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Interview with Zackery Heern, author of The Emergence of Modern Shi‘ism

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Interview with Zackery Heern, author of acclaimed book, The Emergence of Modern Shi‘ism: Islamic Reform in Iraq and Iran.*
The 9/11 terror attacks have created immense interest in Islam. Many books were published on Islam and Muslims, a large percentage of them written by non-specialists. A number of individuals, seeing a market for specialists, presented themselves as Islam specialists even though they had no credentials or dubious Islam credentials. At the same time, since 9/11, great books on Islam have also been written, by scholars trained in the field. One of these great books is Dr. Zackery Heern’s book, The Emergence of Modern Shi‘ism: Islamic Reform in Iraq and Iran, published by Oneworld. The Forum and Link reached out to Dr. Heern, formerly a Murray State University assistant professor and currently an assistant professor at Idaho State University, with questions about his book. Below is the interview: Ihsan Alkhatib: Thank you for doing this interview with the Forum and Lin…

Jerusalem: Religion, Politics and Law

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The following are answers to questions commonly asked regarding Jerusalem, one of the “final status” matters in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
*What is the issue with Jerusalem?  Is it a done deal with Israel having annexed it and declared it the “eternal capital of the Jewish people”?
There is a myth that Israel has annexed East Jerusalem. This is not the case at all. Israel has not annexed East Jerusalem. Had it annexed it, the population of the city would have automatically become Israeli citizens. This is not the case. They are Jordanian passport holders with permanent residency cards issued by Israel.
* If not annexed, then what is Jerusalem’s status?
 Israel has extended its jurisdiction over it. In a letter to the UN dated 7/10/1967, Israel stated: ‘The term “annexation” is out of place. The measures adopted related to the integration of Jerusalem in the administrative and municipal spheres and furnish a legal basis for the protection of the Holy Places.”’
*Has East Jerusa…

Questions and answers about Justice Against sponsors of Terrorism Act

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JASTA has passed and there are many questions as to the law. Below are responses to common questions on the law:
*What is JASTA? JASTA is a federal statute that was passed by Congress this year.  It is an acronym for Justice against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. It allows the families of victims of terror attacks on US soil to sue sponsors of the terrorist acts. The language of the law does not mention the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by name but it is known that the families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks lobbied for this law and that those who introduced the law in Congress introduced it to allow these families to sue Saudi Arabia for its alleged role in the 9/11 attacks. It is important to note that the US government has asserted time and time again that Saudi Arabia had no involvement in the attacks. In fact, al Qaeda is a terrorist organization that had declared war on Saudi Arabia for its alliance with the US.
*Was JASTA a big bill like the PATRIOT Act? Is it possible that not all mem…

Osama Siblani validates “fear and loathing”: Posting and liking sectarian bigotry, hatred and incitement

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Osama Siblani validates “fear and loathing”: Posting and liking sectarian bigotry, hatred and incitement
Fear of the “arrogant bully” I interviewed a number of people who raised important issues as to the 19th district court primary election.  The people I interviewed, from different national and faith groups, did not want to be named. They were concerned that Osama would use his paper to attack them. I was surprised at the level of fear and loathing directed towards Osama and his paper.  My interviewees did not need the headache of an open fight with Osama and his paper.  I thought their fear was exaggerated. He is, after all, a publisher of a paper not the leader of a gang.

Sectarianism is the last refuge of the scoundrel Osama’s response to my column appearing on my blog and in the Forum and Link was having one of his sectarian writers attack me in his paper. Osama’s writer, who has very limited English language skills, falsely claimed that I wrote that Sunnis do not like Osama because…

Intellectual Dishonesty and Sectarian Incitement at the “Arab American” News: More of the Same

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I write a regular column for the Detroit based Forum and Link. On a visit to Dearborn, I was struck by community drama over the 19th district judicial primary elections.  Curious to know the reasons, I spoke with a number of people of different backgrounds. I used these interviews in an entry on my blog. The same appeared in the Forum and Link of August 11, 2016.
There were a number of themes in the interviews, These themes include:
1.There is community- wide frustration with Osama Siblani and his paper. Osama uses his paper as the “National Inquirer” and the community is sick and tired of that.
2.Osama’s years of activism have gotten to his head and made him think that he “made the community,””he is the dean of the community,” “he is the community,” “he speaks for the community and “he decides who from the community can speak.”
3.Osama is dictatorial, immoral and unethical. After promoting attorney Dabaja for city council, he turned around and stabbed her in the back by using his paper t…

Fear and loathing in Dearborn: The Osama phenomenon

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Osama Siblani is a very interesting phenomenon. He is the publisher of a community newspaper and a longtime community activist. Anyone who gets involved in matters of public concern expects to be the object of criticism. Even American presidents get all kinds of criticism- fair and unfair.  In a democracy, we all understand that the freedom of expression is sacrosanct.
In the Middle East, people have a lot of opinions. However, in most Middle Eastern countries people are afraid to express themselves for fear of the government and those who have connections. In the US, on the other hand, there is the First Amendment. There is freedom of speech. People are free to express themselves.
I spoke with a Dearborn Arab American about the phenomenon of Osama Siblani and his paper. I have written a column in the Forum and Link based on interviews with Arab Americans regarding the 19th district elections and people did not want to go on the record criticizing Osama Siblani. Why would people, in the…