ISIS uses beheadings, other violent acts to crush civilians, UN report says

by Zachary R. Dowdy
Newsday
November 14, 2014

UNITED NATIONS — Beheadings, stonings and mutilation are common weapons of terror employed by the Islamic State in its campaign to subdue civilian populations that have come under its control in Syria, according to a UN monitoring group.

“ISIS has perpetrated murder and other inhumane acts, enslavement, rape, sexual slavery and violence, forcible displacement, enforced disappearance and torture,” according to a 15-page report released Friday by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. “These acts have been committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population in Aleppo, Ar-Raqqah, Al-Hasakah and Dayr Az-Zawr governorates.”

It documents the group’s violation of international humanitarian law and commission of both war crimes and crimes against humanity as defined by the Geneva Convention.

The report is among the most extensive to document the savagery attributed to the Sunni Islamic group whose origins, the report said, stem from the evolution of an Al Qaida offshoot, Al Qaida in Iraq, which established itself in 2004 and rebranded itself as Islamic State in Iraq in 2006. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pak Samad: After five-decade rule, how are Malays under threat?

The Malay Mail Online
November 15, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 — National laureate Datuk A. Samad Said rubbished claims today that the Malays are under threat, pointing out that Malaysia has been under the community’s rule for more than five decades now.

The renowned Malay poet and activist told Malaysiakini in an interview that he finds it odd that some from the community are obsessing over the loss of power to the country’s other minority groups, especially when Malaysia is still being governed by the Malays.

“I hope the Malay community is not too obsessed about claims that Malays are under threat,” Samad, or Pak Samad as he is fondly known as, was quoted saying by the news portal.

“How are Malays under threat? How can religion (Islam) and Malays be threatened when those in power have been Malay for over five decades?

“What have they (Malay leaders) been doing for five decades (if Malays can be under threat)?” he reportedly said.

The news portal then quoted him saying that if the current Malay leadership cannot put these fears to rest, then it should hand over the reins of the government to others.

“Let other Malays (rule). They (Umno) have been there for five decades, not one decade,” he was quoted saying. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is another ferocious bout of “Chinese-bashing” in the works at the Umno General Assemblies at the end of month

It gives me great pleasure to launch Nurul Izzah Anwar’s book “Masa Depan, Masa Kita” in Chinese.

Second-term Member of Parliament, Nurul Izzah, who has the distinguished record of sending two UMNO Ministers packing, represents the hopes and dreams of a better Malaysia for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, age or gender.

The launching of her book in Chinese today is significant for it underlines one essential quality of a Malaysian leader or icon – he or she must not be an exclusive leader for one race, religion or region but must be an inclusive leader who can reach out to all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region.

This is particularly significant as recent years have witnessed an unprecedented upsurge of the rhetoric and politics of hatred, intolerance and extremism causing the worst racial and religious polarization for over four decades.

This was why I had expressed the hope yesterday that the amicable resolution to the nearly year-long Selangor controversy over the seizure of the Malay and Iban Bibles, together with Malaysia’s assumption of the ASEAN Chair for 2015 with the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak promising to promote moderation in ASEAN, would usher in a virtuous cycle of moderation and establish Malaysia as a regional and international model of moderation.

But this is not to be, for these hopes – that Malaysians would avoid narrow communalism just as ASEAN should avoid narrow nationalism – were dashed yesterday itself firstly by the hysterical paper by the former Univeristi Teknologi Mara (UiTM) at the Johor Umno convention that “If Umno loses, Malays may never rule again” and secondly, the new twisted, irresponsible, dangerous and wicked theory of “shades of racism” by an UMNO Minister, insinuating that the Malays were not welcomed in Pakatan Rakyat-run Penang. Read the rest of this entry »

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Building schools for all Malaysians?

By Azly Rahman
Malaysiakini
Nov 14, 2014

I am hoping that either the Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat will take up the idea of this new brand of schooling to propel to country into a new era of educational reform as we approach 2015.

The initiative should be started by the Selangor government run by Pakatan to showcase what the BN regime has not been able to do in meeting the schooling and human capital needs of the 21st century, as well as for national unity. I have been writing about this model for years and have even proposed to educational leaders from both governmental camps. I call this initiative Akademie Renaissance (AR) Schools and would like to see it come to fruition in my lifetime.

This initiative will propel the state of Selangor into a major phase of educational reform, partnering in its effort to showcase the nation and other countries a model of a truly global school that harmonises technology, culture, and total human development from the level of kindergarten to graduate school.

It will have its mission in preparing children to become global citizens and experts in the fields of study they will choose as a career, through a systematic process of schooling of the highest standards, from kindergarten to high/secondary schools.

The educational objective is to create ‘academies’ that will become ‘feeder schools of choice’ (specialised) to prepare students for entry into top Asian, American, British, and other world universities of high standing in which English is the medium of instruction. The initial project will be the building of secondary/high schools. Read the rest of this entry »

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Feted abroad, but Ambiga gets banned from Sabah

by Anisah Shukry
The Malaysian Insider
15 November 2014

Just a day after receiving an international award in Hong Kong, prominent lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan has been banned from entering Sabah ahead of her planned visit to Malaysia’s eastern-most state.

A letter informing the former Bar Council president of the ban was waiting for her when she returned to Malaysia yesterday, after she was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award at the fourth Euromoney Legal Media Group Asia Women in Business Law Awards 2014 ceremony in Hong Kong on Thursday.

The letter, from the Sabah Immigration Department, was in response to Ambiga’s own letter to them on Tuesday, informing them of her intention to visit Sabah on November 25 for a programme with the new people’s movement, Negara-Ku.

“I had written to them because I don’t want to fly all the way there just to be told I’m not allowed in. It was just a formality, to confirm there was no restriction.

“But then they wrote back and said they had rejected my application – even though I wasn’t even applying for their permission to enter Sabah,” the Negara-Ku patron told The Malaysian Insider. Read the rest of this entry »

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Let the amicable resolution to the Selangor issue of the seizure of Malay language Bibles and Malaysia’s assumption of ASEAN Chair usher in a virtuous cycle of moderation and establish Malaysia as a regional and international model of moderation

Congratulations are in order to the Selangor Mentri Besar Azmin Ali in resolving the nearly year-long Selangor controversy over the seizure of the Malay language Bible with the return of the seized copies of the Bible to the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM).

The amicable resolution to the issue of the seizure of Malay language Bibles and Malaysia’s assumption of the annual rotating ASEAN Chairmanship for 2015 are two welcome developments which should be the basis to usher in a virtuous cycle of moderation and establish Malaysia as a regional and international model of moderation.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said in the handing-over ceremony of the annual rotating ASEAN Chair in Naypyitaw, Myanmar yesterday that Malaysia, as chairman of ASEAN, would promote moderation as a shared value in order to address conflict and find solutions to issues concerning regional peace and security.

He also called on ASEAN to avoid narrow nationalism which could go against the spirit of an ASEAN community. Read the rest of this entry »

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GMM: Can democrat Islamists curb extremism?

Free Malaysia Today
November 14, 2014

Global Movement of Moderates hold roundtable discussion on the moderate approach of democracy versus war.

KUALA LUMPUR: Democrat Islamists can be a solution to curb extremism worldwide as they provide a moderate approach in today’s global world through the ballot box, said academicians and politicians.

International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) lecturer Dr Maszlee Malik said Democrat Islamists, made famous after the Arab Spring, allowed Muslims to control their fate through the ballot box rather than war or in the hands of leaders who were dictators, thus ending any grievances they might have had.

“The idea of democrat Islamists has existed for a long time. Radical groups emerge because they found there was no hope for Muslims to enjoy justice, human rights and good governance,” he said at a roundtable discussion on Democrat Islamists organised by the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) together with IIUM’s Fiqh Department.

Chairman of London-based Al-Hiwar TV channel Dr Azzam Tamimi, said that the success of the Arab Spring was a promising event that allowed for democracy in the Middle East and at the same time made the militant group Al Qaeda into an irrelevant movement.

“The success of the Arab Spring as we saw in Tunisia and Egypt was very promising, showing that this is the way forward. Some of the leaders of Al Qaeda were actually stressing fear that this model was succeeding, because it was proving them wrong,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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PKR, PAS support cut by Selangor MB saga, DAP intact, survey shows

by Zulkifli Sulong
Features and Analysis Editor
The Malaysian Insider
14 November 2014

PKR and PAS’s image took the heaviest beatings over the Selangor menteri besar (MB) imbroglio, compared to the DAP which was largely unaffected, a survey by Universiti Malaya’s Centre for Democracy and Elections (UMcedel) has found.

The findings were released by UMcedel director Dr Amir Saifude Ghazali for the survey that was conducted after Mohamed Azmin Ali was sworn in as menteri besar in September.

Across the major ethnic groups in Malaysia’s wealthiest and industrialised state, most people surveyed agreed that PKR and PAS suffered the most drop in support, with figures for PKR higher than for the Islamist party.

The UMcedel survey showed 52% of Malays in Selangor agreeing that the MB saga had reduced support for PKR, the lead party in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact, while 25% Malay respondents disagreed.

Chinese and Indian perceptions of PKR due to the impasse was also substantial, with 46% of Chinese and 45% of Indians agreeing that the multi-racial party was the most affected by the crisis.

PAS came a close second,‎ with 42% of Malays surveyed agreeing the Islamist party’s support was affected by the imbroglio, while 33% said there was no impact.

Among the Chinese, 43% said support for PAS was affected, while 41% of Indians surveyed also believed that the party’s support had been eroded. Read the rest of this entry »

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Isis and al-Qa’ida ‘agree to end fighting and join against their opponents’

Kashmira Gander
Independent
13 November 2014

Al-Qa’ida has been fighting with Isis since the latter separated from it as an offshoot

Militant leaders from the Isis and al-Qa’ida terrorist groups have agreed to stop fighting each other in order to join against their opponents.

Isis, which calls itself the Islamic State (IS), and al-Qa’ida’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, have been engaged in bitter fighting for more than a year in an attempt to dominate the bloody rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The accord set between the extremists groups in northern Syria last week could spell problems for the US-led coalition in its fight against Isis, as it complements its air strikes by arming “moderate” rebel factions to fight on the ground.

Now, if the two terrorist groups fulfil their agreement and unite as one force, this would further weaken US-backed rebels – who are viewed as relatively disorganised.

The agreement follows signs that the two groups had cooled their feud with informal truces, the Associated Press reported. A high-level Syrian opposition and a rebel commander have since told the news agency that the accord would see them halt fighting and to open up against Kurdish fighters in a couple of new areas of northern Syria. Read the rest of this entry »

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Islamic State leader urges attacks in Saudi Arabia

Reuters/Daily Times Pakistan
November 14, 2014

BEIRUT: Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called for attacks against the rulers of Saudi Arabia in a speech purported to be in his name on Thursday, saying his self-declared caliphate was expanding there and in four other Arab countries.

Baghdadi also said a US.-led military campaign against his group in Syria and Iraq was failing and he called for “volcanoes of jihad” the world over.

Reuters could not independently confirm the authenticity of the speech – an audio recording carried on Islamic State-run social media. The voice sounded similar to a previous speech delivered by Baghdadi in July in a mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul in July, the last time he spoke in public.

It followed contradictory accounts out of Iraq after US. air strikes last Friday about whether he was wounded in a raid. The United States said on Tuesday it could not confirm whether he was killed or wounded in Iraq following a strike near the city of Falluja. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Tis the season of forgetfulness over financial scandals

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
12 November 2014

So much has happened over the years that one is forgiven for forgetfulness about what went wrong or right in Malaysia.

Malaysians have seen a series of financial scandals, each that seem bigger than the previous one.

Right now, the focus is on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Everyone is concerned about its debts and the government’s liability if it fails. That includes Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Daim Zainuddin, and rightly so, as the two men navigated Malaysia through tough economic times in the past.

But what about the huge gaping hole called Perwaja, not to mention Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and PKFZ during Dr Mahathir’s long 22 years in power. Or Maminco or Bank Negara’s forex scandal if that ever strikes one’s minds.

Weren’t they scandals that hogged the headlines in the past, only to be quickly dismissed by the government of the day and either government guarantees or public funds poured in to bail them out? Read the rest of this entry »

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Who can count more than two Ministers in the Najib Cabinet who are committed moderates in the great battle between moderation and extremism – the raison d’etre for the foundation of Najib’s Global Movement of Moderates?

I said yesterday that the “ruckus” in Parliament on Monday created by the Selangor UMNO/Barisan Nasional chief, Datuk Noh Omar, the UMNO/BN MP for Tanjung Karang had thrown up a teaser – whether the majority of UMNO Ministers, MPs and leaders are like Noh Omar, who are not prepared publicly to endorse Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) initiative and yet deny being an extremist.

Actually, the “ruckus” had done more, as it also raised the fundamental question how Najib’s GMM initiative could have any chance of success when it is impossible to identify more than a handful of committed moderates in Cabinet and UMNO/BN leadership!

For instance, how many Ministers and UMNO/BN leaders are fully committed moderates dedicated to the moderate agenda of the GMM campaign, as repeatedly spelt out by Najib in various international forums in the past four years, as follows:

“The fight against extremism is not about Christians versus Muslims, or Muslims versus Jews, but moderates versus extremists of all religions. We therefore need to rally a coalition of moderates; those willing to reclaim their religion, and pursue the path to peace.”

I cannot count more than two fully committed moderates in the Cabinet who are willing to take up the cudgel of moderation against extremism and rally behind a coalition of moderates to reclaim their religion and pursue the path to peace. Read the rest of this entry »

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Negara-Ku starts roadshow to reclaim Malaysia from extremism

by Jennifer Gomez
The Malaysian Insider
12 November 2014

New people’s movement Negara-Ku is set to carry out its “reclaim Malaysia” agenda nationwide with a roadshow beginning in Malacca tonight to return rationality, open and civil discussion, moderation and harmony to Malaysia.

“Kembalikan Negaraku” or “Return My Country” aims to take back Malaysia from racism and extremism, and provide a platform for safe debates, even on controversial issues such as the court’s recent decision on Negri Sembilan’s Islamic enactments on transgenders.

More than just focusing on issues themselves, the movement’s founder and chairperson Zaid Kamaruddin said they wanted to promote a climate where Malaysians could discuss matters without getting emotional.

Their aim was to also put forward the fact that all differences could be discussed with the Federal Constitution as a reference.

Zaid also said the roadshow was not just about promoting the movement but to draw all other civil society groups that wanted to promote healthy relationships among communities. Years before Negara-Ku, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak launched his 1Malaysia concept when he took office in 2009 but the slogan has since petered out.

“We support all other efforts that promote the coming together of Malaysians, to be able to express what they want,” he added. Read the rest of this entry »

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Are the majority of UMNO Ministers, MPs and leaders like Noh Omar, not prepared publicly to endorse Najib’s Global Movement of Moderates initiative and yet deny being an extremist?

The “ruckus” by the Selangor UMNO/Barisan Nasional chief, Datuk Noh Omar, the UMNO/BN MP for Tanjung Karang in Parliament yesterday has thrown up a teaser – are the majority of UMNO Ministers, MPs and leaders like Noh Omar, not prepared publicly to endorse Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) initiative and yet deny being an extremist.

It would be interesting for a such a vote to be taken.

That this question has to be asked four years after Najib has launched his GMM campaign with very uncertain answers is a sad reflection of the failure of another signature policy of the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Najib’s first signature policy failure was the infamous case in early 2010 when his Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, in response to my challenge, declared that he was “Malay first, Malaysian second” in a unqualified repudiation of the Prime Minister’s 1Malaysia Policy! Read the rest of this entry »

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Malays and Islam are not under attack in Malaysia. It is multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysia which is under siege by intolerant and extremist forces which are trying to turn moderation into a dirty word in Malaysia

It is the supreme irony of ironies.

While the government continues to propagate the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s initiative of a Global Movement of Moderates, this time at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Summit currently being held in Beijing, Najib had never been so weak and impotent at home to check the forces of hatred, intolerance and extremism rearing their ugly heads.

On the day that Bernama reported that the Prime Minister’s Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) proposal had received praise from the APEC foreign ministers meeting in Beijing before the 22nd APEC Summit, an ex-UMNO Minister had opened fire on Najib’s GMM initiative, claiming that Christian fanatics in Malaysia had seized on Najib’s concept of moderation and exploited it for their own interests.

Former Information Minister Tan Sri Zainuddin Maiddin claimed that the Malays and Islam were under pressure due to the concept of moderation, asserting that there were signs the concept was on the wrong track.

He cited with approval a recent statement by Johor Umno youth vice-chief Khairul Anwar Rahmat, who said that moderation was unsuitable for certain issues, claiming that it reflected the thoughts and opinions of the Umno grassroots.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Beat Isis on its turf, fight them online, experts tell Muslims

by Anisah Shukry
The Malaysian Insider
8 November 2014

The militant group known as Islamic State (Isis) successfully recruited hundreds of Muslims, including Malaysians, for its terror attacks by capitalising on social media and online propaganda, but experts believe that civil society can reclaim the Internet and beat the terrorist group at its own game.

“The challenge of the Isis propaganda is that it is appealing, sexy, counter-cultural, anti-establishment,” said Abdul-Rehman Malik, a London-based journalist, educator and organiser.

“The role of us in civil society is to be savvier about what Isis is, and to subvert their narrative through humour, through bold moves.”

He told The Malaysian Insider that this responsibility did not have to lie with the government alone, but any person who had access to the Internet could join the fight against Isis.

Rehman has spent nearly a decade leading a British non-governmental organisation (NGO) called Radical Middle Way, which utilises Internet forums to engage British youths to counter the jihadist message. Read the rest of this entry »

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Going the Taliban way to keep grip on Malaysia

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
8 November 2014

It is no longer a question of what else will certain groups of Malay Muslims take offence to in Malaysia.

Anything from a) places of worship of other religions must not be built in Malay-majority areas and b) alcohol cannot be sold in shops in Malay-majority areas, and even pictures of idols cannot be placed alongside Halal signs – has raised hackles among Muslim groups.

For them, it is not ridiculous to say that such things can shake their faith or affect their image. No detail is too small or trivial for them to assert their dominance or flex their muscles to get their way.

But the so-called guardians are also the same guys who won’t think twice of about plundering the nation or visiting an entertainment outlet and then insisting on a halal meal. Read the rest of this entry »

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Indonesia has to raise its voice to speak out for moderate Islam

– Rizvi Shihab
The Malaysian Insider
6 November 2014

One of the many challenges facing the current government is re-establishing Indonesia’s unique geographical, cultural and ideological identities.

Presently, there is a concerted governmental effort to augment Indonesia’s power by introducing its “maritime-axis” foreign policy to fully take advantage of its strategic geographical position.

But in addition to this maritime emphasis, I believe Indonesia needs to start disseminating its ideological character globally as a world ambassador of religious moderation. Members of the international community often wonder about the silence exhibited by the majority of moderate Muslim countries. This provides opportunity for Indonesia to step up and become the leader of this quiet group.

If the United States is known as the ethnic melting pot, Indonesia should strive to be acknowledged as the religious melting pot where members of all faiths live in tranquil harmony. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s moderate Muslim face takes a beating

The Malaysian Insider
6 November 2014

When Malaysia’s urbane Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak travels abroad, he invariably touts his country’s widely accepted reputation for moderate Islam, but that image is taking a beating at home.

Increasingly strident Islamist pressure, often initiated by Najib’s own government, is causing deepening dismay in the traditionally tolerant multi-faith country.

The trend is rooted in the decades-old regime’s attempts to strengthen its weakening grip amid repeated electoral setbacks, as a formidable opposition taps into broad sentiment for liberal reform.

But the ruling establishment is setting the country on an uncertain path, critics warn. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s road to perdition

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
3 November 2014

There is no delicate way to put this: Malaysia is on a downward spiral, led down the dangerous path by overzealous religious authorities, misguided or plain stupid individuals and groups.

And perhaps more alarmingly, the government of the day is either allowing this implosion of a blessed country or has become a clueless bystander to the dismantling of multiracial and multi-religious Malaysia.

Not a day seems to go by without some new group seeking to change the complexion of Malaysia.

Not a day goes by without a reminder that stray words and ignorance are far more dangerous than sticks or stones.

Just another day in Malaysia:

Brouhaha over church site in Petaling Jaya Read the rest of this entry »

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