struggle within Islam
Iran: resistance grows as death toll tops 500
The independent Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) on Jan. 16 released statistics finding that 522 protestors, including 70 children and youths, have been killed in Iran since the start of the national uprising in September. Authorities have arrested 19,400 people, including 168 children and youths. Of those detained, 110 are "under impending threat" of a death sentence. Four protestors have already been executed. Human Rights Watch additionally reported that authorities have fired assault rifles on protestors, and have subjected those in detention to torture, mistreatment and sexual abuse. (Jurist)
Podcast: paradoxes of Moorish American identity
In Episode 157 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the seemingly obscure subculture of Moorish Science, which has had a greater influence than is generally recognized today, as an important precursor to the Black Muslim movement. The doctrine, first propagated over a century ago by the Prophet Noble Drew Ali, holds that there was in ancient times a great Moorish civilization that prospered on both sides of the Atlantic, in North Africa but also in North America, and that Black Americans are in fact Moors and the inheritors of this legacy. Contrary to official histories, Moorish Science holds that not all Black folk in the Americas are descendants of those brought over in the Middle Passage, but also of Moors who were already in America in pre-Columbian times. The book The Aliites: Race & Law in the Religions of Noble Drew Ali by Spencer Dew sheds new light on surviving exponents of this movement, including the Moorish Science Temple of America, the Moorish American National Republic, the Washitaw Empire, and the Murakush Caliphate of Amexem.
The Yezidis, 'esotericism' and the global struggle
In Episode 156 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses Peter Lamborn Wilson's last book, Peacock Angel: The Esoteric Tradition of the Yezidis. One of the persecuted minorities of Iraq, the Yezidis are related to the indigenous Gnostics of the Middle East such as the Mandeans. But Wilson interprets the "esoteric" tradition of the Yezidis as an antinomian form of Adawiyya sufism with roots in pre-Islamic "paganism." Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel, the divine being revered by the Yezidis as Lord of This World, is foremost among a pantheon that ultimately traces back to the Indo-European gods. Wilson conceives this as a conscious resistance to authoritarianism, orthodoxy and monotheism—which has won the Yezidis harsh persecution over the centuries. They were targeted for genocide along with the Armenians by Ottoman authorities in World War I—and more recently at the hands of ISIS. They are still fighting for cultural survival and facing the threat of extinction today. Weinberg elaborates on the paradox of militant mysticism and what it means for the contemporary world, with examples of "heretical" Gnostic sects from the Balkan labyrinth. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Afghanistan: aid operations hit by anti-women decree
Several international aid organizations have suspended their work in Afghanistan in response to a new Taliban edict barring Afghan women from working with any local or foreign NGO until further notice, while the UN is urging the "Islamic Emirate" to reverse its decision. The Afghan Ministry of Economy issued the order on Dec. 24, warning that any organization that fails to comply will have their licence to operate in the nation revoked.
Iran: oppose death penalty for detained protesters
Sixteen UN-appointed human rights experts called on Iranian authorities Nov. 11 not to indict people on charges punishable by death for participating in peaceful demonstrations. "We urge Iranian authorities to stop using the death penalty as a tool to squash protests and reiterate our call to immediately release all protesters who have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty for the sole reason of exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of opinion and expression," the experts said in a statement. (UN News) Since then at least five people have been sentenced to death on the charge of moharebeh ("enmity against God") in connection with the anti-government protests that have been raging for two months. A popular Kurdish rap artist, Saman Yasin, is among those facing execution. Days before the UN statement, 227 members of Iran's 290-member parliament approved a resolution demanding that the judiciary "deal decisively" with "rioters"—taken to mean imposing the death penalty. (BBC News, Iran International, Reuters, Arab News)
Iran: oil workers strike, join protests
The national uprising in Iran continued to spread over the past week, with petrochemical workers walking off the job at the major Asalouyeh plant on the Persian Gulf coast of Bushehr province—shortly followed by a similar wildcat strike at Abadan refinery in the neighboring restive province of Khuzestan. Videos posted to social media show workers at the Asalouyeh complex chanting "This year is the year of blood, Seyed Ali Khamenei is done!" and "Down with the dictator!"—both references to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. (Iran International) Security forces fired on protesters in Sanandaj, capital of Kordestan, another traditionally restive province, killing at least five. (BBC News) Lawyers in Tehran gathered in front of the Iranian Central Bar Association to protest the repression, and were themselves dispersed by tear-gas. (Jurist) In scenes across the country, schoolgirls held protests in which they removed their hijabs in defiance of authorities. In the southern city of Shiraz, Fars province, dozens of schoolgirls blocked traffic on a main road while waving their headscarves in the air and shouting "Death to the dictator!" (BBC News)
Iran: uprising spreads to Baluchistan
The nationwide uprising in Iran has spread to the restive eastern province of Sistan & Baluchistan. On Sept. 30, people gathered after Friday prayers in provincial capital Zahedan to protest against the reported rape of a 15-year-old Baluch girl by the police chief of the nearby town of Chabahar. Security forces opened fire, and at least 41 protesters were killed, local rights monitors report. According to Iran Human Rights, this brings the total dead since the uprising began two weeks earlier to 133. Iran Human Rights director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said: "The killing of protesters in Iran, especially in Zahedan, amounts to crimes against humanity. The international community has a duty to investigate this crime and prevent further crimes from being committed by the Islamic Republic." (Iran Wire, Jurist)
Iran: high-tech crackdown on hijab resistance
An Iranian government entity enforcing Islamic rules says the Intelligence Ministry has arrested 300 anti-hijab activist "ringleaders" working "for the enemy." A spokesman of the Enjoining Good & Forbidding Evil Headquarters said Sept. 11 that the activists were arrested in accordance with the new Hijab & Chastity Regulations, which officially extend the mandatory hijab to social media posts. This is to be monitored by the government's facial recognition software that was previously used during the pandemic to track if people were wearing face masks.
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