Saudi liberals see hope as clerics argue over gender segregation

May 4, 2010
saudi women

Saudi women praying at Eid al-Adha in Riyadh on November 27, 2009/Stringer

Divisions among senior Saudi clerics over the legality of gender segregation could mark a new drive by reformers allied to King Abdullah to push social reforms in the puritanical Islamic state.  The divisions came to the open when the kingdom’s morals police, or the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, reversed a decision to sack Ahmad al-Ghamdi, its regional head for the Mecca region.

Film champions liberalism in conservative Egypt

By Reuters Staff
April 28, 2010
pyramids

The great Giza pyramids and the Sphinx on March 27, 2010/Amr Abdallah Dals

A new film exploring issues of sexual freedom, polygamy and individuality has drawn media praise in Egypt, but its liberal message remains on the margins in the country’s conservative society. The appearance of Rasayel El Bahr, or Messages from the Sea, in Egyptian theatres is the latest indication of an easing of censorship rules, which film critics say reflects government efforts to counter Islamism.

French Muslim rejects polygamist charge, says has wife and 3 lovers

April 26, 2010
Lies Hebbadj

Liès Hebbadj and his wife Anne after she was fined for wearing a niqab while driving, in Nantes on April 26, 2010/Stephane Mahe

In Indonesia, keeping the religious status quo

By Olivia Rondonuwu
April 20, 2010
indonesia muslim

Youths read the Koran in Indonesia's South Sulawesi province September 5, 2008/Yusuf Ahmad

Headscarf row re-opens old wounds for Algerians

April 13, 2010
algeria women

Algerian women walk past an election poster of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Batna, 500 km (311 miles) east of Algiers, March 19, 2009/Louafi Larbi

Muslim scholars recast jihadists’ favourite fatwa

March 31, 2010
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An Indonesian Muslim uses magnifying glass to read Koran verses printed on lamb parchment, Jakarta, July 27, 2005/Beawiharta

Obama’s boyhood Jakarta home district sees shift to stricter Islam

March 18, 2010
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Indonesian Muslims pray at the Istiqlal Grand Mosque in Jakarta 9 March/Supri

Some things in the central Jakarta district of Matraman have barely changed since the late 1960s, when United States President Barack Obama lived and played there.  Old men train their racing pigeons on the badminton court and screaming children chase each other through the winding, grimy alleyways. But if Obama does decide to drop by his old neighborhood when he visits Indonesia next week, he may notice change around the community’s mosque.

U.S. Muslim group calls textbooks discriminatory

By Reuters Staff
March 17, 2010

world of islamU.S. Muslim activists launched a campaign on Wednesday against a series of educational books that they say promote anti-Islamic sentiment among American school children.  “The World of Islam,” a 10-book series, encourages young readers to believe Muslims are terrorists and seek to undermine U.S. society, said the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy organization.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Defining Pakistan

March 15, 2010

binoria girlsHistorian Manan Ahmed has a must-read column up at The National on a strengthening grassroots conservative Islamist ideology in Pakistani society, encouraged, he says, by the political thinking of the likes of TV host Zaid Hamid.

“No to Islamism” campaign boosts France’s National Front in poll

March 15, 2010
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Jean-Marie Le Pen at a rally in Marseille on March 7, 2010. The placard reads "No to Islamism. Youth with Le Pen" and shows a map of France covered by an Algerian flag and minarets/Jean-Paul Pelissier