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Open Thread Sunday 4/12/09


By Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

Here are some items to think about and discuss inshAllaah:

*  Remember the Boumediene v. Bush case?  This is the case in which the Supreme Court established that the detainees at Guantanamo had a right to a habeas corpus hearing, overcoming the arguments of the Bush administration that they had no rights at all.   John McCain called the decision which held that people kidnapped by the U.S. and held for years had at least the right to some kind of hearing to claim their innocence, “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country,” but Senator Barack Obama had a different view.  He issued a decision commending the decision in Boumediene and later spoke eloquently on the Senate floor of the importance of habeas for those at Guantanamo, how it was vital to preserving our most cherished values and would actually make us safer as a country.

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So it was a bit surprising when earlier this year, in a case involving Muslims kidnapped from around the world and brought to Bagram by the United States (which the U.S. started doing to avoid these men getting the habeas rights that the Supreme Court said they had at Guantanamo) the Obama Administration said it actually had the same position as the Bush administration:  that the U.S. could kidnap anyone it wanted, send them to Bagram, and hold them for years, and they had no right whatsoever to claim to anyone that they were innocent or challenge their detention in any way.   Earlier this month, Federal Judge John Bates, appointed by George W. Bush to the bench and not by any means a liberal judge, ruled against the Bush/Obama position and held that those kidnapped and held at Bagram must have some habeas right to challenge their detention just as those in Guantanamo do.  So, how does Obama’s administration react to this — they are appealing the decision.  They are fighting to overturn the decision of the Bush appointee and will continue the fight to make sure they can kidnap anyone they want (of course so far they have done it only to Muslims) take them and hold them at Bagram as long as they want and that person has no rights whatsoever to challenge their detention or claim their innocence.  Read all about the details and find links to other commentary at Glenn Greenwald’s blog. You can also read there about the Obama administration’s embracing of the Bush position on state secrets to ensure that there can be no judicial review of the illegal wiretapping done under Bush.

*  In the context of that information about Obama policies at home and the escalating Afghanistan war abroad, read the text of Obama’s speech to the parliament in Turkey, claiming the U.S.  “is not and never will be at war with Islam” and that he is bringing change regarding Guantanamo and torture.”  I’m sure people have some commentary on this speech.

*There has also been a firestorm of controversy about a new law in Afghanistan, which was initially signed by Karzai but after much international controversy, is now “under review” although the commentary and debate is being held without anyone actually seeing the law that is under discussion.  So it has been variously labelled as either the “Shi’a Family Law” by its defenders or the Marital Rape Law by its critics.  Both sides are claiming that the Afghan Constitution is on their side, and passing of the law threatens public support in Canada for ongoing Canadian troop presence in Afghanistan.

*Abdelaziz Bouteflika won reelection to a third term as President of Algeria after the Constitution was changed to allow him to run for a third term.  He got over 90 percent of the vote, he must be doing a fantastic job, right?

*And finally, there has been a firestorm of controversy on the right over President Obama apparently making ruku’ to the Saudi King, but apparently this is a tradition of U.S. Presidents (at least in recent times).

*Newsweek magazine has gotten a lot of discussion going with its cover story this week, “The End of Christian America,” which contains the following numbers:

According to the American Religious Identification Survey that got Mohler’s attention, the percentage of self-identified Christians has fallen 10 percentage points since 1990, from 86 to 76 percent. The Jewish population is 1.2 percent; the Muslim, 0.6 percent. A separate Pew Forum poll echoed the ARIS finding, reporting that the percentage of people who say they are unaffiliated with any particular faith has doubled in recent years, to 16 percent; in terms of voting, this group grew from 5 percent in 1988 to 12 percent in 2008—roughly the same percentage of the electorate as African-Americans. (Seventy-five percent of unaffiliated voters chose Barack Obama, a Christian.) Meanwhile, the number of people willing to describe themselves as atheist or agnostic has increased about fourfold from 1990 to 2009, from 1 million to about 3.6 million. (That is about double the number of, say, Episcopalians in the United States.)

An inquiry and request that came to MM:

Hello, Thank you for your wonderfully informative blog!

I’m an academic in America conducting feminist research on how American foreign policy affects popular support for terrorism. My theory is that America’s hegemonic activity fuels popular support for terrorism, but I need data to support that hypothesis.

I plan to conduct a large international survey in order to collect that data. Before I conduct the survey, however, I need to devise a survey instrument that is non-biased (non-western, non-white). I strongly believe that the biggest reason that America is losing the war on terror is that we aren’t listening to the people that matter the most—everyone else. The same principal applies to my survey: it won’t do any good if I’m not asking the right questions.

So I’m asking for your help. I’ve put together a pre-survey questionnaire to help fashion a survey that hopefully will ask the right questions― one that takes race, religion, and gender issues into consideration rather than just making the same old geopolitical assumptions that political scientists in my field tend to make. I’m particularly interested in incorporating the views of women, non-whites, and people living outside of America and Western Europe. The final survey will go out once the pre-survey data has been collected and analyzed.

The survey can be accessed at

Anything else you want to talk about?

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.



  1. Hassan

    April 12, 2009 at 4:15 PM

    Nice open thread.

    I am still trying to locate Obama apologist “hahmed”, long time he has not posted anything about how cool Obama is.

  2. Amad

    April 12, 2009 at 4:24 PM

    To be honest, if you were an average American, you’d see Obama doing incredible things these days. I mean the guy has his hand in a hundred different things, and seems to be making some changes for the good.

    I do think his trip to Turkey was quite positive, and if we keep in mind the relative, not the absolute, the trip itself was quite remarkable. At least it was packaged beautifully. Lot more to go, but I wouldn’t say Obama is doing horribly, it takes a lot of time to undo Bush’s legacy of fear and imperialism.

  3. MM Associates

    April 12, 2009 at 4:27 PM

    There is also a piece worth reading by Nir Rosen about the deep sectarian tensions and fear for the future lying just below the surface of a Baghdad that seems relatively peaceful.

  4. sincethestorm

    April 12, 2009 at 5:03 PM

    I wanted to post a link to an interview of Azhar Usman. It was interesting to know that there is a strategy involved in stand up comedy. .May Allah SWT reward his intentions.
    Here’s part 1….There are a total of 6 parts.

  5. AnonyMouse

    April 12, 2009 at 8:57 PM

    Best Open Thread in a long, long time :D

  6. Touhidur

    April 12, 2009 at 11:11 PM

    Assalamu alaykum,
    video lecture: Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed : The_Hidden_Holocaust – 1:20:37 – Nov 27, 2007



    April 13, 2009 at 12:21 AM

    i just wanted to post a series of lectures scheduled geared toward women
    i thought i would share


  8. student

    April 14, 2009 at 1:42 AM

    I don’t know if there is another angle of Obama’s bow (that shows his face and hands), but I got the impression that he may have bent to kiss the King’s hand. Not many mainstream media seemed to have mentioned this possibility (at least not that I know of). Just thought I would throw that out there, not that they whole affair matters very much at all. :D

    As for the Afghan “marital rape” law: can anyone comment on the fiqh of this? I am fairly sure that I have heard of fiqh rulings that support it. But I’ll remain skeptical until I read a convincing ruling.

    In any case, those westerners who are up in arms are incredibly naive about this whole “imperialism” thing. (I am sure the friendly Afghan tribal leaders will be even more keen on inviting the lovely western soldiers in for dinner and tea when they realize that the West now makes their laws.)

  9. student

    April 14, 2009 at 1:46 AM

    Ah, yes:

    The wife is obliged to obey her husband if he calls her to his bed, and if she refuses then she is sinning, because of the report narrated by al-Bukhaari (32370 and Muslim (1436) from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him), that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If a man calls his wife to his bed and she does not come to him, and he goes to sleep angry with her, the angels will curse her until morning.”


  10. Abu Rumaisa

    April 17, 2009 at 11:55 AM


    As far Obama & hand of friendship towards Muslims is concerned… a complete sham!

    Obama & American govts. claim they are not against Islam but they are working in full force to get rid of shariah (whatever remains of it) from around the world.

    While extending this hand of friendship on one hand, he’s sending 35,000 terrorists to Afghanistan.

    And calls Turkey a model Muslim country – a country where haraam is halaal & halaal is haraam is what we supposed to become? Hilarious!

    Hopefully, Muslims who have taken Obama as their messiah – see through his rosy words.

  11. abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    April 24, 2009 at 1:32 PM

    Bismillah. Alhamdolillah Who permitted His slave, this MM Associate blogger, to offer you:

  12. news

    April 25, 2009 at 7:06 AM

    Muslim woman’s appointment as Obama advisor draws cautious optimism

    LA Times

    Dalia Mogahed, a veiled Egyptian American, will advise President Obama on prejudices and problems faced by Muslims. Many Arabs hope it’s a step toward reversing stereotyping.

    By Noha El-Hennawy
    April 22, 2009

    Reporting from Cairo — Egyptians are cautiously rejoicing over the recent appointment of a veiled Egyptian American Muslim woman as an advisor to President Obama.

    Dalia Mogahed, senior analyst and executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, was appointed this month to Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

    Arabs are closely watching for signs that the new leadership in Washington is making efforts to improve relations with Islam, which many Muslims believe were severely damaged during the eight years of the Bush administration. The selection of Mogahed is viewed by many in the Middle East as a step by Obama to move beyond the stereotypes and prejudices that Muslims believe they have encountered since the attacks Sept. 11, 2001.

    “Dalia Mogahed is the best example of a successful Muslim woman. She proves that the Muslim should be successful in all fields, at least in [her] area of specialization,” a commentator wrote on the website of the independent daily Al Masry al Youm.

    The Egyptian-born Mogahed moved with her family to the United States almost 30 years ago. Recently, she co-wrote the book “Who Speaks for Islam?” with John Esposito, an American political science professor who has been criticized by some as an Islamic apologist. Mogahed and Esposito published an opinion piece this month in The Times on American ignorance of Islam and the Muslim world.

    “My work focuses on studying Muslims, the way they think and their views,” Mogahed was quoted as saying on the website of the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya satellite news channel. “Then I should tell the president about their problems and needs, especially that lately Muslims have been perceived as a source of problems and as incapable of taking part in solving international problems and that they should work on themselves. Now we want to say that Muslims are capable of providing solutions.”

    Yet, Mogahed’s declaration that her loyalty goes first to the United States, published Monday in an interview with Al Masry al Youm, disappointed some people.

    “I wish your loyalty was to your Islam first, Egypt second and your Arabism third and then to anything else,” wrote a reader identifying himself as the Tiger of Arabs. “I am afraid that they might make a fool out of you and use you as a cover for policies that don’t serve Egypt and the Arab and Muslim world.”

    El-Hennawy is in The Times’ Cairo Bureau.

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