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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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 

5 Things Bill Maher Got Wrong In Latest Islam Rant

As a liberal agnostic, I might better enjoy my time critiquing religion with fellow skeptics. But when skeptics single out a particular faith or group for unfair demonization, I do feel compelled to respond. It is, of course, old news that Bill Maher is one of the skeptics who, while feeling antipathy towards religion in general, holds exceptional hostility towards Islam. However, the segment on Islam (below) in last weekend’s episode of ‘Real Time’ went beyond typical antipathy and included 5 points that were simply dead wrong:

1. “Not a Few Bad Apples”

Bill Maher insists that extremism and intolerance are problems that afflict Muslims at large, and not just “a few bad apples.” Of course, if anyone compiled a list of violent acts by Muslim extremists, the list would undoubtedly be troublingly long. But the Muslim world is far too vast and diverse to collapse into Maher’s narrow perception of it. It is a world of 1.6 billion Muslims, so even thousands of extremists would be a fraction, and would in no way justify an indictment against Muslims in general. To think along analogous lines, there are more than 10,000 murders and 80,000 rapes every year in the U.S. The Ugandan fanatical Christian LRA group is responsible for the kidnapping of some 66,000 children (a lot more than Boko Haram). In the West Bank, hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers live on stolen Palestinian land, and many carry out acts of vandalism and violence against Palestinians. But just as none of these facts justify broad indictments of “The Americans,” “The Christians” or “The Jews” as being terrible people (that would be transparently bigoted), the same applies to Islam and Muslims. The acts of a relatively small group of extremists, even when they’re more frequent than we’d like them to be, should never taint entire societies.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST