‘We Pray For The Caliphate To Return’: ISIS Families Crowd Into Syrian Camps

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

‘We Pray For The Caliphate To Return’: ISIS Families Crowd Into Syrian Camps

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Women carry children near the al-Hol camp in Syria’s Kurdish-majority region of Rojava. The camp is filled with more than 72,000 people — most of them women and children who came out of the last ISIS-held territory.

Jane Arraf/NPR

The women huddle for shelter from the rain under a corrugated iron roof, their long black cloaks dragging in the mud as they wait in line for food and pray for the return of the ISIS caliphate.

The squalid al-Hol camp, in the Kurdish-majority region of Syria known as Rojava, is filled with more than 72,000 people — most of them women and children who came out of the last piece of ISIS-held territory in Baghouz.

They include thousands of Iraqis and Syrians who believe they will usher in a new caliphate. And they pose a risk to the Iraqi government, seeking to repatriate the Iraqis, and to Syrian Kurdish authorities, having nowhere to send the Syrians.

“This is injustice — we pray for the caliphate to return,” says one of the women, who says this is the third day they have been turned away from promised cartons of food. Everything is in short supply here.

“If it weren’t for the airstrikes on our tents and camps killing our children,” she says, “we would not have left the caliphate.” All refuse to give their names.

All of the women are completely covered in long black cloaks, with only a slit for their eyes. A few have covered even their eyes.

“Convert, convert!” a group of women and girls shout at me, urging me to recite the shahada, the Muslim profession of faith: “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is his messenger.”

“If you became Muslim and cover like us and became a member of our religion, you would not be killed” in the ISIS caliphate, one woman tells me.

To the world, to the governments it threatened and the hundreds of thousands it killed in Iraq and Syria, ISIS was one of the most brutal organizations known.

To its followers — who number in the tens of thousands and escaped the fall of the last ISIS territory in Syria with their beliefs intact — ISIS could do no wrong.

In their caliphate, they say there was justice. There was no bribery or corruption or wasta — the influence-peddling at the heart of most countries in the region.

“Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and any shepherd were on the same level,” says an Iraqi boy, referring to the ISIS leader now believed to be in hiding.

They say when there was food in the caliphate, it was distributed. Here at the camp, they say they come every day to be humiliated and told there’s nothing for them.

Malnourished infants have died due to lack of shelter and medical care in the camp in this breakaway region of Syria, according to the World Health Organization and other aid groups. With the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, the Rojava region now faces an uncertain future.

The women in the camp believe its harsh conditions are deliberate — part of what they believe to be a continuing war against Muslims around the world.

They say everything under ISIS was what God wanted.

“Of course there were beheadings — why should I lie?” says a Syrian woman. “It’s based on the Quran and the rules of God.”

Asked about the Yazidi minority, which ISIS targeted with a campaign of genocide, the women shout: “Devil worshippers!”

Misconceptions about the ancient Yazidi religion have led to dozens of massacres over the centuries. When ISIS took over a third of Iraq in 2014, thousands of Yazidis were killed or captured as sex slaves.

Women and children wait for distribution of food at the al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria. Most are family members of ISIS fighters, viewed by the region’s Kurdish Syrian leadership as a potential danger. Iraq says it wants to bring back 30,000 of its citizens to place in Iraqi camps, but few are willing to return.

Jane Arraf/NPR

“If they don’t convert to Islam and they don’t become Muslim like us and worship God, then they deserve it,” an Iraqi woman says.

This camp, they complain, is full of infidels. There is music. Male and female guards wear tight clothing and smoke cigarettes. They say the men harass women.

They insist that everything was better in what they call al-dawla — the state.

“There, a woman would walk with her head held high and a man would lower his eyes,” a Syrian woman says. “Here, it’s the opposite.”

The region’s Kurdish Syrian leadership views the large numbers of radicalized women and children as a continued danger.

“The women and children who have been raised on the mentality of ISIS and terrorism need to be rehabilitated and reintegrated into their communities,” says Abdulkarim Omar, a foreign relations official in the Kurdish region of northeast Syria. “Otherwise, they will be the foundations of future terrorism.”

But there is little money or political will for reintegrating ISIS families in either Iraq or Syria.

At a smaller camp run by the Kurdish Syrian forces, ISIS wives from Western countries are exposed to lectures about how ISIS is not Islam and what ISIS did to Yazidis and other women.

But there are no similar programs at al-Hol camp for Syrian and Iraqi ISIS families — and there are very few in Iraq.

“Any official who goes for an hour and speaks to them can’t change anything — are you a prophet that they would believe in you?” says Hisham al-Hashimi, an Iraqi counterterrorism expert in Baghdad.

“We have proposed [deradicalization] programs in the past, but no one has implemented them,” says Ali Abbas Jahaker, a deputy director at Iraq’s Ministry of Migration. Jahaker says the Iraqi government plans to repatriate 30,000 Iraqi women and children over three months but will not force the families to return against their will.

In Syria, camp officials say so far, fewer than 1,000 Iraqis have indicated they want to go home.

The women at al-Hol say they are there because ISIS leader Baghdadi told them to escape to save their children.

“This is the next generation of the caliphate,” one of the women says. “If you talk to them, they have the true creed implanted in their minds. The true creed will remain.”

And in fact, it’s a girl from the Iraqi city of Tikrit who is among the most fervent in the group. She appears to be 11 or 12.

On judgment day, the girl tells us, God will pour molten metal in the ears of those who listen to music.

“The ones who are not covered, now I ask God in the next life to light the fires of hell with their hair!” she declares.

She says she went to school under ISIS — what she calls a proper school, with boys and girls segregated — and vows she won’t go to school again until the caliphate returns.

They all believe it’s just a matter of time.

Awadh al-Taee contributed reporting from Baghdad.

So, Racca Syria Is Free Of ISIS: Now What? What Has Been Won? What Has Been Lost

So, Racca Syria Is Free Of ISIS: Now What? What Has Been Won? What Has Been Lost?

 

It is not easy to choose a starting point from the anneals of time when the subject matter is the Ancient City of Racca Syria. Here in the U.S. we tend to think that something from the 1800’s is old and something pre Columbus is ancient history. I chose to start this article in the year of our Lord 639 A.D.. Think about it for a moment, this is more than 1,000 years before the birth of George Washington.

 

I am not going to try to turn this article to you into some type of a history lesson. To be able to catch the essence and history of Racca would take Albums, not paragraphs. In 639 an Islamic Army took the city. Folks, that’s 1,378 years ago. This tidbit of information is for those who are new to the subject as this event happened 1,137 before the Americans signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Folks, Racca was on the “World Heritage Site” list. Racca was a huge piece of human history, now it is gone. Now, what do the teachers of these next few generations teach to these children? What is their History now? I guess their history will have to be broken into the ‘before Revolution, and after Revolution’ segments. What horrible history we leave onto our children as each generation only gets harder on those entering it. How can some deny that depression is the young with no hope of survival and the old who quietly await their own death?

 

Since Christ walked the Earth 2,000 years ago I wonder, how many people have died within 10 square miles of the city of Racca? Just in this past 6+ years, how many? Folks this is sickness, this is madness, how much blood must be spilled? The sad answer to this question is, there is no end, some are simply enraged with hate. The latest emblem of this hate is called ISIS, Daesh and a few other local names. Racca was the Capital City of ISIS new Caliphate, now it is not. Now the (SDF) (Syrian Democratic Forces) backed by U.S. Special Forces have taken control of all of Racca.

 

My question to you today is simple, have you seen the before and after pictures of cities like Racca Syria where Culture had flourished over about 1,400 years? World Heritage Site folks, now it is but rubble. Now that ‘our’ forces who control Racca are anti Syrian Government, how do things get any better here? The Kurdish people who are spear heading this ‘SDF’ have already been back stabbed by the American government once this week on their voting issue. Now, for the Americans to continue to be involved they would have to come into direct contact with the Syrian government forces and the forces of Russia, Iran and even Iraqi soldiers. So, we leave this pile of rubble over to the Syrian Government without a fight and request that our Kurdish ‘Friends’ do the same, without a fight, or the U.S. will desert the Kurdish people once again, leaving them to be slaughtered by the Syrians, Russians and Iranians.

 

Whom ever comes out the Ruler of this region of the world ‘Racca’, has no chance of being what it was before 2010, ever. The beauty it once had is gone, now it is only in memories and old pictures. So folks, now what? I believe that the end result is that Racca will remain as part of Syria for the foreseeable future. Yet even if Russia, Iran the E.U. or even the U.S., became Landlords of the Racca area, how do you rebuild it now? Your people need jobs, the Governments must step up with trillions of dollars to rebuild their own infrastructure from the ground up. They must employ their citizens, have them doing the rebuilding of their own homes, their won businesses, their own Stores. The rest of the world cannot ignore the great chance for investment, even if it is only available to companies of Islamic Culture. Then I still ask you, the people who care about Racca and who can afford to, please try to help the people who have been stuck there for the past few years. To my way of thinking Racca should be at least as important to the Islamic Nations as Puerto Rico would be if decimated by a powerful Hurricane. What this means to the people and what it means to a government is normally two different Creatures aren’t they? For any quality of life to exist there again, all sides who care will be working together for the good of all, or they with will die together, by the thousands. So, is there hope, for rebuilding Racca? We shall see what we shall see is what a good friend used to say. Today’s time is tomorrows history.

 

 

 

 

U.S. Backed Rebels Have Broken Through Raqqa’s Old Cities Walls: ISIS Caliphate Is On It’s Way To Hell

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

US-backed rebels have breached a strategic wall surrounding the Old City of Raqqa in ISIS’s self-declared capital on Monday, US Central Command has said in a statement.

Breaching the Rafiqah Wall means the Syrian Democratic Forces will be able to penetrate Raqqa’s Old City, the last redoubt of ISIS defenders in the city. The ancient wall — first constructed in the 8th century by the Abbasid dynasty and stretching around the Old City on three sides — has provided important fortification for ISIS.
The operation was “a key milestone” in the campaign to “liberate the city,” Brett McGurk, the US envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition, said on his official Twitter account.
In a CENTCOM statement, the US added: “Coalition forces supported the SDF advance into the most heavily fortified portion of Raqqa by opening two small gaps in the Rafiqah Wall that surrounds the Old City.”
The battle for Raqqa is not dissimilar to that of Mosul, where US-backed Iraqi forces are fighting to expel the last of ISIS fighters from Iraq’s second-largest city. But the fight to retake Raqqa has gone quicker, with attacking forces gradually forcing a diminishing number of ISIS fighters into a smaller area of narrow streets around the ancient mosque of Rafiqa, which has already been extensively damaged.
The Rafiqah Wall — which is 3 kilometers from the city center — is approximately 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) long, 3.8 meters (12.4 feet) high and 1 meter thick, Syrian state media reported in 2009.
ISIS fighters had planted mines and improvised explosive devices at several breaks in the wall, a US Central Command (CENTCOM) statement said.
“The portions targeted were 25-meter sections and will help preserve the remainder of the overall 2,500-meter wall,” CENTCOM said.
CENTCOM and the SDF did not specify which area of the wall was breached.
The SDF launched an offensive to seize Raqqa on June 6. For more than three years, ISIS has used Raqqa as a staging ground for its deadly attacks on the Middle East and further overseas.
The group is running out of places to go. If ISIS is evicted from Raqqa it will lose the last vestige of any “governance” of its so-called caliphate. But it’s not just losing control of territory, it will also lose the facility to move freely between Syria and Iraq — especially since Iraqi militia seized the key town of Baaj last month.
The coalition hopes that the loss of Raqqa and Mosul will dull ISIS’ appeal to potential recruits.
“It’s hard to convince new recruits that ISIS is a winning cause when they just lost their twin ‘capitals’ in both Iraq and Syria,” General Steve Townsend, the coalition’s commanding general, said.

From ‘caliph’ to fugitive: Islamic State leader Baghdadi’s new life on the run

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

From ‘caliph’ to fugitive: Islamic State leader Baghdadi’s new life on the run

One of Baghdadi’s main concerns is to ensure those around him do not betray him for the $25 million reward offered by the United States to bring him ‘to justice’.

WORLD Updated: Jun 12, 2017 22:05 IST

Islamic State
A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi making what would have been his first public appearance, at a mosque in the centre of Iraq’s second city, Mosul.(Reuters File)

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is on the brink of losing the two main centres of his ‘caliphate’ but even though he is on the run, it may take years to capture or kill him, officials and experts said.

Islamic State fighters are close to defeat in the twin capitals of the group’s territory, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, and officials say Baghdadi is steering clear of both, hiding in thousands of square miles of desert between the two.

“In the end, he will either be killed or captured, he will not be able to remain underground forever,” said Lahur Talabany, the head of counter-terrorism at the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq. “But this is a few years away still,” he told Reuters.

One of Baghdadi’s main concerns is to ensure those around him do not betray him for the $25 million reward offered by the United States to bring him “to justice”, said Hisham al-Hashimi, who advises Middle East governments on Islamic State affairs.

“With no land to rule openly, he can no longer claim the title caliph,” Hashimi said. “He is a man on the run and the number of his supporters is shrinking as they lose territory.”

Iraqi forces have retaken much of Mosul, the northern Iraqi city the hardline group seized in June 2014 and from which Baghdadi declared himself “caliph” or leader of all Muslims shortly afterwards. Raqqa, his capital in Syria, is nearly surrounded by a coalition of Syrian Kurdish and Arab groups.

Damaged cars are seen stacked in the middle of a road in western Mosul’s Zanjili neighbourhood on June 9, 2017, during ongoing battles to try to take the city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. (AFP Photo)

The last public video footage of him shows him dressed in black clerical robes declaring his caliphate from the pulpit of Mosul’s medieval Grand al-Nuri mosque back in 2014.

Born Ibrahim al-Samarrai, Baghdadi is a 46-year-old Iraqi who broke away from al-Qaeda in 2013, two years after the capture and killing of the group’s leader Osama bin Laden.

He grew up in a religious family, studied Islamic Theology in Baghdad and joined the Salaafi jihadist insurgency in 2003, the year of the US-led invasion of Iraq. He was caught by the Americans who released him about a year later as they considered him then as a civilian rather than a military target.

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Bounty

He is shy and reserved, Hashimi said, and has recently stuck to the sparsely populated Iraq-Syria border where drones and strangers are easy to spot.

The US Department of State’s Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program had put the same $25 million bounty on Bin Laden and Iraqi former president Saddam Hussein and the reward is still available for Bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Neither Saddam nor Bin Laden were voluntarily betrayed, but the bounties complicated their movements and communications.

“The reward creates worry and tension, it restricts his movements and limit the number of his guards,” said Fadhel Abu Ragheef, a Baghdad-based expert on extremist groups. “He doesn’t stay more than 72 hours in any one place.”

Baghdadi “has become nervous and very careful in his movements”, said Talabany, whose services are directly involved in countering Islamic State plots. “His circle of trust has become even smaller.”

His last recorded speech was issued in early November, two weeks after the start of the Mosul battle, when he urged his followers to fight the “unbelievers” and “make their blood flow as rivers”.

US and Iraqi officials believe he has left operational commanders behind with diehard followers to fight the battles of Mosul and Raqqa, to focus on his own survival.

It is not possible to confirm his whereabouts.

Baghdadi does not use phones and has a handful number of approved couriers to communicate with his two main aides, Iyad al-Obaidi, his defence minister, and Ayad al-Jumaili, in charge of security. There was no confirmation of an April 1 Iraqi state TV report that Jumaili had been killed.

Baghdadi moves in ordinary cars, or the kind of pick-up trucks used by farmers, between hideouts on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border, with just a driver and two bodyguards, said Hashimi.

The region is well known to his men as the hotbed of the Sunni insurgency against U.S. forces that invaded Iraq and later the Shia-led governments that took over the country.

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At the height of its power two years ago, Islamic State ruled over millions of people in territory running from northern Syria through towns and villages along the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys to the outskirts of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

It persecuted non-Sunnis and even Sunnis who did not agree with its extreme version of Islamic law, with public executions and whippings for violating strict controls on appearance, behaviour and movement.

But the group has been retreating since in the face of a multitude of local, regional and international forces, driven into action by the scores of deadly attacks around the world that it has claimed or inspired.

A few hundred thousand people now live in the areas under the group’s control, in and around Raqqa and Deir al-Zor, in Syria’s east, and in a few pockets south and west of Mosul. Hashimi said Islamic State was moving some fighters out of Raqqa before it was encircled to regroup in Deir al-Zor.

Displaced Iraqi children gather behind a fence at the Hasan Sham camp for internally displaced people on June 10, 2017. (AFP Photo)

Mosul, with pre-war population of 2 million, was at least four times the size of any other the group has held. Up to 200,000 people are still trapped in the Old City, Islamic State’s besieged enclave in Mosul, lacking supplies and being used as human shields to obstruct the progress of Iraqi forces by a US-led international coalition.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, made of Kurdish and Arab groups supported by the US-led coalition, began to attack Raqqa last week, after a months-long campaign to cut it off.

The militants are also fighting Russian and Iranian-backed forces in Syria loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, and mainly Sunni Muslim Syrian rebels backed by Turkey.

The last official report about Baghdadi was from the Iraqi military on Feb. 13. Iraqi F-16s carried out a strike on a house where he was thought to be meeting other commanders, in western Iraq, near the Syrian border, it said.

Overall, Islamic State has 8,000 fighters left, of which 2,000 are foreigners from other Arab states, Europe, Russia and central Asia, said Abu Ragheef.

“A small number compared to the tens of thousands arrayed against them in both countries, but a force to be reckoned with, made up of die-hards with nothing to lose, hiding in the middle of civilians and making extensive use of booby traps, mines and explosives,” he said.

The US government has a joint task force to track down Baghdadi which includes special operations forces, the CIA and other US intelligence agencies as well as spy satellites of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

It will take more than that to erase his influence, Talabany said. “He is still considered the leader of ISIL and many continue to fight for him; that hasn’t changed drastically,” he said, using one of Islamic State’s acronyms.

Even if killed or captured, he added, “his legacy and that of ISIL will endure unless radical extremism is tackled.”

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Great History Lesson About Spain And It’s Muslim/Christian History

(I FOUND THIS ARTICLE ON GOOGLE PLUS, IF YOU LIKE HISTORY YOU MAY WELL LIKE THIS ARTICLE)

Muslim Spain
inside Alhambra, Granada

In 711 the Muslims had conquered the southern parts of the Iberian Peninsula. By 714 following the decline of the Visigoths, the Muslims had gained a strong grip on virtually the entire Iberian Peninsula. The parts in southern Spain that were under Muslim rule were called al-Andalus.

The vast region was divided into five administrative provinces—Andalusia (including the capital Córdoba and Seville), Central Spain, Galicia and Lusitania, and the Ebro region. The administrative system was subject to change as the Christians regained more power over parts of Muslim Spain in the following centuries.

However Muslim Spain was not restricted to the region named al-Andalus. The Muslims also controlled parts of Aragon-Catalonia and Navarre. Parts of southern France fell briefly under Muslim rule but a strong French military force under Charles Martel managed to drive them away in 756.

Although Córdoba was not the capital city of previous rulers such as the Byzantines and the Romans, it lay at the crossroads of important trade routes. Moreover the city possessed rich agricultural resources. From there the caliphs ruled parts of North Africaand the Iberian Peninsula.

The Muslims had, in fact, amassed a vast empire stretching from Spain to India and ruled diverse groups of people, who contributed to the later development of a sophisticated culture in a cosmopolitan setting found in Muslim capitals such as Córdoba. By 757 al-Andalus had been clearly established as a Muslim polity with a mainly Arab and Berber population, but also with many converts.

Within Muslim Spain, the Umayyad dynasty ruled over Arabs from various locations as well as Berbers, Jews, Christians. The lingua franca used by diverse groups of people within al-Andalus was Arabic.

Umayyad Dynasty

In 750 after a series of rival wars between various Muslim factions, the Umayyad Abd al-Rahman Mu’awiya, also known as Abd al-Rahman I, refused to acknowledge the Abbasid Sunni Caliphate based in Baghdad.

By this time the Abbasid dynasty was considered corrupt and weak. This led Abd al-Rahman to set up his own dynasty of emirs of Córdoba, first by ousting the previous ruler, Yusuf al-Fihri.

Abd al-Rahman proclaimed himself the first emir of Córdoba in the mosque of Córdoba on May 14, 756. The powerful Fatimid dynasty, based in Egypt, opposed the installation of the Umayyad Caliphate on Córdoba. The Fatimid dynasty had a strong hold over North Africa.

inside Cordoba (former) Mosque

Abd al-Rahman thus enlisted the help of the Zanata Berber tribe enemies of the Sinhaja tribe, allies of the Fatimids. Pro-Umayyad rebellions against the Fatimids were quashed and Abd al-Rahman was unable to advance into North Africa, as he was preoccupied with skirmishes with the Christians.

He ruled independently of the Abbasid Caliphate for 33 years, consolidating sufficient support for Umayyad authority to ensure the longevity of his dynasty. Abd al-Rahman succeeded in fending off Yusuf al-Fihri’s allies as well as the supporters of the Abbasid Caliphate within al-Andalus.

Later on the emirate became known as the Umayyad Caliphate, which was in fact modeled upon the older Abbasid Caliphate. The Umayyads, who were members of the prophet Muhammad’s tribe Qureish, claimed to be descendants from the prophet Muhammad.

Prior to conquering parts of the Iberian Peninsula the Umayyads had already ruled a huge part of the Muslim world including the important city of Samarkand at the eastern edge of their kingdom. Their conquests stretched to al-Andalus in the west with its capital in Córdoba.

By the time of Abd al-Rahman I’s death in 852, al-Andalus was already a major diplomatic power in the Mediterranean with emirates established over North Africa. Links had also been established with the Byzantine emperor, another major player in Mediterranean politics.

Visigoth Resistance

Visigoth Resistance
Visigoth Resistance

Initially the Muslim power that was responsible for the great wave of Muslim expansion was based in their distant capital city of Damascus. In Muslim Spain, however, Córdoba was made the capital, where the Muslim invaders settled down as property owners soon after their victory over the Visigoths.

One way land was acquired in Córdoba was through marriage with important members of the Visigothic aristocracy. This had the added advantage of staving off potential opposition from the Visigoths, who had been the ruling class in Córdoba before their defeat at the hands of the Muslims.

Despite the Visigoths’ apparent truce with the Muslims within Spain, members of the Visigothic aristocracy who had fled up north of the Iberian Peninsula continued to resist Muslim rule in the south.

This was an impetus for the Muslims to invade the northern mountainous region of the peninsula, as well as France. The Muslim invaders were especially looking to gain resources in France rather than the inaccessible regions in northern Spain.

These attacks were launched in order to gain booty, because at that time the Muslim rulers in Spain possessed a booty or ghanima economy. This system came to an end when the three major military expeditions to France during the eighth century ended in disastrous defeats.

Umayyad caliphs in al-Andalus had a policy of tolerance toward the non-Muslims under their rule. Non-Muslim residents had to bear the heaviest burden of taxation. They had to pay a poll tax (jizya) and a land tax.

Thus the greatest source of revenue, which went toward financing the caliphs’ military campaigns, was the non-Muslim inhabitants of al-Andalus. This contributed to the policy of tolerance of the Christian and Jewish population. Conversion to Islam escalated under the reign of the Umayyad Caliphate.

This is despite the fact that Islamic proselytizing was minimal during this period. Thus it has been suggested that social or economic forces, rather than any active missionary pressure on the part of the Muslims, motivated conversion.

During the ninth century mass conversions took place. The benefits of conversion included employment opportunities in government. Not only did Muslims pay significantly less tax than non-Muslims, they could also gain better positions in the bureaucracy.

In fact the unifying bonds between the various groups of people were culture and literature, rather than religion, which created a harmonious setting. There was a large Christian group within Muslim Spain known as the Mozarabs, who settled mostly in Seville.

They adopted a Muslim lifestyle, in terms of fashion, architecture, and literature, without converting to Islam. These Mozarabs suffered religious persecution in 1139 by fellow Christians after the raids of King Afonso I (Henriques) of Portugal on Seville, as they were not considered true Christians.

Umayyad Dynasty of Cordoba

Umayyad Dynasty of Cordoba
Umayyad Dynasty of Cordoba

The caliph of Córdoba, formerly known as the emir of Córdoba, ruled Spain for slightly more than a century, from the year 929 to 1031, beginning with the reign of the most powerful Muslim ruler, Abd ar-Rahman III, who claimed the caliphate in 929.

The caliph was especially skilled at projecting his image as a powerful Arab leader. Abd ar-Rahman III made sure he was visible to his people in the many ceremonies and processions organized for him. He was Hispano-Basque (grandson of a Christian Basque princess) and was only a quarter Arab.

In order to look more like an Arab, it has been said, he dyed his hair black. The caliph presented himself as an effective leader of his own military troops. In his image campaign, newsletters and poems were glowingly written of his military prowess and piety.

During this period, in addition to having a reputation as an illustrious commercial center, al-Andalus also became an eminent center of knowledge and learning. Al-Andalus was a great civilization, compared with the rest of Europe at that time. Many Islamic works of art were produced during this era of Muslim rule.

Umayyad caliph Abd Al-Rahman III had a keen interest in the arts, as well as the religious and secular sciences. He amassed many books from other intellectual centers such as Baghdad, which were then stored in the library. Scholars were also hired to supplement further the amount of written knowledge imported.

Drawn to the bastion of knowledge and culture, many philosophers and scientists began to migrate to al-Andalus, making it a renowned center of learning. Intellectual life in Córdoba peaked during the reign of Al-Hakam II, who was in power from 961 to 967.

He was responsible for establishing a massive library filled with hundreds of thousands of volumes, a useful repository of knowledge in the Mediterranean world. During this period several intellectuals achieved prominence in Muslim Spain.

Spanish Muslim intellectuals excelled in the fields of mathematics, medicine, and astronomy. The most famous example is Ibn Rushd, otherwise called Averroës, who was a philosopher, theologian, physician, and sometime royal consultant, born and educated in Córdoba.

Christian Reconquest

Simultaneously the territories owned by the caliph of Córdoba decreased just as aspects of commerce and culture thrived. Internal dissension among different Arab factions weakened the Umayyad power base in Córdoba as they disintegrated into warring divisions.

The lack of Muslim unity proved crucial to Christian success. During the reign of Hisham II, the Umayyad Caliphate disintegrated into party-kingdoms in 1009. He was executed in 1013, only to be succeeded by another weak ruler, Hisham III, the last caliph of Córdoba.

Hisham III was exiled to Lerida. Nominal rule continued under the short-lived Hasanid dynasty until 1054. The further remaining territories dwindled into mere Muslim principalities, better known as independent taifas, ruled by mainly Berber rulers, though there were also non-Berber rulers.

With their defenses weakened because of lack of unity, these taifas often had to hire mercenaries from North Africa or Christian mercenaries to protect their principalities, which were constantly at war with each other. This chaotic situation in the Muslim states was conducive to Christian reconquest.

Christians in the northern parts of the Iberian Peninsula had already begun to consolidate their military and political power as early as the eighth century, and into the latter half of the ninth century.

Under the reign of Alfonso II (791–842), the Christians in the northern region had stabilized themselves. He was able to install Visigothic institutions in his kingdom with his capital in Oviedo.

The Christians viewed the reconquest of southern Spain (al-Andalus) as justified, since they were reclaiming what rightfully belonged to the Visigoths. Further impetus was provided by the discovery of the tomb of St. James the apostle, a patron saint around whom the Christians could rally.

From the eighth to the 10th century the Christian north had possessed an inferior economic system and cultural milieu compared to al-Andalus in the south. However they were already clearly formed political entities with military forces that were able to stave off attacks from their enemies from the south. This enabled them to reconquer Muslim Spain upon its disintegration during the 10th and 11th centuries.

In 1056 the Almoravid Empire took over as the rulers of Muslim Spain. They were replaced by the dynasty of Almohads in 1130. The decline of the Almohads in 1269 enabled the Christians to conquer parts of Muslim Spain with more ease.

The important cities of Córdoba and Seville had already fallen into Christian hands in 1236 and 1248, respectively, leaving only Granada as the last Muslim stronghold. In 1469 through the union of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille, much of Spain was united. By 1492 a stronger Christian Spain finally took over Granada.

Can The Government Legally Ban A Terrorist Islamist Political Party?

(This article is courtesy of the Times of Israel)

Tunisia moves to ban radical Islamist party

Tunisia’s government is asking a military court to outlaw the radical Islamist Hizb ut-Tahrir movement, which has been regularly accused of “undermining public order” since its legalization in 2012, an official said Wednesday.

“A request to ban was submitted recently. We are awaiting the decision of the military investigative judge,” the official, who spoke on condition on anonymity, tells AFP.

He says a total ban on the party is imminent.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is known for focusing on unifying Muslims into a caliphate and is already banned in several countries.

The party last month successfully overturned a decision by a civil judge to ban it, and has denounced what it says is “police harassment” in Tunisia.

It released an apparently inflammatory statement saying that “the government… knows that its time has come and that heads and hands will be cut.”