying to make it like the norm rather than the exception when it comes to public discourse. Read the rest of this entry »

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Islamic State committing ‘staggering’ crimes in Iraq: U.N. report

By Stephanie Nebehay
Reuters
Oct 2, 2014

GENEVA (Reuters) – Islamic State insurgents in Iraq have carried out mass executions, abducted women and girls as sex slaves, and used child soldiers in what may amount to systematic war crimes that demand prosecution, the United Nations said on Thursday.

In a report based on 500 interviews with witnesses, also said Iraqi government air strikes on the Sunni Muslim militants had caused “significant civilian deaths” by hitting villages, a school and hospitals in violation of international law.

At least 9,347 civilians had been killed and 17,386 wounded so far this year through September, well over half of them since the Islamist insurgents also known as ISIL and ISIS began seizing large parts of northern Iraq in early June, the report said.

“The array of violations and abuses perpetrated by ISIL and associated armed groups is staggering, and many of their acts may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Indonesia banned ISIS

— Dominic Berger
The Malay Mail Online
October 1, 2014

OCTOBER 1 — Like in all democracies, the proscription of terrorist groups in Indonesia is a politically delicate and legally ambiguous process.

It requires the government to articulate convincing justifications for a ban, as well as provide adequate legal mechanisms for its implementation.

An examination of both suggests that when Indonesia banned ISIS in August 2014, it did so for much more complex reasons than fear of violent terrorism.

When ISIS captured large swathes of territory in Syria and northern Iraq and images of shocking violence made news around the world, the Indonesian public, and the government, remained largely pre-occupied with its most fiercely contested presidential election campaign in a decade. Despite signs throughout the first half of 2014 that Indonesia would eventually be forced to address the ISIS threat, the government and the public remained relatively uninterested. Back in March, even a public demonstration by ISIS supporters at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in central Jakarta drew neither the media’s nor the government’s attention. It took the appearance of a video on YouTube, titled Join the Ranks, in which an Indonesian ISIS fighter in Syria urged fellow Indonesians to join ISIS, to sharply focus the government’s attention on the growing ISIS-threat to Indonesia. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sedition rampage continues but Zahid has not honoured his oath that police will commence investigations “within 24 hours” on any sedition report as 120 hours have passed but still no police investigations against Najib and Mahathir

Another university lecturer is the latest victim in the lengthening list of the sedition crackdown intensified by the Najib government in the fortnight before the 57th Merdeka Day celebrations – Dr. Abdul Aziz Bari of the Universiti Selangor, who will be investigated by the police tomorrow under the Sedition Act after almost 100 reports were lodged against him for allegedly insulting the Sultan of Selangor for his views on the Selangor Mentri Besar constitutional crisis.

The sedition rampage continues, as hardly a day passes in the past month without someone being investigated or charged for sedition as if Malaysians have suddenly become the most “seditious” and anti-nationhal people in the world.

However, the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi has not honoured his oath that police will commence investigations “within 24 hours” on any sedition report as 120 hours have passed but still no police investigations had been commenced against the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir.

The DAP MP for Segambut Lim Lip Eng lodged police reports 120 hours ago last Wednesday against Najib and Mahathir respectively for having committed the sedition offence, but police investigations on both of them had not commenced although Mahathir had given the police a blank cheque to arrest him if he had broken the law. Read the rest of this entry »

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ISIS+Al-Nusra Front? Islamists reportedly join forces, new threat against West issued

RT
September 29, 2014

Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front has issued a new threatening audio message featuring its leader warning the West “will pay the heaviest price” for its actions. The Syrian group is reportedly now joining up with the estranged Islamic State militants.

The leader of Syria’s most prominent terrorist group, Abu Mohamad al-Golani, in denouncing the US-led air strike campaign, has urged Westerners everywhere to do the same “by standing against the decisions of your rulers,” otherwise bloodshed would be brought to their soil.

“Muslims will not watch while their sons are bombed. Your leaders will not be the only ones who would pay the price of the war. You will pay the heaviest price,” Reuters cited him as saying. He threatened viewers that the fight would be brought “to the hearts of your homes.”

The US-led coalition has been involved in airstrikes against what until lately it thought was the most dangerous group in the Middle East – the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). Read the rest of this entry »

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The bloodlust behind the Islamic State’s beheading of Steven Sotloff

By Terrence McCoy
Washington Post
September 3 2014

It began with a knife, an orange tunic and a name. “I am Steven Joel Sotloff,” the bedraggled journalist said. “I’m sure you know exactly who I am by now. And why I’m appearing before you.” Sotloff paused for a long moment, kneeling on the desert floor, and looked directly into the Islamic State’s camera. He neither wept nor begged. There was only resignation. “And now,” he said, “it is time for my message.”

After it was done and Sotloff was dead, the knife-wielding man who has come to be known as “Jihadi John” grabbed another Western hostage. Promising to “strike the necks” of more Americans if the United States continues airstrikes against the Islamic State, he warned, “We take this opportunity to warn those governments that enter this evil alliance of American against the Islamic State to back off and leave our people alone.”

The beheading of Sotloff, two weeks after journalist James Foley’s decapitation, is an Islamic State calling card. In the last week alone, militants decapitated a Kurdish man and then days later beheaded a Lebanese soldier in an additional video. The decapitations are brutal and terrifying. But are they politically motivated? Or do they instead betray an unhinged brand of violence that is ultimately self-defeating? Read the rest of this entry »

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Can Saudi Arabia help combat the Islamic State?

David Ignatius
Washington Post
August 28 2014

With Iraq and Syria ablaze, the oil-rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia seems almost an afterthought. But Riyadh will be a crucial, if quixotic, ally as the United States seeks to mobilize Sunni Muslims against the terrorist Islamic State.

The kingdom’s many critics argue that Saudi Arabia itself helped spread the toxic virus by bankrolling Islamist rebels and their extremist Salafist Muslim ideology. As if to insulate itself from such criticism, the kingdom recently donated $100 million to a new U.N. counterterrorism center, and its senior religious leader, the grand mufti, declared the Islamic State and its al-Qaeda forebear “enemy No. 1 of Islam.”

Complicating Saudi Arabia’s pivotal role in containing regional instability is the fact that generational change is slowly coming in the kingdom. The stakes for the United States in this leadership transition are large, and the outcome is hard to predict.

King Abdullah remains in power, a generally popular and respected monarch. But at 90, his energy and attention span are limited. Tensions have surfaced at several Saudi ministries over the last year, suggesting a jockeying for power. Read the rest of this entry »

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Terrorism experts see long, tough battle to contain Islamic State

By Carol J. Williams
Los Angeles Times
Aug 28, 2014

Unilateral airstrikes against Islamic State targets not enough to contain the extremists, experts say
Islamic State radicals seen building momentum with atrocities, territorial conquests
‘Counter-messaging’ needed to break Islamic State’s appeal to disaffected young Muslims, terrorism experts say

While the world has recoiled in horror at the atrocities committed by Islamic State radicals, the violence has helped the militant group recruit a global force of extremists and furthered its pursuit of a fundamentalist Muslim caliphate in the heart of the Middle East, terrorism experts say.

The United States and its Western allies have responded with airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq and relief operations for the victims of the Al Qaeda splinter group’s campaign of violence.

But the air attacks on Islamic State fighters in Iraq and contemplation of similar action in war-torn Syria will do little more than temporarily curb the militants’ momentum as the international community struggles to find a long-term solution to their destabilizing threat, analysts say.

“There is no short-term fix that will completely defeat this threat, so it’s important to differentiate between stopping ISIS’ momentum and ending or defeating them as an organization,” said Janine Davidson, senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. She was referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, as the group called itself before proclaiming its caliphate two months ago. Read the rest of this entry »

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You Can’t Understand ISIS If You Don’t Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia

Alastair Crooke
Huffington Post

08/27/2014

BEIRUT — The dramatic arrival of Da’ish (ISIS) on the stage of Iraq has shocked many in the West. Many have been perplexed — and horrified — by its violence and its evident magnetism for Sunni youth. But more than this, they find Saudi Arabia’s ambivalence in the face of this manifestation both troubling and inexplicable, wondering, “Don’t the Saudis understand that ISIS threatens them, too?”

It appears — even now — that Saudi Arabia’s ruling elite is divided. Some applaud that ISIS is fighting Iranian Shiite “fire” with Sunni “fire”; that a new Sunni state is taking shape at the very heart of what they regard as a historical Sunni patrimony; and they are drawn by Da’ish’s strict Salafist ideology.

Other Saudis are more fearful, and recall the history of the revolt against Abd-al Aziz by the Wahhabist Ikhwan (Disclaimer: this Ikhwan has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan — please note, all further references hereafter are to the Wahhabist Ikhwan, and not to the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan), but which nearly imploded Wahhabism and the al-Saud in the late 1920s.

Many Saudis are deeply disturbed by the radical doctrines of Da’ish (ISIS) — and are beginning to question some aspects of Saudi Arabia’s direction and discourse. Read the rest of this entry »

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Have The Islamist Militants Overreached In Iraq And Syria?

by Deborah Amos
NPR
July 05, 2014

The Islamist radicals who have declared an Islamic caliphate on land they control straddling Iraq and Syria are waging an audacious publicity stunt, according to some analysts.

While it may bring them even greater attention, it’s also likely to be an overreach that will open riffs with its current partners, the Sunni Muslims in Iraq who welcomed the militant group in early June. They all share the goal of overthrowing Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his sectarian rule, but the more secular parts of the Sunni coalition didn’t sign up for an Islamic state.

“By announcing the caliphate, they are picking a fight with everybody,” says David Kilcullen, a guerrilla warfare expert and former chief counter-terrorism strategist for the U.S. State Department.

The militants were known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. But in announcing a caliphate, which is a single, unified Islamic state, they are now simply calling themselves the Islamic State. Read the rest of this entry »

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Militant Leader in Rare Appearance in Iraq

by Alissa J. Rubin
New York Times
July 5, 2014

BAGHDAD — Wearing a black turban and black robes, the leader of the self-proclaimed Islamic state that stretches across eastern Syria and much of northern and western Iraq made a startling public appearance, his first in many years, at a well-known mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul, according to a video released on Saturday whose contents were confirmed by experts and witnesses.

Until then, there had been very few photographs on the Internet of the insurgent known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. But on Friday he delivered a public sermon in a city once under American control with an audacity that even Osama bin Laden never tried.

Previously he had been all but invisible, seemingly reluctant to risk a public appearance as his group grew in strength and he became the United States’ second-most sought-after terrorist, after Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of Al Qaeda. The United States government has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his capture.

The victories gained by the militant group calling itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria were built on months of maneuvering along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which define a region known as the cradle of civilization.

But on Friday at the pulpit of Mosul’s Great Mosque, Mr. Baghdadi appeared confident, calm and measured as he urged the faithful to fast during Ramadan and undertake jihad. He also asserted his position as caliph, or spiritual leader, of the Muslim faithful, calling himself “Khalifa Ibrahim,” or caliph Abraham, a reference to the prophet Abraham, who appears in the Quran. Mr. Baghdadi’s militant group declared its territory in Iraq and Syria a caliphate, or Islamic state, on June 29. Read the rest of this entry »

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Under Isis, Iraqi women again face an old nightmare: violence and repression

Yifat Susskind
Guardian
3 July 2014

The militants are using rape and brutality to control women who have not stopped mobilising since the US occupation

In a PBS NewsHour video report in June, Isis extremist militants parade through Mosul, Iraq, one of the first cities to fall to their onslaught in early June. The armed men are hanging off the back of trucks, as the crowd films them. One fighter leans out a car window, wagging his finger. The footage provides a translation. The fighter has spotted a woman, and he is ordering her to cover up.

This is how an extremist agenda is imposed: on women’s bodies. That fighter had barely arrived in Mosul yet his first order of business gives us a chilling glimpse of a broader strategy, one that targets women with repression and violence. In recent weeks, women living under Isis control have been seized from their homes and raped. They have been ordered to cover themselves fully and stay in the house.

As Iraq descends into war, women are not only on the frontlines: they are the battlefield. But here is the part that too many media reports have missed: they are not just victims; they are critical first responders. Read the rest of this entry »

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Arab Spring, Jihad Summer

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times
2 July 2014

Welcome to IS. No typo; the final goal may be (indiscriminate) regime change, but for the moment name change will do. With PR flair, at the start of Ramadan, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS, or ISIL – the Islamic State of the Levant – to some) solemnly declared, from now on, it will be known as Islamic State (IS).

“To be or not to be” is so … metaphysically outdated. IS is – and here it is – in full audio glory. And we’re talking about the full package – Caliph included: “the slave of Allah, Ibrahim Ibn ‘Awwad Ibn Ibrahim Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Muhammad al-Badrial-Hashimi al-Husayni al-Qurashi by lineage, as-Samurra’i by birth and upbringing, al-Baghdadi by residence and scholarship”. Or, to put it more simply, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

IS has virtually ordered “historic” al-Qaeda – yes, that 9/11-related (or not) plaything of one Osama bin Laden – as well as every other jihadi outfit on the planet, to pledge allegiance to the new imam, in theological theory the new lord over every Muslim. There’s no evidence Osama’s former sidekick, Ayman “the doctor” al-Zawahiri will obey, not to mention 1.5 billion Muslims across the world. Most probably al-Qaeda will say “we are the real deal” and a major theological catfight will be on. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Caliphate Fantasy

by Khaled Diab
New York Times
July 2, 2014

The jihadist insurgent group ISIS, or as it now prefers to be called, the Islamic State, appears well on the road to achieving its stated goal: the restoration of the caliphate. The concept, which refers to an Islamic state presided over by a leader with both political and religious authority, dates from the various Muslim empires that followed the time of the Prophet Muhammad. From the seventh century onward, the caliph was, literally, his “successor.”

The problem with this new caliphate, which, an ISIS spokesman claimed on Sunday, had been established under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, an Islamist militant leader since the early days of the American occupation of Iraq, is that it is ahistorical, to say the least.

The Abbasid caliphate, for example, which ruled from 750 to 1258, was an impressively dynamic and diverse empire. Centered in Baghdad, just down the road from where ISIS is occupying large areas of Iraq, the Abbasid caliphate was centuries ahead of Mr. Baghdadi’s backward-looking cohorts. Abbasid society during its heyday thrived on multiculturalism, science, innovation, learning and culture — in sharp contrast to ISIS’ violent puritanism. The irreverent court poet of the legendary Caliph Harun al-Rashid (circa 763-809), Abu Nuwas, not only penned odes to wine, but also wrote erotic gay verse that would make a modern imam blush. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hudud, Islamic State and Malaysia’s future

Neil Khor
Malaysiakini
May 2, 2014

COMMENT Come June 2014, some 56 years after independence, Malaysian parliamentarians will decide whether we are going to evolve into an Islamic State as a private members bill allowing the implementation of Hudud Laws in Kelantan is put to them.

For those committed to secularism like this writer, the mind boggles with questions of how we came to this cross-roads after half a century of urbanization and industrialization?

Did Globalization pass us by and left us more conservative or did we take a peek at the world and have decided to reject it.

Confucius said that one has to walk in the shoes of others to understand their perspective. To some Malaysians, the journey from independence through nation building is only meaningful if we recover our full integrity by returning this land to its original state prior to Western colonialism.

To them, Malaya continues to be defined not by its multiculturalism but by its Islamic heritage. Society can only fully recover if Muslims live by the laws of their religion. Read the rest of this entry »

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Moratorium call on statements by Pakatan Rakyat leaders on latest hudud controversy to refer issue to Majlis Pimpinan Pakatan Rakyat for decision

(Media Statement in Gelang Patah on Sunday, 27th April 2014)

For the first time in six years after the “political tsunami” of the 12GE in March 2008, the overly-paid strategists, plotters and schemers of UMNO/BN must be feeling on top of the world and rubbing their hands with glee for they have finally vindicated their existence and colossal expenditures.

They believe that they have struck gold and have finally succeeded in putting in place their formula to ensure the end of the political threat posed by Pakatan Rakyat and the return to Putrajaya of UMNO and BN in the 14GE by the perpetuation of the political and power structure of Umno/BN even in the years after 2020.

Three days ago, the Deputy Mentri Besar of Kelantan, Datuk Nik Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah publicly said that DAP and PKR should stay off the hudud bill controversy on the ground that “they have no right to interfere” in the PAS agenda to implement hudud in Kelantan.

He said that in the common policy framework signed among Pakatan Rakyat component parties on September 28, 2011, PAS only agreed to not impose on its long-standing objective for Malaysia to be recognised as an Islamic State.

He said the agreement is limited at the national level but in the context of Kelantan it is different because hudud was enacted way back in 1993, before the opposition pact was realised. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jangan salahguna agama untuk politik – Dr. Asri

Roketkini
December 21, 2013

SHAH ALAM, 21 DISEMBER – Rakyat turun ke jalanraya dan mengadu kepada Tuhan kerana kerajaan sudah tidak lagi mendengar keluh kesah mereka, bukan bermakna rakyat mahukan sebarang bentuk negara tetapi mahukan keadilan.

Demikian analisa bekas mufti Perlis, Prof Madya Dato’ Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin terhadap revolusi berganda di Mesir yang akhirnya menyaksikan Presiden ke-lima negara tersebut, Dr Mohamad Morsi digulingkan.

Beliau mengulas lanjut soal meletakkan label ‘negara Islam’ yang bagi beliau bukanlah perkara yang terlalu penting.

“Pakistan pun ada enakmen undang-undang Islam, tetapi lihat negara dia punyalah kotor. Bukankah kebersihan itu sebahagian daripada Islam. New Zealand lebih Islam daripada Pakistan,” ujarnya dalam wacana ‘Ikhwan Muslimin: Musuh atau kawan’ di sini, hari ini. Read the rest of this entry »

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UMNO General Assembly re-enacting last year’s “drama”: Who lied – Najib/Muhyiddin, Chua Soi Lek or all three?

The 66th UMNO General Assembly is in full-swing but it is only a re-enactment of last year’s 65th UMNO General Assembly “drama”.

At the end of the 65th UMNO General Assembly last December, I posed the question: “Who lied – Najib/Muhyiddin or Chua Soi Lek? Or all three?”

Although the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak will only be delivering his UMNO Presidential address tomorrow and his winding-up speech on Friday, one does not have to be prescient to know it will be equally valid and pertinent to pose this same question at the end of the 66th UMNO General Assembly.

The Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO Deputy President, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, has already started the ball rolling for the re-enactment of this “drama” last year of whether “Who lied – Najib/Muhyiddin or Chua Soi Lek? Or all three?”

Last night at the opening of the UMNO Youth, Wanita and Puteri Assemblies, Muhyiddin dismissed PAS’ Islamic State goal as “a daydream”.

But this is the very exact opposite of what the MCA President Datuk Seri Dr. Chua Soi Lek is warning the Malaysian Chinese and non-Muslims up and down the country of “a point of no return” for the PAS agenda of an Islamic state if Pakatan Rakyat wins Putrajaya in the 13th general election! Read the rest of this entry »

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Tunisia’s Hamadi Jebali: The face of moderate Islam?

Al Arabiya News
AFP
19 November 2011

TUNIS – With deep roots in the fight against anti-Muslim oppression, Hamadi Jebali emerged from years in jail under a repressive regime as a man of compromise and the moderate face of Tunisia’s Ennahda Islamist party.

The 63-year-old Ennahda secretary general is set to become the north African country’s prime minister under a deal reached by the three main parties, to be approved Tuesday by the newly elected constituent assembly.

With his neatly trimmed white beard, thin-framed glasses and the prayer mark of the pious Muslim on his forehead, Jebali “has been one of the main players on the Islamic scene” in Tunisia, Sofiene Ben Fahrat, editor of Tunisia’s La Presse daily told AFP.

“He notably led the confrontation against the regime of (Habib) Bourguiba,” the father of independent Tunisia who launched a repressive campaign against Islamists and had several of its leaders sentenced to death, he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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The politics of accommodation in PAS

Bridget Welsh
Malaysiakini
Nov 20, 2012

COMMENT

Islamist parties throughout the world are grappling with new roles and responsibilities. PAS is no exception.

The discussions at the party’s muktamar held in Kota Bharu last weekend highlight that PAS is adapting to new conditions globally and nationally, and in fact embracing reform.

Perhaps more than any party in Malaysia, PAS is engaging in accommodation.

Despite news reports focusing on the comments of one or two individuals – a common feature, especially in the reporting of Malaysia’s Islamic party – PAS is moving towards a more nationally-oriented position in which it can play a prominent role as a partner in an alternative government.

In fact, judging by its actions and the meeting taken as a whole rather than the words reported, the muktamar highlights that PAS is continuing to embrace more progressive positions, especially among its leadership.

Its challenges, however, have more to do with winning over its more parochial and conservative membership that is reluctant to change and struggling to adapt and understand a more complex and demanding political environment. Read the rest of this entry »

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