A Muslim landowner in the Philippines took in Christians to protect them from Islamist extremists

la-1502932681-rdvb95bmr2-snap-imageWhen the first artillery fire rang out one afternoon in May, Norodin Lucman thought of the four workers repairing a cellphone tower on his sprawling property. He sent one of his daughters to tell the men to come in.

Plumes of smoke spiraled up from the city below. But Marawi, home to 200,000 people, had survived armed conflict before, and Lucman assumed this one would end in a few days and his guests would go home.

Soon, though, more people began arriving at his door. Militants were torching homes and schools, freeing prisoners, taking hostages and waving Islamic State flags.

The militants had stopped another group of cell tower workers and demanded that they recite the Shahada, a Muslim proclamation of faith. Marawi is predominantly Muslim. But the men were Christians from nearby cities. They failed the test.

When one tried to escape on his motorbike, the militants shot him dead. Amid the chaos, the nine others managed to flee to Lucman’s house.

The Philippine government sent helicopter gunships and tanks to root out the insurgents, who were being funded by Islamic State and soon saw their ranks swell as fighters arrived from Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Chechnya.

The fighting, which continues today, has reduced the city to its foundations, evoking Iraq’s Mosul or Syria’s Aleppo.

But Lucman didn’t know any of that was coming as his house became a refuge.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LA TIMES 

 

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Senate Confirms Dangerous Christian Extremist as CIA Director

f_pompeo_swearin_170123-nbcnews-ux-1080-600The new head of the CIA is a dangerous Christian extremist who believes the U.S. is at war with Islam.

Earlier today, the U.S. Senate confirmed Representative Mike Pompeo as the new head of the powerful Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Pompeo, a Kansas Republican and prominent member of the House Intelligence Committee, is a radical Christian extremist and a sharp critic of Islam who endorsesthe notion of a “Holy War” between Christians and Muslims, and believes the fight against terrorism is a war between Islam and Christianity.

Speaking at a church group in Wichita, Kansas, in 2014, Pompeo claimed that Christianity was the “only solution” to combat terrorism, arguing that the greatest “threat to America” is caused by “people who deeply believe that Islam is the way.”

Pompeo told the church-goers:

This threat to America is from people who deeply believe that Islam is the way and the light and the only answer.

These folks believe that it is religiously driven for them to wipe Christians from the face of the earth.

Pompeo continued:

They abhor Christians, and will continue to press against us until we make sure that we pray and stand and fight and make sure that we know that Jesus Christ our savior is truly the only solution for our world.

In addition, at an event hosted by a Virginia-based think tank last year, Pompeo again invoked the notion of a Holy War, describing the wars in which the U.S. is involved in as being “between the Christian West and the Islamic East.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH (CANADA)

Moderates are losing the fight to save Islam from racists and extremists

EXTREMISTSThe alarming exploitation of the Brussels attacks for political purposes shows how urgent it is to take back the discourse around Islam and Muslims from racists and extremist populists like Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen.

Instead of leaving the field wide open for the big-mouthed bigots and xenophobes surfing the murderous wave of global Islamist terror to stigmatize refugees and all peoples of Muslim confession, let’s recognize and tackle the important religious dimension to jihadist violence—in order to better overcome it.

Muslim modernizers, reformers, and secularists, intellectuals, theologians, writers, artists, academics, political figures, and ordinary believers, have long been engaged in an intense ideological war with the Islamic fundamentalists—the same fanatics who helped create the breeding ground for today’s terrorists committing atrocities against civilian populations in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the US.

They are currently losing the winner-takes-all battle to stop the “confiscation” of Islam, dating back to the 19th century when contemporary Islamism first emerged as a neo-reactionary force in response to modernization. And they need the West’s support, fast, if it is to make any inroads in winning the fight against terrorism.

FULL ARTICLE FROM QUARTZ 

In Defense of Islam

douthat_maindownloadConsider this post a kind of complement, maybe, to my anti-anti-Crusades commentary of late. The big foreign policy piece that everyone is talking about this week, and deservedly, is Graeme Wood’s deep Atlantic dive into the religious premises underpinningthe Islamic State’s vision and grand strategy. Wood’s argument is rich enough to defy easy summary, but his core point is that Western analysts tend to understate not only the essential religiosity of ISIS’s worldview, but the extent to which that worldview has substantial theological grounding. It isn’t just a few guys making up a cult out of random bits of scripture; its political-religious vision appeals precisely because it derives “from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.” And we ignore the coherence of those interpretations at our peril: The Islamic State’s “intellectual genealogy” is intensely relevant to its political strategy, and its theology “must be understood to be combatted.”

As a longstanding believer in a “theology has consequences”approach to world history and current affairs, I agree with all of this … but I would append an important qualifier as well. Specifically, in taking Islamic-State theology seriously as a form of Islamic thought, we also need to take seriously the Islamic case against ISIS, and the reasons why the soi-disant caliphate’s interpretation of its faith, however internally coherent and textually-rooted, represents a stark departure from the way the faith has been traditionally interpreted and widely understood.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 

Fareed Zakaria: How to think, and talk, about Islam

Fareed Zakaria CNNWASHINGTON — When television host Bill Maher declares on his weekly show that “the Muslim world … has too much in common with ISIS,” and author Sam Harris, a guest on the show, concurs, arguing that Islam is “the mother lode of bad ideas,” I understand why people are upset. Maher and Harris made crude simplifications and exaggerations. And yet, they were also talking about something real.

I know all the arguments against speaking of Islam as violent and reactionary. It has a vast following of 1.6 billion people. Places such as Indonesia and India have hundreds of millions of Muslims who don’t fit these caricatures. That’s why Maher and Harris are guilty of gross generalizations. But let’s be honest. Islam has a problem today. The places that have trouble accommodating themselves to the modern world are disproportionately Muslim.

In 2013, of the top 10 groups that perpetrated terrorist attacks, seven were Muslim. Of the top 10 countries where terror attacks took place, seven were Muslim-majority. Meanwhile, the Pew Research Center rates countries on the level of restrictions governments impose on the free exercise of religion. Of the 24 most restrictive countries, 19 are Muslim-majority. Of the 21 countries that have laws against apostasy, all have Muslim majorities.

There is a cancer of extremism within Islam today. A small minority of Muslims celebrate violence and intolerance and harbor deeply reactionary attitudes toward women and minorities. While some confront these extremists, not enough do so and the protests are not loud enough. How many mass rallies have been held against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in the Arab world today?

FULL ARTICLE FROM COMMERCIAL APPEAL 

Brotherhood alarms Christians, moderate Muslims

821753_t607CAIRO — After torching a Franciscan school, Islamists paraded three nuns on the streets like “prisoners of war” before a Muslim woman offered them refuge. Two other women working at the school were sexually harassed and abused as they fought their way through a mob.

In the four days since security forces cleared two sit-in camps by supporters of Egypt’s ousted president, Islamists have attacked dozens of Coptic churches along with homes and businesses owned by the Christian minority. The campaign of intimidation appears to be a warning to Christians outside Cairo to stand down from political activism.

Christians have long suffered from discrimination and violence in Muslim majority Egypt, where they make up 10 percent of the 90 million population. Attacks increased after the Islamists rose to power in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that drove Hosni Mubarak from power, emboldening extremists. But Christians have come further under fire since President Mohammed Morsi was ousted on July 3, sparking a wave of Islamist anger led by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Nearly 40 churches have been looted and torched, while 23 others have been attacked and heavily damaged since Wednesday, when chaos erupted after Egypt’s military-backed interim administration moved in to clear two camps packed with protesters calling for Morsi’s reinstatement, killing scores of protesters and sparking deadly clashes nationwide.

FULL ARTICLE FROM GOSANANGELO.COM

In Timbuktu, majority Muslims, minority Christians reject extremists

The Lost Libraries of TimbuktiTIMBUKTU, MALI

In this ancient city that has become synonymous with the ends of the earth, the recent terrorism of Islamist extremists belies long years of peaceful Muslim-Christian coexistence.

“This city is 99 percent Muslim, but all of us are tolerant. We preach tolerance. Islam teaches us to respect all religions,” Abdrahamane Ben Essayouti, the chief imam of the fabled desert city, told Catholic News Service.

The Rev. Moha Ag Oyahitt agrees. He’s a Baptist pastor who fled Timbuktu for Bamako, the nation’s capital, when the al-Qaida-linked terrorists took over the town.

“There were no problems in Timbuktu between us and the Muslims. We lived as brothers and sisters. The only difference was Jesus Christ and Mohammed. Besides that, there was no problem. Whatever we do, we invite them, and they invite us when they have births or marriages. Whatever the activity, we invite each other. When we Christians have evangelical campaigns, they come. I cannot explain to you how it was wonderful to live together in peace,” he said.

Troubles in Timbuktu began in April 2012, when the city was taken over by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, or MNLA, a largely Tuareg group that wants a secular and independent state in northern Mali. Yet the group’s Islamist allies soon turned against the MNLA and drove it out of the city. That left the jihadists in control of Timbuktu.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER