August 17th, 2010
03:24 PM ET

Opinion: United States of Islamophobia?

Arsalan Iftikhar
Special to CNN

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/OPINION/08/12/iftikhar.islamaphobia/tzleft.iftikhar.courtesy.jpg caption="Arsalan Iftikhar: Anti-mosque campaigns spreading from New York throughout nation" width=300 height=169]

Almost everybody has heard about the protests against the mosque and Islamic center planned to be built about two blocks from ground zero in Manhattan. But most people are still unaware that these anti-Muslim political campaigns are spreading throughout our beloved country as a new wave of Islamophobia hits.

Debate over the Islamic center has become ridiculously absurd. An ad objecting to the mosque depicts a plane flying toward the World Trade Center's towers as they burn on the left, with a rendering of the center on the right, and is set to run in New York buses.

Far away from New York, some right-wing Republican political candidates in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, have denounced plans for a large Muslim center proposed near a subdivision and hundreds of angry protesters have subsequently turned out for a march and a county meeting on the matter.

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Filed under: Arsalan Iftikhar • Islam • Opinion
July 7th, 2010
02:33 PM ET

Iran must halt woman's death by stoning

Arsalan Iftikhar
Special to CNN

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/OPINION/07/07/iftikhar.iran.stoning/tzleft.iftikhar.courtesy.jpg caption="Arsalan Iftikhar says it would be a clear violation of U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights" width=300 height=169]

It is clearly stated in Article 5 of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights that, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Adopted in 1948 by the U.N. General Assembly, in addition to outlawing torture categorically, this international treaty was to be used as a common standard for international law and outlined - for the first time ever - fundamental human rights to be protected anywhere around the world.

Included under the category of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" would most certainly be the impending death by stoning of a 42-year-old Iranian mother for the alleged crime of adultery.

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Filed under: Arsalan Iftikhar • Iran • Opinion
June 8th, 2010
11:46 AM ET

Unenlightenment and the 'Holy Land'

Arsalan Iftikhar
Special to CNN

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/OPINION/06/07/iftikhar.holy.land/tzleft.iftikhar.courtesy.jpg caption="Arsalan Iftikhar: "Holy Land" seems to be where civilized humanity has gone to die" width=300 height=169]

As a global community, we would probably like to believe that our ongoing human experiment has been driven by the enlightened advancement of collective human thought. Because as Mahatma Gandhi said, "I have nothing new to teach the world. ... Truth and nonviolence are as old as the hills."

Yet the current mix of perpetual war and poverty, extremist terrorism and global racism raises the question of whether the human race has completely lost its collective mind.

This sobering condition is no more apparent than in the ironically named "Holy Land" - Israel and Palestine - where civilized humanity has seemingly gone to die a very painful death.

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Filed under: Arsalan Iftikhar • Middle East • Opinion
May 21st, 2010
10:38 AM ET

Pakistan should ban extremism, not Facebook

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/21/pakistan.facebook.protest.jpg caption="Protesters in Pakistan shout slogans against the published caricatures of Prophet Mohammed on Facebook."]

Arsalan Iftikhar
Special to CNN

(CNN) - For a country that has produced five military dictators in 60 years, mourned the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and struggles continually against its own militant extremists who have killed thousands in their own nation, Pakistan has absolutely picked the wrong fight by banning Facebook and YouTube because of an idiotic virtual campaign called "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day."

According to a story on CNN.com, Pakistan blocked access to YouTube - a day after it shut down the social networking site Facebook - after an online group called on people to draw the Prophet Mohammed. In response, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority ordered its operators to shut down YouTube "in view of growing sacrilegious content on it."

Instead of knee-jerk political reactions and impassioned threats of violence, as proud millennial Muslims we should reflect and ponder how our Prophet Mohammed would have responded to such silly faux controversies.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Arsalan Iftikhar • Pakistan
April 26th, 2010
04:22 PM ET

No-name radicals vs. 'South Park' just a distraction

Arsalan Iftikhar
Special to CNN

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2010/04/22/arts/southparkAB.jpg]

Free speech issues and portrayals of Islam needlessly stirred a hornet's nest recently when "South Park" depicted the Prophet Mohammed disguised in a bear suit in the 200th episode of the popular Comedy Central TV show.

But what many people don't realize is that the show's creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, already used an image of Mohammed on "South Park" without any strife whatsoever in a July 2001 episode called "Super Best Friends."

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Arsalan Iftikhar • Islam
March 10th, 2010
10:57 AM ET

Extremists of any color can commit terrorism

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/10/t1.john.patrick.bedell.jpg caption="Terrorism is terrorism, whether it is committed by a white, black or brown person, Arsalan Iftikhar says." width=300 height=169]

Arsalan Iftikhar | BIO
AC360° Contributor

Founder, TheMuslimGuy.com

Within the last month, our country has witnessed two senseless, high-profile acts of criminal violence that would have been labeled terrorism if brown-skinned Arab Muslim men with foreign-sounding names had committed them.

Because two white men committed these acts of violence, however, our political and media chattering class never used the word "terrorism" in its discussions.

Most recently, John Patrick Bedell, a 36-year-old man from California, walked up to two security guards outside the Pentagon Metro station in suburban Washington and started shooting. He was then shot and killed. According to The Christian Science Monitor, Bedell appeared "to have been a right-wing extremist with virulent anti-government feelings" and also battled mental illness before his shooting rampage.

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February 1st, 2010
01:30 PM ET

Life of a Muslim De-Radicalizer

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/12/26/airline.attack/story.us.airline.suspect.cnn.jpg caption="Officers take suspect into custody in Detroit, Michigan, after an attempt to destroy a Northwest Airlines flight." width=300 height=169]

Arsalan Iftikhar | BIO
AC360° Contributor

Founder, TheMuslimGuy.com

He is a lifelong Texan, registered Republican, die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan and professional Muslim ‘de-radicalizer’ all-in-one. Especially in light of both the recently-foiled Christmas day airline bombing plot in Detroit and earlier high-profile arrests of 5 young American Muslim men in Sargodha, Pakistan; the current debate within the chattering class of our political zeitgeist is revolving around ensuring that young impressionable Western Muslims are not radicalized within the dark recesses of cyberspace and the Internet.

This is where professional de-radicalizers like Mohamed Elibiary come into play.

As founder and president of The Freedom and Justice Foundation in Dallas, Mr. Elibiary has recently found himself serving the American Muslim community by helping to serve families and communities who are concerned about some of their youngsters naively falling prey to the lure of a ‘new jihadi cool’; a sociopolitical term coined by former CIA forensic psychiatrist Dr. Marc Sageman to categorize some of these young impressionable men who seek to perform acts of criminal vigilante terrorism contrary to every normative mainstream teaching of Islam.


Filed under: Arsalan Iftikhar • Terrorism
January 5th, 2010
12:01 PM ET

Why profiling doesn't work

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/TRAVEL/01/03/tsa.measures/smlvid.security.line.afp.gi.jpg width=300 height=169]

Arsalan Iftikhar | BIO
AC360° Contributor
Founder, TheMuslimGuy.com

In light of the botched Christmas Day airliner bombing aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 en route from Amsterdam to Detroit, the Transportation Security Administration has announced new enhanced "guidelines" requiring airline passengers traveling from (and through) 14 different countries to undergo especially rigorous security screening before being able to fly into the United States.

Under these new TSA guidelines, security screeners will conduct "full pat-down body checks" and extensive carry-on luggage checks for all passengers traveling from a country which the U.S. considers to be a "security risk."

These 14 countries are: Afghanistan, Algeria, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Additionally, passengers traveling from any other foreign country may also be checked at 'random' as well.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Arsalan Iftikhar • Human Rights • Religion • Terrorism
December 14th, 2009
12:48 PM ET

Holy Jihad, Batman! Al-Qaeda Offers Condolences?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/12/12/afghanistan.alqaeda/story.adam.gadahn.afp.gi.jpg caption="Image released by al Qaeda-linked group on January 6, 2008 purportedly shows Adam Gadahn." width=300 height=169]

Arsalan Iftikhar
AC360° Contributor
Founder, TheMuslimGuy.com

Holy jihad, Batman!

Did Al-Qaeda just officially offer condolences to innocent civilians murdered by their stupid acts of terrorism?

Well, sort of…

According to CNN, Adam Gadahn- also known as ‘Azzam the American’- appeared in a 17-minute video released on Islamist online forums late Friday, offering condolences to the families of innocent people killed in Al-Qaeda attacks.

“We express our condolences to the families of the Muslim men, women and children killed in these criminal acts…” he says in the video.

Wait a minute. Did a member of Al-Qaeda just admit that their acts of terrorism are ‘criminal acts’?


Filed under: al Qaeda • Arab Affairs • Arsalan Iftikhar • Terrorism
December 11th, 2009
04:27 PM ET

The 5 ‘Wanna-Be’ Terrorists: Wake-Up Call for Our Muslim Youth

Arsalan Iftikhar
AC360° Contributor
Founder, TheMuslimGuy.com

Dude…You have got to be kidding me…

With the recent arrest of five young American Muslims in Sargodha, Pakistan on alleged charges of terrorism by Pakistani authorities, many of the over 7 million American Muslims were collectively groaning and rolling our eyes whilst saying:

“Are you kidding me? Thanks a lot, you idiots…”

A recent CNN article noted that the potential radicalization of American Muslim teenagers has now become known as “jihadi cool,” a term coined by author/psychiatrist (and former CIA official) Dr. Marc Sageman.

“The path for a lot of these kids is essentially like at-risk gangbangers, who want to ’stand up’ for their community, to address grievances of the global Muslim community more effectively than they’ve seen the elder generation address them since 9/11.”

Many professional ‘de-radicalizers’ have said that the great majority of these young men have little sense of what they are doing. They are “extremely shallow theologically and even ideologically.”


Filed under: Arsalan Iftikhar • Islam • Terrorism
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